The annual commemoration by the International Brigades Memorial Trust for the 2500 volunteers from Great Britain and Ireland who went to Spain to fight fascism and support democracy between 1936 and 1939, was held at the International Brigades memorial, Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, London on 5th July 2014. Three hundred people gathered on London’s South Bank to commemorate the men and women from Great Britain and Ireland who went to Spain to support the Spanish Republic – 526 British and Irish volunteers died.
They were part of International Brigades – 35,000 men and women from over 50 countries – who went to Spain to support the Spanish Republic, oppose fascism and stand up for democracy.
Orations for supporters of the IBMT who died during the year were read by Dolores Long and Marlene Sidaway. Mentioned John Comley; Helvecia Hidalgo of the Basque children; Elaine Morgan; and Joan Ramelson. Tony Benn; Bob Crow; and Pete Seeger.
Dolores Long, Chair of IBMT, described the life of Philip Tammer who had fought on the Aragon and been imprisoned before returning to Britain. He had died during the year and it was only then that his family had got in touch with the IBMT – he was the longest surviving brigader in Britain.
Wreaths were laid at the foot of the International Brigades monument to applause, ‘Jarama Valley’ was sung everyone led by Na-Mara and a minutes silence was observed.
This years theme was the struggle for recognition and human rights during the Franco regime for those who supported The Republic and democracy – a struggle which continues to-day.
Jim Jump, Secretary of the IBMT, quoted the last commander of the British Battalion, Sam Wild, when he explained that when the volunteers came home in 1938, the war was not lost – just that the front had been moved. The International Brigades Association (IBA) continued to support people in Spain through the 40s, 50s and 60’s.
Miguel Gómez of the AABI – the Spanish Association of Friends of the International Brigades – described how they had recently upheld to right to fly the Republican flag during demonstrations in June when the new King succeeded to the Spanish throne. He then read a poem of describing being in gaol for 22 years by Marcos Ana, ‘La Vida’ (‘Life’) in the original Spanish which Marlene Sidaway then read in an English translation.
Professor Helen Graham, introduced Emilio Silva, President of ARMH – Spain’s Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory. He described the “silence in Spain” and the need to unearth the past as a means to create a better, democratic future. “They are not just bodies, but seeds” He thanked those attending and said he was proud to be here, today in London standing on “this little piece of Republican Spain”. [by the International Brigades monument in Jubilee Gardens]
Music was provided by Na-Mara – Rob Garcia and Paul McNamara – who sang ‘Jamie Foyers” and their own composition about the Brigaders in battle entitled ‘The Bite’. http://www.na-mara.com
Maddy Carty sang her own composition about the Brigaders, ‘Numberless We Rise” and her recent ‘state of the nation’ track about conditions in Britain today – “CONDEMn AGE”.http://maddycarty.com
The event concluded with everyone singing the ‘The Internationale’ led by Na-Mara: ” So comrades, come rally, And the last fight let us face. ‘The Internationale’, Unites the human race.”
The IBMT – the International Brigades Memorial Trust – keeps alive the memory of those who went to Spain to aid the Spanish Republic, support democracy and fight against fascism. Find out more and support our work http://www.international-brigades.org.uk