Barcelona | A debate with Georges Mink organised by DIPLOCAT and EUROM opens the programme “1936-1939. Memory of the Civil War”
Internationally renowned researchers participated in the debate
Graphic motion video produced by EUROM and DIPLOCAT on the victory over fascism in Barcelona and the 80th Anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.
The video contains images from the historical archives of Pavelló de la República Library/University of Barcelona, Barcelona Photo Archive, National Archive of Catalonia, Yad Vashem Photo Archive and Manuel Moros © Fonds Peneff
The debate “Victory over Fascism. Barcelona 1936” was held yesterday at the University of Barcelona. Organised by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) and the European Observatory on Memories of the University of Barcelona’s Solidarity Foundation (EUROM), it marks the opening of the activities to be deployed in the following days to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Most of the activities have the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency of the Government of Catalonia.
Before the debate, there were speeches by Raül Romeva, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency of the Government of Catalonia and Albert Royo, Secretary General of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT). Romeva stated that “the traces of the Spanish Civil War are still visible due to the silence imposed, the manipulation and false interpretation of our past”. He underlined the need to persist in recovering our memory: “A people without memory are a people with no access to the truth, and with no truth there is no justice”, he said. Both Romeva and Royo made an outright condemnation of all wars, and they made reference to the multiple wars going on in the world nowadays, which oblige hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.
In his keynote speech, Georges Mink–professor at the College of Europe in Natolin and Director of Research at the National Centre of Scientific Research of France (CNRS) –focused on the Catalan revolutionary mobilization against the putsch, and on the commitment of international brigadiers who came from all over the world to defend the Republic. He also explained his personal link with the conflict. His father, a Jew from Poland, came to participate at the Popular Olympic Games organised in Barcelona as a protest against Hitler’s Olympic Games. When then Games were cancelled because of the rebellion, he decided to stay and fought with the Republicans until the end of the war. For Mink, in the present international context–with multiple violence outbursts, increasing social inequalities, and growing xenophobia and euroscepticism–it is paramount to recall that 18th of July 1936 in Barcelona. He concluded his speech with a warning: memory and solidarity mechanisms should be activated before it is too late.
José Luís Martín, professor of contemporary history at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, analysed the factors which led to an initial failure of the putsch in Barcelona and, consequently, in the whole of Catalonia. According to Martín, the war was lost as a result of the military inequalities between the two fronts and the social division at the rearguard. “The moral and cultural defeat made it possible for the dictator to die in bed”, he stated. Mary Nash, professor of contemporary history at the University of Barcelona, devoted his speech to the thousands of women who fought to defend democracy and the rights they had already been granted, and he explained how the figure of the “militiawoman”, amazingly modern and advanced for the time, became soon discredited. Finally, Robert S. Coale, professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Rouen (Normandy) and representative of the Abraham Lincoln Brigades Archive in Europe, described in great detail the composition of the International Brigades, the brigadiers’ profile, and the role they played in the conflict. The total number of volunteers was 35000, one third of the forces sent by Germany, Italy, and Portugal to the fascists.
Dídac Ramírez, vice-chancellor of the University of Barcelona, formally opened the debate. Jordi Guixé, director of EUROM, stated in his closing remarks that we must insist in the recovery of our past, “a painful heritage, which nonetheless has to be transformed in ethic, democratic, and solidarity values”.
Last updated: 4 November 2016