Franco’s International Brigades: Adventurers, Fascists, and Christian Crusaders in the Spanish Civil War by Christopher Othen
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Overview: The Spanish Civil War set brother against brother when centuries of grievances erupted into a bloody settling of accounts in 1936. The conflict quickly turned international. The left-wing volunteers who came from around the world to fight for the Spanish government are well known. But Spain also attracted thousands of right-wingers from Europe and beyond, including crusading Catholics, fascist fanatics, and Muslims with a grudge. They played a vital role helping General Francisco Franco and his rebels overthrow Spanish democracy.
These foreign adventurers were on the winning side, but their role has remained strangely hidden until now. Men from Portugal and Morocco signed on for money and adventure. General Eoin O’Duffy organised 700 Irishmen in a modern Crusade; 500 Frenchmen fought in the ‘Jeanne D’Arc’ unit; and thirty British volunteers, including aristocrats and working-class fascists, also took up arms. Romanian Iron Guard extremists died at Majadahonda and an Indian volunteer fought in the fascist militia. There were Russians, Americans, Finns, Belgians, Greeks, Cubans, and many more. Goose-stepping alongside the volunteers were fascist conscripts from Germany and Italy, in training for the next world war.
It was a vicious conflict. Englishman Peter Kemp fought against British communists in a drive the Mediterranean. After the war he asked a surviving opponent what would have happened if he had been captured – ‘We’d have shot you,’ came the reply, ‘sorry.’ – Kemp assured him he would have done the same if the positions had been reversed.
Genre: Non-Fiction > History > Military > World War II