The ‘Spanish matrix’
Transnational catalyst of Europe’s anti-Nazi resistance
in Fighters across frontiers
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This chapter follows the pathways of ‘Spanish fighters’ after the fall of republican Spain. These ‘Spanish fighters’ were both former International Brigaders drawn from Western, Central and Eastern Europe and Spanish republicans who left their country along with thousands of civilians fleeing Franco’s armies. The chapter demonstrates that these veterans played leading roles in subsequent resistance movements in France, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and Poland, drawing not only on their military skills but also on contacts and networks formed in Spain. In much of the south of France so-called French resistance movements spoke French because of the heavy involvement of Spanish republicans. Moreover, links were forged in Spain between Soviet commanders and Spanish republicans who came to fight behind German lines in the East, or between Soviet commanders and Polish resisters who came to work underground with the Soviets to liberate German-occupied Poland. What emerges is not only transnational resistance connections from one end of Europe to another but also differences as both Soviet and Spanish communist parties became suspicious of the political threat posed by transnational fighters who were more committed to their cause than to any national party machine.

Fighters across frontiers

Transnational resistance in Europe, 1936–48

Editors: Robert Gildea and Ismee Tames

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