Transnational experiences in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–39
The first chapter explores the diverse trajectories taken by eight individuals from eight different European countries, to join the International Brigades in Spain in 1936. Although they were all anti-fascists they each had their own reasons – some political, some personal – for becoming involved. While national fighting units were the starting point, international units inevitably emerged, creating spaces for both international solidarity and international misunderstanding and conflict. The leading role of communists and the Comintern had divided outcomes. Some activists were inspired, educated and hardened by the communist message, but others were repelled by communist ideology and violence. The chapter charts the trajectories of these individuals after they left Spain, following the defeat of the republican armies. Some went on to become leaders of transnational resistance movements elsewhere, while others, who had lost the faith, took very different routes.
This chapter explores the frontier zone between irregular resistance and fighting in regular armies. There was a two-way movement, drafted from internment and labour camps to fight in regular armies during the French war of 1940, in which exiled Polish and Czechoslovak armies also fought. Many former irregular fighters were unhappy with the established military hierarchies, which refused to recognise ranks gained in the International Brigades, had national rather than international war aims and often displayed blatant anti-Semitism. After defeat in France many moved from regular units into British army specialist units, into the Free French or back to partisan fighting in Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia. Former American International Brigaders joined the Office of Special Services (OSS), followed the Allies into North Africa and made contact in Italy with Italian communists they knew from Spain. Meanwhile former irregulars freed from North African camps joined regular units such as the Corps Français d’Afrique, which, far from being French, included European anti-fascists, indigenous Muslims and Jews. Many of these later became part of the new French army that liberated Paris.
This chapter explores the question of rescue which was another dimension of resistance to Nazi and fascist rule. Migration and flight were no longer possible, and escape lines were organised illegally to move stranded Allied servicemen, resistance activists or Jews. Couriers guided people and also carried cash for resistance activity and intelligence for the Allies. They were ‘inherently transnational’ in that they defied national boundaries, leading from occupied territories across borders to neutral countries such as Switzerland or Spain or out of Europe. They were also transnational in that they were often run by expatriates who were diplomats, clergy or businesspeople, although they relied on local contacts such as smugglers, customs officers, railway officials or garagists. Escape lines might be long-distance for Allied pilots or shorter-distance for Dutch students who had been drafted as forced labourers to work in Germany and needed support to get back across the frontier.
This chapter examines links between the British special agents, who were often British in name only, and resisters on the ground in occupied France, Albania and Greece. Those recruited to be dropped as agents, who had to be able to collaborate with local resisters often prickly about their interests and identity, were often themselves national hybrids, binationals, with an international educational background or having worked abroad. Some were Jewish refugees from Central Europe who adopted a new British identity. In the occupied countries, they often worked with resisters who were not nationals but, for example, Spanish republicans in southern France or escaped German or Italian POWs in Albania. In Greece, Polish officers working for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) clearly got on well with former Polish POWs and Spanish internees who were outsiders in the Balkans. On the other hand, relations were very difficult with the indigenous Greek communist resistance movement, which defended the Polish government-in-waiting in Moscow, while the Polish POWs supported the Home Army and Polish government in London.
Transnational catalyst of Europe’s anti-Nazi resistance
Yaacov Falkov and Mercedes Yusta-Rodrigo
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.
This chapter studies transnational interplay in guerrilla movements on the Eastern Front and in the Balkans, where the interwar state system was pulverised by war, occupation and partition. In its Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union made abundant use of ‘useful foreigners’, whether they were international communist exiles living in Moscow, Balts, Poles or Bessarabians who had claimed Soviet citizenship, local fighters on the ground in occupied areas or deserters from the Wehrmacht. After Italy crashed out of the war in September 1943 tens of thousands of Italians escaped to join the Yugoslav partisans for fear of being rounded up by the Germans, while German communists in Wehrmacht disciplinary battalions deserted to join the Greek resistance and recover their anti-Hitlerian identity. Meanwhile, in Italy itself, Allied, former International Brigaders and Yugoslav POWs escaped from camps to join the Italian resistance to the Germans, a resistance which, far from being purely Italian was, internationally speaking, said one British POW resister, was ‘a very mixed bunch’.
This chapter focuses on the specific ‘war within the war’ fought by Jews in the Second World War, in both rescue and resistance organisations. The Jewish case is a powerful lens through which to study transnational resistance. As a diasporic population, in intensified flight from Nazism in the 1930s, Jews were already on the move. Many came from multi-ethnic, multilingual pockets of the ‘shatter zone’ such as Galicia, Bukovina and Bessarabia, and suffered persecution at the hands of revived nation-states such as Poland and Romania. Others were organised internationally, members of the international communist movement and Comintern or of Zionist bodies. In Nazi- and fascist-occupied Europe they lost their rights, becoming second-class citizens or stateless, and were despoiled, interned and deported. They were not only caught up in the war but fought their own war for survival within it. This chapter concentrates on the two cases of France and Yugoslavia, to where many Jews had fled before the German and Italian invasions of 1940–41 and where – if they were not rounded up – they played a key role in transnational rescue and resistance, in exile, underground or both. This included working with international rescue organisations such as the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE), working with the British secret services and the Free French, and involvement in communist-led units such as Travail Allemand which aimed to persuade German soldiers to desert, or in armed resistance or partisan groups in both France and Yugoslavia.
This chapter argues that the so-called ‘national’ uprisings in Warsaw, Paris and Slovakia in 1944 which have become the centrepiece of narratives of national liberation were in fact far from purely national. As the Germans retreated, resistance moved from the countryside to the cities, even to capital cities, which were highly cosmopolitan. It also swept up many who now escaped from POW camps, labour camps and even concentration camps, together with deserters from the Wehrmacht who were often non-German. The uprising in Warsaw involved a Slovak platoon which also included Czechs, Poles and Ukrainians, a British SOE agent and a Nigerian jazz player. The first troops into Paris were not French or even American but Spanish republicans who had mostly come via Vichy camps in North Africa and took over from Polish-Jewish freedom fighters, a Hungarian intellectual and a black former POW from Gabon. The so-called Slovak national uprising, a month or so later, was supported by a unit of escaped French POWs and by OSS and SOE agents, many of whom were themselves of Czech, Slovak, Polish or Hungarian origin. The limits of transnationalism and internationalism were also evident, however, as the Cold War took a grip as British agents sent in to support the uprising were kidnapped by the USSR’s Interior Ministry, the NKVD.
Chapter 8 stages an encounter with biosocial power in the form of entrepreneurship education, using the history of Junior Achievement Worldwide as a point of departure in examining how entrepreneurship education has become a ‘method’ aimed at cultivating ‘non-cognitive entrepreneurial competencies’ in school-going children from primary education onwards, and how this prefigures the future as an ‘enterprise culture’. Focusing on the relation between the normative fiction of an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ and the material conditions underpinning ‘necessity entrepreneurship’, the chapter explores how ‘disadvantage’ has become the engine of enterprise and innovation. In the context of an enterprise culture, equal inequality becomes a horizon of opportunity.