George Orwell’s Spanish civil war memoir is a classic, but is it bad history?

History again people, this time of the Spanish Civil War…..

Unleashed on 17 July 1936 by a military coup against the democratically elected government of the Second Republic, the Spanish civil war was a rehearsal for the second world war. The British, French and American governments stood aside and permitted General Francisco Franco, with the substantial aid of Hitler and Mussolini, to defeat the republic. To this day, the war is remembered by many as “the last great cause”, the war of the volunteers of the International Brigades, of the bombing of Guernica and of the mini-civil war within the civil war fought in Barcelona as CNT anarchists and the Poum’s quasi-Trotskyists battled forces of the Catalan government, the Generalitat, backed by the communists of the PSUC.

Eighty years ago this week, the Ramblas of Barcelona echoed with gunfire. Much of what happened on the streets during the May days is well known thanks to George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, but not why it happened. Herbert Matthews, the great New York Times correspondent, summed up the consequent problem: “The book did more to blacken the loyalist cause than any work written by enemies of the Second Republic.” This is unfortunate since, for many thousands of people, Homage to Catalonia is the only book on the Spanish civil war that they will ever read.

An eyewitness account of two fragments of the war, the book presents two priceless pieces of reportage: the first a vivid account of the experiences of a militiaman on “a quiet sector of a quiet front” in Aragón, evoking the fear, the cold and, above all, the squalor, excrement and lice of the rat-infested trenches; the second a vibrant description of several days and nights spent on the roof terrace of the Poliorama theatre in the Ramblas while defending the Poum HQ across the street. Orwell’s account of the poisonous atmosphere in Barcelona during and after the May days of 1937 is invaluable, but marred by its assumption that the Stalinist suffocation of the revolution would lead to Franco’s eventual victory.

Depending on whether you are left or right, this civil war was just or unjust. Thus read much more at the SOURCE

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.