Key Terms and Figures

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Key Terms

  • Fascism: “An authoritarian and nationalistic system of government and social organization which emerge after the end of the First World War in 1918, and became a prominent force in European politics during the 1920s and 1930s, most notably in Italy and Germany, […] an extreme right-wing political ideology based on based on the principles underlying this system” (Oxford English Dictionary). Anti-fascism denotes resistance to fascism and its intersecting oppressions, including capitalism and racism.

  • Republican/Loyalist: The militias, soldiers, volunteers, and supporters associated with the democratically-elected Republican government. The government itself was a coalition of left and left-leaning parties, which included communists, socialists and anarchists. The International Brigades supported the Republican front.

  • Fascist/Rebel: Includes those who orchestrated the coup against the Republican government and their supporters, and eventually won the civil war. These terms often include much of the Spanish military, the Spanish Catholic Church, and upper-class families. The term Nationalist is also used to refer to this side of the conflict, but is falling out of use among (particularly leftist) scholars.

  • International Brigades: The International Brigades comprised an international volunteer army created to fight with the Republican Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. The vast majority of volunteers adhered to leftist politics, especially communism, although to varying degrees. Between thirty-two thousand and thirty-five thousand volunteers from around the world enlisted.

  • Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion (Mac-Paps): A predominantly Canadian battalion of the International Brigades. It was formed in July 1937, and named for Canadians Louis-Joseph Papineau and William Lyon Mackenzie, leaders of the Rebellions of 1837-38. Many Canadians also served with the British, American, and several Eastern European battalions. The terms ‘Mackenzie-Papineaus’ and ‘Mac-Paps’ are often used to refer to all Canadians who fought in the Spanish Civil War, regardless of which battalion they fought with.

  • No Pasarán: Translated from Spanish: They shall not pass. Rallying cry of the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War made famous by Dolores Ibárruri in her “No Pasarán” radio broadcast of 18 July 1936.

Key Figures

  • Dolores Ibárurri [Gomez] (La Pasionaria): (1895-1989) Spanish communist leader. Secretary general of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) (1944-1960), President of the PCE (1960-1989), and a member of the Spanish national assembly (1936 and 1977-1979). Her orations against the fascists earned her the name La Pasionaria (“The Passion Flower”).

  • Francisco Franco: (1892-1975) Spanish general and fascist dictator. Franco participated in the July 1936 coup d’état against the elected Popular Front government. After the failed coup had evolved into the Spanish Civil War, Franco emerged as leader of the Nationalists who fought against the government. With the help of Mussolini and Hitler, Franco defeated the government forces and assumed authoritarian control of Spain until his death.

  • Norman Bethune: (1890-1939) Canadian surgeon, activist and communist. Bethune was a renowned thoracic surgeon in Montréal, but when the war broke out he traveled to Spain to organize a mobile blood transfusion unit. He returned to Canada in 1937 to tour and fundraise for the anti-fascist cause. In 1938, he went to China to use his medical skills to support communist comrades under attack by Japanese forces. He died in China, where he is a national hero.

  • Jean Watts: (1909-1968) Canadian journalist. Watts was deeply involved in the cultural and anti-fascist scene in Canada, and funded the leftist magazine New Frontier. In Spain, She was the correspondent for the Daily Clarion, a radio broadcaster at Station EAQ Madrid, an ambulance driver, a censor, and a publicist for Norman Bethune’s Blood Transfusion Institute. She served in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps during the Second World War.

  • Ted Allan: (1916–1995) was born Alan Herman in Montréal. A dedicated Young Communist, he was a correspondent for the Toronto Daily Worker and The Clarion, and it was then that he adopted the name Ted Allan to infiltrate a fascist organization and write an exposé. He served in the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, of which This Time a Better Earth is a fictionalized account. Ted Allan’s best-known book is The Scalpel, the Sword: The Story of Doctor Norman Bethune (1952), written in collaboration with Sydney Gordon and later adapted for the screen.

  • Hugh Garner: (1913-1979) Before working as a journalist, editor, and fiction writer, Garner travelled to Spain to volunteer with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, and then enlisted in World War II. Best known for the novel Cabbagetown, he also published over a dozen books, a trilogy of plays, and hundreds of scripts and articles for Canadian magazines and newspapers. Garner was remarkably prolific, writing approximately one hundred short stories (many of them included in his five collections), with more unpublished manuscripts in his archives.

  • Adolf Hitler: (1889-1945) the leader of the German National Socialist (Nazi) Party from 1921 to 1922, and the chancellor and Führer of Germany from 1933 to 1945. He established a Nazi dictatorship constructed around ethnic nationalism, industrialization, and militarization. During the Spanish Civil War, Hitler supplied Franco with troops via the Condor Legion, which is most notably responsible for the bombing of Guernica in April 1937.

  • Benito Mussolini: (1883-1945) the prime minister and dictator of Italy from 1922 until his deposition in 1943. He established Italy as a repressive fascist state, implementing policies favouring nationalism, militarism, imperialism, and censorship. During the Spanish Civil War, Mussolini assisted Franco’s nationalist front by sending troops , funding the Falange Española, and training officers for the Requetés, the Spanish Carlist militia.