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EDITORIAL PERSPECTIVES (continued)

The two final battles of his political life centered around opposition to the Vietnam war and the attempt to save the environment from the many threats it faced and still faces, not the least of which is the vast arsenal of nuclear weapons. In the forefront of the opposition to the war, Colodny wrote a powerful pamphlet, Spain and Vietnam, published and distributed by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, his comrades from the Spanish conflict three decades earlier. In it he drew parallels with the struggles of the Spanish peasantry that underlay the 1936-39 war in Spain and the grievances of the Vietnamese peasantry, first against French imperialism and then against the oppressive regimes, bloodshed and environmental destruction that the Americans brought to Southeast Asia (Colodny, 1967b). Although Colodny lived to see the victory of the Vietnamese in their own country, the creation of the global humane society he sought has not yet come to pass. As David Montgomery stated at the 1997 Pittsburgh memorial session (Montgomery, 1998): "the principles which Robert taught, and for which he lived and volunteered to die, remain as vital and compelling [now] as they were in 1936. It is up to us who remember him to carry forward the legacy of the owls."

***

Robert Colodny would surely have been pleased to see this issue of Science & Society on the 1936-39 war in Spain in which he participated so valiantly, and wrote and spoke about so eloquently. He probably would turn first to the memoir of his comrade Carl Geiser, to whose classic work, Prisoners of the Good Fight, Colodny contributed the Preface (Colodny, 1986). He would surely agree not only with Geiser's memoir in these pages about the tasks of the generation of men and women who fought fascism in the 1930s and 40s, but also with Geiser's companion piece (not printed here, but available from the author in Corvallis, Oregon) about the responsibility of the present generation to safeguard the environment and to struggle against the remnants of fascism that survive into the 21st century. Geiser served in Spain as the Political Commissar of the MacKenzie-Papineau Battalion of the International Brigades. Captured in the spring of 1937, he himself spent two years in Franco's prisons, an experience which impelled him to write his book.

The three main articles in this issue, along with Geiser's memoir, discuss a central issue of the Spanish conflict — fascism. Gabriel Jackson, Professor Emeritus at the University of California at San Diego and author of the prize-winning study, The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931-1939 (Princeton University Press, 1965), gives an overview of the many meanings of the 1936-39 period, emphasizing the Franquista determination to put a halt to the Republic's social reforms, and to crush Spanish liberalism and the left. Professor Paul Preston, author of an authoritative biography of Francisco Franco and many other books and articles on the Spanish conflict, offers a vivid case study of an aristocratic fascist officer whose political and social convictions passed over the line into insanity. Helen Graham of the University of London, author most recently of The Spanish Republic at War, 1936-1929 (Cambridge University Press, 2002), examines the execution of a Republican woman who did not conform to the traditional role that the fascists assigned to her gender, and the way in which Spanish historical memory of this and other executions during the Franco years came to be revived. Graham also contributes an important review article to this issue, described below.

Following Carl Geiser's memoir, our "Perspectives and Resources" section continues with a methodological essay by Peter Carroll, Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) and author of The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Carroll, like Graham, analyses the usefulness and limitations of material on the Spanish conflict in the collections of the former Soviet Union, and the distortions that are introduced when these documents are misused. Len and Nancy Tsou, independent scholars, present previously unknown data on Asian volunteers in the Spanish war, showing a neglected international dimension of that struggle. Paul Mishler of Indiana University unearths and contextualizes a song by Woody Guthrie written in honor of Abraham Lincoln Battalion Commissar Steve Nelson. And, of special interest to scholars contemplating further work on the 1936-1939 conflict, Michael Nash, Director of the Tamiment Library of New York University, summarizes the extensive Spanish Civil War holdings recently accessioned by this depository, now including the papers of Robert Colodny.

We also present a hitherto unpublished document, a 1938 letter by J. Edgar Hoover dealing with the Spanish Civil War and the Americans who fought on behalf of the Spanish Republic. The FBI chief, legendary for his tendency to demonize the left (Schrecker, 1998, ch. 6) warned that on their return from Spain these volunteers would teach military tactics in Communist Party schools in order to further by armed insurrection their revolutionary aims in the United States.

The "Review Articles" section contains Helen Graham's analysis of the edited book by Ronald Radosh, Mary R. Habeck, and Grigory Sevostianov, Spain Betrayed, which forcefully counters that volume's "revisionist" attempted vindication of right-wing paranoia, presumably based on new materials from the Soviet archives. Graham examines the claims of Ronald Radosh and his coeditors that Stalin in the mid-1930s had assigned to Spain the role of creating the model for the post-World War II "Peoples' Democracies" of Eastern Europe. Rightly dismissing this questionable exercise in teleology, Graham instead reveals the genuine historical value of the documents presented in this partisan collection, which its editors do not recognize.

In addition to Graham's essay on Radosh, et al., the "Review Articles" section contains Cary Nelson's study of James K. Hopkins' Into the Heart of the Fire, an important study of British volunteers in Republican Spain, an earlier version of which appeared in The Volunteer (Nelson, 2001). Nelson engages the central interpretive issues raised by Hopkins' book, among them weighing the contradictory evidence on the internal culture of the International Brigades, the validity of Popular Front antifascism, and the extent to which Stalinism shaped the experience of the International Brigades.

The book review section contains analyses of books that deal with various aspects of the Spanish conflict and the international participants in that conflict, both from the left and in support of the Spanish right — the franquistas. William Loren Katz, noted author of books on African American history, who co-authored with Marc Crawford The Lincoln Brigade: A Picture History (Apex Press, 2001), describes the recent biography of Lincoln Brigade and World War II veteran Eddie Carter, posthumous winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Along with Fraser Ottanelli and Chris Brooks, in 2004 Katz compiled a comprehensive study, "African Americans in the Spanish Civil War," available at www.alba-valb.org/curriculum/index.php?module=2. Helen Shirley Mangini, Professor of Spanish at California State University Long Beach, author of Memories of Resistance: Women's Voices from the Spanish Civil War (Yale University Press, 1995), reviews both the English and Spanish editions of Paul Preston's Doves of War, a study of women supporters on both sides of the conflict. Historian David Messenger reviews a book on British and Irish volunteers who fought not on the Republican side, but for Francisco Franco's "Nationalists" during the war. (Messenger's review first appeared in the diplomatic history list-serve, H_DIPL), May 2002, and is reprinted here by permission of H-Net Reviews, www.h-net.msu.edu/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=300811022169179.) Finally, Annette Rubinstein, member of the Science & Society editorial board, reviews Cary Nelson's collection of Spanish Civil War poetry.

MARVIN E. GETTLEMAN

Science & Society
445 West 59th Street
New York, NY 10019
marvget@earthlink.net

 

REFERENCES

Alberts, Robert C. 1987. Pitt: The Story of the University of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Carroll, Peter N. 1944. The Odyssey of Abraham Lincoln Brigade: Americans in the Spanish Civil War. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Colodny, Robert G. 1967a. "Notes on the Origin of the Frente Popular." Science & Society, 31:3 (Summer).

------. 1967b. Spain and Vietnam: The Fight for Freedom. New York: Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

------. 1986. Preface to Geiser, 1986.

------. 1989. "The U. S. Political Culture of the 1950s and the American Response to the Spanish Civil War." Science & Society, 53:1 (Spring).

------. 1990. "An American Dark Age: Echoes and Memories." Pittsburgh History, 73:2 (Summer).

------. 1997. "A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War." Transcribed by Robert R. Newman. The Volunteer: Journal of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, XIX:3 (Fall).

------, and Dashiell Hammett. 1943. The Battle of the Aleutians: A Graphic History, 1942-1943. Adak, Alaska: Intelligence Section, Field Force Headquarters.

Friedman, Max Paul. 2003. "There Goes the Neighborhood: Blacklisting Germans in Latin America and the Good Neighbor Policy." Diplomatic History, 27:4 (September).

Geiser, Karl. 1986. Prisoners of the Good Fight: The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill.

Hemingway, Ernest, Ring Lardner Jr., Robert Colodny, et al. 1939. Somebody Had to Do Something: A Memorial to James Phillips Lardner. Los Angeles, California: James Lardner Memorial Fund.

Jackson, Gabriel. 2002. E-mail communication to Marvin E. Gettleman.

Katz, William Loren. 1989. The Lincoln Brigade: A Picture History. With Marc Crawford. New York: Atheneum; reprinted 2001, New York: Apex Press.

Montgomery, David. 1998. Summary of a eulogy of Robert Colodny delivered at the University of Pittsburgh and communicated to Science & Society by e-mail, February 20.

Nelson, Cary. 2001. Review of James K. Hopkins, Into the Heart of the Fire. The Volunteer, XXII:1 (Winter).

Ottanelli, Fraser. 2004. "African Americans in the Spanish Civil War." With Chris Brooks and William Loren Katz. www.alba-valb.org/curriculum/index.php?module=2

Schrecker, Ellen W. 1986. No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities. New York: Oxford University Press.

------. 1998. Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America. New York: Little, Brown and Company; Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1999.




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