Starting to read Frederico García Lorca in my Spanish class, and you know what that means. Spanish Civil War.
I think that if I had a chance to fight in any war in history, it would be the Spanish Civil War. Our teacher showed us these exerpts of letters written by American ex-pats that were hanging around Spain at the time:
“When I first walked into the streets of Barcelona I was amazed at what I saw. When we read about Spain in the newspapers, articles, and books, we read of the front, of cities bombed, and I came expecting to find a war-like — or what I thought was war-lie — atmosphere over everything and everybody. Here in Barcelona, the city goes on living its life — shops do business, people work and sit in the cafes. When you are in the city for a while you begin to see the effects of war. You see that there aren’t many young men in the streets — and if there are they are in uniform, home on leave or recovering from wounds. You see the wrecked buildings where bombs have fallen — and you see the women and the kids, tattered, ragged, and hungry…
…But you see too that everywhere are a people who are fighting for their lives, their country – the raised fist which greets you in Salud is not just a gesture – it means life and liberty being fought for and a greeting of solidarity with the democratic peoples of the world. Barcelona is a beautiful city – surrounded by hills and mountains – an ever blue sky – palm trees lining the broad avenues – a city which in peacetime must have been a joy to live in. And the people – how can I tell you how wonderful they are – how truly a beautiful people the Spanish are. They are an intelligent people and an understanding people, and even now, in midst of their war, the education of its people goes on – schools for the kids, girls from the Basque country and Andalucia who three months ago couldn’t read, now holding down leading and important jobs in Government agencies.”
– Mary Rolfe, November 1938
There are other facts to give you a sense of what this world was; there were posters everywhere cheering on the Republicans, but not only that – arguing for women’s sexual health and freedom from venereal disease. First-trimester abortion was legalized there under the Republic, the first government to do so, with the mortality and the health of her body left entirely up to the individual woman. It truly was a remarkable age, and like most it didn’t last. But still.