The spanish civil war in art and journalism

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The Spanish Civil War is seen as the end of a long period of political unrest and as a prelude to World War II. The atrocities of the nationalists affected many people all over the world. English journalists and writers followed the incidents day by day, but also the artistic commitment staged at an international level.

In this paper, we first of all examine the circumstances about this war.What made this new man-slaughter possible in post-First-World-War-Europe? How did the internal problems receive an international meaning? Artists all over the world used their famous voice to react against the cruelties. How did they get involved in the conflict? How did they express their ideas? Do these long-gone atrocities still provide an inspirational base?

The Spanish Civil War is theculmination of years of political dissatisfactions. Since its beginning, Spain had passed through a turbulent history of colonization and defeats, monarchies and dictatorships. In the year 1931, the Second Republic was finally restored, led by a coalition of left and center. Numerous anarchistic as well as right-wing conservative groups resisted the reforms of the republican government. Two yearslater, the latter fraction of these triumphed through national elections. By the elections of 1936, however, the Republicans were ready to take revenge. The Popular Front, a union of socialists, communists, Republicans and labor unions overruled their opponents of many years. The approved pattern of insurrections arose again, sketched by anyone who couldn’t meet with the government’s decisions.Five months later, on 18 July 1936, the Spanish Civil War erupted, as a result of a coordinated rebellion of army generals including the well-known Francisco Franco in Spanish Morocco. They staged a coup to overthrow the Spanish Parliament. By the end of July, they controlled already one third of the country, most of northern and northwestern Spain and a southern area of Andalusia. The Basquecountry, Barcelona, Valencia and other areas of central Spain, however, resisted. NO PASARÁN (they shall not pass), the famous battle-cry of Verdun, resounded through the streets again. Nevertheless, the civil war came to an end with the surrender of Madrid, as the last strong holding city, in March 1939. At the first of April, the United States recognized the nationalists as the official government ofSpain, with Franco as head of state or “caudillo”.

As Hitler and Mussolini were immediately eager to support Franco in the early beginnings of the war, and the Soviet Union backed the Republican side, this was not only an internal struggle. The League of Nations experienced its limited efficiency in international peace-keeping. The world-spread attention was expressed by the numerousinternational journalists, writers and artists who outlined the Spanish scene. In the Second World War the conflict entered a new spotlight, and up to now, the remembrance remains vibrant.

We first cast a glance at the ones who directly got involved in the war. Next to other American and British journalists, Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell, wanted to show their aversion. Hemingway travelled throughSpain in order to report to the North American Newspaper, Alliance. He also wrote a book on the events, For whom the bell tolls, published in 1940. This elaborate work takes place during the Spanish Civil War. It tells the story of Robert Jordan, an American, who wanted to volunteer in the International Brigades against the fascists. The novel is based upon Hemingway’s own experiences in war,describing the incredible brutality. As a real artist he was able to produce the feelings of death and violence. People praised its realistic portrait of the political tensions in Europe. George Orwell also went to Spain to fight, not to write, in order to help the Republicans. In an interview with Philip Mainet, editor of the New English weekly, he said: “this fascism…somebody’s got to stop it”...
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