The Good Fight: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War

Authors: Noel Buckner, Mary Dore, and Sam Sills

This documentary presents the experiences of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, comprised of American volunteers who fought with the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. Using archival footage and interviews with survivors, the filmmakers explore the war’s context, including the rise of Fascism and the perils of reaching Spain for volunteers, as well as the limited training, heavy responsibilities thrust on the very young, deprivations of a soldier’s life, lack of material, and the horrible rates of casualties. This film is a good introduction to the issues and participants surrounding the Spanish Civil War.

Narrated by Studs Terkel, The Good Fight explores a significant gap in our history through its use of newsreels, photographs, interviews with Lincoln veterans and Depression-era music. The eleven surviving veterans of the war who appear in this tough, stirring film share a common pride in their sacrifices of seventy years ago when the rise of world fascism crushed the spirit of democracy in a tragic rehearsal for World War II.

Read more about the Lincoln Brigade by filmmaker Sam Sills.

Read our review in the Volunteer Magazine 

Find out more about the Film Here

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!Brigadistas! An American Anti-Fascist in the Spanish Civil War

Authors: Miguel Ferguson, Anne Timmons, Paul Buhle and Fraser Ottanelli

In this exhilarating graphic novel about the Spanish Civil War, three American friends set off from Brooklyn to join in the fightdetermined to make Spain “the tomb of fascism” for the sake of us all. Together they defy the U.S. government and join the legendary Abraham Lincoln Brigade, throw themselves into battle, and conduct sabotage missions behind enemy lines. As Spain is shattered by the savagery of combat during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), readers see the darkening clouds of the World War to come.

Artist Anne Timmons has created a thrilling graphic novel in the spirit of the “war comic” genre that appeared after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into World War II. Drawing upon the real-life experiences of Lincoln Brigade veteran Abe Osheroff, writer Miguel Ferguson offers a lively, accessible resource based on actual events during the Great Depression and the Spanish Civil War. ¡Brigadistas! will stir the memories of older audiences who remember the Spanish Civil War as a time of unparalleled international solidarity and heartbreak, and it will expose young audiences to the passions, politics, and conflicts of a bygone era with striking contemporary relevance.

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Radical Nostalgia: Spanish Civil War Commemoration in America

Author: Peter Glazer

Nostalgia can serve as a vital tool in the emotional reconstitution and preservation of suppressed histories, rather than sentimentally privileging the past at the expense of present concerns and limiting a culture’s progressive potential. Between 1936 and 1938, responding to a military coup in Spain led by Francisco Franco with the support of both Hitler and Mussolini, over 2700 US anti-fascists joined 30,000 volunteers from around the world to form the International Brigade. They came together to defend the democratically elected Spanish government against this early manifestation of the fascist Axis. After three bloody years, Franco’s rebellion succeeded, and his dictatorship lasted until his death in 1975.

From the moment the first American volunteers returned home, and to this day, they have been holding commemorative events recalling the struggle. For nearly seventy years, the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade have cited and re-cited their activist past in theatrically eclectic, highly emotional commemorative performances, a site for both nostalgia and progressive politics. Literary recitations, scripted dramatic pieces, songs, films, photographs, and celebrity appearances have been juxtaposed with speeches, fundraising, and a rigorous attention to pressing political and social concerns of the day. The history and content of these events is detailed and analyzed here based on a combination of archival and ethnographic evidence. The exemplary role of songs from the war, as both nostalgic triggers and historical artifacts, is also examined.

Commemorations of the Spanish Civil War have provided necessary anchors for a period in U.S. history when views now thought extreme were an accepted part of mass political discourse. Through this rich, inter-generational performance practice, a marginalized, vernacular political minority has deployed radical nostalgia as a necessary corrective to an official culture disinterested in America’s leftist past, and threatened by its implications.

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A Distant Heartbeat

Author: Eunice Lipton

On May 20, 1938, a young man from the Bronx informs his parents that he is leaving for the Catskills to begin his new job as a waiter. Instead, he sails for Europe to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, the opening round in the fight against Hitler and Mussolini. The man, Dave Lipton—the author’s uncle—sends letter after letter home detailing his hopes and begging for forgiveness. He never receives a reply.

Decades later, Eunice Lipton stumbles upon clues for this silence, uncovering details of Dave’s exhilarating political life in New York, his shuttered romantic life, and his deep friendship with another volunteer. A Distant Heartbeat: A War, a Disappearance, and a Family’s Secrets  tells a tale of passion and heroism, centered on a fierce competition between brothers, a packet of missing letters, and the unforeseen results of family betrayal.

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Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

Author: Adam Hochschild

From the moment it began in 1936, the Spanish Civil War became the political question of the age. Hitler and Mussolini quickly sent aircraft, troops and supplies to the right-wing generals bent on overthrowing Spain’s elected government. Millions of people around the world felt passionately that rapidly advancing fascism must be halted in Spain; if not there, where? More than 35,000 volunteers from dozens of other countries went to help defend the Spanish Republic. Adam Hochschild, the acclaimed author of King Leopold’s Ghost, evokes this tumultuous period mainly through the lives of Americans involved in the war.

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Invisible Heroes: African Americans in the Spanish Civil War

Author: Alfonso Domingo & Jordi Torrent

Two thousand eight hundred North Americans volunteered to defend the Republic of Spain during the Spanish Civil War, but few people know that many of the volunteers were African Americans. This documentary tells their story and their fight for democracy and for the civil rights that were denied to them in their own country. The documentary includes interviews with volunteers and archival footage and pictures from the era, exposing a little known episode of Twentieth-century history.

Watch the trailer here.

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The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Author: Helen Graham

Amid the many catastrophes of the twentieth century, the Spanish Civil War continues to exert a particular fascination among history buffs and the lay-reader alike. This Very Short Introduction integrates the political, social and cultural history of the Spanish Civil War. It sets out the domestic and international context of the war for a general readership. In addition to tracing the course of war, the book locates the war’s origins in the cumulative social and cultural anxieties provoked by a process of rapid, uneven and accelerating modernism taking place all over Europe. This shared context is key to the continued sense of the war’s importance. The book also examines the myriad of political polemics to which the war has given rise, as well as all of the latest historical debates. It assesses the impact of the war on Spain’s transition to democracy and on the country’s contemporary political culture.


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Winds of the People: Poetry of the Spanish Civil War

Author: Michael Rossman (translator)

Winds of the People is a dramatic anthology of poetry from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).  The Civil War was a luminous tragedy, a prelude to World War II and the popular struggles of our era.  In their involvement and response, the poets of Spain and Latin America produced a magnificent body of verse, richly varied and intimately entwined with the popular spirit, that stands as a testament not only to the cause of liberty, but to the power of poetry’s spirit engaged.

Little of this work was translated into English before World War II began; and after that it was forgotten as such, though the cause was not.  What has appeared since then has been scattered through translations of individual poets.  This volume is the most substantial sample of this splendid legacy to appear in 40 years.

Its compiler and translator, Michael Rossman, was an organizer and occasional poet in the New Left, and lived in Berkeley, where he taught and wrote about education and political culture until his death in 2008.  Winds of the People is out of print, though ALBA has a number of copies available.

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Into the Fire: American Women in the Spanish Civil War

Author: Julia Newman (director)

Spain: 1936: right-wing military officers led by General Franco (and supported by Hitler and Mussolini) attempt to overthrow the newly elected, democratic government.  In response, nearly 80 American women joined the Good Fight – volunteering, in defiance of the US government, to help fight the Fascists in what would become the Spanish Civil War.

In this enthralling, meticulously researched documentary, 16 of these brave and idealistic nurses, writers and journalists share stories of courage and commitment to a just cause.  Weaving archival materials with words from the likes of Dorothy Parker and Eleanor Roosevelt, “the heroism leaves Hemingway’s romantic notions of this war in the dust.”

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Hombres en Guerra

Author: Alvah Bessie

La obra maestra olvidada sobre la guerra civil española que fascinó a Ernest Hemingway.

Hombres en guerra es un clásico que habla de soldados en la línea de fuego, y uno de los mejores testimonios jamás escritos sobre cualquier guerra. Su autor, Alvah Bessie, fue un escritor y periodista estadounidense que en 1938 combatió en la guerra civil española como voluntario de la Brigada Lincoln. Al volver a su país convirtió los cuadernos que había escrito durante la contienda en la base de este libro, que fue publicado en inglés en 1939 -gracias al apoyo de Ernest Hemingway-, coincidiendo con la invasión de Polonia por parte de la Alemania nazi. Pronto Bessie se convirtió en un reconocido guionista de la Warner Brothers. Sin embargo, en 1950, tras ser acusado por el macartismo de pertenecer al Partido Comunista, fue uno de los Diez de Hollywood, el grupo de personas obligadas a abandonar la industria cinematográfica.

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The Front Lines of Social Change

Author: Richard Bermack

The Front Lines of Social Change juxtaposes archival photos of the vets during the Spanish Civil War with contemporary portraits of them in their senior years, taken by Richard Bermack in the 1980s and 1990s.  Accompanying text and photos document their lifelong journeys of activism, from the Spanish Civil War through the repression of the McCarthy era, the labor and civil rights movements, and protests against the VietNam War, US intervention in Latin America, and the Gulf Wars.  It demonstrates how their resolve to fight for a better world gave their lives meaning, a timely message for young people today.

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During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), close to three thousand young, idealistic Americans formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and joined thirty-five thousand people from around the world in the fight against Franco’s fascists, who were supported by Hitler and Mussolini. When these young people returned home, they were labeled communists and blacklisted. Surviving members of the group have since formed the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln and, over the last sixty years, most have participated in virtually every progressive social movement in America. Richard Bermack has assembled an inspiring record. In this book, lifetime activists, many in their eighties and nineties, tell their stories in their own words. In spite of their hardships, each speaks of enduring hope and courage.

The Good Fight Continues: World War II Letters from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

Author: Peter N. Carroll, Michael Nash, and Melvin Small

Written with passion and intelligence, the letters of the veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in World War II express the raw idealism of anti-fascist soldiers who experienced the war in boot camps, cockpits, and foxholes, but never lost sight of the great global issues at stake. When the United States entered World War II on December 7, 1941, only one group of American soldiers had already confronted the fascist enemy on the battlefield: the U.S. veterans of the Lincoln Brigade, a volunteer army of about 2,800 men and women who had enlisted to defend the Spanish Republic from military rebels during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

The 154 letters in this volume, selected from thousands held in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives at NYU’s Tamiment Library, provide a new and unique perspective on aspects of World War II.

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The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade: Americans in the Spanish Civil War

Author: Peter N. Carroll

A collective biography of the Americans who volunteered to fight in the Spanish civil war that provides the first comprehensive, objective, and deeply researched account of the brigade’s experience in Spain and what happened to the survivors when they returned to the United States.

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Comrades: Tales of a Brigadista in the Spanish Civil War

Author: Harry Fisher

The Spanish Civil War served as an ideological and physical battleground for visionary Americans wishing to combat the spread of fascism. Harry Fisher was one such idealist who became a solider in the famed Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the American contingent of international volunteers dedicated to defeating Franco’s forces.

Fisher was one of the earliest American volunteers and one of the few to participate in all the major battles. Under a barrage of shells, bombs, and bullets for eighteen months, he lost his illusions about war’s efficacy in solving political issues. To this day a despondence often overwhelms him when he recalls a family photograph he found jutting from the pocket of a slain fascist soldier. His involvement taught him that up close, the dead, whether fascist soldiers or his own fallen comrades, looked alike.

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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War

Author: James Neugass, Peter N. Carroll, Peter Glazer

In 1937, James Neugass, a poet and novelist praised in the New York Times, joined 2,800 other passionate young Americans who traveled to Spain as part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade—an unlikely mix of artists, journalists, industrial workers, and intellectuals united in their desire to combat European fascism.

Although rumors persisted over the years that Neugass had written a memoir, the manuscript of War Is Beautiful, a nuanced and deeply poetic chronicle of his service as an ambulance driver, did not come to light for sixty years, until a bookseller discovered it among papers in a New England house once occupied by the radical critic and editor Max Eastman. The memoir combines fast-paced accounts of darting onto battlefields to pick up the wounded with elegiac renderings of days spent “on alert” in an ever-changing series of sharply observed Spanish towns, enduring that most difficult of wartime activities: waiting.

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Durruti in the Spanish Revolution

Author: Abel Paz

AK Press has commissioned an elegant, new and unabridged translation of the definitive biography of Spanish revolutionary and military strategist, Buenaventura Durruti. But Abel Paz, who fought alongside Durruti in the Spanish Civil War, has given us much more than an account of a single man’s life.  Durruti in the Spanish Revolution is as much a biography of a nation and of a tumultuous historical era. Paz seamlessly weaves intimate biographical details of Durruti’s life-his progression from factory worker and father to bank robber, political exile and, eventually, revolutionary leader-with extensive historical background, behind-the-scenes governmental intrigue, and blow-by-blow accounts of major battles and urban guerrilla warfare.

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Madrid 1937: Letters of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade from the Spanish Civil War

Author: Cary Nelson

Here are the actual letters that Abraham Lincoln Brigade members wrote home from 1936 to 1939. Here are accounts of their combat experiences, the love letters they wrote under fire, tales of the friendships they formed among themselves and with their Spanish comrades, and their reports of history’s first saturation bombing of civilian targets in Madrid and Barcelona. It was the eve of World War II, and these men and women saw clearly the danger the world was facing. Now, both those who died and those who lived tell us their stories for the first time.

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The Spanish Civil War

Author: Andy Durgan

Here is a clear introductory overview and critical evaluation of the debates and recent published research on the origins, outbreak, course and implications of the Spanish Civil War. Andy Durgan covers the causes of the war, the course of the conflict itself, the impact of foreign powers and the internationalism of the conflict, the socio-political situation in the opposing zones, the reasons for Republican failure and Nationalist success and the nature of the emerging Franco regime.

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Letters from the Spanish Civil War

Author: Peter N. Carroll and Fraser Ottanelli, editors

Letters from the Spanish Civil War provides a unique perspective into the motivations that led a young man from the American heartland to defy U.S. neutrality and travel to Spain to fight in defense of democracy against Nazi- and Fascist-backed aggression. Born in a small town in rural Ohio, Carl Geiser came from a deeply religious German-speaking family that had recently emigrated from Switzerland. The onset of the Great Depression exposed Geiser to the reality of hard times and discrimination, challenging his belief that hard work would bring self-reliance and just rewards. This awakening led him to question the logic and values of capitalism and to become active in a range of youth and student organizations linked to the Communist Party.

Following the 1936 military uprising that was supported by Hitler and Mussolini against Spain’s legally elected Republican government, Geiser decided that more needed to be done than simply delivering speeches and raising money to fight fascism. Joining with over 35,000 volunteers from fifty countries to cross the Pyrenees and help defend the beleaguered and isolated government, Geiser acted on his personal political ideology, which was based on American small-town communal values and internationalist ideals of class-based solidarity.

In Letters from the Spanish Civil War, possibly the largest surviving collection of letters written by a U.S. volunteer during this conflict, Geiser eloquently describes to family and friends the deep personal motivations that led him to risk his life to defend democracy in a faraway country. His detailed descriptions of the daily reality of warfare in one of the first battlefields of World War II sought to inspire those back home to awaken the U.S. public opinion and policy makers to the global threat of Fascist expansionism.

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Facing Fascism: New York & the Spanish Civil War

Author: Peter N. Carroll, James D. Fernandez

When the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, loosely affiliated groups of writers, artists, and other politically aware individuals emerged in New York City to give voice to anti-fascist sentiment by supporting the Spanish Republic. Facing Fascism: New York and the Spanish Civil War examines the participation of New Yorkers in the political struggles and armed conflict that many historians consider a critical precursor to World War II. Nearly half of the 2,800 Americans who volunteered to fight in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade against Generalissimo Francisco Franco came from the New York area. Fundraising, propaganda, and deployment for anti-fascists everywhere in America were orchestrated through New York City. At the same time, powerful voices in New York expressed sympathy for the pro-fascist side.

The fighting in Spain brought to the surface the complex ideological and ethnic identities always present in New York politics. Facing Fascism examines the full range of this experience, including that of the New Yorkers who supported Franco. It addresses the role of doctors, nurses, and social workers who left New York hospitals to provide assistance to the defenders of the Spanish Republic, as well as those who remained active on the home front. The book also describes the involvement of students in the war, the key role of writers and the media, and the contributions made by members of New York’s art and theater communities.

Facing Fascism also serves as the catalog to an exhibition of the same name appearing at the Museum of the City of New York in the spring of 2007. The book and exhibition both make use of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives’ extensive holdings, which range from historical documents to video recordings of oral histories. Numerous other libraries, archives, museums, and private collectors have also been consulted to make this the most complete exhibition of its kind ever mounted. The exhibition will also appear in Spain.

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Tote Bag

Author: ALBA

This tote bag features a print of Evelyn Hutchins, a pioneering woman who drove trucks in Spain during the Civil War. Emblazoned with the tripointed star of the International Brigades and made in the United States.


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For Those Who Came After: Songs of Resistance from the Spanish Civil War

Author: Barbez


Eighty years ago, the “alt-right” proudly called themselves by a different name: fascists. The first war they launched was in July 1936, when right-wing Spanish military generals attempted to overthrow the democratically elected, left-leaning government of the Spanish Republic. The coup initially failed, but the generals, aided by Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, transformed their effort into the bloody three-year long Spanish Civil War, a dress rehearsal for World War II. Though the Republic ultimately lost the war, its defenders organized a response that will endure forever as a testament to solidarity: the creation of the International Brigades, tens of thousands of volunteers, from more than fifty countries, who journeyed to Spain to fight fascism. These included 2,800 Americans who came to be called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

Released November 10, 2017

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