Saturday, 9 April 2016

¡No pasarán!

It is the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War this year, a war which saw half a million Spaniards perish, plus another 100,000 subsequently murdered by Franco. Ordinary men and women from all over the world joined the International Brigades to defend the democratically-elected Republican government against Franco's Fascists, who were supported by Hitler and Mussolini.

The bravery and self-sacrifice of ordinary folk who chose to resist Fascist dictatorship and defend democracy has created a heroic legend that is well justified, but at the time the civil war tore Spanish society apart at the roots: Michael Portillo's father, for example, fought for the Republic, but all his uncles fought for Franco - tragically, such family ruptures were not uncommon, often without any reconciliation afterwards.

A special beer called Brigadista will be brewed to commemorate the start of the war by Durham-based microbrewery Black Hill Brewery, which was set up by ex-miner Chris Graham. It will be dedicated to all the women and men who travelled to Spain to fight for the Republican side against Franco, and will carry the slogan of the Spanish Republicans: ¡No pasarán! (They shall not pass!). Made in conjunction with the International Brigade Memorial Trust and Hope Not Hate, the beer will be sold to raise money for the IBMT's campaigning, educational and commemorative work.


  1. I'll order a crate! Ellos nunca pasarán! (They shall never pass!)

  2. The Spanish Civil War was a tragedy for all concerned and, as you point out, Nev the conflict tore the country apart. On paper, the Republicans should have won, as a significant part of the army had stayed loyal to the elected government, rather than joining the rebels when the uprising was launched.

    Unfortunately the Republican forces were increasingly hampered by division and political interference; especially after the Soviet Union became involved. Politically motivated “commissars” would often over-rule commanders in the field; and there are tales of brigades having a debate, followed by a vote, on tactics, prior to going into battle!

    Franco did not instigate the uprising, but took control of the Nationalist forces following the death of the original leader, General Mola, in a plane crash. Like all dictators, Franco was ruthless in his suppression of dissent and was responsible for tens of thousands of summary executions of republican supporters and sympathisers at the end of the war. Atrocities had also been committed by Republican forces, during the Civil War, although not on quite the same scale.

    As you point out Nev, Franco’s forces received significant aid from both Hitler and Mussolini, but fortunately, for Britain and her allies, Franco did not repay these favours and Spain remained neutral during the Second World War.

    A former member of our CAMRA branch, now sadly deceased, had fought for one of the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, but he never really talked much about it. This Brigadista beer will be a fitting tribute to Ron and his comrades, and also to all the folk who perished both during and after the conflict. I will look out for it.

  3. Thanks for that, Paul. If I find a bottle of this, I'll raise my glass to your deceased friend.


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