Volunteers’ heroic work during Spanish civil war is focus of exhibition

International Brigades volunteers in Spain
International Brigades volunteers in Spain

THE SPANISH Civil War will be remembered in a fascinating exhibition in Eastbourne this Easter.

Antifascitas tells the story of the 2,500 British volunteers who joined the International Brigades to defend democracy during the Spanish Civil War.

It takes place at the Leaf Hall on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Sunday and features striking contemporary images of the brave and idealistic young men and women who travelled to Spain to fight fascism from 1936-9.

The exhibition, which has been put together by the International Brigade Memorial Trust, has been brought to Eastbourne following well-received visits to London, Manchester, Liverpool, Dublin and Southampton.

Mike Anderson, the Heathfield-based secretary of the memorial Trust, said, “2011 is the 75th anniversary of Franco’s attempted military coup against the elected government of the Spanish Republic.

“Hitler and Mussolini sent thousands of men and tonnes of weaponry to aid Franco and the Luftwaffe used Spain as a training ground.

“Aircraft crews which had bombed Guernica and Bilbao would later be seen in the skies over Eastbourne and Sussex bringing death and destruction in the Blitz.

“A number of Sussex men joined the brigade, and there are many other connections between the county and the conflict, George Orwell who wrote about his experiences in Spain in Homage To Catalonia was educated in Eastbourne, and Charleston poet Julian Bell was killed while serving as an ambulance driver for the International Brigade.”

The exhibition explores the reasons why the volunteers took the extraordinary decision to risk their lives in a foreign war which claimed the lives of more than 500 of them.

The role of the British Battalion in many of the key battles in Spain is also described, along with biographies of some of the outstanding individuals who took part.

Antifascistas also details the heroic work of the medical volunteers in makeshift hospitals near the frontline.

Admission to the exhibition is free and the opening hours are: Good Friday April 22 12-5pm, Easter Saturday April 23, 10-5pm and Easter Sunday April 24, 10-6pm.