Friday, November 30, 2018

Red Round-Up (2013)

Picture via Libcom.
Pamphlet Review from the October 2013 issue of the Socialist Standard

Spanish Anti-Fascist ‘Prisoners of War’ in Lancashire, 1944-1946. By Richard Cleminson, Northern Earth, 2012 (£2.50)

This short pamphlet, although primarily of local interest, is of considerable value in highlighting wider issues. After having escaped Franco’s victorious armies in 1939, most Spanish Republican fighters were interned in ‘democratic’ France, often in appalling conditions. After May 1940, those lucky enough not to be shot on site were ‘volunteered’ as slave labourers by the Nazis.

1944 was far from the liberation many had expected: Condemned as collaborators, many of the ‘Spanish Reds’ were again rounded up and imprisoned, this time by the Allies. By various convoluted routes, some 226 of these ‘POWs’ ended up in Hall o’ the Hill Camp near Chorley. The disrespect shown to the credentials of these honourable individuals is a clear indication that the Second World War was by no means a clear anti-fascist struggle.

Particularly interesting are the pictures, which were mostly taken by Marie-Louise Berneri, the famous anarchist, and the all-too-brief personal stories of the individuals involved. The message is somewhat undermined by the copious references, a result of the text being taken verbatim from an academic journal. The publishers would be well-advised to adapt any future texts, bearing in mind that literature intended for the general reader does not have to be as rigorously sourced as scholarly works.
Keith Scholey

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