are history. You are legend.’
3rd September – 31st October 2008
By the time this review is published, this extraordinary exhibition,
which commemorates and celebrates the people of Merseyside who fought
against Franco’s troops to defend the Republic in the Spanish Civil
War, should have been closed. However, due to the unexpected number of
people who have so far visited it, the exhibition will remain open for
until the end of October.
That this exhibition, despite its lack of publicity, has been so successful
is perhaps unsurprising. In Liverpool, unlike other places such as Salford
or Manchester, it doesn’t seem to be easy to find information about
the contributions of the volunteers from Merseyside who seventy years
ago went to Spain to fight, and in many cases die for their ideals.
This is why this exhibition is so remarkable and it helps explain why
many people, including relatives of the volunteers, sons and daughters
of Spanish refugees who settled in Merseyside and elsewhere in the UK
or people with an interest in the events of 1936-39, were eagerly waiting
for something like this to take place in Liverpool.
It is fitting then that such event is happening now that Liverpool celebrates
its status as European Capital of Culture, adding a different angle to
the mainstream celebrations, telling locals and visitors alike of the
extraordinary and moving story of those involved in this episode whilst
acting as a reminder of Liverpool’s heritage of resistance and political
The exhibition’s aim is to educate and inform us about the journey
that these men undertook seven decades ago, a journey that would enter
the History books as a valiant and heroic attempt to defend the values
of the legitimate Spanish Republic.
Several panels spread out around the centre’s reception area and
the first floor tell us of the names of those volunteers involved, profiles
of well-known Brigaders such as Jack Jones, famous battles they were part
of, aspects of their daily life in Spain, their relationship with the
natives, together with examples of the art and culture produced in defence
of the Republic.
It gives us also a succinct but interesting account of the bigger picture,
the Civil War that tore Spain apart and led to a dictatorship that for
forty years kept Spain in the darkness.
There is also information on what is known as the ‘Internalisation’
of the conflict, when it became clear that for Russia and Germany this
was somehow a rehearsal of a future and bigger conflict.
This exhibition deserves a wider audience, for every single person in
Liverpool and Merseyside should know about the courage, commitment and
solidarity of these volunteers, ensuring that future generations do not
forget who, in the words of Dolores Ibárruri- ‘La Pasionaria’*
- were ‘heroic example of democracy’s solidarity and universality’.
When the Volunteers had to leave Spain, she paid tribute to their support
saying: ‘You can go proudly. You are history, you are legend’.
It is up to us now to make sure these words are not forgotten.
Visit the website: - Researching and commemorating the
role of Merseyside in the Spanish Civil War and the International Brigades.
*Secretary General of the Spanish Communist Party