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The Spanish Collection comprises archives relating to the International Brigade, the Spanish Civil War and the Aid Spain Movement in Britain. It is the most significant of its kind in the UK.
In 1936 a military coup led by General Franco attempted to overthrow Spain’s elected Popular Front government. There ensued a bloody civil war which, against the backdrop of the rise of fascism in Europe, is widely considered a precursor to the Second World War. The Western powers adopted a policy of non-intervention, and, while the Soviet Union sold arms to the Spanish Republic, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy openly assisted the Francoist forces providing troops and armaments. In response, over 35,000 from 50 countries, the majority socialists and communists, volunteered to fight on behalf of the Republic in Spain. Over 2,500 went from the Britain Isles. The International Brigades were part of a broader Aid Spain Movement in Britain, a grass roots campaign in support of the Spanish Republic. Across the country funds were raised for medical aid, for food ships, and in support of refugees from Spain.
The MML's Spanish Collection was established in 1975 with the donation of the archives of the International Brigade Association, an organisation formed by veterans of the British Battalion of the International Brigade on their return from Spain in 1939. The collection also contains archive material of mixed provenance which was collected by the International Brigade Association, or donated separately to the Library since 1975 spanning a period from prior to the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 to the present day. It includes papers of other organisations such as the Appeal for Amnesty in Spain, the International Brigade Dependants' Wounded Aid Committee, the Basque Children's Committee and the International Brigade Memorial Appeal Committee; papers relating to over two hundred of the British individuals who travelled to Spain as military or medical volunteers during the Civil War, including diaries, correspondence, sketches, poetry and photographs; a large collection of printed ephemera relating to the International Brigades and the Aid Spain movement; and a large photograph collection of mixed provenance, including many contemporary photographs taken in Spain during the Civil War.
In addition to this archival collection, which can be browsed here, the Library also holds large collections of books, pamphlets and periodicals relating to the Spanish Civil War and the International Brigade. The Spanish Collection as a whole, including our books and pamphlets, can be browsed here.