Sheffield celebrates South Yorkshire's contribution to Spanish Civil War
The University of Sheffield is marking the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil war (July 1936) with a series of public lectures, poetry, film screenings and exhibitions celebrating the part played in the war by international volunteers, particularly those from South Yorkshire.
The University is working in partnership with the International Brigades Memorial Trust, an organisation which aims to educate the public about the history of over 35,000 men and women who volunteered from over 50 countries to help the Spanish Republic in its fight against fascism. From Saturday 2 July to Sunday 17 July 2011 events will take place across the city which will tell the stories of British and Irish volunteers who joined the War between 1936 and 1939.
The events will also explore the history of activism and volunteering in the 20th century, particularly focussing on contributions made by South Yorkshire residents. In the Peace Gardens on Saturday 9 July the Lord Mayor Sylvia Dunkley, Councillor Paul Blomfield and Councillor Julie Door will attend a ceremony to rededicate the Sheffield Memorial plaque to those South Yorkshire residents who gave their lives fighting fascism in Spain.
Lead academic and world-renowned expert on the Spanish Civil War, Professor Mary Vincent from the University's Department of History, commented: "World history was played out in Spain in 1936 and the involvement of volunteers from Britain, North America, and all over Europe is real testimony to that. Sheffield is a city with a long tradition of political activism and it seems appropriate to commemorate that.
"It's really good to see archival materials from the University's Special Collections and the city's Local Studies Library on public display. These show the interest and involvement there was both locally and nationally in the Spanish Civil War. But above all, the civil war was, like all civil wars, a fight for the future of Spain. The Spanish films being screened at the Showroom show this eloquently. I hope the enormity of that struggle is more widely recognised."
At the University's Jessop West exhibition space from Monday 4 to Friday 15 July visitors will be able to see Antifascistas, an exhibition addressing the history of British and Irish Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, including a display of books and pamphlets showcasing material held in the University Library. This includes items from the Left Book Club and chronicles the campaign to help the beleaguered Spanish Republic as well as the efforts made by International Brigade veterans to publicise the plight of prisoners of war and other victims of Francoist repression after 1939.
In the Local Studies Library on Surrey Street in Sheffield from Saturday 2 July to Sunday 4 September, Behind the Clenched Fist will display materials illustrating local support for Republican Spain during the war.
On Wednesday 6 July a symposium at Jessop West exhibition space entitled Volunteers! Revolutionary Activism in the Twentieth Century, will bring together a group of speakers who will discuss the experiences and motivations of transnational volunteers, looking at the causes for which they struggled, how these were remembered and the suspicion with which they were often regarded at the time.
Speakers include Dr Steve Ludlam and Dr Holger Nehring from the University of Sheffield, Dr Josie McLellan from the University of Bristol and Dr Tom Buchanan from the University of Oxford.
At Sheffield Trades and Labour Club on Wednesday 13 July there will be an evening of songs, readings and poetry, and on Saturday 17 July Rob Hindle will lead a poetry evening exploring the Spanish Civil War at the Red Deer pub. The Showroom Cinema will be screening films throughout July including The Devil's backbone, The Spirit of the Beehive and Land and Freedom.
Mike Wild, whose father was the commander of the British Batallion in the 15th International Brigade, is Secretary of the South Yorkshire branch of the International Brigades Memorial Trust. Mike commented: "I think that people will have a new appreciation and empathy with those who experienced the start of the Spanish Civil War, due to the current state of unrest and turmoil in countries in North Africa and Europe. Right now, our TV screens are full of people protesting about unemployment, the economy, dictatorships and oppression – which are all pertinent to the Spanish Civil War. We are now seeing examples of how uprisings can become civil wars, how ordinary people can form militias from nothing, as was the case in Spain in 1936.
"My hope for this series of events is to honour the memory of local, ordinary people like my father, who recognised the real potential for world war in this conflict and knew that fighting fascism was worth risking their lives for. I hope that our partnership with the University helps to ensure a lasting legacy for the future generations of Sheffield. When we dedicate the memorial in the Peace Gardens on 9 July, it is with the hope that future generations, for many years to come, will be proud South Yorkshire's contribution to this cause".
Notes for Editors:
To find out details of events and how to book, visit:
Spain 1936 events
To find out more about the International Brigades Memorial Trust, visit:
International Brigades Memorial Trust
Visit the Spain 1936 Facebook page:
Spain 1936 Facebook
These events are organised in collaboration with the University's Faculty of Arts and Humanities. To find out more about the Faculty, visit:
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
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