The Spanish Civil War: Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion

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    The Spanish Civil War: Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:32 pm

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    Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion Monument

    Article by Steve Harvey (Program in PDF format)

    On Saturday, Feb 12, 2000 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, the unveiling of the statue which completes the memorial to members of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion took place. The "Mac-Paps", as they are affectionately known, were the Canadian contingent of the International Brigades who went to fight against Franco in Spain. The monument has been in the works for some time now, with the first part finally being put in place in December 1998.

    It was a great moment to see the old veterans of the Spanish Civil War given some recognition. Canada is one of the few holdouts that still refuses to recognize the sacrifice of the Spanish Civil War veterans, who were officially classified as "premature anti-fascists" at the time. We heard at this ceremony that work is underway to erect a national monument to the "Mac-Paps"

    There are only three veterans from British Columbia still alive, none well enough to come to the ceremony, but Brigadistas from the United States and elsewhere came, including one amazing fellow who flew from Israel for the event! (He seemed to have boundless energy-he insisted that a reporter, young enough to be his granddaughter, dance a few steps with him around the halls of the Legislature where he was being interviewed.)

    We cheered as the veterans,accompanied by a piper and bearing aloft the flag of the Spanish Republic, marched in a short parade to the monument. There, the speakers included Dan Miller, (then) Premier of British Columbia ; Jim Sinclair, the President of the British Columbia Federation of Labour; Svend Robinson, an outspoken New Democratic Member of Parliament in the government of Canada; and Joe Barrett and Tom Kozar, the two men most responsible for this monument coming into being.

    Bob Reid, a Mackenzie-Papineau volunteer from the U.S.A. also spoke, as did Rosaleen Ross, who served as a nurse in Spain. The Spanish government was represented by Joaquin Ayala, Honourary Consul of Spain.

    We cheered again as the veterans marched back into the Legislature, the seat of the Provincial government of British Columbia, where a reception was held. We talked, drank tea and coffee, ate, and sang songs such as "Hold the Fort", "The Peatbog Soldiers", "Viva la Quince Brigada", and others. We made the halls ring with a prolonged, and lusty version of the "Internationale" - it was good to see the proud expressions on the veterans' faces, and those of their friends and families. Some of the veterans' families were able to identify their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, etc. in the photographs on display. For some, it was an opportunity to learn more about what caused their family members to go to Spain. For others, it was a chance to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, and share stories and thoughts.

    Here is part of a letter Victoria resident Inger Kronseth wrote to the "Times Colonist" newspaper following the event:

    "Later at the reception in the legislature's rotunda, I found a Danish veteran who- in spite of being severely handicapped- had come all the way from Delta [south of Vancouver,BC] He told me about another Danish veteran, Henning Sorensen, who among other things, had been Dr. Norman Bethune's driver. Henning, an old friend of mine, died last year. I also met a nurse who had been on the battlefields from 1936 to 1939. I was deeply touched by the veterans' stories."

    In all, a great and long-overdue day. Finally, those who took action to help the Spanish Republic against the combined Fascist forces of Franco, Mussolini and Hitler were given some official honour. Credit goes to the New Democratic government of British Columbia for providing space for this monument. The driving force behind project is Tom Kozar, recently retired Vice-President of the British Columbia Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU).

    Tom can be contacted at:
    3906 Creekside Place,
    Burnaby, B.C. V5G 4P9,
    Canada

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    Re: The Spanish Civil War: Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:35 pm

    Courtesy of [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    SPANISH CIVIL WAR

    The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was a military rising originating in Morocco, headed by General Francisco Franco.
    Over twelve hundred Canadian soldiers supporting Republican Spain took part in the Spanish Civil War to defend the Spanish Republic against the military rebellion led by General Franco and aided by Hitler and Mussolini. These men created a unique military unit: the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion of the XVth International Brigade of the Spanish Republican Army: 'the Mac-Paps.'

    The Abraham Lincoln Brigade (The Lincolns) fought alongside approximately 35,000 anti-fascists from fifty-two countries. In keeping with Popular Front culture, the Americans named their units the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, the George Washington Battalion, and the John Brown Battery. Together with the British, Irish, Canadian, and other nationals they formed the Fifteenth In- ternational Brigade.

    The International Brigade consisted of, for example, US volunteers in the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, German volunteers in the Thaelmann Battalion, and Canadians in the MacKenzie-Papineau Battalion. The International Brigades were 40,000 strong coming from 52 countries

    When the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion arrived in Spain it was incorporated into the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. Later it became part of the 15th International Brigade.

    The battalion first saw action at Fuentes de Ebro on 13th October 1937. In this offensive 60 were killed and 200 were wounded. The Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion also took part in the battles at Teruel in December 1937 and Ebro in July 1938. By the end of the Spanish Civil War almost half of the Canadian volunteers had been killed.

    Some 16,000 gave their lives fighting fascism. The contingents were approximtely
    France, 10,000
    Germany, 5,000
    Poland, 4,000
    Italy, 3,500
    U.S. and Britain, 2,500 each
    Belgium, 1700
    Czechoslovakia, 1,500
    Canada, 1,200
    Yugoslavia, 1,200
    Latin America, 1,000
    Hungary, 1,000
    Scandinavia, 1,000
    Holland, 600
    Switzerland, 400

    An International Non-Intervention Committee, and the Foreign Enlistment Act prohibiting travel to Spain cut down on relief troops for the International Brigade. In October 1938 the International Brigade was withdrawn from combat and disbanded. The financial problem of getting home to Canada was solved by two private citizens.

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    Re: The Spanish Civil War: Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:38 pm

    Does anyone have a copy of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion roster? If yes, could you please post it.

    Did the Canadian members of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion wear any special insignia?

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    Re: The Spanish Civil War: Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion

    Post by Battalion Colours on Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:45 pm

    Here are links to the only books published on Canadians in the Spanish Civil War:

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    Adam

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