Canadians in the SCW reviewed

March 14, 2010
By

Cynthia Wright reviews Michael Petrou’s Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2008) in the March 2010 issue of the Canadian Historical Review:

“[Petrou] draws on the extensive archive of veteran interviews created by Hoar’s researcher, Mac Reynolds, and supplements these with additional interviews of about a dozen surviving veterans, some of whom have since died. The book’s chief contribution, however, is that it is the first to appear since the declassification of materials on the International Brigades within the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History, now available on microfilm at Library and Archives Canada and at the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives in New York City. [...] La Pasionaria (the Spanish communist Dolores Ibarruri, who became an icon of the Civil War) famously told the International Brigades when they left Spain, ‘You are history. You are legend.’ Indeed, they were and are. But who remembers the Mac-Paps now? Sadly, they still too often go unremembered, despite some recent attempts, such as within the Manitoba Legislature (see www.socialisthistory.ca), to memorialize them. Thanks to the work of the Friends and Veterans of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, among others, there are now monuments across the country. Some of them, however, remain virtually unknown within the cities in which they are located. The monument in Toronto (a rock in a corner of Queen’s Park) is a good example. Much still needs to be done to see that the example and memory of the Mac-Paps are passed on. For example, while there are some truly excellent websites devoted to the us Abraham Lincoln Brigade and to the British volunteers (see www.alba-valb.org and www.international-brigades.org.uk), the volunteers from Canada have no remotely comparable digital presence.”

Share

Leave a Comment