Assurances on Madrid Memorial

March 21, 2014
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IB_MonumentThis article appeared in the 36th issue of the newsletter of the International Brigade Memorial Trust and is reprinted here with the IBMT’s permission.

Madrid Complutense University staff examine the latest act of vandalism against the International Brigade memorial, which took place last November. The red paint has now been removed.

Madrid Complutense University staff examine the latest act of vandalism against the International Brigade memorial, which took place last November. The red paint has now been removed.

We’ve been assured by our friends in Madrid that the International Brigade memorial in the capital’s University City is not in danger. As reported in our last issue, the memorial was deemed to be under threat following a Madrid court ruling in favour of a writ brought by a lawyer with far-right connections complaining that the memorial had been unveiled in 2011 with- out proper planning permission and should therefore be dismantled. The Complutense University authorities insist that they did in fact apply to the city council for the permit and have indicated that they have no intention whatsoever of removing the memorial from their campus.

Representatives of the AABI Spanish International Brigades friendship group say they expect the stand-off to deescalate, and would not be surprised if a retrospective permit duly arrived unannounced in the post.

All this, adds the AABI, is down to the world- wide protests in which the IBMT and its supporters played a prominent part, along with an effective campaign in Spain itself. Protests to Spanish ambassadors, press reports about the threat to the memorial, motions critical of the court’s decision in the House of Commons and Scottish Parliament and an international petition campaign have, apparently, taken the authorities in Spain by surprise. That’s why a quiet resolution to the crisis is expected. Let’s hope this is true; watch this space.

True patriots

Journalist Mark Seddon was spot-on when he invoked the memory of International Brigader Lou Kenton (1908-2012) in his blog on 3 October about the Daily Mail’s attack on the patriotic credentials of Ralph Miliband.

The father of Labour leader Ed Miliband was a man who “hated Britain”, said the newspaper, because of his disdain for the Royal Family and other parts of the Establishment. Like Kenton, Miliband Snr, a refugee from European fascism, fought fascism, in his case for three years during the Second World War in the Royal Navy.

Seddon wrote: “I didn’t know Ralph Miliband, although I knew many who did. But I did know Lou Kenton, of the same generation, also a Jewish Marxist, who distinguished himself as a volunteer ambulance driver with the International Brigades in Spain and doing successful battle with Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts in Cable Street in London’s East End. This was at a time when Viscount Rothermere’s Daily Mail enthusiastically bellowed ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’, while prominent members of the British Establishment, including from the Royal family, were busy appeasing the Nazis and hunting wild boar with Herman Goering in the forests of East Prussia.” To read the whole piece click here.

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