Barcelona, August 4th 2013 1:55am


"Plaza of the Unknown Militiaman." So back when the workers rose up in Barcelona to save their country from the fascist rebels, everything was up for change. These workers were not just fighting Franco, they were trying to create a new, egalitarian nation, a place without blood or monied aristocracies, and where the church and the military served the people rather than dictated to them. Workers council renamed streets and plazas from saints and kings to the new, modern heroes of the people. And this square was named for "The Unknown Militiaman." After the defeat of the people by the fascists some forethinking worker covered this sign with a piece of wood, where it stayed hidden for decades. Eventually, after the Death of the Dictator, someone thought to remove the wood and revealed this message from the past. There are very, very few reminders of the Civil War in Barcelona, which was quite a surprise to me. Having spent years performing for the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade events in the U.S. I had assumed the same boisterous pride of those events would be more than shared by the city which was so central to that epic battle for freedom. (Remember, the governments of the western democracies either stayed neutral or helped the fascists in this war before WWII.) But when I got here one of the first things I noticed was a complete lack of monuments of the War. No placards, no museum, no photo display, no statues to the brave fighters, both Catalan and foreign, who gave their lives for a better Spain. Turns out this, like every Civil War, never really ended, and the struggle of the workers against the fascists is still too controversial a subject to even acknowledge. There are monuments in other part of Spain about the Civil War, but in Barcelona, where the fight was not for bourgeois democracy with all its class divisions, but to create a free Worker's State of equality, of social and economic justice, the struggle of the Civil War goes on. And so it tossed down the memory hole, because the years of struggle and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands is still too dangerous for the government to openly commemorate.


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