British descendants of anti-Fascist volunteers in the Spanish Civil War to be offered citizenship

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British descendants of the International Brigaders who fought fascism in the Spanish civil war have been offered Spanish citizenship as part of a new law which confronts the legacy of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

Some 2,500 British volunteers went to Spain to support the Republican government in its stand against an armed uprising by Nationalist troops loyal to General Francisco Franco in the conflict between 1936-1939.

On Tuesday Pablo Iglesias, the Spanish deputy prime minister, confirmed that descendants of the International Brigades “that fought for the liberty and against fascism in Spain” would be eligible for Spanish citizenship.

The i politics newsletter cut through the noise

Los descendientes de los brigadistas internacionales que combatieron por la libertad y contra el fascismo en España, podrán acceder a la nacionalidad española. Ya era hora de decir desde el Gobierno a estos héroes y heroínas de la democracia: gracias por venir ✊

— Pablo Iglesias ???? (@PabloIglesias) September 15, 2020

He tweeted: “Now is the time to say from this government to these heroes and heroines: thanks for coming.”

Fighting fascism

About 35,000 members of the International Brigades from around the world fought in Spain. No British volunteers are still alive.

Jim Jump, president of the International Brigade Memorial Trust, told i: “We are delighted. It honours the descendants who have kept up the memories of their relatives who went to Spain to fight fascism. It comes at an important time when Spain tries to deal with its past.”

In 2015, Spain’s Congress passed the law to offer historical redress to the descendants of the Jewish community which was expelled from Spain in 1492.

Dr Richard Baxell, an expert on the International Brigades, told i: “This is excellent news. It is like when Spain offered nationality to the Sephardic Jews who were expelled in 1492.”

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A museum in a suitcase is preserving Spain’s civil war memories — still a bitterly controversial subject

A dark chapter

The offer of Spanish nationality to descendants of the International Brigades was one of the measures in the Democratic Memory law, which was passed by Spain’s government.

The law offered reparations to the victims of General Franco who won the civil war and ruled Spain until his death in 1975.

Unlike Germany and other countries which have endured dictatorships, Spain has never come to terms with this dark chapter of its recent history.

The bill aims to ban a foundation which promotes the legacy of General Franco and use state funds to trace thousands of victims whose remains were dumped in mass graves across Spain.