|Max Levitas and Monty Goldman pay tribute to their sacrifice|
MORE than 100 people gathered in Jubilee Gardens on the south bank of the Thames on Saturday 5th July to remember and honour the men and women of the International Brigade – anti-fascists from all over the world who left their homes to come and fight against the Fascist General Franco’s war against the elected Republican government of Spain in 1936.
The brigaders who came from Britain had to defy their own government to take part in the struggle in Spain. The Communist Party of Great Britain organised secret passage through France and across the Pyrenees for the volunteers.
"They went", as the inscription in the International Brigade memorial in Jubilee gardens says, “because their open eyes could see no other way”.
They did not succeed. Franco’s army of mainly Moroccan troops was backed with money and the latest weaponry from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany while the western “democracies” – France, Britain, the United States and others – sat on their hands and outlawed any involvement in the conflict.
Many believe that had they succeeded the advance of fascism in Europe would have been stopped and the Second World War could have been averted.
Representatives of many organisations laid wreaths, including the Spanish Embassy in London, a veteran of the Spanish Republicans who left Spain in 1939, after Franco’s triumph, to fight elsewhere against fascism in Europe, laid a wreath on behalf of those who had died in that fight.
Two veteran anti-fascists from London’s east End, Monty Goldman and Max Levitas, laid a red wreath on behalf of Hackney and Tower Hamlets branch of the Communist Party of Britain. And Kevin O’Hanrahan laid a wreath on behalf of the Connolly Association.
There were also wreaths from trade unionists, including a local branch of Aslef and from a group of young Polish anti-fascists who attended the event for the first time – showing that the international nature of the struggle against fascism carries on and is needed now in face of a new upsurge of fascism in Europe.