My countrymen: South Wales miners on the Jarama I think: some of whom walked to Spain to fight for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War 1936-9.
As Ernest Hemingway quoted John Donne:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee
Paul Preston is measured and up to date on this war in ‘The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge.’ He makes his ultimate sympathies clear, but manages to cut through the belief systems to a good account of what happened. He is not a fan of Franco, but has high regard for King Juan Carlos in his earlier book ‘Juan Carlos: steering Spain from dictatorship to democracy.’ Spain is finally coming to terms with its painful memories.
I sometimes visit a stone cabin belonging to a friend of mine in the Alpujarez in the mountains south of Granada. In 1940 after the war was won by Franco, an on the run Republican soldier was hiding out in the hills above it. A local widow who had lost her husband in the war was living in the cabin and feeding the soldier. A member of Guarda Civil came to investigate. On his way back to the town, he was shot dead. The Guarda Civil then came and shot the widow. Such is Civil War. Juan Carlos ended that process, though there is much bitterness to be shown the light of day and as per South Africa some healing too. In the region I visit, they now are digging up the victims who were brought out into the hills from Granada to be shot.
If only Israel had a Juan Carlos?
Footnote: this is a brilliant book about the recovery of memory in Spain:’ Ghosts of Spain: Travels through Spain and its Silent Past’ by Giles Tremlett