The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)
and the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
1936 marked the beginning of one of the most unlikely events in history. Forty thousand volunteers from all over the world traveled to Spain to defend the Spanish Republic against a military invasion. The invasion was led by Spanish General Franco and aided by the forces of Hitler and Mussolini. These volunteers attempted to do what the governments of Europe were afraid to do; they put their lives on the line in an attempt to stop the fascist onslaught that would ultimately result in World War II.
The Americans who joined the International Brigades became known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. One-third of the Lincolns were killed in Spain, and of those who returned, most were wounded. The United States government labeled them “premature anti-fascists,” and they would be blacklisted and hounded by the FBI for decades. Yet the experience of risking their lives fighting for their beliefs gave them a sense of dedication and purpose that would last them a lifetime. They became the shock troops of the progressive movements from the 1930s until the present.
I hope these photos of the vets, which I took in their later years, contrasted with archival photos taken during the war, will show the vitality and sense of purpose that comes from a life committed to fighting for a better world.
The Front Lines of Social Change: Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
and Lou Gordon