Spanish Civil War Letters From American Volunteers

Essay, Research Paper


Albacete, Spain

July 6, 1937

My Beloved Friend:

I & # 8217 ; m certain that by this clip you are still waiting for a elaborate

account of what has this international battle to make with my being here. Since this

is a war between Whites who for centuries have held us in bondage, and have heaped every

sort of abuse and maltreatment upon us, segregated and jim-crowed us ; why I, a Negro who have

fought through these old ages for the rights of my people, am here in Spain today?

Because we are no longer an stray minority group contending hopelessly

against an huge giant. Because, my beloved, we have joined with, and go an active portion

of, a great progressive force, on whose shoulders rests the duty of salvaging human

civilisation from the planned devastation of a little group of perverts gone huffy in

their lecherousness for power. Because if we crush Fascism here we & # 8217 ; ll salvage our people in America,

and in other parts of the universe from the barbarous persecution, sweeping imprisonment, and

slaughter which the Judaic people suffered and are enduring under Hitler & # 8217 ; s Fascist heels.

All we have to make is to believe of the lynching of our people. We can but

look back at the pages of American history stained with the blood of Negroes ; malodor with

the firing organic structures of our people hanging from trees ; bitter with the moans of our

tortured loved 1s from whose populating organic structures ears, fingers, toes have been cut for

keepsakes & # 8212 ; populating organic structures into which juicy fire hooks have been thrust. All because of a

hatred created in the heads of work forces and adult females by their Masterss who keep us all under their

heels while they suck our blood, while they live in their bed of easiness by working us.

But these people who howl like hungry wolves for our blood, must we

detest them? Must we keep the fire which these Masterss kindled invariably fed? Are these

work forces and adult females responsible for the plans of their Masterss, and the conditions which

coerce them to such debauched deepnesss? I think non. They are tools in the custodies of

unscrupulous Masterss. These same people are every bit hungry as we are. They live in honkytonks and

wear rags the same as we do. They, excessively, are robbed by the Masterss, and their faces kept

down in the crud of a rotten system. They are our fellowmen. Soon, and really shortly, they

and we will understand. Soon, many Angelo Herndons will lift from among them, and from

among us, and will take us both against those who live by the malodor of our burned flesh.

We will oppress them. We will construct us a new society & # 8211 ; a society of peace and plentifulness. There

will be no colour line, no jim-crow trains, no lynching. That is why, my beloved, I & # 8217 ; m here in



October 22, 1937

Dear Mom, Pop, and Herbie,

Six months after go forthing place and about five months after geting in

Spain, I & # 8217 ; ve eventually acquire to see some existent warfare. This forenoon Markss my 10th twenty-four hours in

the front line trenches and, altho this forepart is technically talking reasonably quiet at

nowadays, still we & # 8217 ; ve managed to squash in rather a batch since we came up.

We moved into the trenches one forenoon before visible radiation and, every bit shortly as

morning came, the dirt began to wing. Then started my instruction. Some of the veterans

explained the assorted sounds to me. At first anytime anything whizzed, whistled, or

buzzed, I would duck. Then I found out that any slug which passes anyplace near you will

whistling. Ricochets, that is, slugs which have already hit the land or a stone or

something and bounciness off in a different way, bombilation when they go by. When slugs come

really near they sound more like a whimper than a whistling.

But the most of import thing of all about these slug sounds is ne’er

to worry about any slug you hear. Bullets travel much faster than sound, unusual as that

may look, and the slug is manner past you by the clip you hear it. As it & # 8217 ; s put out here,

“ You & # 8217 ; ll ne’er hear the bullet that gets you. ”

Of class, it & # 8217 ; s reasonably difficult to command your natural inclination to

duck when you hear a loud noise, but the lone clip it truly pays to duck is when you hear

a explosion of machine gun fire and hear them come over you. You can & # 8217 ; t, of class, duck the

foremost few if they & # 8217 ; re coming at you, but you can acquire out of the manner of the remainder of the


The same thing goes for heavy weapon excessively, except for trench howitzers and

really heavy material.

A trench howitzer gun looks like a fat can between two wheels. The barrel

points about straight up and the shells go all the manner up into the air and so about

bead. You can judge after a piece if they & # 8217 ; re traveling to your right or left, but if they & # 8217 ; rhenium

coming in your general way there & # 8217 ; s nil to make but trust. Heavy heavy weapon goes really

slow and you can hear them coming, but they normally head for the rear lines anyhow.

Well, the first forenoon I & # 8217 ; m maintaining low in the trench and non excessively much

interested in the elaboratenesss of military instruction, when these trench howitzers start

coming over. They whistle for a long clip before they hit and that merely increases the

torment, waiting for them to set down. When these things start coming the conflict commanding officer

cries “ Everybody down in the trench. ” So I stick my nose six inches below the

degree of my heels and so the commanding officer finishes his sentence, “ That doesn & # 8217 ; t travel for

the experimental staff. Locate that gun. ”

So I found out what detecting under fire meant. Poor me has got to

pass my clip lodging my nose thru cheep holes when it & # 8217 ; s much more comfy two pess

below, and my caput and shoulders over the parapet half the dark, and when the large

assholes come over alternatively of dropping we & # 8217 ; ve got to watch. It was reasonably tough the first

forenoon but I shortly got used to it.

You see, after a piece you get the feeling that what & # 8217 ; s traveling to go on

to you, if anything, will go on reasonably much in malice of anything you do. That doesn & # 8217 ; T

mean we become audacious heroes and walk out of our manner to take hazards because we like to

watch the forms the slugs kick up in the dust, but it does intend that we don & # 8217 ; t go

nervous wrecks bobbing up and down every clip a mosquito buzzes around your left ear. It & # 8217 ; s

the lone sort of defence mechanism you can follow.

Shortly after midday that first twenty-four hours we went over the top. For about three

quarters of an hr after the beginning of the onslaught I didn & # 8217 ; t think I & # 8217 ; d acquire a opportunity to

ascent over that bulge. I was stationed following to the commanding officer in a pretty exposed

observation station maintaining wise to how our male childs were traveling, so that the onslaught could be

decently directed. The commanding officer, you understand, does non travel up until the military personnels have

taken up a place, even a impermanent one, in progress of the original lines. But if you

think that & # 8217 ; s safe, you & # 8217 ; re cock-eyed. He & # 8217 ; s got to maintain composure and see everything that & # 8217 ; s traveling

on when every inherent aptitude is drawing him down to a covered place.

Communication with the work forces out forepart is maintained by smugglers. Pretty

shortly we ran out of smugglers, so I got my opportunity. But the company I had been sent out to

contact had had some tough traveling and was reasonably good scattered and hard to happen. I

went out, couldn & # 8217 ; t happen the company commanding officer nor anyone else who knew where he was. So I

was in a hole. I didn & # 8217 ; t want to return until I had contacted them and I couldn & # 8217 ; t happen them.

I roamed around that god-damned no-man & # 8217 ; s land, sometimes running, sometimes creeping,

sometimes snake-bellying, and holy cow, was that a clip. I didn & # 8217 ; T of class know where in

hell my work forces were and one clip I crawled up to within 50 metres of the fascist lines

before a sniper reminded me where I was.

The hardest thing out there is non maintaining traveling one time you & # 8217 ; re on the

move, but get downing one time you & # 8217 ; ve stopped. When you get down in between two furrows in a

plowed field or behind a small shelf where you know you & # 8217 ; re about every bit safe as you will be,

it certain is tough to acquire up and get down traveling thru the air once more, particularly since you know

there & # 8217 ; s plenty more material in that air besides you.

Another thing. This clip they used trench-mortars against the attacking

work forces. The thing to make when you hear them whistling at you is to drop so that you & # 8217 ; ll be out

of the manner of any shrapnel or winging spots of shell. Most of the clip I could hear them

whistling at me and so the sound would make a high point, and from so on it was

whistling off from me. That scares you, but one time the whistling is behind you you know

you & # 8217 ; re safe a small longer.

But of the six hours I spent out in between those lines the worst

minutes were three times when the whistling of the howitzers approached, came overhead, and

so, alternatively of fadeout, kept coming louder. There & # 8217 ; s really small clip involved, but you

believe fast out at that place. Here & # 8217 ; s that damned shell falling at you, no topographic point to travel to,

nil to make. In that brief blink of an eye you get a atrocious feeling & # 8211 ; non of exhilaration or

fright, but merely surrender. You are a dead adult male aware of the fact & # 8211 ; a organic structure which is exanimate

except that its head knows it is exanimate. I don & # 8217 ; t cognize if you get that. And so, three

separate times, those darns shells land within 10 pess of me, and were duds! This International Relations and Security Network & # 8217 ; T

literary hyperbole, I & # 8217 ; m non composing a bogus escapade narrative. I could see where

the shells hit and dropped soil over me and failed to detonate.

Get my point. We are in danger continually and it is non pleasant. But

there is a gamble, a hazard, a chance. However when there is no chance,

when it & # 8217 ; s a certainty & # 8211 ; it & # 8217 ; s coming at you and you know it & # 8211 ; so you & # 8217 ; ve got something. Try

believing what you & # 8217 ; d think about if you had two seconds to believe it in.

Well, I couldn & # 8217 ; t happen the company and it was get downing to acquire dark, so I

decided to travel back. But I found that wasn & # 8217 ; t so simple either. Dusk is ever a unsafe

clip, so everybody is particularly alert. This twenty-four hours there had been an onslaught, so the

fascists were particularly jittery and there was a snake pit of a batch of fire. I waited for it to

quiet and started back. This clip I attracted fire from both sides because neither side

cognize what I was. It & # 8217 ; s a amusing feeling to be fired on by your ain work forces. I had a twosome of

more chilling minutes, but I eventually got in.

In one or two yearss we & # 8217 ; ll be relieved and I & # 8217 ; ll compose some more. I am

still bodily and mentally unharmed.


October 22, 1937

Well hello everybody & # 8212 ;

We & # 8217 ; ve been here at the forepart for about five hebdomads. It & # 8217 ; s non so healthy

here. Excessively much “ lead-poisoning ” traveling on to be precisely comfy.

Since I last wrote I & # 8217 ; ve been advanced once more. Now I am Chief of Brigade

Scouts. That in itself is doing life less certain. So far I & # 8217 ; ve been beyond the Fascist lines

twice and up to them six times. All at dark of class. In fact we do most all of our work

at dark. We have to travel really easy to avoid being seen. Three times now I have been

seen & amp ; shooting at.

The first clip I was about 20 metres from their line. They opened

up on me with a machine gun & A ; six or eight rifles. Believe me, I hugged the land.

They hit the heel of my left shoe at the seam several times and really blew my shoe

apart there. Five of the “ bullets ” passed thru the place of my bloomerss, one merely

firing my “ fanny, ” but none closer. However my “ fanny ” is a small

sore still to sit on. Acerate leaf to state, I was enough scared.

The 2nd clip they caught two of us, myself and one of my sergeants,

about 50 metres from one of their out-posts. It was reasonably ghastly, as we hid behind two

dead companions who had gotten “ it ” in the onslaught a twosome of yearss before. We lay

at that place for three hours. Every clip we moved, this darn sniper would set a shooting along side

of us. Finally, after the Moon went down we got back. I had 3 holes in my coat to demo for

that patrol.


Jan. 29, 1938

Dear Jeff,

I was strafed one forenoon, when I was returning to the brigade, in a

truck. There was the driver, three companions against the cab, and myself against the dorsum

of the truck. The driver evidentially saw them foremost and started to halt, turning off his

motor and heading toward the bank. This was the first I noticed, so came the staccato

cleft of heavy machine gun and there was the 1st plane, non over 40 pess above us. It

killed the driver immediately, taking off most of his face. The truck was so stopped

against a high bank to the right of the route. I shouted something to the other three and

jumped out. The lone topographic point I could see that offered any screen was between the motor and

the bank. The planes were non coming caput on, but from the side of the truck off from the

bank. They dove three times one after the other, all seven of them, and eventually went off.

I was ne’er so panicky in my life. You see, there was clip between each plane & # 8217 ; s dive, to

think, and the continual tightening up and allowing down was atrocious. It & # 8217 ; s non a really

heroic nor pretty image, but it & # 8217 ; s true. The fact is, I haven & # 8217 ; t yet gotten back on my

pess & # 8211 ; mentally & # 8211 ; yet. It was the first clip I had clip to be afraid. The other times I was

making something and moving, but that incapacitated feeling of no topographic point to travel and merely

waiting & # 8211 ; waiting, truly got me.

By the way they besides dropped manus bombs, but they all hit on the far

side of the truck. If one had landed any topographic point on my side I & # 8217 ; d be so full of lead they

wouldn & # 8217 ; Ts have to delve me a grave, I & # 8217 ; d merely of course sink into the land.

Cecfrom TOBY JENSKY ( American nurse )

June 21, 1937

My Dears & # 8212 ;

To-nite we had our first dance. We invited the male childs of the Lincoln

Battalion and a good clip was had by all. I & # 8217 ; m still on dark responsibility, but I was relieved for

a few hours so I did my spot of dancing. The dance was besides successful in maintaining the

patients awake and now at 3 A.M. they & # 8217 ; re merely about starting off. But what the snake pit. Among

the male childs were a few I knew from the Village, so we talked & A ; talked about New York and

I truly feel much better now. During the full Moon, you can sit outside and read it & # 8217 ; s so

visible radiation. The lone problem is that it & # 8217 ; s besides light for the fascist planes.

A small miss was brought in here yesterday & # 8212 ; all shot full of

holes & # 8212 ; both her eyes blown out. It seems that she and a few others found a manus

grenade and decided to play with it. Her brother died shortly after he was brought in. 3

other childs were somewhat hurt and she if she makes it will be unsighted and all scarred. It & # 8217 ; s

a reasonably atrocious thing & # 8212 ; she & # 8217 ; s got plentifulness of backbones and surely can take it & # 8212 ; you

ne’er hear a whimper out of her. She & # 8217 ; s about 10 old ages old. It & # 8217 ; s the same kind of thing you

see in topographic points that have been bombed, merely more of it. It & # 8217 ; s a stinking concern. We still

acquire really small intelligence of what & # 8217 ; s making. I still don & # 8217 ; t read Spanish, so there you are. I can

talk a few more words. I wish I could do myself sit down for an hr a twenty-four hours and survey,

but there & # 8217 ; s ever something more pleasant to make. Maybe some twenty-four hours shortly & # 8212 ;

I haven & # 8217 ; t written place for a piece, so will you give them my love?

Here & # 8217 ; s trusting we beat the snake pit out of the fascists shortly, so I can acquire


Keep on composing & # 8212 ;

Saluda Comarado ( the 1 & A ; merely salute around here ) .


June 29, 1938

Hi Herb,

Last winter we had the coldest winter in about 20 old ages and now it

seems, we & # 8217 ; rhenium headed for the hottest summer in a long clip. From eleven in the forenoon to 3

or 4 in the afternoon it is merely physically impossible to make anything. The slightest

gesture brings oceans of midst, stinking perspiration turn overing down your organic structure. The civilians sleep

their celebrated siesta, but for us, populating in trenches or in unfastened Fieldss, even this is about

impossible. For along with the hot conditions came the flies. Not flies like the delicate,

scared animals we have in the provinces. Oh, no. Big, heavy, tough, relentless things

that you can & # 8217 ; t shoo off. They swarm in midst clouds over every square inch of your organic structure

that & # 8217 ; s exposed, bombinating fiercely, crawling across your tegument so to a great extent you can experience

each single footfall, seize with teething so that you about bury the lice. And when you swing at

them, they don & # 8217 ; t spread like decently civilized American flies. They simply fly off two

or three inches and are back on you before your manus is at remainder. If you lie exposed they

torture you to distraction and if you put even the most absolute piece of stuff over you,

you drown in your ain perspiration. And the lice, booming on the rich perspiration, turn fat & A ;

bloated like well-nourished hogs and dig munitions in your tegument.


The Front

October 23, & # 8216 ; 37

Dear Shirley,

Another of your frequent and most welcome letters arrived today and

this afternoon I find the clip to reply it.

Heard Langston Hughes last dark ; he spoke at one of our nearby

units & # 8211 ; the Autoparque, which means the topographic point where our Brigade trucks and autos are unbroken

and repaired. It was a most amazing meeting ; he read a figure of his verse form ; explained

what he had in head when he wrote each peculiar verse form and asked for unfavorable judgment. I thought

to myself before the thing started “ Good God how will anything like poesy go off

with these hard-bitten chauffeurs and mechanics, and what kind of unfavorable judgment can they

offer? ” Well it astonished me as I said. The most singular addresss on the topic

of poesy were made by the companions. And some said that they had ne’er liked poesy before

and had scorned the people who read it and wrote it but they had ben moved by Hughes & # 8217 ; s

reading. There was talk of “ Love ” and “ Hate ” and “ Tears ” ;

everyone was profoundly affected and seemed to bare his bosom at the meeting, and the most

reticent ( non including me ) radius of their innermost feelings. I suppose it was because

the life of a soldier in wartime is so unnatural and emotionally starved that they were

moved the manner they were.


Friday, November 25, 1938

Dearest Leo [ Hurwitz ] and Janey [ Dudley ] :

The enclosed note was written after the first two bombardments on

Wednesday & # 8212 ; and I thought when I started that I could get the better of the reaction of the

forenoon, but I had to halt. Now, though still a small hitch and nauseated, I can compose of

the last two yearss with more or less easiness.

The first foray, at approximately 10:30 A.M. , came while two

American soldados

and I were in a store purchasing coffin nail holders. The male childs had come to Barcelona to purchase some

bangles for their misss and I went along with them to assist them take. The store we were

in is some three or four blocks from the hotel and some six or seven blocks from where the

foremost bombs fell. The Siren sounded merely as we were paying our measure. We saw the people

travel rapidlying along the Paseo de Gracia ( our street ) into sheltering room accesss, or embracing the

walls. We stepped into a room access, traveling out to look up when the anti-aircraft started and

I spotted three planes & # 8212 ; enemy planes winging high, they looked minute. The guns were

hot on their trail and the male childs pulled me back into the room access because really frequently the

shrapnel shells of the aircraft shells autumn and acquire you. As we got back to the room access we

heard the bombs falling & # 8212 ; and the male childs made me crouch down, close to them with my caput

buried in my weaponries. The sound of those bombs, and they sounded near ( as we found subsequently

they were ) is difficult to depict & # 8212 ; crashing through the air as if to interrupt the really air

itself, whining and whining and so the contact as they hit their mark & # 8212 ; as if a

thousand bust uping crews were rupturing down edifices at the same clip. I wasn & # 8217 ; T frightened

so, my head was clean & # 8212 ; I was concerned merely with stooping down in the room access. We

got up so and started walking to the hotel, the people in the streets came to life,

go oning to walk to wherever they had been traveling when the dismay sounded ; we reached the

following corner to see a crowd of people indicating up at the sky and so a cry arose, and

heartening as our guns got one plane & # 8212 ; it came down hurtling through the air caput over

heels. We were excited, burying wholly the bombs falling a minute before and we

hurried to the hotel to happen Ed. We found him at that place, worried but relieved to see us.

Everyone talked about the downed plane & # 8212 ; but shortly life went on as usual. Soon we heard

the Siren blow three times, intending all & # 8217 ; s good, the foray is over, and we went out

once more & # 8212 ; Ed, the two male childs, Capa and I. We went to the Rambla & # 8212 ; a long street in old

Barcelona ( Barcelona was one time a little small town & # 8212 ; the Rambla was its chief street with

narrow, weaving streets stretching on either side of it & # 8212 ; and although the Rambla is

one thoroughfare it has assorted names & # 8212 ; like Rambla de Flores, because of the legion

flower sellers, etc. ) . We stepped in a store where Ed and Capa bought some shirts, go forthing

them there while one of the male childs and I went on. We walked at leisure, looking in the

Windowss of the legion stores in the distortion streets, halting to purchase some cosmetic

combs and eventually traveling to a small old-timer store stuck off in one of the small streets

where I had bought a locket some hebdomads ago. We found a necklace for his miss and once more,

merely as we were paying the measure, the Siren started. This clip we knew we were in danger

because this one-fourth had been frequently hit, the last clip merely a hebdomad and a half ago. We left

the store, the male child with me get downing to run, and so I ran excessively. But as I ran I could experience the

panic turning in me and I stopped him & # 8212 ; ” allow & # 8217 ; s follow the people here & # 8212 ; they

cognize where the refugios are & # 8212 ; we mustn & # 8217 ; t run ” I said. Meanwhile ideas

raced furiously through my head & # 8212 ; ” I mustn & # 8217 ; t acquire panicked, I mustn & # 8217 ; t be frightened.

I & # 8217 ; ve got to be unagitated & # 8212 ; if we reach the refugio in clip, good & # 8212 ; if we don & # 8217 ; t there & # 8217 ; s

nil we can make about it & # 8212 ; but we must non run & # 8212 ; Ed will be worried about

me & # 8212 ; I wish I could somehow allow him cognize that we & # 8217 ; ll be all right. ” We followed the

others coming out on the Rambla de Flores where we found two Metro Stationss ( these, of

class, are used as refugios & # 8212 ; although Barcelona is full of freshly built,

wholly safe refugios ) . We followed the others down to the metro & # 8212 ; and I was

struck by the order and deficiency of craze. No 1 pushed or shoved & # 8212 ; everyone was quiet,

composed & # 8212 ; we all helped to acquire the childs down foremost & # 8212 ; and shortly we ourselves went

indoors, traveling deep into the station and standing near to the wall. The people talked

together, played with some Canis familiariss who had come down with us, the kids romped & # 8212 ; these

people will ne’er be crushed. Mussolini and Hitler, nevertheless much they bomb, will ne’er

interrupt the morale of these fantastic, brave people. We heard the guns, the sound

resounding in the tunnel, and once more bombs falling. My friend and I talked in low

tones & # 8212 ; about anything & # 8212 ; I can & # 8217 ; t retrieve now & # 8212 ; we held each other & # 8217 ; s manus and we

both tested hard non to tremble. Soon the visible radiations were on & # 8212 ; we could travel out. As we came

up the stepss of the Metro we saw the whiffs of fume from the guns straight above us and

we knew the bombs had fallen near to us. ( Three blocks from where we were & # 8212 ; we found

out subsequently ) . We walked place, both of us speaking fast, but we walked easy.

We found Ed and the other soldado looking for us madly and

we all embraced in the street & # 8212 ; it was like a reunion. “ Certain, I feel

all right & # 8212 ; wear & # 8217 ; t worry & # 8212 ; I & # 8217 ; ll be all right. ” We went in to tiffin & # 8212 ; and I got

through it someway. It was when I went upstairs that the reaction began & # 8212 ; that & # 8217 ; s when I

had to halt the missive I began to you. I got a terrific stomach ache & # 8212 ; it doubled me up

for 10 proceedingss, and when it was over I was exhausted and agitating as if I had merely dug a

good or pounded stone. I was entirely & # 8212 ; Ed was composing his narrative at the Ministry. I tried

to read & # 8212 ; but the letters danced before my eyes and so I put my book aside and merely sat

in the chair & # 8212 ; believing & # 8212 ; this is what the savages have been making to the Spanish

people for two old ages ; I had witnessed the ruthless slaying of an guiltless people because

fascism & # 8217 ; s rapacious appetency must be satisfied & # 8212 ; I saw what I had been reading

about & # 8212 ; the systematic terrorisation of a people, by which the fascists hope to convey

them to their articulatio genuss & # 8212 ; and I saw the people reiterate the words of Pasionaria & # 8212 ; which

by now have become portion of their lives & # 8212 ; ” Better to decease on one & # 8217 ; s pess than to populate

on one & # 8217 ; s articulatio genuss. ” Think what these homicidal foraies have done to the lives of these

people & # 8212 ; to their nervous mechanisms & # 8212 ; to their saneness. And what a heritage for the

childs! Here was I, coming from comparative freedom, well-nourished, my nervousnesss shattered by my

experience & # 8212 ; and so believe of the Spanish people who have lived through this horror

for two old ages.

But the assholes weren & # 8217 ; t through with us. At seven o & # 8217 ; clock they came

once more & # 8212 ; this clip I watched from our window & # 8212 ; saw the powerful visible radiations cutting the

sky seeking to turn up the planes, saw the whiffs of fume from the guns and the flairs traveling

up & # 8212 ; and the welcome sound of our planes & # 8212 ; our small pursuers traveling after them.

Nothing excites the people every bit much as to see or hear our planes & # 8212 ; they go wild with

exhilaration & # 8212 ; shouting themselves gruff & # 8212 ; every individual clip they come. I was entirely

when the Siren sounded at 11:00. I watched merely a small while this clip & # 8212 ; I threw

myself on the bed, excessively tired to discase, and merely put at that place, choler mounting & # 8212 ; ” the

assholes & # 8212 ; the assholes, ” stating it over and over once more until I could believe no

longer. Ed came in a small after midnight, conveying the intelligence that the Bank of Spain had

been hit in the first bombardment, with an uncomplete count of 40 dead, 124 wounded, largely

adult females. We went to kip eventually & # 8212 ; and so began the dark & # 8212 ; six times they came

over & # 8212 ; the Sirens shrilling each clip & # 8212 ; the guns furiously hiting & # 8212 ; six foraies

in the dark & # 8212 ; six times to make panic. [ Herb ] Matthews [ New York Times

letter writer ] came in to see us in the forenoon, stating us how each clip he had awakened,

jotted down the clip, and so tried to travel to kip once more. There was no terror in the

hotel & # 8212 ; but there was choler and hatred for the fascists. And so at 9:30 they came

once more & # 8212 ; to be driven off rapidly.

When the Siren sounded once more & # 8212 ; this clip intending release & # 8212 ; we

went out, Matthews, [ Robert ] Capa [ the lensman ] , Ed and I, to see the harm. We

found one edifice which had been hit in the 2nd bombardment & # 8212 ; twisted and

mutilated & # 8212 ; hemorrhoids of broken glass and dust in forepart of it & # 8211 ; a immense crater in forepart of

the room access where the bomb had fallen & # 8212 ; a H2O chief cracked. Everywhere around the

edifice & # 8212 ; all the houses had hemorrhoids of glass and dust being swept out of

them & # 8212 ; the concussion frequently creates terrific harm & # 8212 ; in all the small streets off

that chief street on which the edifice was had the small hemorrhoids of broken glass and dust

run alonging them & # 8212 ; the troughs were covered with brick and howitzer. We drove on past the Bank

of Spain & # 8212 ; the bomb had fallen right clean through it & # 8212 ; we went down to the port

where immense craters showed where bombs had fallen, interrupting H2O pipes ; crews were

feverishly at work mending the harm & # 8212 ; there was no mark of terror or panic

anyplace & # 8212 ; people went about their day-to-day undertakings, walked in the really spots where bombs

had fallen & # 8212 ; sat in the coffeehouse along the waterfront & # 8212 ; sat on the benches along the

streets. We talked to one adult male ( Ed wrote about him in his despatch ) & # 8212 ; he told us most of

the people had spent the dark in the refugios & # 8212 ; thereby decreasing the toll of

lives. He was unagitated when he told us about his dismantled house & # 8212 ; a smiling on his face

when he told us he had been able to salvage his household and so the full cogent evidence of what these

people are made of when he said to us in farewell “ I would ask for you to my

house & # 8212 ; but you see, it isn & # 8217 ; t there any longer. ”

When I foremost walked into the streets of Barcelona I was amazed at what

I saw. When we read about Spain in the newspapers, articles, and books, we read of the

forepart, of metropoliss bombed, and I came anticipating to happen a war-like & # 8212 ; or what I thought

was war-like & # 8212 ; atmosphere over everything and everybody. Here in Barcelona, the metropolis

goes on populating its life & # 8212 ; stores do concern, people work and sit in the coffeehouse. When you

are in the metropolis for a piece you begin to see the effects of war. You see that there aren & # 8217 ; T

many immature work forces in the streets & # 8212 ; and if there are they are in unvarying, place on leave or

retrieving from lesions. You see the wrecked edifices where bombs have fallen & # 8212 ; and you

see the adult females and the childs, tattered, ragged, and hungry. But you see excessively that everyplace

are a people who are contending for their lives, their state & # 8212 ; the raised

fist which greets you in Salud is non merely a gesture & # 8212 ; it means life and autonomy being

fought for and a salutation of solidarity with the democratic peoples of the universe.

Barcelona is a beautiful metropolis & # 8212 ; surrounded by hills and mountains & # 8212 ; an of all time blue

sky & # 8212 ; palm trees run alonging the wide avenues & # 8212 ; a metropolis which in peacetime must hold been

a joy to populate in. And the people & # 8212 ; how can I state you how fantastic they are & # 8212 ; how

genuinely a beautiful people the Spanish are. They are an intelligent people and an

understanding people, and even now, in thick of their war, the instruction of its people

goes on & # 8212 ; schools for childs, misss from the Basque state and Andalucia who three

months ago couldn & # 8217 ; t read, now keeping down taking and of import occupations in Government


Hemingway was here for a few yearss & # 8212 ; but one time you meet him you & # 8217 ; re non

probably to bury him. The twenty-four hours he came I had been somewhat nauseated, but Ed came up and got

me up out of bed to run into him. When I came into the room where he was he was seated at a

tabular array and I wasn & # 8217 ; t prepared for the towering giant he is. I about got on my toes to make

his outstretched manus & # 8212 ; I didn & # 8217 ; t need to, but that was my first reaction. He & # 8217 ; s

terrific & # 8212 ; non merely tall but large & # 8212 ; in caput, organic structure, hands. “ Hello ” , he

said & # 8212 ; looked at me and so at Ed and said “ You & # 8217 ; re certain you two aren & # 8217 ; t brother

and sister? ” which meant & # 8212 ; ” what a brace of blond, pale, scraggy

childs! ” He told us another clip when we were driving back to the hotel from someplace

of his correspondence with Freddy Keller & # 8212 ; how he told Freddy he & # 8217 ; s got good material, but

he must analyze & # 8212 ; must educate himself and above all survey Marx. That was what he had

done all winter in Key West, he told us & # 8212 ; otherwise, he said, you & # 8217 ; re a chump & # 8212 ; you

Don & # 8217 ; Ts know a thing until you study Marx. All of this said in short jerked meat

sentences & # 8212 ; with no effort at punctuation. Before he left he gave us the balance of

his commissariats & # 8212 ; non in a gesture, merely gave them to us because he knew we needed them

and because he wanted to give them to us. I & # 8217 ; m still a small awful by the size of

him & # 8212 ; he & # 8217 ; s truly an terribly large cat!

And now & # 8212 ; I & # 8217 ; ll say adieu & # 8212 ; I promise non to allow so long a clip

travel by the following clip I write.


June 21, 1938

Beloved Ernest [ Hemingway ] :

I wish we had had a few yearss in Paris together. Marty [ Hourihan ] was

still there when I got in. You know they sent him out across the mountain. I don & # 8217 ; Ts know

how he of all time managed it with that leg.

The darn fools sent me across the mountain excessively. They knew I had been

expelled from France but they told me it was absolutely safe. I no Oklahoman left the Carabineros

at the top than the Guarde Mobile spotted me & # 8212 ; It was a bright dark and they

fired a twosome of shootings over my caput. I lay low for an hr and so began once more, altering

my line to come out at another topographic point on the route. Then when I got to the route I was so

damned jollied up and excited that I made a error and started right back into Spain

once more. I got about to the Gallic Customs before I was able to acquire my bearings. The Carabineros

had told me about a stairway traveling down the mountain to Cerbere from the route. I couldn & # 8217 ; T

happen it for the life of me, and I kept traveling back and Forth and back and Forth about

those bends in the moonshine. If the Guarde Mobile were looking they must hold

thought the whole 43rd Division was on its manner over. And they did believe something like

that, excessively, because eventually I gave up looking for that stairway and followed the route

right in and so I found the stairway & # 8212 ; the underside of it where it meets the route

once more & # 8212 ; six Guarde Mobile were at that place. I couldn & # 8217 ; t dodge them. They wouldn & # 8217 ; T

believe that I was the lone adult male coming down the mountain. “ Why we saw at least a

twelve ” they said. And two of them took me to the station and the remainder went up the

mountain to run. They hunted all dark.

You know Port Bou & # 8212 ; the manner the whole town seems to be in the underside

of a cave. Well the Fascists bombed us twice the twenty-four hours I was at that place. There are good safeties

but even so it & # 8217 ; s non a nice topographic point to be bombed. When I got over and the Guarde Mobile

had me I said, anyhow, that & # 8217 ; s one thing I don & # 8217 ; Ts have to worry about any longer. There & # 8217 ; s a

good large mountain between me and those planes. Can you believe it? I was non in that gaol

one hr & # 8212 ; had no earlier gotten to kip and I was tired & # 8212 ; before there was the God

damndest clang of bombs merely up the street & # 8212 ; non a 100 paces off from the gaol. I

was all entirely and locked in of class and everybody was running up the street and adult females

shouting. First I felt haunted as if they were following me, and so I felt sword lily that

the Gallic were acquiring a opportunity to run shouting through the streets for a alteration. I even

idea they might allow me travel the following forenoon as a grade of solidarity or something.

The following forenoon they took me to Perpignan on the train. Everybody was

speaking about it in the train. The Pyranees Oriantele was acquiring truly bellicose. They

were all scared and huffy. The Guarde Mobile were excess sympathetic to me & # 8212 ; bought

me Cognac and baccy out of their ain money and forgot about handlocks & # 8212 ; But that was

every bit far as the solidarity went.

At Perpignan I found out that I was up against six months. No

option, no manner out, except pull. I was scared. It was a nice gaol and all that but

the chance of six months made me experience really bad. I wrote at one time to Desnos to acquire in

touch with Martha, who I remembered had some pull with the Extremist Socialists at one clip,

and besides Senator Hollis from N.H. who used to be a friend of my male parent & # 8217 ; s and who patterns

now in Paris. They all got started right off and Charley Sweeney, excessively, went to bat for

me. But here was the amusing thing. And if you think a minute & # 8212 ; you will see the fagot,

uncomfortable place I was in. Father used to hold a friend in Paris & # 8212 ; a really rich

adult male named James Johnson who helped beget a batch & # 8212 ; and I ne’er could stay him. So

Desnos, on Senator Hollis & # 8217 ; s advice goes to Johnson. And the first thing I know & # 8212 ; the

foremost thought of Johnson that I have in two old ages I guess & # 8212 ; there he is down at

Perpignan & # 8212 ; come all the manner down from Paris to assist me out of gaol.


Madrid, December 17, 1937


“ The Moon is really large tonight ” & # 8211 ; this sentence has been on my

head for yearss. It is a beautiful sentence, I can & # 8217 ; t halt turn overing it off my lips. I came

across it in a missive among my paperss while seeking for stuff for the book I am

now working on.

A miss in New York started her missive off to her fellow in Spain

with that & # 8211 ; on the really dark her fellow was killed. He died really courageously under that

really large Moon and that really large Moon lit up the whole landscape, throwing a ghostlike

silvery fire on No Man & # 8217 ; s Land, silhouetting the delivering parties against the sky, and the

fascists opened fire, injuring many of the brave voluntaries who were put on the lining their lives

seeking to convey in the organic structure of that male child who was lying dead out in the field under the really

large Moon his miss was composing approximately in New York. She was really only for him and so she

was looking at the Moon in New York and the Moon was really large ; it reached all the manner to

Spain. He ne’er received the missive. I was the 1 who received it and I read it ten

months subsequently, a few yearss after I finished my chapter, on the dark of the really large Moon,

and I ne’er heard boulder clay so about the miss. But of all time since I read that missive my bosom

went out to that miss. I keep on inquiring whether she still notices the Moon and hope she

is proud of the male child who died a decease worthy of his rules and his category. I want to

raise a memorial for that male child and miss under that really large Moon, a memorial of love and

category battle and of gallantry and self-negation and forfeit that shall be at the same

clip a memorial of the battle against fascism in Spain.

The Moon has been really large a figure of times and I hope the clip will

be shortly here when it will reflect on a free Spain and we, two, will walk arm in arm under

that really large Moon, believing about that other male child and miss & # 8230 ; .Sanyi

REPRINTED from Cary Nelson and Jefferson Hendricks, eds. Madrid

1937: Letterss of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade from the Spanish Civil War, right of first publication

1996 by Routledge.

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