Category Archives: Fascism

Irish reactions to the Velvet Revolution in 1989

Here in the Czech Republic, it is no ordinary Tuesday. Today in the Czech calendar is Freedom and Democracy Day. November 17th 1989 marks a significant day in the modern history of the Czech Republic. November 17th 1989 occupies a position in the narrative of Czech history,  like October 28th 1918, of the beginning of a hopeful new era. It marks the emergence from the oppression of regime foisted on Czechs from outside. In 1918, it was casting off the defeated Austro-Hungarian Empire to form the First Czechoslovak Republic. In 1989, it was casting off a calcified Communist regime which had since the beginning of the 1970s enforced ‘normalization’ following the crushing of the Prague Spring. These are the parallels between 1918 and 1989, and as with any narratives of national freedom, they are highly seductive. But, the truth of the events of 1989, the ‘velvet revolution’, and the end of Communist rule beginning with the student protests on November 17th that year are decidedly more complicated. Continue reading

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Filed under Communism, Czechoslovakia, Fascism, Socialism, Twentieth Century

Prague: Silence, History and the Magical City

Before I ever started visiting Prague with regularity, the city was increasingly on my radar thanks to the writing of Tony Judt. I began reading Tony Judt when one of my sisters bought me his monumental Postwar for Christmas a number of years ago and through friends I discovered more of Judt’s work just as his illness seemed to have finally conquered him. His final few works which include The Memory ChaletIll Fares The Land and his conversation with Timothy Snyder, Thinking The Twentieth Century, all give special mention to the Czech Republic and to Prague and to the famed Prague Spring of 1968. Since I began reading this work, a change in personal circumstances has meant that I now visit Prague on a regular basis and over the course of my accumulated visits, I have learned incrementally more and more about the city, about the Czech lands and their history. I have toyed with the idea of writing something about this oft-written-about city previously for The Dustbin, but for the first time, and following my most recent visit, I feel I finally have something to offer up, something like a coherent thought about the place…

 

“It is as if we conjure the dead and they speak only

Through our own damned trumpets, through our damned medium:”[1]

 

These lines of Jack Spicer’s from his poem Imaginary Elegies sum up for me the job of the historian, and the care we need to take when we conjure the dead through our damned medium: our damned medium being history. A poetic expression of EP Thompson’s famed rallying call to rescue people from the condescension of posterity, it also acknowledges that when historian’s conjure up the dead, in whatever fashion, they make noise again where there has since been silence.

Like many European capitals, the sheer wealth and depth of the history that courses through the streets of Prague can be overwhelming for the visitor – from the remarkable architectural heritage to be found at places like Vysehrad, St. Vitus’ Cathedral, the Charles Bridge and the Waldstein Palace to the seemingly endless public statuary that reminds one constantly through works that are sometimes simple and other times monumental in every sense, of the long deep history which the streets of the city have had to bear from Hussite Revolution to Fascist invasion and much more besides. In that respect, Prague can like so many great cities, seem to be drowning in its own history and the competition moreover of each of these different facets of the city’s history to interest and intrigue the thousands upon thousands of tourists wending their way through Old Town past the sellers of knick-knacks and tack. But as with all cityscapes which are teeming with the weight of so much history, pulling you in different directions and through centuries as you turn from one street to the next, crossing one set of tram tracks at the end of a square to turn on to another, there is also the presence of how silent those pasts can actually be, despite this noisome melange.

What turned my mind to the notion of silence was a number of exhibitions I viewed on my most recent trip to Prague. At the DOX, the contemporary art gallery, there were three particular exhibits that upon reflection had something vital to say about history and silence. The three exhibitions of which I am thinking are the poster as propaganda, 1914-2014, an exhibit of various samizdat publications and finally an exhibition of the Chinese photographer Liu Xia. Reflecting on all three of these exhibitions as I saw them together under the one roof, the theme of silence (especially imposed silence), especially strong in Liu Xia’s work, struck me as equally important to the other two exhibits as well.

The enforced silence of Liu Xia, under house arrest since her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, is a silence that must no doubt resonate deeply and strongly in Prague, a city where silence under the Nazi and Communist regimes was a part of everyday life. With every visit to the city, you become more and more acutely aware of all that has passed on its streets and squares. The different exhibitions that I saw at the DOX each taught me something important about how to understand the history of the Czech Republic and its capital.

The first exhibition on the poster as propaganda tool was a fascinating sweeping history of the twentieth century in central Europe first but gradually widened out to consider other global struggles and revolutions, the onset of globalization, the war on terror and the recent crisis of late capitalism. What struck me as particularly interesting was the periodization of the exhibition. Periodization is a vexed issue at the best of times for historians but the lay out of this exhibition was particularly interesting in terms of the periodization that was employed. Some standard periods were employed such as 1918-1939, but it was towards the post Second World War era that things got interesting in this regard. There was no periodization from 1945-1968, as one might have thought given the shift that was caused by the Prague Spring and its aftermath, or from 1968 to 1989 and the Velvet Revolution – instead the exhibition went with the far broader brush stroke of 1945-1989. Perhaps this was to indicate the wider battle between both sides in the Cold War. Yet, for the Czech people that broader period is probably best understood in terms of the Soviet takeover in 1948 until the Prague Spring in 1968 and from the subsequent “normalization” period that followed until the emergence of Charter 77 and then the Velvet Revolution. The silencing of these two distinctive periods in Czech history meant that the exhibition was to be understood by those who saw it in this much grander narrative, but robbed the viewer of the nuance that a more atomized periodization would have provided.[2]

One of the more striking posters displayed was a Czech poster imploring people not to forget Lidice, a town carpet bombed out of existence by the Nazis in retribution for the assassination of Reinhard Heidrich. Film footage of the town’s destruction was powerful but so too is the knowledge that all official records of the town were destroyed by the Nazis in an attempt to eradicate, to silence, this place out of history. This was a violent kind of censorship, an important theme that carried over elsewhere in the gallery and in particular in the exhibition of Liu Xia’s photography.

The photographs being exhibited were disturbing in their sense of claustrophobia, but perhaps the most disturbing element of the entire exhibit was the room containing the last filmed footage of Liu Xia since she was under house arrest. In this video too, silence was a powerful thing. The video was taken by two friends of the photographer who made a daring, and successful, attempt to enter the photographers home, they breathlessly rush to the top of the stairs and then as viewers we see Liu Xia whisper, quite silently, messages into one of her two friends ears before both decide it would be better and safer to leave of their own volition. This coupled with the photographs give extra meaning to the exhibitions title “The Silent Strength of Liu Xia”.[3] In the video we see the silence of secrecy between friends, another important theme in recent Czech history and something which informed the movement that produced the various samizdat publications that were the life’s blood of many artists and writers who were not a part of the official culture of normalization – writers like Bohumil Hrabal or Vaclav Havel. The particular samizdat publication which was the focus of the DOX exhibit was Pražská imaginace (Prague imagination). [4]

Here again in the samizdat publication we see a kind of silence that was brought on by the effects of normalization – the retreat from public life into the private world and what Tony Judt has described as “pro forma political conformism”.[5] It was in this private rather than public world that samizdat publications circulated. The weird state of difference between one’s public face and private opinion has recently been examined by Paulina Bren who asked “what then was ‘normal’ about normalization? That nothing, and yet everything, was normal was hinted at by ordinary citizens’ own adoption of the term…”[6] In such a world, and again as Bren notes, in a world where whats passes for normal is a state in which there is nothing happening, then the silent, covert writing, publication and reading of samizdat work becomes an important whisper in an otherwise silent society. It was in precisely this context which Czech action art emerged. As Pavlina Morganova has recently written of early Czech action art, its function was as “a public performance and an attempt to penetrate the routine lives of other people.”[7] In other words, an attempt to break the silence, the stillness, imposed by communism and particularly its normalized form after 1968.

Vladimír Havlík, Experimental Flower, 1981. Source: http://www.artlist.cz/?id=1222

Vladimír Havlík, Experimental Flower, 1981. Source: http://www.artlist.cz/?id=1222

So in the magical city of Kakfa, the Golem, of Kepler, there were disruptions of the everyday with the hanging of empty frames on streets to create fleeting images, cobblestones were replaced by flowers, and Czech artists interrupted the silence of normalization by actions and activity that was often collective. Magic was returned in fleeting moments that only some may have seen, and they may have been amused, bemused, or cheered by these noisy moments that have left no physical traces today, but whose power is not silent, or silenced. Such are the moments that make history.

 

[1] Jack Spicer, “Imaginary Elegies, I-IV”, in Allen, Donald M., The New American Poetry, 1945-1960, Berkely: Univesity of California Press [1999 edn.], p.143

[2] Jaroslav Anděl (curator),“The Poster in the Clash of Ideologies, 1914-2014”, DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague, 14 February-19 May 2014.

[3] Liu Xia, “The Silent Strength of Liu Xia” (exhibition), DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague. Exhibition runs from 28 February-9 June 2014.

[4]Jiří Hůla (curator), “Pražská imaginace, 1985-2005”, DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague. Exhibition officially ran from 6 March-20 April 2014.

[5] Judt, Tony and Snyder, Timothy, Thinking the Twentieth Century, London: Wiliam Heinemann 2012, p.234

[6] Bren, Paulina, The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press 2010, p.3

[7] Morganova, Pavlina, Czech Action Art: Happenings, Actions, Events, Land Art, Body Art and Performance Art Behind the Iron Curtain, Prague: Karolinum Press 2014, p.49

 

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Unravelling the Enigma?

Film Review of The Enigma of Frank Ryan

Directed by Des Bell

Starring: Dara Devaney, Barry Barnes, Mia Gallagher, Frankie McCafferty

The Enigma of Frank Ryan film still taken from http://enigmafrankryan.com/

The Enigma of Frank Ryan film still taken from http://enigmafrankryan.com/

Frank Ryan is a figure who consistently inspires comment and interest despite the rather small role he played in Irish history. Famous left-republican leader and Gaelic scholar in the 1920s and 1930s, Ryan led the Irish who fought for the Spanish Republic against Franco during the Spanish Civil War until his capture in March 1938. The abiding interest however, concerns the question of what Ryan, famous anti-fascist leader, was doing in Nazi Germany during the Second World War? This is the central question the aptly titled ‘The Enigma of Frank Ryan’ seeks to address.

The narrative of the film situates itself around Ryan’s time in Berlin, where, through flashbacks, Ryan examines his previous life in Ireland and Spain. Combining dramatic reconstructions sliced with real archival footage, the film overall is an interesting and enjoyable one. From certain newspaper headlines previewing the film I had the impression that Ryan’s life would be dealt with in simplistic black and white terms – Frank Ryan, Nazi collaborator, end of story. However, upon viewing, I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. The director Desmond Bell has avoided the easy route of sensationalism, and has instead provided a nuanced portrait of Ryan’s time in Berlin.

Released from Burgos jail into the hands of the Nazis in July 1940, Ryan found himself seemingly a free man in Berlin. Bell does well in portraying the ambiguities of Ryan’s situation. Initially, Ryan does not know what interest the Nazis have in him until he is brought to a meeting with Seán Russell, IRA Chief-of-Staff. Russell, a purely military man, is in Germany to seek assistance for the IRA from the Nazis – my enemy’s enemy is my friend – and wants to bring Ryan back to Ireland with him. Ryan chastises Russell for seeking help from the Nazis, but accepts his offer of a trip home to Ireland via U-boat when Russell assures him that he is only offering Ryan a way home, nothing more. Nevertheless, when Russell dies en-route, Ryan decides to return to Berlin. Here the Nazis keep him in order to use him in the event of an invasion of Ireland – by Britain or Germany. Ryan is therefore not a prisoner, but nor is he simply free to do as he pleases. Yet Ryan is never shown as collaborating with the Nazis. He never acknowledges the ‘Heil Hitler’ greeting, refuses to be used for a propaganda broadcast to Ireland, and seeks answers to the purpose of the concentration camps. Although there is no evidence for any of this, nor is there any real evidence that Ryan directly assisted the Nazis, and Bell uses his artistic license well to develop scenarios which appear balanced, and assist in portraying the confusing and complicated situation Ryan found himself in.

Despite this, the same standards are not applied to the rest of the film. Ryan’s life in Ireland and Spain is incredibly condensed and abounds with unnecessary historical inaccuracies.  This is to the detriment of the film as a whole, which appears rushed and sloppy. No real effort is made to develop the character of anyone other than Ryan, and coupled with bad acting, ensures that everyone comes off as one-dimensional caricatures. It is to be expected in a biographical film that certain parts of a person’s life must take precedence over others. It is also reasonable that a director should be able to change aspects of the history in order to develop the plot. For instance, the relationship/conflict between Ryan and Russell looms larger in the film than it did in real life. In my opinion, this is a valid reworking in order to prepare the audience for their encounter in Germany, and so assists in telling the overall story. Similarly, although it would have been better if more attention was paid to the reasons behind Ryan’s disillusionment with the IRA and the development of Republican Congress, it is reasonable that this is condensed in order that more time is devoted to examining his life in Germany. What is unacceptable however, are inaccuracies where none need exist. There are small mistakes, such as incorrectly dating the Eucharistic Congress to 1934 instead of 1932 which can be forgiven. The main inaccuracies concern Ryan’s time in Spain, by far the weakest part of the film. Not only are Ryan’s fellow International Brigaders reduced to a status commensurable with those of unthinking puppets, there are so many inaccuracies here that a historian could be forgiven for thinking that the makers of the film took no more than a cursory glance at the material concerning Spain. To give two small examples; we see Ryan walking over the Pyrenees in December 1936 when in fact he was driven over and we see Rosamund Jacob pleading with Ryan when he is home in Ireland in May 1937 not to go back, saying the International Brigades are being disbanded – this was not announced until the end of September 1938. We also see the bust-up between the British and Irish at their base, as well as the battle of Jarama, grossly oversimplified when the reality would have provided a much more entertaining and believable film. The Blueshirts never appear, and General O’Duffy, who led some 700 Irishmen on the side of Franco, is only once casually mentioned by Ryan, when no reference has previously been made to explain him and what he represented. We are consequently faced with the most serious fault that no real attempt is made to explain why Ryan left to fight in Spain in the first place.  My concern is that someone watching this film with no knowledge of the context would get the impression that Ryan left simply because he was hot-headed and needed to be in the middle of any fight going.

Having said this, the film is worth seeing, and Bell is to be congratulated for bringing Ryan’s story to the screen. One cannot help but feel however that a chance has been missed to provide an entertaining as well as an accurate and educational account of Ryan’s life.

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There’s a valley in Spain… Commemorating the Battle of Jarama

6th Memorial March Battle of Jarama

The legacy of the civil war is everywhere to be seen in Spain. All one needs to do is scratch the surface. I spent the past weekend in Madrid to attend a series of events organised by the Asociación de Amigos de las Brigadas Internacionales (AABI – Friends of the International Brigades) around the battle of Jarama in February 1937. Staying in a pension in central Madrid, I was reminded as soon as I began speaking to the receptionist that the civil war continues to polarise contemporary Spanish society. After asking whether I was here for business or a holiday, I opted for the former, saying I was a historian researching the civil war. As soon as he pointed out to me that the church opposite had been used as an arms dump by the ‘reds’, I knew which side he supported. Nevertheless, I was curious to find out more about the local landscape and he pointed out some interesting sites to me. When he mentioned Paracuellos, we began a discussion on Santiago Carrillo, a communist and leader of the Socialist/Communist Youth who was allegedly responsible for the massacre of more than 2000 mostly right-wing prisoners when Madrid was threatened by the attack of columns of Nationalist forces in November 1936. The receptionist’s attitude was further reinforced when he said that some say Carrillo set out to start the civil war – a grand piece of historical distortion. Carrillo was a relatively minor player until the siege of Madrid in November, four months after the war had started.[1]

That night I attended a very moving book launch of the Spanish translation of Laurie Levinger’s book Love and Revolutionary Greetings: An Ohio Boy in the Spanish Civil War, compiled using the letters and stories home of her uncle Sam, who died aged 20 in the war. On Friday morning, I set out with two busloads of British, Irish and a sprinkling of other nationalities, for the march to identify the positions of the British and Lincoln battalions on the battlefield of Jarama.

The first thing to note is that the battlefield is immense, and the positions of the British and Lincoln battalions, though important in the grand scheme of the battle, especially the British, occupy a relatively small part of the overall battlefield. On the way through the barren, rusty landscape south of Madrid, passing by bare rockfaces and olive groves, we passed to our left, the Arganda bridge. It was here that on 11 February the Francoist Nationalist columns attacked, killing the French sentries but encountering stiff resistance from the Italian Garibaldi Battalion of the XII International Brigade. That same day, the XV International Brigade commanded by General Gal, were moved up the line, consisting of the British Battalion on the left, the Franco-Belge 6th of February Battalion in the centre and the mostly Balkan Dimitrov Battalion on the right.

The Nationalist frontal attack on Madrid had been repulsed by mid-December 1936. Attacks from the north continued but were repulsed in January 1937. Franco decided to cut the city off instead. The Jarama offensive was designed to cut the Madrid – Valencia road to the south of the capital, cutting off the central government which had moved to Valencia during the siege of November 1936. The attack, which began on 6 February 1937, was meant to coincide with an Italian-led assault at Guadalajara which would surround the city completely. This action was delayed, but Franco decided to press on at Jarama regardless.

The Cookhouse

The British Battalion began their campaign on the morning of 12 February at a farm building which became their cookhouse, sheltered at the rear of the battlefield. It was from here that we began our march to their positions, guided by Danny Payne of the UK-based International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT) and Seve Montero of the AABI.

We rambled over the hilly dry landscape passing dug-outs created in a gully etched into the side of a hill. It was here that the South African sculptor Jason Gurney, who was a runner for the battalion, described finding books, clothing, ammunition and personal belongings abandoned by those who thought they would be back later to collect them.[2] The ensuing slaughter ensured they wouldn’t.

Dugout

We ascended the hills to a plateau which commanded a superb view over the landscape. To the south, we could see in the distance the village of Morata de Tajuña, which played a key role in the battle. On the hill immediately opposite to the north on our right, we saw the area which had been the headquarters of the brigades, now marked by an imposing clasped pair of fists visible for kilometres around.

View from the plateau. The monument at the International Brigade HQ is visible behind the trees on top of the ridge in the left background. The smoke rising in the centre background is from Morata.

We continued our march over the plateau along a dirt track through the olive groves, passing by what became the positions of the Lincoln battalion late in February, of which more later, before reaching the area of the main fighting of the British Battalion. It was here that the slaughter of Jarama took place.

The British Battalion at Jarama

Most of the fighters had little training, received over a period of only a few weeks at their base in Madrigueras. Some had only first fired a rifle the previous day. They had no artillery, air or tank support. Their personal supplies were not much better. The British Battalion was composed of three infantry companies of 200 soldiers each, and a machine-gun company armed with heavy maxims and a few light French Chauchet machine guns, described as useless by most eyewitnesses.[3] These poorly-trained, poorly armed volunteers, most who had never left their homes in Britain and Ireland, were now the front line defence against a well-equipped, trained and merciless assault by Franco’s elite Moroccan regulares. Their defence initially proved a disaster.

View from the machine-gun company

The view from the position of the machine-gun company. White House hill is visible in the left centre, with conical hill just visible slightly beyond and to its right, with the beginning of the incline of the knoll visible to the right.

George Leeson, who was in command of a section of the machine-gun company, claimed they did not even know whether they were on the offensive or defensive.[4] They had no maps of the area, and soon after they began to descend into the valley, they came under fire from the Nationalists, whom the Republican command had not realised had already crossed the river.[5] James Maley from Glasgow described how as they advanced, others came running past them retreating from their positions and some of their own men started to drop, killed before they could fire a shot.[6] They pulled back and took up positions. The machine-gun company was placed with a commanding view of the gulley and in front of it lay a ridge of land where the three infantry companies were positioned on distinctive features of the landscape. To the left was White House hill, after the white-painted building on top of it, to the centre was conical hill, and to the right lay the knoll. This whole area, but particularly the conical hill and White House hill, would soon become known as ‘Suicide Hill.’ The machine-gun company soon realised that it had been given the wrong ammunition, and so it was left to the three infantry companies to hold off the attack.[7]

Kit Conway

Kit Conway

Kit Conway memorial cairn located at the position of the machine-gun company.

Kit Conway memorial cairn located at the position of the machine-gun company.

No. 1 Company under the command of ex-IRA member Kit Conway from County Tipperary, initially held in reserve, was sent up the line to give much needed experienced assistance. The attack by the Nationalists was unrelenting. Man after man fell, and the companies were decimated. No. 4 Company fell back, as did No. 3. The ridge, now held mostly by No. 1 Company, came under a constant heavy fire, the ‘thin grass and weeds on the crest of the hill were being slowly mown down, as if a gigantic scythe was passing and repassing, by bullets from the machine-guns of the Moors and machine-guns of the Germans.’[8] The situation on the hill was frantic, as described by Jim Prendergast:

My rifle is soon burning hot. ‘Kit’ comes over. I notice his face with lanes of sweat running through the dust. He hands me a note. It is from Brigade H.Q. telling us that we must hold out at all costs. . . . Somebody calls my name. It is Pat Smith. Blood streams from his head and arm. Tom Jones of Wexford is there. Good man, Tom. Always dresses a man where he falls. A hero. He tells me Goff and Daly are hit. I reach the hill-crest where ‘Kit’ is directing fire. He is using a rifle himself and pausing every while to give instructions. Suddenly, he shouts, his rifle spins out of his hand, and he falls back. . . .  His voice is broken with agony. ‘Do your best boys, hold on!’ Tears glisten in our eyes. . . . ‘Kit’ is taken away. . . . I see Fascist tanks rolling up the road to the right. The Moors are sweeping us front and flanks. We’ll never hold out now. I move to a firing-position. Suddenly, I am lifted of [sic] my feet. Something terrific has hit me in the side. I cannot breathe. . . . In the ambulance I meet ‘Kit’. He is in terrible agony, and can talk little. ‘How are the rest?’ is his constant question . . .

Next morning they told me our great leader was dead.[9]

The ridge was evacuated but just as Moroccan troops were coming over, the machine-gun company which had managed to acquire the right ammunition, opened fire: ‘You never saw a slaughter like it. They went down like corn.’[10] At the end of that first day, less than half the battalion remained and political commissars had to intervene to convince some to stay and hold the line.[11]

Conical Hill as viewed from White House hill.

The pressure continued the following day as the Dimitrov and the Franco-Belge battalions drew further back leaving the British Battalion surrounded on three sides. No. 4 Company panicked and retreated, leaving the machine-gun company exposed, which was then surrounded and captured almost wholesale.[12] In total, thirty men had fallen captive.[13] The third day of the battle began with the Nationalists advancing with a tank attack, driving the battalion well back: ‘The left flank broke, and the rout spread to the whole line. The slaughter was terrible. One would see five men running abreast, and four of them suddenly crumple up.’[14] They fell back to a sunken road where they were told by Lieutenant Colonel Gal that they were the only men between the Nationalists and the capture of the road.[15] Frank Ryan and Jock Cunningham had the unenviable job of rousing the remaining men to counter-attack. Ryan describes the scene:

The crowd behind us was marching silently. The thoughts in their minds could not be inspiring ones. I remembered a trick of the old days when we were holding banned demonstrations. I jerked my head back: ‘Sing up, ye sons o’ guns!’

Quaveringly at first, then more lustily, then in one resounding chant the song rose from the ranks. Bent backs straightened; tired legs thumped sturdily; what had been a routed rabble marched to battle again as proudly as they had done three days before. And the valley resounded to their singing

‘Then comrades, come rally,

And the last fight let us face;

The Internationale

Unites the human race.’

On we marched, back up the road, nearer and nearer to the front. Stragglers still in retreat down the slopes stopped in amazement, changed direction and ran to join us; men lying exhausted on the roadside jumped up, cheered, and joined the ranks. I looked back. Beneath the forest of upraised fists, what a strange band! Unshaven, unkempt; bloodstained, grimy. But, full of fight again, and marching on the road back.

French soldiers joined, as did Spanish and soon they reached the ridge.[16] Here they held the line, and from then this particular part of the front remained more or less the same for the next two years.

The Lincoln Battalion

On 16 February, the new Lincoln Battalion was sent to Jarama. The battalion, based at the village of Villanueva de la Jara near Albacete, consisted of two companies of infantry, plus a machine-gun company, medical and kitchen staff and an armoury section, numbering 550 people in total.[17] The Irish who had transferred from the British Battalion in January formed the ‘James Connolly Unit’, which comprised one of three sections of the first company.[18] From the beginning, the battalion had difficulties finding an experienced and competent leadership. The role of commissar changed hands multiple times and although the battalion was officially led by Captain James Harris, he quickly proved himself inept and in practice, it would be his adjutant Robert Merriman, a 27-year-old economist, who would lead them into battle.[19]

After a day at the nearby village of Morata, the battalion was moved up to reserve lines, where they faced five days of continual bombardment. The Americans had recently arrived in Spain, and had received only minimal training. Nevertheless, on 23 February they were ordered to make their first attack. As with the first attack of the British Battalion, it was a disaster. John Tisa gives the following vivid description:

From tree to tree into open fields, with nothing but the roots of grapevines for shelter, we now charged more rapidly, vainly seeking cover, over the soft ground heavily raked by enemy fire. We had plenty of grenades, but they were useless unless we could get close to the enemy. To make matters worse, while we were charging and approaching enemy positions, a rapid and relentless machine-gun cross fire zeroed in on us. . . . I felt so useless that I wondered out loud, at the top of my voice, ‘What am I doing here?’ But a quick glance around and I saw some of my comrades in even worse shape. A little guy to my right, whose face I couldn’t see, was frantically churning the ground with his bare hands, ripping his skin and tearing off his fingernails. Another lay behind a stump clutching his rifle and trying to shrivel himself to nothing to avoid being spotted. It was impossible to advance further.[20]

In the end, they had to retreat to their original positions. Despite twenty killed and sixty wounded, it had all been for nothing.[21]

Charlie Donnelly

Charlie Donnelly

On 27 February, reinforced by seventy new arrivals, they were ordered to advance again towards positions strongly held by the Nationalists.[22] They were promised artillery, air and tank support as well as the support of a Spanish battalion all of which failed to materialise. Their commander Robert Merriman pleaded with Vladimir Čopić, the commissar of the Brigade, that advancing under such conditions was pointless, but Čopić persisted and they advanced straight into a slaughter.[23] Only 150 of the 263 men who went into battle were still standing the next day.[24] Tyrone-born poet and Republican Congress member Charlie Donnelly was killed in this action. A witness described his dying words, destined to become famous in Ireland as a poetic description of the Spanish Civil War:

We run for cover. Charles Donnelly, Commander of the Irish Company, is crouched behind an olive tree. He has picked up a bunch of olives from the ground and is squeezing them. I hear him say quietly, between a lull of machine-gun fire ‘Even the olives are bleeding.’ A bullet got him square in the temple a few minutes later.[25]

The order to advance had been suicidal and led to major grumblings among the troops.[26] After this battle, the lines settled down and the brigades had to do battle with boredom and disease more than the enemy.

'Even the olives were bleeding'. The position through which the Lincoln Battalion advanced on 27 February 1937.

‘Even the olives are bleeding’. The position through which the Lincoln Battalion advanced on 27 February 1937.

In total, fourteen Irish would die at Jarama from February to June 1937. Most died in the initial battles in February but there were some casualties in other minor skirmishes too.

Charlie Donnelly memorial at Rivas Vaciamadrid

Charlie Donnelly memorial at Rivas Vaciamadrid

After our march over the battlefield, the Irish went to visit the memorial erected in 2010 in memory of Charlie Donnelly in Rivas Vaciamadrid, overlooking the Arganda bridge.

The sixth annual Jarama march

Route of 6th Jarama March

Route of 6th Jarama March

The next day, Saturday 17 February, was the official sixth annual Jarama march, this time in memory of the French-speaking volunteers organised in the four battalions of the XIV International Brigade, and the Commune de Paris battalion of the XI IB, the André Marty of the XII IB, and the Six Fevrier of the XV IB. This march took us beyond the points occupied by the British and Lincoln battalions. My knowledge of the French positions is not as in-depth as of the XV Brigade so I cannot give an accurate account of their role in the battle.

Part of the Jarama march

Part of the Jarama march

International Brigade Memorial

International Brigade Memorial

We marched to the HQ of the International Brigades visible on a ridge off to the west. When we reached the top with a commanding view of the area to the south, east and north, and the Lincolns’ position to the west it was a truly stunning sight. Deep trenches hacked into the stony ground are still visible. The towering rusty-coloured monument to the International Brigades of two clasped fists formed the backdrop in which about 300 people mingled – representatives of the IBMT from the UK, Irish representatives of the newly-formed umbrella group Friends of the International Brigades in Ireland, comprising groups which have organised memorials in Belfast, Tyrone, and Wexford, and others from Dublin, Armagh, Derry and representatives of the Limerick International Brigade Memorial Trust who are currently seeking permission to erect a memorial in Limerick. With these were members of the French Amis des Combattants en Espagne Républicaine (ACER – Friends of the Combatants in Republican Spain), a Danish man whose two uncles fought in Spain, as well as a sprinkling of Americans and multitudes of Spanish people from every left background – communists, socialists, anarchists and liberal republicans. Guests of honour were the Almudévar brothers, Joseph and Vicente, French of Spanish birth who fought in the civil war, Juan Antonio Mayoral who was a member of the Spanish Republican army during the war, and Luz Alonso, a republican of the civil war years.

Memorial at Morata cemetery

Memorial at Morata cemetery

After a lunch in Morata in restaurant Mesón El Cid which is located on the site of the former field hospital of the battle, we visited the Jarama museum, which houses thousands of artefacts found strewn over the site from bullets and tin cans to medals and pieces of shrapnel. After this, we visited the cemetery at Morata, which was the site of a mass grave of Spanish republicans and International Brigaders, and of a memorial unveiled in 1994 after a campaign by International Brigaders François Mazou from France and Bob Doyle from Ireland. Claire Rol-Tanguy, daughter of Colonel Henry Rol-Tanguy, political commissar of the XIV IB, laid a bouquet of flowers in the vibrant purple, yellow and red of the Spanish Republic’s flag.

Driving through the central square on the way out of Morata, we passed by the headquarters of the local fascist Falange, proudly displaying its symbol of a bundle of arrows. In some places, one doesn’t even need to scratch the surface.


[1] For a discussion of the massacre of prisoners, see Paul Preston, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain (London: Harper Press, 2012), pp. 357-369.

[2] Jason Gurney, Crusade in Spain (London: Faber and Faber, 1974), pp. 103-4.

[3] Patrick Curry, Imperial War Museum Sound Archive (IWMSA) File 799/3/1.

[4] George Leeson, IWMSA 803/4/2.

[5] Richard Baxell, British Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War: The British Battalion in the International Brigades, 1936-1939, (2nd ed. Torfaen: Warren & Pell,  2007), p. 76.

[6] James Maley, IWMSA 11947/3/1.

[7] Baxell, British Volunteers, pp. 77-8.

[8] Tom Wintringham, English Captain (London: Faber and Faber, 1939), p. 170.

[9] James Prendergast, ‘How “Kit” Conway Died’, in Frank Ryan (ed.), The Book of the XV Brigade: Records of British, American, Canadian, and Irish Volunteers in the XV International Brigade in Spain 1936-1938 (Torfaen: Warren & Pell, 2003), p. 66.

[10] Fred Copeman, IWMSA 794/13/2.

[11] Bill Alexander, British Volunteers for Liberty: Spain 1936-1939 (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1982), p. 97, says that less than half the battalion remained, while John Bosco Jones, IWMSA 9392/6/3, says political commissars had to intervene.

[12] Baxell, British Volunteers, p. 80. It has been suggested by many who were there that the men were tricked by the Morrccans, who came up the ridge singing the Internationale, to join the side of the Republicans. The men downed arms and when the enemy arrived it was too late. This rather fanciful account is refuted by others. See Baxell, British Volunteers, pp. 81-2 for an analysis of the accounts.

[13] Three of those captured were shot, but the rest were taken shunted from prison to prison – San Martín de la Vega to Navalcarnero to Talavera de la Reina, where ill-fed, cold, and with poor sanitation, they were put to work, mostly on the roads. In May 1937, they were sent to Salamanca where five were sentenced to death. However, the executions were not carried out and all the men were eventually freed. See J.R. ‘Prisoners of Franco’, in Frank Ryan (ed.), Book of XV International Brigade, p. 198-200; George Leeson IWMSA 803/4/2-3 and Baxell, British Volunteers, pp. 115-118.

[14] O.R.,‘Third Day: The Tank Attack’, in Frank Ryan (ed.), Book of XV International Brigade, p. 57.

[15] Phil Gillan, IWMSA 12150/4/4 .

[16] F.R. [Frank Ryan], ‘The Great Rally’, in Frank Ryan (ed.), Book of XV International Brigade, p. 60.

[17] John Tisa, Recalling the Good Fight: An autobiography of the Spanish Civil War (South Hadley, Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey, 1985), pp. 23-4.

[18] Arthur H. Landis, The Abraham Lincoln Brigade (New York: The Citadel Press, 1967), pp. 32-3.

[19] See Peter Carroll, The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade: Americans in the Spanish Civil War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), pp. 94-99.

[20] John Tisa, Recalling the Good Fight, pp. 42-43.

[21] Peter Carroll, Odyssey, p. 99.

[22] Ibid., p. 100.

[23] Marion Merriman and Walter Lerude, American Commander in Spain: Robert Hale Merriman and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1986), pp. 106-110.

[24] Carroll, Odyssey, p. 102.

[25] Quote from pamphlet ‘Hello Canada’, produced by the Friends of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, 1937 and cited in Michael O’Riordan’s notes ‘Ireland and the Spanish Anti-Fascist Struggle’, November 1966, p. 17, International Brigade Memorial Archive, Marx Memorial Library, London, Box 21 File O’R/1.

[26] Anonymous, The Story of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion (New York: Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, 1938), p. 24, cited in Merriman and Lerude, American Commander, pp. 112-3. For details of this and other actions of the Lincoln battalion at Jarama, see ‘Interview with Marty Hourihan, Commander of Lincoln Battalion from March 9 to July 4, later second in command of all English speaking battalions in XV Brigade. Villa Paz, Aug. 16, 1937’, RGASPI 545/6/912/41-44.

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Filed under British History, Communism, Fascism, Irish History, Landscape, Memory, Spanish Civil War, Spanish History, Twentieth Century

The Art of History

Irish poet William Wall’s recent collection Ghost Estate (2011), begins with a poem called ‘Figures of Speech’. The poem is a response to Theodor Adorno’s Prisms (1955), where Adorno wrote that ‘to write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric’. To which Wall’s poem responds:

after Abu Ghraib he says

for others it was Auschwitz

what can I say

art is in the unimaginable

& nevertheless necessary…[1]

The necessity of art in troubling times is as true after Auschwitz as it is after Abu Ghraib, or during the the worldwide recession in which people and their lives are sacrificed to the demands of the market, to the ideology of austerity. If as Wall writes ‘art is in the unimaginable/& nevertheless necessary’ then where does the art of history fall? Is it too in the unimaginable? Is it that art also happens to reside in the unimaginable, but the unimaginable does not have sole claim to what constitutes art?

Opening his chapter on the place of classical music in Hitler’s Third Reich in The Rest is Noise (2009),music critic Alex Ross writes that ‘in the wake of Hitler, classical music suffered not only incalculable physical losses…but a deeper loss of moral authority’. He notes that afterwards ‘classical music acquired a sinister aura in popular culture. Hollywood, which once had made musicians the fragile heroes of prestige pieces, began to give them a sadistic mien.’ Worse, he notes ‘by the 1970s the juxtaposition of “great music” and barbarism had become a cinematic cliché…now when any self-respecting Hollywood archcriminal sets out to enslave mankind, he listens to a little classical music to get in the mood.’[2] Such damage to the popular image of classical music is one deeply lamented by Ross, a writer whose collected essays Listen to This are a paean to his attempt at synthesising his knowledge of classical music with his experience of contemporary, popular music in order that others can derive the same pleasure, and participate in both musical worlds.

Ross’ work displays a sound knowledge of why history matters – of why the affairs of state, of such big history, has such apparent consequence on the human experience – be that the experience of a Hollywood film, or as it was for those Ross recounts in Theresienstadt, for whom the experience of music was a consolation at a time when their human experience was beyond the bounds of true empathy of other humans, who had hitherto not experienced the same displacement, physical discomfort and pain of the concentration camps.

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of EP Thompson’s seminal The Making of the English Working Class, first published in 1963, the debate about what history is for – how it is to be written – indeed, who history is for, is as important now as it was then. For Thompson, of course, history and that particular history which he wrote was about one thing primarily more than any other:

                I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the “obsolete” hand-loom weaver, the “Utopian” artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity. Their crafts and traditions may have been dying. Their hostility to the new industrialism may have been backward-looking. Their communitarian ideals may have been fantasies. Their insurrectionary conspiracies may have been foolhardy. But they lived through these times of acute social disturbance, and we did not. Their aspirations were valid in terms of their own experience; and, if they were casualties of history, they remain, condemned in their own lives, as casualties.[3]

Just like Ross feels about classical music, that it is accessible for everyone – it is just finding their point of access, so too for Thompson everyone deserves to be rescued from the ‘enormous condescension of posterity’ – everyone has a past, and everyone should have and should be able to access their history. Around the same time as these words of Thompson’s were in the bookshops, John Lukacs argues in The Future of History (2011) that a discernible appetite for history, hitherto unseen, presented itself. He notes the explosion of local historical groups, the development of the popular historical magazine since the early 1960s and the almost simultaneous shrinking of history as taught in second-level (high school and secondary school). He notes too in this period a rise in the interest in the United States in the Holocaust, something which Lukacs puts down to not just ‘curiosity about this and that in the recent past’ for him instead it indicates an ‘appetite for encountering some things and some people who were real.’[4]

Lukacs’ real people are, I feel, the same people who Thompson sought to rescue from the unformed, cruel and forgetful mess of the past. One aspect of that reality which historians engage with is people’s remnants: that which they leave behind – frequently, and for much of the past, that then consists of words, of paper of one kind or another. Lukacs makes the point when discussing the ‘re-cognition’ of history as literature that as well as the sources directly pertaining to their subject matter they ‘must read and know what to read – a knowledge and interest and, yes, an appetite that will not only enrich their minds but guide and inspire their writing.’[5] To writer Ian Sansom ‘everything that matters to us happens on paper. Without paper, we are nothing. We are born, and issued with a birth certificate. We collect more of these certificates at school, and yet another when we marry, and another when we divorce, and buy a house, and when we die.’ According to Sansom ‘we are born human, but are forever becoming paper, as paper becomes us, our artificial skin. Everything we are is paper: it is the ground of activity, the partner to all our enterprises, the key to our understanding of the past. How do we know the past? Only through paper and all its records…’[6] Intriguingly, Alberto Manguel throughout his splendid meditation on the library acknowledges that were a visitor from the past to arrive on earth now he would see among other things ‘huge commercial temples in which books are sold by their thousands’, ‘libraries with readers milling about in the stacks as they have done for centuries’. Manguel notes, despite seeing ‘a host of readers: on park benches, in the subways, on buses and trams and trains, in apartments and houses, everywhere’ the visitor would be wrong to suppose ours was a literate society. Why?

According to Manguel ‘our society accepts the book as a given, but the act of reading – once considered useful and important, as well as potentially dangerous and subversive – is now condescendingly accepted as a pastime, a slow pastime that lacks efficiency and does not contribute to the common good.’ Manguel is certain that his hypothetical visitor would soon realise that today in our society ‘reading is nothing but an ancillary act, and the great repository of our memory and experience, the library, is considered less a living entity than an inconvenient storage room.’[7] In the same chapter though Manguel writes that those things we can find in a library ‘histories, chronologies, almanacs’ each of them offer us the illusion of progress, even though, over and over again, we are given proof that there is no such thing’.[8] Here Manguel echoes Lukacs who wrote emphatically that ‘history does not repeat itself.’ More importantly, Lukacs follows this with ‘nor do the motives and conditions and purposes of historical knowledge.’[9] In this way we must recognise that the reasons why we want to reach back through time and engage with the paper versions of ourselves that Ian Sansom points to, must necessarily change, even if like Manguel suggests, at the same time, those things deposited in the library (real or imagined), give the appearance of sameness.

Tony Judt, a man whose existence in words and on paper became ever more important as his body was trapped in a collapsing version of itself, and authored his Memory Chalet, nevertheless felt it vital to state in conversation with Timothy Snyder that ‘I profoundly believe in the difference between history and memory’. For Judt, ‘to allow memory to replace history is dangerous. Whereas history of necessity takes the form of a record, endlessly rewritten and re-tested against old and new evidence, memory is keyed to public, non-scholarly purposes. It could take the form of ‘theme park, a memorial, a museum, a building, a television program, an event, a day, a flag. Such mnemonic manifestations of the past are of necessity partial, brief, selective.’ He felt ultimately that ‘those who arrange them are constrained sooner or later to tell partial truths or even outright lies…in either event they cannot substitute for history.’[10] So history as a discipline has its, very necessary, place.

Judt is sceptical of the commemoration of the Holocaust in so far as it has become the moral yardstick by which all other acts are compared – to which almost all pale, thus excusing their execution. Judt’s feelings on the difference between memory and history are echoed a little closer to home by Irish historian Tom Dunne, whose Rebellions show a deep ambivalence at a situation in which not just history but even memory are warped for political ends that are, however well-meaning, nonetheless misplaced. Cold War historian John Lewis Gaddis in his lectures that eventually formed The Landscape of History (2004) feels that history as such is about gaining ‘historical consciousness’ because it is something that ‘helps us to establish human identity.’ In the end, for Gaddis at least, it is ‘part of what it means to grow up.’[11] Growing up of course, begets growing old which begets death. But if history too is about exceptions, then those who in the now-fabled phrasing are ‘not left grow old’, are those from whom learning to grow up, grow old and die is most important. That there is a right way to do so. We must reach back to those who, dead because of times passing, have also ceased to age and are entombed for us really in their paper selves that they have left behind – those records that Sansom points to in our quest to become paper. The trouble with history of course, and the writing of it, is that it necessarily depends on paper – for its construction in both senses: with no records (no paper) there could be no history and with no paper (nowhere to record and arrange the record) there could no recording of history. The form which history takes is almost by necessity a narrative one; because of the shape of our books, the form we have given to our paper, we move from one leaf to the next in our histories, expecting continuity, however artificial that fluidity is because of the imposed structure on the mass (and mess) of historical sources from which the story is drawn.

History is also, like literature and music, incomplete and open to constant and continuous revision – it is never finished, never (so far as we can see) able to finish. New sound can be struck always by an instrument, new poems written, new characters placed in new worlds in novels; Anymore than our quest, so ably described by Greg Milner in Perfecting Sound Forever, to find the best means of recording our music and lodging it has never ended while shifting from the wax cylinder to the mp3, in some sense they are all just forms of paper – a record in the most literal sense. What after all was Alan Lomax doing throughout the United States and the many other countries to which he made field trips recording sound (almost always imperfect – almost always perfectly real) but putting on the paper of music (wax discs and magnetic tapes) those people and their songs – oftentimes their songs as history – who otherwise might have been lost to the ‘enormous condescension of posterity’ that so exercised Thompson.[12] So too, will the art of history never cease, there will always be those explorers of the past who will with pen and ink (or with processor and screen) continue to record in lost fields and places those whose voices remain, however thinly, somewhere in our past, asking to be let sing their song.

For philosopher Peter Singer, it was by way of his grandfather David Oppenheim’s letters that he could rescue just his grandfather and grandmothers lives from that condescending posterity – that he could recount for all the world to share in Pushing Time Away an account of his grandfathers life in Jewish Vienna that in some small way counteracts the horrors met by Oppenheim in Theresienstadt, the concentration camp whose story looms large over all that was despicable about the Third Reich. Theresienstadt, the model camp, full of artists and Europe’s middle class Jews – was paraded in front of the world for its rich cultural life and comfort – it was used as a propaganda site for the Red Cross to show how good the concentration camps were. For Peter Singer’s grandparents, it was to provide a grave, and for many more, despite the music and books, there was no ultimate consolation. Manguel tells us the story of the library in Block 31, ‘the family camp’ at Auschwitz, where all the usual rigours of library life were maintained, of which he writes ‘it is almost impossible to imagine that under the unbearable conditions imposed by the Nazis, intellectual life could still continue… this persistence adds to both the wonder and the horror: that in such nightmarish circumstances that men and women would still read about Hugo’s Jean Valjean and Tolstoy’s Natasha, would fill request cards and pay fines for late returns….reading and its rituals became acts of resistance.’[13]

In like fashion, Olivier Messiaen’s composition of Quatour pour la fin du temps, was a resistance of recording the time in which it was written, its context. Helped, according to Ross, by guards at Stalag VIII-A where he was a PoW, in composing the piece it was first performed at the camp on January 15, 1941 and the piece, with its strong religious tones was according to Ross an expression of Messiaen ‘responded to the mechanized insanity of the Second World War by offering up the purest, simplest sounds he could find.’[14] Messiaen’s resistance was, like the readers maintaining the rituals of the library in Auschwitz or the artists and intellectuals like Peter Singer’s grandfather in Theresienstadt, a small one, but the best one – continuing to create, continuing to refuse to be lost to history’s condescending posterity; by the simple act of staying alive and continuing the rituals of living they all demanded recording, on and through paper, by history.

Their stories, brought out in these books, ostensibly none of them really about history as such, is testament to the importance of understanding history as primarily participatory. Just like Thompson thought people were present at the making of their own history, so too were these people ensuring by engaging with a world forbidden to them, by resisting, that they would leave their marks on paper – in the form of love letters to their wives, in their prayers, and musical notation – and by transforming themselves into paper they ensured their survival, and the books which have been borne of their paper, ensuring their part and place in history, in the ultimate library, greater even than the one imagined by Borges. History no more ends than Francis Fukayama might like to think it does, nor is it necessarily the case, as John Gray notes of Fukayama’s thinking, that history is ‘a process with a built-in goal.’[15] Of Fukayama’s ‘end of history’, Judt said that the historian must be able to ‘take such such tidy nonsense and make a mess of it.’[16] It is difficult not agree with this assertion, neat readings of history such as Fukayama’s, though twenty years old now and widely discredited are still popularly considered to carry weight, why Gray termed one chapter of Black Mass ‘Utopia Enters the Mainstream’. In a Europe, and an Ireland, in which economic recession and the concept of austerity is beginning to create pain such as it is for thousands and millions of Europeans from Greece, to Spain, Portugal, Italy to Ireland, the notion that any one system, any one socio-economic political ideology is the inevitable outcome of messy historical process is at best naive, at worst a sinister and intentional misunderstanding and misreading not just of historical process but also the historian’s art – the history we write.

So where does that leave the art of history – the product of the historians labours? It is, like the best arts, a participatory art – a ritualistic, necessary artform – ultimately, it becomes a responsibility: a responsibility to participate, to create it, to write it. For Tony Judt, as well as responsibility to coherence, the historian has another responsibility; he said ‘we are not merely historians but also and always citizens, with a responsibility to bring our skills to bear upon the common interest.’[17] It has never been more important that the historian be a public figure, making messy the neat summations of others. In the words of Tom Dunne ‘the role of the historian should be to inform rather than to inspire, to be true to the sources that survive, to tell what actually happened rather than to cloud them over with dreams of what did not. State commemoration may stimulate historical inquiry, but it should not determine it.’[18] The poetic resistance to prevailing conditions offered by Irish writers like William Wall and the challenge offered to history to resist the situation where in the words of London-based poet, Sean Bonney

history is those who sit

inside their prepared vocab,

the comfortable ones,

the executioner, especially,

never utters an articulate sound,

quietly gets on with his work.[19]

is an important one. It is as important as the strains in Messiaen’s final movement of his Quatour, as the late stamps on the books in the library of Auschwitz’s ‘family camp’, as the strains of the blues collected in a church by Alan Lomax. Like all art, it is forever a resistance: to wilful ignorance, to tyranny of all kinds, to accepting that which we know to be unacceptable. For it to be otherwise would be unimaginable.


[1] William Wall, Ghost Estate, Clare: Salmon Poetry, 2011, 11

[2] Alex Ross, The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, London: Harper Perennial, 2009, 334-335

[3] EP Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, 1963

[4] John Lukacs, The Future of History, London: Yale University Press, 2011, 61-69

[5] Lukacs, The Future of History, 94

[6] Ian Sansom, Paper: An Elegy, London: Fourth Estate, 2012, xix

[7] Alberto Manguel, The Library at Night, London: Yale University Press,  2006, 223-224

[8] Manguel, The Library at Night, 232

[9] Lukacs, The Future of History, 66

[10] Tony Judt with Timothy Snyder, Thinking the Twentieth Century, London: William Heinemann, 2012, 277-278

[11] John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, 147

[12] For a good biography of Lomax and his mission see John Szwed, The Man Who Recorded the World, London: Random House, 2012

[13] Manguel, The Library at Night, 242

[14] Ross, The Rest is Noise, 390-391

[15] John Gray, Black Mass: Apocalypse, Religion and the Death of Utopia, London: Penguin, 2008, 105

[16] Judt with Snyder, Thinking the Twentieth Century, 270

[17] Judt with Synder, Thinking the Twentieth Century, 268

[18] Tom Dunne, Rebellions: Memoir, Memory and 1798, Dublin: TheLilliput Press, 2010

[19] Sean Bonney, The Commons, London: Openned Press 2011, 21

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Filed under Fascism, Historiography, Irish History, Social History, Twentieth Century