I need to stop trusting my memory. The Fifth column story was about the fall of Madrid, not Barcelona. Sorry. Next time I will check with Wiki first.

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The politics of the Spanish Civil War were as complicated as anything in European history. I used to know an awful lot about that war, though I have probably forgotten some. My mother’s first boyfriend joined the Lincoln Brigade which was the American contingent of the large foreign presence on the Republican side. He was killed. Most of the Lincoln Brigade were Communists, but the Republican (so named because they supported the brand new Spanish Republic) side was supposed to be a “united front” consisting of Stalinist communists, Trotskyites, socialists, anarchists (a large group in those days) sindicalists (very complicated ideology) and even a few folks who just liked democracy. Franco, whose army was partially Spanish and partially Moroccan and other mercenaries, was well funded by Mussolini, and later Hitler. The Germans realized at about the midpoint of the war (1936-7) that Spain could be a good proving ground for some of their new weaponry and tactics. The ultimate victory of the fascists was also due to the end of the united front, (which had rarely been entirely united) mostly due to Stalin’s hatred of Trotsky and the socialists, and in fact, there was a brief civil war within the civil war when Stalin had the communist contingent in Barcelona attack the socialists. Barcelona became the final stronghold of the anti fascists, which was attacked by 4 columns of Franco’s troops (with many Italian volunteers). And the famous “fifth column” of anti communists (not all them actually fascists) was the secret uprising within the city that led to the final defeat.

As a child of Stalinists, I knew veterans of the war, heard many stories and learned the songs. Ironically when the long-predicted war between good (communism) and evil (fascism) finally came to pass (we call it WWII), Franco declared neutrality, and stayed out of the war entirely.

If you meet any Spaniards of my age (Boomers) they can fill you in on what their parents told them about the war, and especially how they themselves reacted when Franco finally left the scene. That was a crazy time in Spain, where my generation caught up to the peers elsewhere in record time.

BTW, where you are now (the mountains) was where most of the survivors of the Republican armies fled to after the fall of Barcelona. I think a small number remained there, so some of their grandkids could be there still. Just a thought.

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