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Spanish collection highlights: The Spanish Civil War

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This post was written for us by library intern Lisa Smoltino.

The Spanish Collection at the IHR contains numerous resources for digging in to the complex and multi layered history of Spain.  The collection includes primary sources written in the Spanish, but also a good amount of material in English, allowing access to important historical material for even those who do not speak Spanish.

Spanish Civil War books 2Espionage may not be the first thing that one thinks of in regards to Spanish history, but one look through the IHR’s Spanish collection reveals that spies have made themselves present throughout various periods of Spanish history. Cartas entre espías e inteligencias secretas en el siglo de los validos, Diego Navarro Bonilla explores the dealings of spies during the years 1632-1638. Cartas de un espía de Carlos VL: La correspondencia de Jerónimo Bucchia con Antonio Perrenot de Granvela grants us a look at the letters of the head of the ‘spy agency’ used during the last ten years of Carlos V.  Espionaje en españa by Max Rieger highlights espionage and the secret service in Spain, particularly during the Spanish Civil War.

The Spanish Civil War was one of the crucial moments in Spain’s history, and is one of the biggest strengths of the collection.  There is a variety of sources written from various different perspectives, allowing the researcher a complete look at the war.

For a realistic portrait of what it was like to be a female exile during the time of the Spanish Civil War, have a look at Éxodo: diario de una refugiada española, written by Silvia Mistral, a Spanish writer who sought refuge in France and Mexico during the war.  Mistral gives an emotional and personal account of what is was like to be uprooted from one’s country.  José Villar Sánchez also writes from the point of view of an exile in Diario de un exiliado español de la guerra de 1936.  This personal narrative reads like an intimate diary of what Sanchez, an anarchist, experienced throughout the war.  To take a look at the Civil War from a more historical perspective, Nuestra guerra: memorias de un luchador by Enrique Líster analyzes all aspects of the war from the political to the personal, mixing historical content with his own autobiography.

Spanish Civil War booksAs with any war, recollection of events during the Civil War can differ from person to person.  Sources on how the war was remembered in history are also some highlights of the collection. In Cruzada, paz, memoria: La guerra civil en sus relatos, Javier Rodrigo brings together pieces of the war from different sources—propaganda materials, academic historians and politicians—into one book.  Periodismo y memoria histórica: la contribución del periodismo en la recuperación de la memoria histórica a partir de testimonio orales includes a section of collected oral sources on the Spanish Civil War.   For a visual perspective of the war, browse Carteles de la guerra 1936-1939.  This book gives an alternative perspective of the war by telling the story war in posters, presented in full colour.

There are also many books in English available as resources on the Spanish Civil War.  Antonio Cazorla Sánchez demonstrates how the ordinary can be interpreted as extraordinary in Fear and Progress: Ordinary Lives in Franco’s Spain, 1939-1975.  Using confidential government documents, Sanchez reconstructs what it was like to live under the Franco regime.  For a further personal look into the war, Spanish Civil War Notebooks by Alvah Bessie details battlefield experiences and allows us a peek into the lives and minds of soldiers.  Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War edited by Valentine Cunningham, brings together a culmination of different first person perspectives into one book, including that of women and supporters from both sides.   For a historical perspective of the war and its aftermath, Historical Memory and Criminal Justice in Spain: A Case of Late Transitional Justice by Josep M. Tamarit Sumalla analyses whether victims’ rights were dismissed during the transitional period from dictatorship to democracy.

That is just a small sampling of what the IHR Spanish collection has to offer. For a further look, please see our Spanish Collection Guide.