Labour History Review

The Great Betrayal? European Socialists and Humanitarian Relief During the Spanish Civil War

Labour History Review (2002), 67, (1), 83–99.

Abstract

Compared to communist commitment or fascist intervention in the Spanish Civil War the reactions of European socialists to the conflict have often been described as tentative, ineffective or even a deliberate betrayal of their Spanish comrades. Such criticisms have minimised the international humanitarian aid campaign launched across Europe by socialist parties and trade unions which became one of the conflict's largest relief efforts. The dimensions of that humanitarian appeal and its changing character over time were a product of international and local debates within the labour movement. Socialist efforts to fashion their own independent relief operation in Spain were considerably undermined by poor communication with the war zone, the divergent national policies of their memberships and by the changing events of the war itself. At the heart of these tensions was whether aid for Spain was to be an expression of radical internationalism extending across the left or a pragmatic recognition of parties' and unions' national responsibilities.

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Brown, Laurence