LETTER:Ruthless face of Brigades

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The Independent Online
HOWEVER welcome the offer of Spanish citizenship to surviving British members of the International Brigades ("Spain repays its debt of blood and honour", 4 February), we should not romanticise the Brigades themselves. They were ruthless towards the enemy - any foreigner captured fighting for Franco was put up against the wall - and to their own men. The Brigade's chief political commissar, Andre Marty, was a Communist psychopath who later admitted to ordering the execution of 500 Brigade soldiers.

I am not denigrating the men who risked their lives to combat Fascism. In his autobiographical Crusade in Spain, the late Jason Gurney relates how a bullet that shattered his right hand destroyed his career as a sculptor. Yet he concludes: "Even at the moments of the greatest gloom and depression, I have never regretted that I took part in it."

Geoffrey Minish