Fighting for Franco
International Volunteers in Nationalist Spain During the Spanish Civil War
Judith Keene

It should be noted right away that this book does not cover the German, Italian or Portuguese forces fighting on the side of the Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War, instead it focuses on people of other nationalities who in one capacity or another helped the Nationalists, about 1.000 “other” foreigners served in those forces.
The role of foreigners helping the Republican forces is well known, but their role in the opposing forces has been unknown to a large extent and was also played down by the Franco state after the war.

The book is divided into the following chapters:
The historical context of the Spanish Civil War
English narratives about Franco’s Spain
Not quite king and country: Franco’s English-speaking volunteers
Spectators at their own drama: Franco’s French volunteers
Snow boots in sunny Spain: White Russians in Nationalist Spain
Slaying Satan, saving Franco: the Romanian Iron Guard in Nationalist Spain
With Flit and phonograph: Franco’s foreign female supporters

The “English narratives about Franco’s Spain” covers both the pro-Franco writers who went to Spain and wrote about their experiences and the regular journalists who tried to cover the events as they say them in the areas controlled by the Nationalist forces.
The chapter on the English-speaking volunteers of course includes information on the most well known foreign volunteers, the Irish Brigade led by Eoin O’Duffy, but also on four individuals from Australia, USA and Great Britain who served in Spanish led units.
When the French volunteers are covered we also get some background on the far right in France during the 30s and how the events in Spain influenced these groups.
The chapter on the White Russians gives us a background of the White Russians and their fate after the Russian Civil War as well as their plans to form a new White army in Spain that could be used to re-fight that war, this time of course with a different ending in mind.
There is not much written on the Iron Guard in English and this chapter provides interesting background on that organization and how the handful of volunteers who went to Spain would have an effect on the events back home.

The females who supported Franco while in Spain is of course ironic in the way that they acted in a way that would not be acceptable in the society the Nationalists where trying to “recreate”.

I strongly recommend this book to those interested in the Spanish Civil War, it is a well researched, heavily footnoted and well written book on an obscure topic and Judith Keene richly deserves the praise this book has received since it was published.

(Reviewed by Marcus Wendel)

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