College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
BA (Bachelor of Arts)
Session and Year of Graduation
Honors Major Advisor
This thesis explores how American volunteers in the Spanish Civil War worked to create a unified Popular Front, a coalition of left-leaning political groups, in the United States in the late 1930s. Between 1937 and 1938, approximately 2800 Americans volunteered in the Spanish Republican Army to defend the Spanish Republic in the civil war that followed General Francisco Franco’s Nationalist coup. At the start of the war, Germany, Portugal, and Italy declared support for the insurgents and turned an isolated civil war into an international conflict centered around fascism. While the United States established a policy of non-intervention, the Soviet Union and International Communist Party officially supported the Spanish Republicans. Because of this, American involvement in the Spanish Civil War was largely coordinated by the International Communist Party and the Soviet Union. This, coupled with the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States following World War II, has created the tendency to equate American volunteers in Spain with an arm of the Soviet Union. Examining their correspondence during the Spanish Civil War, however, reveals a diversity of political motivations for volunteering in Spain. This thesis argues that volunteers minimized political differences within the Popular Front in order to appeal to moderates back in the United States and persuade the U.S. government to end its position of neutrality. United States volunteers intentionally unified the American Left during the Spanish Civil War in response to the threat of fascism, a threat that volunteers believed included domestic concerns regarding race, ethnicity, and class oppression.
Spanish Civil War, Popular Front, communism, Spain, fascism, international politics
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