A brief look into the past of the Association of Friends of Interbrigadists

The original idea to remind and revive the tradition of the Czechoslovak Interbrigadists to be organized within the Czech Union of freedom fighters (Ceský svaz bojovníků za svobodu, ČSBS) was initiated by Col. Pavel Vranský . This war veteran of Czechoslovak units during World War II passed through the so called Czechoslovak legion in Poland spent a long time interned in the Soviet Union, after the transfer to the Middle East became a member of No.11. (Czechoslovak) Infantry Battalion — East, and 200th (Czechoslovak) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, took part in fights in the Western Desert, Syria and in the defense of Tobruk. He then volunteered for service in the R. A. F. and after training became a crew member of 311th Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron.

Although he did not take part in the Spanish war for democracy, he considered that the volunteers in the Spanish civil war are a part of the traditions of the resistance of our nation against Nazism and fascism. He decided to find and contacted descendants and other family members of combatants in Spain and strived to convene a series of their meetings. In addition to the revival of this somewhat forgotten chapter of modern history, these events should also show how the experience Interbrigadists reflected in the “microcosm” of individual families.

The beginning started with seeking cooperation with experts on the issue among historians and other interested parties (at first much help came from Mgr. Petr Luks, and in particular Dr. Zdenko Marsalek from the Institute for Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences and then Dr. Jaroslav Boucek from the archives of the Ministry of Health and the former director of the archives of the Ministry of Interior Mgr. Jan Frolik). This team gradually acquired more and more contacts with descendants of Interbrigadists of the Spanish war. Support to this initiative provided the Czech Union of freedom fighters (Pavel Vranský is one of his Vice-Presidents). Negotiations and preparations took a relatively long time; due to the wide variety of other tasks. In the middle of 2014, the situation has been prepared for the first meeting. Under the auspices of ČSBS and with the participation of his President such a meeting took place on October 29, 2014. Among those present were representatives of ČSBS, historians and especially the descendants of the Interbrigadists. The meeting resulted in the establishment of the Association, whose provisional name were Club friends of Interbrigadists fighting in Spain. The President was unanimously elected Dr. Richard Falbr, and from the present members was also elected a small Committee. The present members set a goal to establish more contacts and suggestions for more future action.

On 12th June 2015, a Club Committee meeting was convened. The discussed focused on a change of Club name (the final form will be submitted for approval by a plenary meeting, which accepted the final name Association of Friends of Interbrigadists); important issues became also administrative aspects (registration of membership, establishing of a website, funding options, the collection of inheritance, archival research, etc.). In the meantime several new contacts with foreign organizations and domestic institutions could be established, which will help in professional research and contacting other descendants and also those interested in professional cooperation.

More information about the activities of the Friends of Interbrigadists and the history of the heroic fighters for democracy and against fascism in the Spanish civil war will be published.

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