Introduction

Visual Index (Entire Poster Collection)

Catalogue

Chronology of the War

Acknowledgements

Lists of References

Afterword: Herbert R. Southworth Collection


 

What are you doing to prevent this?

Madrid. Ministerio de Propaganda. Halftone, black & white, orange; 80 x 56 cm.

In November 1936, rebel troops began a relentless assault on Spain's capital city. The fact that a rebel victory did not occur in Madrid when insurgent forces first attacked the city was a major setback for Franco's coup d'état. The failure to conquer the capital of Spain until the very last days of the war created a significant rallying point for loyalist forces. Images of the tragedies of Madrid's struggle were portrayed in propaganda pamphlets and posters in an attempt to rally support on both the national and international levels. This poster, which was printed in Spanish, French, and English, is an example of this desire to shape international public opinion and galvanize support. The ominous planes and the crumbling building in the background suggest the reality of the threat to the people of Madrid. The portrayal of a woman and child in danger had a universal appeal that the author of the poster hoped would affect people of all nations.

Despite the entreaty of Loyalists for foreign aid that is reflected in this and other similar posters, the Non-Intervention Agreement (NIA), signed by France and England in August 1936 and quickly ratified by twenty-seven other countries, was something of a barrier to international involvement on the Republican side.

Nevertheless, Republican forces did receive aid from a number of foreign governments who ignored the stance of the NIA nations, notably Mexico and the Soviet Union. While the Loyalists would most certainly have been defeated long before 1939 without the support of Stalinist Russia, the cost of this aid was high. Besides Spanish gold reserves that were sent as partial payment for military equipment, the drive by the Communists to control the Republican war effort further disrupted the already fragile unity of loyalist forces.

In addition to support from official government sources, Loyalists also received assistance from individual volunteers. Perhaps the most famous are the International Brigades, organized groups of foreign volunteers who came to save Spain from fascism. While the people most remembered for their participation in Spain during the war are famous intellectuals, such as the French writer André Malraux, the British journalist George Orwell, or the Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros, the majority of the volunteers in the International Brigades were working-class men and women. More than 35,000 people came from some fifty countries to fight in the war. Private organizations such as the International Commission for the Assistance of Spanish Child Refugees in Paris, the Washington Friends of Spanish Democracy, and the British Committee for Refugees from Spain in London were also a key source of foreign support. For example, in Great Britain, organizations planned everything from marches and socials to dances and street theater in order to raise funds for the Loyalists. The famous muckracking journalist and candidate for the 1934 California gubernatorial race, Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), also tried to encourage people to support the battle against Fascism in Spain. In 1936, Sinclair wrote and published, with his own funds, a short story called "No pasarán" about a group of American workers who traveled to Spain and arrived just in time to fight in defense of Madrid. Sinclair composed this work in order to induce Americans to aid Spain, either by joining the International Brigades or by making contributions to one of the many organizations raising funds for Spain.

While there is no indication of the artist on this poster, some scholars attribute it to Augusto. There is little known about this artist, who seems to have done most of his work on posters for the Junta de Defensa de Madrid. The poster was printed between November 4, 1936 and May 17, 1937, the period during which the issuing entity, the Ministerio de Propaganda, was in existence.

 
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