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American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War

Eric R. Smith

Publication Year: 2013

The Spanish Civil War created a conflict for Americans who preferred that the United States remain uninvolved in foreign affairs. Despite the country's isolationist tendencies, opposition to the rise of fascism across Europe convinced many Americans that they had to act in support of the Spanish Republic. While much has been written about the war itself and its international volunteers, little attention has been paid to those who coordinated these relief efforts at home. 

            American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War tells the story of the political campaigns to raise aid for the Spanish Republic as activists pushed the limits of isolationist thinking. Those concerned with Spain’s fate held a range of political convictions (including anarchists, socialists, liberals, and communists) with very different understandings of what fascism was. Yet they all agreed that fascism’s advance must be halted. With labor strikes, fund-raising parties, and ambulance tours, defenders of Spain in the United States sought to shift the political discussion away from isolation of Spain’s elected government and toward active assistance for the faltering Republic.

Examining the American political organizations affiliated with this relief effort and the political repression that resulted as many of Spain’s supporters faced the early incarnations of McCarthyism’s trials, Smith provides new understanding of American politics during the crucial years leading up to World War II. By also focusing on the impact the Spanish Civil War had on those of Spanish ethnicity in the United States, Smith shows how close to home the seemingly distant war really hit.  

Published by: University of Missouri Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

...Due to circumstances unusual in academic publishing, this book has more than its usual share of acknowledgments. When a decision was announced to close the University of Missouri Press in spring 2012, students, faculty, Missourians, and citizens of the world rallied to protest as authors—including this one—suddenly found their already approved manuscripts “orphaned.” My editor, Clair Willcox, immediately went to...

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pp. 1-15

...In the spring of 1937, Daniel Saidenberg, first cellist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted twelve musicians in an impromptu performance on Chicago’s North Shore at the estate of the late Julius Rosenwald. The event brought out some of the region’s most privileged citizens. One of the event organizers commented: “We are still trying to figure out...

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Chapter 1. International Crisis and Reactions

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pp. 16-41

...The relief campaigns for the Spanish Republic developed in the immediate wake of the July 18, 1936, rebellion by the Spanish army against its left-of-center coalition government. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy cast their lot with the insurgents at the outset, providing troops, transportation and matériel. The Republic’s government, elected only that preceding February, pleaded for foreign assistance in accordance with...

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Chapter 2. Movement Culture

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pp. 42-63

...By February 1938, when the newly returned former American Ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, addressed the Chicago Council on Foreign relations, Spain and the impending general war had provoked growing interest from the public. “I fear that in two years, or even less, fascism will spread over the world and ours will be the last great nation to...

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Chapter 3. The Ethnic United Front and Spanish America’s War

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pp. 64-77

...Children of immigrants were nearly one-third of the U.S. population at the time of the Spanish Civil War, so an ethnic component to the Popular Front was inevitable. Obviously, Spaniards in the United States paid close attention to the course of events in Spain and were moved to support the Republic’s struggle for survival. Many recent immigrant groups...

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Chapter 4. The Catholic Church and Interwar Anticommunism

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pp. 78-95

...The other current combined Roman Catholic animosity to communism with appeals to Americanism by the American Legion. Not all Catholics were so disposed, but one particularly anticommunist cross-section actively backed Franco. These activists tended to accept the prevailing assumptions of Catholic writers on the benevolent nature of Franco’s regime and endorsed the published criticisms of Spain’s Popular Front...

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Chapter 5. Refugee Aid and the Coming World War

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pp. 96-108

...The Spanish Civil War was decided militarily by late 1938, but the painful conflict festered through March 1939. The Ebro offensive, launched by republican forces on July 25, 1938, was intended to tie up the rebels in the hope that the long-anticipated European general war would now erupt, bringing France and England to the defense of the Republic. Franco and...

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Chapter 6. Retribution

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pp. 109-121

...The activists for what became the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee found it difficult to organize anew. By late 1940, the organization had virtually no presence outside of New York City. Having changed names several times—United American Spanish Aid Committee, American Committee to Save Refugees, and American Rescue Ship Mission—the group finally...

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Conclusion: A Tomb for Democracy

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pp. 122-128

...The prospect of a new general war was met with less enthusiasm than was opposition to fascism in Spain. In many cases the same proponents of Spanish aid, noncommunist and communist alike, resumed an isolationist disposition. This trend affected primarily the socialist and communist wings of the movement which had lost an ally in the Spanish Republic...

Appendix: The Green Report

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pp. 129-132


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pp. 133-166


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pp. 167-184


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pp. 185-192

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About the Author

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pp. 193-193

...Eric R. Smith completed his Ph.D. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2007. He has taught at Loyola University Chicago and Columbia College Chicago and is presently a full-time instructor at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy...

E-ISBN-13: 9780826273062
E-ISBN-10: 0826273068
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826220097
Print-ISBN-10: 0826220096

Page Count: 207
Illustrations: index
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 858282592
MUSE Marc Record: Download for American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War

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Subject Headings

  • Anti-fascist movements -- United States-- History -- 20th century.
  • Pressure groups -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1933-1945.
  • Solidarity -- Political aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Humanitarian assistance -- Spain -- History -- 20th century.
  • Spain -- History -- Civil War, 1936-1939 -- Participation, American.
  • Spain -- History -- Civil War, 1936-1939 -- Civilian relief.
  • Spain -- History -- Civil War, 1936-1939 -- War work.
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