The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, after General Franco led right-wing nationalist rebels against the democratically elected Republican government. Franco received support from fascist Italy and Germany, but due to an international non-intervention pact, other foreign powers (with the exception of Communist Russia) refused to get involved to help the republicans despite the very clear breach of democracy. However, this didn’t mean people didn’t try to help: although official involvement was prohibited, radicals around the world took up the cause for justice and democracy and joined the International Brigades, paramilitary units set up by the Communist International to help the government resist the coup d’état. A campaign entitled ‘Help Spain!’ was launched by The Artists International Association in Britain to encourage recruitment, and this tea towel is based on one of the posters produced for the campaign.
It is estimated that 32,000 people from 52 countries fought against Franco in the conflict, among them George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway, who immortalised their experiences in their novels Homage to Catalonia and For Whom the Bell Tolls. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, Franco’s revolt was successful, and he plunged Spain into a 40-year military dictatorship. We’ve made this historical tea towel as a reminder to fight for your values, so that history does not repeat itself.