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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Spanish Civil War & Narvik

One of the about 200 Norwegians who fought in Spain 1936-39.

The Swedish cover photo of the unknown Norwegian member of the International Brigades in Spain is one of several links between Sweden and the about 200 Norwegians in the Spanish Civil War. But this book also is a good reminder about Narvik.

The title of the book Tusen dager. Norge og den spanske borgerkrigen (“A thousand days. Norway and the Spanish Civil War”) is explained by the fact that the war lasted 989 days. I like the poetic title, and I am very impressed by all the history and photographs that the authors have dug up. The book´s authors Jo Stein Moen and Rolf Saether tell the story of how the Spanish Civil War affected Norway, and recount the experiences of the about 200 Norwegian volunteers - of which most were on the side of the republic. As is the case with the about 550 Swedish volunteers in Spain, only a small number fought on Franco´s side. In Norway´s case it was seven men. Although few, they too are covered in the book, not least the later SS-volunteer Per Imerslund.

The authors estimate that about 50 Norwegians died for the republic, slightly more than previously thought. In other words, every fourth Norwegian died. On this very day, the tenth of October, in the year 2000, the last surviving Norwegian veteran passed away.

Gladly, not just the International Brigades are covered, but also the joint Swedish-Norwegian hospital on the republican side. Not that many years ago I was talking to its last surviving member.

The book also describes what happened afterwards and I especially appreciate the part about the Spanish Civil War veterans who fought at Narvik 1940. In the war cemetery there rest 118 members of the French Foreign Legion - 16 of them are Spanish.

There is a website about the book, with a section in English - here is the link to that section.

I hereby would like to tell the authors how sorry I am it took so very long until I could review your fine book.

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