UC Berkeley Commemorates the 80th Anniversary of the Spanish Civil War with Slate of Cultural Events

This fall, UC Berkeley marks the 80th Anniversary of the start of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) with a series of cultural events on campus, including theater performances, exhibits, film screenings and public discussions. These events commemorate the Spanish Civil War, recognize the remarkable achievements of volunteers during and after the war, and mark UC Berkeley’s connection to this progressive, activist, and internationalist event.

When General Francisco Franco staged a coup against the democratically elected Spanish government in July 1936 he did not realize the passions his action would unleash around the world. Approximately 30,000 volunteers traveled to Spain between 1936-1939 to support the Spanish Republic in its struggle against Franco; 2,700 of those volunteers were from the US.

One of the first and most celebrated volunteers was Robert Hale Merriman, a Berkeley PhD student in Economics, who became the first commander of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which was made up of US volunteers. Later, Merriman’s widow helped found the Bay Area Post of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB). Over the years, this Post has donated an extensive collection of papers, letters, photographs, posters, pamphlets and artifacts from the Spanish Civil War to UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, making it one of the most significant archives of its kind. In recognition of UC Berkeley’s connection to the war and its role in preserving the history of the conflict, the campus has organized a variety of commemorative events across multiple University departments and organizations. Full event details can be found at www.spanishcivilwar80.berkeley.edu.  Below is an abbreviated listing of upcoming events.

Fall 2016 Program of Commemorative Events

September 2016 – July 1, 2017
Guerra Civil @ 80
Gallery Exhibition | Bancroft Library

A visual and written display of the struggle to defend the Second Spanish Republic, this exhibition features selections from The Bancroft Library’s Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB) Bay Area Post Records and Photograph Collections, as well as posters, books, pamphlets and more.

September 2016 – December 16, 2016
Incite the Spirit: Poster Art of the Spanish Civil War
Gallery Exhibition | Townsend Center for the Humanities, 220 Stephens Hall

This selection of digital prints (drawn from the collection of the Bancroft Library) showcases political posters designed by leading graphic artists of the era and reflects the influence of contemporary aesthetic movements such as expressionism, formalism, and constructivism.

September 14 + September 21
Author Adam Hochschild on Spain in Our Hearts
Two book talks | September 14, Morrison Library, 5 PM | September 21, Townsend Center for the Humanities, 220 Stephens Hall, 12 PM

Adam Hochschild discusses his latest book, Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, that draws on a vast array of sources to tell the story of the Americans who defied US policy to risk their lives defending democracy in Spain.

October 4
Poetry of the Spanish Civil War: A Reading
Poetry Reading | Durham Studio Theater, 7 PM

Faculty and graduate student poets and poetry scholars from the Department of English and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese read selections of Spanish Civil War poetry in both English and Spanish. Hosted by Lyn Hejinian and Robert Hass.

October 13, 2016
Showings of “The Good Fight” and “Guernica”
Film Screening | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 7 PM

The documentary “The Good Fight” (1984) tells the inspiring story of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a ragtag group of American volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War. Presented with the short film “Guernica,” which considers one of the Spanish Civil War’s worst atrocities through Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece.

October 21 – October 30, 2016
Heart of Spain: A Musical of the Spanish Civil War
Theater Production | October 21-30 | Zellerbach Playhouse

The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies presents “Heart of Spain,” a musical that follows a diverse group of American volunteers across the Atlantic, over the Pyrenees, and into battle. The show combines popular music and poetry of the period, writings by the volunteers, and original material into a rousing theatrical experience. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/heartofspain) or at the door.

Following the 2 PM matinee performance of “Heart of Spain” on Sunday, October 23, playwright/composers Peter Glazer and Eric Peltoniemi discuss the inspiration, creation, and evolution of the show. *A ticket to the 2 PM performance is required to attend this event.

October 25, 2016
Investigative Journalism and Human Rights: Lydia Cacho and Jeremy Scahill in Conversation with Kate Doyle
Discussion  | Zellerbach Playhouse, 6:30 PM 

The ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism was established in 2011 to honor all those who fought against fascism during the Spanish Civil War by connecting the legacy with international activist causes today. This year’s winners, Lydia Cacho and Jeremy Scahill, discuss their work with Kate Doyle, director of the Evidence Project at the National Security Archive.

Sponsoring Organizations

These events have been made possible by contributions and support from: Puffin Foundation | San Francisco Foundation | Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives | UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, ARC/Arts and Design Initiative, Townsend Center for the Humanities, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, and the Division of Arts and Humanities | the UC Berkeley Departments of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies; English; and Spanish and Portuguese.