There was news on Sunday that there are over 20,000 voluntary soldiers of the International Brigades supporting Ukraine but it was reported on Monday that the Russian forces are only 25 kilometers away from Kyiv. The International Brigades participated in war during the Spanish Civil War to fight against the fascism of Francisco Franco. Liberal intellectuals, socialists, an international communist party supported by the Communist International, and those who lost jobs due to economic depressions came to Spain. Many well-known figures, such as Ernest Hemingway, photographer Robert Capa, André Maurois, and George Orwell, as well as those who would become more famous after the war, were among them.
Maurois gained a reputation as an active intellectual by participating in the Spanish Civil War and became renowned as a writer, historian, and politician. Some later revealed that his achievements in Spain were exaggerated and that he was actually closed to a profiteer. Hemingway also didn’t actually participate in war and simply manipulated the media. However, he wrote his two masterpieces during the war.
Regardless of how good or bad his behavior was, Maurois wrote a novel with a theme of the Spanish Civil War. The novel, which depicts the details of the war in a format of a documentary, ends with a scene where the forces led by Franco are soon to launch the final attack against the capital with the hope of winning gone yet the rebel forces are moving forward with a successful counterattack. Therefore, the title of the book is “Hope,” even though it is paradoxical.
Hearing about the situation in Ukraine, I was reminded of the final scene of the novel. The International Brigades of Ukraine are more elite than the Spanish’s, and there seems to be no opportunistic intellectual involved. However, their enemy is much stronger than the Franco forces and the hired soldiers from Morocco. The Communist International supported the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War but now the western countries are supporting them.
The Spanish Civil War was ended with Franco’s win, however, the situation in Ukraine will not end with Putin’s win. Even if they might win in the short term, it will end in their failure in the long term. Yet, Putin has no retreat now. Is the Ukrainian forces’ win the only hope?