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Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 1940 01 (Page 9)

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Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 1940 01
other morning during the winter, the pipes
are frozen and there is no water. Then they
will line up in twos -sleepy, tired and
scratching - waiting for the signal to breast
the cold for their "Ajo" soup. Everyone
will be wrapped in his dirty, lice-infested
blanket to cover his skimpy clothing - here
a man with burlap bags for trousers, there a
man with pieces of blankets tied together
to serve as shoes. Finally the signal will be
given. They will go down the steps -
orderly, two at a time, pass through the
narrow door where the "mad Moor" will
hack at them with his new "Christmas
cheer" whip. Why don't they cringe and
ducla? Because the stick hurls no more nor
less on Christmas day than it does on
Franco's birthday. Each will receive his
breakfast -perhaps the large ladle which
they use on special occasions like Franco's
birthday. Breakfast - "Ajo" soup, they call
it, supposed to be a mixture of olive oil,
garlic, bread, and hot water. Was there
ever garlic and olive oil in the soup? The
bread was stopped long ago but perhaps on
Christmas day the water will be hot instead
of lukewarm or cold.
Back up the dark, creaky, well worn
steps to "aformar" and be counted by the
well perfumed and powdered sergeants
who have not yet imbibed too freely of
wine and anise. "Rompen Filas" and the
prisoners go to their meagerly filled straw
"cochinetas" to make trinkets for the little
boy at home, to study his Spanish or
French, or to think about the girl who no
longer writes or the friend who found a
deeper friendship elsewhere. Alone - the
lost battalion. Did X get out of Gandesa?
Hope so. Hope he's home and married to
that girl he loved so dearly.
This Christmas it will be a little harder to
think of home, of that girl and friend
because perhaps this day - Christmas day -
Franco will bring
his gift, TRIALS! Perhaps today will he
the lost - an cud to lice and fleas, hunger
and dysentery, scurvy and beatings; but
what of that girl, that friend mom, pop,
little brother and sister!
Other prisoners have gone home. Am I
more guilty than they- Franco accuses us
of participation in a military rebellion!
What do those hundreds of veteran
International Brigadiers think of this
charge? Death or perpetual imprisonment
is our lot! Why? Are we guilty of the
charge? Are the Internationals who came
to defend the Spanish Republic guilty of
participation in a military rebellion?...
Asa, the Turkish interpreter for the
Internationals, arrives with packages and
letters in his arms. Four hundred strong
they surround him. Hope and expectation
lights their facts. A package of butts for
Guisseppi, a Christmas greeting for Rafael,
a letter from an American who fought in
Spain, a French grammar to help the
French class, crayons for making souvenirs
to he sold to the guards for a bit of bread or
tobacco, news of telegrams and letters
being sent to Franco demanding that these
unjust trials be stopped, $100 FROM THE
And so a little Christmas cheer will be
brought to the eight Americans -Haber,
Blair, Stowjea, O'Para, Doran, Kerlicker,
Andresen, to Captain Frank Ryan, Irish
fighter for freedom and to the rest of the
four hundred International prisoners who
fought at the side of all veterans at Jarama,
Brunete, Belchite, Gandesa, Ebro.
You can write these men, in care of Mr. E.
T. Crane, Third Secretary, American
Embassy, San Sebastian, Spain. Do it at
once! And then pitch into the work - to set
them free and bring them back home.

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