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Arts and Humanities students visit Nottinghamshire County Hall to learn more about Nottingham’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War

Students explored the history of Nottinghamshire volunteers in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War.

International Bridgades Trip
The group beside the Nottinghamshire International Brigades memorial

Students in the School of Arts and Humanities studying BA (Hons) History as well as European Studies recently took a trip to Nottinghamshire County Hall as part of the module ‘Memory and Identities in European Writing, Cinema and Society.’ This forms part of the student’s study on the Spanish Civil War and demonstrates the unlikely links the conflict has to local Nottinghamshire people.

The trip was led by lecturer Heather Watkins and Jim Jump, Chair of the International Brigades Memorial Trust and attended by Councillor Alan Rhodes.  The day saw students visiting the memorial to the local Nottinghamshire people who volunteered for the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. The students learned more about how the conflict moved local people to volunteer, the debates about the way this is remembered and the importance of retaining local memory. Jim’s father was a veteran of the conflict and his mother was a Spanish refugee, so it was a privilege for the students to be able to speak to him about his personal memories as well as historical research.

The students were also able to listen to personal stories from Karen and Kirsty Weatherall of Nottinghamshire County Council, whose father and grandfather, Frank H Ellis, was also a local International Brigades volunteer. Karen spoke movingly to the students about the poverty conditions that most of the working class volunteers experienced in the 1930s. The students combined the personal testimony they heard from their guests with readings of The Shallow Grave, the memoir of Walter Gregory, who was another local Brigades veteran who survived the conflict.

Ria Kakkad, BA (Hons) Spanish and European Studies student, commented on her experiences of the trip: “The visit to see the International Brigades Memorial was very interesting. Although I have been studying the Spanish Civil War for the past 4 years, I knew little about the International Brigade and how many people risked their lives for democracy. It opened my eyes as to how close to home the connections are to people who fought in the war. It is great that Nottingham County Hall continue to remember this part of history through the memorial and I hope they continue to commemorate these veterans in the future.”

Published on 8 March 2019
  • Category: Current students; School of Arts and Humanities