Written by Pauline Fraser for the Morning Star
A score of walkers arrived at Hove Station on Saturday [18 September 2021] from far and wide to take part in an eight-mile sponsored walk in the footsteps of some of the Sussex International Brigaders.
Assembling on a glorious autumn morning, the walkers visited nine addresses connected with volunteers from Brighton and Hove and the two houses that had welcomed in child refugees from the Basque country in 1937.
The walk was organised by Pauline Fraser, a Trustee of the International Brigade Memorial Trust and convenor of its affiliate, Sussex Brigaders Remembered, which is raising money towards a memorial to the Sussex Brigaders.
The walkers made an eye-catching spectacle as they wove their way through the city carrying the IBMT banner, Republican flags and others relating to Marea Granate. Members of the public asked walkers what it was all about, thus getting the message across more widely.
Information about each Brigader was read out when the walk assembled at the relevant address. At the two former children’s homes, Pauline read from the memoirs of two brothers who stayed there.
High point of the walk was a meeting between the walkers and members of the Guernica collective outside ‘The Pines’ Nursing Home, formerly Aylesbury House, one of the two homes for Basque refugee children in Hove. The collective brought their beautiful banner, made after the style of Picasso’s famous painting, which the artist had created following the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica. The bombing, which killed or injured some thousands, was carried out by Hitler’s Condor Legion, at Franco’s behest. In addition the banner draws attention to the present-day slaughter of innocent civilians, in particular women and children, in Palestine, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
In 1937 the Conservative government grudgingly permitted the nearly 4,000 child refugees, to enter the UK, so long as they were ‘not a burden on the public purse’. The widespread outpouring of sympathy for the young refugees ensured that they were at least fed and accommodated. Jakob, of Brighton Migrant Solidarity, which had come to support the walk, told us how the current right-wing Conservative government demonises and seeks to actively exclude migrants, including children seeking to be reunited with family members.
If you would like to support the efforts of the walkers and the project to get a memorial erected to the Sussex Brigaders, please donate, through the IBMT website: http://international-brigades.org.uk/, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating that your donation is for the Walk, or by bank transfer to: International Brigade Memorial, Sort code 40-52-40, Account number 00013716, giving the reference Walk’.