Julian Bell’s resting place preserved

From the IBMT e-Newsletter: 

Madrid suspends plans to build over mass grave site

An international outcry has forced the Madrid city authorities to freeze plans to build a large rubbish depot on top of the unmarked graves of British and other international volunteers who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

Among those believed to be buried there is the poet Julian Bell, a nephew of Virginia Woolf and member of the Bloomsbury Group. Bell’s death came while driving an ambulance on 17 July 1937 during fighting around Brunete, west of Madrid.

Madrid council’s decision came after protests from the IBMT and memorial groups in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Serbia and the US. These were coordinated by the Madrid-based AABI Friends of the International Brigades.

The IBMT has now been told by the Madrid city council, run by Spain’s right-wing Popular Party, that an archaeological survey of the site will take place before any work begins. As required under Spain’s Law of Democratic Memory, the aim will be to confirm whether it is a mass grave of victims of the civil war.

IBMT Chair Jim Jump welcomed the council’s positive response, noting that the remains of more than 500 British and Irish volunteers are scattered in unmarked and mass graves across Spain.

He added: ‘It is important for their dignity and to respect the cause of anti-fascism and democracy which took them to Spain that their resting places are identified and preserved.’

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