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September 2002

The myth of

by Harvey Klehr

Re-evaluating the treatment of the volunteers of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

In 1984, George Orwell gave the Ministry of Truth the task of rewriting history. Under the slogan “who controls the past controls the future,” an army of scribes modified documents, changed textbooks, and rewrote old newspapers to ensure that history conformed to every shift of the ruling party’s political line. Left-wing American historians have likewise been busily engaged in altering the past to buttress their conviction that Communists are the real heroes of modern history. Of all the historical myths promoted by the American left, few have been more fiercely protected than those about the Spanish Civil War, lionized as “the Good Fight,” a heroic struggle between fascism and antifascism, and the Communist-led International Brigades, a band of selfless volunteers whose brave deeds were immortalized in stirring songs (they won the battles, but we had all the good songs, Tom Lehrer noted).

I ...

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Harvey Klehr is andrew Mellon Professor of Politics at Emory University.


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 21 September 2002, on page 19

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