Exporting Soviet Commemoration: The Spanish Civil War and the October Revolution, 1936-1939

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The Spanish Civil War played a unique role in the Soviet Union’s geo-political strategies between the years 1919 and 1939. The war marked the first occasion that Moscow participated in a foreign war beyond its traditional spheres of influence. But Soviet involvement in the Spanish war went far beyond the sale of armour and aviation to the beleaguered Spanish Republic. On the cultural front, the Soviets sought to roll out a broad program of propaganda - employing film, poster art, music and belles lettres - to link the fortunes and destinies of the Slavic and Hispanic peoples, and to exploit the war in Spain as a cause celebre for both Soviet workers and the Comintern. Central to this propaganda effort was the exporting of Soviet commemoration practices, especially celebrations of the October Revolution. That the nineteenth anniversary of the October Revolution coincided with the epic Battle of Madrid was not lost on the Soviet leadership, which attempted to draw explicit connections between October 1917 and November 1936. Moreover, the war’s long duration allowed for not one but three such annual commemorations, which would eventually include much of the pageantry typical of the Red Square jamborees. This paper constitutes a socio-cultural history of the commemoration of the October Revolution in Republican Spain, 1936-1939.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Echoes of the Commemorations of the October Revolution, 1918-1990
EditorsJean-François Fayet, Stefanie Prezioso, Valérie Gorin
PublisherLawrence & Wishart
ISBN (Print)9781910448977, 9781910448960
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Russian Revolution
  • Bolshevik
  • Commemorations

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