New Yorkers Respond to Civil War in Spain

New Yorkers closely followed the rise of fascist political movements in Europe. The Nazis ascended to power in Germany in 1933, Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, and fascist Spanish forces supported by Germany and Italy rebelled against the democratically elected government of Spain in 1936. The fascist victory in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) became the prologue to the Second World War.
 
When the U.S. embargoed military aid to the Spanish Republic during the civil war, people organized across the city to send humanitarian aid and promote awareness of the Spanish cause. And over 1,000 New Yorkers—hispanos among them—joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to fight in Spain against the fascists.
 
The experience forged new bonds among “Newyorkinos” from different parts of the Spanish-speaking world, fostering the creation of new institutions and supportive networks. Spaniards and Latin Americans on the left and right found their pro-Republic or pro-Franco allegiances outweighing outdated divisions along imperial/colonial lines.

Installation view of the exhibition, "Picasso: Forty Years of His Art.” The Museum of Modern Art, New York, November 15, 1939 through January 7, 1940. The Museum of Modern Art, New York (IN91.7). Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY. Left-wingers of all ethnicities congregated at this club on 5th Avenue and 115th Street that served Latin fare and offered a dance floor and conference room upstairs. The club was named for a political activist and founder of Cuba’s Communist Party. In 1936, club members organized to fight for Republican Spain. Artist and activist Henry Glintenkamp showed this work at the American Artists’ Congress 1937 exhibition at Rockefeller Center.
Henry Glintenkamp (United States, 1887–1946), Club Julio A. Mella (Cuban Workers' Club), 1937. Oil on canvas. Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.

Installation view of the exhibition, "Picasso: Forty Years of His Art.” The Museum of Modern Art, New York, November 15, 1939 through January 7, 1940. The Museum of Modern Art, New York (IN91.7). Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY. In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, Picasso’s Guernica conveyed the horrors that Nazi warplanes had recently inflicted on the citizens of Guernica, Spain. The painting toured the U.S. in 1939 to raise funds for Spanish refugees, stopping first in New York for a showing at the Valentine gallery.
While Guernica was in the U.S., World War II broke out. The Museum of Modern Art agreed to take charge of the painting until the time was right for its return. That time finally came in 1981, with the death of Franco, the return of Spanish democracy, and the centenary of Picasso’s birth. 
Installation view of the exhibition, "Picasso: Forty Years of His Art.”The Museum of Modern Art, New York, November 15, 1939 through January 7, 1940. The Museum of Modern Art, New York (IN91.7). Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY.
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