In July 1936 General Francisco Franco’s forces organize a military coup in an attempt to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Spain. The people of Spain resist for two and a half years in a bloody civil war that divides the Spanish nation. Franco is supported militarily by Hitler and Mussolini, while the United States declares its official neutrality.

In response to these events, the American student movement begins to abandon its earlier pacifism in favor of the idea of collective security and the use of armed force to counter the spread of fascism internationally. Hundreds of college students from all over the country go to Spain to join the American volunteers in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which fights against Franco’s fascist forces.

brigade plaque This memorial plaque commemorates the thirteen CCNY volunteers in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who die fighting in defense of the Spanish Republic against Franco’s forces during the Spanish Civil War. Among those listed is Jack Freeman, president of the class of 1939. The plaque is currently located on the upper level of the Rotunda of CCNY’s North Academic Center.

burck 3 City College students participate in a fast to demonstrate their support for the Spanish Republic.

Spain boot cartoon A coalition of student clubs organizes a campaign to collect money and clothing for civilians in Spain.

ASU strike against the war The figure of a student anti-war demonstrator attempts to halt the killing of civilians by fascist forces. A bayoneted figure lies dead across a map of Spain.

Spanish War Graphic Faces of soldiers and civilians are depicted as supporting Republican Spain with Spanish flag in background.

cover of Teacher-Worker; February, 1939 The Teacher-Worker, the newsletter of the CCNY Communist staff, dedicates its February 1939 issue to Ralph Wardlaw, an instructor in the Department of Public Speaking, who dies in Spain fighting in defense of the Spanish Republic.