Last known veteran of the Spanish Civil War brigades
Born: July 30, 1919
Death: May 23, 2021
Josep Almudéver, the last known survivor of the International Brigades who volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War in the hope of being able to stop fascism, died on May 23 in a hospital in Pamiers, southwest of France. He was 101 years old.
His death was confirmed by his daughter Sonia Almudéver. She did not specify the cause.
Almudéver was born in France to Spanish parents and had dual nationality. He was a teenager living in Spain when Francisco Franco and other generals launched a military coup in July 1936 against Spain’s Republican government, which plunged the country into a three-year civil war.
He had to lie about his age to enlist in a Republican militia, but he was soon injured and sent home. It was also discovered that he had been too young to fight. But after recovering from his injury, he managed to join the conflict as a member of the International Brigades, in which tens of thousands of foreigners had enlisted to fight Franco.
Almudever was one of the many left-wing brigades who saw the conflict in Spain as a larger struggle against the advance of fascism across Europe, as Franco also received military support from Nazi Germany and the ‘Italy.
Giles Tremlett, a British journalist and historian who published a book on the brigades last year, said Almudéver’s death “brings the curtain down on what was a remarkable phenomenon of a transnational volunteer army, including the creation was compared at the time to what had happened during the crusades ”.
Foreigners traveled from all over the world to join the international brigades, but Tremlett also noted that the brigades included Spaniards from the start of the war, some of whom helped fill a shortage of people with specific skills, such as medics. or artillery engineers.
In total, around 35,000 foreigners served in the brigades during the war, in a contingent that numbered as many as 42,000 at its peak and whose military organization was in part shaped by Soviet advisers.
Many foreigners had to sneak into Spain to fight because their own countries remained neutral during the conflict, including the United States.
Josep Almudéver Mateu was born on July 30, 1919 in Marseille, France, to parents originally from Valence, in eastern Spain. His father, Vicente Almudéver Mari, was a mason who had moved to France in search of work. Her mother, Adela Mateu Paterna, was a housewife who had been part of her family’s traveling circus in her youth and who met her husband at one of their circus shows in France.
After living in Marseille, the family briefly moved to Morocco but then returned to Spain because Almudéver’s mother fell seriously ill in 1931, as the Republican government took office.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wrote on Twitter that Almudéver stood out for his “political commitment and perseverance”
Almudever was held by Franco’s troops in Valencia in 1939, just as Franco was on the verge of winning the war, and was held in labor camps and prisons until his release in 1942. Determined to Continuing the fight against Franco’s new regime, he then joined an underground Communist trade union movement that was also helping guerrilla fighters in northeastern Spain. In 1947, after some fighters had been captured and executed, he fled on foot through the Pyrenees to the French town of Pamiers, where a brother lived. A year later, his wife, Carmen Ballester Vicens, manages to join him in France.
Almudena Cros, president of the Association of Friends of International Brigades, created in Madrid in the 1980s, declared herself “99% sure” that Almudéver was “the last man standing” and that there was no no other surviving members. brigades.
Almudéver is survived by one of his three siblings, Vicente, who also fought alongside Republicans during the Civil War and is now 103 years old. Besides his daughter Sonia, his other survivors include four other children, 10 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. . His wife died in 2006.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wrote on Twitter that Almudéver had distinguished himself by his “political commitment and perseverance”, noting that he had not only fought for democracy and against dictatorship, but had also suffered “repression and post-war exile”. Ximo Puig, regional leader of Valencia, also paid tribute on Twitter to Almudéver for “having fought for the democratic convictions of all his people”.