El País in English 20.12.11
The last female veteran


Lise London, the sole surviving woman member of the International Brigades, remembers the bravery of the foreigners who came to Spain to fight Franco .

[...] They believed that the Civil War was the first battle in a global conflict that could be prevented if Franco and his men were defeated. For those who joined the International Brigades, it wasn't just an isolated fratricidal war in a country that shared a border with Africa. It was the prelude to disaster. And time would prove them right.
Autumn of 1936 was a critical moment, when democracy was beginning to fall apart; Germany and Italy were not the only countries to fall under the yoke of fascism. In Poland, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Portugal, dictatorial regimes were brewing. The far right had shown its teeth in France. Sectors of the US Republican Party and the British establishment were applauding Hitler. Meanwhile, half of Spain had rebelled against the coup d'état of July 18. The war had begun. Without an army of its own, the Republic had to improvise each day and Franco - with his legion of troops trained in Africa - reached the outskirts in Madrid in a matter of weeks. Hitler was humiliating democracies and sending his bombers against the Spaniards, breaking international accords. To appease him, France and the United Kingdom had abandoned the Republic. While the world stood by and watched, mainland Spain burned.

Lise London, photographed in November in Paris.- SOFÍA MORO