Beyond the Trenches (1936-1939). Photographs by Alec Wainman

Barcelona: a revolutionary epicentre

Barcelona was the epicentre where all the hues of the Republican left converged and became a focal point for volunteers who travelled from democratic countries far and wide to Spain, acting on their forebodings at what the consequences of the defeat of the Spanish Republic might mean for the rest of the world. These photographs portray a Republic which, for the photographer and many other young people, provided an opportunity to fight against fascism in Spain and around the world.

The arrival of the American International Brigade volunteers in the Lincoln Battalion, the city plastered with posters and propaganda by renowned artists such as Josep Renau, Jacint Bofarull and Manuel Monléon, and the training of military recruits and young people by the Ministry of State gave Barcelona the feel of a film set, which Wainman succeeded in capturing with his camera.

From all over the world

“So why did men and women from all over the world abandon their families, risk their lives and undergo daily hardship and suffering for such a country? The answer is that they went to Spain to fight or, like Alec Wainman, as medical personnel, not just for Spaniards, but for both; less, themselves, and more, the very survival of civilized humanity.”

Paul Preston, historian, prologue to Almas vivas

Gallery of photographs