Idioma original (of articles): German

Year of publication: 2024 (the book), 1938 (the articles)

Translation: Carlos Fortea and Isabel García Adánez

Valuation: recommendable

The importance that the Spanish Civil War had and has in popular culture is undeniable. Dozens (or hundreds) of novels, essays, comics, series, documentaries, films, etc. have approached the subject from the most varied angles. That said, and without denying the importance of fiction or historical studies, I think it is essential to turn to authors who had the opportunity to witness on site (part of) the contest.

Within this group, the number of German journalists who covered and/or participated in the war “is striking”: Alfred Kantorowicz, Ernst Toller, Egon Erwin Kisch, etc. This group must include Erika and Klaus Mann, children of the famous Thomas Mann and exiles from Nazi Germany since 1933.

The 13 articles compiled in this small volume of just 120 pages have their origin in the three weeks (06/23/1938 to 07/14/1938) that the Mann brothers were in Republican Spain, being Barcelona, ​​Tortosa, Valencia and Madrid. the places where they moved.

There are six texts by Klaus, five by Erika and two written by four hands. In all of them, common aspects are observed that range between indignation and compassion and that reflect the faith and hope in the triumph of the Republican side, the astonishment at the resistance of the city of Madrid, the recognition of the effort in education. and training by the Republic (pedagogy vs demagogy, etc.).

But more than these common points I am interested in certain differences between the texts of one and the other and some notes that I believe are 100% current (remember that we are a few days away from legislative elections in France in which the extreme right is the favorite).

As far as differences are concerned, Erika’s texts are more intimate and personal than Klaus’s. Erika focuses her attention more on the small details, on the little things and on the everyday life that appears in the midst of destruction and horror. Furthermore, she allows herself more literary licenses, as we observe in this paragraph:

It is always a strangely horrible and moving impression to see the big city shrink like a frightened animal when the lights go out in seconds, people disappear from their houses, when there is nothing but fear and darkness.

Regarding the validity of the texts, the reflections of both are interesting regarding “buying the enemy’s mental framework” or the meaning and objective of the fight. This pacifism/war dilemma in a situation of exceptionality is something that leads the authors to question their own convictions.

That said, if anyone is looking for depth or a complete “hows and whys” analysis, forget about The miracle of Spain. They are texts written in the urgency of the moment and with a very clear objective, that of making a desperate call for the involvement of democratic peoples and powers. Now, if you are looking for a first-hand testimony, subjective (obviously) without being pamphleteer, and that does not require the reader to squeeze their meninges, this may be a good option.

Also by Klaus Mann in ULAD: The volcano


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