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Right enemy, wrong war

May 14, 2011

Civil War poster

Yes, New Zealand, we also fought (though not officially) in Spain’s Civil War…

And this memory adds quite a bit to the story we tell ourselves about our conflict history… particularly in terms of how veterans of certain wars were received by the public and by representatives of the nation’s war effort.

There was an article in the Herald a couple of years ago, which leads with the local response to one man’s participation in the Spanish Civil War (as a member of the International Brigades).  Our nation’s onetime response to soldiers who didn’t participate in the ‘right war’ (which included Vietnam et al. for a long time) is very much a part of the story we tell ourselves about New Zealand’s place on the International stage (especially in its ‘theatre of war’).

Parker starts his article with these words: “After the end of World War II, a veteran of the fight against fascism turned up at an Auckland Anzac Day parade to march with the RSA.  He was told he couldn’t.  He could, though, tag along at the end, by himself.  His name was Tom Spiller.”

Ref: Dean Parker “Right enemy, wrong war” Weekend Herald. Saturday April 25th 2009, pB3

Ref also: Ed. Mark Derby Kiwi Compañeros; New Zealand and the Spanish Civil War


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