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Old December 9th, 2008 #1
Mike Jahn
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 7,526
Blog Entries: 3
Lightbulb Jews in the Spanish Civil War

Jews in the Spanish Civil War

The Naftali Botwin Company

By Mitch Abidor


From leaders like Trotsky, Bela Kun in Hungary, Ana Pauker in Romania, and Ruth Fischer in Germany, to the Jewish sections and newspapers within many parties, Jews played a large role in the Communist movement between the October Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. Given this, it is hardly surprising that Jews participated in large numbers in the International Brigades.

The Brigades drew largely from the parties of the Comintern, and it’s estimated that of the 35,000 members of the Brigades, between 6,500 and 8,000 were Jews. The largest contingent was in America’s Abraham Lincoln Brigade, but a large number of the Poles were also Jews; in fact they played a key role in many of the units of the International Brigades: even seventeen of Bulgaria’s 400 fighters were Jews. Palestine sent a mixed Jewish-Arab contingent of almost 200 fighters, which included Left-Zionists in its ranks, alongside members of the Palestine Communist Party. The largest proportion was in the Brigades’ medical corps, which was 70% Jewish.

In 1936 a Parisian Communist, Albert Nahumi, first suggested to the leadership of the International Brigades the idea of a separate Jewish unit. Though the idea was not at first accepted, and Nahumi was killed in action, the idea did not die. In 1937, progressive Jewish circles in Paris made a major push for the unit, and on December 12, 1937 an order of the day was issued forming the Naftali Botwin Company, as part of the Polish Dombrowski Battalion. The Company was named for a young Communist who was executed in Poland in 1925 after killing a police informer.

The Company, which had about 150 members from Poland, France, Belgium, Palestine and Spain, published a Yiddish newspaper “Botwin” and its flag bore the words “For your freedom and ours” in Yiddish and Polish on one face of the flag, and in Spanish on the other.

The Botwins fought until the disbanding of the International Brigades in October 1938, and many of its members carried on the fight against fascism in the ranks of the Resistance during World War II.

The Forming of the Jewish Naftali Botwin Company

Yiddish Speech Broadcast on Republican Radio

Anthem of the Botwin Company


Jews and the Workers' Movement
Old December 9th, 2008 #2
Mike Jahn
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 7,526
Blog Entries: 3

Jews and the Spanish Civil War 1937

The Forming of the Jewish Naftali Botwin Company


Source: David Diamant. Combattants Juifs dans l'Armée Républicaine Espagnole. Editions renouveau, Paris. 1979;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor.

Comrade soldiers! Officers and commanders of the Dombrowski Brigade! Comrade Jewish volunteers!

Today, December 12, 1937, there has been added to our glorious and great family of antifascists combatants, the Naftali Botwin Jewish Company. Since the day of our arrival on Spanish soil, our brigade, all of our volunteers have been, first as a company, later as a battalion, and now as a brigade, a great fraternal family that unites all its combatants: Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, Bielorussians, Jews, Hungarians, Spaniards and others.

The common struggle, the common blood spilled, have brought us all increasingly together, and have taught us to esteem and love each other.

We antifascists, without distinction of nationality or political conviction, are firm in putting forth yet another great effort in the struggle against fascism, racism, and anti-Semitism, the struggle for a People’s Spain free for the liberation of humanity from fascist bestiality and slavery.

The antifascists of all countries have assisted in the struggle for your liberty and ours.

Among the volunteers of the International Brigades, and especially in the Dombrowski Brigade, the Jewish volunteers have always distinguished themselves by their heroism, their fighting spirit, and their devotion to the struggle against fascism.

Outside Madrid, at Guadalajara, at Brunete, at Saragossa, everywhere that our brigade found itself engaged in the struggle against humanity’s mortal enemy — fascism — Jewish volunteers have been found in the front rank, setting an example of heroism and anti-fascist consciousness.

In stressing their great number and the importance of Jewish volunteers in the Dombrowski Brigade, and in order to commemorate the Jewish fighters who have fallen for freedom, we have decided that the Second Company of the heroic Polish Palafox Battalion will be known as the Jewish Company, bearing the name of Naftali Botwin.

The name of Botwin is dear to all of us.

Botwin is the name of the Jewish worker from Poland who sacrificed his young life in the struggle against reaction and fascism, fighting courageously and dying heroically, sentenced to death by a fascist tribunal.

His name is a symbol, and his life an example, of the heroic struggle of the Jewish masses for your freedom and ours, a symbol of international solidarity and the brotherhood of peoples.

The commander of the XIII Brigade-Dombrowki
Janek Barvinski

Political Commisar of the Dombrowski Brigade
Stach Matuszczak


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