The Banner of the Naftali Botwin Company
Repository: Ghetto Fighters' House Museum, Western Galilee, Israel
Fond or Collection
Repository and Location
Ghetto Fighters' House Museum, Western Galilee, Israel
Extent: 1 item
The Naftali Botwin company was made up of Yiddish-speaking Jews from Poland. It formed part of the Dabrowski - also referred to as Dabrowszczacy or Dombrowski – Battalion named in honour of the Polish general who had participated in the Paris Commune of 1871. Created on October 24, 1936, the Battalion’s members were Polish volunteers, the majority of whom were exiled workers in France and Belgium. It subsequently formed part of the XI, XII, CL and XIII International Brigades (the latter being also known as Dabrowski Brigade), in which Polish volunteers fought alongside Hungarians, Yugoslavs, Frenchmen and Spaniards.
The International Brigades (IBs) were created on September 18, 1936 after the Comintern secretariat, responding to a request from Joseph Stalin, decided to make an appeal for volunteers to combat fascism in Spain. The organization fell mainly to the French Communist Party and its leader André Marty, who was also Secretary General of the Comintern, and a recruitment office was established in Paris. Over the next two years some 35,000 people from around the world joined. Many, but far from all, were Communists, but they were all anti-fascists motivated by the desire to take up arms to stop the advance of fascism in Europe in the face of the democratic powers’ policy of appeasing Hitler. Many were workers, but there was a notable presence of middle-class people and intellectuals.
They came from more than 50 countries. The largest contingent (9000) was the French, followed by the British (4000), Germans and Austrians, Italians and Poles (3000 each), and the Americans (2800). There were also Romanians, Bulgarians, Cubans, Argentines, Belgians, Czechoslovaks, Mexicans, Jews Palestine, and even Indians and Chinese. As well as the Botwin Company, there was a significant number of Brigade members of Jewish origin, mobilized by antifascism and by the rise of antisemitism in interwar Europe, scattered among the national units. One of them, Milton Woolf, became the commander of the Lincoln Battalion. There were a total of seven brigades and their base was established in Los Llanos, Albacete. They
The International Brigades constituted the greatest example of international solidarity with Republican Spain. Distinguished by their discipline, they were used mainly as shock troops and suffered a much higher number of casualties than the People's Army as a whole. There were also foreigners who shunned the dominant Communist character of the Brigades. One of the most famous was George Orwell, who fought in the POUM militia. On the other hand, due to the difficulties the International Brigades faced in replacing their losses due to the prohibitions imposed by most countries on the participation of their citizens in Spain, an increasing number of IB soldiers would be Spaniards.There were a total of seven brigades and their base was established in Los Llanos, Albacete. They were used mainly as shock troops and suffered a proportionally higher number of casualties than the Ejército Popular as a whole.
The International Brigades were withdrawn in October 1938. They were already much reduced, but the main motivation for the decision was to serve as a gesture by Juan Negrín’s Republican government to get Franco to do the same with his Nazi and Fascist contingents. It was a futile one.