General Themes: Unification, Mobilization, and Morale
Of the ephemera addressed to madrileños at large, the majority of these pieces focus on three major themes - unity, mobilization, and morale building. Many ephemera focus on one specific aspect of these themes such as donating clothes, a form of mobilizing the population. There are also some longer broadsides, which address more than one theme in an effort to deliver a more complex political message. Yet, these broadsides seem to be the exception. Most of the items in this exhibit tend to be fairly short and straightforward.
Unity was viewed by many groups in Madrid as fundamental to successfully resisting Nationalist troops which were referred to as the "fascist invaders." Yet, on both sides of the war, there was ideological diversity and disagreement. In his 2002 book Republic of Egos: A Social History of the Spanish Civil War, Michael Siedman notes that "during the conflict, opposing 'isms' - Communism and fascism, anarchism and authoritarianism, republicanism and monarchism, Catholicism and anti-clericalism, democracy and dictatorship - battled each other" (Siedman 3). Many of these distinctions characterize the fundamental divisions between Nationalist and Republican Spain. However, neither group was entirely monolithic. As represented in many of the items here, the PCE of Madrid tried its hardest to unite the, at times, conflicting interests of anarchists, communists, labor unions, and others under the singular banner of anti-fascism.
Mobilization was just as important. In addition to getting the people of Madrid to think of themselves as unified in their opposition to the Nationalist troops, these Communist ephemera also wanted to motivate the population to contribute to the war effort, in one form or another. The content of the ephemera presented in this section reflect the multiple capacities in which people could contribute. Volunteering to fight in the trenches, working in the factories, building refuges, and donating clothing and blankets are some of the services which the authors of these ephemera request of readers.
Finally, morale building was done in many ways. Some of the ephemera in the exhibit advertise a meeting of the Communist Party or simply all anti-fascists of Madrid. These ephemera also praise the heroism exhibited by the people of Madrid on particular dates during the civil war. In addition to these celebrated dates of local importance, some of the PCE handbills urge citizens to remember the 20th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Such ephemera place the conflict of the Spanish Civil War in an international as well as an historical context. They also celebrate the works of well-known intellectuals such a Carl Marx, Lenin, and Rosa Luxemburg. Also, the success of the Popular Front seems to be a common rallying point in these ephemera. All of these elements, along with several items that denied the possibility of considering a compromise with the enemy, contributed to a concerted effort to keep morale high in Madrid and further bind the people together in a unified front against the Nationalist troops.