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Afterword: Herbert R. Southworth Collection


Exercit de l'est Balanç de la 1a offensiva: Catalans! a l'offensiva per la victoria

[Eastern Army, Results of the first offensive: Catalans! To the offensive for victory]. Friedfeld. Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya Lithograph, 3 colors; 140 x 100 cm

This poster dates to the period shortly after July 24-25, 1938. On this date, the Popular Front's Army of the Ebro launched a massive offensive on Nationalist forces, beginning what would turn out to be the bloodiest and longest battle (approximately three and half months) of the Spanish Civil War. As the poster indicates, spirits were high as the Popular Front forces experienced some early success in their campaign to break through the Nationalist lines with the objective of reuniting Republican Spain. In the previous months, Nationalist military success had cut Republican Spain in two - severing the northern region of Cataluña from the southern Republican regions on Spain's Eastern Mediterranean coast. Ultimately, Franco and the Nationalist troops were triumphant in the victory and the battle is seen as pivotal in shattering the Popular Front's military strength. In fact, many argue that Franco could have ended the Civil War several months earlier if he had continued the campaign and captured Barcelona rather than turn his armies down the coast to fight their way to Valencia. By November of 1938, each side had suffered many casualties with an estimated 22,000 casualties for the Republicans and 4,000 casualties for the Nationalist.

In spite of the eventual outcome, this poster celebrates the "first offensive" in which the Popular Front Army apparently broke through Nationalist lines at three points. It indicates that seven towns (El Burgo de Ebro, Fuentes de Ebro, Mediana, Puebla de Aborton, Belchite, Cobo, Quinto) have been taken by the Popular Front as indicated by the red circles. Two towns (Zuera and Villamayor) remain threatened. Although the poster is apparently a celebration, it is also a recruiting poster urging Catalans to join the offensive.

Little is known about the artist, Friedfeld, except that he worked for the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) and the Partido Socialist Unificada (PSU) during the Civil War.

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