The XI International Brigade
fought for the Spanish Second Republic in the Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...
It would become especially renowned for providing desperately needed support in the darkest hours of the Republican defense of Madrid on 8 November 1936, when, with great losses, it helped repulse a major assault by veteran Nationalist troops, buying time for more Republican troops to be brought into the city.
Order of battle
It was originally mustered from international volunteers at Albacete
Albacete is a city and municipality in southeastern Spain, 258 km southeast of Madrid, the capital of the province of Albacete in the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. The municipality had a population of c. 169,700 in 2009....
, Spain, in mid-October 1936 as the IX Brigada Movíl
, with four battalions:
- Franco-Belgian Battalion (14 Oct 1936)
- Austro-German Battalion (14 Oct 1936)
- Italo-Spanish Battalion (14 Oct 1936)
- Polish-Balkan Battalion (17 Oct 1936)
On 22 Oct 1936, it was redesignated the XI "Hans Beimler"
Hans Beimler was an active member of the German Communist Party and a deputy in the Reichstag.Beimler was born in Munich and served in the Kaiserliche Marine during the First World War...
on 22 Oct 1936, with General "Kléber" (Manfred Stern
Manfred Stern was a member of the GRU, Soviet military intelligence. He served as a spy in the United States, as a military advisor in China, and gained fame under his nom de guerre as General Kléber, leader of the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.- Early life :He was born into...
) commanding. The original battalions were renamed as follows:
- The Franco-Belgian battalion became the Commune de Paris Battalion
- The Austro-German battalion became the Edgar André Battalion, (after Edgar André
Edgar Josef André, or Etkar Josef André was a politician in the Communist Party of Germany and an antifascist.-Early years:...
- The Italo-Spanish battalion became the Garibaldi Battalion
The Garibaldi Battalion was a group of mostly Italian volunteers that fought in the Spanish Civil War from October 1936 to 1938...
, (after Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian military and political figure. In his twenties, he joined the Carbonari Italian patriot revolutionaries, and fled Italy after a failed insurrection. Garibaldi took part in the War of the Farrapos and the Uruguayan Civil War leading the Italian Legion, and...
- The Polish-Balkan battalion became the Dabrowski Battalion
The Dabrowski Battalion, also known as Dąbrowszczacy was a battalion of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. It was initially formed entirely of volunteers, "chiefly composed of Polish miners recently living and working in France and Belgium". Because of the relatively short...
, (after Jarosław Dąbrowski).
Shortly after the formation of XII International Brigade
The XII International Brigade was mustered on 7 November 1936 at Albacete, Spain. It was formally named the Garibaldi Brigade, after the most famous and inspiring leader in the Italian Independence Wars, General Giuseppe Garibaldi. Its first commanding officer was a soviet advisor of Hungarian...
in November, 1936, its Thälmann Battalion
The Thälmann Battalion was a battalion of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. It was named after the imprisoned German communist leader Ernst Thälmann and included approximately 1,500 people, mainly Germans, Austrians, Swiss and Scandinavians. The battalion fought in the defence...
and the Garibaldi Battalion (which had no rifles) swapped places.
Other units that formed part of XI International Brigade
at other times were:
- Austrias Heredia Battalion
- Hans Beimler Battalion
- Madrid Battalion
- Pacifico Battalion
- Pasionaria Battalion
- Zwölfter Februar Battalion
After the death of Hans Beimler the energetic Giuseppe Di Vittorio
Giuseppe Di Vittorio, also known under the pseudonym Nicoletti , was an Italian syndicalist trade unionist and communist politician, one of the most influential leaders of the labor movement after World War I....
became the political commissar
Commissar is the English transliteration of an official title used in Russia from the time of Peter the Great.The title was used during the Provisional Government for regional heads of administration, but it is mostly associated with a number of Cheka and military functions in Bolshevik and Soviet...
On 18 July 1956, the German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...
issued the Hans Beimler Medal
The Hans Beimler Medal was a GDR decoration. The medal was instituted in 17 May 1956 and was awarded to East Germans who fought in the Spanish civil war on the side of the republicans. The medal was named after Hans Beimler, the first commissar of the German Communist contingent and the XI...
to veterans of the XI International Brigade, and other volunteer units in Spain. At the time, there were 632 surviving veterans alive. On the 20th anniversary of the end of the war, in September 1959, a further 112 were awarded. The medal is silver with a relief portrait of Hans Beimler on one side, and the three-pointed star of the International Brigades on the reverse, with the inscription "KAMPFER FVR SPANIENS FREIHEIT 1936-1939"
, Fighters for Spanish Liberty (1936–1939)