OInvestigators confirmed the names of 212 fighters from Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, according to a government statement.
About 102 are of German origin, 70 Austrian and 40 Dutch. The government did not provide any information on the number of people of other nationalities who were identified.
The identified combatants fought within the International Brigades, military units created by the Communist International to fight the fascist forces of General Francisco Franco.
About 40,000 foreign men and women volunteered, fighting alongside the forces of the Second Spanish Democratic Republic and against the rise of fascism in Europe in the late 1930s, researchers say.
The conclusions are based on a year of research into records kept in documentary archives in Spain and Russia. Investigators went through the daily lists of casualties and missing soldiers compiled by International Brigades officers.
The names of foreign soldiers were often omitted from the lists, which made the investigation process difficult. These lists are held at the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History in Moscow.
Investigators also delved into key archives on the Spanish Civil War located in Spain. Through the crossing of documents, the investigators were also able to identify the probable area where the soldiers died or were seriously injured.
It is an important step towards locating his mortal remains in mass graves across the country, scholars believe.
“This survey provides very valuable information that gives us the opportunity to contact the families of the disappeared combatants and, in the future, intervene in the mass graves that were located”, stressed Alfons Aragoneses, head of the project.
All identified persons were part of the Thälmann Brigade, a communist unit made up mostly of anti-Nazi Germans. The battalion was active on the Ebro River front in northeastern Spain between March and September 1938, where the longest and deadliest battle of the war took place.
The investigation is ongoing and funded by the regional government of Catalonia, with the aim of contributing to the country’s historical memory.
The second phase of the project will attempt to identify missing combatants from Great Britain, Ireland, Canada and the United States. The last stage will consist of opening the graves in search of bodies.
Historians estimate that around 10,000 foreign volunteers died in combat on Spanish soil during the war. It is not known how many are yet to be identified, buried in graves.
The Spanish Civil War served as a testing ground for Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Benito Mussolini’s Italy before World War II. This fact triggered an international outcry to try to save the democratic government of the Spanish Republic, which ended up succumbing to the forces of General Franco in 1939.
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