Francis McCullagh

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Pat Holscher
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Mon Mar 31, 2008 7:55 pm

selewis wrote:
Pat Holscher wrote:
selewis wrote:Ay, Caramba!
How a city can turn down the USS Iowa, and then put up a memorial to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, is beyond me.
And with a straight face no doubt.
Apparently.

Here's an article on the dedication of the memorial:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 6VSI4R.DTL
Pat

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Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:20 pm

Pat Holscher wrote:
selewis wrote:
Pat Holscher wrote: How a city can turn down the USS Iowa, and then put up a memorial to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, is beyond me.
And with a straight face no doubt.
Apparently.

Here's an article on the dedication of the memorial:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 6VSI4R.DTL
The ensuing irony in that era of socialist intellectuals, who wanted to run the world, running for their lives from the regimes of socialists who actually did run a good portion of it, is still lost on the People who are currently running San Francisco. Sad events all the way around.
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Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:29 am

selewis wrote:
Pat Holscher wrote:
selewis wrote: And with a straight face no doubt.
Apparently.

Here's an article on the dedication of the memorial:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... 6VSI4R.DTL
The ensuing irony in that era of socialist intellectuals, who wanted to run the world, running for their lives from the regimes of socialists who actually did run a good portion of it, is still lost on the People who are currently running San Francisco. Sad events all the way around.
It's replete with irony upon irony.

Perhaps the ultimate irony of it all is that the Abraham Lincoln and George Washington Battalions of the International Brigades (which is what they actually were, they were not brigade sized units in their own right) are now remembered, as here, as freedom fighters against fascism. That's simply not the case. What they were, in reality, is largely extreme left wing Americans who were "fellow travelers" with communism, if not outright communist. They weren't fighting against anything, but rather for something. The goal was to establish a radical socialist regime, which would have been effectively a Soviet style state.

Probably more than any other single group, the Americans who fought for the "Republic" in the Spanish Civil War have benefited, permanently, from the rosy glow painted on everyone who fought the Germans in World War Two. Fighting the Nazis, a worthy goal any way you look at it, was portrayed by necessity in World War Two as the equivalent of fighting against evil (which it was), and fighting for democracy. While the Nazis were truly evil, and fighting them was an absolute necessity, it's not the case that Soviet Union was fighting for liberal democracy. It was fighting for its life, and that of the Russian people, but that is not quite the same thing.

Be that as it may, when World War Two came along, the Western Allies more or less adopted a "they're just like us" propaganda position towards the Soviets. That wartime propaganda couldn't outlive the peacetime reality, so it soon became readily obvious to anyone paying attention that the Soviets were not misunderstood democrats.

But, the fact that authoritarian Franco (who was not a fascist, but who certainly wasn't a democrat by any stretch of the imagination), had received German and Italian aid right before WWII, and the fact that he more than flirted with being an Axis belligerent in WWII, pretty much caused a WWII whitewash of the Republicans, and those who supported them. That's lasted, as the Republicans lost. They ironically have the benefit of the "noble looser", which we sometimes see with other conflicts. Having never achieved power, the world was spared the executions the Republicans would have handed out, and the radical regime they would have tried to create. And we know Franco was an authoritarian. So the Republicans have been able to pretend ever since WWII that they were really not what they were.

I should note that some members of the Republicans were not extreme leftist, although their cause certainly was. And you can find examples of Republicans, both Spanish and non Spanish, who were repelled by the extremist nature of the Republican cause, or whom otherwise went on to be much less extreme in their later positions. And some members of the international brigades were either simply naive or just liked to fight. All in all, however, that doesn't change the basic nature of either sides positions in the Spanish Civil War.

The Spanish Civil War is one of those wars which has been so impacted, in historical terms, by events that came after it that it never seems to be treated in its own right, which is a shame. So many good historical texts treat it as a "precursor to WWII" that it is remembered that way. That's nonsense. The Spanish Civil War had utterly nothing whatsoever to do with Nazi Germany's absorption of Czechoslovakia, reoccupation of the Rhineland, or invasion of Poland. It wasn't a source of Nazi Germany's decision to invade the USSR (although Spain sent a division to that effort), and it had nothing to do with Hitler's post Pearl Harbor declaration of war on the US. It didn't encourage Mussolini to attack France in 1940, and the Spanish Civil War didn't convince Mussolini to attack Greece. It probably did serve to kill off a lot of radical Italian fascists, however. The Spanish Civil War didn't cause Stalin to temporarily think that Hitler was his pal, and that they could jointly carve up Poland.

The point of all that is that the Spanish Civil War, while an interesting war in its own right and period, is sui generis. It probably more closely resembles the Russian Civil War than any other war. WWII didn't go back and rearrange the war into a trial run for the Axis v. the Allies, and indeed, the foreign powers that slugged it out on Spanish turf, through the supply of volunteers and material, were proclaiming themselves to be bosom buddies shortly thereafter.
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Tue Apr 01, 2008 10:00 am

Pat, thanks for that excellent effort to disentangle a knot a which is actually many separate threads in one confusing ball. Throw in an inspiring novel and a few good movies, some romance and a natural propensity to root for the underdog and you have what appears like a noble crusade.
The indifference to, and complexity of, not only those events you have so nicely teased apart, but the whole twisted fabric of 20th century thought and trends, brings to mind one of my favorite Thurber cartoons from the thirties, perhaps the most succinct expression of the problem- certainly one of the most humorous, on many levels. It is the one in which husband and wife are seated across from one another with their morning papers. He has a dumbfounded look on his face and she is asking him engagingly "What ever happened to 'Socialism'?"

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Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:06 am

Hi Joe,
I read about the Stanton book in some articles in the jewish world review in internet, which I read regularly.

All my admiration for the americans who came to Spain thinking they were fighting for democracy, naive as they were. Less admiration for those who came to fight for communism, either anarchistic or stalinist.
May I add that I dislike Franco´s dictatorship as well and don´t share the excessively lenient view of it the historian Pio Moa I have mentioned with some praise above holds.
A bit disappointed to see San Francisco has less problems with the Lincoln Brigade than with World War Two soldiers...
Juan Campos
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Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:19 am

All,
I read with interest the comments on the Spanish Civil War, Francisco Franco, and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (ALB). I agree that the ALB has gotten a lot of credit for fighting facism ( which it did not)and very little credit for the atrocities commited by its communist allies ( which they did commit). HIstory today fails to remember that the ABL was so poorly thought of by its republican masters, as a result of their military blunders, that they were seldom used. The revisionist historians of today would have us believe that they were the shock troops of the republican cause.
On the other hand Franco, in today's world is really getting the short end of the stick. He averted the establishment of a Soviet Dictatorship in western Europe. He kept the Nazis at bay as they tried to suck him into the War. For a time he was considered a valuable ally of the west because of his anti communist credentials, but revisionist history has all but blotted this point out. I feel the greatest Franco accomplishment was his stewardship of the Spanish state so that, when the time came Juan Carlos could assume the throne and a democratic Spanish government move the country to prosperity and democracy.
Tom
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Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:55 am

detriquette wrote:All,
I read with interest the comments on the Spanish Civil War, Francisco Franco, and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (ALB). I agree that the ALB has gotten a lot of credit for fighting facism ( which it did not)and very little credit for the atrocities commited by its communist allies ( which they did commit). HIstory today fails to remember that the ABL was so poorly thought of by its republican masters, as a result of their military blunders, that they were seldom used. The revisionist historians of today would have us believe that they were the shock troops of the republican cause.
On the other hand Franco, in today's world is really getting the short end of the stick. He averted the establishment of a Soviet Dictatorship in western Europe. He kept the Nazis at bay as they tried to suck him into the War. For a time he was considered a valuable ally of the west because of his anti communist credentials, but revisionist history has all but blotted this point out. I feel the greatest Franco accomplishment was his stewardship of the Spanish state so that, when the time came Juan Carlos could assume the throne and a democratic Spanish government move the country to prosperity and democracy.
Tom
You raise an interesting point.

Cynical folks often will state that "it's the victors who write history". That may be so, but if so, the two examples you allude to here, those being the Spanish Civil War, and aspects of the Cold War, don't seem to completely demonstrate it.

Juan points out what should be obvious to anyone studying the Spanish Civil War, that being that neither side was without some pretty significant negatives. However, for whatever reason, it's become very much the case that the Spanish left, which came to be dominated by Communist in the Civil War, and which of course lost the war, is now remembered with the rosy glow of The Lost Cause. Never mind that the Lost Cause was a radical leftist ideal, which would have resulted in the destruction of Spanish culture and the deaths of thousands, and which did commit barbarities, we are supposed to think of them as idealistic democrats (small d). They weren't, but that's what we're supposed to think in recalling them, and that's how those who look back on them with admiration want to look at them today. The Spanish Republicans have been fondly recalled mostly because they came up during an era when a lot of people all over the world looked at Communism that way, and because World War Two occurred so soon after the Spanish Civil War such that Franco could not escape the association with his allies. And, the fact that the Republicans lost spared their image from what their rule would have done to it.

Perhaps all that is easy to understand, but what's a little more difficult to understand is how the same associations have played out in regards to many regimes post World War Two. Both the Soviets and the Western Allies back a lot of regimes around the world after the war. The Soviets, of course, either backed Communist regimes, or backed regimes that appeared to be likely to become Communist. Occasionally they backed regimes that were just a pain to the West. The West backed a lot of regimes as well, many of which were not democratic. At the time, and in retrospect, the West in general, and the US in particular, has been roundly condemned for backing non democratic, but anti Communist, regimes, while the Soviets were rarely criticized, and remain without criticism, for backing a lot of nasty Communist regimes. This isn't to say that everyone the West backed was nice, or that we should have backed them all. But as President Jimmy Carter noted, the US did exert influence on the non democratic regimes we backed to try to help them develop into democracies. Not all of them did, but a lot did. South Korea, Taiwan, various Central American countries, etc., were our client states and managed to develop into decent regimes, in part because Communism was defeated, and because the US and the West quietly exerted influence on them to change. The Communist regimes that developed into better ones did so largely by overthrowing Communism, and defeating Soviet influence, which is markedly different.

Perhaps it is because we are democratic in the West, and expect everyone to behave that way, while at the same time we expect our dedicated opponents to misbehave, history in this area has been recalled the way it has. And I'm not saying that the US or the other Western nations got everything right. But it is interesting how some really questionable left wing figures, such as the Spanish Republicans or Salvador Allende have seemingly gotten a free pass in history.
Pat

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Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:53 pm

Pat

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Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:56 pm

http://www.archive.org/details/prisoner ... 00mccuuoft

Wish I could find this one in printed form.
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Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:05 am

The Great War Correspondent: Francis McCullagh 1874-1956 by John Horgan, Irish Historical Studies, Vol. XXXVI, No. 144, Nov. 2009.

John Horgan has written this excellent short biography of Francis McCullagh that really fleshes out his career in detail. And what a career it was. His life reads like a synopsis of an Indiana Jones type character.

Horgan takes us from McCullagh's birth in Omagh, County Tyrone in 1874 through his sad death in New York in 1956. We learn that McCullagh's father was a "publican" and that he received an education from the Christian Brothers. Those who have read McCullagh's prose might be surprised to learn that he had no university education at all, and that his career as an international writer was self launched. Having a taste for adventure and an obvious faculty for languages he shipped off for Asia early on, and managed to insert himself in Japan as a correspondent. Ultimately, he managed to locate himself at Port Arthur and was a witness to the surprise Japanese attach there. The Russo Japanese War started off what would develop into his true career, that of a war correspondent.

McCullagh seems to have been a witness to every major and many minor wars thereafter. He capped his role in the Russo Japanese War by being a correspondent at the peace treaty, where he became a bit of a controversy himself for writing upon topics that the Russians regarded as too sensitive, which they in turn denied. After the war ended, he next turned up about two years later in Morocco. In 1908 he was back in Russia. Shortly thereafter he reported on a war between the Ottoman Empire and Macedonia. By 1911 he was covering, and rather unfavorably, the Italian invasion of Libya. While doing all of this, he found time to write books about several of his experiences.

World War One created an unusual situation for McCullagh, then in his early 40s, as he shifted back and forth between being a correspondent and being an officer in the British Army. Oddly, his British service started off with the Royal Worcestershire Regiment. His application to be commissioned, which he was, noted that his ability to ride a horse was evidenced by "two years in Manchuria with the Cossacks". He thereafter was transferred tot he Royal Irish Fusiliers and served at the disaster of Gallipoli.

Horgan notes McCullagh's early World War One service are a bit of a writing blank for McCullagh, who started to suffer from his experiences psychologically and physically. In January 1918 he applied to be released from service due to his illnesses. None the less, he ended up with the British in Russia shortly thereafter, and Horgan believes that this was due to his obvious abilities as an intelligence officer in that theater. He had volunteered to be used in this fashion in Russia.

This ended up with McCullagh being captured by the Red Army, whereupon he in turn portrayed himself as a journalist again. He used this ruse to both write on what he observed, and to make his way out of revolutionary Russia. It also firmly cemented McCullagh as a dedicated anti communist, which would be a hallmark of much of his later writing. In that era in particular, correspondents were not expected to edit their personal views out of their writings.

Following World War One he wrote from the Mexican Revolution and then concluded his writing career as a correspondent in Spain. He took no part in writing about World War Two which is a bit surprising, but by that time he was no longer a young man. By 1950 he completed writing a novel about revolutionary Ireland, but it does not appear to have been published. In 1953 his mind failed him and he was found wondering the financial district of New York, and hospitalized until his death in 1956, a sad end for a very adventuresome character.

This treatment of McCullagh's life is excellent, and it really fills in the details of this very colorful, sometimes controversial, and highly opinionated individual. It also shows, to some extent, how fame in one era doesn't long survive into another, as McCullagh was a celebrated correspondent at the height of his career, but already largely forgotten at the time of his death, in spite of having also been the author of numerous books about his observations and adventures. A really remarkable observation in this article concerns the quality of education, at least in the British Isles or perhaps in Ireland in the 18th Century, as McCullagh was obviously very well educated at least in so far as the English language was concerned. Horgan notes that part of the appeal of being a correspondent in this era was that it required no university education. A young man could simply start off in it right after his secondary education, which certainly suggests a secondary education, in terms of language, far beyond that normally experienced by students today.

Highly recommended.
Pat

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Tue May 04, 2010 4:16 pm

Daddy's father was on the board of governers of St Columb's College,Derry and one day when he was visiting he got into conversation with young McCullough, and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. To which McCullough said "Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum of if not that, then a translator of Chinese manuscripts" which so intrigued my grandfather that he befriended McCullough and used to take him out from school on occasions to a local cafe. He supposedly had a gift for languages. My grandfather had a library at home, containing a huge collection of books, atlases, dictionaries, history and reference books. McCullagh came to stay with the family for a time and worked on one of his books in our library. Pages of a manuscript which appears to relate to Port Arthur, mischenko and the japanese, some typed, handwritten corrections and some handwritten pages were left there by him. My father always said that they were never sure if he was a British agent, though officially he was a correspondent . I think my father must have been retelling what he had heard about McCullagh because he himself was not born until 1903.
Pat Holscher wrote:I've been reading "With the Cossacks, being the story of an Irishman who rode with the Cossacks throughout the Russo-Japanese War" by Francis McCullagh. The book is, as the title indicates, about an Irish journalist (although he always refers to himself as an English journalist, and was quite patriotic, even jingoistic, about England in the book) who attached himself to a Cossack unit during the Russo Japanese War. It's very entertaining and quite well written in the early 20th Century style.

Anyone know anything about McCullagh? I was curious if he wrote any other books. A net search turns these up for that name:

1. The fall of Abd-Ul-Hamid
English Book • By: Francis McCullagh • Publisher: London, Methuen & Co., 1910. ... • Title: The fall of Abd-Ul-Hamid • Author: Francis McCullagh • Publisher: London, Methuen & Co ...

2. A prisoner of the Reds, the story of a British officer captured Siberia
English Book • By: Francis McCullagh • Publisher: London, J. Murray, 1921.

3. Italy's war for a desert, being some experiences of a war-correspondent with the Italians in ...
English Book • By: Francis McCullagh • Publisher: London, Herbert and Daniel [1912]

4. In Franco's Spain: being the experiences of an Irish war correspondent during the great civil war...
English Book • By: Francis McCullagh • Publisher: London, Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd. [1937]

5. The Bolshevik persecution of Christianity
English Book • By: Francis McCullagh • Publisher: London, J. Murray, 1924. ... • Title: The Bolshevik persecution of Christianity • Author: Francis McCullagh • Publisher: London, J ...

6. Red Mexico; a reign of terror in America - Translate this page
English Book • By: Francis McCullagh • Publisher: New York, Montreal [etc.] L. Carrier & Co., 1928.

I assume some or all of these must be by the same author.

Pat
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Thu May 27, 2010 9:50 am

Pat Holscher wrote:
selewis wrote:Ay, Caramba!
How a city can turn down the USS Iowa, and then put up a memorial to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, is beyond me.

Of course, those soldiers supported a cause, that the left feel is worthy of support. Communism is worthy of support, American freedom is not. Didn't you get the letter about that?
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Thu May 29, 2014 7:42 am

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