Marketing Museo de la Fauna Salvaje (Wildlife Museum)

MARKETING MUSEO DE LA FAUNA SALVAJE (Wildlife Museum)    León, Spain

Abstract Introducing a new product is the most challenging task within marketing; and when the product is catalogued as an institution, such as a museum, it demands several tailor made strategies rolling in parallel.  Wildlife museums are offspring of the oldest of the museums, the anthropological and natural science museums; and Museo de la Fauna Salvaje is one of the most comprehensive of its kind. It is privately owned and funded by a foundation created for this purpose. Presently it addresses mainly to the public interested in wildlife, whether as general audience, or scientists on related fields.  Its added value is being a social hub for renowned doctors, professional hunters, politician and jet set. This core value will weaken as the owner Dr. Eduardo Romero circle of influence weakens. The challenge is how to perpetuate the museum, outlasting the physical presence of founder, without falling into biases, which means addressing sustainability and naturalized animals; sense of ourness, displacement, covering present and future audiences and social issues; and keep an economical flow for the museum for years to come. For the purpose of marketing, we are considering the museum’s collection as one exhibition and introducing several  marketing strategies.

 Key words: Museo de la Fauna Salvaje, Wildlife Museum, marketing, stuffed animals.

Presentation of Museo de la Fauna Salvaje

Museo de la Fauna Salvaje is a unique museum located in a privileged setting at the skirts of the Pyrenees Mountains in North West Spain; in the province of León. It is within a National Park facing a water reservoir, Lake Porma, a few kilometers from San Isidro Ski Resort, historical sites, natural caves with stalactites, forests, amongst other attractions.  Road distances from the provincial capital León is 60 Km., from Madrid 400 Km., Valladolid 200 Km., and Oviedo 120 Km. Its coordinates are: 42º 49´ 10.07″ N; 5º 19´ 37.12″ W.

Museo de la Fauna Salvaje is a young museum; inaugurated in 2004. It is an entirely private institution managed by the Foundation Dr. Romero Nieto; who is at the same time its trustee and president of the museum. Its funding, as well as its collections have been granted almost entirely by the main trustee of the Foundation and President of the museum.

The project was carried out with the cooperation, and forming part of the Board, various institutions as the Provincial Delegation of León, City Council of Boñar, and the University of León. It also participated Junta de Castilla y León, Duero Hydrographic Confederation, zoos, circuses, wildlife parks, other museums; as well as research centers and centers for investigation and control of wildlife diseases.

Museo de la Fauna Salvaje has been already recognized as a national reference. It is visited by approximately 65.000 per year, mainly domestic; but also from many European countries and USA. 60% of the visitors come during the summer and holidays.

Fauna of all five continents are represented within 25 main fresco dioramas as background and environmental sounds. Most of the exhibition is interactive and the public may touch and feel the exhibited species.

The museum´s future prospects and plans are ambitious. There is a research department working in close collaboration with the University of León. There is a nucleus of wild animals in semi-wild conditions in the forest surrounding the museum, where wildlife and botanical tours are carried out.

See Appendix 1 for details.


Wildlife Museum is a new paradigm on the making within the contemporary museum discourse. The Wildlife Museum is an offspring of the oldest father of the museums, the anthropological and natural science museums; and its cabinets of curiosities (Murai, 2011). There are only handful outstanding museums of this type with the most complete collection of naturalized (stuffed) animals (see appendix I). We are introducing Museo de la Fauna Salvaje, hereto MFS in León, Spain, as one of the most comprehensive of its kind; unique in Europe and worldwide. It is privately owned and funded by a foundation created for this purpose.

At present MFS addresses mainly to the public interested in wildlife, whether as general audience, such as family and children either visiting nearby or specifically travelling there; or scientists on related fields.  Its added value is being a social hub for renowned doctors, professional hunters, politician and jet set. This core value will weaken as the main trustee and owner of the foundation Dr. Eduardo Romero, circle of influence weakens. How to perpetuate the museum, outlasting the physical presence of the main trustee, without falling into biases, which means addressing sustainability and naturalized animals; “ourness” instead of “otherness”, displacement,  covering present and future audiences and social issues; and keep an economical flow for the Foundation managing the museum for years to come (Murai,2011).

Wildlife Museums entirely fits into ICOM´s definition of museums as a non-profit making permanent institution in the service of society and its development, and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education  and  employment,   material  evidence  of  people  and  their environment    (Talboys 2008, p.7).

Relevance of Wildlife Museums

Miller & delineate collection based institutions such as zoos, aquariums, museums and botanical gardens which exhibit wildlife as having a “special connection with nature”. They present a unique opportunity for urban residents to acquire wider knowledge of our world, as well as contributing to educational and natural habitat preservation (2003, p.86).

In figures, Approximately 50% of the population live in cities, and this proportion will increase. Miller, reinforces the concept citing  Brown:

Because urban life is so disconnected from nature, collection-based insititutions have the potential to stimulate curiosity about wildlfe, offer educational opportunities about nature, and improve the chances of winning support for its preservation  (Miller, 2003, p.86).

Parallel to this definition, Talboys analyzes museums commercial aspects. He points out that museums should be attentive to their own future, both economically and academically. The author identifies the expansion of the leisure market, leading new audiences to museums; and its need to keep this new flow. For this purpose, the audience should experience a sense of profit (2008 p.14). Kotler & Kotler state that there are no limitations in marketing core concept on museums; including learning, celebration, sociability, recreations, and so on. (2008 p.30) We may view these core concepts as marketing tools.

Although concepts and willingness to change are patent, museums are still trapped on concepts of the past decade. Miller, emphasizes that although there is strong support concerning conservation by collection-based professionals; the tendency of having a “nonprofit institution with a short term corporate philosophy does not bode well for a strong commitment to the long-term mission of conservation”.  (2003, p. 88)

The present world wide economical situation does not contribute favorably , especially to those classified as non-profit organization to become a self-supporting non-profit organization with modern marketing views.

The Internship

The internship started on September 2011. In Spain, summer holiday season does not end until the last week of September. Museum´s regular staff had their hands full and had help from internship students from University of León´s biology and tourism faculties in order to attend the general public. Lucas Morán, the director of MFS is a teacher at last mentioned faculty. All MFS matters goes through E. Romero scrutiny; and L. Morán, director is just an administrative figure strictly under his order.

It was decided that it would be a better solution to have NG and MM in Madrid where all the administrative work is done; instead of at the MFS, 450 km away. Since we will be working promoting and marketing MFS, there would be a better performance locating our offices at reach of all the promoters, corporates, and especially from the decision making person Eduardo Romero.

Internet is the main tool selected in order to launch MFS into the domestic and international market. Besides the resources and knowledge learned during IMS and internet information on the matter MM selected “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” (2010) by Meerman Scott, David. Willey: USA & Canada. This is the newest book on the subject found in the market.

Intership Tasks and tools

It has been stated that the main task of our internship at Museo de a Fauna Salvaje in León (Wildlife Museum) is to launch the institution into the international arena; as well as broadening its national presence within the museological field; as well as well as to a broader audience.

Due to the limited human resource available at MFS; which consists of, besides the administrative figure of Lucas Morán as director; only by two dozen persons who physically take care of the museum; it became evident that the only viable way to promote the institution was by outsourcing.

We, as intership students, instead of working under the order of the MFS structure, as oftern happens, took the role of museum consultant  creating programs and action plans.

Webmaster selection

The first task was to select a webmaster to take care of MFS webpage. The original creator has gone into bankruptcy. This webmaster: Emilio Calvo Web: http://  Blog:  was located during while preparing a portfolio on different sectors where to promote MFS within the domestic market. He, or his company is the webmaster to several tourism related organizations, magazines, and companies.

Cyberspace: Museo de la Fauna Salvaje active presence

A proposal was presented to introduce MFS´s collection´s pictures to be used freely on the internet, if for non-commercial purposes. MFS has the full right and properties of the pictures. This topic is still under scrutiny and needs more research before launching. There may be a pilot trial introducing the pictures on WordPress free dashboards.

It has also been proposed to introduce MFS´s collection through IBERFAUNIA which is a databank of Iberian Fauna. It is a centralized system, on-line, for public access, with the purpose of getting public awareness and makes people acquainted with its fauna. This data bank is one of the objectives of the project Fauna Ibérica.

Domestic market:  MFS´s presence at schools.

In order to reach the largest number of schools not only in MFS´s area of influence, but nationwide with a minimum of resources and time; the only viable way was to take advantage of structures and resources already on place. So… what do all schools use: yes, “books”.

Distributors: Include MFS invitations on school textbooks; for example on natural science, biology, etc.

It may be requested to book stores where textbooks are sold. El Corte Inglés in León (department store) runs regular activities with MFS. The sales points are very easy to locate via internet. Action may initiate in León and then to a wider radius.

Publishing Houses Agreement to include MFS invitations from their distribution centers; in  exchange, MFS will announce the publishers as patrons. It should also be announced that if the students take their textbooks (not in school field trips) their entrance fee will be waived. Children will always be in the company of adults.

Pictures and other materials: MFS may also authorize the use of their pictures and materials in text books. The source of the pictures is indicated as “by courtesy of MFS”.

MFS may also have an itinerant showcase visiting schools. It does not need to be a large collection; only a few samples reinforced with audiovisual material.

A back office service is needed as information center.   A specific @ address with a physical person returning the calls should be sufficient at the initial stage.

Museum Alliances

At a newly opened “Museo de la Evolución Humana” (http:// museoevolucion in Atapuerca, Burgos; a collection of stuffed animals from MFS are in loan for a temporary exhibition as complement of their human evolution narrative.

I got my eyes on “Museu Maritim de Barcelona” ( Its main building, Ataranzas Reales, was catalogued in 1976 as an historical and artistic monument. This is a very dynamic, in ongoing reform museum with lots of space; even for rebuilding ships, which they are presently doing. Y project is to take the temporary exhibition, actually in MEH and prepare a new exhibition “Noah’s Arch” with one of MM´s ship and MFS´ stuffed animals. I am not sure about the elephant and giraffe, but there are plenty of other animals. We can add hologram techniques for some “difficult to transport” species. The idea of a Noah’s Arch started to build up this summer after the presentation of a commemorative plaque at “Museo del Aire” in Getafe.  I was informing Francisco Javier Aragón Cánovas (, professor at the University Camilo José Cela in Madrid about my projects at MFS. He was commenting about the sailing boat belonging to Club Naval, where he is the activity programmer, and the restoration needed after getting it back from the TV program Robinson. So, to make a long story short, boat + animals = Noa´s Arch.  Loading stuffed animals on a sailing boat and off to sea anchoring on different ports would be a dream come true; but right now a bit far from reality; for obvious reasons as cost, care for the collection (i.e.: weather, salt, humidity), care for the boat, amongst other difficulties. Another option was “Museo Naval”, my all times favorite museum in Madrid (http://www. The main issue here is space. MN is located within the Army building complex.

As conclusion, the ideal setting is to have Noah’s Arch on dry land within Museu Maritim de Barcelona premises.  There is a point here; Noah’s Arch started on dry land.  ER was captivated by the idea. He also disclosed me his ideas of having an itinerary museum on a truck; and he had an offer for special exhibition containers. I told informed him this was not cost efficient. Everything is on the air for further discussion.

Public Program: MFS and National Geographic

With the purpose of targeting new audiences with parallel interest in nature and wildlife in a more lively state, the following project was proposed:

Last spring I we Mattias Klum in his ‘Expedition Sweden’ presentation. He is one of the world’s top natural history photographers, advocate of biodiversity; camera team for National Geographic and wildlife and conservation speakers. He also has his own production company, Tierra Grande Following, I held a meeting in Madrid with National Geographic Speakers Bureau and Tierra Grande agent, Marisa López and forwarded my proposal, as follows:

Through films, photographs, and presentations you immortalize our heritage; what I have is a collection of dead naturalized animals to whom I want to immortalize through storytelling and your skills as filmmaker, photographer, and as part of National Geographic  Speakers Bureau represents over 60 worldwide recognized speakers specialized in different topics within National Geographic’s domain.

The concept of this campaign is contracting a speaker from National Geographic Speakers Bureau which will give us the right to use their logo since the moment we sign the contract with them, a maximum of six months in advance. We are not entitled to use their logo after the presentation; but we will be able to include the speaker in MFS’s portfolio which carries the National Geographic logo.

We will launch a new image of MFS through a three days activity around the museum with a National Geographic Speakers Bureau presenter, in conjunction with other national and local speakers, including the founder Dr. Romero Nieto, University of León Rector, amongst others; needless to say other renowned personalities in the scientific and public life.

Universities give academic, scientific and public divulgation; El Corte Inglés, major department store for popular divulgation, other museums such as Museo de la Evolución in Burgos, which opened last year, where MFS has in loan some of its collection, and has a collaboration agreement; will take part during these days. International organizations as Safari Clubs, Automobile Clubs, Camping Clubs, as well as WWF will be guest of honor. Needless to say, other Wildlife Museums around the world. Aiming La Caixa, bank conglomerate very active in culture and museums; other foundations as Fundación Juan March will give us marketing and economical support in the future.

Janes & Sandell  raise a vital question ‘Can museums be all things to all people’ They point out the importance of good coordination and multiple collaboration and alliances in between different organizations and institutions involved. (2007, p.313-329) Adding the last piece of the marketing project with National Geographic Speakers Bureau, as well as involving all the institutions aforementioned; the project Xani and the domestic marketing, will build up a solid marketing structure for years to come.

Presentation of Project Xani

MFS is a unique museum located privileged setting at the skirts of the Pyrenees Mountains. This uniqueness and privilege entices a selective audience. In order to embrace a broader range of visitors we will create a new milieu. Based on a regional mythology and through storytelling we will craft an image of “ourness” and closeness to “nature”.  The protagonist and mascot Xani, a young lake creature, much closer to the main target group, toddlers, will grow side by side with this audience. Gurian describes this effect as ‘object speaks’ (Gurian 2005, p.45). We may categorize Xani as ‘speaker for the objects’ and the animals in the collection as ‘speaking objects’. Besides new view and audience, this approach will give additional economical resource for the Foundation managing the museum; with books, music, mascot, shows, video games, and cartoons. Furthermore, the mascot may be a resource for local tourism development.

Marketing is about interpretative art, we stage a product, in this case MFS and its content are the protagonists; we give the best feasible presentation (interpretation and performance) of its collection trying to reach and attract as much audience as possible. It is crucial that the marketing approach should be based on creating a dialogue between the visitors and the now unanimated stuffed animals at the museum. Figuratively speaking, giving life, soul and spirit to the stuffed animals in the Museum and creating a link of “ourness” and releasing them back to the “nature”.

In Materialised ‘dreamlands’, Mensch brings our practice in theory:

As manifestation of a concept, an exhibition is a materialised ‘dreamland’ in which ‘objects’ play a key role. This ‘dreamland’ is the result of a process of selection and manipulation of the information emitted by museum items. To be educational the presentation has to be completed with additional materials. In this way, an explicit ‘dreamland’ is created. (2003 p. 3980-3985)

A concise description of our strategy applied on museums and education can be seen as follows:

Museums are places in which material and non-material culture can be connected and where disparate notions can be juxtaposed and explored. Through this, they can affect the values and attitudes of students by, making them more comfortable with cultural differences or developing environmental ethics. They can promote exploration of and identity with culture community and family. They can provoke interest and curiosity, inspire self-confidence, and motivate students to pursue new avenues of learning. Above all, they can affect how students think and approach their world as well as what they think.  (Talboys, 2008 p 8-9)

International Market holding a theory

MM and NG selected and translated the presentation of MFS and catalogues from Spanish to English and Russian.

We built our introductory presentation supported on the following theory:

Within the contemporary museum discourse, there is a new paradigm on the making; the “Wildlife Museums”. It may be catalogued as the offspring of the oldest father of the museums, the anthropological and natural science museums; and its cabinets of curiosities. There are only handful outstanding museums of this type around the world. (Murai, 2011)

We have compiled a worldwide list of museums of similar scale and collections and we are ready to propose an alliance asking for their “vote of confidence” backing up this theory and creating unison global “mission statement”.

This task is quite challenging since, we have listed over 400 museums, which have been narrowed down to 40; that is 10% of the total. The listed museums are under denominations of: Wildlife Museums, Natural History Museums, and Natural Science Museums; and they come in all scales, concepts, collections (some of them are only digital or paintings), and they cover local, regional, continental, and worldwide geography.

This project has not been delivered; amongst other reasons, it is written in English.

Conclusion and Personal View

        Working for a small structure seems more difficult than expected. Most of the projects MM have been engaged was delivering her part of the job to large structures. Such  SCA-Unicharn Project, VOLVO-UD, Michelin, Balco, Mitsubishi, and so on. It is a lot of short term responsibility; but it is just a small gear within a larger structure where each person or team decides and delivers its part, and the project comes on shape. At MFS, with the Director being just an administrative figure, and ER carries the entire load; being the economical provider, decision maker, creator, and things have been tediously slow.

By the other hand, it feels good to build up our own schedule. As long as we fulfill our goals, we can freely organize our time.  Working quite much with cyberspace is a great plus: time and space seems less of an issue.

A comment by MFS Director came into my ears. Quite offbeat, coming especially from tourism teacher from University of León, that “I have too much fantasy” So I asked myself this question, so often answered by people around me: “How and where would my life be without fantasy and imagination, which are the essences for creativity; especially in this ambulant, ever changing demanding world of mine. Learning and creating is what makes life meaningful” Certainly, this is why “New Museology” magnets me. It is dusting off its old stereotypes and “trying” to look up to the more dynamic industrial world where I am as fish in water. The main issue is that large museums are part of an even larger structure are drown on bureaucracy. The smaller museums, often private, which I thought was much more manageable, are in large extent the representation of the founder´s vision, and his museum: the case and presentation of this representation.

This point takes us to communication issues; language wise, as well as cultural and differences on professional fields. When we deal with the finance and industrial world, communication is not an issue, immediate action is a must since there is a lot of money at stake. It is quite different within the cultural and academic world. It is seen as money is not considered as return profit. Another abyss is that culturally, Anglo-Saxon and Hispanic are two split worlds; both self-sufficient and with deep identities trying not to need of each other.

I feel being over estimated as a professional; but by the other hand, underestimated as an internship student. It seems as world views are taken from two different angles Most people´s understanding about internship, those with whom I have interviewed, is the same for BA and Master Courses. As for Master students, we  are welcomed with our projects and proposals; but I still don´t see any budget or staff allocated for this purpose. The former staff, considering that most museums are understaffed, is with their hands full, they give us their heart but not their body. The BA and MA internship students are happy being an extra hand for the regular staff. Stated this, my intention of building an interesting professional CV in the Museum field during my internship was not accomplished.


Graham B. & Howard, P. (ed.) (2008) The Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage                and Identity. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

Gurian, E. H, (2006) Civilizing the Museum, Routledge

Kotler, N. & Kotler, P. (2008) Museum Marketing and Strategy:  Designing Missions,                        Building Audiences, Generating Revenue and Resources. Hoboken: Jossey-Bass

Kotler, N. & Kotler, P. (2007) Can Museums be All Things to All People in Janes, R. &             Sandell,R., Museum Management&Marketing. (p.313-329) Hoboken: Routledge

Mattias Klum & Tierra Grande (2011) Retrieved on June 1, 2011 from http://us1.campaign                                       

Meerman, D. (2010) The New Rules of Marketing & PR. USA & Canada: Willey

Mensch, P. (2003) Characteristics of Exhibitions, Materialised ´dreamlands´ in Museum             Aktuell 2003 (92): 3980-3985

Miller, B., Conway, W., Reading, R., Wemmer, C., Wildt, D., Kleiman, D., …. Hutchins, M

(2003) Evaluating the Conservation Mission of Zoos, Aquariums, Botanical Gardens, and Natural History Museums in Conservation Biology, Volume 18, No.1 p 86-93 Retrieved on November 20, 2011 from http:// colegio biologos. com/ wp-content/uploads/2011/06/evaluating_mission zoos.pdf Museo de la Fauna Salvaje (n.d.) León, Spain: Editorial Everest

Museo de la Fauna Salvaje Homepage. (n.d.) Retrieved on May 31, 2011 from             

National Geographic Speakers Bureau (2011) Retrieved on May 31, 2011 from             

Janes, R. & Sandell, R. (Eds) (2007) Museum Management & Marketing. Hoboken: Routledge

Talboys, G. (2008) Museum Educator’s handbook. England: Ashgate P.C.


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Identifying Cuban Identity through gender in art

Identifying Cuban Identity through gender in art

Having visited USSR previous to the Perestroika; and the People´s Republic of China in the mid-80th and a decade ago;  it was a challenge not to fall in  bias before and during my short research visit to Cuba; within the few countries still behind the, now invisible, iron curtain.

Race and ethnicity are manmade construction and boundaries; thus empowered by man to be modified and moved according  to  the  circumstances.    By  the  other  hand,  gender  is  established by  nature of genetics and defined by conception (such as the sea, sky and land);   Topics of race, ethnicity and gender are tools utilized to create our own structure in society.   As any tool;  it may be used or misused.

Cuba provides us with a very distinctive pattern for anthropological studies due to its geography, being an island country; as well as historically, as a result of its long colonial past, neo-colonialism and most recently, their politics on the past half century.

The country´s unique feature started to shape immediate after the arrival of the Spanish Colonial power. The autochthonous pre-Columbian population was decimated; its repopulation with African slaves; and later on with the influx of Asians; as well as its steady and multi-ethnical immigration created a unique pattern that differed from other nations shaped under the Spanish Imperial Power.

Córdova (2003) in Basic Sexological Premises, Cultural Perspective, gives us a clear framework on Cuban identity bordering race, ethnicity and gender:

The physical location, geography, and climate of the Cuban Archipelago have left their hallmark on our idiosyncrasy, “The hot climate of our land influences our character, makes our blood and mind boil, and often takes hold of our will in irrepressible hurricanes of passion.

“Cuba is an ‘ajiaco.’ A miscegenation of cooking styles, a miscegenation of races, a miscegenation of cultures. A thick broth of civilization that bubbles in the Caribbean stove”. The daring Spaniards of the conquest and of the successive colonizing immigrations imported their adventurous temperament, their warrior impulsiveness, their intolerance in the fight against infidels, Andalusian grace, and Castilian chivalry. With them also came a sustained impermanence: “that constant restlessness, that fickle impulsiveness, that temporary nature of attitudes were the primary inspirations of our collective character, fond of impulse and the adventure of excitability and of luck, of the achievement and hope of chance”.

As final note on Cuban identity, Guillen´s thoughts “Cuba’s soul is mestizo (half-breed), and it is from the soul, not the skin, that we derive our definite color. Someday it will be called ‘Cuban color’.” (1972)

All of the above points towards the ever flowing, ever changing concept of race, ethnicity and gender. Is it feasible to place boundaries is between these concepts in Cuba? On a global way, we may define race and ethnicity as a group concept; and gender as a more individual personal concept. Gender is the main tool for procreation of   a new multi-ethnical   and   thus   cultural identity.   With   the autochthonous population decimated, the only viable starting point is Cuba´s colonization by the Western civilization. The colonizers were obviously mostly male. After 20 years new denizens created new generation of creole population (still scarce); and the mix and mingle of “the white” with African and later Chinese slaves (after the ban of black trade). The archipelago went through a constant and significant flow of immigration until mid-50th, halted due to Castro´s Revolución and the socialist policy of isolation to the western world.

The combination of the key words gender and individualism pointed directly to its representation in art; Art itself is individualism; individual scrutiny or world view of the creator. So, where to find an extensive art representation? Did the Socialist System suppressed art and individualism? La Habana harbors the richest art museum in the region; The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (see Founded in 1873, the museum initially housed archeological, ethnographic and historical collections. At the present it is a Museum of Fine Arts, with art works from the XVII century up to the present. Amongst European paintings, it exhibit works from Rubens, Murillo, Zurbarán, Velázques, Goya, Memling, amongst others. As for Cuban and Caribbean art, center of our interest, there is a wide representation of the most outstanding painters as Miguel Melero, Estaban Chartrand, Armando Menocal, Victor Manuel, Portocarrero, Wilfredo Lam, Servando Cabrerra, Amelia Pelaez, amongs many others (Wikipedia 2011)

I was introduced to Guibert Rosales, a young Cuban Artist graduated in 2008 from the prestigious Academia de Arte San Alejandro in La Habana. He kindly offered me to be my cicerone at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. He also introduced and accompanied me in several meetings at Universidad de La Habana, Instituto Juan Marinello, and Casa de las Américas. It was stimulating to learn that there is an absolute majority of female academics in this Latin country. It seems that instead of resistance to such reality as gender roles, people have come into terms and have made the best of the differences. The core value of the academic world is undeniably intellectual capability, and not physical power.  In other words, I did not feel as “the other” in gender point of view, somewhat as in Scandinavian countries, you are what you are, regardless who you are.

It is a challenge finding firsthand information and literature on Cuba without biases. Interesting enough, as for academic and art world; people are free to express themselves. This is an abyss of difference from other hard left wing countries.

Reinforcing my view, Fernandes, in Cuban Arts, State Power, and the Making of New Revolutionary Cultures (2006) conceptualize New Cuban Art as follows:

Cuba something curious has happened over the past fifteen years. The government has allowed vocal criticism of its policies to be expressed within the arts. Filmmakers, rappers, and visual and performance artists have addressed sensitive issues including bureaucracy, racial and gender discrimination, emigration, and alienation.

In a broader sense; Cuban Art News (2010), in their article on Blackness and Racism in Cuba: International Exhibitions reflects stating that  one of the most outstanding social transformations at the dawn Cuban “Revolución” was the attempt to eliminate discrimination, mainly racial for Cubans of African descent; followed by gender equality quite marked by their Hispanic Colonial roots. The cradle of these grassroots movements were public places such as workplaces, social centers, educational institutions; amongst others.

Equality of rights is recognized in Cuba´s Constitution of the Republic after 1959 Revolución. Chapter 1, Article 9, states: “. . . all able-bodied men or women will have the opportunity to obtain employment, enabling them to contribute to the ends of society and to meet their own needs    (Córdova, 2003)

Modern art works are direct description of Cubanity. They are naked eye portraits plain peoples of Cuba by Cubans.  Sexuality and race is so embedded within their identity, it cannot be detached. Córdoba defines Cuban sexuality, deeply rooted in their identity; manifested by “eroticism in the image of both sexes, for its intentionality to seduce and win over the other, in his or her cult of sexuality”.  Furthermore, she states: “Eroticism is markedly manifested in the all the gestures of Cubans, in all art expressions, especially in dance and in the popular dances known the world over” (2003)

As we identify Cuba through its people´s art, it undeniable that it has assimilated Spivak ´s notion of “unlearning one´s privilege as one´s loss.”

Our privileges, whatever they may be in terms of race, class, nationality, gender and the like, may have prevented us from gaining a certain kind of Other knowledge not simply information that we have not yet received, but the knowledge that we are not equipped to understand by reasons of our social position.  (Spivak 1995, p.4)

Heller  in Landscape, Femininity and Caribbean Discourse illustrates the formation of Cuban national identity as follows:

“A signal characteristic of Caribbean discourse has been the tendency to figure the shaping environment as female, or with qualities such as fluidity and relationality that have often been associated with women, femininity and the female body in both patriarchal and feminist discourses—and both positive and negative effects have been ascribed to this feminized landscape.” (Sachs 2009)

As final lines, we refer to a self-descriptive  popular wisdom in Cuban peoples daily life:   “ Nothing can be done, but everything can be resolved” (no se puede hacer nada, pero se puede resolver todo) (Andaya, 2007) This phrase shows the flexible character of its people; and added to another of their favorite “it is not easy” (No es fácil) towards any task gives a sunshine is their present precarious economic and social situatio


Andaya, E. (2007) Reproducing the Revolution: Gender, Kinship, and the State in Contemporary Cuba. New York University, Department of Anthropology. UMI Numbe 3286472

Córdova, M. (2003) Basic Sexological Premises, Cultural Perspective. Communication for XVI Congreso Mundial de Sexología. Havana: National Centre for Sexual Education (CENESEX) Retrieved on November 25, 2011 from IES/cuba.html

Cuban Art News (2010) Blackness and Racism in Cuba: International Exhibitions Retrieved on November 18, 2011 from post/blackness_and_racism_  in_cuba_international_exhibitions

Cuban Art Source (2011) Wikipedia Creative Commons Retrieved on November 22, 2011from Crustacean, D. Recorder, David

Fernandes, S. (2006) Cuba Represent!: Cuban Arts, State Power, and the Making of New Revolutionary Cultures. Retrieved on December, 2011 from Catalog/ViewProduct.php?productid=13678

Geyer, A. (2005) Notes on Teaching Art and Feminism. Lecture delivered at the conference “What  kind of Art Academy would women create?” at the Art Academy Iceland, Reykjavik, October 2005. Retrieved on November 18, 2011 from Notes_On_  Feminism.pdf

Guillen, N. (1972) Race in Cuba. Retrieved on November 15, 2011 from http://www.  historyofcuba com/history/race/index.htm

Sachs, D. (2009) Birthing A Nation: National Identity And The Female Body In The Work Of Marta María Perez And Antonio Benítez Rojo in Art and Culture Retrieved on November 25, 2011 from

Spivak, G. (1995) The Spivak Reader: Selected Works of Gayati Chakravorty Spivak. Landry, D & Maclean, G. London, UK: Routledge

Wikipedia (2011) Cuba.  Retrieved on 20 November, 2011 from

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Swedish and Scandinavian Volunteers in the International Brigades in the Spanish

TITLE  Swedish and Scandinavian Volunteers in the  International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939); Communication of  a  minority  group  based  on SwedishPrinted Sources  and  Spanish  Archives  and  Printed Sources.


Until recent days, the subject of the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War has been treated as a social and political movement; thus an entity.  With the exception of the biographies, the available studies focus on the “what of the International Brigades”, instead of a more individual and human view of “who in the International Brigades”. The approach we take in this research is treating the volunteers as individuals or persons. For this purpose, we will analyze a minority contingent, the Swedish and Scandinavian Volunteers in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.

This essay intend to be the first step for a thesis in the subject involving the department of history, the department of linguistics, and needless to say the department of Spanish.

1. Purpose 

The purpose of this study is to present the Swedish and Scandinavian Volunteers in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) through their own literature; and classify them as written memories at oral level. This literature emerged due to the early literacy campaign in the mid XIX century in the Scandinavian Countries. Once this literature is presented, we will apply this source in the field of historiography, supported by sociolinguistics and sociology of language. We will demonstrate the crucial role that language played in the fate of our volunteers.  We will also back-up our study comparing our material with other sources more familiar to us.


Our intention is not to write a new version of history, we intent to include a new instrument in the historiography research. It is, summarizing, a linguistic approach of the written memories at oral level, within the sociology of the language and sociolinguistics. 

2. Corpus

Although it seems that there is a clear line in between what sources and literature is in historiography; it often depends on the interpretation and application of the material we are dealing with[1] [2].

Our corpus is mainly based on the written memories and notes produced by the Scandinavian and Swedish Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. We will give special importance to the contemporary memories, when the “world view of their experiences” has not yet been contaminated; and there have not been enough time to think over and blend their own vision with new exterior ones.

The texts we will base our research, written by the Spanish Civil War veterans are: Andersson[3], Larsso[4], Lätt[5], Nilsson, G.[6], Nilsson, U.[7], Olsson[8], Staaf[9]; and the Norwegian war reporter and commissary Lisa Lindbaek[10]. Although some of the publication dates are not contemporary, though the text we can deduct they were written during and just after their participation in the war.

3. Hypothesis and approach

The following hypothesis will be presented:

The written memories on oral level, as introduction of the sources used, and its value

-description of the written memories as the most direct source of information

-comparison with other sources

The description of the volunteers as individuals and contingent. Though their memoirs.

Their search and finding of their “Scandinavian identity”, as conclusion 

3.1 Historiographic approach

For our analysis, we have carried out a historiographic approach through three monographs on the International Brigades. These are: Revista de Historia Contemporánea Ayer 2004 (4)[11], with special attention to the first chapter: “Las Brigadas Internacionales: a historiographic approach”. A second monograph published in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the arrival of the International Brigades to Spain, La Guerra Civil Española y las Brigadas Internacionales[12], with special attention to the chapter “Albacete, Base de Las Brigadas Internacionales, 1936-1938”. The third, La Sanidad en las Brigadas Internacionales[13]. This last book studies the International Brigade from a very objective perspective.

3.2 Study of the Swedish view of the Spanish Civil War

I order to have a clear view of the significance of the Spanish Civil War and the International Brigade to the Scandinavian and Swedish population; as well as to obtain reliable information and data regarding the volunteers, we will rely on two thesis. The first, Solidaritet och partitaktik: Den svenska arbetarrörelsen och spanska inbördeskriget 1936-1939[14]. The second thesis with the title Sverige och spanska inbördeskriget[15]. A history book titled Svenskar i krig 1914-1945[16] will also be used as reference material.

4. Theoretical background

4.1 Our source: Written memories at oral level

Let us keep on mind that the utmost achievement of us human being is the language or the power of communicating at its own will. Through our existence, we have developed various types of language; which includes orality, written language, and sign language, amongst others.

The history, as we know it, is based on written material; therefore, all events which are documented in written form are to be considered history.  Until recent days, only the privileged minority had access to education, as result, being the only ones capable to communicate in written.  Consequently, we may deduct that all history is described by the upper class, viewed from up to down.

In our Western World this barrier has been broken with the right to the education for all. The Nordic countries: Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norwayand Islandwere the pioneers of this right. In Sweden, for example, an educational law called Folkskolestadgan was passed in 1842, giving the right for a free education for youngsters; and in 1882, primary education became compulsory through the Skolplikten law[17]. Thus, it is understood that illiteracy was eradicated on the dates which concern to our research, in between 1936 and 1939. Another fact that proves this theory was the popularity of the contingency of Scandinavian immigrants to the New Continent bridging the 19th and 20th Century.

Eradicating illiteracy did not imply that the social canon and the cultural level experienced a drastic nor immediate change. Here, for the first time, history is described and recorded by the people who physically went through the experience; we may certainly say that it is the vox populi who takes the pen and the word.

This literature is a valuable addition to the traditional sources used for the contemporary historiography research, especially under the sociology of language, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and ethnographic eyes.

Going back to the dates of our study, between 1936 and 1939; the audio-visual and media technologies were not fully developed or widely available.  These recording tools were reserved for special events and population, leaving the majority of the history protagonists “out of the picture” or “in the dark”, the same way as in the case of “written communication”.

Robertsand Streets study the interrelation between oral and written language; and denote that neither the linguists nor the historiographers have considered the relation between the oral and written language until the mid XX century. According to the authors, the study of orality and literacy deals with a specific type of discourse which includes: broader topics related to social structures, power relations, as well as identities.

Requena and Peláez[18] also denote the importance of oral memories as a contribution to the contemporary historiography on the presentation of the book:  Memorias de vida: Albacete y las BI en el recuerdo de los Voluntarios de la Libertad. This book introduces us to this new field which has been recognized after the WWII.

In the introduction of his book Blood of Spain, The experience of Civil War, 1936-1939[19] , the author states that “oral history should articulate the experiences of people who, historically speaking, would otherwise remain inarticulate”. His sources are from “ordinary people”; thus from those who have not written their memoirs, and who did not have any public nor political role.

In contrast, the sources used by Schiffrin[20] in Language, experience and history: ´What happened` in WWII” is public discourses such as newspapers, library cataloguing systems, books, titles. The written memories at oral level does not match any of these categories, leaving us as a bridge in between the more voluble and informal “oral history” and the more stereotyped “public discourse”.

4.2 Problem with our source

Communication and linguistic problems during the Spanish Civil War are mentioned only on few reports and documents as a secondary issue.  Latter documents as in Causas Generales (AHN) and CIAS, deals briefly with the problems arising due to linguistic diversities. Independent published literature, contemporary, as well as more recent ones do mention this issue but it does not dedicate much attention.

Consequently, the main obstacle this research faces, paradoxically, is the language. Our sources are written in various languages. The Vital Gayman report was written in French; the campaign reports of the different battalions where the Swedish and Scandinavian troops belonged were written in German, English, French, and Spanish; the history books are mainly written in Spanish, English and French; and our main source the written memories at oral level in their original language; thus Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian; with the variations of their time.

The documents produced by Kominter are mostly written in Russian or French.

There are also great disparities on dates and places when we try to collate various documents and literature.

4.3 Main characteristics of our source

Compared to the interviews and oral memoirs:

There is no artificial interviewer-interview situation, leaving the narrator full freedom of interpretation in speech and writing

No intermediary, only the writer and his writings

The narrator has neither pressure nor time limit to expose his views or fact

There is no compromise to “come off well

Spontaneous and real expressions which are thought over slightly longe

There are other materials from the same authors which we may compare, such as interviews, articles, and letters.

In contrast to other sources:

ü  In the letters, the remittent has in mind the recipient while writing.

Most of the books written, in the early stage, are authored by people with some kind of political involvement, such as military leaders, political commissars, and union leaders, amongst others.

The literary works written by well known authors have an evident social compromise with their editors, as well as readers; needless to say, the unavoidable economical compromise.

Most of the recent literary works, last 30 years, do not contribute us with new information, since they are based on the pre-existing literature; recycled material.

The testimonial material in the archives, such as military, police, witness statements, amongst others, although with precise data, do not have any value for our study in sociolinguistic and sociology of language.

Special features of the memoirs:

The early dates of the writings give us fresher real and reliable information.

The early alphabetization of the Scandinavian population gave the “right to the pen” to people   of   all   social   stratus;   giving  birth   to  the  so  called   “Proletarian school”[21] The intention of leaving “memories”, not literary works.

It is addressed to “all whom it may concern”

The vocabulary used is spontaneous and may be considered as “collage” of oral expression characteristic of the time lived through the protagonists.

In most of the cases, the lack of social compromise gives them right to change their points of view; disclosing a more direct and immediate feel of events.

The Swedish non-intervention policy gives these authors freedom of expression.

The simple and sincere style makes us easy to detect any deviation from reality.

The lacks of aesthetical literary value is compensated with its linguistic and historical value.

4.4 Linguistic feature of our source, “world view”

Since language provides us with a screen or filter to reality, according to Worf, it determines the perception and organization of the world around the speakers; whether in the natural individual world or the collective social world.  Thus, the language a person speaks will help build his own world-view. There is only one real world-view for a person; we may describe it as “stand point”. A person can only be in one place at a time, this is the “stand point”; and he can only be looking to a certain point, this will be his “world view”.

Language is not only a tool to report an “experience” or “incident”; it is an interpretation of a fact. In popular words we say that “it all depends on the color of the crystal we see through”, and “the mirror tells us what we want to see, our own reality”. We can make a glass half full or half empty only with our mind. A graphic way to mentally visualize the power of our mind transmission is the abysmal difference in between human speech and the computer generated speech. According to Romaine: “No particular language or way of speaking has a privilege view of the world as it ‘really is’”. The world is not simply the way it is, but what we make of it through language.”[22]

Through the memoirs of the Swedish Volunteers, we will present their own “world-view”. Following, we will include our own “world view” or interpretation of their “world-view”.

5. Historical Background

5.1 International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War

It is not possible to make a full description of our volunteers without previously presenting the global contingency of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War.  For this purpose, we will use the introduction by the veteran brigade Bayacde Delperrie[23].

 “Some fifty nations are represented in the International Brigades: Cubans, New Zealanders, Australians, blacks, Arabs, Chinese, Finnish, Luxembourg, Vietnamese… The largest contingent, evidently, comes from Europe. Two main categories: the volunteers from countries where the communist party is prohibited; exiled, fugitives, prescripts, these are the truly politicized, the hard liners; and the other ones:   Scandinavians,   Belgians,   British,   French   which   are   larger   in   number, about 25%”.

The Volunteers in the International Brigade was the major international concentration of peoples ever known in the history of the time.  It was well suited to receive the appellative of “Legion of Babel”; and Albacetewhere the recruiting centre was located, “La Mancha’s Babel”; or a “Babilonic Language combination”. In GeorgeOrwell’s Animal Farm, its protegonists communicated, although not understanding, in the same language.  We all know that reality is far beyond this fiction.

We should add that regardless the well know Non-Intervention Agreement to the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) signed by 27 European counties, which included Sweden; unofficially there were more national diversities involved in this Civil War than in WWI and WWII.

5.2 The Swedish and the Scandinavian Contingency in the International Brigade

In between 1936 and 1938, while the graves of the fallen in the WWI were still warn, and on the doors of WWII, more than 500 Swedish Volunteers,  or a total of about 1450 Scandinavian Volunteers, headed to the European Antipodes of Sweden to participate in the Spanish Civil War.

In most of the Scandinavian and non-Scandinavian sources, there are no distinctions made between the Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Islander, and Finnish contingents; simply calling them Scandinavians.  Many of the War Documents and available literature also classify them simply as Scandinavians.

According to Gyllenhaal and Westberg[24], besides the approximately 500 Swedish Volunteers, there were around 500 Danish, some 250 Finnish, nearly 200 Norwegian, and 2 Islanders. Whether we consider the Swedish Volunteers as object of our study, or the Scandinavians as a group, we still have a very low number, approximately 1 to 3 per cent of the total contingent of volunteers in the International Brigade. The total contingency on most recent calculations is estimated in between 40.000 and 50.000.

Lundvik[25] keeps track of a total of 501 Swedish in the Spanish Civil War and points out that the “Swedish Security Police” has 506 volunteers in their 1ist. From the Swedish volunteers, 95 % belonged to the working class and the rest were intellectuals and clerk or office workers. The working class contingent included 121 sailors, 42 metal workers, 35 miners, 18 drivers, and the remaining with minor jobs.   Politically,   more than 50 % were affiliated to the communist party, and the rest included a few belonging to the unions and the rest without any political affiliation.

By the end of January 1937, the Scandinavian contingent militancy was located mainly in the third company, “Thälmann” battalion. This battalion was formed almost totally by German speaking volunteers.  According to Lundberg, based on his interviews to the veterans:

Den första gruppen svenska frivilliga kom till Jarama-fronten från Madrid den 11 februari. I bataljon Thälmann fanns fentioen svenskar och i bataljon Edgar André tjugo. De sattes in på frontens södra del där krigsläget var mycket kritiskt för republikanerna. Efter tre veckors strider hade 28 svenskar stupat, 6 tillfångatagits, 32 sårats mer eller mindre svårt. 5 man var oskadade. Redan början av slaget stupade den omtyckte Krister Reuterswärd och några dagar därefter syndikalisten Ragnar Skotte, ledaren för skandinaverna. Till Skottes efterträdare utsågs Skoglar Tidström. Han var mycket språkkunnig och den ende bland svenskarna som talade spanska flytande. Han sårades svårt dagen efter utnämningen och avled en tid därefter på sjukhuset i Murcia.[26]

We may corroborate the sources consulted previously with this original document from the War Archives.

XI. Brigade. I. Bataillon (Edgar André) den 30.I.37 An das Bataillon Thaelmann zu Haenden des Genossen Richard. Ejemplo de Orden escrito en alemán y un extracto traducido al español: “Orden, fecha 30.1.37, al B. Thálmann. Que están preparados para marchar, en el cuartel del Palmar (Murcia) los 51 camaradas daneses y suecos.” [27] 

5.3 The language in the Scandinavian volunteers

Which was the language used by the Scandinavian Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War? The Swedish contingent of more than 500, around 500 Danes, 250 Finnish, a maximum of 200 Norwegians, and 2 Islanders; with a total of approximately 1450. The Swedish contingency, as well as the Swedish speaking Finnish contingency, Danes and Norwegian mingled in amongst each other and were catalogued just as “Scandinavians”, as previously stated.  The common language used by this contingency was the same as their identity, the “Scandinavian”. Each national spoke their own language. Their news bulletin and front communications were also written in “Scandinavian Language” and called “Scandinavian Edition”. The Finnish speaking contingency joined the English speaking battalion “AbrahamLincoln” and “GeorgeWashington” since there were many Finnish-Americans in their battalion with whom they could easily communicate.  According to Per Eriksson[28] the reason why most of the Swedish volunteers chose to militate in the German speaking battalion was that they believed their chances of surviving was better due to the strict discipline amongst the Germans.  This statement should be considered with reticence since we do not know the power of decision they had.

6. Description of the Volunteers through their written memoirs

Throughout history, the relation in betweenGermanyand the Scandinavian countries have been quite turbulent. If we take into account the political situation inEuropeand the world at the time of the Spanish Civil War, the interpretation of the text should be quite precise. The simple fact the nationality was German, overpowered the present reality that they were a contingent of German runaway Communists and Jews. Under the eyes of the Scandinavians and other German neighboring countries citizens, they were a community of German enemies. The historical “German image” overpowered the present reality that the Germans were their fellow antifascist fellow Volunteers inSpainfighting for the same ideals.

Bataljonens politkommissarie var med. Svenskarna började förklara sig: ”Vi gillar inte tyskar.”

Då svarade politikommissarien: ”Det gör inte jag heller. Jag är österrikare.”[29]

Skandinavernas kynne l[g inte f;r preussisk disciplin och drill, allra minst en sjömans, det harmoniserade mera amerikanernas, engelsmännens och i synnerhet skottarnas. En oknäppt knapp skulle där utöver en anmärkning inte ge upphov till något rabalder. [30]


Per Eriksson förklarar varför svenskarna mest valde att ingå tyskspråkiga bataljoner med att de trodde på en ”större chans att lyckas hos tyskarna eftersom deras disciplin var bäst, god disciplin var den enda och bästa livförsäkring som stod att få”.  [31]

 När Per Eriksson återsåg sitt kompani fann han det i upploppsstämning. Dagen efter den stora segerfesten hade de bryskt väckts av två tyska officierare. Kompaniet hade beordrats ställa upp för uniformsinspektion och de utskällningar som följde retade upp svenskarna rejält. De som öppet visade sitt ogillande arresterades. De kvarvarande var enligt Eriksson mycket tydliga i sin kritik: ”Alla kamraterna hade med en mun begärt att få bli förflyttade från Thälmannbataljonen till flottan. Vi passar inte som armésoldater, sa man, speciellt inte tyska.” De två tyska officierarna höll fast vid sin kritik och anklagade till och med de arresterade för myteri, vilket det var dödsstraff på.

Hela bataljonen var med om det följande krismöte. Eriksson har beskrivit hur han inför alla redogjorde för de arresterades förtjänster under striderna och ”krävde demokratisk disciplin istället för kadaverdisciplin”. Eriksson visste att det sedan länge fanns en stor, uppdämd, kritik bland svenskarna mot tyskarnas disciplinsyn. Men han valde att inte utveckla det mer, för att undvika en ännu större spricka.

Svenskarna ansåg att österrikarna var ”mera smidiga än preussarna och lära sig snabbare att sätta sig in i andra folks språk och mentalitet” Men det blev ändå spontana hurrarop när brigadstaben i februari gav order om upprättande av den första skandinaviska bataljonen: ”Hans Beimler””, tysk riksdagsman och kommunist. [32] 

Kära mamma! När du läser detta brev är jag i Spanien. Du skall inte sörja för klarar mig nog. Om inte fascismen blir stoppa i Spanien, så kommer den hem till oss och det vill jag inte. Jag har nu inte mer att skriva. [33]

Probably Levander died believing that his life was spared because his statement “Yes, believes in God!” It is evident that his life was not spared because of his belief in God.Spainis a religious country, whether Nationalists or Republicans, and even with all the crimes committed during its history against or in name of God.

More than likely his life was spared when he said, “Yes, I believe in God” in a foreign accent. Larsson describes the difficulties to recognize each other, even within their closer compatriots. If we go back to the dates Levander was incarcerated, it coincides with the dates the different Consulates were looking for their survivors.

Levander fördes efter tillfångatagandet till ett läger for krigsfångar i närheten av Zaragoza. Han blev nu summariskt och tillsammans med några andra medlemmar ur den 11: e brigaden, dömd till döden genom arkebusering.

… Då, medan soldaterna kommenderas att lägga an, kommer en munk uppfarande, jag begriper inte varifrån han kommer, han börjar fråga mig om jag ar kristen, om jag tror på Gud och Jesus och jag skriker: ”Si, sí creo en Dios!” Jo, jag tror på Gud och det otroliga inträffar, munken övertalar soldaterna På något outgrundligt sätt, att dom inte kunde avrätta en kristen På detta vis. Jag blev förd ner till cellen igen.[34]

Plötsligt en eftermiddag kom soldater tillbaka som legat ute vid fronten en längre tid. De var avlösta för vila och reorganisering. Jag gick ut till dem för att hora hur det gått för dem. Där var en stor karl med en så liten uniformsrock att den spruckit i ryggen och ärmarna nådde endast till armbågarna på honom. Hans byxor slutade en bit nedanför knäna och paragaterna var avskurna för arr få plats med tårna. Mannen samtalade med en norrman och svor på bred göteborgska så det luktade svavel lång väg.

De tittade upp då jag tilltalade dem, men fortsatte sitt samtal utan att svara mig. Jag försökte en gång till med samma resultat. Tredje gången rykte jag honom i ärmen. Han tittade upp och frågade: – Hur fan har du lärt dig svenska?

Mörk och skiten son jag var kände han inte igen mig, trodde jag var spanjor. Det var Tore Steen från Hisingen. Det var mist tre år sedan vi sist såg varandra på Kafé Verdandi. [35]

”Blåmanchester”, this is the typical countryside workers clothing inSouthern Europe. Under Lättt’s eyes, blåmanchesterare the fabrics manufactured in the Swedish textile industry established by the British industrials.

The Spaniards asks Lätt if he could read. How can anyone explain to an illiterate that different languages have different ways of reading. Through his expression, we can also deduct that the author identifies himself superior amongst the people around him.

Jag tog mig alla fall fram till Lérida på apostlavis och hade därför mynt nog för att besöka ett kafé. Några bondgubbar i sina karakteristisks kläder av blå manchester hade en stund granskat mig ingående. Slutligen reste mig en av gubbarna och kom fram till mig.

– Buenos días! Sabes leer? (Goddag! Kan du läsa?)

Jag förklarade så gott jag kunde, att jag visserligen kunde läsa, men att jag inte förstod spanska så bra. Men det viftade han bort med:

– No importa! (Det gör ingenting!)

Så läste jag för dessa lärdomstörstande analfabeter den ena spalten efter den andra ur Solidaridad Obrera under det att de andäktigt lyssnade och vid något alltför vidunderligt feluttal smålog överseende.[36]

We repeatedly encounter evidence of the communication hardship the volunteers endured.

Stig Berggren Ett stort problem inom de internationella brigaderna var språkförbistringen. Bristen på ett gemensamt språk skapade farliga situationer men också smått dråpliga händelser, som när Stig skjutsade

en tysk kapten hela vägen från Guadalajara till Madrid. Väl framme vid högkvarteret bad kaptenen Stig att vänta “eine Stunde”. Kom han inte tillbaka inom den utlovade tiden kunde Stig köra igen.

-Tja, tänkte jag. En stund är väl en kvart, tjugo minuter. Så jag väntade och när han inte kom körde jag tillbaka. Senare på kvällen dyker tysken upp arg som ett bi. Han hade fått lov att lifta med en lastbil åtta mil i ösregnet. “Eine Stunde” betyder en timme och inte en stund som jag hade trott.[37]

Naturligtvis finns det en nästan övervinnelig svårighet: språket. Antalet verkligt språkkunniga är mycket litet, av tyskarna är det synnerligen få, som kunna spanska eller ens franska. Det kan vara alldeles omöjligt att få en sak förklarad, både bakom fronten, något som kan vara irriterande nog, och vid fronten, vilket översättning av militära order till att vara brevskrivare åt älskande par. De flesta kompanierna ha endast sällan en verklig duktig tolk. Efterhand som brigaderna blivit mer och mer uppblandade med spanjorer kan detta bliva ett våldsamt handicap. Men när man måste förstå varandra går det också till slut, ofta en klapp på axeln och några ord om ”camaradas” skapa den nödvändiga förståelsen. [38]

Språklig sett var svenskarna skralt utrustade. Den före detta kompanichefen Per Eriksson kunde inte dra sig till minnes att något enda svensk talat spanska ens hjälpligt då de lämnade Sverige: ”Vi hade väl ett par intellektuella som kunde franska och de lärde sig ganska snabbt. Sedan fick vi ju lära oss själva i skyttegravarna och så.  Man blev tvungen att uttrycka sig. De enda som fick någon språkutbildning i Spanien var de som efter en tid togs ut till officersutbildning, däribland Eriksson.”[39]

Trots att jag inte är någon polyglott började det ordnar sig med språket. En lustighet vill jag berätta. Verbet ”att gå” heter på spanska “ir” och böjs i presens indikativ singularis: voy (jag går), vas (du går), va (han, hon, den går). Tredje person singularis används också som ett sådant utrop som grovarbetare och sjömän använder när all skall ta i på gång: “Va!” (Åhej!). Men i början rättade jag då på ryggen och svarade med ett fånigt “va”?…[40]

Lämnande åt honom att fundera färdigt i lugn och ro fick jag kontakt med de andra kamraterna och samma veva inträffade en divisionsgeneral, eller vad sjutton han var, och klagade över något som vi inte riktig förstod, men av vissa gester att döma måtte ha varit ett uttryck för hans förvåning över att finna skandinaver bakom linjen. Rekylen höll ett kort anförande på skånska, i vars slutkläm han rekommenderade gubben att åka till Getapulien och plocka potatis, varefter vi avlägsnade oss mot nya jaktmarker. [41]

Examples of a language within a language in the name of solidarity; this time amongst sailors.

Där stod några sjögrabbar …

“Du gör opposition. Marsch i arresten!”

Fast Per säger “kalabusen”, ett gammalt sjömansord för arresten.[42]

Efter en vecka inträffar bland andra åter en kontingent skandinaver och vi bli tillfälle att hälsa på ånga gamla skeppskamrater och bekanta. Henry Olsson förklarar, att hela sjömanscellen i Göteborg kommer att ta slut och samma är visst förhållandet i Stockholm. Alla möjliga pacifister och vapenvägrare springer och tjatar om att få komma ner och kriga.[43]

In this first passage, the Spaniards ask Lätt if he could read. How can anyone explain to an illiterate that different languages have different ways of pronunciation and reading. Through his expression, we can also deduct that the author identifies himself superior amongst the people around him.

Jag tog mig alla fall fram till Lérida på apostlavis och hade därför mynt nog för att besöka ett kafé. Några bondgubbar i sina karakteristisks kläder av blå manchester hade en stund granskat mig ingående. Slutligen reste mig en av gubbarna och kom fram till mig.

-¡Buenos días! ¿Sabes leer? (Goddag, Kan du läsa?)

Jag förklarade så gott jag kunde, att jag visserligen kunde läsa, men att jag inte förstod spanska så bra. Men det viftade han bort med:

– ¡No importa! (Det gör ingenting!)

Så läste jag för dessa lärdomstörstande analfabeter den ena spalten efter den andra ur Solidaridad Obrera under det att de andäktigt lyssnade och vid något alltför vidunderligt feluttal smålog överseende.[44]

The volunteers in the International Brigade participated actively in the literacy campaign for the Spanish soldiers.  Efforts were also made in order to learn some basic Spanish essential for their survivor.

Man satte igång med daglig undervisning i spanska för utlänningarna och dagliga analfabetkurser för spanjorerna. Undervisningsministeriet har utgivit en förträfflig liten ABC-bok, särskilt avsedd för soldater. Över allt, både i reserven och främsta skyttegraven, kan man se spanska soldater ivrigt studera det lilla häftet.[45]

Vi fick också förstärkning av spanjorer. Dom skulle lära sej av militärt förband och dom kunde varken läsa eller skriva. Men vi blev goda vänner. Jag minns de gången dom skulle lära oss spanska. Dom pekade på hår pelo, näsa nariz, läpp labio, mun boca, och det var till och med så att vi från staben fick griffeltavlor. Dom skulle lära sej läsa och skriva i skyttegravarna. En vecka efter det att dom hade kommit började vi med ABC.

… Där fanns en pojke från Asturien som var intellektuell. Han hjälpte till med undervisningen.[46]

Jarama-Morata Kompanichefen, Skotte, diskuterar med en tysk, Pelle jobbar som tolk, få av oss begriper tyska. Kompaniet är blandat, unga spanjorer, de flesta analfabeter, resten skandinaver. [47]

No state of mind could have been more sincere than on the line of fire where their lives were on stake. These memories are the best sketches:

I februari inleddes slaget vid Jarama, söder om huvudstaden. Gustav och hans kamrater sändes direkt till fronten och något utbildning hanns inte med.

– Man visste hur man skulle springa, söka skydd och kasta sig ner. Det var nervöst. Vi fick ett jävla elddop. Eldgivningen blev allt intensivare. Gustav hörde hur en sjukvårdare ropade något på tyska gång på gång. Gustav förstod inte vad han sade men kunde lätt räkna ut att han behövde hjälp. [48]

In the thick of the battle we organise ourselves with a certain amount of success into sections. The Spanish problem is quickly solved. “Manuel! What’s the Spanish for “Forward?” “Adelante!” yells Manuel, and waves the Spanish lads on. “Abajo!” And down they flop to give covering fire. A burly French lieutenant runs over to ask me for grenades. We have none. Waiving a ridiculous tiny automatic, he advances shouting “En Avant!” Ahead of us are little cones of blue-red flame.[49]

Jag satt bredvid Montero och ville av honom få besked om läge och positioner hos våra förband. Men hans portugisisk-spanska blandning gav mig ingen exakt orientering i den främmande terrängen.

 Och följde därför med största uppmärksamhet Monteros ögonvittnesskildring på hans portugisisk – spansk – franska språkblandning.[50]

Castellón de la Plana. Försöker ordna ett par kryckor. “No hay”, finns inte. Dagarna går, pluggar spanska med gester, inget lexikon, enkla fraser fastnar i hjärnan. Spanjorerna lägger ner fruktansvärd energi så det går runt i hjärnan.[51]

Let us keep in mind the time when the Volunteers travelled toSpain, 1936-1938. Culinary characteristics were quite particular in each land. Olive oil was unknown to the majority of the Swedes, probably they have never tried sunflower seeds or garbanzo beans, and more than likely the cook did not have enough time in the warfront to soak the salt dried codfish in water.

Olivoljan (i smaken lik fotogen) ovanför, underifrån fiskar man upp med skeden: fågelfrön, stora hårdkokta ärtor, klippfisk salt som fan. En seg köttbit, däggdjurets art är omöjlig att beskriva. Slejsen tuggar i förtvivlan, bristen på garnityr gav honom  ett gummiansikte. Men ner åker det med hjälp av iskallt vin serverat i bleckmuggar. Bläcksmaken var vedervärdig och det tog månader innan vi vande oss vid den spanska maten.[52]

Fraga, han kallades bara för Fraga, hade varit daglönare som far sin. Det betydde: Jobb högst sjutti dar om året. Men fanns inte. Han talade om gaspachon, vattensoppan. En gaspacho kan man göra hur näringsrik som helst. Det beror på vad man har att lägga i. Men där han var hemma hade dom haft några olivdroppar, lie gräs, någon lök. Den soppan, alla målen från morgon till kväll. Det fanns inget annat. Från höst till vår.[53]

Kompanichefen förbjöd oss äta av grisen, men ingen förstod tyska. Då kommenderade han ut oss på två timmars patrull, dels som en bestraffning för den omotiverade bristen på språkkunskaper i bestämda situationer och dels för att hindra oss.[54]

Tanken på en ordentlig måltid mat sysselsatte oss alltmer, men en dag bjöds det på en läckerhet. Vår korpral, Cabo Pedro, hade upptäckt en mängd grodor i en liten kvarndamm.… Tillredda i olivolja var det en läckerhet, som jag i Frankrike lärt uppskatta, där de liksom sniglar stod högt i pris.[55]

7. Conclusion and implication for further research

During the last two decades, we have been experiencing a new phenomenon, the largest human displacement in our history. This massive human displacement in such a short time span is changing the linguistic map.

Its consequences are felt on daily basis, not only through the media but also within our surroundings.  Sociolinguistics and sociology of language, together with background study of history is the best of the tools for the adaptation of this phenomenon.

In the case of the Swedish and Scandinavian Volunteers, they found their identities in a foreign land, feeling foreigners and gathering together with their fellow citizens. For example, before leaving their country, many of the Swedes world-view of a foreign land, language and customs did not go any further than those they learned from the Danish, Norwegian, or Germans.

Bringing history to the present; let us take Spainas an example. With the Spanish Reconquista, great part of the Iberian Peninsulawas united geographically, as well as linguistically. The Castilian language gained its primary position, becoming the Spanish language. This language was transferred beyond the IberiaPeninsulaand the European continent on its conquest of new territories; one of them being Ibero America or Hispano America. Language and the culture of both continent blended and the existing autochthonous culture in the American Continent reborn. Nevertheless this was a slow process with plenty of time for assimilation.

On the contrary, the present massive process of immigration and integration that is taking place in a very short period of time.  As example, we have Latin American population and culture not only inUSAandSpain, but thorough the European Continent, and even inJapan.  Its repercussion is shown clearly through our daily experiences; accentuated though the media. Let us keep in mind that the sole mean of communication, thus socialization, we human beings have is the language.

The research in the fields of sociology of language, sociolinguistics, hand in hand with modern historiography research methods are essential tools for a better and closer understanding of this new phenomenon. The actual tendency of looking back and describing the past with redundant phrases as historical past or historical memories are manifestations in order to sidestep his new phenomenon. Let us not use our past to resuscitate old flames of rancour and discord; but as a tool to build a more fruitful future, more homogeneous; without wasting away our particular identity.

Nowadays we have countless GO and NGO as: UNICEF, United Nations, Peace Corps, International Peace Brigades, Missions, amongst others; which within their multiple challenges they keep on experiencing the same social and linguistic obstacles. This fact is minimized, in the best of the cases, and in the most of the cases ignored.

[1] Stellan Dahlgren and Anders Florén, Fråga del förflutna, Lund 1966, p. 220-223.

[2] Knut. Kjeldstadli, Det förflutna är inte vad det en gång var. Lund 1992, p. 163-168.

[3] Gösta Andersson, Partisaner, Stockholm 1975.

[4] Arne Larsson,  Knuten näve. Göteborg 1995

[5] Nisse Lätt, En svensk anarkist berättar, Göteborg 1995.

[6] Göte Nilsson,  Svenskar   i  spanska  inbördeskriget,    Stockholm  1972

[7] Ulf Nilsson,  Dödens ögonblick. Stockholm 1976.

[8] Sixten Olsson, Spanska frontminnen,  Stockholm 1938

[9]  Karl Staaf,Den Röda Lågan, En dödsdömd antinazists memoarer, Stockholm 1997.

[10] Lise Lindbaek, Internationella Brigaden, Skriven på officiellt uppdrag av XI Brigaden Thälmannbaljon.  Stockholm 1939.

[11] Manuel Requena (ed.), Las Brigadas Internacionales,  Ayer 56/2004 (4) Madrid 2004.

[12] Manuel Requena (coord.), La Guerra Civil Española y las Brigadas Internacionales, Cuenca 1998.

[13] José Ramón Navarro Carballo,La Sanidad en las Brigadas Internacionales. Madrid 1989.

[14] Bertil Lundvik, 1980   Solidaritet och partitaktik: Den svenska arbetarrörelsen och spanska inbördeskriget 1936-1939,  Uppsala 1980.

[15] Marcos Cantera Carlomagno, Sverige och spanska inbördeskriget, Lund 1999.

[16] Lars Gyllenhaal and Lennart Westberg, Svenskar i krig 1914-1945. Lund 2004.

[17] Franklin D. Scott, Sweden, The  Nation’s  History.Minneapolis 1977, p. 553.

[18]Manuel Requena (coord.).“La Guerra Civil Española y las Brigadas Internacionales en Albacete” Al-Basit, Revista de Estudios Albacetenses. Albacete 1996, p.207.

[19] Ronald  Ronald, Blood of Spain, The experience of Civil War, 1936-1939, UK 1979, p. 31

[20] Debora Schiffrin “Language, experience and history: ‘What happened’ in World War II”. Journal of Sociolinguistics. Vol.5/3. UK 2001, p. 322-324

[21]Scott 1977, 553


[22]RonaldWardhaug, An Introduction to Sociolinguistics.Australia,  2006, p. 225

[23] Bayac de Delperrie,  The International Brigade, Madrid 1978, p. 76-77

[24] Gyllenhaal and Westberg 2004, p.110

[25] Lundvik 1980,  p.119-152

[26] Lundberg  2001, p.64

[27] Servicio Histórico Militar del Instituto de Historia y Cultura Militar, Archivo de la Guerra de Liberación, Documentación Roja, Armario 77

[28] Gyllenhaal  2004, p.110

[29] Nilsson. 1972, p.49

[30] Olsson 1938, p.57

[31] Gyllenhaal 2004, p.110

[32] ibid  p.133-137

[33] Lundberg 2001, p.52



[34] Lundberg 2001, p.81

[35] Larsson 1995, p.48

[36] Lätt 1993, 69

[37] Jändel 1996, p.40

[38] Lindbaek 1939, p.93

[39] Gyllenhaal 2004, p.123

[40] Lätt 1993, p.88

[41] Olsson 1938, p.39

[42] Nilsson 1972, p.49

[43] Olsson 1938, p.10

[44] Lätt 1993, p.69

[45] Lindbaek 1939, p.138

[46] Nilsson 1972, p.43

[47] Ibid. p.14

[48] Nilson 1972, p.67

[49] Rust 1939, p.53

[50] Weickert 1974, p. 83, 136

[51] Andersson 1975, p.39

[52]Andersson 1965,  p.10

[53] Nilsson 1972, p.229

[54] Olsson 1938, p.95

[55] Staaf 1997, p.63


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Wildlife Museum in León, SPAIN . MUSEO DE LA FAUNA SALVAJE


Within the contemporary museum discourse, there is a new paradigm on the making; the “Wildlife Museums”. It may be catalogued as the offspring of the oldest father of the museums, the anthropological and natural science museums; and its cabinets of curiosities. There are only handful outstanding museums of this type with the most complete collection of naturalized (stuffed) animals Museo de la Fauna Salvaje in León, Spain, is one of the most comprehensive of its kind; unique in Europe and worldwide. It is privately owned and funded by a foundation created for this purpose.

Link to MFS:

Museo de la Fauna Salvaje is a unique museum located privileged setting at the skirts of the Pyrenees Mountains in North West Spain; in the province of León. It is within a National Park facing a water reservoir, Lake Porma, a few kilometers from San Isidro Ski Resort, historical sites, natural caves with stalactites, forests, amongst other attractions. Road distances from the provincial capital León is 60 Km., from Madrid 400 Km., Valladolid 200 Km., and Oviedo 120 Km. Its coordinates are: 42º 49´ 10.07″ N; 5º 19´ 37.12″ W.
Museo de la Fauna Salvaje is a young museum; inaugurated in 2004. It is an entirely private institution managed by the Foundation Dr. Romero Nieto; who is at the same time its trustee and president of the museum. Its funding, as well as its collections have been granted almost entirely by the main trustee of the Foundation and President of the museum.
The project was carried out with the cooperation, and forming part of the Board, various institutions as the Provincial Delegation of León, City Council of Boñar, and the University of León. It also participated Junta de Castilla y León, Duero Hydrographic Confederation, zoos, circuses, wildlife parks, other museums; as well as research centers and centers for investigation and control of wildlife diseases.
Museo de la Fauna Salvaje has been already recognized as a national reference. It is visited by approximately 65.000 per year, mainly domestic; but also from many European countries and USA. 60% of the visitors come during the summer and holidays.
Fauna of all five continents are represented within 25 main fresco dioramas as background and environmental sounds. Most of the exhibition is interactive and the public may touch and feel the exhibited species.
The museum´s future prospects and plans are ambitious. There is a research department working in close collaboration with the University of León. There is a nucleus of wild animals in semi-wild conditions in the forest surrounding the museum, where wildlife and botanical tours are carried out.
MFS in figures
Approximately 2,300 square meters of heated area (building)
Wildlife representing our five continents
400 full bodied large mammals
200 small mammals
100 primates
6000 species of insects
50 reptiles
6000 different species of insects
Over 3000 birds
Approximately 5000 square meters of dioramas with fresco paintings
Conference room, meeting room, library, art gallery, gift shop, restaurant, coffee shop, terrace, kiosk bar with outdoor sitting for 100 persons.
Conference and class room with full audiovisual equipment. Cafetería- Restaurante
Meeting room and library.
Art gallery for exhibition and sales of paintings, sculptures and art work related to wildlife.
Gift shop
Outdoor kiosk – bar and terrace with wooden tables with a capacity of 100 persons.
Zoo area of over 25 hectare where animals are kept in their natural environment with more than 100 animals in semi-freedom state. Visits are done with an all-terrain vehicle The visitor may see Spanish fauna species as wild boar, wild hogs, boar, chamois, deer, roe deer.
There is a Project to Access to the museum sailing through the Porma Reservoir.
An archeological Project to restore a Romanic Church by the Porma Reservoir.
The collection, naturalia
Almost the entire exhibition originates from the private collection of the main trustee of the foundation Dr. Romero Nieto who has been acquiring and commissioning the specimens for more than 20 years with the idea of the museum. The species which are licensed for hunting have been also collected by him.
The Iberian lynx (lynx pardinus) has been donated by the Franco family.
The tigers, which are protected species, died in a circus and was delivered skinned.
A tiger was recently killed in a fight with another tiger in the Natural Park and Zoo in Cabárceno (Santander). The specie was donated to the museum and is under preparation to be included in the exhibit.
A rhinoceros died recently in the same park and was also donated to MFS.
Approximately 5 % of the collection comes from the Provincial Council of Alava. The species were hunted some decades ago by its former owner. From this collection comes the two gorillas, a rhinoceros, a giraffe, amongst others were added to the exhibition after restoration.
The orangutans come from a zoo where they died.
Collection of birds, more than 3 thousand; from which only 800 are in exhibition
Most of the birds have been donated by the taxidermist José Luis Blanco who has been collecting then during 40 years. He has also donated 80 samples of primates, most of them endangered species. The taxidermist has an agreement with the University of Valladolid to share the remains of outstanding birds and small vertebrates such as monkeys. The university keeps the skeleton for their research and Mr. Blanco, who was in charge of the dissection, keeps the skins.
The bronze collection: Outdoors on the premises of museum, strategically displayed mimicking natural environment, there is a collection of real size bronze sculptures representing the entire Iberian fauna; with wolves, wild boar, chamois, deer, roe deer, lynx and bear. Also inside the museum there is an exhibit of a broad collection of smaller bronze sculptures representing wild life scenes and animals. Both collections are authored by renowned Spanish bronze artists as: Garot, Morales, amongst other. These collections have been also acquired by the trustee.

Most of the exhibited animals are from legal hunting; terms used are “legal and controlled hunting” or “synergetic hunting”. We may apply the term as “nature’s overstock”. It is, in most of the cases older and/or defective animals.
Endangered species such as lynx, tigers, and snow leopards come from Guardia Civil and customs. At present more species are added to the museum through agreements with zoos, rehabilitation centers, amongst others.

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