I have been working on the Spanish Civil War ever since I landed back in Madrid, my hometown, after 16 years away. Spurred by constant questioning about Franco's dictatorship and my desire to know more about my own family's involvement in the war, I developed an interest in this subject which has never stopped growing.
I joined the International Brigades Association in Madrid pretty much as soon as I returned to Spain in 2008, and eventually was elected their president. The more I learned about the role of the volunteers and the more involved I became in recovering testimonies and historical memory of the Republic, the more I realised that something had to be done to educate visitors. Other tours out there are commercial, capitalist ventures or led by people who are not Spanish, are lacking any credentials and have not endured the family trauma, or by people who treat it in such a superficial manner that it is offensive to the memory of the Republicans and are only doing it for profit.
I set up Across Madrid with the purpose of being free to express the truth about the Spanish Civil War, and to make culture as accessible as possible to everyone. I have come a long way after taking the risk to start a company by myself, with no financial help - and at the same time as I was expecting a baby. It was the right thing to do, and I still work many hours as a volunteer for a number of historical memory associations as well as running Across Madrid, and am thrilled that my efforts are being recognised. Across Madrid is a very small team which includes members of AABI as well as my husband, and we all dedicate many hours to preserving the tangible memories, monuments and history of the International Brigades.
First, a small article was published by ALBA about the threat to the monument to the International Brigades in Madrid and the campaign to defend this memorial.
Then, in February 2015, came a short article on Euroweekly News by British author and journalist Peter Fieldman which highlighted the unique character of our tours and our work on the subject of the Spanish Civil War.
Recently, our tour was featured on the Examiner after American author Jonathan Rome took our tour and was impressed with the content and delivery.
We offer a unique immersion in the subject, and we have gained the endorsement of distinguished scholars and authors (including Pulitzer prize-winner Richard Rhodes and award-winning documentary director Peter Davis) and prestigious associations from different countries.
We keep getting raving reviews from our clients, and more importantly, we keep rebuilding and remembering the sometimes forgotten sacrifices made by the Republicans and the International Brigades. It means a lot to us that our clients are as international as the volunteers who came over to Spain to fight for our freedom: we have met people from Australia, Canada, Russia, Ireland, France, Germany, Argentina, South Africa, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Mexico, Israel, the UK and the USA. We have been delighted to have motivated students signing up for this tour and being inspired by it. We have been honoured to take relatives of Brigaders along with Spanish descendents of exiled Republicans. We have been moved by the reaction of the wide range of people who have chosen our tour and have discovered a new aspect of Madrid and its history. We continue our work because we were privileged to meet and become friends with veterans of the International Brigades and they trusted us to pass on the spirit of their struggle against fascism.
Thank you to our wonderful clients who understand the true nature of our tour and who are helping sustain AABI and other crucial educational campaigns and associations. Our tour has been plagiarised and our ideas shamelessly copied by other companies, but nobody can really replace our primary source knowledge, reputation and the educational mission that drives us. No Pasaran!
© Almudena Cros, October 2015. Please note that this article may be quoted in editorial contexts only, with source and author.
Across Madrid Blog
Press coverage of our work on the Spanish Civil War