Even though he was an Englishman, famed author George Orwell made it a point to head to Spain during the Spanish Civil War in order to join the fight for democracy, mainly out of idealism. Today, his path through one portion of the war is remembered by a trail of recreated fortifications.
Orwell joined the fighting of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, despite the reasoned advice of fellow author, Henry Miller. Despite being a volunteer, Orwell wanted to head to the front lines of the war, but it was not in the cards. Instead, he was sent, with a regiment to the region of Aragon, where the fighting was rather light. There he didn’t see much action, but he did encounter a great deal of hardship among the soldiers, including hunger, terrible living conditions, and lack supplies in general. While his initial visit was uneventful, he would return to Aragon later and be shot in the neck. He survived and managed to escape Spain, and his ordeal would go on to inform his book Homage to Catalonia.
Despite a general agreement among many in Spain to let the events of the civil war remain in the past, many of the trenches and fortifications where Orwell spent time have been methodically recreated today. The trenches and bunkers along what is now called the George Orwell Route look as though they have never even been touched by time, much less war. Visitors can now walk the same hilltop path that was not only visited by Orwell, but by countless soldiers who took part in the tragic war.
The Spanish Civil War may not be a popular subject among many, but thanks to Orwell’s high-profile visit, this battlefield will not be forgotten any time soon.
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