Beyond the Trenches (1936-1939). Photographs by Alec Wainman

Education and reading

The Spanish Republic’s project to transform society was underpinned by the use of education to turn subjects into citizens. The Republic built thousands of schools and soon became known as ‘the republic of teachers’, who indeed were among the first victims of the military uprising. At the same time, the Republic set in motion a programme to distribute books to every corner of the country. Books held a fascination for the people of Barcelona and of Catalonia in general, an interest that survived beyond the war. The Barcelona Book Fair held in the summer 1938 was very well attended. At the event, the Republic, which had been anticlerical at the start of the war, allowed Protestant Evangelists to mount a Bible stand.

The power of words

«I would like to illustrate what I am saying with an example. The photographs of the book fair in Barcelona in 1938 would have been impossible in Franco’s Spain, where the rebels began precisely by burning books. The Spanish Republic’s project to transform society was underpinned by the use of education to turn subjects into citizens. The Republic built thousands of schools and at the same time set in motion a programme to distribute books to every corner of the country. The French described the regime in Spain as ‘the republic of professors’. It was not that but rather ‘the republic of teachers’, who indeed were among the first victims of the military uprising.» 

Josep Fontana, historian, in the prologue to the book Almas vivas.

Galeria fotogràfica