Robert Hale Merriman

A tribute to an ‘early-antifascist’

The monument raised in honor of the American Volunteers of the Lincoln Brigade in Spain (1936-1939). It reads:

"YOU ARE HISTORY, YOU ARE LEGEND"

40.000 INTERNATIONALVOLUNTEERS CAME TO THE DEFENSE OF THE SPANISH REPUBLIC WHEN FRANCO, HITLER AND MUSSOLINI ATTACKED. AMONG THEM WERE SOME 3000 YOUNG AMERICANS THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN BRIGADE AND NEARLY HALF OF THEM LIE DEAD IN SPANISH SOIL. ELEVEN STUDENTS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON JOINED THAT HISTORIC STRUGGLE

 

 

Robert Hale Merriman

Commander of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in The Spanish Civil War

 

  "Why does any man do anything? The factors in him add up.

They make a sum total, and he adds to that

out of his understanding. Then he does what he has to do." 

Sidney Greenspan, Abraham’s Lincoln Brigade in Spain

 

  

            Those in between ideologies

 

            If it was not to Hemingway’s pen and sensitivity some gallant American’s spirits of the pre-WW2 years would not have been sung. Even worse : the Cold War confrontation , the McCarthy era and the wars in Korea and Vietnam were to put oblivion and obscurity upon them, stigmatized by the epithet , of FBI’s Hoover : "the early anti-fascists" meaning plainly …communists. The economic euphoria of the 60s in US did not allow for a clear memory of the depression years back in the 30s. It was a bad dream to forget , something that was far from reality , very far to be true by any present standards. Yet, many of the thinking Americans were deeply moved and some of the work of their most prominent writers like John Steinbeck, Tennessee Williams , Ernst Hemingway were the fruit of those days.  And then some other people like the scientist Robert Oppenheimer have been deeply marked by those very years enough to sympathize and support those Americans who left to fight against Franco in Spain , back in 1936-37. It was Oppenheimer himself that gave a warm salute on the departure of his colleague professor of the University of Berkley in California : Robert Merriman. 

            It is still difficult for the Americans and was even more difficult then for them to locate politically these people. In a divided world of Communism and anti-Communism there was no room left for anything else in between. You had to be one or the other but people like Merriman were there where they wanted to be and could see what others could not. For a healthy mind it was impossible to approve either of Stalin or Franco , that is  tyranny under various colors. Healthy minds had to stay in between but the worst part was making a decision and doing something about it. They had to share some of the views of one side or the other while rejecting them as a whole at the same time. The only fate to such people was to be considered traitors by both sides except that those who worshiped people like McCarthy or Stalin found themselves in the same place in hell few years later.  

        Eric Blair’s (George Orwell) literature in his book '1984' will become prophetically ominous to both sides gaining on eternity just because same phenomena are reproduced even in our days beyond the existence of the term ‘communist’ itself. Ironically there were few of Merriman’s colleagues who after Spain fought and died in WW2 and who got a citation for their heroic acts , while just previously were yelled by everybody as … ‘the bloody reds’. Robert Merriman was simply one of those who had to do something against tyranny and human exploitation. At a specific moment factors add up and people make their decision and do what they think they have to do. Hemingway as a war reporter in Spain did socialize with a number of the Americans fighting there and what is more he was influenced deeply so as to create an immortal book ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ and thereafter influence them in return to the point that made his non-intellectual friend , pilot Frank Tinker of the Spanish Republic Air Force , write his own book  ‘Some Still Live’. Hemingway’s book is directly inspired by Robert Merriman while the book’s heroes bear the same names of the Merriman couple ,Robert and Marion. Although this book was considered as ‘romantic’ or politically unworthy when it first appeared , t does make its point in our days both emotionally and politically. It tells of how people like Merriman tried to serve their personal cause while plunged into the human weakness and folly of war they are disgusted with. 

  

            The political situation in Spain , summer 1936

  

            The civil war in Spain in 1936 was the culmination of political turmoil that lasted for about 200 years. Long before Marx was born the various areas in Spain had problems with their central government in Madrid that was controlling very tightly their development. The echo of these centuries of unrest has even arrived to our days with the face of the Basque and Catalan autonomic movements. Although nothing was new under the sun and in many other European areas a similar unrest was widespread, as a result of the WW1 and recession economic problems, in Spain the crisis was forced to its explosion by an outside influence. The ‘common’ history known to the large public is full with lies that were added later. It is not true that Franco was a political royalist leader : he was simply a general and did not oppose the first republican government that was established after the removal of the king Alfonso the 8th , an extremely  unpopular king to his own officers who denied him their participation to a new military dictatorship. The first republican government was a mixture of politicians coming mainly from the center-right and was replaced 3 years later by another of the right to be succeeded in the next 3 years by another one of the center-left where the communists had just 5% of the parliament and no political power (Note : the majority was held by the exact same Socialist party that governs Spain today - 2006) . It was the fear of some center-left politicians that the army could intervene at any moment as has done so often in the past that created harsh feeling between the very nationalistic general Emilio Mola and the president of the republic Athania that led the later onto taking some measures against the privileges of the generals. When the voices of autonomy from the Basque and Catalan politicians were discussed within the parliament Mola was afraid for a total collapse of the country and decided to proceed with his ‘coup d’état’ to avoid a possible state disintegration. The leadership of this movement included 4 generals , however , one of their deputies indicated that it would be wise to include a 5th one , Francisco Franco Bahamonte, who at the time was far away in the Canary islands and had commanded in the past the Spanish forces in Morocco. These troops were the easiest to influence and join the revolution as being far from the capital and well known to two of the generals in Mola’s group. Mola had no confidence in Franco but accepted to take him in the group due to the importance of the troops in the Canary islands and Morocco .  

        The military insurgence was however suppressed in the two main cities of Madrid and Barcelona while two of Mola's generals were captured and executed. The low ranking officers helped people get arms and form militias while Mola was left surrounded, in the NW of Spain (Navarre), low on ammunition, without hope of prevailing and prepared even to commit suicide. The only force of the generals that remained unharmed was Franco's troops who , however , was in no position to invade the mainland as there were no naval transport  despite the very few naval crews that fled the Republic. It was at this moment that external forces intervened. The big financial interests that considered this Republic as their own threat for internal reasons helped Franco to move with a plane to Morocco and provided him with fuel and money while Mussolini and Hitler offered their troops and planes to carry military forces from Morocco to Seville in the south of the mainland. Soon German and Italian pilots were already fighting in the skies against republican pilots while the first Italian regiments and nazi tanks were arriving in the southern harbors in Spain. The surprised Republic realizing it has been invaded by Italy and Germany asked immediately France , UK and USA to help with guns , planes and ammunition. They were denied this help and the world diplomacy decided to abstain although they knew very well that high quality fascist and nazi forces were siding with Franco. The desperate Republic received help only from Moscow and this alone has stopped the immediate fall of Madrid in October 1936. (Ever since, the communists received an enormous boost from the Stalinist machine for its own diplomatic reasons. Eventually Stalin insisted on transplanting his of ruling to Spain with devastating effects for the future that ended up with many exterminations of the non-Stalinist republican fighters . The leaders of the Republic have been extremely suspicious of the communists all the way and would have been grateful to receive the aid of the western democracies until they understood they were left intentionally helpless. At a certain time the republican PM was overthrown by Moscow and president Athania was put aside)

        By this moment Franco was becoming important for one reason only : he was the unique  general in position to move and lead part of the military uprising and eventually receive the military help. He was therefore a ‘de facto’ leader of the military movement and when later he joined forces with the blockaded Mola in the north it was the decision of Mussolini and Hitler to maintain Franco as the representative of the military movement because he had signed the papers for the help delivered for which an economical and diplomatic recompensation was to be asked. Mola, the actual leader, was furious but he knew this revolution could not survive without the external help of the fascist and nazi leaders and kept quiet as far as possible. He was later killed in an accident (?) and from then on the false myth of Franco has been created. The Nazi proposed him a new constitution for his new state  a copy of the situation existing in Germany under Hitler thus creating a Spanish führer , the Caudillio, who was the head of everything. This is how, accidentally, the last of the 5 generals that started the military revolution became the unique leader of the military movement. He had of course to eliminate any other political and military rival within his ranks which he did : he seized all parties including the Spanish fascist one , sent to exile its leaders and kept a good ‘divide-and-reign’ stance among his deputies to keep full control of everything. He later was to establish a totalitarian police regime that kept Spain under a military rule for about 36 years followed by numerous tortures and executions. (After WW2 the Cold War unfortunately supported Franco's power with a new 'approval' by the 'Big-Democracies' when USA and NATO broke the ice and came closer to the francist Spain using its ground for air bases)

        The moment Robert Merriman and others of the American volunteers arrived in Spain it was the end of 1936 , beginnings of 1937 , when the republic government in Madrid was trying to survive.  The successive series of dictatorial regimes in the world have convinced the working classes that a huge worldwide coup d’état of the ruling economic interests has been thrown upon them. The silence of the so called ‘Big-Democracies’ and their obvious help to the dictators turned Spain into an ideological and political battleground. It was thought that if Spain was to fall to Franco then everywhere else the same war was to break out against labor. In a certain way  this was to be proved true with the 2nd WW that followed shortly after the death of the Spanish Republic in 1939. Officially WW2 was only 6 months away , although , it had actually already started in Spain in the summer of 1936.

           

 

            A born-worker intellectual     

 

        Robert Merriman, the son of a poor lumberjack, was born in the United States in 1908. He took economics in the University of Nevada but in order to finance his studies in the middle of the crisis years he accepted to join the Reserve Officers' Training Corps due to the salary of the 7,5 $ …a month. To complete his income he also worked as a builder and ranch worker. At the end of his studies he followed an academic carrier  at the University of California. His life experiences made him sympathetic to the workers movement and actively supported the San Francisco General Strike. He later won a fellowship and decided to specialize in economic matters related to agriculture; he had a chance to travel for a while around Europe to study agricultural problems.

        Merriman decided to go to Spain on the call of the International Brigades. It is true that this recruitment was controlled by the communist league but a number of volunteers joined on their own initiative without ever joining any political party or International Brigade, like George Orwell. In 1937 Robert and later his wife Marion arrived in the training camp of Albacete. Robert and an ex US sergeant James Harris took over military training due to past experience. Inevitably Merriman was struck by the luck of preparation and organization but maintained his zeal as he knew that most of those volunteers were mainly workers and not professional soldiers. The Americans formed two battalions named after Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

        The International Brigades arrived just on time to participate to the defense of Madrid. Franco has arrived very easily from Seville to the outskirts of the capital helped by the adequate means given by Mussolini and Hitler while the government was hopeless in trying to check which officers could stay loyal and fight under these ominous circumstances. The Germans and Italians had already started bombing Madrid aiming intentionally at civilian lives in order to scare people and make them abstain from fighting : about 500 children and 1000 adults became victims of this atrocity. The francists had advanced to the outskirts of Madrid when the first Russian planes (some Americans pilots among them) arrived and contributed considerably in keeping away the German and Italian bombers while few Russian tanks pushed back the invaders. The International Brigades appeared as a reinforcement only and their presence rather than their number was welcomed with cheers. Madrid will not fall as Franco's famous Moorish troops , the elite of his colonial army , were not familiar with street fighting and Franco himself relied more on fear and threat than good military planning to take the capital. Hopeless in front of Madrid, Franco was rather late in organizing a new strike near Aragon. The fighting at this front was hard and fierce, the International Brigades and Merriman matured there in the war hardships.

         This is how this was reported by Hemingway :

         “In the Aragon Front, via Valencia, Spain, Sept. 13--When we got up with the Americans they were lying under some olive trees along a little stream. The yellow dust of Aragon was blowing over them, over their blanketed machine guns, over their automatic rifles and their anti-aircraft guns. It grew in blinding clouds raised by the hooves of pack animals and the wheels of motor transports. But in the lee of the stream bank the men were slouching, fearful and grinning, their teeth flashing white slits in their yellow-powdered station. Since I had seen them last spring they have become soldiers. The romantic have pulled out; the reluctant ones have gone home along with the badly wounded. The dead, of course, aren't there. Those who are left are tough, with blackened matter-of-fact faces; and, after seven months, they know their trade”

       

Robert Merriman is the tall guy in the middle with glasses 

         Hemingway was meeting regularly most of the Americans Volunteers in Madrid at the 'Florida' Hotel. This is how Marion Merriman describes their first contact with the writer ( extract from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ )

         'Even under bombardment, Madrid is marvelous!' I said to Bob. The wide tree-lined boulevards and modern buildings had an air of dignity that even blocks of bombed-out ruins could not dispel.

But the scene changed, quickly. As we walked down a broad boulevard, we heard the crack of rifle fire. Then the tempo picked up. 'That's machine gun fire,' Bob said. The machine-guns rattled in the distance, perhaps a few blocks away, I couldn't be sure. Then we heard the boom of artillery and the reality of Madrid at war returned deeply to me. The artillery shell landed some distance away, collapsing part of a building, which fell into a rubble of dust. We dashed down the street, staying close to the buildings. The horror of war was driven home to me. I was terrified.

I was shaking badly when we entered the Hotel Florida and went directly up the stairs to Hemingway's room. Bob steadied me, then knocked on the door.

'Hello, I'm Merriman,' Bob said as Hemingway, looking intense but friendly, opened the door.

'I know,' Hemingway said. Bob introduced me, and the writer greeted me warmly.

Then Hemingway and Bob fell into conversation about the war and the broadcast they planned. They were joined by John Dos Passos, Josephine Herbst, and a scattering of American volunteers and correspondents who sipped Hemingway's scotch and compared notes and stories. I slipped into an old chair, still quite shaken by the action outside.

I studied Bob and Hemingway. They got along. Each talked for a moment, then listened to the other. How different they were, I thought, Bob at twenty-eight, Hemingway at least a good ten years older. Hemingway seemed complex. He was big and bluff and macho. He didn't appear to be a braggart but he got across the message, through an air of self-assurance, that he could handle what he took on.

Bob was taller than Hemingway by several inches. They looked at each other through the same kind of round glasses, Bob's frames of tortoise shell, Hemingway's of steel.

Hemingway was animated, gesturing as he asked questions, scratching his scalp through thick dark hair, perplexed, then scowling, then, something setting him off, laughing from deep down. He wore a sweater, buttoned high on his chest, and a dark tie, loosened at the neck.

Bob was clean shaven. Hemingway needed a shave. He didn't appear to be growing a beard, he just seemed to need a shave, the scrubble roughing his cheeks and chin. He looked like he had had a hard night. He had a knot on his forehead, probably suffered in some roustabout skirmish.

Hemingway sipped a scotch, as did Bob. Someone offered me a drink, and I thought I'd never been as happy in my life to get a drink of whiskey. Even in the relatively safe room I remained frightened. The sheer madness of the war would not leave my mind.

As Bob and Hemingway talked, the contrast between them struck me time and again. Bob was an intellectual, and he looked like one. Hemingway was an intellectual, but he looked more like an adventurer. Bob looked like an observer. Hemingway looked like a man of action.

I was fascinated by DOS Passes, whom I had always thought was a better writer than Hemingway. John DOS Passes was, without question, a seasoned writer of the prose of war. But as a man, he didn't impress me. I thought he was wishy-washy. I couldn't make out everything he was saying, but his message was clear - for whatever reasons, he
wanted out of there, out of Hemingway's room, out of bomb-shaken Madrid.

I was scared too, with good reason. But somehow DOS Passes acted more than scared. I guessed it was his uncertainty, his facial expressions, his general attitude that this was a lost cause, given the superior strength of the Franco forces. DOS Passes criticized the Spanish Republic, for which Americans were fighting and dying.

Hemingway, on the other hand, let you know by his presence and through his writing exactly where he stood. Hemingway had told the world of the murder in Madrid, including the murder of children by fascist bombing. He had told about 'the noises kids make when they are hit. There is a sort of foretaste of that when the child sees the planes coming and yells "Aviacion!" Then, too, some kids are very quiet when they are hit - until you move them.'

 

        Jarama

        The next important fighting for Merriman was the Jarama valley. Located at the south-east of Madrid it overseas the road joining Madrid with Valencia , the only exit of the Republic to the sea. Franco attacked to take the bridges and cross the Jarama river when Merriman and his troops arrived in the haste to fill in the gaps on the hills around. It was the first wild battle for the Brigades  and some 20% of the Anglo-American fighters were lost as the francist guns were shelling heavily those hills. Despite the losses Merriman’s Brigade will hold until reinforcements arrived from Madrid but Robert receives a serious wound on the shoulder. The next francist attack took places in the north, north-east area of Madrid at Guadalajara but there were mainly the Italian and German Brigade members that won an impressive victory against Mussolini’s troops that dared their first large scale attack with fully motorized divisions.  Nevertheless , while Madrid was still standing , it never stopped been encircled and the government decided to lance a counter attack to produce a gap on the south-west where there was a link between the francist troops of the south and the north at Belchite .  

        This is Hemingway’s report on this battle :

       “They have fought with the first Spanish troops of the new Government army, captured the strongly fortified heights and town of Quinco in a brilliantly conceived and executed attack, and have taken part with three Spanish brigades in the final storming of Belchite, about twenty miles southeast of Saragossa, after it had been surrounded by Spanish troops. After the taking of Quinco they had marched twenty miles across country to Belchite. They had lain in the woods outside the town and had worked their way forward with the Indian fighting tactics that are still the most life-saving that any infantry can know. Covered by a heavy and accurate artillery barrage, they stormed the entry to the town. Then for three days they fought from house to house, from room to room, breaking walls with pickaxes, bombing their way forward as they exchanged shots with the retreating Insurgents from street corners, windows, roof tops and holes in the walls. Finally they made a juncture with Spanish troops advancing from the other side and surrounded the Belchite cathedral, where 400 men of the town garrison still held out. These men fought desperately, bravely, and an Insurgent officer worked a machine gun from the tower until a shell crumpled the masonry spire upon him and his gun. They fought all around the square, keeping up a covering fire with automatic rifles, and made a final rush on the tower. Then, after some fighting of the sort you never know whether to classify as hysterical or the ultimate in bravery, the garrison surrendered”

        In this battle Merriman is wounded six times by hand grenade splinters but keeps on stubbornly to take the fortified cathedral of the town. He lost 23 killed and 60 wounded out of his 500 but he managed to get his objective. The entire assault however soon arrived to a stalemate. Despite the initial surprise and an advance of about 25 kilometers inside the francist lines, Franco gathered all his troops around and hit the flanks of the spearhead. A deciding factor was the Italian and German air force that attacked with the latest fighter types in huge numbers that broke all support lines of the Republicans. The new famous Messerschmit Bf109 fighters made their debut at Belchite; a total of some 250 planes of Franco (that is German and Italian machines mostly manned by German and Italian professional army pilots)  took part against some 100 planes of the republican side. The blow received in the air was crucial for the government. Unable to get new planes from Russia and while all cries for help from the ‘Big-Democracies’ were in vain , after Belchite, the air was left  permanently to Franco. At this point it was understood that  a new type of warfare was emerging and the winner could only be the one with the best aviation. In that sense Belchite became a kind of El Alamein for the Republicans. The losses of the two American battalions forced them to merge in one single brigade , named the 'Abraham Lincoln Brigade' or the '15th International Brigade' and Robert Merriman was appointed in command with the official rank of the Captain of the Republic - acting as Colonel

 

        Teruel

skinny, myopic boys from the city streets

marched off alongside the workers to face

the Messerschmitts and the Panzers

 

        When the Communists took over the Spanish government soon after Belchite it was considered that a new impressive offensive had to take place and establish the faith of the combatants to the new regime in Madrid. At the same time , however , large political cleansing took place and many anti-Stalinist republican fighters were either executed or imprisoned as part of a worldwide Stalinist cleansing of the Trotskystes. The spirits of the combatants were at an ever low due to this civil war within the revolution while the soviet generals that took over the republican headquarters had difficulty in persuading people at the front that they were working for the good of the nation.

        The plan was an attack on the east to secure the way to Barcelona , the only way to reach the frontier with an other country on land, France. At this moment , in 1938 , it was more obvious that Hitler’s appetite for more was endless and that his activity in Spain was just a taste of what could happen with the silent ‘Big-Democracies’ later. France in particular recognized this threat as it was gradually encircled from its north, east and now from the south by pro-nazi forces. Even more , Mussolini had occupied the Balearic Islands and formed an important aero-naval base to cut-off the sea corridor that joined France with its colonies in N. Africa : a wise move for somebody who considered the Mediterranean as his own sea. As a consequence France allowed secretly arms already bought by the Spanish government , until then confiscated in French harbors , to join Spain via Catalonia , whose capital Barcelona , was a definite opponent to Franco, a man who resisted fiercely any kind of autonomy of any part of Spain.

 

Hemingway was present at the Teruel battle. In the picture above he is trying to use a gun at the front. 

This exceptional American writer puts in his books people he has seen and has lived with. From this aspect , his work extends beyond the romance and penetrates into the atmosphere of the historical events

        The city of Teruel , the southern gate to Catalonia was chosen as the target .The fact was however that at the same time Franco was receiving huge support in arms and ammunition while the German and Italian commanders in Spain demanded from their leaders the best of everything. Both Hitler and Mussolini realized the importance of a show of strength in Spain as a means to blackmail the rest of Europe to succumb to their diplomatic demands. This has allowed the survival of Franco too; Mussolini and Hitler were furious against a general who could not win the final battle under extremely favorable circumstances  and had forced them to continually feeding him with more and more arms and men. It was von Ripentrop’s dilemma that Franco had either to be abandoned for ever or he should be strengthened to the maximum to save Hitler’s prestige : he eventually had to choose the second. At the same time Mussolini that had collected a number of failures in Spain was hoping for the time he will stand next to Franco on the balcony of victory so that he could take the glory on his own account. Additionally Stalin seemed to change the point of gravity of his diplomacy. He had considered an alliance with Hitler and the Spanish affair became a burden to him both militarily and diplomatically. The government in Spain did not know that the complex intrigues and economic interests in Europe had actually approved its extinction to avoid further complexities with Hitler. It was a very bitter moment for Europe but the pro-communist  government in Madrid hoped to make a breakthrough in the francist lines and buy time.

        At the end Teruel was another Belchite: an initial success that ended up in a stalemate. The arms and ammunition that came from France were almost obsolete bought through many racketeer intermediaries from smaller countries and second class material. The weapons quality had reached such an extreme that the republicans actually fought to stay alive at their positions rather  than attack. The German panzers were fully committed to Teruel giving a first taste of the future tank battles while the ever present fascist aviation was obliterating any movement of the enemy. Merriman and his brigade were there too to meet again death and extinction within the rubbles of the city. The losses for the republicans reached almost a 30% of the first line combatants and the faith to the future became grim. Franco was then able to advance and eventually cut-off Madrid from Catalonia, threatening immediately Barcelona itself.

        

 

    Ebro and Death - The Epitaph and the Glory  

What I have done fighting in Spain

is the best thing a man could ever do in his life

 

written on the tombstone of the

French fighter of the Int. Brigades

Paul Richard  

        The retreat from Teruel and Belchite was horrendous. Deprived from all their heavy arms and under constant pressure the Republicans were pushed towards Barcelona and Catalunia in heavy fire. The attack was leading towards the natural boundary between Aragon and Catalunia , the Ebro river. The last stronghold of the Brigades before the main passage to Ebro was the town of Gandesa, 20 Km west of the river.   The orders to retreat were coming one after the other. Merriman and his men tried to hide within some low vineyards unable to hold and defend the hills while bombed ceaselessly the Italian air force. In an attempt to reorganize his men Bob had to sneak out of his cover and this is where he received a fatal hit.   The details of his death were not known until 60 years later by a Spaniard named Villard who participated in the battle, presently aged 80; he said : 

‘ It was April the 2nd in 1938  , 10:00 when Merriman and lieutenant Edgar James Cody, both Americans, fell depressed. According to their story, the night of the 1st of April the 700 men that formed the Lincoln battalion were forced to begin the retreat from Gandesa .Merriman was to the front of the battalion when he saw officers from other units retreating and abandoning their combatants. However , he preferred to stay with the men of the Lincoln Battalion and die with them if necessary, and this is regrettably what happened. The enemy troops were holding the inferior part of a hillside of vineyards where we took refuge under the constant shots of the machine guns. Then I saw them falling. I called Merriman and Cody, I screamed , but they didn't answer. Their bodies were motionless next to the furrows of the vineyards, few meters from me’   

In 1986 Lerude Warren of the University of Nevada helped by the memories of Marion Merriman wrote a book (American Commander in Spain: Robert Hale Merriman and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade ), a tribute to this gallant intellectual fighter that honored his country , despite the forced oblivion put on him as been criticized by FBI , he and almost any other American that fought  in the Lincoln Brigade , as an ‘early-antifascist’. Yet, thanks to Hemingway’s film, Robert Merriman went to immortality as he was the one to inspire the hero in this book, and later that of the film : For Whom The Bell Tolls

Gary Cooper's figure with dense hair and blue penetrating eyes was no comparison to Merriman's bold head and myopic glasses. Yet , the role is properly incarnated by G. Cooper , the one of a person (Robert Jordan, in the film) serving his own cause that he has to die for.

Wounded and unable to move Robert Jordan decides to defend until death the bridge that brings in the fascist troops. This is the last scene of the movie "From Whom The Bell Tools", inspired from the fight over Jarama and the final sacrifice at Ebro of Robert Merriman himself

The title of the film derives from and old poem :any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS. It tolls for thee  This words reflect the personal responsibility on the conscience of every one for the deaths of the innocent during the war 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  

 

Return to the Home Page