Sunday, August 10, 2008

Egan Schmit, A.K.A. Michael Svarg

My search in Google did not turn out any results for those names, so I thought it should have an entry in the Internet. Perhaps in some specialized pages about the Spanish Civil War, the International Brigades and the battle of the Ebro river, in 1938 he may be remembered, I do not know.

However, last weekend I went on a trekking hike through the Pàndols mountains in the province of Tarragona, Spain. The purpose was to visit the remains of the monument the members of the International Brigades built in 1938, right in the middle of the battle, to honour their fallen comrades.

I had been there before. In 2000 I participated in an expedition to restore the long lost, or at least forgotten, monument. A reference can be found in

That web page will send you to the beginning of the story of the rehabilitation of the monument, although some cyber-tracks are lost in the ether and no longer available.

The walk is a steep path set across the C-34 road, from Bennisanet to Gandesa, right over the K-8 milestone. You may leave your car in the abandoned track of the old road, on right side, cross the road and star climbing. A few meters into the bush there is a circular metal sign announcing the monument that says “BBII-XV”. This past spring there have been quite a lot of rain and the thorns and brambles are overgrown, almost completely hiding the path. Some 35 minutes of climbing takes you to the top on the ravine. On the right side and over a stone margin, facing east, you find the monument.

The situation is 41º 02’ 08” North and 0º 28’ 52” East. The coordinates are 288.490 y 4545.927, although it may be some little error in those figures.

The modest monument is set on concrete, shaped like a zigurat of three tiers with the names of their fallen comrades chiseled. There you shall see names like Maurice J. Millar (Inglaterra), James Codi (Can-nada),José Salvador, Dave Doran (USA), Vicente Pelaez (Murcia) Louis Clive (Inglaterra), Joe Bianca (USA), Francisco Fernández (Granada), Niké Makela (Canada), Harry Swidorski (Canada), and other more dificult to read.

On one side lays a large engraved stone, actually also set on concrete, that reads: Egan Schmit (Michael Svarg)- LATVIA, Caido el 19-8-1038 Ofensiva Ebro. The slab was broken in pieces and was restored back in 2000, cemented in one piece.

Seventy years have gone by and I cannot say who and what Egan Schmit was. Just another European antifascist who came all the way from the Baltic, to die amongst thousands of others fighting in the Pàndols mountains some hot summer day.

Long life Egan Schmit!. ¡Viva la república!

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