To Orwell Today,

Dear Mrs Jura:

First of all, congratulations for your interesting page about Orwell -- ORWELL'S HOMAGE TO CATALONIA.

I dare to send you some data about the places where Orwell fought the fascists during the Spanish Civil War (and where he was wounded in his throat).

As you know, Orwell arrived at Barcelona on 12.26.1936. Immediately, he joined the political party (anarchist) POUM.

The last days of January 37 he went to the Aragon war front (he fought in Alcubierre and Huesca, two places 30 km apart). He spent 115 days in the front of Aragon.

The Tourist Department of the region of Aragon has restored, historically, the old trenches where Orwell fought, and where he was wounded (May 37). So, you can visit the old trenches and see and feel the same landscape that Orwell and the other soldiers saw during the war.

The name of these touristic itineraries are Ruta Orwell Alcubierre y Ruta de las trincheras de Tierz

OrwellAlcubierrer OrwellTrenchesPics


As an attached file, I send you a little piece of historic research about the days passed in Huesca by Orwell, during the Civil War (it is written in Spanish): Vivencias Oscenses de Orwell Durante La Guerra Civil, by Carmen Nueno Carrera

-Julia Ara

Greetings Julia,

Thank you muchas gracias for the info about the tourist attraction in Aragon honouring Orwell's role in the Spanish Civil War where he fought in the trenches for four months and was shot through the neck by a sniper's bullet.

Recently I came across a BBC documentary on Orwell's life that has a 30-minute segment on his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

watch 2-Hour BBC Arena Documentary on George Orwell, 1903-1950, YouTube

It was produced in 1984 and includes interviews of people who knew Orwell there and has film footage of the mountains and trenches at Aragon. The Spanish segment starts at 59-minutes and finishes at 1-hour-23 minutes.

On a personal note, I hitchhiked from Germany (where I was working as an auslander arbeiter for the American Army in Europe) to Spain in the summer of 1973 and stayed in Barcelona for a couple days before travelling south to the seaside resort of Sitges. I stayed in Sitges for a couple of weeks and actually met my future husband there -- he was from England and travelling around Europe too.


Actually, I lost my passport while in Sitges (but later it was found and returned to me from Spain along with the money in the purse that I'd also lost) and got a new passport in Madrid at the Canadian embassy there.

Regrettably, at the time I was in Spain, I knew nothing about George Orwell otherwise I would have gone to the places in Barcelona that he describes in HOMAGE TO CATALONIA.

I'd love some day to visit Spain again and if I ever do for sure I'll travel to Aragon and take the Orwell Trenches Tour.

To enhance the historical experience, for future tourists, I've compiled an article explaining in detail Orwell's courageous role in the Spanish Civil War -- something most people probably aren't aware of -- Orwell himself having underplayed his bravery when writing HOMAGE TO CATALONIA. Also, I've added an essay containing the Spanish doctors' reports on Orwell's neck wound. See SOLDIER ORWELL AT SPANISH FRONT & ORWELL BULLET THRU NECK

All the best,
Jackie Jura

George Orwell's Barcelona, Telegraph, Apr 21, 2013
George Orwell? “Of course I’ve heard of him,” said Jose Luis Izuel, and reeled off the titles of some of Orwell’s early, lesser-known works: “Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Coming Up for Air, the one about Burma.” Izuel runs one of the bric-a-brac stalls that are set up every Thursday in front of La Seu cathedral in Barcelona. Among the old soda siphon bottles and shoe lasts I had just found copies of La Vanguardia newspaper from 1936 and 1937, full of smudgy photographs of bombings and trench warfare in the Spanish civil war. Orwell may well have seen the very same newspapers, as he was in Barcelona at this time, fighting on the Republican side in the war. “And Homage to Catalonia of course,” added Izuel, referring to Orwell’s account of that turbulent time and the part he played in it. Next Thursday, April 25, 2013 , marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Homage to Catalonia, which struck me as an excuse not just to reread it but to visit the city that comes alive in its pages. It is lauded as one of the great books on the reality of warfare, and the particular awfulness of fellow countrymen killing each other. It is also a remarkable portrait of Barcelona at a crucial moment in its history. Yet this topographical aspect has been neglected. Few visitors view Barcelona through Orwell’s pages, despite his having made it easy for us, and the modern tourist city largely ignores the terrible and momentous things that happened here less than a lifetime ago....

OrwellPlazaBarcelona As for Orwell, the only reference is a small square named after him, which in any case is known locally by another name, “Plaça del Tripi”, or “Acid Square”: the Plaça de George Orwell, complete with Big Brother-ish surveillance cameras, is where Barcelona’s youth kick back on illicit substances.

Pau Rubio and I met in Café Zurich in Plaça Catalunya, brought together by an English teacher and historian, Alan Warren, who lives in the city. Warren offers guided tours of revolutionary Barcelona, as seen through Homage to Catalonia. “It’s all here but nobody knows about it,” he said. “It’s a bit of Barcelona people don’t usually come by.” So precise and limpid is Orwell’s prose that his descriptions of Barcelona read in part like stage directions: nearly all the places Orwell mentions still exist, and you can work out exactly what happened where and when. Most of the action takes place in and around the artery of Las Ramblas, covering an area scarcely bigger than a cricket pitch.

Orwell arrived in Barcelona in December 1936 to find a city in the grip of idealistic fervour, with red and black Anarchist flags fluttering everywhere and loudspeakers on Las Ramblas “bellowing revolutionary songs all day and far into the night”. He signed up with a militia of the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) and served on the Aragon front before returning to Barcelona on leave in late April 1937. “When he came back the revolution had fizzled out"... This experience of infighting and misinformation would later feed into some of his greatest works. “From it came Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm,” said Warren. “He had seminal experiences here"..... Alan Warren offers three- to four-hour tours of the Barcelona of Homage to Catalonia and revolutionary Spain: for €25 (£21.50) for the first person, and €15pp (£12.85) thereafter, up to a maximum of eight people. Email him at Porta de la Historia:

3.Surveillance (...Every citizen could be kept twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of the police and in the sound of official propaganda, with all other channels of communication closed.... Any sound, above the level of a whisper, would be picked up by the telescreen; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard....)

35.Big Brother's Brotherhood (...Members of the Brotherhood are prepared to: give one's life; commit murder; commit acts of sabotage; betray one's country to foreign powers; cheat, forge, and blackmail; corrupt the minds of children; distribute habit-forming drugs; encourage prostitution; disseminate venereal diseases; do anything which is likely to cause demoralization of society....)





Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~