Meaningless slogans

This fragment from Pío Baroja’s memoir, Desde la última vuelta del camino, reminded me of much contemporary Barcelona graffiti:

As we approach Reinosa the fog begins to clear and we see the lights of the village shining.

I awake in the morning and lean over the hotel balcony. A gray day; foggy and cold, in the mountain tops! at the end of June! On the façade of a house opposite, perhaps in order to endow the atmosphere with a little warmth, can be read:

“Comrades! Let us honour Matteoti by finishing off fascism! Let us struggle for freedom for Thaelmann! Let us demand Thaelmann’s freedom. We want communism. Long live the social revolution!”

It is strange; I have already forgotten who Thaelmann and Matteoti were. I suppose that Thaelmann was German and Matteoti Italian, but I can’t remember who they were or what happened to them.

Reinosa is an old village, with houses with coats of arms, and the River Ebro is like a small child here. More revolutionary inscriptions can be seen in the streets.

I would consider it to be in bad taste were you to google either name.

Here’s the original:

Al acercarnos a Reinosa la niebla se va desvaneciendo y se ven brillar las luces del pueblo. Entramos en la fonda y vamos al comedor y cenamos.

Me despierto por la mañana y me asomo al balcón del hotel. Día gris; ¡frío y niebla, en la cima de los montes! ¡Al final de junio! Enfrente, quizá por dar un poco de calor a la atmósfera, se lee en la fachada de una casa:

“¡Camaradas! ¡Honremos a Matteoti acabando con el fascismo! Luchemos por la libertad de Thaelmann. Exijamos la libertad de Thaelmann. Queremos el comunismo. ¡Viva la revolución social!”

Es cosa rara; yo no me acuerdo ya ni quién era Thaelmann ni Matteoti. Supongo que Thaelmann era alemán y Matteoti italiano; pero no recuerdo qué eran ni qué les pasó.

Reinosa es pueblo antiguo, con casas con escudos, y el Ebro es aquí como un niño pequeño. Se ven más letreros revolucionarios en las calles.


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Last updated 07/07/2006

This post pre-dates my organ-grinding days, and may be imported from elsewhere.

Barcelona (1399):

Catalonia (1155):

Generation of '98 (23): The Generation of '98 Generación del 98 or Generación de 1898) was a group of novelists, poets, essayists, and philosophers active in Spain at the time of the Spanish–American War. The name Generación del 98 was coined by José Martínez Ruiz, commonly known as Azorín, in his 1913 essays titled "La generación de 1898", alluding to the moral, political and social crisis in Spain produced by the loss of the colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam after defeat in the Spanish–American War that same year.

Kaleboel (4307):

Natural history (512): Natural history is the research and study of organisms including animals, fungi and plants in their environment, leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study.

Pío Baroja (21): Pío Baroja y Nessi was a Spanish writer, one of the key novelists of the Generation of '98.

Spain (1881):

Spanish literature (171):

Tree (284):


  1. While I accept “Thaelmann” for “Thälmann”, it’s “Matteotti”, not “Matteoti”.

    The usual stuff here.

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