Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Josep Almudéver Mateu, last fighter of the International Brigades, dies at 101

Josep Eduardo Almudéver Mateu, the last surviving member of the International Brigades who fought against the fascist Franco regime in Spain, died on Tuesday 26 May at the age of 101. 

Almudéver, who was born on 30 July 1919 in Marseille to Spanish parents, was 16 and living in the Valencian town of Alcàsser when Franco’s coup triggered the Spanish civil war.

In 1936, at the age of 17, he enlisted to join the fight in defense of the Republic. He participated in the Aragon front where he was wounded. He was sent home when his true age emerged. However, Almudéver didn't give up. He used his French nationality to join the International Brigades so he could carry on fighting.

When the brigades were disbanded in 1938 and many of their fighters sent home to the 80 countries from which they had come, Almudéver chose to return to Spain.

Following Franco’s victory in April 1939, he was imprisoned in the Albatera concentration camp alongside 17,000 Republican prisoners and condemned to death for the crime of “aid to the rebellion.” During his stay in Albatera camp he and others were forced to watch their comrades being executed. 

He was released on grounds of good conduct in November 1942 and joined a clandestine guerilla group against Franco's dictatorship. Consequently, he fled into exile in France in 1947 and did not return to Spain until 1965.

"Josep Almudéver Mateu, the last survivor of the International Brigades, one of the most important historical examples of proletarian internationalism, has died. Honor and glory", the Communist Party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE) commented in a message posted in social media.