The Meites sisters and the Spanish Civil War: women's support for Republican Spain from within and without

Raanan Rein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Haya and Rurh Meites left Jewish Palestine in order to help Republican Spain in its struggle against the nationalist rebellion headed by General Francisco Franco and assisted by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Their life trajectories illustrate international women’s participation in the Spanish fratricide and its limits. According to different estimates, around 700 women volunteered in Spain during the Civil War. They constituted a tiny fraction of the 35,000 or more international volunteers who flocked to Spain to support the Republican forces. Not a few of the women who wanted to enlist were rejected for their presumed inability to contribute to the anti-Fascist struggle. Whereas men could be drafted to the Brigades without any previous military experience, many of the women of the Brigades had been trained nurses and doctors, and their professional skills served to justify their enlistment. While the historiography of the International Brigades is remarkably rich, the history of women volunteers has not been sufficiently researched. Even less scholarly attention has been paid to the enlistment of Jewish women, despite their relative prominence. This article, with its focus on the lives of two women from Jewish Palestine, hopes to partially fill this lacuna.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-521
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023


  • International Brigades
  • Jewish Palestine
  • Jews
  • Palestine Communist Party
  • Spanish Civil War
  • women


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