INTERVIEWS with two Scotsmen have revealed the sense of injustice that fuelled their decision to volunteer to fight for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War.

The talks with John Dunlop, from Glasgow, and George Drever, from Leith, are being heard in public for the first time as part of a University of Edinburgh exhibition marking 100 years since the Spanish – now Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American – studies course was introduced there.

The two former students were recorded in the mid-1980s, more than 45 years after the civil war ended. Striking images of the pair, taken by photographer Sean Hudson and on loan from National Galleries of Scotland, accompany the interviews.

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Dunlop tells of how he was a young chartered accountancy student in Glasgow and, with a recent interest in politics, had decided to join the Communist Party.

He said: “Reading The Daily Worker and reading the other press of the day, I was very well aware of what was happening in Spain.

“It seemed to me that in Spain, great injustice was being perpetrated on the people of Spain by the organisations that had revolted against the legal government of the day.

“I was also disgusted [by] the fact the other democratic governments in Europe were not doing anything at all to help the legal government in Spain against an attack which obviously was being supported by both the fascist government of Italy and the Nazi government in Germany.

“I felt very strongly that if they were allowed to continue their attack on the people of Spain that it wouldn’t be so very long before the rest of Europe were going to be engulfed in a war. The war would be definitely provoked and commenced by the German and Italian governments, as indeed it proved to be the case.”

The National: Spanish Civil War volunteer, John DunlopSpanish Civil War volunteer, John Dunlop

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Drever describes walking through the north-western city of Valladolid as one of a six-man team carrying a casualty to hospital: “It was a very strange experience walking through lighted streets, people living a normal life, to the hospital ... When we got to the hospital … the girls were nuns, the nurses. They put him in the bed.

“And some of the Spaniards of course said … ‘You’re an extranjero, [foreigner] si?’ And I remember the nuns saying, ‘pobre chico.’ Poor boy.”

Treasures from the university archives are also featured in the exhibition, including Galician pipes and a rare pastel and watercolour by Pablo Picasso – Going to the Fair – painted when he was 19 and the artist’s only work on paper held in Scottish public collections.

Co-curator, Dr Fiona J Mackintosh, said: “As well as celebrating our centenary, we wanted to explore Scotland’s connections with the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking worlds.”