The following is a translation of the handout at the Maurin Sanatorium where Orwell was hospitalised during the Spanish Civil War, which David Harding (one of 13, in footsteps of ErIc Blair,to Spain in May 2013) has obtained translation.



Numerous towers scattered through the lower slopes of Valvidrera.  Shady pine groves, pure air, blue sky.  On the horizon, the Mediterranean.  A red flag flutters majestically in the west wind blowing over the surrounding walls of a lofty chalet.  White letters, a hammer and a sickle, SANATORIO MAURIN P.O.U.M.

Caption: One of the convalescents’ dining rooms

Maybe it is not a dream?  Where are the liveried servants and the Parisian titles such as “Villa Mimi”, etc?

The Revolution!  The dreams of the “Pariahs”, of the “disinherited”, of the “uneducated” come true.  Instead of the Iujuria caves, there are “Sanatoria”, instead of furtive prostitution, there are “Rest Homes”.  This is the work of the “pariahs”, of the “disinherited” of the “uneducated”.

Mossy arbours and arches, sandy paths, a wide flight of steps that leads to the “hall”.  Silent witnesses to the “flirting” found in operettas, of mercantilism disguised as “eternal love”.

The setting sun shines in through the high windows of the “hall” as if saying goodbye to the convalescents resting on the sofas.  Nurses dressed in white cross the wide spacious sitting room.  On the left, the main dining room with the tables covered with striped cloths.  At the far end stands a grand piano, silent and severe.

We spoke to comrade Giménez, director of health.

He accompanies us through all the departments of the sanatorium, with a sincere, laconic air of a fighting man.

Caption: A room

We visit the second floor dormitories: room A, B and C, etc.  In each room there are white beds, bedside tables, clean bedspreads…

Empty beds and occupied beds. Pale faces, smiling faces, somewhat pampered.

Comrade Yañez, Sanatorium administrator and party political delegate, joins the company, smiling.

We go up to the third floor, passing the dumb waiter capable of carrying the seriously injured in comfort.

Once again, white beds with their bedside tables and their snowy bedspreads.

On this floor, nearly all the beds are empty, silently waiting their turn to be of use to the revolution.  If only they weren’t necessary!

On the roof terrace, pure air may be breathed, carrying the fragrance of the neighbouring pine groves.  In the distance, to the south, lies the rigid silhouette of Montjuic, weakly lit up by the dying rays of a sun that masks it.

The west wind softly caresses our faces. Below, the red flag flutters triumphantly. Mechanically, we read the white letters for the second time, as simple as they are expressive. “SANATORIO MAURIN P.O.U.M.”

The peacefulness of the evening invites conversation.  We talk, leaning on the balustrade.

Comrade Giménez explains to us in restful tones the main points of the in-house rules of the sanatorium.  The Board of Management, made up of the political delegate, Health Council and Patients’ Council; the duties and rights of the hospitalised comrades, etc.

Caption: General view of pavilion I

What interests us most are the Patients’ Committees: a new, essentiality democratic mechanism introduced into proletarian organisations.  The patients have a right of control. The political progress of the sanatorium – contributing new initiatives and guidelines, calmly complaining in order to remedy deficiencies.  A fairly important point we find to be missing, that would complement the work of the revolution carried out inside the sanatorium, is “self-criticism”.

On the ground floor, we visit the garage, the technical staff dining room, and finally, the central laboratory.

At the microscope, we find comrade Sabater, director of the chemical laboratory, a pharmacist.

The most modern, special, apparatus, bottles, buckets, all for the use of those who fell defending the great Revolution we are pursuing, and which will serve as a guide for the proletariat worldwide…

Comrade Sabater speaks to us frankly about his enthusiasm for truly formidable projects, which we will doubtless carry out with all the fervour and energy peculiar to the working class, the class that will steer the destiny of future humanity.

Pavilion number 2 at the Sanatorio Maurín, which has not yet been opened, promises further success for the Sanatorium’s organisers.  A large, imposing X-ray machine, and once again the white beds with their bedside tables, and their snowy bedspreads.

The first stars shine in the dark blue of the sky.  The roar of the car stirs the dark shrubs along the road.

The iron gate opens and the car leaves, following a tight curve.  We lift the handle, and through the windows look towards red flag flapping languidly over the surrounding wall.  We make out the white letters lost against the background because of the darkness.

Along the road we can still make out the white lettering on the red flag “SANATORIO MAURIN, P.O.U.M” as the car, skilfully driven, moves onward … onwards…

Poster:   Help Red Aid – P.O.U.M.


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