||The focus of this thesis is on the role of the Dutch national identity in the perceptions and experiences of a wide array of Dutch Spainfighters, who volunteered to fight on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. It aims to understand how the volunteers dealt with the potential for clashes between the imagined communities of the Dutch nation-state and the border transcending, transnational appeal of their left-wing ideology. This thesis demonstrates that they felt loyalty both to the transnational community of left-wing and communist sympathizers, and the national Dutch community. It argues that the motivation of the Spainfighters is closely linked to their national identity, which they tried to construct in symbiosis with their transnational thoughts via the message of anti-fascism. As such, the thesis adds to the understanding of the phenomenon of foreign fighters.
Next to the conscious building of national identity, national sentiments and practical culture played a considerable role in the daily reality of the Spainfighters, which is especially relevant if the rather mythical image of the International Brigades as a classic example of a transnational army is taken into account. As the case of the Dutch Spainfighters illustrates, the International Brigades provided space and even recognition for national identity as an organizing entity and as such functioned more as an ideologically motivated international army. For this reason, this thesis suggests that the fundaments of the supposedly transnational movement of support to the Spanish Republic may partly be built on national tensions and the resulting compromises. While studying transnational movements in the twentieth century, it therefore may be worth the effort to analyze the role of national identity, of national political culture.