Dec 142013
 

Los Manoscover2LOS MAÑOS: ANATOMY OF AN ACTION GROUP by Freddy Gómez with Mariano Aguayo Morán — interviewed in September 1976 and translated by Paul Sharkey. Appendix: Mariano Aguayo Morán — interviewed on 18 February 1992 by Antonio Téllez about the formation of the Los Maños group; also translated by Paul Sharkey. ISBN 978-1-873976-67-8. Published in 2013 by ChristieBooks —  Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles  NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £1.88/€2.26/$3.00  READ INSIDE!  ¡LEER EL INTERIOR!

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In 1945 Mariano Aguayo Morán (1922 -1994) who had been active in a small group of anarchists and socialists, took up the armed struggle against Franco. Imprisoned for a few months in 1948, he moved to Barcelona in February 1949 and joined the Los Maños anarchist action group (maño being a slang term for natives of Aragon) led by Wenceslao Giménez Orive “Wences” and “Jimeno”, Simón Gracia Fleringan, Plácido Ortiz, Salgado, D. G. M., “Rodolfo”, César Saborit Carrelero and the traitor Aniceto Pardillo Manzanero. On March 2 1949, in Barcelona, Wences, José López Penedo, Carlos Vidal Pasanau together with Francisco and José Sabaté Llopart, ambushed what they believed to be the car of Eduardo Quintela, head of the Francoist secret police (Brigada Politico Social – BPS) in Catalonia; they killed, instead, the secretary of the Falangist Youth Front, Manuel Piñol and his driver. Subsequently the group carried out a string of armed robberies in Madrid, Malaga, Seville and in France in order to fund an attempt on the life of Franco as he drove to his residence at the royal palace on Mount Pardo. A few months later they made a second, equally unsuccessful, attempt to blow up Franco’s convoy as it made its way up the steep winding road at La Cuesta de la Muela between Zaragoza and Madrid. Following their return to Barcelona on 2 January 1950 the group was betrayed by a disaffected member, Aniceto Pardillo Manzanero (The Kid), and most were arrested on 9 January, shortly after Wences took poison and killed himself when he was shot and wounded in a police trap. Simón Gracia Fleringan was executed in Barcelona by firing squad on December 24 1950 together with  Victoriano Muñoz Tresserras and Plácido Ortiz Gratal. Their bodies were thrown into a common, unmarked, grave. Mariano Aguayo was fortunate to have been in Paris when the group was betrayed in Barcelona.

Mariano Aguayo 1

Mariano Aguayo Morán

This interview with Mariano Aguayo Morán, in September 1976, provided an opportunity to get to grips with the history of the libertarian anti-Franco resistance in the crucial years after the war (1946-1950), the Second World War having inspired high but ultimately disappointed hopes at a time when, after the Nazi and Italian fascist regimes had been defeated, the Franco regime looked likely to be next in line to fall. The ‘Los Maños’ group, which grew out of the close friendship between two young men from the working class El Arrabal district of Zaragoza, was soon wedded to the cause of anarchist activism and drawn into the nebulous libertarian resistance of which Quico Sabaté (1915-1960) and José Luis Facerias (1920-1957) were then the two emblematic representatives.

The main purpose behind this interview is not to extoll the praises of the shadow warriors from those times, but to learn from the story of the ‘Los Maños’ group, as told by one of its protagonists, of the difficult circumstances in which such resistance occurred, and understand the problems with which it had to grapple. There, to our way of thinking, is where its morsel of human truth resides.

Freddy Gómez

Aug 112013
 

KelseyCovercolour1Civil War and Civil Peace. Libertarian Aragon 1936-’37, Graham Kelsey. ISBN 978-1-873976-06-7. First published Cambridge 1985 by The Anarchist Encyclopaedia (an imprint of Cienfuegos Press/Refract Publications) This, second (revised and corrected) edition, published in 2013 by ChristieBooks, Hastings, East Sussex UK (includes an appendix by anarchist historian Eduardo Pons Prades on the failure to take Zaragoza — translated by Paul Sharkey) Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles  NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £2.02/€2,33/$3.07 READ INSIDE!  ¡LEER EL INTERIOR!

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Civil War and Civil Peace. Libertarian Aragon 1936-’37  provides an overall vision of the situation created in the Spanish north-eastern region of Aragon subsequent to the military uprising of July 1936 against the legally constituted republican government of the Second Republic.   Supported by the majority of the paramilitary forces in the region, Civil Guards and Assault Guards, and joined by various hundreds of local right-wing thugs, the uprising led immediately to the collapse of established government, swept away in an orgy of detentions and summary executions in that part controlled by the fascist rebels.   However, in that part which was liberated by militias, organised in nearby Cataluña but joined by thousands of local Aragonese people, the rapid creation of village collectives, agricultural but often involving the complete panorama of village activities, led to the establishment of a genuinely libertarian regime inspired by the village militants of the anarchosyndicalist CNT trade union movement, the dominant socio-political force in the region prior to the uprising.   It would take another military ‘uprising’, this time led by forces of the Stalinist party (PCE), an uprising within the civil war, to eliminate the collectivist experiment put into place by village militants in Aragon.    This work was written nearly thirty years ago but, despite the enormous development of historical research, in particular since the start of the new millennium, by a new generation of students, it continues to provide a clear vision of the situation created by the uprising of fascist military officers in July 1936.

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May 102013
 

DurrutiFrontThe Death of Durruti by Joan Llarch (translated by Raymond Batkin); 174pp, 230mm x 152mm, photos/illustrations, bibliography and index, £9.95 (p+p UK £1.80; Europe £4.50; US/Canada £7.00). ISBN 978-1-873976-61-6, ChristieBooks, PO Box 35, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 1ZS (Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles) NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £2.65  READ INSIDE!

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Buenaventura Durruti was the most outstanding figure in Spanish anarchist history. Born in León on 14 July 1896, of Basque and Catalan parents,  he dedicated his life from the age of 16 until his untimely death at 40 to the struggle for justice, social revolution and the anarchist idea. It was his commitment to the ‘idea’ that led Durruti to spend the rest of his life in clandestinity, jail, exile and — ultimately — as the inspirational figurehead of the social revolution that confronted the clerical-fascist-military uprising of July 1936. Shortly after mid-day on 19 November 1936, at the height of the Francoist assault on Madrid, Durruti, accompanied by his driver and military advisers, was mortally wounded in mysterious circumstances and died in the early hours of 20 November. The circumstances surrounding his death have never been satisfactorily explained. La Muerte de Durruti (The Death of Durruti), first published in 1973,  remains, forty years on, the only book devoted, exclusively, to the events leading up to —  and after — the anarchist’s  death, some four months after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Written in the style of investigative journalism, the author sets out the many conflicting theories circulating at the time, and which have remained the subject of debate up to the present day. In addition he has interviewed those who either knew Durruti or had served in the Durruti column up to the time of his death

See also The Man Who Killed Durruti by Pedro de Paz (also available on Kindle)

Jan 082013
 

SouchyCover001WITH THE PEASANTS OF ARAGÓN. LIBERTARIAN COMMUNISM IN THE LIBERATED AREAS  by Augustin Souchy Bauer. ISBN 978-0-904564-21-1

 ‘Entre los Campesinos de Aragón: el Comunismo Libertario en las Comarcas Liberadas’. First published 1937, Barcelona, by Tierra y Libertad. Translated by Abe Bluestein.

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souchy1

Augustin Souchy Bauer (1892-1984)

In 1936-37 Augustin Souchy Bauer visited towns and villages in Aragón that, soon after July 19, 1936, began to live a lifestyle without precedent in all history. One after the other they collectivised the land and established libertarian communism, spontaneously — but with all due deliberation. The story of this trip that Souchy made together with Emma Goldman part of the way is a document of extraordinary importance not only for the facts presented but because it informs the reader of today how and in what circumstances an idea regarded as purely utopian until then became a reality .  .  . The reader will learn how an economic and social system developed that was truly communal and anti-authoritarian. Anarchists of the National Confederation of Labour and the Iberian Federation of Anarchists (CNT-FAI), socialists of the General Union of Workers (UGT) and individualists lived together in the same community in a way of life not even imagined until then.

May 312012
 

Building Utopia — The Spanish Revolution 1936-1937, Stuart Christie, ChristieBooks (Kindle Edition), ISBN 978-1-873976-18-0  Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles

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Within the Spanish anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movements there were three distinct points of view on the question of war and revolution. The first, probably the majority view, was that the war would be over in a matter of weeks, after all, a few days had been enough to rout the army in Barcelona and other industrial centres, and that the social revolution and Libertarian Communism as debated and adopted by the CNT’s national congress at Zaragoza in February, five months previously, was an inseparable aspect of the struggle against economic and social oppression. Thus, the movement should proceed immediately to socialise the factories, the land and their communities. READ INSIDE

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Apr 092012
 

Click to view illustrations

The Anarchist Pimpernel. Francisco Ponzán Vidal (1936 1944). The anarchists in the Spanish Civil War and the Allied Escape Networks of WWII  by Antonio Téllez Solá (With the collaboration of Pilar Ponzán Vidal). Translated by Paul Sharkey. (Also available here from Amazon.com in the USA)

(Originally published in Spanish in 1996 as: ‘La Red de Evasion del Grupo Ponzán. Anarquistas en la guerra secreta contra el franquismo y el nazismo (1936-1944)’. This e-edition has been translated by Paul Sharkey from Tellez’s subsequently re-written and updated (1997) typescript, which incorporates the memoirs of Pilar Ponzán Vidal (Francisco’s sister) and Tellez’s hitherto unpublished work on Agustín Remiro ‘El Guerrillero Anarquista Agustín Remiro y el Batallón de Ametralladoras “C” (Batallón Remiro)’.

Founder and organiser of the escape and evasion lines used by the ‘Pat O’Leary’ and ‘Sabot’ networks, the French security services (Travaux Ruraux), and local French Resistance organisations, from 1940 to 1943, Francisco Ponzán Vidal’s group, consisting mainly of Spanish anarchist exiles, saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of resistance fighters, evadees and escaped prisoners of war. Between January 1942 and April 1943 (when he was arrested by the Vichy milice), Ponzán’s records, consisting of two notebooks, list the names, dates and some photographs of 311 Allied evaders who successfully escaped to Spain and Gibraltar through his network. The names in the books include those of Lt. Airey Neave (the later MI9 officer and Thatcherite Tory MP), and RAF sergeant John Prendergast (later Sir John, colonial police chief — Kenya, Cyprus and Aden — and head of the Royal Hong Kong Police Special Branch). (Interestingly, one of those evaders who owed their life to anarchists was the ungrateful psycopath Harold ‘Tanky” Challenor, a Commando during the war, who later joined the Metropolitan Police (West End Central) and famously — and unsuccessfully— attempted to frame anarchist cartoonist Donald Rooum by claiming to have found a piece of brick — ‘an offensive weapon ‘ — in his pocket at a demonstration against the unpopular Greek king and queen during their visit to London in 1963).  Other successful — and appreciative — evaders Ponzán’s anarchist network helped to make it back to Britain included Bill Sparks (my wife’s cousin’s brother) and major ‘Blondie’ Hasler, the sole survivors of ‘Operation Frankton’, the ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ Royal Marine commando raid on German ships in Bordeaux harbour.

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Dec 152011
 

Francisco Ponzán Vidal, The Anarchist Pimpernel (b. Oviedo, 1911- d. Buzet sur Tarn, 17 August 1944)

Around 6:30 pm on 17 August 1944 a number of trucks carrying some 50 prisoners left Saint-Michel prison in Toulouse heading northwest along the Albi road. Half an hour or so later, people living on the outskirts of the village of Buzet-sur-Tarn (Haute Garonne) saw a caravan of German military vehicles with an accompanying Gestapo touring car turn off the road and drive up a track into a wood. Shortly afterwards they heard shouts and the sounds of automatic gunfire and rifle shots coming from the woods. The shooting continued for 45 minutes. Some time later the vehicles emerged and returned in the direction of Toulouse. Two days later, informed by local residents, the authorities from Buzet-sur-Tarn visited the woods where they discovered the site of a chilling massacre. Beneath a still smouldering funeral pyre — and the debris of two burned-out barns, of which only smoke-blackened side walls bearing the pockmarks of bullets remained standing — they found what the carbonized remains of the 50 prisoners, all members of the Resistance. Among the blackened corpses was that of Francisco Ponzán Vidal, a lifelong Spanish anarchist and CNT union militant, one of countless unsung heroes of the Spanish Civil War and the anti-Francoist and anti-Nazi/Vichy resistance.

Founder and organiser of the escape and evasion lines used by the ‘Pat O’Leary’ and ‘Sabot’ networks, the French security services (Travaux Ruraux), and local French Resistance organisations, from 1940 to 1943, Francisco Ponzán Vidal’s group, consisting mainly of Spanish anarchist exiles, saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of resistance fighters, evadees and escaped prisoners of war. Between January 1942 and April 1943 (when he was arrested by the Vichy milice), Ponzán’s records, consisting of two notebooks, list the names, dates and some photographs of 311 Allied evaders who successfully escaped to Spain and Gibraltar through his network. The names in the books include those of Lt. Airey Neave (the later MI9 officer and Thatcherite Tory MP), and RAF sergeant John Prendergast (later Sir John, colonial police chief — Kenya, Cyprus and Aden — and head of the Royal Hong Kong Police Special Branch). Among other successful evaders Ponzán’s anarchist network helped to make it back to Britain included Bill Sparks (my wife’s cousin’s brother) and major ‘Blondie’ Hasler, the sole survivors of ‘Operation Frankton’, the ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ Royal Marine commando raid on German ships in Bordeaux harbour.

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Sep 222011
 


The extraordinary story how, in January 1939, the CNT-FAI special services secured 22 boxes of the CNT’s archives just prior to the occupation of Barcelona by the fascist forces of General Franco, and transferred them across Europe to the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. The Catalan TV3 documentary (with English subtitles) weaves a thrilling visual tapestry of the CNT’s relations with the international anarchist movements of the day, including the Makhnovists in the Ukraine and the revolutionary movement in Patagonia. Interviewees and commentators include: Noam Chomsky, Michel Onfray, Christian Ferrer, Jordi Vidal and Octavio Alberola.

Cap de Documentals: Joan Salvat; Productora executiva: Muntsa Tarrés; Direcció i realització: Felip Solé; Producció: Lluís Mabilon Guió: Àngels Molina Locució: Joan Massotkleiner; Ajudant de realització: David Burillo; Documentació: Mercè Bofill; Investigació: Àngels Molina i Roger Caubet; Assessorament històric : Josep Maria Solé i Sabaté i Octavio Alberola; Operador de càmera: Joaquim Murga; Disseny gràfic: Xavi Comas; Tècnic de so: Toni Garcia; Muntatge musical: Adolfo Pérez

Jul 212011
 

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the international civil war in Spain (1936-1939), many of the essential aspects of the conflict are now clearly defined. Yet there is still a rather obscure period, essentially the time occupied by the initial phase of the war, between July and November 1936. It had two telling features: the republicans’ inability to capture even one of the three major cities of Aragón and the resounding failure of Franco’s push against Madrid. These setbacks were to have a substantial impact upon the prolonging of the war on Iberian soil. Today we shall try to unravel the reasons why Zaragoza was not captured either in August or in October 1936, when on both occasions the essential conditions for successful capture were in place. (PDFISSUU)
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