Sep 022014
 

Edward Heath Made Me Angry: The Christie File: Part 3, 1967-1975. (The later memoirs of a West of Scotland ‘baby-boomer’) Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBook titles — £3.10  READ INSIDE!

UK : £3.10 ; USA : $5.00 ; Germany : €3.92; France :  €3.92 ; Spain:  €3.92 ; Italy :  €3.92 ; Japan : ¥ 520 ; Canada : CDN$ 5.44 ; Brazil : R$ 11.18 ; Mexico: $65.42 ; Australia : $4.29 ; India : R303

This third volume of Christie’s memoirs provides the historical and political context for the international anti-Franco resistance of the anarchist ‘First of May Group’, from 1967 to the dictator’s death in 1975. It is a first-hand account — by someone accused but acquitted — of the campaign of anti-state and anti-capitalist bombings by diverse groups of libertarian militants who came together as the ‘Angry Brigade’ to challenge the aggressively anti-working class policies of the Tory government of Edward Heath.

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Apr 152014
 

militia

MercenaryUntil the end of the eighteenth century one of the most important developments in warfare, apart from the invention of gunpowder and the adoption of firearms, had ‘been the superseding of feudal military organisation by professional, mercenary, troops’. By the end of the fifteenth century the diffused feudal nobility of Europe had discovered, to their cost, that professional soldiers, who fought for pay alone and were personally loyal to the sovereign, were far more reliable than the hastily recruited and poorly trained and motivated feudal armies they relied on. These ‘professional’ or centrally controlled ‘royal’ armies could, moreover, be sent to keep order at home or wage war abroad with little fear of external factors affecting morale or their fighting qualities. Relatively free, therefore, from popular or subordinate influences, the sovereigns of Europe could wage wars with limited resources for limited objectives and negotiate peace on a compromise basis when those objectives were either attained or appeared unobtainable.

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Mar 282014
 

FrancoCoverGENERAL FRANCO MADE ME A TERRORIST. The Christie File: part 2, 1964-1967 (The interesting years abroad of a West of Scotland ‘Baby-boomer’) Stuart Christie ISBN 1 873976 19 4 (Kindle edition).  Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles  — £2.50/€2.99/$4.00  READ INSIDE!  ¡LEER EL INTERIOR! UK : £2.50 ; USA : $4.00 ; Germany : €2.99 ; France :  €2.99 ; Spain:  €2.99 ; Italy:  €2.99 ; Japan: ¥ 409 ; India: R244 : Canada: CDN$ 4.49 ; Brazil: R$9.30 ; Mexico: $52.93 ; Australia: $4.40

‘This volume picks up where the last one ended, namely his leaving Britain to take part in an anarchist plan to assassinate Franco. Christie, however, was arrested by Franco’s secret police long before he completed his mission to give the explosives he smuggled into Spain to those who were planning the assassination. Christie recounts his experiences being arrested and his time in various Spanish prisons with assurance, humanity and wit. He is not afraid to talk about the failures and cock-ups, the bickering and the surreal along with the bravery and dedication. As such, it is a real treat to read, giving the human side which history books never really manage to do. His account of the characters he met and the life of political prisoners in Franco’s regime is engrossing. Flag Blackened

Mar 042014
 

StammheimcoverTHE STAMMHEIM DEATHS, ‘Suicide Most Foul. CPAR 4 (Kindle edition). First published by ChristieBooks in 2014 —  Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBooks titles  — £1.23/€1.49/$2.00  READ INSIDE!  ¡LEER EL INTERIOR!

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Jan-CarlRaspeRadio broadcasts on the morning of October 18, 1977 were full of news about the reported suicide of Jan Carl Raspe, Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader, and of the attempted suicide of Irmgard Möller. The evening’s television news brought more of the same. “Three suicides — a signal for new terror?”1 reported the front page of Die Welt, one of the largest daily newspapers in Germany; “Hostages free — Suicides in Stammheim”2 read the headlines in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; “Three Baader-Meinhof prisoners commit suicide”3 appeared sprawled across the front page of the Westfälische Rundschau; and the version in the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung was “Suicide: Baader, Raspe, Ensslin.”4

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Feb 062013
 
KleinCover001

Holger Meins, died 6 November 1974 following a hunger strike. Six feet in height, he then weighed only 6 stone 8lbs. ‘I have kept this picture in my wallet to keep my hatred sharp’, Hans Joachim Klein

The German guerrilla: terror, reaction, and resistance: Memoirs of an international terrorist: conversations with Hans Joachim Klein by Jean-Marcel Bouguereau (Translated by Peter Silcock) and an Interview with the Moabit Gang of Four (June 2nd Group). Hans Joachim Klein ; Ralf Reindeers ; Ronald Fritsch ; Gerald Klopper ; Fritz Teufel (the ‘Moabit Gang of Four’), The Berlin Indomitables  (June 2nd Group), Background to the Left German Guerrilla ; RAF Philosophy.

UK : £1.97p ; USA : $3.84 ; Germany€2,27 ; France€2,27 ; Spain€2,27 ; Italy : €2,27 ; Japan : ¥ 278 ; Canada : CDN$ 2.99 ; Brazil : R$ 5,96

“‘A fascinating and inside view of the tensions and way of life imposed by clandestinity . . . Police officers should find this book worth reading (though not, probably, worth buying) because it vividly illustrates the violence of the hatred which the ‘bourgeois society’ arouses in the extreme left” (Major General Richard Clutterbuck, Police Review, 1981)

‘Such rare accounts are vital if we are to make up our minds on both the moral and strategic aspects of armed resistance. Any form of “party line” on this question is abhorrent because an individual must take up a position according to his or her own beliefs. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot clarify the issues in libertarian terms, and for this purpose we have included a short postscript examining political violence . . .

‘Klein accuses his former comrades of being mercenaries but offers no details to support this apart from references to the luxurious life style to which some apparently became accustomed. It would be fairer to say that their sense of values was altered by the life which they had to lead, but this is a criticism of  the inevitable effects of such a life. It would be completely wrong to impugn their original motives on these grounds. Once again we see the (inevitable?) distortion— the false identity and false environment which create a false outlook, and which in turn distances and alienates them from their comrades and from their former idealistic selves. We already know that, however lofty the motive, power corrupts. Secrecy and violence are its two most important  ingredients.’ Preface.

Aug 062012
 

Farquhar McHarg, Belleville, Paris, 1976

¡Pistoleros! 1 – 1918

¡Pistoleros! 2 – 1919

Farquhar’s Chronicles (Vols. 1 ; 2 ; 3 )are folk history, bringing the changes that shook the political and social landscape of Spain (and the world) between 1918 and 1977 into the framework of a contemporary adult lifetime. They make a vexatious but fascinating story that explains the spirit and Idea that moved the selfless, generous, occasionally naïve and recklessly idealistic people involved in the bitter social struggles that marked the hectic insurrectionary and utopian aftermath of the great imperialist war of 1914-18.

This third volume of Farquhar McHarg’s journal focuses on the remarkable adventures of the Glaswegian anarchist during the period 1920-24 as a member of the anarchist action groups: Los Justicieros (‘the Avengers’); Crisol (‘Crucible’); Los Solidarios (‘Solidarity’), and the armed clandestine defence cadres of the CNT, the anarcho-syndicalist labour union. Their militants faced extermination from the calculated violence of the security services of a vicious semi-feudal state, and the mercenary killers employed by landed grandees and an equally savage industrial and commercial bourgeoisie.

Pistoleros! 2 – 1920-1924 (to 1977)

Farquhar’s Chronicles also tell a parallel narrative of plot and counterplot, ranging from 1936 to 1976, exploring the background to the murder of Farquhar’s comrade, the notorious anarchist counterfeiter and facilitator Laureano Cerrada Santos, and the subsequent attempts to kill the seventy-six-year-old Farquhar himself. It is a compelling and dramatic tale of the Govan man’s attempt to ferret out the identity of a long-term traitor within the Spanish émigré anarcho-syndicalist organisation, the CNT-MLE (Spanish Libertarian Movement), a confidente known only as ‘The Priest’.

Farquhar McHarg 1925

This story unfolds against the backdrop of machinations by Spanish and other Western spymasters obsessed with the idea that post-Franco Spain might go ‘Red’. To pre-empt this eventuality they deployed deep-penetration agents of influence, traitors at the highest level of the Spanish émigré anarcho-syndicalist movement. By inducing fear and paranoia through acts of treachery, their objective was to demoralise, disrupt and neutralise the effectiveness of that small band of anarchist militants who had fought relentlessly to topple the old regime by aggressive action and who might thwart their plans for a post-Francoist Spain.

Farquhar McHarg 1959

Farquhar McHarg 1976

These puppetmasters also sought to extend and consolidate their proxy control over the influential anarcho-syndicalist organisation inside and outside of Spain during the ‘disease-prone’ transition period to democracy’ (communism being defined as a ‘disease of transition’). It was the height of the Cold War and, with Spain’s dictator dead, the West’s geopolitical agenda-setters needed to ensure NATO hegemony over the Mediterranean, and the continuity of the Francoist agenda (and elite) at a time when they believed Spanish society would be particularly susceptible to a social breakdown as it underwent modernisation.

PHOTO ALBUMS Vol. 1: 1918 a ; 1918 b ; 1918 c

PHOTO ALBUMS Vol. 2: 1919 a ; 1919 b

PHOTO ALBUMS Vol. 3: 1920-24 a ; 1920-24 b ; 1920-24 c

 

Apr 202012
 

KINDLE edition available here (click on image)

This compelling and moving book, first published in Spanish in 1972 (and in English in 1974, and now republished for Kindle), examines the life of one of the best-known of all the Spanish resistance fighters — Francisco Sabaté Llopart, known as El Quico, General Franco’s ‘Public Enemy No. 1’. But it is more than this, for the author, Antonio Téllez, traces in detail what has been called ‘a little-known period of Spanish history’, the period that saw the development of the Anarchist resistance to the Fascist regime following the tragic end of the Spanish Civil War, a resistance that continues to this day (1974). It paints a striking picture not only of the development of resistance in Spain, but also of its too-long ignored influence on contemporary (1960s and 1970s) urban guerrilla movements in South America and in Europe.

It is a sad story: of a man who would not compromise his ideals nor treat with a system he found tyrannical and vile, a man who devoted his adult life to freeing the most openly oppressed people in Europe. But Sabaté ‘s story does not end in 1960, as did his life, in the dusty street in San Celoni surrounded by Militia and Guardia Civil and broken by their bullets. His struggle was taken up by men and women throughout Spain. As Téllez demonstrates, Sabaté proved by his selfless battle that the individual is never helpless; there is always a possibility of rebelling and defending an idea one considers just. Francisco Sabaté, unquenchably brave, undismayed by failure, unmarked by treachery, gave to his people and to the free world the knowledge of the rightness of his cause.

‘Soy El Quico!’ 1Soy El Quico‘ – 2 — El Maquis a Catalunya

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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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Feb 032012
 

San Celoni Cemetery, 5 January 2012

Francesc Sabaté Llopart (Hospitalet de Llobregat, 30 March 1915San Celoni, 5 January 1960), better known as Quico Sabaté or El Quico, was (along with José Lluis Facerias) probably the best known of the Catalan-based anti-Francoist urban guerrillas.

‘What is referred to as the “Spanish republicans’ defeat” is crucial to any understanding of the life of Quico Sabaté who crossed the border with his brigade on 10 February 1939. They were the last organised troops to quit Catalonia. At that point QS did not consider himself defeated, and promised himself that he would resume a struggle that had been being momentarily interrupted. As far as QS was concerned, the war was not over — and Franco thought so too: Franco’s was – as Antonio Téllez put it – “a tyrannical rule during which thousands of Spaniards enjoyed some hypothetical freedom of choice only in the manner of their dying”.

’1939 was not, as far as QS was concerned, the beginning of an irreversible exile, because he could not conceive of life for him and his family other than in his homeland (my father rejected our becoming French citizens, an option offered by the French authorities to the French-born offspring of Spaniards.) His only thoughts were of action in his chosen theatre of operations, i.e. Spain, because QS felt closely connected with the Spaniards in Spain proper.

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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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