A 2004 BBC Radio 4 documentary on the role of the Spanish maquis in the French Resistance, an episode in the ‘Ramblings’ slot with excerpts of interviews with Nancy Wake, Peter Lake and Francis Cammaerts. Listen HERE
Twenty Years in Franco’s Jails. An Anarchist In Franco’s Prisons by Juan Busquets Verges. ISBN 978-1-873976-58-6 (Kindle eBook). Prologue by Ángel Urzáiz and Introduction by Stuart Christie. Translated by Paul Sharkey (£5.98, $9.26, Eur 7,55) Kindle UK, Kindle US/Canada, Kindle Spain, Kindle France, Kindle Germany, Kindle Italy
First arrested in 1944, aged 16, Juan Busquets Verges was an apprentice fitter in the Hispano Suiza factory in Barcelona, a member of the clandestine anarcho-syndicalist labour union, the CNT (Confederación Nacional Del Trabajo — and a member of the factory strike committee. In 1947 he crossed into France where he contacted the Spanish Libertarian Movement in Exile (MLE) in Toulouse, and found employment in the mines of Cransac. The following year he joined Marcelino Massana Bancells’s (‘Pancho’) anti-Francoist guerrilla group and took part in a number of operations inside Spain including, in June 1949, the dynamiting of more than 40 electricity pylons and the uprooting of a kilometre of railway lines in the vicinity of Terrasa.
Spanish anarchism and revolutionary action – 1961-1974 by Octavio Alberola and Ariane Gransac with Prologue by Luis Andrés Edo, ChristieBooks (Kindle edition only – for the moment): KINDLE UK, USA, FRANCE, GERMANY, SPAIN, ITALY
This account of the role of anarchist activism in Europe between 1961 and 1974 (by two of the principal protagonists in the events they describe) was first published in Spanish and French in 1975, shortly after the authors’ release from prison following the kidnapping Francoist banker Baltasar Suárez. To this day it remains essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the history and development of the libertarian opposition to the Franco Dictatorship subsequent to the urban and rural guerrilla tactics as practised by Sabaté, Facerías, and Caraquemada, etc. It examines the birth of the clandestine ‘Defensa Interior’ Section of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE – CNT-FAI-FIJL) through to ‘The First of May Group‘ and its influence on — and links with — other European action groups of the later 1960s and early 1970s, groups such as ‘The Angry Brigade‘, the ‘Grupos Autonomos de Combate — GAC‘, 2nd June Group, the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación — ‘MIL‘, Gruppo d’Azione Partigiano – GAP, Grupos de Acción Revolucionaria Internacional — ‘GARI‘, etc.
The story begins in late 1961 with the creation of Sección DEFENSA INTERIOR (DI), the clandestine planning and action organisation set up at the Limoges Congress in France by the Defence Commission of the recently reunited three wings of the exiled Spanish libertarian movement (MLE — Movimiento Libertario Español) — the CNT, the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist trade union; the FAI, the Iberian Anarchist Federation, and the FIJL, the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth. One of the DI’s principal objectives was to organise and carry out attempts on the life of General Franco. Its other role was to generate examples of resistance by means of propaganda by deed. The DI’s short-term objectives were: to remind the world, unremittingly, that Franco’s brutal and repressive dictatorship had not only survived WWII but was now flourishing through tourism and US financial and diplomatic support; to provide solidarity for those continuining the struggle within Spain; to polarise public opinion and focus attention on the plight of the steadily increasing number of political prisoners in Franco’s jails; to interrupt the conduct of Francoist commercial and diplomatic life; undermine its financial basis — tourism; to take the struggle against Franco into the international sphere by showing the world that Franco did not enjoy unchallenged power and that there was resistance to the regime within and beyond Spain’s borders.
Mario Rodríguez Losada, (‘Mario de Langullo’ — nom de guerre ‘O Pinche’), was one of the many legendary guerrillas who, after the fall of the Republic, took to the mountains of North-West Spain to continue the armed struggle against the repressive forces of the Franco regime. Mario’s guerrilla group, one of the most active in the region, was based in the Sierra de Queija and operated in the area of El Bollo-La Gudina-Verin and Castro Caldelas — from the spring of 1941 until August 1968 when he went into exile in France.
Mario Rodríguez Losada (O Pinche, O Langullo). Guerrilla Warfare in Galicia, by his friend and biographer Antonio Téllez, is a riveting personal account of the lived experiences of one band of little-known anti-Francoist guerrillas who operated in the mountains of Galicia. Tellez’s story of O Pinche’s life as a resistance fighter provides a rare insight into the ‘intangible’ atmosphere of the events of the time and the outlook and motives of those who, putting their lives on the line, refused to abandon the struggle against injustice and oppression.
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.
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.
, Glasgow , D
John Brailey, SOGAT rank-and-file militant (with fellow anarchist Albert Meltzer) and anti-war activist, worked for many years as a printer in Fleet Street until the mid-1980s when the newspaper print industry moved to Wapping, after which he became involved in bookselling.
A founder member of the Committee of 100, John was closely associated with the ‘Spies for Peace’ group in 1963 and was one of those who demonstrated against the Greek royal family during their visit to London in the summer of 1963, the first time the Queen of England had been booed on the streets of London. He also among those who occupied the Greek Embassy in London in April 1967.
My first contact with the Brailey family was when John’s partner, Laura, visited Brian and Margaret Hart at their flat at 57 Ladbroke Road in Notting Hill (where I was living at the time). Brian and Margaret hosted the monthly Notting Hill anarchist meetings (from which sprang, eventually, the Notting Hill Anarchist Group). She’d brought her three children along, and telling me about it later Brian told me the little boy was ralking excitedly about the moon. All the kids were well behaved, but lively and natural. They had all just moved into Peter Lumsden’s large and rambling apartment in Colville Houses further down Notting Hill. Peter, a truly saintly person, was a great admirer of the US Catholic Anarchist movement round Dorothy Day (Catholic Worker Movement), and had visited their centre for ‘down and outs’ (‘the Joe Hill House of Hospitality’) run by Ammon Hennacy, the Irish American Christian anarchist and pacifist in Salt Lake City. Anyway, Peter wanted to run something similar in the UK, but was unable turn anyone away and his place soon filled up with less unfortunate leftists, mostly under forty and unmarried, with housing problems. Many of these were members of — or associated with — the London Committee of 100 (as opposed to the more holier-than-thou Committee of 100 people around Bertrand Russell). These included some of the original ‘Eskimos’ — Terry Chandler and Mike Nolan — who attempted to board the Polaris submarine Patrick Henry on the Clyde from their kayaks in 1961. It was also home to the late Doug Brewood Jr, the only (as far as I know) identified member of the ‘Spies for Peace’ group. In fact Colville Houses was such a hotbed of radical activism that the security service had at least one agent planted there as a tenant. The one I am aware of, a guy called Darren, was exposed when someone asked him for change and, pulling a handful of coins from his pocket, a brass button inscribed ‘RAF Police’ fell to the floor.
I went to Spain soon after and didn’t re-establish contact with John until 4 or 5 years later when I was working closely with Albert Meltzer, who by that time was employed as a copytaker on the Daily Sketch and, later, on the Daily Telegraph, and quite often would run into John in ‘The Albion’ bar, with Albert, after SOGAT meetings, or on demonstrations. In later years, after Wapping, John took up second-hand bookselling, and he would be my first port of call if I was looking for a particular title or the back issue of some magazine or other. He’ll be sadly missed! May the earth lie lightly on you, John.
An interesting ‘Top Secret’ report on the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in exile in France by the Vichy police Special Branch (Police Judiciare General Inspectorate) dated 20 January 1942*. (Côte document – Archives du Gard 1W170). The ‘Germinal’ mentioned in the report is Germinal Esgleas i Jaume, partner of Federica Montseny, whose (joint) perfidious villainy is one of the key themes explored in Pistoleros! (Volume 3).
Vichy, 20 January 1942. TOP SECRET
Re: The Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in France.
Some months ago, the police in Casablanca stumbled upon an anarchist propaganda centre in the Spanish refugee community in Morocco. The instructions for said foreign propaganda emanated from France where the movement appeared to be under the direction of persons called “Germinal” and “Marin”. Enquiries carried out by Superintendent Taupin of the Police Judiciare General Inspectorate resulted in the identification of the promoters of this Libertarian Movement who had set themselves up as a National Committee.