TO DIE IN MADRID. THE MAN WHO KILLED DURRUTI — José Manzana; the person responsible, Federica Montseny

 Spanish anarchism, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on TO DIE IN MADRID. THE MAN WHO KILLED DURRUTI — José Manzana; the person responsible, Federica Montseny
Nov 202016
 
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Above left: Durruti’s Generalidad-appointed military adviser, Sergeant José Manzana (circled), a professional soldier, was a drill sergeant in the Corps of Artillery and an Olympic-standard pistol-shooting champion. On the morning of 19 July he escaped from the besieged Barcelona Dockyard to join the Confederal militias. From that time on he accompanied Durruti everywhere, and was at his side on the Aragón front where he became his military adviser following Captain Enrique Pérez-Farrás recall to Barcelona by the Generalitat to head up the Mossos d’Escuadra. After Durruti’s death Manzana returned to the Aragón front to reorganize the remainder of the Durruti Column and prepare it for militarisation while Ricardo Sanz assumed command of the column in Madrid. Militarisation of the column was finally completed on 28 April 1937, less than a week before the Stalinist coup of May 3-8. Above right: Sergeant José Manzana, wearing a militiaman’s cap, his wounded right arm in a sling, is in the first line of mourners. On his left is the grieving widow, Emilienne Morin, whose features bear all the emotion evoked by the death of her compañero. Holding her other arm is Miguel Yoldi’s wife.

Madrid, 20 November 1936: Today is the 80th anniversary of the mysterious death of the anarchist Buenaventura Durruti.

November 1936 was a milestone in the civil war. Having surrounded Madrid, the mutinous fascist army was making a supreme effort to over-run the capital. On 4 November 1936 the ‘notable leaders’* of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT and anarchist FAI Peninsular Committee finally and completely abandoned the Confederation’s apolitical stance by taking it upon themselves to accept four nominal ministries in the central government of Largo Caballero. Many believed this was a cynical move on the part of Caballero to facilitate the government’s flight to Valencia and to pre-empt any criticism, or, presumably, any revolutionary initiatives from the anarcho-syndicalist rank and file. Coincidentally (if you believe in coincidences!), two days later, on 6 November, Largo Caballero and his cabinet, including his newly appointed anarchist ministers, fled to Valencia — while the people of Madrid rallied to the city’s defence to cries of ‘Long Live Madrid Without Government!’

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NOTES ON LA FELGUERA IN THE ASTURIAN REVOLUTION OF OCTOBER 1934 (by a prominent participant in the October events) — with a commentary on the life and death of death of José Maria Martinez, Gijón CNT leader in 1934 (translated by Paul Sharkey)

 Anarchism in Asturias, Spanish anarchism, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on NOTES ON LA FELGUERA IN THE ASTURIAN REVOLUTION OF OCTOBER 1934 (by a prominent participant in the October events) — with a commentary on the life and death of death of José Maria Martinez, Gijón CNT leader in 1934 (translated by Paul Sharkey)
Oct 052016
 

Octubre 34Calm and courageous from the outset, the handsome gladiator who is to scatter the seeds of a new society of active producers who shall live without masters and without tyrants, in perfect harmony with other producers and other villages where other guerrillas gladiators as handsome and courageous as himself, will have established Libertarian Communism as a superior arrangement for a life of justice and dignity

Published by the Grupo Cultural de Estudios Sociales de Melbourne/Acracia Publications, October 2013

By Way of a Preamble

 “One of the best known CNT and FAI militants in La Felguera (Asturias), the leading steel town in the province, sent us the following account of what he witnessed during the October 1934 Asturian uprising. We think that these brief jottings will help shed light on matters that deserve to be known.”

Introduction by the original publishers of Cultura Proletaria (New York), republished as a CNT document in late 1973 by the Fomento de Cultura Libertaria (Paris). From exile, October 2013

******

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LA REVOLUCIÓN DE OCTOBRE 1934: Asturias, October 1934 José Muñoz Congost eBook £1.00/€1.50 (see eBookshelf)

 Anarchism in Asturias, Social Revolution, Spain, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on LA REVOLUCIÓN DE OCTOBRE 1934: Asturias, October 1934 José Muñoz Congost eBook £1.00/€1.50 (see eBookshelf)
Oct 052016
 

October34LA REVOLUCIÓN DE OCTOBRE 1934: Asturias, October 1934 (Spanish) eBook £1.00/€1.50 (see eBookshelf)  Also available from Kobo    Check out other Christiebooks titles HERE 

Ochenta años de la fecha cuando estalló el movimiento de Octubre 1934, y es preciso asegurarnos que momentos históricos como éste no permanezcan olvidados ni escondidos.

“La revolución Asturiana se inició en la madrugada del 5 de Octubre de 1934, hasta su rendición el día 18 del mismo mes. Sin la menor duda, fue el hecho más cohesionado y eficaz realizado por el proletariado frente a las derechas que se habían apoderado del gobierno de la República, siendo lamentable que quedara limitado a dicha región, ya que de generalizarse, hubiera podido lograr dar una tónica más radical al régimen, inyectándole un sentido social, determinado por la acción revolucionarias triunfante. De parte de la CNT, todas las referencias señalaron a José María Martínez (muerto en misión del Comité Revolucionario en Sotiello el día 12) como el forjador de la unidad combativa, ya que tuvo que vencer seria oposición de sus propios compañeros para formular un pacto de alianza con los socialistas, debido a la obra desarrollada por éstos, desde el gobierno, de franca y agresiva hostilidad contra el anarcosindicalismo. Pero Martínez, con su tenacidad y argumentos, hizo triunfar sus ideas, lo que vino a impulsar y fortalecer el hecho insurreccional.
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Spain: A Past that Must not Fade into Oblivion An open letter to the Spanish Communist Party by Francisco Martínez López aka ‘El Quico’ (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

 Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on Spain: A Past that Must not Fade into Oblivion An open letter to the Spanish Communist Party by Francisco Martínez López aka ‘El Quico’ (Translated by Paul Sharkey)
Sep 212016
 
Francisco Martínez, 'Quico'.

Francisco Martínez, ‘Quico’.

In an open letter to his party, the Spanish communist militant Francisco Martínez López aka ‘El Quico’ challenges the leaders of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) over the violent purges carried out during the years of anti-Franco guerrilla warfare.

In particular he insists upon the rehabilitation of those who were the victims of the summary executions ordered by the party leadership.

The Open Letter published below was first published in Spanish on the diario.es website. It deserves a brief review of history by way of a preamble.

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BARRICADES IN BARCELONA. The CNT from the victory of July 1936 to the necessary defeat of May 1937 Agustín Guillamón. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

 Anarchism in Barcelona, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on BARRICADES IN BARCELONA. The CNT from the victory of July 1936 to the necessary defeat of May 1937 Agustín Guillamón. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)
Aug 202016
 

BarricadesBarcelonasmallBARRICADES IN BARCELONA. The CNT from the victory of July 1936 to the necessary defeat of May 1937 eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)  Also available from Kobo  and Kindle

BARRICADES IN BARCELONA focuses on Barcelona in 1936-1937; it provides an account of the street battles and victory of July 1936, examines the defence and neighborhood committees that defeated the uprising in the city, and addresses the arbitrary decision of the CNT-FAI superior committees to collaborate with counterrevolutionary parties and social groups to preserve anti-fascist unity at any price, and how this decision culminated, in May 1937, in the defeat of the revolution. It also focuses on the emerging discontent among the anarchosyndicalist rank and file and the role of The Friends of Durruti Group in crystallizing opposition to official CNT policies.

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THE COUNCIL OF ARAGÓN (from Building Utopia by Stuart Christie)

 Anarchism in Aragón, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on THE COUNCIL OF ARAGÓN (from Building Utopia by Stuart Christie)
Aug 142016
 

AragonCouncilcolor

To protect the hard won land of the rural communities and the new society the people of liberated Aragón were building, the regional committee of the CNT, acting in concert with Durruti and his column, organised by an assembly of militia, village, and trade union representatives from Rioja and Navarre which was held in Bujaraloz on 6 October 1936. Francisco Muñoz, the regional secretary of the Aragónese CNT outlined proposals for the formation of a special regional committee which would ensure that the Aragonese region was ready and able ‘to organise itself in this revolutionary hour and re-establish its personality among the other Iberian peoples, in preparation for the great federation of the future.

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More on the last days of the Spanish Republic — A Mission of No Importance (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

 Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on More on the last days of the Spanish Republic — A Mission of No Importance (Translated by Paul Sharkey)
Jul 312016
 

Extracts from Juan López Sánchez’s1 Una misión sin importancia (written in September 1939. Published Madrid 1972). The mission was to meet with the exiled MLE leadership in Paris to discuss salvaging the best possible outcome to the war, inform them of the creation of the Madrid-based Casadist National Defence Council,  and organising resistance to post-war Francoism. The author, Juan López Sánchez (16 January 1900 – 1972) was a Spanish construction worker and, as a signatory of Angel Pestaña’s anti-FAI ‘Manifesto of the Thirty’, an anarchist-hostile member of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo. From November 1936 he was the collaborationist CNT National Committee’s appointee as Minister of Commerce under Largo Caballero. By February/March 1939 he was part of Lt. Colonel Segismundo Casado’s National Defence Council which ousted the pro-Stalinist premier Dr Juan Negrin; López was also secretary-general of the highly questionable and self-appointed National Committee of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE). He returned to Spain from Mexico in 1966 and later joined the Falangist trade union organisation, the Sindicato Vertical.

Albacete — January-February 1939

Juan López Sánchez

Juan López Sánchez

“Allow me to briefly introduce my comrades.  Val is Eduardo Val [Bescós 1908-1992. Close friend of Cipriano Mera and a pivotal player in countering the military coup in Madrid in July 1936], the then secretary of the Defence Section of the Regional Committee of the CNT of the Centre. He is a comrade associated with two “hardlies” that mean a lot: he hardly ever speaks; he hardly ever writes. His name has popped up out of anonymity during the war, gaining a position of importance in the Castilian libertarian organization. The fact that he says little and writes less has not stopped him from acquiring a sound reputation in the Republic’s military circles for his performance as Defence Secretary. That was a position of some importance in the recent conflict, for in war-time the CNT’s Defence Sections have been equally as important as the National Defence Ministry. But Val hardy speaks and hardly writes. And there is about him another “hardly” no less important than the other two: he hardly dresses. This is the man who donned his mono the day the war started and did not take it off until he came ashore in the English port of Newhaven where he wound up as one of the refugees who left from the port of Gandia, by then a member of the National Defence Council. During the war he had no time to eat, to shave, to wash, much less bother about his apparel. My first dealings with him were on that occasion, but from hearsay I knew the prestige he enjoyed in the Centre Region. (There is a mistake in the above that the reader will correct. He removed his mono, not in Newhaven, as he had no clothing there into which to change. That action would take place in London, where he set up home and where he is living at the time of the writing of these memoirs).

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ENTRE EL SOL Y LA TORMENTA. Revolución, Guerra y Exilio de una Mujer Libre Sara Berenguer. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

 Anarchism in Spain, Book, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on ENTRE EL SOL Y LA TORMENTA. Revolución, Guerra y Exilio de una Mujer Libre Sara Berenguer. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)
Jul 292016
 
SaraBerenguer

Sara Berenguer Lahosa (Barcelona 1919 — Montady, France, 2010)

ENTRE EL SOL Y LA TORMENTA. Revolución, Guerra y Exilio de una Mujer Libre, Sara Berenguer Lahosa.

eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)  Also available from Kobo  and Kindle  LOOK INSIDE 

El testimonio de una vida consagrada a pelear por la libertad, entre el sol y la tormenta es, a la vez, un documento excepcional que nos permite conocer mejor uno de los episodios más extraordinarios de la guerra civil española: la lucha de las mujeres libertarias. En aquellos momentos decisivos de la historia europea, estas mujeres salieron a la calle junto a sus compañeros para defender la República y la revolución social. Acabada la guerra, muchas de ellas continuaron trabajando por sus ideas en el exilio.

Sara Berenguer Lahosa nació en 1919, en la barcelonesa barriada de Poble Sec. Hija de obreros, cuando estalla la guerra civil, ocupará diversos cargos: comité revolucionario (CNT-FAI) del barrio de Les Corts y Comité Regional de Catalunya de las industrias de la edificación, madera y decoración (CNT-AIT). Actividades que alternó con su colaboración de maestra en el Ateneo Cultural de Les Corts y en las Juventudes Libertarias.

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The enigmatic Juan Negrín y López. Stalin’s ‘Golden Boy’, visionary, crook, or man of straw?

 Spanish anarchism, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on The enigmatic Juan Negrín y López. Stalin’s ‘Golden Boy’, visionary, crook, or man of straw?
Jul 182016
 
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Juan Negrín y López (1892 – 1956)

At this eightieth anniversary of the Spanish Revolution that thwarted, initially at least, the fascist coup of 18 July 1936, it is worthwhile focusing on the character of one of the key players responsible for the suppression of that revolution and the subsequent defeat of the Republic: Juan Negrín López, the last president of the Second Spanish Republic.

Unfortunately, there is a vindicative trend in mainstream social-democrat historical circles1 to exalt Negrín’s ‘visionary’ right-wing, counter-revolutionary, ‘socialist’ premiership while calumnifying and denigrating the role of the Defence Committee of the CNT-FAI for the Central Region and the Madrid Defence Junta that on March 5 1939 ousted the compromised President Negrín: Eduardo Val Bescós, Manuel Salgado Moreira, and José García Pradas —supported by Cipriano Mera Sanz, commander of the IVth Army Corps, and others — to prevent a Communist Party coup and to try to avoid needless further bloodshed when the Republic was clearly defeated.

Dr Juan Negrín López (1892–1956), a middle-class physician and Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) member from 1929, was appointed finance minister (proposed by Indalecio Prieto without any experience in setting fiscal policy) in the Republican government headed by Francisco Largo Caballero in September 1936. In this role he quickly set about building up the strength of the carabineros (armed, highly mobile customs guards) to around 20,000 men, primarily to retake control of the French border posts from CNT members who had seized them after the defeated military coup of 18 July. The following month, in October 1936, he transferred 510 tonnes of Spain’s gold reserves — 72.7 per cent of the total! — to the Soviet Union in return for Stalin’s promise of arms and other war materials to continue the war against the fascists.

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THE SPANISH LABYRINTH An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War Gerald Brenan eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

 Anarchism in Spain, Spain, Spanish anarchism, Spanish Revolution/Civil War  Comments Off on THE SPANISH LABYRINTH An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War Gerald Brenan eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)
Jul 012016
 

SpanLabyrinthsmallTHE SPANISH LABYRINTH An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)  Also available from Kobo

Written during the Spanish Civil War, published in 1943, revised in 1950 and republished in paperback in1960, The Spanish Labyrinth assesses the social and political background of the war, not the war itself. Brenan a middle-class, liberal, Anglo-Irish expatriate who lived in Spain from 1919 until 1936, returning in 1953 — wrote comprehensively about the political and religious divisions in Spain from the 16th to the 20th centuries: the church, the tensions with Liberalism, the ‘patria chica’ and the main autonomous regions, Carlism, industrialisation, the agrarian question, communal life, the Republic, the Constituent Cortes, class struggle, etc. — not forgetting the important role of anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism in Spanish politics. And although his attitude to the Spanish anarchist–anarcho-syndicalist movement and working class in general is patronising and condescending, it is to an extent understandable given his middle-class upbringing, prejudices and friendship circles.

Brenan swallowed, uncritically, contemporary hysterical, calumnious and propagandistic accounts of ‘irresponsible’, ‘ruthless’ and ‘typical’ acts of mass terrorism allegedly ‘carried out by the Durruti column in Aragón, and by the militia in Madrid on their way to the front’. Describing them as ‘the counterpart of the September Massacres of 1792’, he goes on to compare Durruti to the fanatical ultra-Catholic Carlist general Ramón Cabrera, and refers to the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) as a ‘secret society’, which it most definitely was not (see my We, the Anarchists. A Study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927—1937). He also states as fact (and without adducing any evidence) that the advent of the FAI brought with it an increasingly noticeable trend in Spanish anarchism: ‘the inclusion within its ranks of professional criminals — thieves and gunmen who certainly would not have been accepted by any other working class party — together with idealists of the purest and most selfless kind.’

In spite of Brenan’s shortcomings as an historian and his ambivalence toward the Spanish anarchist movement, as a personal insight The Spanish Labyrinth remains a highly readable, comprehensive and valuable account of social and political life in Spain in the years leading up to the Civil War.

REVIEW OF THE SPANISH LABYRINTH BY MARIE LOUISE BERNERI, an editor of War Commentary and 
later Freedom, until her death at the age of 31 in 1949. She was the
 author of Journey Through Utopia (Routledge) and Neither East Nor
 West (Freedom Press). Her article was originally written for Now! in
 1944 as a review of the original edition of Brenan’s book:

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