Nov 172014

DronneCoversmallA Spanish Company in the Battle for France and Germany (1944-45) by Raymond Dronne (Translated by Paul Sharkey) NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £1.97 /2.47. Check out all KINDLE Christiebooks titles HERE  UK : £1.97 ; USA : $3.30France :  €2.47 ; Spain:  €2.47 ; Italy :  €2.47 ; Germany: €2.47 ; Holland: 2.47 ; Japan : ¥ 349Canada: CDN$ 3.39 ; Brazil : R$7.80 ; Mexico: $40.60 ; Australia : $3.43 ; India : R185— ALSO NOW AVAILABLE ON KOBO UK, etc.: £1.75 Check out all ChristieBooks titles on Kobo HERE

Captain Raymond Dronne‘s memoir of the regular army unit he commanded from the summer of 1943 to the spring of 1945, No. 9 Company of the Chad March Regiment, also known as ‘La Nueve‘, a company made up almost entirely of Spanish veterans of the civil war and social revolution of 1936-1939 — anarchists, socialists, republicans. It was Dronne’s column that was ordered by General Leclerc to liberate Paris, which it did — flying the Spanish Republican flag from their Sherman tanks and half- tracks — on 24 August 1944. Of the 146 men of ‘La Nueve’ who landed in Normandy, only 16 survived to be the first to enter Hitler’s Berchtesgaden Eagle’s Nest.

Sep 282014

AtravesllaMetrallaA TRAVÉS DE LA METRALLA. Escenas Vividas en Los Frentes y en La Retaguardia por ARMAND GUERRA. NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £2.53 READ INSIDE  Check out all Christiebooks titles HERE UK : £2.53 ; USA : $4.00 France :  €3.21 ; Spain:  €3.21 ; Italy :  €3.21 ; Germany : €3.21 Japan : ¥ 436Canada : CDN$ 4.39 ; Brazil : R$ 9.47 ; Mexico: $52.84 ; Australia : $4.48 ; India : R243

Las memorias personales de un cineaste anarquista de la guerra civil entre 18 de Julio y Deciembre 1936. ESTÍVALIS CABO, José María: Más conocido como Armand Guerra. A veces citado como Estívalis Calvo y Gerard Guerra. Liria (Valencia), 4-1-1886 / París (Francia), 10-3-1939. Hijo de campesinos educado en la religión, fue monaguillo y seminarista hasta su total ruptura con la divinidad para dedicarse a la imprenta (desde los trece años) y al teatro y más tarde al cine en el que destacará en todas sus facetas (director, guionista, actor, etc.). Su pertenencia al movimiento anarquista es antigua. Preso en 1907 a consecuencia de una huelga de tipógrafos, es posible que anduviera un tiempo por las Antillas antes de recalar con un hermano en París (1908).

Continue reading »

Sep 192014

AsesinosNOSOTROS, LOS ASESINOS (Memorias de la Guerra Civil Española 1936-39). por Eduardo de Guzmán. NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE — £2.53 READ INSIDE  Check out all Christiebooks titles HERE

UK : £2.53 ; USA : $4.00 France :  €3.18 ; Spain:  €3.18 ; Italy :  €3.18 ; Germany : €3.18 Japan : ¥ 429Canada : CDN$ 4.44 ; Brazil : R$ 9.36 ; Mexico: $53.03 ; Australia : $4.43 ; India : R243

Nacido en Villada (Palencia) en 1909 pero residente en Madrid hace medio siglo, Eduardo de Guzmán inicía muy joven sus actividades profesionales trabajando en diversos periódicos. En 1930 es nombrado redactor jefe del diario madrileño «La Tierra», cargo que desempeña durante cinco años. En 1935 pasa a «La Libertad» como editorialista y redactor político. En febrero de 1937 se le designa director del periódico matutino «Castilla Libre», órgano de la C.N T en la capital de España.

Continue reading »

Sep 182014

Lincoln Battalion, Madrid, 7 February 1937

I lived in Spain some nine months, and had not made friends with one Spaniard. I hardly knew what a Spanish man or woman thought, except by what I read in the papers. My only intimacy with any Spaniard had been with whores in bordellos. I did have Spanish nurses, mostly aides to women of the International Brigades. They were hardworking and friendly, but disappeared after work to homes we never visited. For nine months I lived under the aegis of Moscow-trained leaders, policed by men with guns on their hips. Wherever I went, Albacete, Villanueva de la Jara, the front, Murcia, side trips to Alicante and Cartagena, and later Valencia and Barcelona, I lived under the eyes of commissars and Party strongarms, apparatchiks, call them what you will. I might very well have been living in what later became an Eastern European Communist dictatorship.

Continue reading »

Sep 182014

William Herrick, 1915-2004 (photo Dick Duhan)

Back in Murcia, now ensconced in an office on Calle Nicolai, several blocks from the Street of Ragshops, I worked on the hospital newsletter with the help of an American boy who suffered from epilepsy. Why he had come to Spain in his condition, I don’t know. He had been wounded, and frequently suffered from seizures. When in high school I had had experience with someone suffering from petit mal, a boy who sat next to me, and I had learned how to be helpful, putting a handkerchief in his mouth so he wouldn’t bite his tongue, and so on. In Murcia, the kid’s name was Bercovici and he was related to a writer who was to become one of the Hollywood blacklisted.

Men were now being repatriated, but I didn’t ask, nor did Oscar Hunter, my pol, say anything to me about it. The men now coming to Spain from the States were told their hitch was only for six months. My group had not been told there would be a time limitation; we just assumed it was for the duration. Later, the limitation was arbitrarily rescinded. When men insisted they wanted to be repatriated after six months, they were vilified as Trotskyites or cowards or spies, and those who decided to leave without salvo conductos were called deserters. A number were shot. It got so bad that Tony DeMaio, as I’ve said, was dispatched to Barcelona to stand outside the American Embassy to nab those seeking refuge there.

Continue reading »

Sep 182014

Anthony DeMaio in Spain, 1938, Russian State Archives of Social and Political History, Moscow, 545.6.880.

“In the realm of totalitarian kitsch,” Milan Kundera wrote, “all answers are given in advance and preclude any questions. It follows, then, that the true opponent of totalitarian kitsch is the person who asks questions. A question is like a knife that slices through the stage back-drop and gives a look at what lies hidden behind it.”

I was now fully outside the compact mass, yet so indoctrinated was I in my Party, by my very birth, that I was able to give the answers without even being asked the questions. I was on automatic pilot. I was able to dissemble without truly being aware of it. My anger and my fear combined to protect me against my new enemy, my former self. I became impossible. Just say one word of criticism of the Comintern, the leadership, the line, and I was down your throat. I hated the very idea of giving up my nest, my mass, my friends. Doug would look pained, shrug, walk off. Joe might very well kill me. If Oscar Hunter, my political commissar—Mickey Mickenberg had by now called the commissariat at the front “comic stars”—knew what had happened to me, he said not a word. We carried on as before. Besides, suddenly we all had something to be exhilarated about; the great Republican offensive had begun in the center front for the relief of Madrid, victory after victory almost daily. There! It could be done. Followed by despair, for the Nationalist army had retreated in orderly fashion, then turned and regained all the territory it had lost.
Continue reading »

Sep 182014

Oliver Law — left (October 23, 1900 – July 9, 1937) African-American CP commander of the Lincoln Battalion for 4 days in July 1937.

Supine in an ambulance train, doped up, head immobile, a Spanish nurse feeding me slices of orange and the sweet meat of pitted dates, the passage of time snail-like, I arrived with hundreds of I.B. wounded in the rich market city of Murcia. I was deposited in a hospital named after La Pasionaria. Forgive me my latter-day bitterness; she was an impressive figure, a great orator, who kissed Joe Stalin’s ass before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and once more before going to bed. She blackmailed the Spanish govemment: the Soviet freighters lying outside its harbors would not unload their cargo of arms unless there was acceptance of the Party demands that each army unit have political commissars (and who were they to be?) , that the voluntary collectives be demolished and abolished, and that the POUM be outlawed. In Mundo Obrero, the Communist Party newspaper, she wrote that it is better to kill a thousand innocent people than to permit one Trotskyite to live. She was a charming woman who afiirmed her love for Joseph Stalin until the day she herself died, long after his own people had convicted him for his massive docket of crimes. There are those who still call her a great woman. I am not among them.

Continue reading »

Sep 182014
07 BonLincoln

The Lincoln battalion at rest after the battle of Jarama

The following afternoon, February 23, 1937 as the battalion readied itself to leave the gully and enter the frontline trenches before going over the top, Seacord informed me the machine gun company would remain in reserve, but asked if I would take Kavorkian and Pete Shimrak and set up our machine gun at the left flank of the battalion’s position. I told him that the gun had fired only one shot and then quit. He said there was enough time for us to take the gun to the armorer down the road, have it repaired, and then return to set up our position.

The road was under heavy artillery fire, but we managed to find the armorer, a man named Sugrue, if I recall correctly, who worked on the gun for a few minutes, oiled a few parts — it was an old 1918 Vickers-Maxim which the Russians had shipped to Spain; later they would send a lighter and better machine gun — and the three of us found our way to the position Seacord had pointed out. It was now deep into the afternoon; the battalion had moved into trenches to our right, and as we began to set the heavy gun in place a sledge hammer hit me in the back of the head. As I fell, I wondered who could have hit me. I must have been unconscious for a few minutes, but as I came out of it I heard Kavorkian say, “Poor Bill, he must be dead.”
Continue reading »

Sep 182014

André Marty (left) Comintern-appointed political commissar of the International Brigades speaking with Italian CP leader Luigi Longo, Inspector of Republican troops in the International Brigades

In the Albacete bullring, André Marty, the beret looking larger than ever, sent us off to war. The enemy was cowardly, we were brave, our cause was just, we would win. Again that spiel about how you Americans have come as those before you came to save Europe from the Boche. The moment was serious; we were going off to the front, yet this man, the way he moved his hands, the words he spoke, that idiotic beret on his big head — this man was a cartoon.

As he spoke we could see large wooden crates stacked beside him. He ordered them opened. Brand new rifles, still covered with cosmoline. Russian carbines. (Some later said they were Mexican; I don’t know.) We yipped in glee. We cheered. We laughed. We waved our hands against the sky. Long live the Soviet Union. Long live Comrade Stalin. Long live the Frente Popular. Long live Comrade Marty. Thank God, we’re gonna have guns. Each had a long, slender tri-bladed bayonet. They were frightening — the thought of one entering your body, the thought of slamming one into the body of an enemy. We were given helmets, gas masks, cartridge belts with bullets. Now we were real soldiers. We cheered again.

Continue reading »

Sep 172014

11_0275sEntering Villanueva de la Jara, in the province of Cuenca, we passed a mammoth, fortresslike church. We had already noticed the many huge thick-walled churches of Spain, every one of them closed, with sandbags barring entrance. We had also not seen one priest or nun. Some had been murdered, some driven out, some had fled in time. The Church stood at Franco’s right hand. Marxist priests were not yet even on the horizon: disaffected with one dictatorship, they would seek out another.

We were barracked in a convent left filthy by its previous occupants, a French battalion. It had six-seater outhouse-type toilets and we soon found bags of lime to empty into the pits. I slept in a nun’s cot and thought often of her. What had she been like, this little nun whose bed I filled? From what village had she come? Had she been a daughter of the religious rich, or the pious poor? Had she exulted in her marriage to Jesus Christ? Had she ever committed carnal sin? Rumors about the nuns flew among us, originating where, I know not. The nuns’ little bastards were buried in the courtyard where, to add to the six-seaters, we dug a long latrine trench. The monks from the two or three monasteries in this tiny village of one street had used our nunnery as a house of assignation. In such manner we titillated each other.

Continue reading »