Sep 182014
 
BillHDDuhan

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 Later, the limitation was arbitrarily rescinded.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.

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Sep 182014
 
demaio

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.
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Sep 182014
 
OliverLaw

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.

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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.”
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Sep 182014
 
MartyLongo

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.

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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.

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Sep 172014
 
LincolnBat

Members of the Lincoln Battalion of the International Brigades

Before us, looming purple in the descending sun, were the Pyrenees. They stood, a majestic wall, between Europe and Spain, that exotic mix of Christ, Mohammed, and Moses. My people may have been expelled, but were not forgotten. It was we, Unamuno had written, who had introduced the use of olive oil in Spain, and no one in Spain cooked a meal without olive oil. Laugh if you will, but what you eat determines in large measure who you are. The Christians had made sex prurient, the Moors had produced the canto hondo of Andalucia, and we had pressed the olive.

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Sep 112014
 

October34LA REVOLUCIÓN DE OCTOBRE 1934: Asturias, October 1934 (Spanish Kindle Edition) Check out all Kindle editions of ChristieBook titles.  — £1.90 READ INSIDE!

UK : £1.90 ; USA : $3.00 ; Germany : €2.39 ; France : €2.39 ; Spain: €2.39 ; Italy : €2.39 ; Japan : ¥ 315 ; Canada : CDN$ 3.26 ; Brazil : R$ 6.73 ; Mexico: $39.10 ; Australia : $3.20 ; India : R181

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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Sep 092014
 

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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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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