The third volume in the Pistoleros! trilogy by the anonymous Hastings-based author finds our hero Farquhar McHarg still in revolutionary Barcelona, now in the early years of the 1920s, as he continues the struggle, alongside fellow workers and anarchist comrades, against the forces of right-wing repression.
We know he survived these murderous times because interspersed with that first-person narrative is the third-person account of his latter years as a political exile in France. In volume one his close comrade Laureano Cerrada was gunned down in the streets of Paris, and Farquhar knows he is next on the list.
Joan Català Balañà (1913-2012) One of the finest people-smugglers (‘passeurs’) who helped dozens flee the Nazis via Andorra and elsewhere in the Pyrenees during the Second World War. His life story is the stuff of movies. Born on 21 February 1913 in Llavorsí (Lérida province, Catalonia). During the Spanish Civil War he fought with the anarchist Durruti Column (26th Division) and later, in 1937 operated as a guide and spy in the Alt Urgell area, working for the SIEP (Servicio de Información Especial Periférica/special services unit) with the Aragonese Francisco Ponzán. In March 1939, following the Francoist victory, he crossed into France where he was held in the Le Vernet concentration camp (Ariège department) but soon escaped to Andorra.
Catalá worked as a smuggler, but he soon met up again with Ponzán and began working for the Allied secret services. Captured in Cadiz in 1940 he was jailed in Madrid’s El Cisne prison from which he escaped to Andorra, subsequently embarking on intense activity as a smuggler of foreign refugees, escapers and evaders. A great hill-walker, Catalá’s preference was for courier work. In 1941 he was recaptured in Barcelona’s Estación de Francia escorting two US airmen, but he escaped on his way to trial and returned safely to Andorra. Not that any of this interfered with his regular trips carrying papers and documents for the CNT.
His umpteenth escape came in December 1942 after he was captured while rendezvousing with an unsuspected Francoist informer. He was recaptured a few days later but a clerical error allowed him to slip out of Lerida prison. At the request of the British Consul he returned to smuggling people out of France via the town of Oceja. His preferred stop-over prior to embarking on a crossing of the Sierra del Cadí near Manresa was the Jaume d’Alp hotel. On other occasions, Catalá crossed the border via the Alt Emporda district.
As WWII drew to an end Catalá still possessed the maverick nature that was so perfectly captured by the title of his autobiography El eterno descontento (Forever Restless). In 1944 he had been arrested in Adrall and sentenced to 12-years prison sentence in 1946 – of which he served less than one, breaking out of Carabanchel prison in March 1947 and escaping to France where he was arrested yet again for having no papers, although he was subsequently released, mainly due to his wartime record.
His irregular circumstances in post-war France meant meant he had a thin time of it. In 1951 he and a number of Spanish anarchist comrades were arrested, accused of involvement in a post office van robbery in Lyon in which a guard was killed. He served 15 years in French prisons after which he settled in Andorra — eventually, in Seu d’Urgell. On 11 April 2010 Joan Catalá Balaña received a warm tribute in recognition of a life-time of libertarian activism. He passed away on 14 October 2012 aged 98.
- The Colectivo a les trinxeres / cnt (Madrid) No 394, November 2012
‘You can’t reform profit capitalism and inhumanity. Just kick it till it breaks.’
— Angry Brigade, communiqué 8.
Between 1970 and 1972 the Angry Brigade used guns and bombs in a series of symbolic attacks against property. A series of communiqués accompanied the actions, explaining the choice of targets and the Angry Brigade philosophy: autonomous organisation and attacks on property alongside other forms of militant working class action. Targets included the embassies of repressive regimes, police stations and army barracks, boutiques and factories, government departments and the homes of Cabinet ministers, the Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
These attacks on the homes of senior political figures increased the pressure for results and brought an avalanche of police raids. From the start the police were faced with the difficulty of getting to grips with a section of society they found totally alien. And were they facing an organisation — or an idea?
This book covers the roots of the Angry Brigade in the revolutionary ferment of the 1960s, and follows their campaign and the police investigation to its culmination in the ‘Stoke Newington 8′ conspiracy trial at the Old Bailey — the longest criminal trial in British legal history.
Gordon Carr produced the BBC documentary on the Angry Brigade and followed it up with this book. Written after extensive research — among both the libertarian opposition and the police — it remains the essential study of Britain’s first urban guerrilla group. This expanded edition contains a comprehensive chronology of the ‘Angry Decade’, extra illustrations and a police view of the Angry Brigade. Introductions by Stuart Christie and John Barker (two of the ‘Stoke Newington 8′ defendants) discuss the Angry Brigade in the political and social context of its times — and its longer-term significance.
'Mario de Langullo' (Cover illustration by Phill Evans)
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.
Miguel García Garcíawas born in Barcelona in I908, the seventh of nine children. He became a newspaper-seller at the age of nine, and an apprentice printer at twelve; he was a lifelong member of the CNT, the anarcho-syndicalist trade union in Spain.
Miguel García García fought for nearly forty years for the freedoms we take for granted. A veteran of the Spanish Civil War, Miguel then put his experience as a printer to good use — forging documents and printing pamphlets for the Resistance.
On 21 October I949, he was arrested, tried and sentenced to death together with eight comrades. He spent thirty-eight days in the condemned cell until his sentence was commuted to thirty years’ imprisonment. Four of his comrades were executed.
Fundraiser fine art poster: Sabaté — Guerrilla Extraordinary by Flavio Costantini — £55.00; €68,00; US$90.00 (post free)
This premium A2 (420 x 594mm – 16.5 x 594 inches) giclée* print by Flavio Costantini is digitally printed on Epson Enhanced Matte Paper** (189gsm)*; it shares the same vivid colours, accuracy, and exceptional resolution that makes giclée prints the standard for museums and galleries around the world.
* The word “giclée” was created by Jack Duganne, a print maker working at Nash Editions. He wanted a name for the new type of prints they were producing on the IRIS printer, a large format high resolution industrial prepress proofing ink-jet printer they had adapted for fine art printing. He was specifically looking for a word that would not have the negative connotations of “ink-jet” or “computer generated”. To make the word descriptive of ink-jet technologies he based it on the French language word ”le gicleur” meaning “nozzle”, or more specifically “gicler” meaning “to squirt, spurt, or spray”. The Epson large format printer uses Ultrachrome inks which are fade free for over 100 years,
** Epson Enhanced Matte/Archival Matte – Epson Enhanced Matte – formerly named Archival Matte – is a single-sided paper with medium thickness and weight, and a smooth, soft white (slightly warm) surface. Print quality is excellent, with deep blacks, saturated colors and good shadow and highlight detail. Enhanced Matte is incredible value, offering outstanding print quality.
*** Giclée prints of selected Spanish Civil War/Revolution posters also available HERE
Edward Heath Made Me Angry: The Christie File: Part 3, 1967-1975. 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.
The coming to power of Edward Heath’s government in 1971 redefined the limits of protest. Opponents of government were ignored or criminalised, hard won employment rights and social reforms were rolled back, and so was democracy itself. To challenge government became life threatening, as radicals across Europe and America were to discover (Benno Ohensorg, Thomas Weissbecker, Georg von Rauch, Rudi Dutschke, Giuseppe Pinelli, the six anti-Vietnam war protestors at Kent and Jackson State universities).
‘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.
Facerías : Urban Guerrilla Warfare (1939-1957); The Libertarian Movement’s Struggle Against Francoism in Spain and in Exile by Antonio Téllez Solà (reviewed in the Kate Sharpley Library Bulletin )
Facerías “was a steadfast champion of an essentially anarchist-inspired labour movement like the CNT of Spain; an organisation that might offer the proletariat guidance rather than content itself with being a tiny minority in opposition to or critical of reformist and authoritarian activity. He wanted an anarchism that might be at once the head and the arm of the proletariat rather than some sort of laboratory for doctrine or the monopoly of philosophers. … As far as he was concerned, moral solidarity, whilst undoubtedly necessary, had to be matched by material action; and if help was not forthcoming through lawful means, they should resort to unlawful means, to expropriation.” (p303, p305).
This is an important book, but not an easy one to read. It’s tragic on many different levels. It is not a complete history of the anarchist resistance to Francoism, but it is much more than a biography of Facerías alone. The context of defeat and exile is laid out, as are the fates of other Barcelona anarchist militants. Death is everywhere.
NOW AVAILABLE!FACERÍAS — Urban Guerrilla Warfare (1939-1957). The Libertarian Movement’s Struggle against Francoism in Spain and in Exile by Antonio Téllez Solà (ISBN 978-1-873976-49-4), 413pp (indexed with 16 pp of photographs) £15.95 (+£3.50 p+p UK) (PDF) (ISSUU)
Anarchist urban guerrilla and member of the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth (FIJL) since 1936, José Lluis Facerías fought on the Aragón front during the Spanish Civil War, where he was taken prisoner and held until 1945. Following his release he rejoined the clandestine anarcho-syndicalist trade union, the CNT, and dedicated himself to the armed struggle against the Francoist dictatorship. From March 1946 until his death in a police ambush in 1957, Facerias was the driving force behind the anarchist defence groups operating in Barcelona.
BARCELONA, Friday, 30 August 1957, 10:45 am. In the deserted Sant Andreu district of Barcelona, a burst of automatic gunfire crackles and, as if pushed by some mighty hand, a man on the corner of the Paseo Verdún and the Calle del Doctor Pi i Molist slumps against a low wall. A pistol appears in his hand. His eyes scan the tree-lined boulevard leading off to his right towards the Santa Cruz mental clinic, but he sees no sign of life. Suddenly, he realises he has been betrayed. Unseen assailants are shooting at him from windows overlooking the junction of the Paseo Urrutia and Calle del Doctor Pi i Molist. The first burst of gunfire shatters the man’s ankle. Further rifle shots ring out and bullets ricochet around him . . .
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Anarchism swept us away completely, because it demanded everything of us and promised everything to us. There was no remote corner of life that it did not illumine ... or so it seemed to us ... shot though with contradictions, fragmented into varieties and sub-varieties, anarchism demanded, before anything else, harmony between deeds and words
- Victor Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary
Anarchism in film
A comprehensive database of anarchist films compiled by Santiago Juan-Navarro. Click here