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One Man’s War in Spain

Trickery, Treachery and Thievery


by
Joaquín Pérez Navarro
with contributions from Luis Monferrer
Translated, edited and annotated by Paul Sharkey

Copyright © 2013
Joaquín Pérez Navarro, Luis Monferrer and Violeta Wollaston Pérez
Translation © Paul Sharkey

First published in Great Britain in 2013 by ChristieBooks,


PO Box 35
Hastings, East Sussex, TN341ZS
http://www.christiebooks.com/ChristieBooksWP/
Email: christie@btconnect.com
ISBN 978-1-873976-62-3
Translated and edited by Paul Sharkey from Yo luché por la revolución
social del pueblo español y por Todos los pueblos del mundo. Memorias y
documentos de un anarquista exiliada en Gran Bretaña (Barcelona, 1999)
and El luchador anónimo (Barcelona, 2001).
Additional material by Paul Sharkey.

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You should follow the dictates of your conscience and act in accordance
with your feelings, the way your mind operates, the way you behave, the
way you are, right? That’s what freedom is all about, right? And that
freedom deserves respect, even if I think along different lines. That should
be the norm and there shouldn’t be any unfairness, right? That’s the way .
. . Are you any better than me? No! Because I have a moral conscience, I
have a personality, I have my human dignity, and but for human dignity,
you are nowhere, nowhere!
A person should live out his daily life on the basis of ethics and morality;
once you lose them, you’ve lost everything; these days it doesn’t matter
whether you sell out to the right or to the left. You have to have a guiding
light, a . . . beacon that represents your life, your way of life . . . your life!
Which is your mother, your very mother. Because I love my ideals as if
they were my own mother; I love them that much. Because but for those
ideals, my life wouldn’t have been what it was.
– Joaquín Pérez Navarro 1907-2006

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Contents
FOREWORD
PREFACE — Félix Álvarez Ferreras
The value of written sources
Watch out, people!
Value of these essays and documents
The present volume
My role
Characteristics
Style
PART I — JOAQUÍN PÉREZ NAVARRO
THE MAN AND HIS TIMES
Prologue
Monarchist Spain
The Republic
The prison escape and the tramway depot action
The elections of 16 February 1936
19 July 1936 and after
The counter-revolution strikes back
Arrest, torture, trial and prison
Escape and exile
THE MAN AND THE BOOK
Literary output
JOAQUÍN PÉREZ NAVARRO INTERVIEWED IN LONDON IN JULY 1981
PART II — MEMOIRS: A TOUCHING STORY
THE REVOLUTION AND WAR IN SPAIN (1936–39)
A Freedom Fighter in the Spanish Revolution of 1936–39
DOCUMENTATION ON THE REVOLUTIONARY HISTORY

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OF THE SPANISH PEOPLE (1936–39)
AN HISTORIC DOCUMENT OF ANARCHISM
Written by a Genuine Eyewitness to Events in Spain from 1936 to 1939,
Now Living in Exile in London (Great Britain)
1936–39: AN AUTHENTIC WITNESS SPEAKS
MEMORANDA ON COMMUNIST POLICY
INSIDE THE REPUBLICAN ARMY
MEMORANDUM: THE CNT AND THE FAI IN THE SPANISH CIVIL
WAR 1
Of heroic Spain
CONSEQUENCES OF THE SPANISH REVOLUTION OF 1936–39
THE DELIGHTS OF OUR POLITICAL COLLABORATION
No to Anarchist Collaboration in
Constituted Governments-in-Exile
A WORD TO THE WISE
PART III — DOCUMENTS
TWO DISPATCHES FROM THE WAR
How the Heroes of the 153rd Took Belchite
to Cries of ‘Long live the FAI!’
A heroic brigade: the 153rd, formerly the Tierra y Libertad Column
Origins of the 153rd Brigade
The taking of Belchite
The Battle of the Segre
COMMUNIST POLICY INSIDE THE ARMY, JANUARY 1938
THE COMMUNIST PARTY’S CHEKAS
Two Months in the Calle Córcega Cheka in Barcelona
Interrogation
The bathroom
The paseo
Afterwards
OTERO AND ESCUDERO

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WORLD ANARCHIST FEDERATION: RUSSIA OUT TO THROTTLE
SPAIN
MANIFESTO OF THE ‘FRIENDS OF DURRUTI’ GROUPING
TOWARDS A FRESH REVOLUTION: A HISTORY AND
INTERPRETATION OF EVENTS IN SPAIN UP TILL 1938
A Document of the Friends of Durruti
Overture to the Spanish Revolution
19 July
3 May
Spain’s independence
Collaboration and class struggle
Our position
Absolute suppression of the bureaucracy
Our programme
1. Establishment of a Revolutionary Junta or National Defence Council
2. All economic power to the unions
3. Free municipality
TOWARDS A FRESH REVOLUTION
THE FRIENDS OF DURRUTI:
SOME OF ITS MEMBERS AND/OR CONTRIBUTORS TO ITS PAPER
EL AMIGO DEL PUEBLO

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FOREWORD
Violeta Wollaston Pérez
My father was a very quiet and placid person, compared with my mother’s
vivacious and outgoing personality. However, as soon as the Spanish Civil
War was mentioned, he transformed into a passionate raconteur of the
atrocities he suffered and witnessed during that time.
In his broken English he tried to communicate his feelings, his recollections
and his hope that his fellow men would learn to respect one another.
I hope this translation of his writings into English will fulfil his dream of
communicating his life story to a nation who adopted him as a refugee from
the Spanish Civil War at a time when he had nowhere else to go and gave
him the sanctuary and protection that he needed, and where he eventually
found love and contentment in family life.
I apologise to my father now for not having listened more attentively when
he was reminiscing and appreciate even more his love and patience for not
having despaired at my dismissal of this subject. I have finally been able to
understand and embrace his beliefs and am truly proud of my Dad.
VIOLETI

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PREFACE — Félix Álvarez Ferreras
A Document Towards the Spanish People’s Revolutionary History
The collected memoirs and documents in this book, penned or preserved
with such belief and ideological conviction over so very many years of
effort, can be described – now that they have seen publication – as a
masterwork. Without euphemism or any other sort of circumlocution, they
bluntly set out facts that will not be to everybody’s liking; some, having had
a hand in the loss of the Revolution and War in 1936–39, have a hard time
disguising the malicious intent that they so cravenly pursued. The
revolutionary structures of the anarcho-syndicalist and anarchist movement
were undermined to their very roots by all its foes without and within, by
Bolsheviks in particular and by the cohorts of the state in general.
As we read through these memoirs and documents, every one of their lines
is heartrending; we learn all about the treachery, criminality and squabbling
among the supporters of collaboration and those who flatly opposed it at a
time when the winning of the War by defeating Francoism ought to have
been the sole priority.
The author, his claims based on verifiable evidence, has tales to tell us that
are nevertheless hard to credit. Such is the impact of those claims that we
wonder how the Spanish Libertarian Movement could have countenanced
such kow-towing to the Communist Party, the presence of communists in
government and the watchwords issuing from those occupying the highest
positions in the FAI and the CNT. With conclusive proof and plain, open-
minded reasoning, Joaquín Pérez lifts the veil on the farcical performance of
those who ran the War. Detailing where and how the arms- and munition-
purchasing deals were made, he boldly assigns the blame for arms
purchases that never reached loyalist Spain and names the names of those –
such as Negrín and his lackeys – who pocketed the money and built up
fortunes in foreign banks. Citing details and supporting documentation,
Joaquín Pérez is unforgiving of anyone and places everyone under the
microscope, exposing their anti-revolutionary exploits.
As the chapter heading suggests, this book is a documentation of the Spanish
people’s revolutionary history in 1936–39, which was not squandered.

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Rather it should help – tomorrow or in the near future – to prevent upcoming
generations from being taken for a ride and show them how to see to it that a
worthwhile Social Revolution does not come to grief and can properly
succeed.
This is a book to be read and re-read on account of the information it
provides, information drawn from reliable sources, and on account of the
author himself, a bona fide witness of those dismal days in our history of
deadly struggle against fascism and Russian bolshevism and against Spanish
communism. It makes for an interesting read that may well still not be to the
liking of a few people, even today. So be it!

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INTRODUCTION — Luis Monferrer1

That of which no one speaks does not exist


Among the works of the British writer George Orwell, who had served in
the POUM ranks during the Spanish revolution, his novel Nineteen Eighty-
Four 2 was one of the ones that left the deepest impression on me when I
read it during my university days, describing as it does the darkest situations
that a human being can have to deal with. It is one of those works that leave
their mark and help to open our eyes and prompt a specific approach to
action and existence. I have borrowed the idea used as the heading for this
section because what follows below affirms its truth. May the actions
outlast the lifetimes of those who were and are the protagonists of each
page.
Looked at properly, this phrase was also the key to the lives of many
Spanish citizens under Francoist rule, especially those of us who were born
and raised under that rule. In fact, lots of startling events were non-existent
as far as we of the younger generation were concerned, up until the
dictatorship ended. At best (if mentioned at all) they were spoken of in
tones of fear.
The corollary of the ‘say nothing’ approach to certain developments and
facts is that the rewriting of history to suit the purposes of unscrupulous folk
is made that much easier. If the rewriting were merely hypothetical, it would
not merit any further attention: regrettably, though, there have been too many
attempts to ride roughshod over intellect and dignity for this matter to be
deemed banal.
One of the little-mentioned facts was the Spanish Revolution, the essential
(though not sole) protagonists of which were the anarcho-syndicalists. A lot
has been written about various aspects of the Civil War in Spain, but

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perhaps less about the social changes essayed at that time. The war and the
radical overhaul of social structures – the revolution – went hand in hand in
1936–37 and, though they were clearly not the same, they were frequently
conflated or referred to as twin facets of a single reality.
The value of written sources
In the dying days of the dictatorship, travel beyond Spain’s borders left
those of us schooled in this ‘say nothing’ culture somewhat bewildered.
There were exciting numbers of books and publications that dealt openly
and in detail with that brief experiment in social utopia known as the
Spanish Revolution. We owe a debt to writers whom we had never known –
some of them quite possibly deceased – for their having bequeathed us these
works for our delectation and education in the historical facts.
There were newspaper records from the time, but our thirst for information
was finally slaked with books penned very closely in time to the historical
events. Among these was Red Spanish Notebook by Mary Low and Juan
Breá.3 There the reader can find enthralling details about the outpouring of
popular delight in Barcelona and the savouring of the freedom won on 19
July 1936 following the victory over the rebel military. The comradeship,
the changes in mores and dress – the disappearance of hats and leather
garments and widespread adoption of the workman’s blue overalls – the
introduction of divorce, the abolition of religious observance, the
conversion of churches, the establishment of collectives in companies, the
ongoing fighting in Aragón and Madrid, the absconding of those who did not
see eye to eye with this reorganisation of society, the executions and
checkpoints mounted in defence of the Revolution . . .
Many other writers tackled this unique and unexpected revolutionary
development. Eyewitnesses to those events, such as the reporter Albert
Weisbord, reckoned that the atmosphere was very much akin to that during
the earliest days of the Russian revolution: ‘There is the same thrill of new
things being born, of a society in travail remaking itself before one’s eyes’
(Collectivization in Catalonia 4).
The collectivisations were a supremely significant factor in the process of
social change, although Weisbord suggests the term ‘unionisation’ to
describe that process whereby firms were taken over and run by the labour
unions. He also argued that ‘unionisation’ was as far removed from fascist
collectivisation as from Soviet collectivisation. The collectivising process
was key to the initial resistance offered by the Republic. Later, although lots

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of workers secured improved conditions and pay rates and many people’s
job satisfaction levels grew, such advances were eroded or wiped out
entirely by the inflation and speculation spawned by the War.

Some time later, George Orwell, with his Homage to Catalonia, 5


registered the end of the Revolution in the wake of the May Events in
Barcelona in 1937. It was made plain then that the choice now was between
democratic rule and a fascist regime. The underlying issue was whether
there was to be capitalist rule or a workers’ government. (See Weisbord,
Perspectives of the Spanish Revolution.6)
With the benefit of hindsight, we now know the outcome. But the majority of
Europeans were indifferent to what occurred. Albert Weisbord noted that he
was
impressed with the immense isolation of the Spanish people...
While in Spain, one is carried away on the current of the social
upheavals. Everywhere there is the feeling of living dramatic
moments in history. There is struggle and sacrifice,
unbelievable heroism and constructive effort as well as
devastation and horror. But once over the Pyrenees . . .
indifference to the Spanish struggle surrounds one on all sides.
(Outcast Spain7)
Under cover of neutrality and ‘Non-Intervention’, European countries like
France and Britain lent support to Franco. Through their investments in
Spain, their economic and financial circles fomented hostility towards the
Republic; they had an enduring fear of the Valencia government’s not being
able to neutralise and demobilise revolutionaries; they were afraid lest
those trade union organisations, under the leadership of anarcho-syndicalists
and the POUM, might seize power and install a worker government that
might confiscate foreign investment.
In such circumstances the Republic’s isolation was assured, as was – in
spades – the isolation of the Revolution and of its most enthusiastic
promoters, such as the Friends of Durruti group.
Watch out, people!
Be that as it may, one of the most surprising things about those days was the
far-sightedness of the analysis of the implications of what was witnessed
and experienced at that time. The sharp insights into the nature and
methodology of Stalinism that many people (including Joaquín Pérez in his

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written output) acquired began while the Spanish war was in progress.
Orwell’s works are another unmistakable example of this.
Capitalising upon their influence over the Republican government, the
Soviet representatives and advisers dispatched to Spain by Stalin, together
with their Spanish Communist Party co-religionists, helped overwhelm the
Revolution. The defeated anarchist movement denounced this fact in the
middle of the Civil War and regaled the world with its lack of trust in
Stalinism, capable as it had been of the deeds and methods witnessed in
Spain. Joaquín Pérez’s writings and the documentary evidence he adduces
do likewise.
During the 1920s and 1930s, it had become something of a fashion for many
journalists and intellectuals to undertake the trip to the USSR and thereafter
to write – usually in tones of high praise – books about what they had seen
there. Fernando de los Ríos did it, as did Miguel Chaves Nogales and many
another intellectual from Spain and Western Europe. Among other things,
this helped boost the standing of the Russian Revolution while helping to
arouse revolutionary expectations in the Spanish workers.
However, in books by Soviet writers who were contemporaries of the
Spanish conflict (writers like Gladkov) or who came after (like
Solzhenitsyn), and others, we find – albeit set out guardedly and in a
measured way – confirmation of the Stalinist methods that had drawn down
such well-deserved criticism from Spanish anarchists. Another step in the
exposure of Stalinism was taken by a number of Spanish communist leaders.
Although their courage and candour is a credit to the writers of these books,
the information contained within the slow drip of books penned by the likes
of Miguel Tagüeña, Valentín González (a.k.a. El Campesino) or Manuel
Azcárate – books that provided confirmation of earlier exposés – proved
devastating.
Value of these essays and documents
These essays or memoirs by Joaquín Pérez contain the subjective ‘truth’ of
one Spanish anarchist who lived through the key moments of twentieth-
century Spanish history: the activities of the Libertarian Movement under
Alfonso’s kingship, the advent of the Second Republic, the defeat on Catalan
soil of the 1936 army revolt, the installation of Libertarian Communism in
the collectives in Catalonia and Aragón, the fighting on the battlefronts and
the ravages of the Civil War, the defeat of the Republic, the concentration
camps in the south of France, the Labour Companies into which the French
government drafted Spanish exiles, the exodus from northern France in the

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face of imminent German takeover, the escape to England, the impact of the
Second World War on British cities and life there as an exile right up until
retirement age.
To the first-hand experiences acquired before he quit Spain in 1939, Joaquín
Pérez has added his experiences during his 60-year residence in England,
all of which have singularly equipped him to observe and interpret the past
and present. In old age, Joaquín was able to see contentedly that, in his own
case, the enigmatic rainbow of life took on all manner of iridescence and
hues until it became so expansive as to encompass virtually the whole of the
twentieth century. Furthermore, in the history of Spanish social upheaval
during the past century, there were a number of groups – such as the
anarchists – that spearheaded a vast swathe of action and experience that
can now be construed as our shared inheritance. If our knowledge of the
society that triggered the emergence of this whole range of experiences is to
be more detailed and balanced, those experiences need to be taken into
consideration and their loss averted.
On all of these scores, I reckon that it has been a worthwhile undertaking to
prepare the publication of the writings and documentation furnished by
Joaquín Pérez.
Although the reader may not subscribe to any or many of the views set out in
these writings, or even should she or he find them questionable, they need to
be preserved as part of our common heritage in that they encapsulate the
views of a Spanish anarchist, a member of the Friends of Durruti group. As
we shall see anon, that group put up a determined case for the Spanish
Libertarian Movement to have no truck with government organisations.
Besides, Joaquín Pérez’s right (and that of all his comrades) to voice the
opinions contained within this book is every bit as legitimate as that of any
other writer who has written from a different political or social viewpoint.
In publishing this record of such extraordinary human experiences, our
object is to preserve them against the natural destruction that will eventually
befall all of the protagonists. ‘The written record stands,’ but the passage of
time will sort things out and tell what real value they have. In any event, we
shall be gratified as long as any future reader is helped to gain a better
understanding of what the Civil War was all about – it being an event that
has so directly moulded the collective life and history of Spain over much
of the twentieth century.

The present volume

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The book that the reader is holding is an anthology of scattered writings,
which started off as letters from the author to anarchist friends and
comrades in France. They represent a blend of up-to-date personal news
and other, more political allusions to the past. The author’s opinions are
punctuated by copies of trustworthy documents in his possession, so that
both melt into a single missive that proffers intriguing details regarding the
days of the Spanish War and Revolution.
Collected here into a single volume, they acquire something akin to
‘memoir’ status, so that the letters become chapters in a larger story. To
them have been added several documents supplied by Joaquín Pérez –
although not penned by him – that mirror his feelings and those of the
organisation of which he was a lifelong stalwart. They shine additional light
upon the Spanish revolution. (On account of their varied origins, the reader
may feel that there is some repetition of views.)
By way of complement and in order to strike a balance between present and
past, I have added an interview that I conducted with the author in July
1981. To a great extent, the author himself decided the structure of the book.
Aside from containing the singular views of Joaquín Pérez, a member of the
Friends of Durruti group, the pages which follow also offer us specific
details – albeit only fragments and not meant as the last word on the subject
– regarding different aspects of the Civil War period, such as feats of arms,
a measure of political analysis of the reasons why the Spanish Revolution
failed, how the communist machinery of repression operated within the
Republican zone, etc. Indeed, I initially considered suggesting to Joaquín
Pérez that he offer something relating to the collectives in Aragón, given that
he seemed to warm to reminiscing about what life was like there for some
months back in 1936–37. But then an overview of the whole anthology
deterred me from pursuing the point as I sought for a title that might
encapsulate the book’s contents.
In the Documents section we have included writings not directly from the
pen of Joaquín Pérez but which pointedly add to information regarding
matters already dealt with by him. The first document consists of two
accounts of matters military in relation to the capture of Belchite and the
battle of the Segre. The second document deals with the communist
subversion of the anarchist 153rd Brigade (formerly the Tierra y Libertad
Column). The third describes the operation of the Santa Ursula convent (in
Valencia) and the police methods deployed against one anarchist in
Barcelona.

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The fourth document describes the how two agents of the republican
government appointed to procure arms instead colluded with the Francoists
to line their own pockets. The fifth is a report from the World Anarchist
Federation (possibly the international secretariat of the German FAU)
alerting Spanish anarchists, in the latter half of 1937, about the agreement
reached between Stalin and Dr Negrín, whereby Russia would ship plentiful
war materials to Spain in return for agreement that the direction of the war
in Spain should be entrusted to a series of Soviet advisers, and in return
also for harassment of all anti-Stalinist personnel (i.e. anarchists and
poumistas).
The sixth document is a copy of the Manifesto of the Friends of Durruti,
drafted during the upheaval of the May Events of 1937 in Barcelona,
offering an analysis of the true import of the counter-revolutionary coup that
was under way at the time, a coup spearheaded by the PSUC, Estat Catalá
and the Esquerra Republicana and other Republican organisations and
resisted by poumistas and anarchists. There is also a fragment carried by El
Amigo del Pueblo – a bulletin drafted by the Friends of Durruti group in
fraught circumstances.
The final document is an extensive report drawn up by the Friends of
Durruti Group and entitled ‘Towards a Fresh Revolution’. It offers a
searching analysis of the historical background leading up to the Civil War,
analysing a number of mistakes made by anarchists in the Revolution as
well as fresh proposals for the future. It also deals with counter-revolution
and authentic Social Revolution. It was published by the Friends of Durruti,
of which Joaquín Pérez was one of the organisers.
In actual fact the Documents section could have been much more extensive
had we included every one of the documents contained in Joaquín Pérez’s
archives denouncing communist bullying and atrocities – all of it viewed
through an anarchist lens, of course – but we have not included them on the
grounds that they already appear in a book jointly put together by Joaquín
Pérez and Francisco Piqueras.8
My role
In connection with this volume I have confined myself to syntactical
amendments and improving the punctuation of some writings that, initially,
were made up of long paragraphs with frequent digressions straying from
the main point. I have striven throughout scrupulously to retain the ideas set
out by the author in the originals. Whenever I felt it necessary I have

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inserted a word of clarification. Elsewhere, while retaining unamended the
original information, vocabulary and expressions contained within the
initial text, I have shortened the paragraphs to render them more readable.
Even so, there may well be the odd slightly obscure fragment left. In any
event, my belief is that it is primarily the overall view, the information
within each chapter that counts most.
Characteristics
The letter format is a feature that the reader will encounter in several of the
chapters that follow. When writing to the like-minded, Joaquín Pérez used to
blend current (personal news) with allusions to the past (political comment
or interpretation of events, most of which occurred during the War). The
bulk of the information and the author’s comments relate to that period.
Also, these essays having been written over a long period of time, it is
inevitable that there should be some degree of overlapping of ideas and
details.
Joaquín Pérez punctuates his writings with personal details and opinions
and throws in copies of trustworthy documents that had come into his hands,
as a result of the post he held on the steering committee of the libertarian
group set up in England. Both melt into a single text, but the process is
plainly discernible to the reader, from which we can conclude that the
author was concerned, not so much with aesthetics and style as with ‘being
truthful’, with exposing, rescuing from oblivion and publicising hard-and-
fast details of the time of the Revolution and War in Spain.
Another feature of this correspondence is its political purpose: denunciation
of corruption and criminality ascribed both to Spaniards and to foreigners,
supposed friends, allies and champions of the Spanish Republic.
Style
My aim has been at all times to retain the author’s own vocabulary and turn
of phrase so that the sources of his thinking can breathe freely, even if his
expressions may not be quite orthodox. In which case I have inserted ‘[sic]’
to indicate that these are the author’s very own words. Joaquín Pérez
employs blunt language wherein various metaphors crop up that resonate
with country life: thus, professional politicians are seen as traitors
(‘weeds’). Anarchist leaders are described as ‘shepherds’ and,
consequently, the followers as ‘sheep’; decent anarchists as ‘the cream of
the crop’ and the communists as ‘bloodthirsty wolves’ or ‘ weevils’.

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The experience of the Civil War intrudes painfully and sourly upon how
Joaquín Pérez expresses himself. In a number of places there is a flare-up of
high emotion, fury or bitterness, triggered by the painful memories entailed
in the failure of the Revolution. All of which leads to spluttering dismissals
of Dr Negrín and the Communist Party and of the pro-collaboration
anarchist ministers, etc. whom he blames for that defeat. Here I would
suggest to the reader that he look beyond these dismissals. Beyond the
heavy-calibre verbal pyrotechnics employed, which may momentarily
distract our attention, I believe it will prove of more interest if we pay heed
to the message underlying said criticisms, and so I urge the reader to try to
uncover Joaquín Pérez’s ‘truth’ as set out in the pages below.
Barcelona, 4 April 1998

Notes
1. The editor of the original Spanish text of Yo luché por la revolución
social del pueblo español y por Todos los pueblos del mundo. Memorias y
documentos de un anarquista exiliada en Gran Bretaña (Barcelona,
1999).
2. London: Secker & Warburg, 1949
3. London: Martin Secker and Warburg, 1937.
4. Albert Weisbord, Collectivization in Catalonia. Available at:
http://www.weisbord.org/Collective.htm
5. George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia. London: Martin Secker and
Warburg, 1937.
6. Albert Weisbord, Outcast Spain. Available at:
http://www.weisbord.org/Outcast.htm
7. Albert Weisbord, Perspectives of the Spanish Revolution. Available at:
http://www.weisbord.org/Perspectives.htm
8. F. Piqueras, El SIM y el Partido Comunista 1936–1939 (Barcelona:
Ediciones Libertarias, 1988).

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PART I — JOAQUÍN PÉREZ NAVARRO
THE MAN AND HIS TIMES
Francisco Piqueras
Prologue
As the comrade to whom this book is dedicated has it:
As long as capitalism, Church and militarism (not forgetting
governments) exist, the world will always be faced with
slavery, torture, exploitation and imprisonment. For this reason
we workers must make it our business to destroy their power if
we are to avoid being ridden roughshod over the way we have
been in centuries past.
Our comrade Joaquín Pérez Navarro was a member of the Los Quijotes
group. Well before 1936, this was a group made up of four anonymous
comrades, and within the group it was Joaquín who orchestrated everything
relating to direct action meant to help the workers and the needy; he could
not stomach their abuse at anyone’s hands – capitalist or otherwise.
Eventually a member of the FAI, he had joined the CNT back in 1919 when,
on the basis of his solidarity and mutual aid, he quickly found colleagues
who saw him as a great comrade. He soon became an activist, forever
working on behalf of the Foodworkers’ Union, and within months was one
of its most outstanding members.
In this chapter we will see two great events that a couple of authors merely
cite in passing without stating how or in what manner they came about, even
though they both belonged to the history of libertarian organisations at the
time in question. As we shall see, I will have some light to shed in this
chapter, for the events concerned have previously been a guarded secret; but
now, I will tell the tale of those two great feats so that all my readers can
understand how those four Quijotes from the CNT pulled them off. But let us
leave our account of said events for the moment.
Our comrade was always very active in conjunction with the committees of
the libertarian organisations, even though he knew them to be reformists
whom he could not stand as people. Workers and victims of persecution and
exploitation themselves, they embraced politics even though the CNT had
been set up for the specific purpose of combating capitalism and preventing
all exploitation of and trespass against the workers. When the time would

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come to stand up to a range of forces such as capitalism, militarism, the
Church and all forms of government with attendant forces of oppression, the
CNT would proclaim the Social Revolution. Above all pro-claiming
Libertarian Communism, that being the ideal holding out the promise of
every worker living in a context of equality, with everybody working on an
equal footing, doing away with exploitation and prisons, with money
abolished, with governments, the military, the Church and everything
injurious to the worker abolished, leaving us with none of the forces of
oppression that require the worker to endure hunger and torture at the hands
of the forces of repression. Churches would be turned into schools and
warehouses, and everything abolished that the Church can use to bully
heedless souls who swallow its lies; everything that is peddled by
hypocrites determined to live without working, who, in addition to what the
established government may award them, also want to skim something from
the workers’ income.
Naturally they bemoaned the fact that the collection plate brought them
scarcely a penny and they were insistent that a levy be imposed to raise the
money that they said they needed.
What I cannot comprehend is that there are educated folk with good careers,
ministers, military men and common folk, who believe in things that cannot
possibly be true, but, especially in countries where hunger is rampant,
politics can lure them into snares set by the priests when the Church, the
world’s biggest capitalist, never satisfied and ever eager to live off the
backs of others, never having given an account of its spending since the day
it was founded, has done nothing but work against the workers and, in every
clash with government, has always lined up against the workers. We are
talking about the Inquisition when the Church butchered upwards of 400,000
workers and tortured a further 200,000 just because they refused to swallow
its nonsense.
Between the Revolution and Civil War in Spain in 1936 and his demise in
1975, Franco was, even on his deathbed, signing death sentences. This man,
who slaughtered upwards of 2 million workers, this man ‘who would be
emperor’, who left the country in ruins, was eulogised by the Church.
Franco sought to turn Spain into a great power but failed in the attempt; even
so, although the Allies emerged as victors from the Second World War, he
clung to power thanks to the Allies’ betrayal of the Spanish Republic.
Once he grew up, our comrade Joaquin, a great fighter and a great Quijote
figure, set about conspiring against the state and church and the military.

20
And, with his group, he made the Generalidad quake prior to 1936.
Since they worked anonymously, nobody ever knew who had mounted those
big attacks and we shall have something to say about them when the time
comes, but let us not get ahead of ourselves. This chapter in a book in his
honour will please all who read it because those two feats – possibly the
greatest to figure in the CNT-FAI’s struggle – are proof of the courage, nerve
and daredevil characters of those four men led by J. Pérez when, at personal
risk and under the very noses of the police, they mounted two attacks that no
one had ever imagined possible, so difficult were they. This chapter will
reveal what those four Quijotes pulled off thanks the gifted planning of this
great comrade who was the real brains behind these two attacks on the
bourgeoisie and the state, in defence of their comrades as ever; at some risk
to their own hides and without fear they struck in defence of the workers and
never sought any reward. For him, the fact that they were workers was
grounds enough to risk his own life. He was a comrade much loved within
his union and the libertarian organisations, and he never sought office, not
even in the Foodworkers’ Union of which he was a member. His modus
operandi was to be out on the streets forever preaching direct action; and,
on occasion, he ‘had words’ with the reformists in the organisation serving
on the various Regional Committees. He and his comrades operated wholly
anonymously.
Joaquín Pérez Navarro was born in Los Calpes de la Pobla d’Arenós (Alt
Millars, Valencia) on 4 August 1907. From a humble farming background,
he was the eldest of three sons. He moved away with his widowed mother
to Barcelona in 1918, finding work as a hod-carrier before becoming a
waiter (his final trade). In 1919 he joined the Confederación Nacional del
Treball (CNT) (Castilian: Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) and
became active in the anarchist movement, serving time in prison even before
the Revolution and the Civil War. In July 1936 he took up arms against the
fascist coup in Barcelona and once it had been crushed in Catalunya by the
forces of the people, he set off for the Aragón front, having joined a centuria
of the Durruti Column. Later he worked on the farming collectives in Gelsa
and Pina de Ebro. With the militarisation of the militias he turned down an
officer’s commission in the army. As a member of the Friends of Durruti
group he fought against the Stalinists in Barcelona in the May Events of
1937. Later, he seems to have served in the republican army with what had
once been the Iron Column.
In November 1938 he was arrested for carrying a pistol by communist

21
agents actually affiliated to the CNT. After being ‘processed’ by the
Servicio de Inteligencia Militar (SIM) 1 cheka in the Calle Provenza, he
was dragged, half-dead, before a court to have his death sentence upheld by
army personnel in thrall to the communists in two secret hearings.
He was not put to death, however, because when the fascists entered
Barcelona the guards in the Montjuich fortress panicked and deserted their
posts. He made good his escape, reaching France by slipping through
Francoist army checkpoints.
From Joaquín’s struggles, writings, documents and reminiscences we learn
about all the betrayals, all the criminality, all the dereliction by those who
supported collaboration, and about those who opposed it at a time when the
sole priority should have been the defeat of Francoism. Every line tears
another chunk out of our souls. With documentary evidence to hand, Joaquín
Pérez regaled me with stories that I found hard to take in and believe; his
revelations are such as to set us to wondering how the Spanish libertarian
movements – the anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists – could have
countenanced such supine obedience to communism (and to communist rule)
and to directives emanating from those occupying the highest offices in the
anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movements.
As it happens, in every story, sooner or later some interested person steps
forward for whom this or that reference, and the morsel or entire truth held
within it, or in some papers, assumes significance. At which point, you
stumble upon some book that is a help in the task you have taken on, a
helping hand or an outstanding delight in that it is a time-saver since it is a
pointer towards archival research or reading. And it is then that the actual
writer of the book is sensible of the debt he owes to others before him who
took the trouble to set down the documentation or notes on paper.
Joaquín’s writings, too, encapsulate the truth as seen by one comrade, a
decent, sound revolutionary. He lived his life for no other cause, keen for
others to read what he wrote and to be made aware that there were some
who had gambled their lives in events that nobody had been expecting. In
particular, the accounts below are the first to give details of how two
strokes were pulled in 1933 that thwarted the entire Barcelona police force
in their search for the perpetrators of the acts, namely the Los Quijotes
group made up of CNT-FAI members. The actions claimed not a single life,
nor caused a single injury, because care was taken that they were mounted at
a time when the streets were not too busy. The deeds struck fear into the

22
Civil Guard as well as into the secret police because they were left in the
dark about who to arrest for spectacular acts that came off perfectly.
Our comrade always operated anonymously lest he come to the attention of
the police, who would soon have heard on the grapevine if anyone were to
remark what a great comrade he was. Even though no one had died and no
one had been injured, he would have been staring at life imprisonment for
having made mugs out of the police and Civil Guard. He opted for
anonymity as a way of avoiding capture.
Given his lighthearted approach and the way he worked, he was the ideal
comrade; he never eased up and was always out on the streets, distributing
propaganda against exploitation or against the police or government since
these were still arresting and jailing comrades and since the people were
still left to go hungry. He very quickly came to prominence for his
commitment to his work, and the serious approach whereby he was able to
place things in proper context; his beliefs were heartfelt. Any time there was
a rally, be it in the Monumental bullring, the Olimpia Theatre or the Las
Arenas bullring, he was there, having picked up his lunch and headed off to
hear his comrades speak.
There were no end of strikes, because the people had wearied of the
exploitation they had to endure, on wages that did not stretch to putting food
on the table for the whole week. Catholic, militarist Spain could eat its fill
and not care a fig for the fact that the people were going hungry, but the
CNT-FAI did not forget that their programme stated their mission as being to
work towards the Social Revolution that was brewing even under the harsh
repression.
When there was a general strike to protest about, say, wages or rises in train
or tram fares or rising gas and electricity prices, every single service would
grind to a halt at 5.00 a.m., and workers with journeys to make would
proceed on foot; the factories and workshops were entirely shut down and
transport services non-existent. Barcelona was brought to a complete halt,
with no shops, bakeries or anything else open, not even the very bars and
restaurants; that strike would not be lifted until the committees meeting with
the businessmen and members of the government paid proper attention to the
workers’ demands (which might take a full month). Officials and labourers
and everybody else was on strike in every single sector, without exception.
There were picket lines barring every worker from going into work. Our
comrade would busy himself dealing with anything partial to the workers,

23
and not at the behest of anyone else, for he knew well what needed doing
when he saw any worker in difficulty with his firm. This is how our J. Pérez
quickly became a figure well known in Barcelona for his bravery and his
confrontations with the bosses of the companies or workshops.
Monarchist Spain
Spain in the twentieth century was just one long repression as far as the
workers were concerned; thousands perished, and the prisons were always
packed with men who refused to be slaves and who strove to ensure that
their children would not perish of starvation. There had to be an end to
politicking by all governments, right wing or left. My mind flies back to the
1920s when ambitious generals, the so-called ‘Africanos’, never flinched at
the deaths of thousands of Spaniards in their war in Africa; every battle was
fought just so that they could gain promotion, and they dispatched their
troops to certain death in the clashes at Alhucemas, Monte Gurugú, Melilla
or Barranco del Lobo.
The generals’ every attempt to conquer Morocco turned into the outright
slaughter of young men ‘for the sake of the fatherland’ – even though that
fatherland was undeserving of it. King Alfonso XIII demanded a sacrifice
amounting to millions of pesetas and thousands of lives – not that the
Bourbon king or the Africano generals gave a damn about the human and
material cost. In the end it was inevitable that they should lose, for the
Moors were not exactly throwing stones; they had enough weapons to beat
the raw recruits who died so that their king could pin medals on generals
who could not win a single battle but who were adept at dispatching lambs
to the slaughter. Besides, what few possessions Spain had left in Africa –
such as Ceuta and Melilla – brought the government nothing but headaches
and massive losses; Morocco still lobbies Spain for their return and in time
some government is going to have to surrender them in order to avert further
bloodletting.
Spain has always been a country where the people went hungry and were
tortured and jailed. In July 1919, the La Canadiense electricity company
strike had been won thanks to the fortitude shown by the workers and the
many thousands who came out in support. With the further backing of a
threatened general strike, they secured more or less what they had been
asking for. The years that followed saw a rash of murders carried out by the
right against the workers, when the capitalists hired paid gunmen to break
strikes and deal with workers who were no longer prepared to put up with
their lot. The CNT-FAI back then lost upwards of 400 members at the hands

24
of those gunmen.2
The Republic
With the advent of the Republic in 1931, things went from bad to worse.
Everybody was led to believe that this was to be a ‘workers’‘ republic, but
not so. The whole line-up of its first government was made up of
reactionaries opposed to the workers’ interests. Every member of it was a
dyed-in-the-wool monarchist, as was the Republic’s president, Alcalá-
Zamora, and was hoping that the ex-king, Alfonso XIII, might return to the
country. (Indeed many of them escorted the king and his family with all
pomp to Cartagena, from where the cruiser Libertad (if memory serves)
carried them to Marseilles and thence to Rome, where in 1941 he died of
TB. His remains were laid to rest in the Escorial palace, Madrid, his reign
having been an utter catastrophe for every Spanish worker.)
And so unemployment, hunger, torture in police cells, strikes, arrests and all
manner of irritations persisted.
The first threat came in August 1932 from the Africanista general Sanjurjo,
who rebelled against the Republic. Although he failed, it soon became all
too obvious that its enemies did not believe that the republican regime
would fall by itself, and so they determined to snuff it out.
Sanjurjo was arrested and jailed, but after a few months he was banished to
Portugal, where he met his death in 1936 in a plane crash while en route to
Spain to take charge of the uprising – and the word was that this was due to
sabotage by his rival fellow mutineers against the Republic.3
The fact is that we revolutionaries were not at all happy with the new
regime, given that republican rule represented no advance; exploitation still
prevailed. The only ones living the good life were the military, the church
and the capitalists, which is why the CNT made up its mind not to vote in
the ensuing general elections. I forgot to mention that Captains Fermín Galán
and García Hernández, who had risen in rebellion against the monarchy,
were shot out of hand on 31 December 1930, whereas the same treatment
was not meted out when Sanjurjo revolted. The same monarchist outlook
can be seen at work here.
During the lifetime of the Republic, our Quijote was one of the most active
CNT members who, no matter how often he might wind up in the Modelo
prison, carried on as usual. He was always focused on what he could do to
get the bourgeoisie to understand that the workers were not to be trifled

25
with, since they were the ones filling their pockets and since their lifestyle
could not be maintained without them.
The CNT was calling upon its members to be on the alert; posters were
going up, troops were being put on caution against opening fire on the
people and, in certain barracks, told to stand by to mutiny against their
officers, these being – as ever – the enemies of the workers.
Rather than obey murderous Bourbon generals, step up, workers
and soldiers, to fight the people’s enemies, the real assassins.
The CNT is the only revolutionary organisation looking out for
the workers’ interests and it will not allow capitalism, the
church and the military to have their way in the fratricidal strike
in which they would make slaves of us. This is a fight to the
death against them, against your officers. Stand by your people
at all times.
That was the watchword issued to the soldiers.
The Catalan regional government, the Generalidad, had proclaimed its
Home Rule statute from the balcony of its palace in April 1931, further
complicating the situation. It could not brook the existence of two rulers –
the government of the Esquerra Republicana party and the CNT.
Inside the CNT we were already seeing factional warfare between those
who embraced reformism and those who sought to champion anarchism
within the organisation, to wit, the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI). That
organisation had been founded on the beaches of Valencia in 1927 for the
very purpose of defending the CNT from reformists ensconced within the
libertarian organisations.
It was on 18 January 1932 that the workers in Alto Llobregat revolted and
proclaimed Libertarian Communism, the abolition of money and private
property. The main actors in this were miners from Figols and Sallent. The
central government denounced the cenetistas4 as ‘card-carrying bandits’.
The government quelled the revolt after five days when several truckloads
of army troops, Civil Guards and Assault Guards reached Sallent and
crushed the movement after it failed to attract backing from the rest of the
organisation. The reformist committees of the CNT-FAI refused to back their
brothers in the fight against the government and their declaration of
Libertarian Communism.

26
In Andalusia the following year there were outbreaks of revolution in La
Rinconada, Arcos de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Málaga, Utrera,
Cádiz, Alcalá de los Gazules and Medina-Sidonia, but the most significant
outbreak was in Casas Viejas.
In that peaceable farm-labourers’ village on 10 January 1933 they
proclaimed Libertarian Communism, disarming the local Civil Guards with
four shotguns. Then the government forces arrived and the Assault Guards
and Civil Guards began to slaughter the peasants. The rebels’ last redoubt
was the hovel occupied by ‘Seisdedos’5 and his daughter Libertaria, into
which a number of peasants had withdrawn to face the forces of repression.
At the end of a furious shoot-out the forces in the hire of the government set
the hut alight, killing two peasants who tried to escape the blaze. In view of
the severe repression taking place after the jails had been filled with
peasant prisoners, the remaining eight opted to perish in the flames.
This was when repression struck workers throughout the country, at a time
when hunger roamed the land and when thousands of workers were jobless
and others out on strike attempted to extract pay rises from their bosses.
The prison escape and the tramway depot action
During 1933 in Barcelona our Quijote had been mulling this over, none of it
having escaped him. He was working relentlessly on behalf of the ideal that
he carried in his heart. Such was his dedication that he joined a band of
nameless militants made up of four comrades, all of them ready to do
whatever it took to secure the workers’ welfare. Their actual identities were
a mystery to everybody, even though the individuals themselves were
familiar enough. The names of those in the group were not known but they
had a modus operandi such that everybody knew that what they did was the
handiwork of comrades, but no one apart from Joaquín ever knew the names
of the members of the group, not even the committees of the organisations.
All that was known was that there was an action group out there, working
relentlessly, but nobody ever knew who they were. This was the only way
they could ensure that no one would get wind of what was in the offing and,
besides, this anonymity threw the police off the scent; they had no clue about
who was doing these things.
With other members of his group he planted a couple of bombs near the
foundations of Barcelona police headquarters. Also in Barcelona that year
there was an unparalleled strike on the trams with not a single one running.
Meanwhile, our comrade and the other Quijotes had drawn up a plan for a
breakout from Barcelona’s Modelo prison and had been working on its

27
execution for several days. He had talks with those he considered the
trustworthiest prisoners to set the date for the breakout that he was planning,
in which the prisoners too would have to do their own bit in pursuit of their
freedom.
The plotters meanwhile had drawn up plans of the entire Barcelona sewer
system and every day would slip down into the sewers until they found the
right outlet for the prisoners to escape through. The difficulties they
encountered included avoiding points at which the fleeing prisoners would
get soaked by water discharges. Lookouts had also to be posted so that the
escapees could emerge onto the street without attracting suspicion. If all
went well, the forces of repression would be made a laughing-stock. Tools
had to be brought in to drill through to link up with the escapers.
On their side, the prisoners themselves had also begun to drill through the
wall in the utmost silence, removing the dirt as best they could and dumping
it in the toilets or into a garbage truck. Only they knew how it was done;
they carried on drilling until they had a gap big enough for a man to slip
through easily.
Our Quijote dropped by for one final chat and set the date and time for the
breakout; there was still some work to be done on ensuring that the escape
bid would succeed. Part of that success was that it would create a great stir
throughout Spain and in the outside world, since nobody had imagined it
was in the offing. Not even the organisation knew anything, since the four
Quijotes operated in complete anonymity.
Once everything was ready, there was a final visit to rearrange the exact
date and time for the breakout. The prisoners could now sense that they
were working with liberators only a short distance away.
Nobody knows what those liberators had to go through to divert the flow of
sewage so that the inmates could escape without mishap, for the stench and
the rats were almost intolerable. But the comrades bore and endured it all
so that the cenetista prisoners could get out; their lives were committed to
their comrades and to the CNT-FAI. As long as everything came off they
were more than happy to be able to facilitate the escape of inmates from
Barcelona’s Modelo prison.
Came the long-awaited day and night, our four comrades were in position to
show the prisoners the way out. When the time came they broke through to
freedom within seconds and made their way out one by one They emerged
onto some open ground beyond the sewers, each man slipping away to

28
wherever he reckoned the authorities were least likely to come looking for
him. In all 58 men got out, with our Joaquín Pérez bringing up the rear
[waiting in the sewers to direct the prisoners to safety]. There were no
mishaps, although it is said that 12 of the 58 were recaptured within 12
hours. The prisoners had actually been out for 8 hours before the breakout
was discovered, whereupon the press kicked up a great stink about the
escape, which was without precedent in the country and which had come off
perfectly. The whole of Spain was wondering how this big escape had come
about and who had been behind it, although the police were not so stupid
and soon discovered that it had been the handiwork of CNT-FAI militants.
The fact is that the four comrades had given the police a sickener, having
brought off the seemingly impossible under their very noses, making them
laughing-stocks. But only their ingenuity and their devotion to the
organisations they belonged to enabled the militants to make laughing-stocks
of the authorities, and of the Barcelona police in particular, who had no
notion of the resourcefulness, courage, sacrifice and great love of ideals of
the comrades concerned. The escape was the talk of Spain, and other
organisations marveled at, and were taken aback by, the news of the great
feat of the breakout by 58 CNT inmates.
Of all the books in my possession written by anarchists and by authors both
sympathetic and unsympathetic, only two make any reference to the event.
One is by Peirats and the other by Diego Abad de Santillán; it is not
mentioned by García Oliver, nor is there a word about it to be found in
Hugh Thomas’s book.
The fact is that none of these authors has anything to say about how it came
to pass that these comrades managed to bring off two coups within just days
of each other. Both would go down in the history of the workers’ movement
and be entered in the black books of the police, in that they were both pulled
off under their very noses. How had these comrades, neither engineers nor
draughtsmen, pulled off the breakout in the dead of night, after over two
months’ preparations and toing and froing in Barcelona’s infested sewers on
an almost daily basis?
The other coup, which was a more perilous operation in that it was carried
out in broad daylight in late 1933, occurred a mere 10 days after the
prisoner breakout. The tram strike was still raging after two months and the
workers were starting to notice that food was in short supply, even with
every possible assistance from the organisation. Our comrade did not think
twice about it. The swaggering director of the tram company was refusing to

29
grant one iota of the demands of the workers. The workers, in their turn,
were not budging one inch; their pay was not enough to live on, not even
enough to put food on the table for their children, which was why they were
digging in their heels.
Our comrade had an inkling about the best way of ensuring that things
moved in the strikers’ direction and that the strike, which everybody agreed
was a tough one, would succeed. With his three musketeers, our comrade set
to work after multiple visits to the tram depot in San Gervasio. He had had
an eye out for the placement of what he had in mind, something that needed
doing as quickly as possible.
A friend had a car and together they moved a couple of packages of candy
(as he termed them), 30 kilos and 25 kilos in weight. All the while the city
slept peacefully, or else enjoyed its nightlife, blithely unaware that the
people were famished.
Once the devices were in place, the wires had to be attached so that they
would go off simultaneously because the tram company director’s home was
smack-dab in the middle of the San Gervasio depot. So, taking the utmost
care, Joaquín himself took charge of attaching the wires connecting both
devices, careful not to leave any clues, and ensuring that the watchman
would not spy the three comrades who stayed in their positions.
The blast was so powerful that it was felt throughout the city, and did great
damage. The director’s home was reduced almost entirely to rubble and of
the upstairs, where the director slept; all that was left was his bed. In the
depot, a hangar was destroyed and the burning trams were sent flying
through the air by explosions that could not have been bettered by a
qualified demolition engineer.
In the light of what happened, the director of the tram company caved into
the claims of the workers, who indicated to him that, had he done so right
from the start of their negotiations with him, the devastation (the authors of
which were never identified) might never have happened.
As I have said, these two operations were mounted with the utmost secrecy
and no one ever found out who was behind them. Now the lid is lifted on
how they were done and the identity of the great Quijote figure who was
responsible for these two great feats, carried out by men operating
anonymously in defence of the workers. Those deeds left the police and
Civil Guard (not to mention the secret police) at a complete loss, because,
no matter how hard they tried to find them, they never managed to identify

30
and arrest the perpetrators and ended up a laughing stock, so sensational
were these acts. Anyone among them who is still alive must be very old
indeed; at last he can gain some insight into the two most significant feats
pulled off by four unnamed men, four comrades who were ready to force the
director of the San Gervasio Tram Carriage Company into backing down.
The other event 10 days earlier, the escape of 58 inmates from Barcelona’s
Modelo prison, also stands out on account of the numbers involved who
recovered their freedom and left not merely the gaolers but also the forces
of repression the targets of ridicule. Ordinary folk were lost in admiration
for the escape of so many prisoners from Barcelona’s Modelo prison –
something probably without parallel then anywhere in the world. The four
nameless comrades always acted in concert and not one of them ever told
even his family, this being one way of stopping rumour and ensuring that
things would go as perfectly as they did.
Both of these events came ahead of the revolutionary uprising in Aragón and
La Rioja in northern Spain on 8 December 1933, which once again was met
with brutal repression.
None of the republican governments that governed during the ‘red biennium’
from 1931 to 1933 was republican, not even that led by Azaña. This was the
Azaña of the ‘Shoot them in the bellies’ scandal during the Casas Viejas
incidents when the order went out for the peasants to be murdered. What
sort of a Republican could he have been when he ordered the massacre of
poor peasants and the torching of their hovels by the Civil Guard and
Assault Guard, so that none might survive? Each and every one of the
members of that government had links to the monarchy and they had the
people even more exploited than they had been under the monarchy; the jails
were filled to overflowing and there were mass deportations made to Bata
and Western Guinea in Africa. These were territories where the natives
were exploited and robbed of anything that took the fancy of the guards, who
also subjected black girls to rape, while the government got on with seizing
the local raw materials. In short this was a Republic that drifted from
disaster to disaster; and, given the food shortages, not only were the jails
filled and strikes mounted for improvements, but this was a government that
took no interest in what the working man was subjected to as a matter of
course.
Not that the government formed under Lerroux and Gil Robles during the
‘black biennium’, 1933–35, was any better: on the contrary, the cost of
living soared and there were strikes on 2 days out of every 3. The only

31
people living well were the military, the church and the capitalists, the
authors of the imminent calamity that they had been slowly hatching as a
means of putting paid to the workers’ organisations. But what they did not
know was that the workers had been making preparations of their own for
the declaration of the Social Revolution, because the people’s predicament,
with its endless round of hunger and exploitation, was worsening by the day.
The black biennium was an utter disaster; Spain was Europe’s most
backward country, having lost almost all the colonies that she had looted to
the limit, leaving the natives to starve to death. That was imperial Spain, the
Spain of the Africanista general Franco, and the murderer of thousands of
Spaniards. At the time of its establishment, we workers thought of it as a
republic that might bring the balm of salvation – or, at any rate, make things
better; but this was a republic of mindless traitors simply out to loot the
coffers of the state and line their own pockets.
Then along came the events in Asturias in 1934 when Lerroux and Gil
Robles were in government, when these two – the former the ‘governor of
the Paralelo’ and a supposed republican – between them ordered in the
Foreign Legion under López Ochoa. Ochoa was yet another of the
Africanista generals who had been routed by the Moors.
The revolution in Asturias erupted on 5 October 1934 when the Asturian
miners revolted, weary of hunger and their onerous toils beneath ground
which claimed the lives of dozens of workers. The miners used dynamite to
attack the Civil Guard forces, who put up a ferocious resistance. This
resulted in the drafting in of motorised Civil Guard and Foreign Legion
forces. The miners had scarcely any weapons; however, ensconced in La
Felguera, Mieres, Gijón and Avilés, with only 30,000 rifles and a few
machineguns, they nevertheless held out for nearly 3 months against three
armies which, as they recaptured ground, were butchering all they captured
as well as any who had stayed in their homes.
The murdering government forces raped whatever girls took their fancy, and
this with the permission of their officers and generals, especially Ochoa,
who gave the Foreign Legion carte blanche. These were the ones who sided
against the workers in the revolt, for which choice they were complimented
by the government.6
The CNT, the UGT and a communist minority led the revolution in Asturias,
and out of it came the slogan ‘UHP’ (Unión de Hermanos Proletarios –
Brother Proletarians United).

32
At the end of almost 3 months of unequal fighting the miners surrendered.
The army, saviour of the nation and of an empire supervised by Africano
generals, turned to shootings and looting.
So this Republic left us workers with a sour taste in our mouths, bringing us
nothing but misfortune throughout the bienio negro – with full jails, with
workers taken prisoner trudging for kilometres without food or water, and,
to save time, any that fell ill or stumbled finished off by a Civil Guard
escort glad to be rid of the encumbrance.

The elections of 16 February 1936


1936 saw general elections to determine who was going to stay on in
government or whether the people wanted a change in the line-up. It had
been determined that the libertarian organisations would not be taking part;
the CNT-FAI did not state that they were going to cast their votes but said
that anyone who so wished was free to do so. This was how their 800,000
members turned out to vote and helped the left to victory and how virtually
all of the prisoners came to be freed.
But a victory for the left brought little benefit; jailings continued at police
headquarters in Barcelona’s Vía Layetana, which was filled with our
comrades. The police, under the leadership of a chief by the name of Badía,
set to work twisting prisoners’ testicles before beating them until they
passed out and fell bleeding from every part of their bodies. Whenever they
were brought back to the cells they were unconscious and had difficulty
coming round again despite the assistance of their comrades.
But everything comes to an end. This applies also to the hangmen and to the
thug at the Modelo who, having strangled one comrade, was gunned down
on the street while on his way home; the Badía brothers7 left home one day
at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, only to be mown down 3 metres from home.
Those two tormentors of the workers would never kill or torture any worker
ever again.
This takes us to the days leading up to the Revolution, when the Falangists
murdered Assault Guard Lieutenant Castillo and some leftists murdered
Calvo Sotelo in retaliation. Things were deteriorating, but the CNT-FAI was
not sleeping and posted guards in the most vulnerable locations around
Barcelona, knowing the route the army would take to reach the centre of the
Catalan capital.
19 July 1936 and after

33
The moment the army took to the streets, the CNT-FAI was lying in wait for
any troops venturing out to seize Barcelona. Within seconds the city was
peppered with barricades to thwart the rebels emerging from their barracks;
they ran up against resistance and had a hard time making any headway
thanks to the opposition offered by the people; besides, the troops were
drunk. But the daring and fearlessness of the militia members here ensured
surrender; troops who had been tipped off days before the Revolution
placed their officers under arrest, while the San Andrés and Avenida de
Icaria barracks were stormed by the people’s militias, the soldiers
themselves joining with the militians to arrest all the officers.
At this point General Goded arrived from Majorca; when he saw that his
troops had been defeated he called upon the military to surrender and was
himself arrested and taken to the Generalidad to address his troops with a
call to surrender.
Meanwhile, on 20 July, at a regional plenum of its local federations, the
CNT-FAI debated the issue of ‘going for broke’, i.e. declaring Libertarian
Communism.
This motion was defeated, because the reformists were already in charge,
with the Hospitalet local federation the only delegation voting in support of
it; their delegate was García Oliver, who was at that point still loyal to
anarchism.
Our Revolution was a goner at that point; having no programme, we
plumped for politics instead.

Companys reluctantly sent for the CNT-FAI and a meeting was held8
attended by García Oliver, Durruti, Santillán and I can’t remember who the
other one was at the time, but they were told by Companys that he had been
forced into harassing them and that if they did not want him around he would
go to the front lines. Like numbskulls, these ‘great revolutionaries’ let
themselves be gulled yet again by the politicians.
But the world needs to know that the only people who defeated the military
were we, the CNT-FAI, along with some comrades from the POUM, 9 four
loyal Assault Guards and just three Civil Guards who happened to be on the
scene and who handed their weapons over to us (although later they were
seen risking their lives against the military). Before concluding with this
matter let me say that the French Revolution (as the French describe what
happened after the fall of the Bastille) fell far short of our own revolution;

34
ours was made by the people and theirs by the bourgeoisie. Meanwhile, our
Quijote was able to overlook the heart of the Rambla from his barricade,
watching lest any Falangist should venture out. He had already done his bit
alongside others in the attack on the Atarazanas barracks, having entered the
Atarazanas to arrest the officers while troopers turned their guns on the
officers who had misled them. Durruti’s comrade Francisco Ascaso had
perished in the attack in front of those barracks.
Our valiant comrade Joaquín set off for the front with the Durruti Column
and took part in the fighting to win back Aragonese villages from fascist
control. He served in the Durruti Column’s 21st Centuria; after Durruti’s
death, he joined the Friends of Durruti group, in which the whole of his
centuria enrolled. When the militarisation order came he was offered the
rank of major, which he declined. After that he loaded up a truck with all the
centuria’s weaponry and set off for Barcelona with another two trucks, but
not before getting the machinegun ready to fire should anything befall them
en route.
Once in Barcelona, they placed their guns in good hands in case they might
have need of them some day, for the talk was that the communists were
hatching a coup in Catalonia.
The counter-revolution strikes back
Then eventually the May Events of 1937 came along: the communists turned
on the Revolution, as did the entire Popular Front, in an effort to wipe out
the CNT-FAI, but the fighting spilled out into the streets. While the police
chief Rodríguez Salas and the mayor Aiguadé were raiding the Barcelona
telephone exchange, CNT barricades mushroomed all over the city and the
communist-led Popular Front did not dare make a move; we controlled the
streets and this situation went on for 3 days during which 500 people lost
their lives and a similar number were wounded.
But the catastrophe came when the two CNT-FAI ministers, García Oliver
and Federica Montseny, showed up to demand a ceasefire and get us to hand
over our weapons. This was the real treason by the reformists within the
libertarian organisations, especially the regional and national committees,
all of which betrayed the revolution. The counter-revolutionaries had won
thanks to the upper echelons of the libertarian organisations handing
everything over to them on a plate.
When an organisation has been set up for the purposes of fighting capitalism
and proclaiming Social Revolution and then that revolution happens along,

35
you should have the gumption to put your life on the line. Failure to do so
amounts to a betrayal of your beliefs and of the organisation to which you
belong.
Bear in mind that the entire Popular Front had been on the brink of
surrendering because we had them surrounded and the artillery on
Montjuich was trained on the Generalidad.
So we missed out on the Revolution a second time. What is worse, the
communists then smashed all the farming collectives and overran the ones in
Barcelona, while, on the Aragón front, Lister and El Campesino made it
their business to murder our comrades and our POUM friends on the orders
of the dictator Stalin. And in those areas under the control of the Republic,
they set up the chekas (communist jails) fashioned after the Soviet example,
and there antifascists who were not holders of their party card were done to
death on a daily basis. Several thousand were executed, especially POUM
members and anarchists; and these killings persisted right up until the War
came to an end.
Arrest, torture, trial and prison
Our own Quijote was picked up by one of the mainstays of the counter-
revolution and taken to police headquarters where torture was an everyday
affair; he was unconscious by the time he was hauled between two
policemen back to the cells. He spent a month there until he was handed
over to the Calle Provenza cheka, headed by Burillo. There they carried on
torturing him. Confronted by two guards plus Burillo, he had two lights
shone in his eyes to get him to cough up the information they were after, and
they asked him if he had taken part in the attempt on the life of Finance
Minister Negrín while he was on one of his trips a few days prior to May
1937. This went on for at least two months, during which time he was
tortured by the thug-faced Burillo, who was only able to get from him that he
had not; even if he had, he would not have told.
Let me say that all the cheka personnel were communists or in the service of
the communists. They were real war criminals and, had the Republic won
the War, they would have been executed for the crimes they carried out.
Eventually, after a few months they moved him to the Modelo prison and put
him on trial, with the result that he was condemned to death. He was
removed to the fortress of Montjuich, which is where all condemned
prisoners finished up. There he encountered the occasional POUM comrade
also under sentence of death.

36
But as luck would have it, the Francoist advance after the Battle of the Ebro
was very swift. The republican officers, on orders from Stalin – who had
just come to an accommodation with Germany – fled ahead of the retreating
Popular Army; his orders were carried out to the letter. The communists
bore the real guilt for the loss of the Revolution and the War.
As soon as they saw that the Francoists were drawing nearer and that their
troops were entering Barcelona, everyone who had been working in the
offices or as guards opened the cells and scarpered.10 Even the warders
who were CNT personnel had been as brutal as any non-cenetista.

Escape and exile


And so our comrade, with one other person, wasted no time and ran from
that part of the fortress that gave on to the Paralelo and did not stop until
they thought they were safe. They travelled by cart, at other times by car and
still other times on foot, enduring hard times and hunger; the country folk
had hidden their food away and would give them only water. Traversing
mountains through the ice and snow, they crossed into France where they
were arrested by gendarmes who took them to Argelès-sur-Mer, in the
Pyrénées Orientales, dumping them on the concentration camp’s beach in the
middle of winter.
In that camp they slept on the completely sodden dunes in the Pyrenean chill.
It was 3 days before they were issued with any rations and what they got
was little enough, just a bare crust of bread, which is to say that they were
treated like common thieves.
Once the Second World War broke out, Joaquín was released to work with a
French labour battalion on fortification work around Brest; in his mind he
was turning over plans to escape, in view of the imminent arrival of the
German army. Soon enough his opportunity arrived and he and some others
were able to stow away on a British-flagged ship and reach England.
* * * * *
Let me now say what my connection is with the great comrade who always
worked anonymously on behalf of the libertarian organisations. An article of
mine about Durruti was published in Solidaridad Obrera; the article tickled
Joaquín’s fancy and he asked the organisation for my address. That would
have been in about 1976, and we have not ceased corresponding with each
other since.
I put together a 70- to 80-page book about him but could not find a publisher

37
for it. There was a high-school teacher who said he could do it but that it
would take two years. I told our comrade that, with his consent, I would do
the publishing. I made contact with the teacher – I who had never published
a book before and who had no idea what a computer was – and I had the
help of my own daughter who works on computers at Hospitalet
Corporation, Hospitalet being part of Barcelona these days. She would drop
by every day to lend a hand since I only learnt how to type in the trenches
during the War. Anyway, I can handle a computer on my own now and the
first copy of any book I write is sent off to my comrade Joaquín, whom I
recognise only from his photograph, but whom I know well enough for us to
be on good terms as fellow idealists.
My contributions to the present volume honour the promise I made to my
comrade when asking him to send me something about his life and work on
behalf of anarchism and the CNT, something that I would see about turning
into a slim volume. Of course, I am no writer – far from it! — but I amuse
myself by putting pen to paper instead of wasting my time on the sort of
thing one does just to keep the mind active. I do what I can.
Some will find the writings in this book not to their taste, thinking us too
radical or because they do not cherish our ideas as we do, but whether they
like it or not we both put our all – hearts as well as heads – into making sure
that the feats of young anarchists shall not go unrecorded. Let it be known to
one and all that anarchists have always come in different varieties. And that
from the age of 14 we two fought for workers’ freedom, on the battlefront as
well as through the Revolution.
But when we state that our Revolution was betrayed both by the politicians
and by members of our own organisations, we are not telling one word of a
lie, because some of us believed in the comradely status of those who opted
to dabble in politics and turned their backs on the Social Revolution when
there were accords passed by our organisations, for which, if need be, we
had to be prepared to die, for the sake of the workers, not merely in our own
country but around the world. And we both see that as treachery, on a par
with the politicians who were the workers’ enemies. Say what you like, but
in any other country at that time they would have been executed as traitors to
the Revolution and to the people’s cause. I know that this will be criticised
but we are only telling the truth. No one with the flimsiest grasp of what
happened in the revolution in our homeland can deny that.
A second bite at the cherry presented itself in May 1937, except that the
reformists inside our organisations failed to do what men purporting to be

38
anarchists ought to have done, and failed to come up with an appropriate
response in the battle we had joined against treacherous petty-bourgeois
politicians (from whom treachery was entirely what we had expected).
The Generalidad under President Companys was betraying us for a second
time and were saved only by the ceasefire when two influential comrades
urged us to lay down our arms. This resulted in a real shambles that cost us
not only the Revolution but also the War. In the wake of the May Events the
Communist Party killers set about murdering our comrades on the
battlefronts as well as antifascists and internationals who had come to
defend the revolution.
And the name for that is – like it or not – treachery.
Plainly, we failed to make the Revolution. It was the mission facing us on
two occasions and we say bluntly that, as good revolutionaries, we should
have wiped out anybody betraying the Revolution, and to hell with the
consequences. Don’t go telling us that this outlook is Bolshevik, for our
Revolution was a completely different story from the Russian one. There is
no comparison, and we never introduced bolshevism into our organisations;
no, we left that to the Mensheviks (or our local equivalents), the reformists
who smuggled social democracy into our organisations. And I say this for
the benefit of Abel Paz who, in a radio discussion, told me that I was a
‘Bolshevik’.
Ever since they were founded, our organisations have always experienced
internal strife, especially after the advent of the Republic. But there has
been such a resurgence of the strife since the War and the postwar period
that we have witnessed three separate splits, ensuring that our organisations
are low on membership. But now lots of youngsters with great hope in the
only ideal that has not been corrupted are beginning to join, and, let me say
this again, no one in receipt of help from governments is entitled to call
himself an anarchist.
Of course, I am no writer, far from it. But it amuses me to while my time
writing rather than waste it; it keeps the brain ticking over and so I do it as
much as I can.
In conclusion, let us state that in the new century we workers are paying the
price of the mistake made in the Revolution of 1936 – the mistake of not
seeing the Social Revolution through when we had it all within our grasp.
Notes

39
1. The SIM was not a ‘secret’ police force, but rather, and importantly, a
force concerned with the eradication of disaffection from the regime and its
war effort. Secret only in its operation, under secret orders, in the same
sense as the notorious Gestapo, KGB, Stasi, Securitate, etc., the SIM was
unaccountable for its actions.
2. A prominent militant murdered early on was Pau Sabater i Lliró,
secretary of one of the textile unions that had played a decisive part in the
solidarity action in support of the La Canadiense strikers.
3. The rebel command then passed to Franco.
4. CNT members.
5. A 70-year-old agricultural labourer, Antonio Barberán.
6. In fact, their loyalties were hardly in question.
7. Miguel Badía had been chief of police in Catalonia and his brother Josep
organiser of the Estat Catalá party escamots. Miguel was the target for the
assassins. Josep just happened to be with him when his end came in 1936.
8. The sequence of meetings with Companys on and/or around 19 July 1936
was as follows, according to Agustin Guillamon’s recent work on the
subject. On 20 July, as the fighting was petering out, Companys (who had
been sidelined by it) summoned the leaders of all the antifascist factions to
the Generalidad. The CNT-FAI was not represented by the formal
leadership but by a motley crew of streetfighting liaison committeemen. A
Liaison Committee had been set up on 19 July to coordinate
district/barricade fighters and maintain order in conjunction with
Generalidad and other forces, to see off the rebels. Those present were
Durruti, García Oliver, Santillán, Josí Asens and Aurelio Fernández.
Companys invited them to join with the PSUC and POUM and other
republicans in coordinating their forces (the coup was not yet defeated)
through a sort of Antifascist Militias Committee, the CAMC. At its first
meeting, the CNT-FAI personnel took the powers further than Companys had
envisaged. This street delegation reported back to the formal CNT
leadership, the Regional Committee, which agreed in principle with
Companys’s suggestion, pending a final decision to be made by a plenum of
local and comarcal CNT committees due to meet on 21 July. On 21 July
Companys’s proposal was put to the plenum. José Xena from Llobregat
suggested that the CNT delegates step off the CAMC (Central Antifascist
Militias Committee). In response, García Oliver posed the choice as

40
between anarchist ‘dictatorship’ or wider collaboration in an antifascist
front. Most of the delegations passed no comment and the liaison with
Companys and the CAMC was allowed to stand. Llobregat voted against
this. There was a third opinion: Manuel Escorza wanted the CAMC to last
until the Revolution was so firmly embedded that it and the Generalidad
(Companys) could be jettisoned. On 23 July, a joint CNT-FAI plenum of
‘notables’ endorsed the decision to work with the CAMC but noted the
reluctance of the rank and file to second this. A further plenum of CNT
locals and comarcals on 26 July endorsed the decision - presumably after a
‘selling’ campaign. According to Guillamon, Santillán and Montseny
favoured ‘loyal’ cooperation with the Generalidad. García Oliver raised
going for broke as one option. Escorza suggested using the Generalidad,
CAMC and the Defence/Public Order departments and resources of the
Generalidad as a way of broadening and entrenching the Revolution. Once
that was done the Generalidad could be ‘sloughed’ off, presumably after
Zaragoza had been captured, swelling the CNT’s numbers and releasing its
expeditionary militias for action on other fronts.
9. The POUM (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification), an independent
Marxist communist party based in Catalonia, was decidedly not a Trotskyist
party. Its members were labelled ‘Trotskyists’ by Stalinists but were not so
regarded by Trotsky himself; the term had become a catch-all for all
varieties of anti-Stalinist Marxism. It was the amalgamation of the
Communist Left led by Andreu Nin and the Worker-Peasant Bloc (BOC) led
by Joaquin Maurín. Its trade union wing, the FOUS, amalgamated with the
UGT and was pretty much swamped, whereas it might have stiffened the
radical wing of the CNT had it gone that route. It was only September 1935
and there was a possibility of the Marxist revolutionary world having more
than just the Stalinist and Trotskyist poles. The POUM was Marxist but
disinclined to follow Moscow’s dictates. It did have a small, properly
Trotskyist presence at loggerheads with the POUM leadership.
10. This is at variance with the account of Joaquín Pérez elsewhere,
according to which the prisoners were left locked up by their jailers to
await the Francoists who were already in the city. Some of the disparity
may arise from the perimeter guards, office staff and warders having been
separate groups.

41
THE MAN AND THE BOOK
Luis Monferrer
When Joaquín Pérez’s family moved to Barcelona in 1918 they set up home
in the Calle de Miguel Ángel in the Sans quarter. Within a week of their
arrival, mother and daughter were working as servants in the homes of the
Barcelona bourgeoisie. Joaquín, too, soon found work as a bricklayer’s
helper before later switching trades to work in the Café Trinkal – located on
the Rambla de las Flores, on the corner of the Calle Nueva del Asalto [sic]
(or possibly Conde de Asalto) – which was open around the clock; he
stayed there up until the revolt in 1936. It was here that he came into contact
with anarchism in the Barcelona of the years leading up to the civil war. His
actual recruitment as an anarchist came around 1922 or 1923, when he was
15 or 16 years old. From that point on he was never to quit as an anarchist
activist – although, prior to the Civil War, he was not especially prominent.
Concerning his ideological loyalties, Joaquín Pérez wrote: ‘I gave anarchy
my all.’
Scattered through these essays there are some – albeit not many –
biographical details from 1936 onwards. It might be argued that he was
embarrassed to talk about himself and turned to the maxim so beloved of
libertarians, of not singing one’s own praises, not blowing one’s own horn,
but rather modestly to let one’s deeds, personal honesty and lifelong upright
conduct to speak for themselves.
In any event, on reading through the various chapters of these memoirs, the
reader will appreciate the deep-seated sensibilities of a steely defender, as
demonstrated by the author, of the anarchist ideal, an ideal championed with
the very same vehemence one might expect of a secular religion. A moral
code founded upon the basic precepts of Anarchy often seems to have been
rooted in precepts that are also mirrored in the Bible: ‘Do not do unto
others that which you would not have done unto yourself.’ Elsewhere, there
are flashes of pacifism – despite the wartime experiences that were the
author’s own lot.
Sifting through his writings, we find that back on 19 July 1936 Joaquín
Pérez took part, as a member of an anarchist group, in the fighting that took
place in the Gran Vía in Barcelona against a company of army mutineers. In
Barcelona he tasted the popular rejoicing that followed the defeat of the

42
rebels and the earliest stirrings of the Social Revolution. He also had a hand
in the storming of a monastery on the corner of the Calle Caspe and the
Paseo de Gracia. He says that he left Barcelona that very same 19 July to go
off and fight the rebels elsewhere, in Aragón, where their rebellion had
succeeded. He was also involved in the launch of the Friends of Durruti
group that complained that the committees supposed to be most
representative of the CNT rank and file were betraying the Revolution.
One of the most impressive chapters in his life – I well recall the delight
that bubbled from his words when I interviewed him in London in 1981–
was his description of his involvement with the anarchist collectives in
Aragón, collectives laid waste by the communists and their fellow-
travellers as they harried and murdered CNT and anarchist personnel. I was
also able to note the innermost delight he felt when he spoke of his active
participation in the collectives set up on Aragonese soil. That experiment in
revolution mounted by the anarchists was without parallel in the world and
is often forgotten about or left out of talk about the Spanish War. What it
meant, quite simply and plainly, is that for nearly a year Spain was the only
country in the world to see Libertarian Communism put into practice. In
point of fact, Joaquín spent several months in Pina de Ebro and in Gelsa de
Ebro – where the front line had taken shape – and it was there too that he
witnessed the process whereby the Republic’s Popular Army was rebuilt. It
was mooted at the time that he should become a captain or commanding
officer of some military unit, but in keeping with his anarchist principles, he
ruled out that possibility.
Later, Joaquín Pérez was one of the revolutionaries who used the Friends of
Durruti organisation as a platform from which to sound the alarm, because,
in his view, the MLE (Spanish Libertarian Movement) and the Revolution
were being betrayed by none other than the anarchist ministers sitting in Dr
Negrín’s cabinet. The Friends of Durruti group also pointed an accusing
finger at the treintista faction of the CNT, in the belief that in the wake of
the May Events the latter was espousing a collaborationist and counter-
revolutionary policy.
Similarly, Joaquín Pérez struggled actively against the attempted counter-
revolution that erupted in the shape of the events that occurred in Barcelona
between 3 and 7 May 1937. He speaks at length about those events in his
writings and offers us a very clear-cut interpretation of them: they spelled
the doom of the anarchist revolution and represented an attempt by the
communists – given free rein by the prime minister, Dr Negrín – to wipe out

43
as many personnel from the Spanish Libertarian Movement as they were
able. Finally, the upshot of that was the undermining of the Republic’s will
to resist and the loss of the War.
Subsequently, caught up in the tide of repression unleashed by the
Communist Party – as borne out by other writers and eyewitnesses –
Joaquín Pérez was detained in Barcelona towards the end of November
1938 and taken to a cheka in the Calle Provenza where he was tortured.
After two days he was bundled, half-dead, into a car for delivery to the
courthouse where, tried behind closed doors before a court martial, he was
twice sentenced to death (the initial sentence being confirmed on appeal)
and locked up in the Montjuich fortress to await execution. During this time
the sight of lots of anarchists – real, honest revolutionaries – being executed
up against the walls of the fortress by firing squads made up of supposedly
anarchist co-religionists made a deep impression upon him.
After he had spent two months as an inmate of Montjuich – merely for being
an anarchist – Barcelona fell to Franco’s troops (on 26 January 1939).
Thanks to that eventuality, the lives of Joaquín Pérez and another two
comrades who remained in the cell – 3 out of 7 in all – were spared. The
antifascists imprisoned in Montjuich had no news from the outside and even
though things were very delicate, they were left locked up in their cells.
Barcelona’s situation at that point was critical, for Franco’s troops were
already (25 January 1939) within the city precincts and marching through
the Ca’ Antúnez [sic] housing projects on their way to capture Montjuich.
Meanwhile, the gaolers in Montjuich fortress – communists, personnel from
other antifascist parties and even a few so-called anarchists – had
decamped the previous day, leaving large numbers of inmates trapped in the
underground cells. These prisoners were mostly unable to communicate
with one another and fell into the clutches of the victorious Francoists who
were at liberty to shoot them. However, some, at the signal of a shouted
‘Long live the CNT-FAI!’ broke down the doors and bars and anything else
that stood in their way and reached the main yard and the gate to the
fortress.1 With many others, Joaquín Pérez managed to make good his
escape, vanishing into the chaos of the moment. Gunshots and screams rang
out as much of Barcelona’s population scrambled to get out of the city. Lost
in the chaos created by that human swarm, he managed to make it to the
suburbs.
On foot, trudging day and night across country, wary lest he run into some
fascist or communist on the way, Joaquín Pérez slogged his way from

44
Montjuich to France, empty-handed.
Later he was interned in a concentration camp in Argelès-sur-Mer. That was
in February 1939. For a week he bedded down in the sand, with no blanket
to cover him and with his shoes crumbling, famished and in the utmost
wretchedness. Ten months later – as 1939 was drawing to a close – he was
transferred to the Barcarés camp, only to find himself drafted into a labour
company that the French government was raising to post to Brest, in the
northwest.
Joaquín Pérez was in that city, serving with a labour company, when the
Second World War erupted.2 They had been assigned to the very demanding
task of building a sea wall at the port of Brest, in the process of which he
and other Spanish Republicans were required to work some 65 to 70 metres
below sea level. This was highly dangerous work; every day they had to
undergo a medical examination and step inside a sort of compression
chamber inside a hangar at the port. Before they could work on the seabed,
all suitable workers had to be able to stand the pressure from 2 kilos of
compressed air inside it. He spent roughly two months in Brest, but other
comrades of his were unable to do that sort of work because their ears
could not endure the pressure. Those who could had to draw many tons of
cement down a tube to the seabed and those working below sea level had to
spread the cement into the shape and dimensions of a dyke that had to be as
flat as a pancake. The object was for huge liners such as the 30,000-ton
Richelieu to be able to berth there.
While engaged in this task, they discovered from whispers and from the
behaviour of the French themselves that the Germans were overrunning
France and were on the brink of capturing the city of Brest. In an attempt to
escape, Joaquín Pérez and a score of Spanish republicans deserted their
jobs. They knew that the sea represented their only hope of escape; retreat
or capture by the Germans spelled certain death. They had no choice: it was
every man for himself, even though the charge hands and managers of the
docks tried to convince them that nothing would happen to them. One after
another, these republicans took a running jump at a British vessel lying in
the port, in complete ignorance of where she was bound.3 They leapt from
the quayside in the hope of grabbing on to the handrail, trying to spring
across the 4 or 5 metres of water between the quayside and the deck. Most
of the group pulled this off and dived under some tarpaulins, even though the
crew and watch reckoned that nobody could get on board. Four of them
never managed to scramble aboard and stayed behind in Brest, at the mercy

45
of Nazi troops.
The ship put to sea and once they reckoned it was safe to do so, they
showed themselves. The officers were greatly taken aback and made no
secret of their displeasure. Although the ship put in at Southampton, the
officers wanted to drop them back where they had come from. After a bit of
a wrangle – the captain sticking unbendingly to his line – the police twigged
that they were on board the ship and allowed them to come ashore on
British soil. As chance would have it, Joaquín Pérez and the other Spanish
republicans set foot in England on New Year’s Day, 1941.
The day after arrival in England, German planes had him racing through the
unfamiliar streets of London. Once more he began to sample the impact of
German air raids.
Within 8 days of his arrival he started to work in construction. Later he
spent many years working in catering in a variety of hotels. Neither during
the War nor afterwards was he ever out of work; and he always felt that he
had everyone’s respect. After the end of World War Two, Joaquín Pérez
settled down to life in England, remaining there right up until his retirement.
In some organisational correspondence published between 1969 and 1974
and which I have consulted, Joaquín Pérez is named as secretary to the
Liaison Commission of the small anarchist group in the exiled community of
Britain: the National Confederation of Labour of Spain in Exile – Great
Britain. In late 1969, Pérez was living at 48 Canonbury Avenue, London N1.
At the time, the anarchist organisation (the Spanish Libertarian Movement –
the FAI, the CNT and the Libertarian Youth) was still beset by a problem:
its ranks were split in rival currents, which gave rise to lots of
misunderstandings and thwarted coherent unity of action. Not that this
problem was exclusive to Great Britain; it could also be found among
Spanish anarchists living in France, in the Americas and throughout the exile
community. Moreover, every exile realised that the days of the dictatorship
were numbered, that Spain was entering delicate times and that they needed
to be ready to position themselves for when that time would come. In
December 1969 he wrote: ‘Spain is in dire straits. Every single socio-
political force in the land is making its preparations for when Franco lets go
of the reins. If we want to participate in the moral and social regeneration of
Spain, we too must be prepared; and to that end, the most pressing need is to
marshal all the forces within and without Spain that are scattered and
wallowing in inactivity.’

46
In another letter penned in July 1973, documents emanating from Spain were
circulated to the exiles. They reported opposition, protests and hunger
strikes, isolation in punishment cells, roundups of associates, interception of
communications and brutal censorship. The latter extended even to books
and newspapers within the Francoist prisons, where the whole system of
classification and ‘release on licence’ represented a sort of blackmail in
operation against inmates accused of political activity that in other countries
might have been deemed unremarkable. This situation lent itself readily to
feelings of depression and to the perpetration of desperate acts that
furnished an excuse for a fresh round of repression. On this basis the
anarchist group lobbied the exiles for financial aid so as to send some sort
of assistance to anarchists held in Spanish jails. The treasurer who was to
marshal all of this aid was J. Cabañas of 42 Dalgarno Gardens, London
W10.
The urgency that the exiles felt with regard to the imminent ending of
Francoist rule is discernible in Circular No. 5, forwarded by Joaquín Pérez
to all members and sympathisers of the anarchist group. In connection with
this, an urgent meeting was convened on 4 August 1973 at their premises at
Ledbury Road to discuss Spain’s future. ‘In all the years we have been
waging our struggle against the dictatorship oppressing our people, this is
the most key moment, when the freedom and political and social prospects
of Spain for many years to come hang in the balance. Spain needs to get her
freedom back; we cannot allow any further toying with our lives.’
From his position and despite his being largely self-educated, Joaquín
wrote quite a number of reports and letters over the long years in exile and
‘throughout my lifetime’ and these he forwarded to groups of anarchists in
exile in a variety of countries. Some of those letters appear in this present
volume. In the spring of 1998, his wife was rendered a complete invalid,
being unable to speak or do anything for herself, only able to walk for short
spaces of time. Although his eyesight had deteriorated considerably, at the
age of 91, Joaquín grappled with this difficult predicament without
complaint. In a letter on 9 May 1998 he declared: ‘My legs and head can
take no more.’ He also had to walk with the aid of a cane. But even then, he
carried on tending to the many needs of his partner. If he felt like putting pen
to paper, he said, ‘every three or four lines I write leave me bleary-eyed
and I have to get up from my seat and go and tackle something else’. He had
been advised by his ophthalmologist to neither write nor read any more.
Joaquín Pérez – as he himself records – was a Spanish anarchist, a member

47
of the Friends of Durruti group and a militiaman who served with the 26th
(Durruti) Division during the Spanish conflict. These writings bequeath us
his outlook as a participant in so many of the events he mentions. The reader
will appreciate from these memoirs of his that the Friends of Durruti group
lobbied for the Spanish Libertarian Movement to cease all collaboration in
the Republican government during the Civil War.
In these writings, Joaquín Pérez – throughout his long life and into old age –
appears as a loyal anarchist revolutionary, championing the classic
anarchist principles and rejecting the political representation peddled by the
party political system. Anarchists rejected that sort of partnership on the
basis that it encouraged the sort of treachery and political and social
prostitution that representatives engaged in vis-à-vis those they represented.
Instead the revolutionary anarchists supported a policy of direct action and
non-collaboration by the Libertarian Movement with the Republican
government – both during the Civil War and in exile. They looked upon the
political collaboration that had occurred with the Republican government as
a betrayal of the Spanish and international Libertarian Movement. They
chalked up the failure of the Social Revolution begun on 19 July 1936, as
well as the subsequent loss of the War, to that partnership.
Given the case made by the Friends of Durruti – with Joaquín Pérez acting
here as their spokesman – the reader should not be surprised by the
harshness with which the author dismisses the anarchist partners in that
Republican government, as well as Dr Juan Negrín and the Communist
Party, given the many contemporary murders of anarchists, for which they
are blamed.
Literary output
Joaquín Pérez wrote screeds intended for anarchist militants, offering them
information and commemorating grave events that occurred during the
Spanish conflict and, to a lesser extent, in exile, in order to ensure against
any repetition.
Some of these have been included in this present collection of memoirs.
Joaquín Pérez also made a number of lesser contributions to the review
Ráfagas, published in the 1990s by Spanish anarchists in Paris – Lozano
and others. The review cites Joaquín Pérez as a London-based contributor
and correspondent.
The Memoirs section of the present volume offers a collection of ten items
written independently of one another in terms of time, but collated here as

48
chapters in a book. By way of complement, in order to offer a more up-to-
date context and balance it against the past, we have added to those a
Documents section including a number of pieces of historical evidence
furnished by Joaquín Pérez, though not written by him. The documents are
included here because, together, they expand upon or add nuances to his
ideological line. However, as already mentioned, Joaquín Pérez supplied
more plentiful and detailed documents to Francisco Piqueras to help him
compile the book on the SIM. To that extent each book acts as a complement
to the other.
Barcelona, 6 June 1998

Notes
1. This does actually appear to have been the case. Abel Paz’s memoirs
Viaje al Pasado (Madrid: Fundación Anselmo Lorenzo, 2002) record his
being told on 21 January 1939 by Francisco Martín of the Barcelona Local
Coordinating Committee of plans to free the prisoners at risk in the Modelo
Prison and in Montjuich. The SIM had strengthened the guard on Montjuich
to stop the prisoners from getting out. Among the people they were bent on
breaking out of the prison were Feliciano Llach, a.k.a. Leal, and Adolfo
Ballano, formerly of the Council of Aragón. Teams were formed to raid the
prisons and oversee the evacuation of prisoners to France. Francoist
inmates’ memoirs speak of Franco’s troops being visible across the river
Llobregat and of two or three warships visible in the bay of Barcelona.
2. He was in Argelès by February 1939 and 10 months after that (December
1939) was moved to Barcarés. The outbreak of the Second World War in
September 1939 was followed by the phoney war (at war but doing nothing
about it), and for Spanish refugees it was no change. They were still
outcasts, regarded as scum of the earth and as cheap labour. The real war
did not get underway in France until the Germans invaded in June 1940.
3. The main consideration would have been that the ship was leaving
France. There was no reason for the Spanish workers to stay there in prison
camps or as slave labourers and the prospect of the German Occupation
was even gloomier. There was also just a chance that the departing ship
might be bound for South America.

49
JOAQUÍN PÉREZ NAVARRO INTERVIEWED IN
LONDON IN JULY 1981

LUIS MONFERRER: Let’s hark back in time somewhat to 1939 and move
on from there up until Franco’s death, the formal ending of the period of
exile. What year did you arrive in England?
JOAQUÍN PÉREZ: In 1940.
LM: And how did you get here? Because a lot of people finished up here
rather by accident. Right?
JP: After evacuation from Spain – when the Civil War in Spain ended,
everybody had to get out – I left, as I mentioned, in 1939. I walked for 8
days, from Barcelona into France, in order that no one would spot me or lest
the notorious SIM (of which you’ll have heard tell) might get its hands on
me – because I was on the SIM’s wanted list, precisely for being an
anarchist.
LM: This was within the Republican zone?
JP: Yes, and all because the SIM had, for some time there, been taking a
tough line with the working class and the confederal organisation [CNT], all
of whose militants – and it had many – were harassed by the SIM simply
because they refused to play ball with the Communist Party, the SIM being
led by the Communist Party which had its own chekas.
LM: So it was a government agency controlled by the Republican
government and by the Communist Party?
JP: Yes, by the government on account of there being a war on. But, to get
back to the point; I’ve told you the reasons why I left Spain. Anyway, after
deciding to leave Spain I trekked for 8 days, day and night, without a bite to
eat, or eating whatever snails I could find, taking care lest I and the few
comrades with whom I had left Barcelona might fall into the hands of the
SIM.
LM: So there was a general exodus?
JP: Indeed there was. A general exodus, a mass evacuation involving

50
thousands upon thousands of people crowding the roads from Barcelona to
Figueras . . . and woe betide anybody caught on the road! The Germans
bombed us even though they knew we were evacuees. The German raids left
hundreds upon hundreds of people dead. [There were] graves, burial
mounds. The bombs churned up the ground, and the casualty rate! I
remember that once I reached France, after 7 days, right there [in Figueras]
the tracks had been torn up by the air raids targeting the station; defenceless,
defenceless people – and so it continued until we arrived in France.
LM: And there were concentration camps there, right?
JP: I was a year in France in a concentration camp. A year.
LM: Which camp?
JP: I was in Barcarés and in Argelès-sur-mer. The first camp we were in
was Argelès; there were 80,000 there – women and children and leading
personalities from Spain, from Spanish literature, lawyers, doctors and
every sort of scientist you could think of – there in that concentration camp.
On arrival in France, we were greeted by the gendarmes who mustered us
there on the sand in camps ringed by barbed wire, with the sea the only
escape route; there was no other way out. But if your mind was set on
escaping, how could you escape by sea? There were 80,000 people in
Argelès-sur-mer camp, and in Barcarès, where I also spent some time,
80,000 to 90,000, including children. All, let me say this, guarded by
Senegalese troops patrolling with horses and rifles the outside perimeter of
the barbed wire fences. If you set foot near the wire, it was a blow from a
rifle butt; they did not mess about. By the way, the camp, where we spent a
year, supplied us with food, lentils and lentil stew, a little rice, the
occasional bean.
LM: Not the best of food.
JP: Very poor indeed. If we wanted water we had to drink seawater, using a
filter that we ourselves fitted to the pump that we set up in the sand and
operated as best we could. You pumped the handle and out would come the
water through a tap and that was what we had to drink. As a result, all of my
teeth developed cavities within a year. After we were a year in the
concentration camps in France, all the concentration camps in France were
– so to speak – wound up. They assigned us to a (slave) Labour Company.
LM: And what about your weight after a year in the camps on such a poor
diet?

51
JP: Since we had nothing to do, work-wise, we caught lots of infections –
diarrhoea – all sorts. The children and pregnant women – women pregnant
when they quit Spain – were taken aside. They had a whole camp to
themselves, a camp as big as ‘Barcelona’ ([as we called] Barcarès and
Argelès) and there were dozens of camps in France, you know, all of them
jam-packed with Spaniards. Some died there – and that was that. And if
anybody made any attempt to – let’s say – desert, if they wanted to get back
to Spain, they were made to run the gauntlet and told ‘Take that back with
you!’ They were made to run the gauntlet to mark them out as traitors for
heading for Spain. That was another point.
In Argelès-sur-mer camp there was a market like the one on Portobello
Road here; there was a market with piles of [Republican] army paper
money; everybody had lots of paper money but it was worthless; there were
different series of bills but they were all worthless; what happened was that
when Franco won, all the money became worthless. The only ones worth
anything after that were the bills he introduced – for his own benefit. [The
camps] were a disaster, pathetic, something – why not say it? – something
criminal. That’s the word, criminal. It was a crime. There was no
consideration shown for children, nor for elderly women, nor for anybody!
The people there ranged in age from newborns up to those on their
deathbeds. All sorts of ages.
LM: Did you see many people die?
JP: Lots of them, lots of them. And right beside me at that. Later, when all
the camps were wound up, as I mentioned, we were all taken, forcibly, from
the camps to work in Brest – France’s second most important port – on the
Atlantic coast. Brest is a port city, with nowhere to go except the sea, and
we were there to work – mark you – below sea level. At first we spent 8
days working in a quarry; the sort of quarry where one has to use ropes to
haul away rocks and use jackhammers; 8 days . . .
LM: Drilling?
JP: Yes, drilling. Since we were there as prisoners, after 8 days the bosses
said: ‘You, you and you. Report for medical inspection.’ So we reported for
medical inspection and they set us to work below sea level. The ‘sea bed’
was a building a lot bigger than this, very tall and kept above the water
level on steel girders and there were some vaulted areas, with a chimney
and that chimney. The cement was poured in through this building and fell
down the chimney to the seabed 70 metres below.

52
LM: What were they erecting there?
JP: Sea walls, from where heavy shipping could set off – from where they
could send out heavy shipping.
LM: That’s what the cement was for?
JP: We left the seabed as flat as this table here. In order to get down there
we had to climb down that chimney which had a lid that opened and closed
automatically. Once inside you had to swallow 2 kilos of compressed air so
that the lid could open and you could climb down. In the meantime, it did
not open, nor could you climb down nor climb out again. Well, you could
climb out but only in the event of an emergency. Other than that there was no
getting out.
LM: Were you working for the French there or indirectly for the Germans?
JP: For the French, but it was taken over by the Germans.
LM: The French were indirectly collaborating – working for the Germans?
JP: Precisely. We worked there and in those days they paid us the same rate
as the French – well, maybe a few francs less – but there we were.
LM: So there were no distinctions made?
JP: No discrimination. There were also some Portuguese workers but they
were there of their own free will, on account of the good wages. It was very
hazardous work.
LM: And how long did you spend working on the port in Brest?
JP: We were 3 months working there on the seabed, 70 metres down . . .
Then the Germans marched into France a second time and that was when the
French withdrawal came about. Brest was left on its own, the rest of France
having been taken over by the Germans. And the only way out was that Brest
pocket which, for all its size, was the only way out. They kept retreating and
retreating until Brest became the only escape to the sea. And, when we
dropped by the canteen at the end of the afternoon or night shift, realising
how unsettled things were, we understood what was going on: ‘Something
dangerous is afoot here’ – we said to ourselves – so, the following day we
did not report for work, because we saw something very unusual; and we
knew in advance (many of us Spaniards there – I won’t say all of us) –
having arrived in Brest to work straight from camp [in the south], knew that
if the Germans got us, our lives were forfeit; we had no way out; and so,

53
when the Germans showed up in Brest – we having been evacuated again to
Brest – I was able to see for myself the expensive cars and trucks;
everybody was making themselves scarce in case the Germans caught them
– everybody. Evacuation leaves in its wake a sadness, a tremendous horror
when there are thousands upon thousands on the move. It’s like when you’re
at the movies and everything is overpowering, or in a theatre – the crowds –
all the unease, all that.
So the manager said to us: ‘If you’re going to save yourselves, take this
route and no one will say a word.’ The manager was a fascist and so,
instead of playing along with him we headed back to the docks and as it
happened . . . the evacuation being on such a large scale, the emigrant ships
waiting in Brest to evacuate the troops, well, I myself – and about 30 or 40
Spaniards more – made our getaway. The ship was about as far away as that
door [some distance from the dockside] so we built up a head of steam
along the dockside and took a flying leap, to see if we could reach the ship’s
handrail and safety, there being no other escape route. If we stayed there, we
were doomed! So those who were able, the young who still had the
gumption, drive or will to jump and pull off something of the sort, clung to
the ship’s side and clambered aboard – unseen – if the troops on watch
spotted you, they would open fire, because it was forbidden; for we were
civilians at the time, not servicemen but civilians and we did not have
permission to board. But when you happened to spot the guard [looking the
other way] somebody would say ‘Jump – Now!’ Lots and lots and lots of
comrades stayed behind because they failed to reach the ship’s rail and hang
on and they were stranded there – forever, of course, if a soldier were to
spot them! That’s how it went, my departure. It was a case of ‘Come on,
let’s board this ship,’ and it was also a matter of luck. Once on the ship, we
hid under some tarpaulins used to cover up ropes, other tarpaulins and the
like and once on the high seas we emerged to see if they might give us
something to eat.
LM: And had you any idea where they were taking you?
JP: None.
LM: It was potluck, then?
JP: Yes, potluck, because there we were – if we were caught our lives were
forfeit, so we took our chances. We showed ourselves and the ship’s captain
– there were lots of captains and captains who were doctors and lots of
generals, all of them evacuees themselves – well, in order to boost their

54
own status further and as we were civilians, it occurred to them that this
was their chance to raise a crew in order to hand it over, ready-made,
directly to the British for service in Britain against the fascists.
LM: So they promptly tried to rope you in.
JP: Yes, rope us in – but it appears everybody had come to an agreement;
not one of us said ‘Yes’; we all said ‘No, think about it for a moment. We’ve
had 3 years of war in Spain, followed by the concentration camp and now
we need to give it some thought first. We are antifascists, of course, 100 per
cent antifascists, right? But we need time to think things over before we go
joining any crew; we need a few days’ rest . . .’ So they were so annoyed
with us that they billeted us in some huts on deck with the cargo of goats,
huts containing straw and all that for the livestock. They put us in there, with
nothing to eat; and then we discovered that the ship was bound for England.
We were almost there when somebody said: ‘ I reckon this ship’s bound for
England . . .’
LM: And the whole bunch of you that left from Brest were all anarchist
militants?
JP: No, no. There were all sorts – Republicans and Socialists and . . .
LM: Militants of every stripe?
JP: And communists and all sorts of ideologies. But we were all good
friends there, just as we had been in the camps, because there was no
difference between us. Anyway that ship from Brest brought us to
Southampton – it berthed in Southampton – and the trip took 8 days. Tacking
this way and that.
LM: How come?
JP: The reason was this: it was dodging the mines that the Germans had all
along the coastline.
LM: Meaning that progress was very slow?
JP: Very slow, with a lot of meandering through waters we should never
have entered, but into which we had to venture in order to avoid those
mines; otherwise, had it struck a mine, the ship would have been blown up.
It took us 8 days before we made Southampton, 8 days. On arrival in
Southampton, the officers told the British authorities: ‘Our passengers are
civilians and must return to France.’ That’s what the ship’s captain and all

55
the officers said. Then – it’s all coming back to me in the telling of the story
– we twigged, but at the time it passed us by – the [British] authorities
spoke to the captain who was talking to them on the quayside; they had a
word with the captain and then the local police said: ‘Everybody off!’ We
had no idea what they were saying to us: ‘Everybody off!’ – And we were
overjoyed. After which the ship’s officers were powerless because they
were on British soil now. Then the police herded us onto some buses that
were drawn up in lines, red buses as it happens, and they took us straight to
Crystal Palace, which is a very famous place here in London, Crystal
Palace. They brought us there, although we had no idea where they were
taking us. At which point we realised, automatically, that we were in
England now. They took us to Crystal Palace and then they fed us and we
were – well, it was all very different and more humane than the treatment
we had had in France. Very different! Because in France, the moment they
got their hands on us and found some of us carrying grenades (a few of us
still had our army-issue grenades), well, the police in France had taken
fright and were scared to go near us and then they got us to set down the
grenades and dump our machineguns, handguns and the like. Whereas here .
..
LM: Where did you cross over, via La Junquera or via Le Perthus?
JP: Via the Pyrenees, via Rosas, out towards Argelès-sur-mer.
LM: So you came here [to England] by pure fluke.
JP: More or less. The point was we reckoned that [we were off to] another
concentration camp. ‘Where are we bound except for another concentration
camp?’ – we thought it was going to be the same old story.
LM: And then you got that sort of reception?
JP: And when we got that [good a] reception, the reception here was so
different and so much more humane than we had had in France.
LM: You say about 20 of you arrived here?
JP: Yes and after 8 days in Crystal Palace they issued us with ration cards
and billeted us with English families. Each family had put in a request, some
for one, some for two. We were distributed around English families and in
their homes we ate at the table with the family members and the [British]
government, as I recall, shelled out 21 shillings a week to pay our way.
LM: One guinea?

56
JP: That’s it; the family got 21 shillings for us. It was 5 months before we
were allowed to work, and they gave us a shilling to buy razors, for
washing gear and the like.
LM: Which takes us to roughly the second half of 1941?
JP: Yes and as a result, or rather, once the Germans started to, so to speak,
pile on the pressure and the War became obviously tougher on a daily basis,
they told us: ‘All aboard – everybody get to work,’ and they set us to work
in industry.
LM: In the war industries?
JP: Not quite – since the air raids were so severe by then, for the air raids
had begun, I remember that they set me to work on the houses left standing.
LM: Demolition work?
JP: On demolition, that’s right.
LM: And you were at that right throughout the War?
JP: No, just for a time. I worked at that for a few months and then everybody
started to say to himself ‘I’d rather – I want to do something else’ – and so
on. Depending on the work or one’s trade, there was work to be had and one
was taken on, because of the labour shortage in the building industry and the
like, in catering. They set one of us to work on a crane in Regent’s Park and
a bunch of us Spaniards were left on our own hoisting parts for the Tube, for
the Underground. They were brought in from the factory and there was a
warehouse in Regent’s Park after which we would use the crane to load
them on to lorries for delivery to the Underground.
LM: So they were building parts of the Tube then?
JP: Yes.
LM: And you played your parts in that?
JP: We were involved in the loading and unloading. Later we found work –
well, each of us separately – in hotels, in catering.
LM: Can you remember the names of any of the people who were here at
that time?
JP: Well, it would be hard to say how many of us there were here at that
point. I reckon there must have been roughly 5,000 people – easily that

57
number.
LM: Spaniards?
JP: Yes, yes.
LM: And this 5,000 were here by the early 40s?
JP: Yes, yes.
LM: Are those official figures or on what do you base them?
JP: Just my own estimates – there were no figures, it’s just what I reckon.
LM: On the basis of conversation with other comrades?
JP: Yes, yes. Later, of course, the numbers increased greatly, very greatly.
LM: By then other escapees [from Spain] were arriving?
JP: Yes, many thousands of them. But at that point I reckon the figure would
have been about that [5,000].
LM: Seems reasonable.
JP: Yes, it would have been about that number.
LM: The actual number?
JP: Yes, at that point . . . so there we were, working away . . . as long as you
did not change lodgings – if you moved, you had to report to the police –
but, otherwise, you were as free as any Englishman.
LM: Did they issue you with passports or not?
JP: No passport, no. But you had your card, police papers that were issued
to us stating ‘If you move house you must inform the police,’ and ‘If you
change job, you must inform the police’.
LM: And that was it?
JP: After 4 years – I think it was 4 years – later they let us be, and we didn’t
need to do anything.
LM: Can you remember any comrades from those days?
JP: Lots of them, lots of them.
LM: Could you cite a few names?

58
JP: There was – let’s see – there was . . .
LM: Friends?
JP: Friends – there was García Pradas, an intellectual . . .
LM: I was talking to him recently.
JP: You talked with him? I’m delighted! How is he?
LM: His health . . .
JP: Excuse me. I have to change the tape.
[The recording is interrupted – he goes off to search his records for
documents. From here on, J. Pérez will refer to a number of documents that
he wrote.]
JP: A champion of our ideas, a . . .
LM: You’ve written things? Have you had anything of yours published?
JP: Well, yes, I’ve written – I sent a lot of what I wrote to Barcelona.
LM: To the Calle Montealegre?
JP: Well, some of them will be there, but I gave others to comrades, but
even so, maybe . . . I’ll be open and above board with you. Couldn’t be
blunter, I’m at your disposal, secretary of the England chapter.
LM: Circular no. 6 – I read – ‘London, 17 January ‘75’.
JP: No mistaking that, right? No mistaking that.
LM: And this [one] is dated 26 February ‘77.
JP: At a time when there was a bit of a split here in the exile community,
throughout the exile community, you know? I think it had something to do
with that. Am I right?
LM: I’m reading: ‘Obedient to the resolution by the preceding assembly’ . . .
JP: No, no: not that one.
LM: [leafing through papers]
JP: Yes, this one: it’s a manifesto.
LM: Dated ‘69. [He reads] ‘Secretariat . . .’

59
JP: These are resolutions passed by the Assembly, right? And here I am, the
secretary, the simplest, most unschooled person – you know? – who finished
up in charge of . . . [the tape is interrupted]
LM: Where were we? Let’s go back to the start of the ‘40s. García Pradas
was over here.
JP: García Pradas. The real intellectuals were García Pradas, J. Miguel
Delso, Gerardo López – Gerardo López was part of Casado’s junta – and
our friends Salgado.
LM: Salgado? There were two Salgado brothers, right? This would have
been Manuel?
JP: Yes.
LM: In the papers I’ve seen.
JP: [García] Pradas was on the Casado junta too.
LM: He left from Gandía along with the entire [Casado] junta, yes?
JP: Right.
LM: And at the start, what [did you do in England]?
JP: At first we had meetings – assemblies, assemblies scheduled at monthly
intervals or as circumstances dictated.
LM: Meaning that once you got here, a small anarchist group was set up?
JP: That’s right: the CNT was established, the CNT de España; hence this
reference here to the ‘CNT de España in exile, Great Britain.’
LM: Were there many militants?
JP: Well, yes.
LM: About 40?
JP: More – as many as 100.
LM: I’m talking about the ‘40s – there were 100?
JP: Yes, we had 100 or so comrades.
LM: And who served on the Steering Council at that time?

60
JP: The Steering Council was made up of, let me see . . . J. Miguel Delso,
Juan López was on it at the start too before he defected to the breakaways –
I’m not sure if you’ll remember this – he left – and later threw in his lot with
the cooperatives in Valencia, as their director, agreeing with Franco to run
them jointly with the Falange.
LM: But that was in the ’50s?
JP: And then he died.
LM: In the ’50s or thereabouts?
JP: Yes, something like that – ‘50s or ’40s. I don’t know. He went back to
Spain in ’50 or so.
LM: And was in the cooperative movement?
JP: He was in the vertical syndicates.
LM: Collaborating with the Falange.
JP: Collaborating with the Falange — a man who had been a minister for
the CNT in Spain.
LM: There’s another thing I’d like to know: was there any particular region
of Spain from which more people came, or were there people from all parts
of Spain in the CNT over here? Or was it a case of a certain number from
Valencia, and a certain number from Catalonia?
JP: No, no, they were from all over.
LM: So there were folk from all over Spain?
JP: Yes, from all over Spain. We had comrades in London, Birmingham,
Coventry, Derby, and Chester. There were groups in all those outlying areas
that were summoned to assemblies as a rule and a delegate would attend on
behalf of the groups. They would come to represent, let’s say, Birmingham,
Coventry or Chester, attending the assemblies when there were any. I had to
attend a lot of assemblies because I was here for so many years. I held the
secretaryship for a long time and spent many years as overall propaganda
secretary.
LM: The figures you mentioned earlier. Did they refer only to London here,
or were you also counting the numbers from comrades of ‘La Nueve’ (the
predominantly Spanish anarchist Ninth company of General Leclerc’s 2nd

61
Armoured Division), Birmingham, Coventry . . .?
JP: Well, let’s see . . . Adding in the Birmingham people, we come to a
figure of 130. Counting the regions – you know what I mean?
LM: How many anarchists would there have been in other cities such as,
say, Coventry?
JP: Well I’ll tell you: there were groups 8-strong sometimes or sometimes . .
.
LM: Small groups, then?
JP: Small groups, but Confederal groups in ideological terms: they were all
comrades, comrades from their days in Spain who had been in the
organisation since then, as I had been myself.
LM: And the organisation was refloated. Did you publish some sort of a
bulletin?
JP: Yes, there was always something being published, something being
issued. All of the chapters in exile were committed to publishing something,
be it a little or a lot.
LM: And what was in those bulletins?
JP: Well, they carried briefings on the state of the organisation.
LM: Meaning the organisation’s view?
JP: . . .of the organisational position inside Spain, the situation of the
populace in general and of the Spanish people – I can show you a few of the
bulletins.
LM: Yes, interesting stuff this, for the news contained herein is always very
up-to-the-minute, very accurate.
JP: It’s a pity you weren’t . . .
LM: And where might one find those bulletins?
JP: These things – I donated lots of such things [writings, bulletins] and sent
a lot, a great lot of them to every part of Spain. Believe me, I donated a lot
of things, when my sight began to fail and I wasn’t thinking. I sent trunkloads
of books to Novelda – yes, Novelda.
LM: What’s in Novelda?

62
JP: There are some comrades there. I sent books, lots of books to Gandía
and lots of books to Barcelona and I sent lots of books home [to Castellón].
All because I had a superb collection of books and I sent them all. Had you
visited earlier – I trust you, right? … Because, well, I have my reasons, but
believe me, the fact that I am telling you this shows that I trust you
implicitly.
LM: Thanks a lot.
JP: That’s why the first thing I said to you was to ask your ideological
persuasion and party loyalty; you know mine and I want to know yours.
Understand?
LM: Of course.
JP: Let me be frank with you, since you come from Castellón yourself,
which means something to me. I have a brother living in Los Calpes [in
Castellón] who is unwell; he’s mentally ill . . . but let’s leave that to one
side, if there’s something else you want to ask me, ask away.
LM: One of things I’d like to try to do when I get back to Spain is to try to
gain access to the archives of organisations that have information about
what happened here in Great Britain: because I have enough information
about what went on inside the Socialist Party, and enough info about the
Communist Party, but thus far I had very little info about the CNT; and of
course, if I’m to deal with the exile, it’s going to be lopsided unless I deal
with everything and I can hardly leave you out because that would amount to
writing a phoney history. I have to bring in the CNT and I have to mention
everybody that was active over here.
JP: Sure.
LM: What I mean to say is that everybody organised his own affairs, for
better or worse, but that’s a fact.
JP: Because of the clashes during the Civil War I am still ill at ease with
people who have no common sense, who could not see fit to do anything
other than squander the efforts made and progress achieved by the working
class.
LM: I read Casado’s memoirs too. So I’m conversant with Casado’s view
of the matter too . . . and I know the problems that there were and I know a
little of your thinking regarding the communists.

63
JP: That’s a bit of a sore point. I cannot fathom why such people [the
communists] can act and think that way; it’s something I cannot fathom. But –
there you go.
LM: But that’s how things are.
JP: That’s how they are. What the communists thought they were at in doing
what they did in the war in Spain is something – something I have no words
to describe. It was criminal because they carried out crimes galore.
Actually, as far as I can see, the only thing driving the communists on was
the desire to hold the reins; they had no interest in winning the War, no
interest in winning the War; and through the War, they built their reputation
up – they made their names and captured the reins of various organisations,
holding them on behalf of the Communist Party and then mistreated all their
neighbours. They always mistreated their neighbours, especially the CNT.
Because don’t forget, Luis, that in Spain the CNT was the most powerful
organisation during the Civil War with nearly 2 million members, whereas
the Communist Party – and I was there, remember – was a lightweight.
LM: With – what? – one sixth of your strength, or less?
JP: The anarchists’ confederal organisation in Spain was the mightiest, most
ideological, most social and most forward-looking organisation. Then came
the UGT. The UGT is pro-collaboration, right? We all know that it had that
reputation, that it was in thrall to politics and was also eager to take power;
but, when you get right down to it, it was drawing rather closer to the CNT.
LM: That said, what’s your opinion of the communist stance at the end of the
War and its sloganising about a government of ‘resistance’?
JP: Well, as I’ve said, I regard it as criminal; criminal is the only word for
it – a disaster, opportunism, in view of the blood that was spilled in Spain,
all that bloodshed. The communists were part of that and were the cause of
that bloodshed and tried to feather their own nests and were eager to get
ahead in the name of the Communist Party – ‘communist’ is a name only –
they were in the hire of Moscow and the Kremlin.
LM: Meaning that there was no sincerity behind its [the Communist Party’s]
stance?
JP: None.
LM: In the communist contribution during the War?

64
JP: None – quite the opposite, indeed. They undermined the war in Spain,
undermined progress and, thanks to that, bear much of the blame for the final
outcome.
[The tape breaks off here – side 2 of the tape having come to an end]
JP: . . . those writings came out here in England, and in the French
newspaper called Liberté.
LM: Meaning that there is a chance that I might stumble across them and
other things written hereabouts still lurking in the archives in Barcelona,
back home?
JP: No – they won’t grant you access to them.
LM: Well I mean the ordinary bulletins you published over here.
JP: Oh yes, I can let you have those run-of-the-mill bulletins right now.
LM: Because often they happen to have the hottest news about activities,
because they record the dates and the people involved. Then again, it is
safer and fairer to people to read the documentation from the time, for there
is a gap between the precision in a document and people’s memories – we
are too forgetful . . . [a further interruption]
JP: I suffered for – what?! – Standing up for what was right, to keep
righteousness alive and brought to the attention of the young, to history’s
attention. By the way, understand this – that what has been set down in
writing – all those tons of paper churned out in Spain, are – in my view – a
disgrace. Not on me, but on upcoming generations unaware of what
happened and what each side in Spain did; it’s a disgrace, a disgrace and a
step backwards; it represents a setback for the young. As long as the young
know about it, there’ll always be somebody to breathe new life into it and
revive it and it can be made known and handed on down through history;
otherwise, it dies, right? And just think: all those tons [of archives] we have
in Amsterdam, those archives, know what I mean? When are they going to
reach the rank and file? When are they going to come into our possession?
When are they going to be opened to you, a researcher eager to find things
out? I don’t want – I have no interest in telling you ‘You ought to be in my
organisation.’ Please! I’m not like that, right? You should follow the dictates
of your conscience and act in accordance with your feelings, the way your
mind operates, and the way you behave, the way you are, right? That’s what
freedom is all about, right? And that freedom deserves respect, even if I

65
think along different lines. That should be the norm and there shouldn’t be
any unfairness, right? That’s the way. Me? I respect everybody, but
unfortunately I haven’t been shown any respect myself, which is why I’ve
had to decide to [unintelligible]. Who am I? Because I – are you any better
than me? No! Because I have a moral conscience, I have a personality, I
have my human dignity, and but for human dignity, you are nowhere,
nowhere! A person should live out his daily life on the basis of ethics and
morality; once you lose them, you’ve lost everything; these days it doesn’t
matter whether you sell out to the right or to the left. You have to have a
guiding light, a beacon that represents your life, your way of life – your life!
Which is your mother, your very mother. Because I love my ideals as if they
were my own mother; I love them that much. Because but for those ideals,
my life wouldn’t have been what it was. Had I wanted to be – let’s say – a
millionaire, I might have become one.
LM: You’d have striven towards that end?
JP: Of course! But no; I wasn’t born to do that.
LM: It’s wonderful to hear you talking that way! One hears such talk from
very few in Spain.
JP: During the War, I . . .
LM: And I’m delighted.
JP: During the War millions passed through my hands and they were all used
for the common good. All of it! The collectives – I was there with my rifle
at the ready. I was with the Durruti Column, you know? And there I was
with my rifle, [and] when there was no danger at hand, you’d have seen me
[alongside] the peasant women, sowing wheat or harvesting or digging
potatoes. I was in Aragón as well, in Gelsa del Ebro, in Pina del Ebro, in
Quinto del Ebro and Belchite. I had a hand in events in Belchite. To the
strains of ‘Hijos del Pueblo, Viva la libertad! I’d rather die than be a slave’
– that’s what the fighting was about. A fight to the death against the enemy!
Even though we had no weapons and the communists had weapons galore,
and so did the fascists, you know? But the CNT that had it within it to –
shall we say? – progress and move forwards, was [denied] everything. You
can state that loud and clear, anyway!
LM: What a bummer! How can one win a war like that?
JP: You can say that again! If you were to see – if you were to read – what

66
happened, I can tell you this, you’d be devastated, in every sense of the
word! In the warfare sense as well as in the economic sense and moral
sense and in every aspect of life.
LM: Yes, but let’s hark back to what you stated earlier. Unless these things
are made known, all these things perish.
JP: That’s the point!
LM: And we have to seek them out and breathe new life into them and get to
know them.
JP: We in the organisation [CNT] are doing lots and lots, I can tell you that;
we are leaving no stone unturned; we are working flat out to get back all
these – all these [assets].
LM: You must get them back. There’s one school of thought that . . .
JP: We’ll get them, we’ll get them back. A few years ago you couldn’t go
back to Spain because you were – well, you were still in danger. Goodness
and logic, justice and humanity are always in jeopardy where politics is
concerned, because political conditions crop up and they try to destroy
everything, exploit everything and wipe everything out. Such is politics.
Politics is the art of thievery, the art of seeing to it that the people never
make any headway.
LM: Manipulating everything?
JP: Exactly!
LM: If you like, we can stick for a little while more with what we are doing.
So, can you remember the titles of any of the publications you produced
over here [in England]?
JP: [sound of papers being shuffled] See if any of this is of interest to you.
Here you can see stuff from the various nuclei, because I got them all, you
know? If only you had come [earlier], if only I had met you earlier!
LM: What a pity! What a pity that I wasn’t able to get here earlier!
JP: You’d have had the benefit of stuff you are not familiar with and I
couldn’t say when you might come across. – This one here – Presencia –
was published in France, by the anarchist groups. Yes, Presencia.
LM: And did you contribute to Presencia? Did you send it stuff?

67
JP: Oh, there was always something or other.
LM: And this one here [Presencia] where was it produced?
JP: In Toulouse [then, doubtful] – France, anyway, France.
LM: Presencia. This was bi-monthly, right?
JP: Yes.
LM: Year of publication ‘66 or ‘65.
JP: See? Here you have stuff from France; this was a publication issued by
– the groups. It was published here.
LM: España fuera de España, guidance and news bulletin. Very good. And
is there anybody with a complete collection of these [bulletins]?
JP: No, no. I gave them all away. I had everything, Luis, everything.
Understand. Because that was part of my brief like many another thing that
was just not part of my brief . . .
LM: I see, I see.
JP: But I can tell you this, they’re secret.
LM: Fine. I can respect that.
JP: You know – anyway, I could have let you have them – you’d have had
the benefit of lots of stuff.
LM: Mmm, is that possible?
JP: I could have brought you – you in particular – lots of advantages.
LM: Could I perhaps go to Spain and make approaches to some
organisation?
JP: No, for if you go to the National Committee in Spain, you’ll be told they
don’t have them, they don’t have them, because, even if they do, they’ll hold
them back from being read somehow, until they are ready for them to be
read.
LM: Meaning that they don’t have them in an organised format?
JP: Yes, so I say. When will that be? When will that be?
LM: This one here looks very important. It’s from ‘65. And this one here, El

68
Luchador?
JP: That one was published in France.
LM: In Toulouse once again.
JP: Tierra y Libertad here was published in Mexico.
LM: In Mexico. And this one?
JP: That’s Seguí, isn’t it? Salvador Seguí – that’s who it is, isn’t it? Yes,
Salvador Seguí. The anarchist who was murdered in Spain; they killed him
in Spain, during the days of the bosses’ hired gunmen.
LM: Shortly before the start of the War?
JP: Yes.
LM: And this was published out of Toulouse as well.
JP: Right.
LM: Did you also send off articles of your own?
JP: Yes, from time to time.
LM: García Pradas used to send stuff here [to this publication].
JP: García Pradas was a journalist; and an ace journalist at that. Remember,
he was in charge of CNT back in Madrid.
LM: Uh-huh. And this one is?
JP: Tierra y Libertad.
LM: Published where, in this instance?
JP: In Mexico.
LM: You were well connected?
JP: Sure was! As I told you earlier, I received correspondence from all
over. Let me tell you something. I used to get 80 or 90 copies of Tierra y
Libertad every – every time it came out, 80 or 90 or even 100 copies – 100!
– copies of the libertarian supplement from France, 100 copies of Cenit and
100 copies of CNT.
LM: For distribution?

69
JP: A hundred copies of Soli, 100 of Cultura Proletaria, from New York. I
got all the international stuff.
LM: And this one here – Mujeres Libres – did you publish it here [in
England]?
JP: Mujeres Libres? Yes.
LM: Over here?
JP: Yes, Mujeres Libres – it was produced here.
LM: And you published this one as well, España fuera de España. What
about this one, Reconstrucción? Great Britain?
JP: Yes, we produced that one as well.
LM: García Pradas, Ruiz, Cabañas, Delso, Aláiz, and Peiró. Some line-up!
Let’s see – England Federation . . .
JP: It was from here in England.
LM: Libertarian Youth?
JP: They were here as well. A Libertarian Youth chapter was formed over
here.
LM: Interesting. And here’s another bulletin – Fénix.
JP: You’ll love this stuff if you read it.
LM: ‘65?
JP: From around that time, you know? And now they’ve brought out the
Enciclopedia Anarquista. Are you familiar with it?
LM: I haven’t read it yet.
JP: Volume 2 is out already.
LM: Who publishes it?
JP: It’s published in Mexico.
LM: Is there anybody distributing it in Spain, or not?
JP: Sure, it has a distributor.
LM: And this bulletin here is from Mexico.

70
JP: Yes, for distribution.
LM: And this one here? From Mexico.
JP: We have stuff from Sydney, Australia – and there was other stuff as
well.
LM: Well, if you like, I can take a longer look at them now.
JP: No, this one here, take it with you – keep it.
LM: No. But I’ll borrow it for 2 or 3 days and photocopy the most
interesting stuff in it.
JP: No, no. You go ahead. At best . . .
JP: [Anselmo Lorenzo] states in his book El Proletariado militante –
massive book, about so big – he says: ‘Young folk in Catalonia, if they
could clear their heads of nationalism and stop thinking in the vernacular,
would really amount to something and would be towering ideological
presences.’ He meant the youngsters who were anarchists, who styled
themselves or claimed to be anarchists and he said ‘But nationalism so
lowers their sights that they turn into riffraff, good for nothing.’ Something
along those lines. ‘Good for nothing on account of what they believe in.’
Over the reality surrounding their neighbours, their neighbours’ interests
they preferred – so to speak – their talk of nationalism; and that sort of
thinking cost them their courage and they stopped being anarchists.
LM: Well, there are a lot of folk who fall into that category these days. A
lot.
JP: Anselmo Lorenzo. Read his book, it’s very straightforward and it wasn’t
that long ago that – (Sorry) – in terms of culture and in terms of whatever,
there is much for us to set down in writing.
LM: Maybe so, I don’t know. Hey! One of things that impresses me most is
the realisation that, when it comes right down to it, we are very much the
products of our surroundings.
JP: [approving laughter]
LM: And I’ve had experience of . . . folk who treat you like a person.
JP: Society – society. Look, society at present, as you know and you can see
for yourself, couldn’t be crazier or more corrupt, right?

71
LM: One can’t believe one’s eyes.
JP: We grow up in it and it washes over all of us the same way. But over
and above all that, over and above it all, we have – how can I put it? –
morality and progress and freedom – our very life – and we have to defend
them at all times, regardless of those tides and the avalanches that carry us
along. There is nothing that we can do about it all, but we at least ought to
be different and stand out from the rest. Understand?
LM: We need to have some idea of where we are headed.
JP: That’s it – that’s the only point. What do you get out of society? What do
you see in society? Nothing but madness and rottenness.
LM: I was thinking . . .
JP: And indifference.
LM: . . . about that very point just moments ago when I got here.
JP: Listen: you see nothing but materialism, carrying human beings and other
beings to ruination. They’re swept along by a tide of materialism like so
many crabs. And one more point: I myself was never swept along – I wasn’t
– there was no force capable of sweeping me up, because, above all else, I
had a glimpse of my own death. No matter. One thought welled up inside me
‘Long live anarchy!’ even if they had shot me, just as they did with the other
comrades – four of them – I knew them from the streets – sound comrades,
sound fellows, sound friends, you know? – with whom I used to meet up in
cafes, or wherever. They were detained on suspicion. They were arrested
and, being suspect, as anarchists – they were killed.
LM: Just for being suspects?
JP: . . . they were killed – they killed them. Which is where I take issue;
forget about lines of argument, forget about words, be they good or bad. All
they thought about was wiping out those who were different, just as Hitler
did, wiping out everybody different, you know?
When I was in France, a number of the comrades, who were acquaintances
of mine from Barcelona, were also in France and were rounded up by the
Germans; shot in a ditch or gassed. By the thousands! By the hundreds! First,
they had them dig their own graves, Luis, a pit in the sand, and later they
were herded into [the gas chamber] in order to save on ammunition, because
ammunition was highly valuable; they were gassed, the gas valve was

72
switched open. Comrades who were like brothers to me because they risked
their lives for the good – not your good but the good of the community; had
that been my fate – damn it, if they’d captured me . . . Ultimately what
mattered to me . . . Let’s just say that I had lived and fought . . . no, I
wouldn’t ever have, because . . . What was the point of being a dictator, a
materialist, someone others looked up to? No! I could never have gone
down that route – I could never have countenanced it. I’ve always preferred
anonymity, preferred keeping a low profile, but doing good in practical
terms rather than in words. That’s [inaudible]. And now, now, I’ve told you
a lot and you’ve tracked me down.
I’ve never changed and won’t change until the day I die. My family knows
that. I won’t change until the day I die.
LM: Did you live many years in Barcelona? From the age of 12 onwards?
JP: Oh, years, from the age of – remember, I left the village [of Los Calpes
in Castellón] at the age of – 12. I arrived in Barcelona – because I lost my
father at the age of 12, back in the village. And, as the eldest in the family –
there were three of us – a brother of mine still living in the village of Los
Calpes and a married sister – myself being the eldest. Well, when my father
died, I was so affected, psychologically, by what happened – do you
follow? In a little village like ours, I never got a day’s rest, for I was
always out working with the grown-ups, working with horses, or working
the land just to keep the home going. And then my mother said ‘Let’s all
move to Barcelona.’ So off we went to Barcelona; I was 15. Before leaving
the village for Barcelona, I, at the age of 15, took off for a stint of harvesting
in Aragón, earning the same pay as the men, the grown-ups; at 14 [I toiled]
from morning to night with a corbella and I was no slouch, Luis. All my life
long I’ve worked like a mule, a real mule, so as to support, to meet family
obligations, right? And in Barcelona, once I reached Barcelona, I made a
beeline for the CNT. By the age of 16 I was a member of the CNT, a
champion of the workers’ cause, of the cause.
LM: You grew up fast?
JP: The moment my eyes were opened to injustice.
LM: Right.
JP: And I beavered away, just as I had earlier, so I did lots – sorry! – lots
and lots of clandestine tasks. But [it all had to do with] justice and injustice
and righteousness and the good of the workers. Understand? Always. Such

73
was my life, my work; and then along came the War, as you know.
LM: I know.
JP: Three years of war in Barcelona, a year spent in the concentration
camps in France, a year and a bit, and then 5 years of war here, 5 years here
in England.
LM: Indirectly, you were affected by all the air raids and the whole . . .
JP: At the start, when we arrived, we would walk through the streets and I
don’t know how many times I had to hit the floor! At first we would scuttle
away and scatter far and wide when we were strafed by planes, fascist
planes. They used to swoop in low to strafe us because we had no defences,
right? If you must know, there was nothing to begin with and this town was
defenceless, defenceless. I don’t think there was even an army; there was
nothing.
LM: They committed horrific deeds – the air raids over here between ’40
and ’45, were horrific.
JP: And then, nothing. Oh, it was horrific! Until the government woke up and
said ‘Right, what’s going to happen?’
LM: Of course – it seems there was a willingness here to raise an army of . .
. [recording interrupted]
LM: Did you have any dealings with prisoners?
JP: Dealings with prisoners in Spain, right?
LM: Yes.
JP: Off my own bat and in a disinterested way I made it my business to help
them out financially, helping out their families that – I was in touch with
them here – in Spain, and links to the prisoners, with the prisons, I mean. I
sent them clothing and stuff such as all sorts of newspapers – not our
newspapers, right? But I posed as the uncle. I put myself over to the
prisoner as ‘your uncle’ and that uncle, well I knew his name and address
and all the rest and where he lived in Spain, right? And why the prisoner
had been arrested and such, because whenever friends were captured like
that in Spain, all the details used to reach our ears.
LM: Mmm.

74
JP: So we were au fait; the case would be put to meetings and everything
made known to the comrades and a subscription would even be opened to
help out such-and-such or so-and-so.
LM: And how many people, roughly, were you able to help that way?
JP: Oh, lots and lots.
LM; And how much money were you able to send?
JP: Well, in terms of money . . .
LM: Or goods in kind – clothing and the like?
JP: What can I tell you? Hundreds of pounds in cash; hundreds of pounds,
right? Because that, more than anything else, was what the organisation was
for, right? The loss was felt and the pain was felt; an injury to them was an
injury to us, their suffering was our suffering and in this respect we did all
in our power to help the prisoners and their families out financially and
psychologically.
LM: And did you meet any of those people after they got out of jail?
JP: Lots of them, lots.
LM: Did they come over here, or did you speak with them?
JP: I spoke with them and they were more than grateful and held me in high
esteem, saying they’d never forget me. Not so long ago, by the way, one of
them who was here referred to me as his ‘son’, right? Come on! I’ll show
you the correspondence.
LM: That help at that time was crucial.
JP: I have comprehensive correspondence exchanged with his son while in
jail and after release, you know, comprehensive correspondence that
couldn’t be more brotherly, more admirable, you know? Such gratitude, such
heartfelt thanks, you know?
LM: Uh-huh.
JP: For what I did – they’d suffered so much and these folk had been through
such straits. Just as I had myself.
LM: You took charge of – or were involved – in this whole area. Now
pretty much every one of the organisations in exile here did likewise in the

75
’50s and ’60s, helping . . .
JP: Yes, they did pretty much the same thing, but, as I mentioned before, the
communists . . .
LM: The communists who were around from the ’40s?
JP: They only ever helped people for reasons of self-interest. Once they
helped out, you were under an obligation to Moscow [confusion here] and
that was that. They were all in hock to Moscow. A disgrace! Imagine the
disgrace of somebody telling you ‘I’m working through my organisation in
Spain but I take my orders from the devil himself’, from Stalin! You can see
reports along such lines from the internationals, from the International
Brigades.
LM: And later, during Franco’s rule, I’ve seen documents and newspapers
from a variety of organisations, from the International Brigades and all those
who, well, they mounted protests over here, outside the [Francoist]
Embassy.
JP: The CNT mounted more than anybody else. Were you aware of that?
Because when that ambassador arrived here – let’s say he was just arriving
here, the one we have at the moment.
LM: Fraga?
JP: Fraga!
LM: You could produce a turnout here?
JP: At the time of the deaths in Bilbao, remember, who saw to it that we
mounted round-the-clock – day and night – protests outside the Spanish
Embassy with lighted candles, protesting against the authorities in an effort
to save those under sentence of death in Spain?
LM: You mean the ones sentenced in September 1975 – in Burgos?
JP: Yes.
LM: Otaegui and . . .
JP: No one, no one demonstrated with greater love and such determination –
disinterested determination – we made all manner of sacrifices, covering all
the costs and whatever else was needed. It was all covered by the
organisation. All of it, you know? The other parties . . .

76
LM: What was the nature of the involvement in protests such as that by the
exiles, the economic migrants who arrived later, in the ’50s and ’60s?
JP: They showed no interest.
LM: And didn’t get involved?
JP: Hardly at all. I don’t mean to be critical, but to some extent, as far as I
am concerned, I was able to establish that they had little interest in
solidarity with, and designed to save the lives of, their own brothers.
LM: Uh-huh.
JP: . . . from Spain, right? They showed no interest. Only a very few of them
ever demonstrated and drew attention to ‘This is what’s going on in Spain.’
Very few of them gave any thought to the message ‘We have to help them,’ or
‘Can anything be done for them?’ Very few indeed.
LM; So the bulletins and news sheets that came out in ’75 were done by you
[the exiles who had ended up in Great Britain] right?
JP: Yes.
LM: Rather than by them [the economic migrants]?
JP: That’s right. All of it, everything. As I said, the demonstrations – there
were some big demonstrations that we attended and were hauled away by
the police, but they were big demonstrations!
LM: I’ve seen a few photographs.
JP: Those demos were by the CNT, the CNT. The other demonstrations – if
there were any – were more political.
LM: Uh-huh.
JP: More political, whereas ours was a social demonstration which is what
suits me, because, politically – well! – politics I see as overblown, as a
filthy business.
LM: Meaning that you did what you could with whatever support you had
left here, what personnel you had left?
JP: Yes. We always did everything we could.
LM: Uh-huh.

77
JP: Get my point? Furthermore, when our friends in Bilbao were sentenced,
we demonstrated – it was wonderful, and we picketed the front of the
[Francoist] Embassy for days on end and our protest demonstration was
monitored by mounted police. But we were there throughout, wives,
partners, girlfriends and so on, all standing alongside us.
LM: Had you any sort of links with – say – International Brigade personnel
over here?
JP: Never.
LM: You never had . . .
JP: As far as the communists go, I can answer in just one word.
LM: Never.
JP: Since the war in Spain, the organisation has been completely scalded,
yes, scalded! and has been hit with boiling water from every side and has
refused to stand up to the injustices we have seen with our very own eyes,
injustices perpetrated by communists.
LM: Uh-huh.
JP: And there were many of them! Many of them. If only you knew! Here
they are, even today, carried out openly. What went on openly is recorded
here, right? And if you were to see them, you’d say ‘this cannot be’, but this
is the fact of the matter, the actuality.
LM: And what happened?
JP: Well, I myself have seen lots of things with my very own eyes.
LM: Uh-huh.
JP: You know, I’ve been in their chekas, in their clutches; the SIM brigades
took me in, to SIM headquarters and I know what was going on and
everything they did. The torture used in the chekas are the very same as
Stalin used in the Kremlin in Russia; the very same. You don’t want to
know, really, the sorts of things they do to torment and torture the human
being until they have driven him out of his mind, until they let him escape, or
go on to kill him and dump him in a ditch.
LM: There’s another interesting aspect to exile life here in Great Britain: the
Basque kids that lived here. Had you any dealings with them?

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JP: Very few, very few: precisely because they were looked after by the
communists – those hijackers – in the sense that they never let slip a chance
to profit, not the beneficiaries, but communist groups. Communists always
reckon that if they come into contact with you, it is with the intention of
drawing you into their orbit and getting something out of you.
LM: Rather than treating one with respect?
JP: No! That was their practice back in the International Brigades; they
would force a party card on you, after which, even if you were only a
common soldier, they would make you a captain, if you wanted, as long as
you took out a party card and they had one more member. That’s how the
communists conducted themselves [during the War].
LM: Casado exposes that in his memoirs?
JP: Yes, what I’m telling you is the unvarnished truth, right?
LM: Sure. They were out to corner the market – and could arrange postings
in the army.
JP: Yes! Look, if it’s details you want – and facts – they’re set out in
writing.
LM: True.
JP: These youngsters were shipped out to Russia, right?
LM: Well, there was one group of youngsters who were taken to the USSR.
JP: Right.
LM: And another group came here and a third somewhere else.
JP: I had dealings with two of the youngsters here [in England].
LM; Are they still alive?
JP: Yes, still alive, or maybe not – I lost touch with them later, because they
were in fact the children and nephews of a fellow who was a comrade, a
certain García.
LM: And how did they feel?
JP: Well, they – for a while they were invited guests, right? Later, work was
found for them.

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LM: Given that they could not go back to Spain, many of their parents
having left for exile, or being dead, how did they feel?
JP: Well, to some extent they knew nothing about all that; they knew
practically nothing of what had become of the family, you know? Others left
for Russia, such as two that I knew.
LM; Two of the ones that got away?
JP: Got away from Spain.
LM: The ones who reached England here?
JP: The ones who were here.
LM: Later they left for Russia.
JP: Later and right away they were sent to Siberia, those two, eh, friends.
They were the sons of comrades, from the organisation actually. Their
names were, er, José Viadiu and Ismael [unintelligible]. He joined in
Mexico – an anarchist.
LM: And who brought them from here to there [Russia]?
JP: The Russian immigration agency. Russia, through the connections that
the communists had to bring them . . .
LM: And – assuming that they agreed to go – how did they later finish up in
a concentration camp?
JP: Oh, my friend, precisely because they weren’t – they did not think like
the [communists]. That was enough, as we saw in the International Brigades
and everywhere else. If you weren’t one of them or refused to become one
of them, then watch out! Or if you refused to swallow something, watch out!
One of them is involved with Tierra y Libertad here, one of the papers you
can read for yourself. Ismael Viadiu.
LM: Meaning that he would not play ball?
JP: He’s a journalist.
LM: And he got out of there?
JP: Out of Russia? Yes.
LM; Uh-huh.

80
JP: The other brother stayed on and died over there.
LM: So here we have a child, a Basque? Who left Spain for England,
moving on from here to the Soviet Union and then left there and later
became a contributor to your exile review.
JP: That’s right.
LM: Some odyssey!
JP: You can say that again! He’s written a lot about Russia, what goes on in
Russia; he’s written a lot of stuff.
LM: That’s surprising.
JP: Eh?
LM: And there’s something else about your organisation’s members that
intrigues me, for I reckon they set the record straight. Is there anybody else
who has written books of any sort or contributed to some sort of weekly or
the like, or who has engaged in some sort of intellectual production, besides
the ones we’ve already mentioned, such as García Pradas, etc?
JP: From here, the main contributors, more or less, have been – as I was
saying – Miguel J. Delso, Acracio Ruiz (who has now left as well and is
living in France and who is none too well at present), and, er, Juan Ruiz,
who has since died, another master, a teacher.
LM: Did he write a book or anything?
JP: Er, well [hesitates]
LM: Or short articles perhaps?
JP: Yes, he went in for writing – he was a teacher – and here’s another one,
Gerardo López, and Salgado, he too. Yes, both of them. Salgado’s dead too,
right? Those were the only journalists in these parts. There were no more
comrades equipped to appear on a public stage.
LM: Mmm.
JP: Not that that – but it matters, right?
LM: As far as I can see, they were people who – as a rule – had a clear-cut
policy of contributing journalistic articles to France, right?
JP: Yes, yes, because that was . . . Well, the organisation needs people to

81
think and were I a writer – though I am far from it! – I would contribute to
all of the organisation’s newspapers; where they might appear is of no
consequence; they write and it comes out in – well, even in China, right?
And in Japan . . . and they write articles for the newspapers that appear or
appeared here – or which appeared in France or in Mexico and from
Mexico, same thing, the people over there write for newspapers here and
then the translated version appears and translations are made.
LM: Meaning that you have a very extensive connection with organisations
elsewhere.
JP: Yes, yes. It was all – it has always been down to contacts, just as it is
today – it still goes on today – In my case this written liaison is kept up in
order to stay in touch, so that we may each spell out our thinking, for even
though your thoughts may differ from mine as to the . . . the essence of the
organisation, you are still a sympathiser with freedom or anarchism and you
express that in your own way; this was no impediment to your stuff being
welcomed into newspapers elsewhere.
LM: And did you have any sort of links to the British Army’s Ex-
Servicemen’s Association? There were members of your organisation that
served here, weren’t there?
JP: Yes, there were members from our organisation. As I told you before,
there was Vargas for one, and there was Juan Ruiz – the teacher– he was
another one.
LM: Did they say anything about how many [republican] fighters there
were? I’ve seen figures in the region of 300, 400.
JP: Yes, of course, of course.
LM: And is that figure right?
JP: It was all [written down in the bulletins] but, as I said before, they’ve
all been sent off. Everything’s been sent off.
LM: What a pity!
JP: You know, it was all . . .
LM: Let’s try a little bit of reconstruction. On the basis of what these people
must have said, can we accept the figure I mentioned or is it wrong?
JP: The number of Spanish servicemen may well not have been that high.

82
LM: About 300?
JP: Yes, thereabouts, you know. Thereabouts.
LM: That’s about battalion strength.
JP: Yes.
LM: Or a couple of companies?
JP: Yes, it’s – look here, this is the general of the company with which the
Spanish ex-servicemen served – they called him Roa.
LM: Agustín Roa?
JP: Agustín Roa.
LM: He’s still a Spanish supporter.
JP: A supporter in Spain, really?
LM: Just recently as I was getting ready to come here [to England] he was
on his way to Barcelona to give a few talks and I really regret not having
been able to attend.
JP: He drifted away somewhat and drifted away from the organisation some
time ago and didn’t want to know.
LM: But he was once a member of your organisation?
JP: Yes, yes, yes. Served with the Pioneer Corps, as I did myself.
LM: I’ve seen him over there.
JP: And as a member of the British Army’s volunteer organisation – he had
dealings with them, at company level.
LM: What I spotted was that he was in charge of the publications issued by
that ex-servicemen’s organisation.
JP: Yes, because he was . . . obviously, he was equipped for the task.
LM: And younger than yourselves?
JP: Yes.
LM: Was there any particular ideological persuasion prevalent in the British
Army’s Ex-Servicemen’s Association? Were there socialists there? Were

83
there . . .
JP: At company level, there was mutual respect, with no sort of . . .
LM: Yet there were differences in terms of ideological background?
JP: Yes, of course there were. There were others who weren’t [anarchists].
They were socialists.
LM: And communists?
JP: Communist sympathisers, but . . .
LM: That they were . . .
JP: But there was never any distinction made.
END OF TAPE Recorded in London, July 1988

84
PART II — MEMOIRS: A TOUCHING STORY

Dear friend and comrade [Félix Álvarez Ferreras],


I have enclosed a letter sent to me by the editors and administrators of the
Barcelona CNT-AIT’s Solidaridad Obrera. Judging from the contents of our
correspondence, I am sure that you are not unaware of developments and
you should be well informed. As for myself, ever since the ‘tyrannical
toad’, the misnamed Franco, departed this life, 1 I have kept in touch with
the comrades from the CNT Regional Committee and with the IWA
Secretariat since it moved to Valencia. At the most recent regional union
plenum, it was determined that the latter should be vested in the Valencia
Local Federation and this I know, in that I am acquainted with the comrades
appointed to that secretariat. I dropped the Barcelona Regional Committee a
line about what happened. The comrades in question are personal
acquaintances of mine and quite naturally showed an interest and questioned
me about the condition of my partner Carmen, which is very distressing, in
that she can scarcely utter a word and has difficulty using her hand at all.
And now she has lost all feeling.
I have been intrigued reading all your articles in our press, particularly the
ones in the reviews Ráfagas, Siembra and Orto, where I read your piece
entitled ‘On Everyone’s Lips Yesterday Yet Barely a Mention Today. How
Come?’ As to the ‘How come?’ let me give you an honest answer – the very
same one that you feel and set out in your piece: Because in your mind and
heart you carry Anarchy, which means the commonweal, belonging equally
to all.
Yes, friend Álvarez! For how many years (ever since the corrupt,
treacherous Dwarf of El Pardo2 left us for the next world) and on countless
occasions I have asked myself ‘How come?’ The plain reason is that – ever
since 1932 – I owed it to myself. As you rightly say, we could carry on with
the struggle with whatever great sacrifices nature demands of us; our raison
d’être as informed anti-politicals and revolutionaries, against the most
criminal, absolutist tyranny whimsically controlling people’s destiny,
bathing their bodies in human blood. Everything done during the War and
Revolution was done in opposition to the much-vaunted farce of democracy

85
which hinges upon private profit, is reliant upon the well of criminality in
which, sad to say, people never weary of wallowing, thereby making slaves
of themselves. For which reason, selfless men of conscience find
themselves obliged to combat man’s exploitation of his fellow man.
That humane belief – anti-political, anti-authoritarian and anti-government
as I am and feel myself to be – has always served as my sunshine and
happiness. I have never retreated from it, which is why I have come to the
notice of the traitors who pay out good money for goons to watch over their
clothing and the like. This holds up a mirror to the disorder of contemporary
society, a society that goes by the name of Money – that being the true,
unadulterated creator of the most contagious and chronic disease afflicting
our societies and every people on planet Earth. Reason and experience cry
out to all of us equally for change and for today’s society to be cleaned up,
but it is all too easily seen that this human craving for social justice and
equality has, historically, only ever put down roots in anarchist thinking.
In your piece in the review Orto, you do well to remind friends and
outsiders of that open struggle that deserves to be remembered. Nobody can
erase that record of justice, of direct action against the state and capitalism,
that lives within every one of us – no matter whom it may displease – when,
so many years on, and heedless of so many obstacles, we state that we stand
by our anarcho-syndicalist and anarchist principles and, at the top of our
voices, cry out ‘Present and Correct!’ And we pay tribute to those valiant
Spanish and foreign anarchist comrades who gave their very lives for the
world’s freedom.
For my own part, I reckon myself a faithful, honest anarchist revolutionary.
My handiwork and my deeds tell no lies, so you may be sure, good friend F.
Álvarez, that from the age of 15, my actions on behalf of anarchy have
represented a commitment to and hope in goodness, in ongoing pursuit –
striving unbelievably hard and in an unprecedented way towards justice in
action, anarchist ideas in action.
Blow after blow, we can talk about those florid times so awash with the
stuff of the spirit, anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism – which will still be
the subject of conversation tomorrow.
As far as the city of Barcelona is concerned, the two most capacious venues
open to the CNT-FAI were the Monumental bullring and the Montjuich
football ground. The Monumental could hold 70,000 people; but when a
rally was held there, hundreds upon hundreds of people who could not get in

86
had to wait outside listening to the CNT’s orators over loudspeakers. The
Montjuich football ground – with its 100,000-person capacity – could be
filled only by the CNT organisation. Hardly surprising that such rallies sent
chills down the spines of the enemies of the people, at the thought of what
might befall them in the future on account of the organised presence of these
masses, federated within the CNT-AIT’s crucible of social justice.
In the beloved Spain of my youth, my anarchist activities were in no way
different from the ones you mention engaging in yourself. Along with those
glorious comrades from the past, my activities were hatching the mightily
human and natural ideological fruit of a better future as yet unseen.
We anarchists made the Social Revolution in Spain with opposition from so
many bloodthirsty tyrants, both rightwing and leftwing, who were of so
much political assistance to each other in bringing down the people.
Throughout history, politics has been a tale of profiteering, thievery,
materialism and crime. How many thousands upon thousands of comrades,
men with the integrity of so many suns, have been brutalised as a result of
vile politicking of every hue, from above and from below! First-hand
experience – whatever one has seen and been through – has alerted us all to
the bitter straits that are the fruits of foul politicking. What had been the
constant wholesome, clean element in the history of the people was
befouled, politically during the War in Spain. Because it struck them as
better and the various top brains were agreed upon it, the MLE as a whole
collaborated, with all that that implies, with the thousand-times treacherous
government of the Spanish Republic. From that point onwards we could
nominate ministers and all sorts of security guards; then there was the call
that went out from the CNT National Committee for more people to enlist in
the guards – on which basis I would contend that all of this merited a cry of
‘Long Live Disorder!’ The situation was such that, in every official
building, there was no shortage of Department of Public Order uniforms. In
a capitalist society, it takes all sorts to make a world, except those whose
hearts and sentiments are anarchist.
Speaking of half-hidden things and matters awash with filthy politicking, let
me say that in the Spanish war, the CNT was just another political party like
all of the others, no more and no less.
Here is one example of which I am sure you have some knowledge. Two
months before the end of the Civil War, 3 I was arrested in Barcelona by a
dozen soldiers – the police’s social squad, made up of comrades from the

87
CNT acting on orders from communist officers – for having a weapon in my
possession. They took me straight to the notorious mini-barracks of the
communist chekas. I cannot quite remember but I think those barracks must
have been in the Calle Córcega or in the Calle Entenza. After two days they
removed me from the chekas, bundling me into an open-backed van, a
sodden, broken, half-dead heap, so no precautions were needed to stop this
bird from taking flight. With indecent haste they brought me – confident that
this time there would be no escape for me – to the Palace of (In)Justice and
under martial procedure and in camera and most summarily, the court
sentenced me to death, which sentence was passed and confirmed.
On reaching the Palace of Justice, I immediately noted that a couple of the
Security Guards and Assault Guards details on duty at the courthouse were
CNT comrades. I had an inkling that I knew some of them and, even though I
resembled a highway robber – face unrecognisable and unable to stand
upright – that may well have been the very reason why those Guards came
over to me and said, ‘You’re bound for the Montjuich fortress and no
mistake. Before you get to your cell, you’ll be passing through the office of a
comrade whose duty it is to register all prisoners as they arrive at the
Castle. Once there you must make yourself known to such-and-such, who is
an outstanding comrade.’
A member of the mighty SIM for sure, I reckoned. In fact, while passing
through his office, I remembered what the Guards comrades had
recommended and received a gaoler’s answer: ‘I’m here in performance of
my duty,’ in the performance of which he prodded me and searched the very
hair on my head.
I was handcuffed to an Assault Guard comrade. Me, with my great love of
Guards! He had been sentenced to death that very same day. The poor
fellow cursed the day he had entered the service of the state. As for me,
when I reached my cell in that accursed dungeon, a warder from the CNT
who was carrying a bunch of keys in one hand and, in the other, a rifle,
opened the door for me. This came as a real surprise to me. When a bunch
of [anarchist] comrades saw me placed in the cell, they rushed over to
embrace me. These were comrades I had known for some time, men whom I
trusted implicitly. After the initial emotion had subsided, I asked them to tell
me why they were there and they answered me: ‘All we know is that we’re
here, some of us as ‘suspects’ and others because we are ‘dangerous’, and it
seems we’re under sentence of death.’
Very sadly they briefed me on the treatment to which CNT comrades were

88
subjected – as I was to discover for myself very shortly. No one was able to
tell me how, after so many years’ struggling for freedom, after all the shared
sacrifices prior to and during the War, we were now being watched by
gaolers who, though purporting to be CNT members, beat us with rifle-butts
or lined us up against the wall. We had handed victory to our enemies and
they were taking their craven revenge on us!
Let me cite one tiny detail: whenever they took us out to answer calls of
nature, we each had an escort, a rifle-wielding warder. We had to pass the
very spruced-up general population area where the fascists were kept – and
the treatment meted out to them was very different from what we were
receiving. They may have been fascists, but we were ‘dangerous’ anarchists,
‘dangerous’ enough to be facing the firing squad!
I spent a number of days in the company of those anarchist comrades. Four
of them who shared a cell with me – four comrades, not Assault Guards nor
prison warders – were removed and held incommunicado in another cell.
One day in December 1938 they were given the awful news: ‘You are to
face the execution squad in the Montjuich fortress at daybreak.’ I remember
that the response of those comrades, those brothers marked for murder, was
to spit right in the faces of warders who claimed to belong to the CNT. One
of the condemned men, Alba by name, asked the prison governor (a
communist) if he might see his partner before he died. He received
assurances that his wish would be granted but when they sent for her and she
showed up at the castle, the lousy governor had anticipated this and made
his arrangements in advance. The comrades had been executed two days
earlier: Alba, and along with him Camilo Guerra and Manuel. Before the
executions we hugged one another – just as they embraced me the day I
arrived in the cells – after I requested permission from the governor. Under
the supervision of a bunch of killers, we gave one another a final hug and
cried out at the top of our lungs: ‘Long live Anarchy!’ The last words we
exchanged were as follows: ‘We have but a few hours left to live; we call
upon you to tell our comrades and the organisation everything, and that we
go to our deaths with minds focused upon our beloved ideas and shouting
“Long live Anarchy!”’
With such steadfastness and conviction those comrades withdrew to go to
their deaths under murderous gunfire; just as thousands upon thousands
perished before and after under the heel of various regimes there in that
notorious Montjuich. Except that previously and afterwards, there were no
warders and no guards there who claimed to belong to the CNT. What an

89
insult!
MLE people should never lose sight of this past. So, when the hypocritical
announcement came of the intention to hitch our movement to government
collaboration, deploying slander and insult against those of us who refused
to be party to such irresponsibility, we were compelled to reply to this
farcical move. Many a comrade lies rotting in the dirt in Spain because of
profound miscalculations; but more, many more of us, stood up against
them.4 Montjuich, 1938, should be consigned to history, never to be
repeated.5 We refuse to have our executioners parade themselves as
comrades. And our organisation should not countenance such lame acts.
It was my lot to experience unbelievable cruelty in that historic Montjuich
castle in Barcelona. Luckily, those of us prisoners who belonged to the CNT
who were left behind managed to get out, with the fascists at the very gates
of Barcelona, which is to say, with the city already in fascist hands.
All of the filth in charge of the castle had made off the previous day; and, to
give all the details, they had left us CNT and FAI prisoners locked up to
make it easier for the fascists to murder us. Though we were unable to talk
to each other, we prisoners managed to communicate with one another, and
with heart and soul, to the cry of ‘Long live the CNT and FAI!’, we broke
through the doors and bars and when we reached the main gate to the yard
granting entry and exit from the castle, it was a case of ‘Scarper!’ Each man
quickly made himself scarce as, like wind-blown leaves, we melted into the
swirl of gunfire and dread thrust upon the people of Barcelona by the
fascists.
Through all this turmoil I made it to the road leading to Figueras and walked
the whole way from the accursed castle of Montjuich to the Argelès-sur-
Mer concentration camp in France. And, having not even as much as a
greatcoat or blanket to cover me, I spent the first week sleeping on the
beach, exposed to the elements, my shoes split and falling off my feet.
After 10 days they moved me to the camp in Barcarés and, a few days after
that, drafted me into a labour company to go to work on the sea wall in the
famous port of Brest, working 65 metres below sea level, surrounded by
water. Some work that was! Before we plunged to the seabed, the doctor
had to examine us all. Breathing compressed air we had to endure 2 kilos of
pressure if we were to work on the seabed! I spent two months doing that
job until the Germans invaded France. They came within an ace of getting
me as well.

90
The only area of France yet to fall to the Germans by then was the city of
Brest and the sea was the only way out. There were about 20 of us
Spaniards there and, of those, four or five were [anarchist] comrades; the
rest belonged to a range of different political parties. Given the life-and-
death situation in Brest, there was no alternative, no other escape route open
to us: we had to board a vessel we found that was being used to ship war
materials for the French army. Of the course and destination of the vessel
we knew nothing, but even so we unanimously decided to board her, no
matter how hard it was going to be for us to do so, in that the ship lay 4½
metres off the quayside. Since nothing is beyond man’s capacity – especially
when his life is at stake – a good run-up enabled us to make the jump needed
to grab onto the ship’s handrail and we pulled off this greyhound feat
successfully. Six who tried vanished into the waters, never to return; the rest
of us, once on board, hid under the huge tarpaulin covers and later we
realised that the anchor was being raised.
Once on the high seas, the stowaways emerged from under the tarpaulins,
discovered by the bestarred-and-striped officers in charge of the vessel.
The captain could not comprehend how we could have got aboard when his
ship had been lying at anchor at the aforesaid distance from the dockside
precisely to ensure that no stowaways could reach it. The fact is that, until
the ship reached its destination, we had no way of knowing what fate
awaited us. Meanwhile, the unpleasant captain and his officers – who
should have been congratulating us upon our achievement in making the
running jump – did their best to break us. The ship reached its destination,
the port of Southampton in England. I arrived in the early days of 1941;
within a few days, the Luftwaffe were strafing me and chasing me through
the streets of London.
I have drawn up a rough outline, no more than that, of my life experiences
since I broke out of the Montjuich fortress – and Spain.
I’m sending you a snapshot, one taken of me after I had been living in the
English capital for a month.
And now, another hug with all due gratitude to your son, Germinal. Tell me,
friend F. Álvarez, what’s the name of the book you are interested in? And
remember, as far as your book goes, that what you say is well put and no
apologies accepted. In the spirit of brotherhood, big hugs from your friends,
always.
Carmen and Joaquín

91
Notes
1. 20 November 1975.
2. Franco. He was commonly referred to as ‘el enano’ (the dwarf).
3. The author probably means two months before Barcelona fell.
4. Presumably ‘them’ refers here to the rulers/government of the Republic
and the MLE personnel who yoked the CNT-FAI to that particular wagon.
5. There seems to have been a huge upsurge in the numbers of
revolutionaries jailed by the Republican authorities in 1938. Many of them
were still behind bars by 1939, but 1938 was the darkest year (Barcelona
fell in January 1939, Madrid holding out a bit longer). Between May 1937
and January 1939, some 3,700 members of the CNT or POUM were
arrested. This was repression of revolutionaries on a scale unprecedented
since the aftermath of the October 1934 revolution. By October 1937, 500
of them were being held in the Modelo Prison in Barcelona: by February
1938 the figure had risen to 700.

92
THE REVOLUTION AND WAR IN SPAIN (1936–39)
The Story of a Freedom Fighter in the Spanish Revolution of
1936–39

To my good friend and comrade G. Álvarez –


My best to you and your loved ones. As for us, we are doing all we can to
stay afloat and keep going.
My apologies for writing to you in Spanish; my English is not perfect – far
from it. I appreciate and understand your noble gratitude for the three books
you were keen to read. Rest assured that, no matter how trivial a
commission or commitment to solidarity and assistance on anarchy’s behalf
might be, I am gratified and delighted to have secured it; especially when
the contents have to do not only with the most heartfelt and profoundest
truth, to which I wholeheartedly subscribe, but also with the entire family of
my good friend and comrade Félix Álvarez Ferreras.
Yes, indeed, friend Germinal! Ever since the age of 15 or 16, I have been
relentlessly waging a direct-action battle to achieve a more just, more
humane and more respectful society than the present one. It is more than
self-evident that, generation after generation – and our own history is there
to show this – people owe it to themselves to mobilise at the ringing of the
tocsin when it is sounded because of tyranny from above, whether in the
name of some blessed state democracy, of the rosary or of the sword.
On this count – and the record of the Spanish Revolution of July 1936 is
there to show it – it has rightly been said that the Spanish people, with
exceptional dignity and courage, are alone in the history of mankind in
having risen up as one against the whole criminal tyranny from within and
without Spain and replied with the Social Revolution.
In the two days before 19 July, every one of us in the confederal and
anarchist defence groups in the city of Barcelona went without sleep; we
monitored and watched from every strategic point the comings and goings of
thugs and evildoers laden with their assets. There was no way out for them
other than to head for home, their finery and bragging all undone.1 We were
waiting for the moment when the fascist uprising would break out from

93
military and government circles, by order of that treacherous toad, that thug
General Franco, acting on orders issued previously by none other than those
monsters Hitler and Mussolini. But why am I telling you? I can see it all as
if it were yesterday: the CNT and anarchist personnel, the Libertarian Youth
and every antifascist faction of the Spanish people, just waiting for the
bloodthirsty fascist wolf, hungry for human blood, to take to the streets – as
indeed it did – with an eye to strangling the progressive instincts and liberty
of 1½ million or 2 million people, the total number of CNT-AIT members
around Spain. In response to this life-and-death threat, the Confederal and
Anarchist membership’s hymn to social justice rang out, a hymn that struck a
chord with and was cherished by the Spanish people’s antifascism and
which stated:
Sons of the people burdened with chains
 So much injustice cannot go on;
If your life is but a word of pain
 Better death than life as a slave.
To cries of ‘To the barricades!’ with breasts bared, brandishing sticks,
shotguns, pistols and moving with all due haste, we disarmed every sort of
authority so as to stand up to the fascist rising and, with every minute of that
revolutionary direct action fight, the people managed to get hold of modern
weaponry at the cost of losses caused by the treacherous fascist foe, armed
as he was with all the poisonous accoutrements of empty heads who, with
their ‘Follow my orders and instructions,’ always regarded themselves
politically as Spain’s gods and reckoned that Spain ought to lie subject and
slavish at their feet.
But this time – and for the first time in history – in the revolution of 19 July,
with the anarchists in the lead, alongside the antifascists among them, the
Spanish people took pre-emptive action and did their duty as the dictates of
social justice – as plain as day – required. In a showdown with the
bloodthirsty monster, with its torn shirts and ‘Cara al sol’, the Spanish
people stormed and overran all of the army barracks in Barcelona and
likewise the Generalidad of Catalonia, which surrendered, delivering itself
up with hands and feet bound to the CNT-FAI with its whole crew of
politicians. Fighting back their crocodile tears, they all gave thanks to the
CNT and the FAI for having rescued the people of Catalonia in the heroic
battle against fascism. But the plain truth is – and I shall never weary of
saying this – that such folk, starting with the line-up of the Generalidad

94
government, with their whole riffraff retinue of shameless escamots and
nosaltres sols2 had done nothing their whole lives long but harass, brutalise
and jail CNT-AIT personnel. All this – and a lot more besides – was known
to Federica Montseny and García Oliver, who spared their lives so that they
might go on harassing and murdering comrades from the Libertarian
Movement. The whole rabble of appointees and sinecurists living off the
backs of the people of Catalonia went on in the same way. As I have said on
a number of occasions, this climate of corruption in government and
political terms cannot account for the things that happened during the War.
The War and the circumstances surrounding it were a tailor-made
opportunity. Those circumstances were created through private and political
ambition, by means of the crimes and the most horrific brutalisation of
thousands upon thousands of comrades in criminal fascist and communist
chekas. The former, in the name of tyranny, by means of brute force; and the
latter, under the more moderate and treacherous colours of democracy,
whereas actually more malignant purposes were being pursued. I refer to
that lying toe-rag, not a man at all, the sham leader of the government of the
Spanish Republic, Juan Negrín by name. As sure as two and two make four,
his dream was to become master of the whole of Spain in the name of a
hammer-and-sickle democracy, to which end he was swayed and directed
by his fellow-dictator from the east, the very killer who made upwards of a
million human beings vanish into the concentration camps in the Soviet
Union, namely Stalin.
I can still remember how, back in 1932–33, my group used to meet in the
family home of Libertad Ródenas, the partner of José Viadiu (a splendid
writer from the CNT). The family consisted of three younger sons who were
of school age during the War. In light of the danger posed by the fascist air
raids, the Republican government ordered that the children be evacuated to
Russia in order to spare them from certain death should those raids
continue. Three children from Libertad Ródenas’s family – whom I knew
and cherished, just as I cherish all the world’s children – were sent to the
Soviet Union. Of the three sons from that family dispatched to the Soviet
Union under the aegis of the Negrín government and loyalist Spain, the two
youngest were very soon gobbled up by the tyrannical dragon of Russian
arrogance, Stalin; however he failed to gobble up the oldest of the boys
who, at quite some sacrifice, managed to escape from the Siberian wastes –
a part of the world drenched in human blood in the name of the ‘dictatorship
of the proletariat’. That eldest boy’s name was Ismael and he made it out to
Mexico. He was an outstanding anarchist comrade from early on and

95
remains so. I took a real interest in him. He married comrade Benjamín
Cano Ruiz’s daughter.
Life’s coincidences and realities: all of the priceless materials I sent to
Benjamín Cano Ruiz passed, after he died, to comrade José Peirats, who
has since died himself. The loss of them both was the main reason why an
authentic history of the Revolution and War in Spain and how it all began on
19 July 1936 has never been published.3
I dispatched that same bundle of documentary sources to Mexico, Italy,
France and Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Asturias and elsewhere, as well
as to the Regional Committees in Spain. And since it was all that I could
afford to do, I have been posting a number of separate documents to give
them some notion of what all the members of the CNT-AIT stand for. But the
fact is that that bundle of sources has been hushed up and withheld from the
overall CNT and FAI membership. Only a handful of comrades – those
concerned with or serving on the FAI Peninsular Committee in Barcelona –
were in the know – and, believe me, I know what I am talking about. To give
you an example: Neither the CNT’s own ministers nor the bulk of FAI
members were aware that any such documentation existed. During the War,
those in government – that gang of wretched politicians headed by Negrín –
dispatched a number of arms-purchasing commissions around Spain and
abroad, all of them acting on the authority of two ministers who held the two
highest, most responsible posts in the government: Negrín, the prime
minister and Indalecio Prieto, the minister of defence. Both of them knew
about it. At which point there emerged something we were to witness
throughout the War: sabotage and criminality in the front lines and in the
rearguard, all as the result of compliance and dirty dealing by delinquent
politicians. At the cost of so much blood spilt in the War, all the political
parties (especially the Spanish Communist Party, backed by its Soviet
counterpart) fostered the terror of a black market in equipment operating at
the whim of those in charge and to the detriment of everyone else.4 Hence
the fact that the Spanish war went awry and the way it turned out, hence the
‘every man for himself’ attitude and similarly the accompanying poisonous
and treacherous politicking.
An entire swarm of lowlifes – to the shame of Spain and decent Spaniards –
set up shop in France, which is plagued with traitors who cost us the
Revolution and the War.5 The War ought to have been won, in that we were
in the ascendant, had we but stuck to our revolutionary principles and direct
action. Those Spanish parasites enjoyed every comfort in France and one or

96
two other countries and, before the War was over, every one of them
amassed millions of francs in the French banks, as is allowed under the
rotten laws of damned social democracy, whose own shambles of
differences and inequalities always steps forward purposefully to stamp out
any inkling of progress, peace and freedom. This is quite simply what all of
the well-born in this society look for.
However, society finds itself very damaged and ill-served by its own
habits, prejudices and prejudicial practices; it is derailed and corrupted by
the very education in inhuman differentiation bestowed upon the flower of
its youth, from the cradle to the grave. But equally true – and seeing is
believing (I was an eyewitness) – was the spiritual strength of anarcho-
syndicalist youth during the Social Revolution that took place in Spain
against fascist tyrants of every stripe who reckoned that they were about to
eradicate anarchy in Spain once and for all. I have a very lively recollection
of its dignity and virtue, which should never be forgotten. The cream, the
stalwarts of the Libertarian Youth whom I knew from the ateneo in the Sans
district, the youngsters who, on 19 July, sprang up to confront the enemy
onslaught in order to be free and never more the slaves of a false but
powerful god.
On the basis of these personal convictions, on that 19 July women and men
of 17 and 18 years of age left the ateneo or their homes, with a gun stuffed
in their waistbands or a rifle – very often just a hunting-piece – slung across
their shoulders.
Take my first encounter with the groups from the Sans district: along with
every antifascist faction in the country, every one of them vigilant and ready
to stand up to the fascist uprising, they spearheaded this epic feat by the
Spanish people. The enemy was spotted on the streets making its way from
the Pedralbes army barracks – one of the most up-to-date barracks in
Barcelona. From there emerged a company of infantry trailing a .70 calibre
cannon trained on every living thing they met. On instructions from their
captain, the troops shouted decoy slogans like ‘Long live the Republic!
Long live Spain!’ By the time that company arrived at the narrow Calle de la
Gran Vía, leading from the Plaza de Hostafrancs to Sans, those of us from
the CNT and FAI groups were manning all of the exits on both sides of the
Gran Vía. The first spark came from our groups to a cry of ‘Let’s get them!’
With the fire of social justice – from the machineguns and our hand grenades
– the company commanded by one of Franco’s captains was halted and
routed; in the engagement the captain fell as did all his men, their lives

97
offered up innocently in accordance with the age-old law of military
hierarchy.
That company with it long-range gun was routed by the anarcho-syndicalist
and anarchist groups; it had no option but to yield to the people’s Social
Revolution. My group took charge of the gun. Meanwhile, soldiers were
crying and hugging me with delight, 6 telling me how, just before their
company ventured out into the streets, they had been given a drop of grog
and reminded to use the slogans ‘Long live the Republic!’ ‘Long live
Spain!’
In over half of Spain – and especially in Barcelona – the Social Revolution
that 19 July 1936, led by the anarchists, eradicated the corruption infecting
society and the people and which had kept them immersed in the foulest
modern exploitation.7 Yesterday as well as today, that was no mean feat.
Deeds are the best tokens of anarchy’s heartfelt love of social justice, and it
[anarchy] overcame mountainous obstacles and brought about the downfall
of the fiercest, most bloodthirsty of politicking’s monsters on that
unforgettable 19 July 1936.
Every state is plagued with parasites in its efforts to secure victory for that
which is non-existent: some contrived and treacherous political democracy,
wherein one half of society lives off the sweat of another man’s brow. On
the basis of this established fact, which always led the way straight to
anarchy – a fact taught by our finest teachers and comrades from bygone
days – there is no doubt but that in the Social Revolution of 19 July it was
we anarchists who, through our own actions, set an example unprecedented
in human history, an example of human decency, an example of social
emancipation, so that people might get an eye-opener when they looked at
Spain and at the anarchist revolution whereby Libertarian Communism had
delivered more than half of the country into the hands of the workers. This
was the vital, human achievement of those involved in production and
consumer collectives. I lived through that experiment and drank freely of it,
with the same satisfaction as I drew from my delight in Barcelona and on the
Aragón front – in the villages of Pina de Ebro and Gelsa de Ebro.
Now, the truth needs telling. This was all a prelude, that is, it happened
weeks prior to the backward step taken by the CNT-FAI on anarchism’s
behalf when it determined to collaborate – with all due consequences – with
the vile politicking of the Spanish Republic’s government, [something] done
with the agreement of the higher committees of the CNT-FAI organisation by

98
way of grappling with the situation created by the War. As far as that great
faux pas goes – a mistake that was an affront to our reason and a
contradiction of everything we claimed to stand for – I was and am
saddened by the trespass committed in the name of Iberian anarchism.
Due to wartime circumstances – like it or not – and with the War cited as an
alibi, Spanish anarchism brought discredit upon its wholesome past, upon
international anarchism and, most especially, anarcho-syndicalism; but
above all, upon Spanish anarchism which had always been a source of pure
crystalline natural strength. For this reason I always spoke out against that
faux pas and the embracing of political collaboration. Within days, the CNT
was merely a fourth added to the three previously existing parties subject to
the constitutional and ministerial dictates of the ‘writ’ of the Spanish
Republic’s government.
Once the CNT and FAI entered that corrupt government, it was to be
anticipated that a formal declaration of a general draft of conscripts from all
over Spain would follow, and it did. This was the second of two political
coups scored by the Largo Caballero government and especially – and how!
– by the government’s hammer-and-sickle demon power, Juan Negrín, with
his cant about all-out warfare and Russian aid to Spain. Once it was part of
the government politicking, the MLE also sang from the same hymn sheet:
that the War had to be won.
It was plainly shown that, in political terms, the one and only interest of the
government, comprised of the three old parties of the same stripe (the
republicans, the socialists and the communists, all in cahoots) was to see to
it that the War was lost. The government propagated its criminal claptrap
about ‘letting those in command, command’. This was the contrived law
passed by the government which could not have asked for a better opening
to destroying and snuffing out the revolutionary spirit coursing through the
veins of the Spanish people’s very own Libertarian Movement. That
movement carried in its heart the flame of prosecuting the fight for social
justice, as begun with the Revolution on 19 July; it was the sole, the
essential force capable of freeing the people of Spain and around the world
who were in the clutches of the fascists.
In the early stages of the War the government secured ultimate authority as
the official government of the Spanish Republic; it then deliberately peddled
the nonsensical lie of loose ends being tidied up in connivance with the
higher committees from the confederal and anarchist organisation. Out of
this grew the unprecedented, farcical springboard betrayal whereby the

99
CNT and the FAI, by majority consensus and speaking for Spanish
anarchism, agreed to political collaboration by taking their places in the
government of the Spanish Republic.
This is the unvarnished truth: from that point on, we, Durruti’s real friends,
set up the Friends of Durruti. We were CNT-FAI comrades, every last one of
us, and I myself was an active member and organiser of that group. Speaking
for them all, I alerted the organisation and the Spanish people, telling them
that the higher committees of the CNT and FAI were betraying the Social
Revolution that the people had achieved over the fascists. The fact of the
matter is that the very circumstances that demanded that the War be won
were apparent only to the CNT and the FAI, meaning the Libertarian
Movement as a whole. The other three parties, being the offspring of the old
gangrenous politics, headed by ‘Don’ Juan Negrín, made considerable
capital out of the blood spilt by the Spanish people in concert with the
wholesome and pre-eminent strength of anarcho-syndicalism and anarchism.
When will we ever again attain the sense of strength and revolutionary
moral belief we knew back on that 19 July? Your father carries in his heart
the straight, humane vision of what anarchism is and stands for, having
remarked upon its real history up to 19 July. In this regard, your father wrote
a piece in issue no. 18 of the review Orto entitled ‘On Everyone’s Lips
Yesterday Yet Barely a Mention Today: How Come?’ and goes on to spell
out some facts so great and natural that not even a mountain, no matter how
big, could hide them. I might well say that those facts and their implications
derive from something that is nothing new to your father, or to me. Truth
always will out. I stated as much on behalf of the Friends of Durruti two
days after the War started, informing the libertarian organisation – wherever
there was a single comrade – and the people generally, that the CNT-FAI’s
top committees were betraying a revolution won by the people – which
stamped out every suggestion of the fascist political message of the criminal
uprising by that corrupt toad General Franco.
In view of something unprecedented in the history of anarchy, let me say
again that, ignoring the disquiet in the minds of revolutionaries, the top
committees of the confederal organisation, swayed by the circumstances
imposed by the War, or perhaps by that crucible of revolutionary social
justice, 19 July – which went much further than they thought – presented us
with a fait accompli, the Libertarian Movement as a whole having agreed to
and embraced political collaboration with the government of the Republic,
all in the name of anarchism. In the face of this trespass that flew in the face

100
of our anti-political and anti-governmental persuasions – and in view of
what we had seen and experienced of the festering inequalities fostered and
politically embraced by Spanish anarchism, the organisation was reduced to
nothing more than another political party. The War could then be waged –
and our own anarchist ministers were only too aware of it – in accordance
with the whims of a treacherous government with Negrín as leader of the
Spanish Republic – Negrín, who departed this world mulling over his
failure to destroy Spanish anarchism.
Yes, Germinal, my good friend! Your father speaks as he perceives and
speaks for the natural root of anarchism, which feeds the commonweal of all
human beings. This is why I admire him and am on his side. Among other
very interesting matters in his works, he asks: ‘Where is the revolutionary
mindset and ideological conviction of the individuals of yore, the ones who
appear to have inspired so much terror and done so much damage to all the
enemies of the high-minded, hard-working people?’
This truth is as grand and as virtuous as the sun and the air that endow us
with the strength and life force to make us men, respectful human beings on
the righteous path to a free, happy existence. But obviously, it has been
demonstrated more than adequately that the fine words that illumine the
entire soul, namely, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’
are little heeded. Plainly, all those in authority turn men against their fellow
men while they themselves seek the company of thugs. As they have been
doing for centuries.
Because of the way I am made, I have always reckoned that today’s society
is increasingly beset by the chronic, infectious afflictions of materialism. It
spread into preferences and inequalities wherein the CNT and the FAI
agreed to political collaboration with the government of the Spanish
Republic. All of which cost the MLE as an organisation dear – very dear
indeed – because we took it upon ourselves to represent governmental
corruption. The consequences, on the battlefront and in the rear alike, are
now there for all to see. When they entered the fray, the three political
parties, with the prime minister leading the way, had only one interest, one
priority – destroying what was such an impediment to all their plans and
Machiavellian schemes: Spanish anarchism, with its telling prestige among
the ranks of the people of Iberia.
And to this end they seized upon the circumstances described, upon the
governmental authority within their grasp and upon Dr Negrín’s criminality.
He it was who spilled rivers of the blood of anarcho-syndicalist and

101
anarchist comrades, murdered for the sake of the handiwork of the
communist chekas’ criminal policy of ‘I hereby order and command.’ In
secret, in the name of the hammer and sickle, these thugs have committed
crimes galore against humanity.
All of this, and a lot more besides, explains the deaths of so many comrades
from the Libertarian Movement – Spanish and foreign – who volunteered
fight fascism. Many from overseas, held in communist chekas, never saw
their homelands again. And, to make matters worse, this was at a time – it
occurred to me then and occurs to me now, and will always be in my mind
for as long as I am above ground – when the spectral government of Dr
Negrín and Indalecio Prieto was in receipt of political collaboration from
the spiritual and revolutionary strength of the Spanish people’s anarcho-
syndicalists and anarchists. To some extent, this was child’s play. But I can
tell you this: in this childish game, neither I nor the Friends of Durruti as a
body ever gave our consent for the confederation or anarchism to play any
part in Negrín’s treacherous government, nor any other government, not even
one that might have descended from the heavens or risen from the seas.
As we had in the social revolution of 19 July 1936, the Friends of Durruti,
the CNT and the FAI – during two days of all-out struggle in May 1937 –
brought to heel the whole poisonous, official ‘I hereby order and command’
crew of the Generalidad in Barcelona. That second revolution was
provoked by Barcelona’s commissar-general for public (dis-) order, that
thug Rodríguez Salas (where is he now?), the man behind the raid on the
telephone exchange that 3 May 1937, who undertook the deployment of all
his brutal police henchmen and Assault Guards.
Under the control of UGT and CNT workers, the exchange was a collective
gain in terms of the peace and freedom achieved by the Spanish people’s
revolution on that imperishable date of July.
That second uprising, in the midst of that thorn-and-shrapnel-filled disorder,
had no purpose other than to destroy and extinguish Spanish anarchism. And
again it backfired on all of Spain’s tyrants and bullies. Confronted by the
anarchists’ closing ranks around social justice in Barcelona, the
Generalidad, with indecent haste and in a show of all the despotic dirty
dealing of which it was capable, asked the Republican government in
Valencia for help. To the shame of anarchists, the latter dispatched troops to
snuff out the anarchist revolution and prevent it from defending itself. The
two anarchist ministers serving in the cabinet – Federica Montseny and
García Oliver – were very well aware of the import of the struggle played

102
out for a second time in Barcelona on 3 May 1937.
In the confrontations on 19 July, we anarchists were challenged to a life-
and-death struggle by the tyrannical politico-military uprising by the
scoundrelly, corrupt General Franco.
After that revolt was defeated and crushed, the entire hierarchy of traitors
blindly following him had the wind taken out of their sails across half of
Spain by a well-deserved response fuelled by social justice, our best hope
for a life of peace and freedom. We could practically taste it thanks to the
Social Revolution made by the anarchists in the ranks of the Spanish people,
setting an example for every one of the peoples of the world.
It is equally true that, in those very same circumstances, and even though
politics dresses itself up in motley colours, it remains the same – filthy and
fraudulent – like a man in hot pursuit of his own comfort and convenience.
This was how it came to be seen as a seat of potential buffoonery by
Rodríguez Salas, Barcelona’s commissar of public order, who joined with
the Generalidad in throwing down the gauntlet to us anarchists on 3 May
1937.
We anarchists – with the Friends of Durruti to the fore – made ourselves
masters of the Catalan capital in spite of the ravages caused by the mean and
squalid politicking of anarchist ministers when they entered Barcelona with
their call ‘Hold your fire!’ as the Republican government was demanding.
At that point we of the Friends of Durruti were engaged in a direct-action
fight in the Plaza de Cataluña, where the telephone exchange was located.
The police and Assault Guard had taken the ground floor of the building but
were unable to proceed any further or climb to the floors above; they were
pinned down by the resistance put up by the CNT and UGT workers who
operated and controlled the exchange. They ran it along collective lines,
adopting a generous and far-sighted approach for the sole benefit of the
people of Barcelona, and of Spain and the world as a whole.
On the orders of their bosses, the Assault Guard had to retreat back onto the
street, having failed to take over the telephone exchange or arrest the
workers inside the building. Republican government loudspeakers were
booming, calling for a ceasefire. The Assault Guard backed off, finding
themselves cornered by the incessant hail of fire from the men of the CNT
and FAI, ever mindful of their duty. The latter were driven by the noble
cause of social justice – as spelled out by the Friends of Durruti back on 19
July 1936 and again – as we have plainly stated already – on 3 May 1937;

103
even though the Republican government sent in the anarchist ministers to
dampen the flames in the cauldron of the Social Revolution.
Once again, Barcelona fell under the sway of the anarchists. While the odd
pro-Republican ill-wisher has muddied the waters, just ask the Friends of
Durruti what sent them retreating from the machineguns of the CNT and FAI.
Unfortunately, they were then able to ply their trade, slaughtering innocent
folk before withdrawing like common criminals from the telephone
exchange into the Plaza de España, the location of the famous barracks that
hosted the severest, most disciplined stalwarts of tyranny from above – the
tyranny of the state and of capital.
On 3 May 1937, the Assault Guards retreated to those barracks for the sake
of their very lives in the face of the revolutionary onslaught from the CNT-
FAI, and no more was seen of them. Twenty-one pairs of Civil Goons and
six high-ranking officers in plain clothes could never have dreamt that they
would meet their ends in those barracks. We surrounded the barracks and,
well prepared, we of the Friends of Durruti called upon them to commit
themselves to the people’s cause, setting aside all their weapons. We
Friends of Durruti had a large coach positioned at the barrack gates. After 6
minutes, they showed the white flag and opened the gates. One by one, some
48 individuals boarded the coach which bore them to the peace of the open
countryside, their assignment over, leaving them time to ponder ‘what they
had done with their lives’, the crimes and beatings that were their means of
persuasion, the shining sword of injustice with which they brutalised the
Andalusian farmworkers on behalf of a government as tyrannical as its
predecessors – a despotic, cruel government by General Sanjurjo, the
original creator of the Civil Guard corps so often to be found kneeling
before him, just because he appointed them as the sacristans, spectres and
distinguished demigods of ‘law and order in Spain’.
These minor but genuine details, among the many that I have passed over
without mentioning, are the unvarnished truth. And it is true too that society
today is run by bloodthirsty wolves who have had us, century after century,
tied to the stake to which we have been dispatched by the master who stays
in the saddle. All on instructions from a democratic society that has bared
its sharp teeth to us from the moment we get up until the moment we lie
down to sleep.
I shall never tire of speaking truths on Anarchy’s behalf, the Anarchy that
courses through my veins and which I have carried in my heart ever since I
had my eyes opened to it.

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Together with your parents, accept the fraternal embrace wherein we enfold
you all, as we tell you: Salud and anarchy!
Carmen and Joaquín Pérez
Completed in London, September 1995
Notes
1. Thanks to the round-the-clock monitoring of rightists by CNT-FAI
personnel acting on tip-offs, the assets the would-be insurgents set such
great store by were taken off them.
2. The ‘escamots’ were the bravo/bootboy elements of Estat Catalá, the
Catalan separatist organisation that was ultra-nationalist, bordering on
fascist. ‘Nosaltres Sols’ (Catalan: Ourselves Alone) were the ultra-
Catalanist, anti-foreign element of the Catalanist community.
3. The editor of the original Spanish text notes: ‘However, the priceless
collection of sources exists, thanks to the worthy and honest efforts, not to
mention sacrifices, made by comrade Joaquín Pérez.’ All that seems to be
known is that JPN transmitted, without retaining any copies, whatever
archival materials he had to others around the world; these materials may
have included some of the CNT-FAI intelligence service reports compiled
during the Spanish Civil War – there is no way of knowing.’
4. It was government policy to deliberately issue or withhold equipment
according to the official political/ideological viewpoint. Thus the best
weapons and equipment went to units controlled by the Communist Party,
poor or useless materials to anarchist ones. The CP’s success in recruitment
among army personnel was due largely to this rather than to any inherent
predisposition to Marxism within the ranks.
5. This refers immediately to the arms procurers pushing up prices,
making/breaking deals, taking rake-offs, pre-empting/thwarting deals that
might have suited their opponents within the republican camp, and so on.
And pocketing huge commissions and profits – far, far away from the
trenches. Besides these however there was a general exodus of politicians
and officials who left for comfortable exile, having looted the assets of the
Republic and ensured that their families were well looked after. This is
being acknowledged as, after seven decades, rank-and-file members of, say,
the Socialist Party, re-examine the political generation of 1936–39.
Undoubtedly the reference is wider than to any ‘traitors’ inside the MLE.

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6. In many cases, loyalist troops had been thrown into the brig by other
troops about to launch their coup (as they thought).
7. That is, while overt representatives of that corruption were undone in
July 1936, ‘corruption’ in the abstract existed in the republican camp also,
and a one-eyed approach enabled its representatives to come crawling back
and to reassert themselves with the complicity of the government, under the
‘antifascist’ umbrella and with the backing of the communists.

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DOCUMENTATION ON THE REVOLUTIONARY
HISTORY
OF THE SPANISH PEOPLE (1936–39)

To all who were


 and have ceased to be such;
Man is man
 until he ceases to be such.

Dear friend and comrade Floreal Rodríguez (the unforgettable nephew from
those days and all your life long) 1
Way back on 19 July 1936, I was shouting for all I was worth – and always
from the front ranks – against the fascism of the tyrant state and capitalism,
as a 15- or 16-year-old at the time. I was always soundly and wholesomely
anti-political and anti-government. Our anarchist beliefs are rooted in
Mother Nature, whose sunlight shines equally for each of us upon the paths
of equality, peace and freedom, leading to a generous Libertarian
Communist society tried and tested in its humanitarianism and solidarity and
in its substance.2
There is much that I should like to tell you about my life and activities on
behalf of our anarchist ideals, of course, especially starting on 19 July when
we anarchists, for the first time in history, made the Social Revolution
across half of Spain. Don’t forget that the Friends of Durruti, who were
always in the van of direct action on that unforgettable date, and, seizing
control of Barcelona for a second time on 3 May 1937, defeated the
treacherous counter-revolutionary uprising. That attack was spearheaded by
the flimsy sham of the Generalidad of Catalonia and by envoys from the
central government in Valencia. It jarred that ‘our’ anarchist ministers
showed up in Barcelona with their loudhailers calling for a ceasefire for the
good of Spain, even though the shooting had been started as a criminal
endeavour the sole purpose of which was to kill off and wipe out the MLE
in its entirety.
That wretched trespass by the higher-up CNT-FAI committees, who agreed
to political collaboration with the Spanish government in order to boost the
chances of winning the War when there was a life-and-death situation, was
unforgivable.

107
For once in our lives we were told that we had won the Social Revolution
in the main cities around Spain, that the people were breaking free of
slavery; that the anarchists were in the forefront of the fight for social
justice, which was our ineluctable duty in those circumstances and at all
times. We should have been equal to the revolution under way. The spirit of
the revolutionary crucible – glowing red-hot – burned in every heart as we
trod the straight paths of Social Revolution and the War that had been forced
upon us by our age-old enemies, the state and capitalism.
Despite this revolutionary example of social justice, some comrades from
the reformist higher-up committees of the CNT and FAI were caught on the
hop, whereas what was felt and craved with the entire soul and complete
ideological conviction was the common good of peace and freedom offered
by Libertarian Communism. In that sense, on 19 July, the anarchists, in
concert with the antifascists among the Spanish people at large, kicked over
the traces, overrunning the bastions of the sabre-wielders and rosary-tellers
in spite of their reinforcements and contrivances, overpowering that crew of
murky figures cut from the same cloth as the political layabouts and
criminals beholden to the state and a voracious capitalism.3
These parasites, who suck on the teat of material wealth, slave-drivers of
the people, these folk who live in luxury off another man’s sweat, were the
ones who mismanaged the fortunes of the Spanish proletariat in its freedom
struggle.
That trespass came from the confederal and anarchist organisation when the
higher committees agreed to enter into governmental collaboration with the
Republic, our enemy in the past and in the present, the most criminal
government ever to persecute and jail us down through the ages. That very
grave decision, which was taken by the finest flower of anarchism – by its
highest-ranking officers – today looks like a childish error, in that it cost us
the Revolution and the War. All because we stepped into the bottomless pit
of state corruption, where the communist wolf lay in wait for us with its
hammer and sickle to beat out our brains and lop off our limbs, to murder
and cravenly wipe out those of us who belonged to the MLE. That much we
have seen and experienced. Why not say it and repeat it? With the War only
just begun, the higher-up committees of the CNT-FAI caved in and agreed to
join the Republican government. For myself – and I was speaking for the
Friends of Durruti – I promptly alerted the organisation and the populace at
large, shouting at the top of my lungs and with all my soul, wherever I came
upon any comrades or clusters of people, to warn them that the reformist

108
committees at the top of the confederal and anarchist organisation were
betraying the Spanish people’s Revolution.
Because of this, the very next day, we of the Friends of Durruti, in the name
of revolutionary ideas and our libertarian and anarchist outlook, distributed
hundreds of leaflets, pointing to the fait accompli of the high treason being
committed – in the shape of explanations and appeals that this was all being
done to speed victory in the War. We were challenged to a life-and-death
struggle by the very same government-supporting sword- and rosary-wavers
whom we had routed only weeks before at the time of the fascist uprising by
that louse General Franco with his whole retinue of accomplices and
cronies inside and outside Spain.
We anarchists, with the odds against us, with neither the tools nor the right
weapons for the job, made our Social Revolution with a view to
establishing a better and fairer society – Libertarian Communism. Half of
Spain put it into effect up until the time the brigades of Líster and El
Campesino – two communist killers – set about destroying it.
That example – and many another prior to 19 July – should have been like a
guiding light, an honest, natural experience for all Spanish anarchists who,
at that stage, could see no alternative to taking communion and agreeing to
serve in the government and embracing its authoritarianism on behalf of the
entire MLE – something without precedent in the history of world
anarchism.
And to think that Spain has always been a natural beacon for worldwide
anarchism! For this honest and high-minded reason we are obliged to tell
future generations that they should ponder this thought: that Anarchy is the
Highest Expression of Order. Our teacher and comrade Elisée Reclus
insisted that anarchy is written into the hearts and bloodstreams of faithful
anarchists respectful of the past – and of ourselves who have always
pursued and acted on behalf of anarchist thought and made this manifest in
our words and deeds.
Whether the hucksters of government and capital like it or not, the Social
Revolution that Spanish anarchists made that 19 July has gone down in
history. This is why today I am more than certain that, after some so-called
anarchists agreed to collaborate politically in the handling of the Civil War
during the Social Revolution, the treacherous worm of collaboration – prior
to and after the fascist rising by the corrupt killer Franco, dreaming and
thirsting after human blood – would have regarded 19 July as its best

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opportunity to kill off the anarchists entirely. Only anarchists had it in them
to make them quake over their macabre undertaking and they hated us unto
death on account of our libertarian character and revolutionary convictions.
The Social Revolution carried through by the MLE was exemplary, having
been the most social and most revolutionary in recent times as well as the
most humane. I can say with pride that the wonders wrought on 19 July and
after – at the cost of so much blood spilt by the well-deserving, selfless,
sound, courageous Spanish people who fought with such revolutionary
fervour – were the handiwork of anarchists; let it be said that it was done by
the anarchists for the very first time in the history of exploited and enslaved
people. And it was carried out without any sort of discrimination, without
fear or favour, without political mediation or meddling.
That experience, like all our experiences, is part and parcel of our record,
our direct action and what we have determined to be and feel so deeply.
Anything that flies in the face of our raison d’être is wholly prejudicial to
the Spanish proletariat’s emancipation and to our ideas in particular, as well
as to the MLE. We know, better than anyone, what proletarians have had to
endure, face and suffer throughout the war. Trustworthy and incontrovertible
documentary evidence from that war offers palpable proof that the Spanish
people’s fight was not in vain, and that anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists
made the running in that revolutionary upheaval that thrilled the entire
world.
Loyalist Spain and its toiling, productive populace shut the mouths of all the
inquisitorial, contemptible politicians in the service of the tyranny of a
farcical and cruel government. The alley-cat called Negrín started to show
his claws and his true self; at the front as well as in the rearguard, with the
aid of his whole swarm of Mafiosi and chekists, he could count on
henchmen (among them certain members of the higher-up committees) to
assist him in his work of undermining the anarchist confederal organisation.
No matter how insignificant, every position of command was monopolised
by the communists, 4 who capitalised upon them in order to make life
impossible for anyone who could not produce a membership card from the
party of terror and injustices. The party of terror was, thanks to its grip on
power, the master of the so-called democratic republic, which had the
misfortune to be led by Dr Juan Negrín, a tyrant who betrayed the people of
Iberia and always served Russia and worked against Spain. He was
unaware that he had been exposed by the World Anarchist Federation with
the headline ‘Russia Out to Throttle Spain’, which went on to say this: ‘We

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have just received from the Austrian Section of the World Anarchist
Federation this report which that organisation managed to obtain from a
reliable source and which it has asked us to circulate to our comrades in the
Peninsula by way of putting them on their guard against the criminal
conspiracy.
‘We have translated the most telling paragraphs so that all may learn of the
ambitions being nurtured by Soviet Russia in concert with the incumbent
head of the government of the Spanish Republic, Juan Negrín.’ This letter
came into the possession of the national and peninsular committees of the
MLE, unbeknown to Negrín’s Spanish government. (A number of measures
were put in place by the CNT-FAI against the criminal extermination being
plotted against the Spanish people, and particularly against the anarchists
and the POUM, every last one of them marked down for death.) All in return
for the biggest lie of both tyrants (Negrín and Stalin), who committed
themselves thereafter to ship huge quantities of war materials to the loyalist
Valencia government to help win the War. This sweetener was used yet
again to lull, deceive and betray the revolutionary spirit of the higher-up
CNT and FAI committees instead of us letting our very own despot, Negrín,
make the running.
No sooner had the anarchists agreed to serve in Negrín’s pirate government
than, at the front as well as in the rearguard, he hurriedly empowered his
entire crew of thousands of poisonous flies from the communist chekas and
gave them carte blanche to sow terror and death throughout Spain.
The communists exploited their commanding positions to advance their own
people and to disadvantage those who would not kowtow to the hammer and
sickle. So it is well worth while shedding a little light on the facts: the
chekas of these hammer-and-sickle communists, with their goons in charge,
were, in every particular, the match of those holy friars with crosses and
rosaries dangling from their necks and – far from being saints – were merely
a newer version of the same old inquisition.
To take this on board and to be able to speak knowledgeably about it, one
would need to have seen it and to have touched it for oneself. I have. I was
one of the first of the anarchists in on the 19 July 1936 raid on the
celebrated monastery-cum-nunnery located in the Calle Caspe, just where it
joins Barcelona’s Paseo de Gracia. In the ground floor basement of the
building, there was a huge, massive secret burial ground for those crucified
[sic] for the almighty god of the monastery – a harrowing place for any
well-meaning human being who might step inside to confess all the

111
mysterious, clean and unclean, sins in their life. Those nuns who, because of
they way they thought, gave themselves up to some monkish demigod found
that this demigod changed his tune once they had been violated by the
despotism of his holy authority – a case of ‘This is what I love. For anything
else I have no use.’ The spurned woman and a further three nuns we
discovered, each of them walled up, one in each of the walls of the church
premises. I can see it as if it were happening right now; it was discernible
from the freshness of her corpse that one of these nuns had been walled up
quite recently. Which made one think of what might lie below ground – nuns
or otherwise – in that secret burial ground. We could only guess at the
torment endured by the victims of such troglodyte practices. It took a just
and social Revolution to uncover these secrets kept by the holy criminals –
who were shrouded and supported by the brute force of state and capital; I
mean the Revolution carried out on that unforgettable 19 July 1936.
On this point, as I mentioned before, the Communist Party had no reason to
feel outdone by Spain’s holy friars, the latter acting on behalf of the
Catholic, Apostolic, Roman church – the cross-and-rosary faction – the
former bunch invoking the hammer and sickle. Both of them set up secret
burial grounds ‘under the moonlight’ and used these to inter the living and
lay the dead to rest. A huge number of comrades – innocent comrades –
vanished forever into those gloomy secret places on the premises of the
chekas. Antifascists, anarcho-syndicalists and anarchists paid dearly for
being honest revolutionaries.
The agents of the ecclesiastical hordes and of the vile Stalin and Negrín
were prompted to pre-empt the high-minded ideological precept that
reflects the yearning of all peoples to share peace and freedom together. As
far as these inquisitors and dictators were concerned, their own qualms did
not matter, as long as a psychological and human defeat took place.
Experience tells us that all of the political promises of the higher deities of
government have but one purpose: to amass personal advantage and nothing
else. In this respect, the promises from the tyrant in Moscow, along with his
vile partner in the Spanish government, had to do with the shipment of war
materials – munitions and arms – to Spain to win the war against fascism.
Those calculated promises, full of bilge water, were well received by
certain anarchists serving on the higher-up committees of the CNT-IWA, and
in particular by the two governments which were part of the Revolution and
the War that started on that extraordinary 19 July. The promises from Stalin
– ‘little father of the people’ – were very well received by the demigods,
those ruling potentates, Largo Caballero and Juan Negrín. On no one’s say-

112
so but their own, they dispatched tons of Spanish gold to the Russian
government’s pirate leader, as if it was their own property.

The letter from Vienna, dated 26 August 1937,5 did well to remind us of this
– and let me urge you to be sure to read it. You will see from it what the
farcical, treacherous promises made by the Russian government’s dictator
meant; the bulk of the Spanish people’s treasury was handed over for a
shipment of a few elderly rifles that blew up on the shoulders of our
soldiers when they tried to use them.
I remember very well that I was serving with the Durruti Column in Gelsa
de Ebro when – two weeks before even the government formally ordered
militarisation of the ranks6 – the 21st Centuria put in its own request for
arms to the Largo Caballero government. The latter refused to hand over
arms to the CNT in order to preclude them some day being deployed against
itself. Indeed, its answer highlighted the true essence of the noxious,
heartless power of the state. Largo Caballero, for all his reputation as a
statesman, could always command enough weapons and brute force to
swamp and stamp out the Spanish and world proletariat’s social and humane
demands.
Let it be said that we anarchists, the prime movers of the Social Revolution
on that heroic and historic day, never begged the government for arms. Quite
the opposite: we wrested arms from the government and from the entire
rotten crew of aristocrats and bourgeois parasites – those who ruled over us
and the churchmen who harassed the workers while championing a
voracious capitalism. We took them from all their followers, from the
scoundrelly military who created public disorder, from all who were at all
times bulwarks of the state, and from those who, in the state’s name,
displayed the gold braid that, being cowards, they never earned – getting it
instead on account of their submissiveness and lack of backbone, for defeats
inflicted by the enemy and for rallying round their paymaster.
Outstanding in this treachery was the Communist Party, pampered by Negrín
from start to finish. The party saw the War as an opening for horse-trading
and sabotage, for crime and cowardly, blood-curdling murder. They –
particularly El Campesino and Líster – had carte blanche to indulge in
subterfuge in the ranks of the army rather than fighting bravely against the
enemy, against fascism. Just look at what these gangsters from the cheka did
in the rearguard, in the cities and villages of Spain! These farceurs, these
shadowy terrorists were the saviours of the hangman Negrín and engaged in

113
such filthy business as hunting down and utterly destroying the CNT and the
FAI on orders from above.
Once – and even today – this was the stock-in-trade of the chekas’
bloodthirsty goons. They can never be forgiven for having made thousands
of honest revolutionaries and libertarian comrades vanish in macabre
circumstances on the battlefronts and in the rearguard, just because they did
not see eye to eye with them and frankly defended the Spanish people’s
freedom with unparalleled high-mindedness and courage.
Those communist inquisitors had six or seven major locations in Barcelona,
which they used as secret dungeons or prisons after the fashion of the
Inquisition, complete with vast burial grounds filled by the hammer-and-
sickle terror.
These communist brutes – along with Negrín – did nothing throughout the
War in Spain but steal from and murder the libertarian family, it being the
only hindrance to their pulling off their political swindle for the benefit of
those who always had the dirty hands and hard faces of big-time liars. Like
it or not, the evidence about their nefarious activities shows them up as out-
and-out cut-throats and criminals, dating back through the period of
revolution and war that began on 19 July 1936.
Comrade Floreal: I have startling proof aplenty of what I have merely
touched upon above, proof like this:
20/7/38 – CNT Health and Hygiene Union, Barcelona.
To the FAI Peninsular Committee, which over the course of the
war in Spain received various messages of complaint and
protest, though neither the CNT nor the FAI Peninsular
Committee was able to do more than watch this matter (and
hundreds of others) without passing comment. Here is one
example:
The Military Health Establishments are riddled through and
through with communist personnel, irritants who – alas for the
Spanish people – have gained the upper hand like this
everywhere. They are the ones in charge everywhere; and woe
betide the soldiers, workers and anybody else in the
inquisitorial chekas which the Military Hospitals have been
turned into, should they have the courage to articulate views and
opinions contrary to those held by these new sons of Loyola!

114
The wounded are treated and then a point is reached when the
doctors, if they happen to be out of sympathy with the incumbent
board in the hospital, wash their hands of them. Our trade union
delegates from the military hospital based in Vallcarca have
brought to our attention truly monstrous instances of patients
who have yet to receive a single treatment, on many occasions,
ending up with gangrene due to putrefaction of the wound in the
affected limb. In that hospital, a communist cell headed by
Doctor Linares – one of the brave hearts who deserted his team
and his patients during the Aragón offensive to take his leisure
in Barcelona – rules the roost.
But Vallcarca is a typical case, replicated in every single one of
the military hospitals. The physician, the practitioner, the nurse
and the manager, unless they are communists, are subjected to
all sorts of humiliations and bullying – worst of all, they are
also wide open to being victimised by a despicable conspiracy
that will see them finish up in a ditch in Montjuich.
Another financial sweetener:
Coordination Section, Madrid. Foreign Intelligence Section.
Among the very grave anomalies set out earlier regarding the
financial record of the outgoing minister of finance, you will
remember the claim that one of his secretaries – a person with
neither title nor official position – had built up the sum of
100,000,000 (one hundred million) francs in his current account
in a Paris bank. Yet the overall sum handed over is not that but
some 132,650,000 francs, which is sizeable enough to show up
the irregularity of such practices.
In Cartagena . . .
In the party’s prison in Cartagena, the defeatist campaign is still
proceeding with great intensity, with fresh hacks and
propagandists surfacing every day.
All of this is shameful. It is outrageous that we have to witness
the favoured treatment and consideration enjoyed by all inmates
classified as disaffected and well-to-do. Let us be clear about
this: what is needed is a verbal declaration, to which we would
readily and willingly submit, so that, should the extreme

115
practices set out be verified, people will be brought to book for
not performing their duties strictly and for engaging in all the
connivance which we have been unfortunate enough to witness.
Here, anyone who is manly and antifascist cannot but fall foul of
the officers in charge of this prison, whose duty it is to help him
observe the prison regulations. To give you some idea of what
is going on in the prison, allow us to brief you on a few facts so
that you can gauge what life is like for us:
1. Staff have been told that Article no.132 of the Prison
Regulations is to be implemented for every inmate. But it was
not enforced in the case of the disaffected; and, with the
blessing of the prison governor, a number of antifascists were
even placed in jeopardy by non-observance of this article of the
regulations.
2. The best posts and the ones entailing the greatest
responsibility and trust are in the hands of fascists.
3. The daily press is banned from the prison; but the fascists
bring in whatever they please.
4. Alcoholic beverages and wine are banned too; but the
fascists have access to all such drinks with the acquiescence of
the governor and deputy governor.
5. Let’s not talk about the food. Suffice to say that no one is
looking after it and that fascist prisoners receive rather
scandalous assistance in the shape of hams, eggs, rabbits,
chickens and meat, whereas everything is in short supply in the
hospitals. Samitiel [sic] holds court, except that he is also
involved in Socorro Blanco in tolerating all these things, when
such differential treatment has been reported time and again.
All of the above has been brought to the attention of the
directors, though not one of the matters reported has been
entered in the record or eliminated.
Communications with fascist and antifascist prisoners
There is outrage regarding this matter of an inmate’s
communicating with his relations. If the inmate is an antifascist,
he is denied all rights; and if he is a fascist, communications are

116
even allowed him without the presence of a warder or grille,
and at whatever time of day suits him – as witness the cases of
the fascists Corbalán, the doctor Redondo Cienfuentes [sic],
Oliva and others. Both the governor and the lieutenant governor
authorise such vile practices; and when any of us protests, we
get the treatment.7
As to the accommodation of fascist families, this is a matter of
import. The lieutenant-governor, every time that Redondo’s
relations call to see him – and the same goes for another two
well-known fascists – those relatives sleep within the prison
precincts and in the lieutenant-governor’s quarters – something
prohibited by the prison regulations.
The prison governor improves conditions for the most
disaffected elements and charges the expense to the prison
budget. And he shares out some of the food sent in by Socorro
Blanco among such elements.
We could cite countless facts that would make up an endless
list. We are merely bringing these to the attention of the
organisation, so that it can work out how to clean up all the
irregularities occurring day after day in the party’s prison in
Cartagena.
The names of the commanders and officials doing these things
are: Governor Pedro Bernal – affiliated to the Murcia CNT (but
a rightist) – Lieutenant-Governor Eduardo Garnier, a member of
Izquierda Republicana, one of the finest lobbyists for and
defenders of the fascists; warders Pedro Castaño and Manuel
Molina Casanova; and the prison doctor – all of whom are in
cahoots with these people.
The officer of the CNT service in Cartagena prison has handed
over this information to the Murcia Defence Section of the CNT-
FAI-FIJL on 14 February 1939.
The criminal strokes pulled by the communists’ political might were fascist
manoeuvres. They were the real beggars, working for the highest bidder
which was the government of the Spanish Republic, the sower of murder
and torture with all their gangs of state terrorists and communist chekas,
weeds and shadows indistinguishable from the fascists.

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And here is another matter worthy of being brought to the attention of those
unaware of the thuggery of these people, these evildoers.
On 23 August 1937, I brought the following report to the attention of the
National Committee of the National Confederation of Labour (CNT).

To the Peninsular Sub-Committee of the Iberian Anarchist


Federation (FAI)
Report on the activities carried out by certain Communist Party
personnel who, throughout, have not only hampered the proper
prosecution of the War but have simultaneously had a great
impact upon our movement and specific organisation.
I (name withheld), captain with Infantry Regiment no. 9, turn to
you in order to explain and denounce everything that has been
going on inside the army. Unless we react in timely fashion we
are going to find ourselves overrun, not just by the fascists, but
by their front men, to wit, none other than the pack that make up
the Communist Party.
First, an incident that passed during the first fortnight of March
in a battalion from said Infantry Regiment no. 9, attached to the
11th Division, which was under the command of the communist
Líster. 120 soldiers presented themselves at this regiment’s
barracks, stating that they would rather be shot than rejoin that
division.
The matter being a grave one, I was obliged to bring it to the
attention of the War Ministry’s Intelligence and Audit Office,
which instructed me, given the stance adopted by said soldiers,
to carry out an inquiry to clarify the incidents. Having taken
statements from Major Díez [sic] Merri, battalion commander,
from Lieutenant José Ordóñez Navarro, from Corporal
Francisco Borrás and Trooper Ramón Bellmunt, it was
established that, in presenting the plaintiffs’ battalion to the 11th
Division, Líster said that he found the battalion’s officers
unacceptable, arguing that he did not want officers appointed by
the Official Gazette, much less appointed by the war minister,
at that point comrade Largo Caballero. He said also that the
only officers he wanted were those trained in his brigades –
meaning communists. This meant that if he was refusing the

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officers from the battalion, the reason was that their ineptitude
and cowardice would soon come to light, as evident in the
reports delivered by Major Díaz [sic] Merri. However, all of
the officers and most of the sergeants were forced to stand down
in the light of threats made against them, not just by Líster but
also by the cheka by which he was always surrounded. They
then presented themselves at this barracks where they reported
on what had happened; only the soldiers and a few NCOs had
stayed behind with the 11th Division – and these were
dispersed since Líster himself was, as I have stated, the one
handing out the stripes and stars.
This stance drew a few protests from the troops making up the
said battalion, who demanded their officers back; they
recognised that they were not going anywhere with Líster’s
appointees, and they justified that demand by citing the risk of
their being wiped out in the first operation mounted.
Likewise it was soundly established that any soldier in the
battalion was better qualified to wear insignia than most of
Líster’s officers. This was later proved in the first operation of
any note mounted in Monte Garabita [sic], wherein virtually
every trooper in the battalion was cravenly murdered. Given the
way in which those troops had been sent in, the manner in which
those in command mounted that operation shows plainly that
there were no competent officers, let alone objectives.
It was established that it was nothing more nor less than a filthy
stunt, an act of personal revenge by Líster for the way the
soldiers had protested when their officers had been dismissed.
What few soldiers were left fled from the 11th Division,
reporting to this barracks and attesting to everything set out in
my written report.
I must also place it on record that, despite what those soldiers
stated, they had to rejoin Líster’s units under threat from the
political commissar, Communist Party member Manuel Friero
[sic]. That commissar, cashing in on the status enjoyed by the
Communist Party at the time, due to its having the upper hand in
the government, concluded that said soldiers had fled the units
under Líster’s command out of a reluctance to defend the cause;
on the basis of this report, his superiors ordered that the troops

119
rejoin the ranks without further ado, which was done.
In terms of administration and slick carrying-out of orders, I
also find that the 11th Division leaves a lot to be desired, in that
there have been very many instances of comrades who have
perished and gone missing without this being properly recorded.
The Division in question has refused to issue missing-in-action
or death certificates, since it has been shown that most of the
dead or missing troops from the Orumba [sic] Battalion were
murdered – which is the norm in most communist units – for not
sharing the same ideological outlook as the officers who
command it. In spite of all the injunctions forwarded to said
Division, asking it to send in those certificates, the only
response has taken the form of threats.
I should also mention that at the time of the Vinalesa [sic]
incident, the Líster Division wanted to travel down to Valencia
because of the campaign being mounted against the CNT and
FAI within the ranks of the said division by none other than
Líster himself and his followers. One rumour that was then on
the lips of virtually every man in the 11th Division was as
follows: ‘We must go down to Valencia to sort out the whole
matter, so that not a single person is left carrying a CNT-FAI
membership card.’
Finally, I must also report the case of comrade Camarasa who
was a soldier in this regiment and who was latterly attached to
the 11th Division. In the withdrawal from Brunete, even though
he had been left on his own, he held off the enemy with a
machinegun, the remainder of the troops having broken and run.
On reporting to his command post, he was murdered by being
shot through the heart, and then finished off [sic] by his captain
with a bullet in the head. A statement to this effect has been
made by several soldiers from the same unit as the unfortunate
comrade Camarasa.
* * * * *
Especially in these grave times it is common knowledge that
every antifascist has a duty to forswear everything except
victory; I find that most of the political commissars, from the
high command down, have given up on the War and embraced

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fascism, as the facts I am about to set out confirm.
No one can ever forget the campaign of accusations mounted
against General Asensio – and indeed against Largo Caballero
– over the loss of Málaga, with everyone alleging that this had
been down to the lack of zeal and republicanism in their defence
of the cause. It was said too that comrade Largo Caballero was
surrounded by personnel disaffected from the Spanish people’s
cause. We embarked on a campaign against his cabinet, which
was seized upon by the Communist Party as its chance to create
the crisis that we all know about.8 The upshot was that
everybody reckoned that we had this war in the bag since high-
ranking positions were now in the hands of genuine antifascists,
but within days we witnessed the fall of Bilbao. How come?
The most backward-looking partisan campaign in history was
being mounted from the Ministry of War. The first thing the new
incumbents9 did upon taking office was to stand down all
trustworthy personnel, 10 leaving only those who had joined the
Communist Party and who had been given the task of mounting
round-the-clock surveillance on all who were non-party
members. They did so with an eye to the non-communists being
eliminated physically, since, according to them, we posed a
danger as members of fascist (!) organisations. My finding is
that in carrying out their foul task they were summoned by the
political commissars from that party currently serving in the
army to meet on premises occupied by the head offices of the
newspaper Ataque – in the Calle de Mar – to await instructions.
Even so, I have discovered that this communist politico-military
organisation has ramifications throughout the army, since most
commissars and political delegates are Communist Party
members and so enjoy government protection.11 In support of
all that I have said here, I attach documentary evidence, and, so
that there may be no doubts, I am forwarding a copy of some
minutes by way of a faithful record of the resolutions passed by
the communist cell within Infantry Regiment no. 9, which states
as follows:
In the presence of comrades José Bauser [sic], Ricardo
Domènech, Antonio Chapa and R. Manzano, and under the
supervision of a delegate from the Communist Military Political

121
Commission, 12 approval was given to the establishment of the
cell covering Infantry Regiment No. 9, with the following
appointments made to that effect:
Political Officer – Herminio Gimeno Quiles
Organisation – Ricardo Domènech Pastor
Agitation, Propaganda and Finance –
Jaime Rubio Forch

A motion was passed that today, Monday, all comrades within


the said regiment should come together so that, at 4.40 p.m., they
would meet on the Calle de Mar premises of the newspaper
ATAQUE.
It was also determined that henceforth they should ensure their
presence at whatever meetings were indicated, failing which
vigorous action is to be taken against comrades not answering
this summons.
Valencia 13 August 1937
Recording secretary
R. Manzano (stamped)
Herminio Giménez (stamped)

This is reliable proof of everything that I am reporting to you; I


can offer the requisite corroborating documentation so that,
when the time comes, I can back this up, since I take full
responsibility for everything laid out in this quotation.
I have also been told that among all the resolutions passed
during the meetings which have been held is the following:
‘Everyone working on behalf of the [Communist] Party will be
assigned a post so that he will not serve in the front lines. At the
same time, all non-members of the [Communist] Party are to be
reassigned so that, when the day comes, we can summon all our
resources since we can count upon the cooperation of our
political commissars and our ministers.’
Comrade Floreal: besides the evidence of my own eyes and experiences, I
have documentary proof in relation both to the poisonous weeds, Communist

122
Party and otherwise, and to political corruption. I have always thought – not
without reason – that from the moment that political collaboration with the
treacherous government of the Spanish Republic was agreed in the name of
the CNT and FAI, anybody not two-faced and duplicitous could understand
how the staunchest defence of the workers’ peace and freedom would be
required.
In 1907 the National Confederation of Labour (CNT) claimed to be the only
revolutionary organisation. Even though it had so many traitors within its
ranks, flattering it with their sweet poison and using the most damaging
weapons to destroy it, the CNT and the FAI and the Libertarian Youth said
‘Present and correct!’ when it came to belief in its founding principles, its
libertarian, anarchist aims and the very reason for its existence. We send
you a brotherly hug from your friends, always.
Carmen and Joaquín
London, February 1996
Notes
1. The next two paragraphs, about FR’s personal life, have been omitted
here as of no general interest
2. Two paragraphs about JPN and his and his companion’s health have been
omitted here.
3. The author is saying that the enemies routed in July had their equivalents
on the republican side in the ranks of statists, this time secular instead of
Catholic, but essentially with the same cult of the state and self-interest.
4. The point was that the communists were (a) over-represented, competent
and incompetent alike, and (b) were often promoted over the heads of
equally or more capable officers of different persuasions. The
disproportionate representation of communists in officer positions in the
Republican Army was a constant source of complaint from anarchists (and
others) during the Civil War and could be said to have been one of the chief
drivers behind the Casado coup against Negrín in the last weeks of the war.
In part, the complaint from the anarchists may well have derived from a
sense of alienation: they had been regularised and lost their militias, yet
received none of the benefits regularisation was supposed to have brought.
Often they found themselves under the command of ideological ‘strangers’
or enemies, perhaps with anti-CNT records under the Republic as, say,
Assault Guard officers. Communist Party proselytisation inside the armed

123
forces was contrary to regulations but was not effectively reprimanded. The
CNT’s commissar-general, Miguel González Inestal, repeatedly articulated
and reported those complaints and the figures seem to bear him out. Given
the pro-communist Negrín government’s control of the weapons supply,
communist-approved units got first choice of the most modern weaponry
(this includes the ‘Sons of Negrín’, i.e. the corps of Carabineers). The
communists, who could offer promotions, courted promising commanders.
Promotion became a function of ideology, regardless of performance. Units
were used as cannon fodder on ideological grounds and their feats ignored
over the lesser achievements or under-achievements of ideologically
‘sound’ units and commanders. Col. Juan Perea’s units were kept out of the
Ebro offensive because his men were drawn mostly from the CNT and he
was a known CNT sympathiser, so he and they might not bathe in the
limelight of the expected ‘success’. In The Anarchists in the Spanish
Revolution, Jose Peirats devotes chapter 23 to the anarchist–communist
frictions within the armed forces. The FAI Peninsular Committee reported to
the October 1938 National Plenum that around 80 per cent of army
commands were in communist hands. Antonio Cordon of the CP, as under-
secretary for the army, controlled promotions and appointments. The FAI
report cited above stated: ‘since May, 7,000 soldiers of different ranks have
been promoted and 5,500 of them have been members of the Communist
Party.’ Failed communist officers seemed immune from reprisals for failure
and ‘blame’ was regularly accorded to CNT commanders and units. CNT
personnel provided 80 to 90 per cent of the transport battalions, yet only 1
or 2 of these were under CNT officers whereas 10 or 12 of the total of 19
battalions were under communist commanders. The air force and tank units
were CP preserves. The 3-corps-strong Army of the East consisted of 1
corps under a CNT commander and 2 under communists. Of its 9 divisions,
1 was under CNT control; of the 27 brigades, the CNT commanded 5: the
rest were communist-controlled. Anarchists controlled 1 out of 19
recruitment and training centres: the communists controlled the rest. Not a
single rearguard battalion was under anarchist control. 4 out of 21 army
corps had anarchist commissars. The CNT complained to the Defence
Ministry of a meeting of communist officers held in March 1938 in Torralba
to discuss the elimination of CNT personnel. Disciplinary action against
CNT personnel normally imposed the stiffest possible punishments, i.e.
shooting rather than hard labour.
5. In the Documents section
6. The decree militarising the militias, creating the Popular Army.0

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7. We are punished.
8. The fall of Málaga in February 1937 to a combination of Moroccan,
Carlist and Italian ‘volunteer’ troops came at the end of a period of faction
fighting within the republican camp, murders of Nationalist sympathisers (or
people alleged to be such) and was marked by a strange insouciance by the
regular army commander, Colonel Villalba, and inactivity by the republican
navy. The Francoist forces gained their first Mediterranean port and the
terror was repaid with interest. Villalba was treated with a strange
indulgence at the war’s end, further fuelling wild speculation about the fall
of the city.
9. Presumably the communist or pro-communist appointees promoted by the
War Ministry.
10. That is, all who were not 100 per cent with the communist line.
11. This appears to refer to a Communist Party caucus operating in parallel
with and within the army, i.e. making policy in accordance with the party
line and enforcing it through the military hierarchy: decision-making that
was ideology-based and partisan rather than in honest pursuit of military
objectives.
12. The organisation described in the previous footnote.

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AN HISTORIC DOCUMENT OF ANARCHISM
Written by a Genuine Eyewitness to Events in Spain from 1936
to 1939, Now Living in Exile in London (Great Britain)

Dear friend and comrade Félix Álvarez Ferreras, Greetings!


What a delight it is to discover that my friends are in good health and, no
doubt, grappling with countless, never-ending chores to be performed on
behalf of progress and culture! The latter knows no rest when burdened with
the most faithful sentiments and sacrifices on behalf of a fairer, more
humane society that allows all us human beings, without let or hindrance, to
look upon one another as brothers, from birth until death.
Friend F. Álvarez! You have made tremendous sacrifices – as have I and all
anarchists – to get across to the people a programme so fair, high-minded,
honest and natural as to make the well being of one and all in the worldwide
community dependent upon Nature alone. In which regard, I, like the person
just named, gave my all on Anarchy’s behalf. No mean feat, and one not to
be forgotten.
Way back in the far-off days of July 1936, the real anarchists – with the
Friends of Durruti leading the way – left behind the city of Barcelona, a
genuine fraternal paradise being founded as a new, cherished and yearned-
for society in the shape of Libertarian Communism.
We of the Friends of Durruti stated the truth plainly the day after 19 July,
plainly and forthrightly, as has always been the case with genuinely
revolutionary anarchists. We sounded an alert to the organisation and the
Spanish people [because] the higher committees of the organisation were,
politically, betraying the cause of the Spanish people’s Social Revolution.
What the Friends of Durruti had stated was demonstrated and confirmed
within 48 hours. That betrayal, that faux pas made in the name of anarchism,
was condemned by anarchists worldwide as well as by some independent
observers and by the chancelleries of some neutral democracies.
Many thousands of sympathisers and revolutionaries arrived in Spain of
their own volition to help out with the anarchist revolution. Such friends and
comrades could not credit that we had four anarchist-minded comrades
representing the confederal organisation and holding ministries in the
[Republican] government. The scandal thus created reflected the scale of

126
crime and the curtailment of direct action’s freedom of mind, which carried
with it the morality of a man who embraces social justice for his own
protection.
By embracing political partnership in anarchism’s name it was made very
plain that our raison d’être, our shield, was being served up on a platter to
our enemies in return for a few government posts; served up to the mighty,
tyrant state with its usual slogans: ‘Let the ruler rule!’ and ‘Don’t answer
back or I’ll kill you!’ The sort of law that protects its maker by castigating
the innocent, downtrodden poor.
The real anarchists in Spain and the rest of the world had been waiting
impatiently for the best example of fruitfulness from the Spanish anarchists.
Who could have comprehended or conceived of men who purported to have
anarchist leanings, and who had spent many a long year preaching Social
Revolution, surrendering themselves body and soul to a betrayal of the
sublimest, most deserving anarchist Social Revolution ever encountered by
the world proletariat – just when it was within their grasp?
Yes! It’s true; our handiwork was a credit to us. We have left behind us a
series of the greatest human strides forward – down the road to Anarchy –
ever taken in pursuit of the common good of every human being on this
planet. But, given the experience and the way the Revolution and the War in
Spain turned out, there are quite a number of comrades who are familiar
with the essential reasons for the ideological deviation and defection
committed over the course of the revolutionary events that took place during
the War. This stream of political corruption was instigated by our ministers
in the name of the bogus and damaging ‘anarchy’ pursued from their
ministerial armchairs, through their stultifying, lickspittle propaganda
according to whatever a spectacularly criminal government required in the
circumstances.
We know only too well that, given the lack of scruple that characterises it,
the chief licence granted the professional politician is the licence to lie and
rob, that being his purpose; and he imposes his will through the laws laid
down by all governments on behalf of the great usurpers of the working
class. Workers, yesterday and today alike, have been cowed and brought to
heel; we are the ones overpowered by the weight of tons of political crap,
the sort of crap we are fed every day by the unashamed looting and thuggish
mercenary who has more neck than teeth; the familiar, bloodthirsty monster,
sometimes invoking democracy’s name, sometimes tyranny’s. The name of
this mighty god, woe betide the materialist god, is Government–Capital. A

127
creature that has always stood for the care and protection of its own from
the lower-downs; and which has always ridden roughshod over man,
exploited by his fellow man.
In the meantime, the age-old enemy receives succour from his great sainted
figures who spew out the most poisonous, self-serving political and
governmental garbage, day in and day out, to ward off another drubbing like
the one meted out to them on 19 July 1936.
With the rebellion and the revolutionary uprising by the Spanish people and
working class, the court of anarchist social justice in Spain called us to
account for our treatment of the working class. This was no little thing; [but]
like mighty saints, we were left deflated and with no answer to give, leaving
the politicos free to forge ahead with their trashy schemes of thievery and
bragadoccio. To tell the truth, on behalf of how I am and how I feel, the
more I distance myself from the good and bad parts to the Revolution and
the War in Spain from July 1936 on, the more I remember and relive
everything I saw and the many disagreeable things that the MLE as a whole
had to go through – the pain, the sacrifices, the torture, or the horrors of the
most refined blood-letting any human being could devise. And all in the all-
too-visibly rotten ‘sacred’ cause of those damned ministerial orders,
casually hitting out ever harder and spilling ever more blood. Those orders,
filled with captivating words but utterly bereft of love for and belief in the
principles and aims which the CNT, the FAI, the Libertarian Youth and the
entire anarchist movement have always embodied1 – those dispatch boxes
were empty of dreams and packed with ministerial ambition; and,
unfortunately, being the very opposite of what they purported to be and feel,
in cahoots with Negrín’s treacherous government, they acted as guides and
shepherds, working to humiliate and deliver up the MLE. They saw to it that
the MLE as a whole was, when all is said and done, no more than what
Negrín sought: just another political party like all the rest. Or, I would
argue, even worse, in that these used to be free men, informed and
respectful, whereas now they had shifted their ground and their thinking, as
had ‘our’ leaders who described themselves as being from the CNT and the
FAI. They felt at their ease and content, in the service of the highest bidder,
without having to make the slightest exertion or break a sweat – like any
other opportunistic, freeloading scoundrel. All they did was champion
capital and suck at its teats; the same imposing but putrefying carcass of that
mighty, man-made god that goes under the name Government; into the hands
and service of which the whole human and libertarian potential of the MLE
as a whole was delivered.

128
Who brokered such a ghastly, such a degrading political deal? We know
only too well that we cannot exclude the filthy, blood-stained hands of the
leader of the Spanish government, Doctor Juan Negrín, a man wedded from
birth to death to ‘I order and command.’ But the light of reason gives us life
and experience, so that we may see and understand, as well as remember
and not forget, the low-down, repulsive manner in which those who
unworthily described themselves as ‘members of the CNT and of the FAI’
beavered silently away, shadows who had sold out body and soul to Negrín
in the name of anarchism.
The oppressive fascist enemy threw down its life-and-death challenge to
Spanish anarchism back on 19 July 1936; but Franco’s criminal fascist
uprising was defeated and crushed across half of Spain, thanks to the
anarchists. At that, the unfettered vision of the revolution, acted out by the
anarchists, came into its own: the new, brotherly, free society rooted in
Libertarian Communism.
On this specific issue, neither today’s anarchists nor those who will take
over from us tomorrow should ever forget the following:
1. To what do we owe the bitter disappointment of the dirty linen produced
within 24 hours of the Revolution by the reformist committees at the top of
the CNT-FAI?
2. To what do we owe the – by now – long, slimy retinue of corrupt self-
seekers who have played along with the lousiest, filthiest chatter in the
history of the International Workers’ Association?
These MLE bigwigs agreed to enter the government ‘on behalf of the MLE
and with the general agreement of same’ – when each and every would-be
minister knew well that this was a bare-faced lie; the stark truth was that it
was decided on an insignificant, minority vote by comrades at the top of the
CNT-FAI organisation. It was this minority that, in the name of the MLE,
agreed to political collaboration with the Spanish government’s tyrannical
executioner, Doctor Juan Negrín.
From that point on we had our ministerial representatives and yet another
political party – to which our comrades played midwife – serving in the
Negrín government, with its thousands of Security Guards, Assault Guards
and Carabineers. Because this new political party – one of many in the
state’s service – had emerged from the bosom of the CNT, well, many
comrades did not know that it was the most tightly disciplined and safest

129
party in the whole criminal crew of the government of defeat. For that very
reason, political maggots who claimed to be from the CNT – drifters and
scoundrels all – found themselves posted, as guardians of public dis-order,
to the least well-appointed rooms in mansions where, in the midst of the
War and Revolution from July 1936 onwards, the same old judges from the
palace of in-justice in Barcelona sat – being unfit for anything else – as the
bloodthirsty magistrates of the communist chekas of those two godfathers of
‘By My Order and Command’: Negrín and Stalin.
After the Spanish Revolution, after 3 long years of war, thousands of
anarchist comrades were hunted down and taken into custody.2 It was their
lot – and mine as well – to pass through the Palace of Justice and stand trial
simply for being anarchists.
In my case, in camera, under military procedure, the judge condemned me to
death, even though, when the communist chekas brought me to the Palace of
(In) Justice, I was only a filthy heap incapable of standing upright. In that
condition I was removed to the dungeons of the castle of Montjuich. There I
was able to see and witness for myself that, during the War, Montjuich was
an unbroken parade of crime and death – by the bloodthirsty beasts higher
up – visited upon hundreds of thousands of innocent anarchist comrades3
who were dragged there by brute force until, with their last breath, they
greeted the moment of their death with a cry of ‘Long live Anarchy!’ And
were promptly mown down by the firing squad in Montjuich castle’s
notorious ditches.
I cannot help speaking the truth that many anarchist comrades were unaware
of, namely that the CNT and FAI had declared themselves, and been
acknowledged as, political parties in the service of the Spanish government
under that singular, spectral tyrant, Doctor Juan Negrín.
And it is all too obvious that the Spanish Republic was the creator of the
greatest frauds and criminality ever known. This leaps out from the
poisonous evil that, politically and materially, tossed down a life-or-death
challenge to us Spanish anarchists. That evil was the fascism of Hitler and
Franco, to whom we responded, as they deserved during that time of
unequal struggle. But the same cannot be said of the second, Red, fascism
represented by Negrín and Stalin. Like good comrades, they both of them,
speaking on behalf of a deceitful, bloodthirsty democracy, had inquisitorial
designs upon the Spanish people, to bring it to its knees using brute force, to
destroy Spain. This was the content of the accommodations that they reached

130
with each other and which are spelled out in their own documents, which I
have in my possession – not that those vicious, degenerate fanatics could
have suspected that.
I think I made some reference to this in one of my previous writings relating
to the official agreement between the two governments. Russia – that is
Stalin – categorically insisted that the Valencia government agree
unconditionally with his political goals and the direction of military
operations in Spain. To which end General Loginow [sic] was dispatched to
Valencia as military attaché and Captain Tachernossekow [sic] 4 as naval
attaché. Both were to enjoy the right to oversee all of the Republican army’s
military and naval operations. A contingent of 15 members of the Russian
high command would [also] be dispatched to Spain.
In addition to this the Valencia government would have to support and direct
great harassment at all anti-Stalinists – especially the anarchists of the FAI,
the anarcho-syndicalists of the CNT and the Trotskyists from the POUM5 up
to and including their complete eradication. In order to mount this
despicable persecution, cheka agents were sent to Spain who had
previously served with the Secret Service Department, 6 operating in the
republics of South America and who spoke almost flawless Spanish. These
agents acted in concert with the Negrín government, which was to afford
them all necessary assistance in hunting down all opposition personnel.
The Negrín government agreed to all the degrading conditions that Stalin
imposed upon loyalist Spain, in return for remaining such [as indeed
happened]. It promised a lot in order to reap the benefits, but actually gave
little, NOTHING! Full stop and move on!
Of course [it isn’t easy] to call oneself an anarchist these days, frothing at
the mouth and blaspheming against the disorder and the slavishness that are
manna to the perjured, treasonable politics of all the rulers and leaders who
cold-bloodedly and brutally trespass against the peace and freedom of the
peoples, serving that bloodthirsty god that justifies itself with cant about
how ‘Leaders must lead’.
The truth of the facts speaks loud and clear. There was no sort of anarchism
coming from the armchairs in which our minister comrades were ensconced.
Instead, using the name of the CNT and the FAI, and through the invocation
of thousands of excuses and the wartime circumstances in Spain, ‘our’
ministers sold out to the criminal Negrín.

131
We should not lose sight of the treachery. They sold out the confederal and
anarchist organisations to an unpopular government that betrayed the
Spanish people, a people deserving of every respect and consideration. The
organisation as a whole was turned into a new political party, obedient to
and manipulated by the leaders of Juan Negrín’s communist chekas – with
assistance from thousands of Assault Guards belonging to the ‘CNT and
FAI’ political party. Despotically and shamelessly, with an eye to saving
their own necks, they threw in their lot with the chekas and, as people with
inside knowledge of the CNT, were better able to harass and hunt down the
real anarchists who would not defer to their Machiavellian orders. The real
anarchists would not bow the knee nor accept, any more than they ever had
before, the seedy interventionist ploys and political criminality of the Jesuit
Juan Negrín. Those who deliberately took it upon themselves to support that
same policy brought disgrace upon anarchy (in that ‘our’ ministers knew
well that they were claiming to be something they never had been),
spreading their stinking rottenness to the detriment of anarchist ideas within
the MLE.
All of us who claim the name anarchist can boast of something that sets us
apart from the rest: moral and ethical integrity that accompanies us down the
good and bad byways of our existence and which are our raison d’être. The
whole macabre, bloody crew crawling around after the Revolution and the
War in Spain are well aware of this. The MLE was Spain’s largest
organisation and, historically, it had always brought honour to its roots.
Their very anti-political and anti-government beliefs – we would do well to
remember this – inject light, brilliance and life into those three stars of
nature, the CNT, FAI and MLE, that operate and strive on behalf of the very
same purpose for which they were created. They are the tireless
revolutionary bodies that continue honestly to make headway in the
direction of a free society of peace and love between all human beings,
without regard to race or colour; what we term Libertarian Communism.
Yes, comrade Álvarez! The wholesome, clean example was set by the
comrades from the Friends of Durruti grouping and – needless to say – it
stood alongside the antifascist people. Both in the Social Revolution carried
out on 19 July 1936 against the rising by Franco and his consorts, and in that
second attempt at counter-revolution that started on 3 May 1937 in the city
of Barcelona – when quite a few other groups were not up to the mark.
The counter-revolutionary blow struck on the orders of the government of
Catalonia, with its whole rabble of public-order personnel and other rotters,

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was down to the same god – politics. For the second time around – just as in
the events of July 1936 – the counter-revolutionary uprising was routed and
crushed by the men of the CNT-FAI, and so practically and sincerely by the
Friends of Durruti, who were always to be found in the front lines facing the
age-old oppressor and tyrant foe.
And I am placing this on record here, for the fact is that it was scuttlebutt
[among] ordinary Spanish antifascists and [among] the bulk of the comrades
from the CNT and the FAI (who uprightly did their duty out of ideological
conviction, proving by their blood and open hearts that they were what they
purported to be: simon-pure anarchists, committed to Social Revolution and
to the well-being of every single person in the world). This was the
inspiration and basis of the Friends of Durruti, which exposed the filthy
chicanery of personalities and bigwigs from the higher committees of the
CNT and FAI; and, within 24 hours of the promising onslaught that cast light
upon militant anarchism’s potency and social promise of 19 July 1936,
denounced those who doused those beneficial fires.
The organisation’s reformists could not conceal what was then so glaringly
obvious. Over and above the Social Revolution that placed their very lives
at risk – as destroyers of what the Spanish Revolution was creating – they
stood exposed in all their political and revolutionary treachery. In the name
of that revolution, they brazenly and politically handed it over on a plate, as
if it were something that the fanatics of the hammer and sickle had earned.
Regrettably – like ‘our’ ministers – the MLE as a whole bent the knee to this
political, collaborationist farce, under the instructions and sole command of
the cheka government of Dr Negrín, a blot upon our history.
That this political betrayal worked throughout the libertarian family is
evident from its handiwork, which served merely to poison the freedom
fighters’ cause. Since then, huge differences and disagreements – not to
mention inequalities such as the ones created by the war in Spain – have
come to light. Advantage and advancement are pursued at the expense of the
battle against the old, old enemy. Meanwhile, those at the bottom of the pile
can only hope for the advent of another social phenomenon to put paid to the
poisonous politicking that has given rise to class distinctions [and] artificial
barriers between peoples.
All of this remains part and parcel of our struggle to abolish these
distinctions and to found a society of free men based on social justice and
the wellbeing of all peoples, so as to do away with contradictions that fly in
the face of reason and notions of human regeneration. As I see it, there is no

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turning back from our anarchist ideas of putting paid to anything that
oppresses the individual and of putting paid also to the mental mediocrity of
the politician and his poisonous, two-faced activities. The aptest
description for this faux pas toward international anarchism — and in
particular to Spanish anarchism — by the collaborationists is Treachery.
Thanks to the meddling of ministerial ‘stars’ and the higher committees (and
we shall never tire of reiterating this), the MLE was drowned in the sink of
the great tyrant and inquisitor Juan Negrín’s state corruption.
The ‘big-heads’ representing the great rubbish heap of politics were never
able to look for support to the Friends of Durruti group, and well they know
it. The stark truth is that our group was the first to expose the would-be
ministers and the higher committees as the Confederation’s reformists. They
were exposed for all to see by the Friends of Durruti group.
As I have stated previously elsewhere, I was the first, speaking on the
group’s behalf, to alert the organisation and the populace in general to the
fact that the reformist higher committees of the CNT and FAI were hatching
treachery against the people’s cause and its Social Revolution.
I have already outlined my actions in the face of this Jesuitical trespass that
was obviously being promoted from the vultures’ nest of the highest
leadership of the CNT-FAI. With the utmost clarity, this information was
presented to the IWA and world anarchism – to which the Friends of Durruti
owed its heart and soul.
In view of the deviation and derailment besmirching anarchist ideology, this
was the best course that the Friends of Durruti group could devise; making
that analysis public became the foundation of that group. This ought not to be
forgotten by the MLE, because there were knowledgeable comrades who
were sickened and pained by the collaborationist-reformist stance of the
CNT National Committee. So much so that, in just 12 days, upwards of 600
comrades signed on to the Friends of Durruti Group, every single one of
them from the CNT and FAI.
This collection of comrades had no name other than ‘the Friends of Durruti’.
We were the real revolutionaries of indestructible anarchist mettle, the most
humane, sincerest defenders of mutual aid for the downtrodden and needy of
capitalist, statist society; the most faithful lovers of direct action and social
justice. I don’t see that justice thriving now that we are in such sore need of
it, vital as it is in the fight against and victory over state and capital. The
show-offs at the top brought the partisans of all-out warfare to heel and to

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submission.
It would not be out of place for the peoples of the Earth to ask, in the light of
such conduct, what sort of anarchism this was that they were seeing. Why
did men who had called themselves anarchists all their lives take such a
wretched backward step just when the best opportunity presented itself for
them to prove themselves by working on behalf of social and revolutionary
progress and anarchism, and standing up to public enemy number one, the
fascism of 19 July 1936?
But let’s carry on with our description of the complexion of the deeds of the
Social Revolution, which was carried to victory over the tyranny of
international fascism’s swords and rosaries by the anarchists across half of
Spain. This is the wonderful anarchist example that implies and embraces
self-sacrifice for the sake of the ultimate peace and freedom of
downtrodden, exploited peoples.
This time around, the revolutionary achievement of that upheaval was that
the well-meaning libertarian mother was confronted by the iniquities of the
sons she had borne. Said shepherds right at the top of the Libertarian
Movement know and are aware of the fact – even if they are only just out of
university education – that ‘the wholesome grain of wheat is one thing and
the wind-winnowed chaff quite another’.
This is what split the MLE, affording these people an alibi in the shape of
the circumstances imposed by the war in Spain, dragging the entire CNT-
FAI into that darkened labyrinth in the name of libertarian ideas.7 There,
under orders from the loftiest stars of war and rearguard, these oh-so-anti-
human ogres did their worst, spilling rivers of the generous blood of the
confederal and anarchist family. We may never know – and I say this for the
benefit of today’s anarchists and those of the future – the number of
comrades murdered solely for refusing to accept a party card and share in
the foulness of those in charge – to wit, the bloodthirsty, repulsive
communist chekas.
We must never forget: the CNT and FAI were politically ensnared by those
in charge into bolstering the most bestial and criminal policy of the
Jesuitical Juan Negrín’s government. ‘Our’ ministers managed to hang on to
their ministerial chairs for Machiavellian ends, saving their own skins by
betraying revolutionary anarchist principles.
Within 48 hours of the start of the Revolution in the city of Barcelona, every

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committee appointed by the comrades, from the greatest to the least, was,
every last one of them, swept away by the skullduggery of delegates from
the Generalidad of Catalonia, in accordance with the wishes of those who
then turned around and became blessed ministers. They became the main
beneficiaries, together with the CNT’s National Committee. Swollen with
their own importance, they would ultimately heap calumny upon the Friends
of Durruti, dubbing them ‘uncontrollables’ and ‘fascists’ – a typical ploy of
the traitor – in order to jail them and sentence them to death.
Thus they implemented their foul governmental plans, targeting the real
anarchists from the Friends of Durruti – who, at the heart of the Social
Revolution, abided by their strict policy and fought an unequal fight against
General Franco, that tyrant and criminal fascist dictator. He represented the
age-old poisonous growth conjured up to this very day by the ambitions of
the swells at the top; the ones who always use their power to garner the
brute force to overpower the peace and freedom of peoples hungering for
bread and justice. They did the very same thing with the Revolution of 19
July. Everybody knows that that forceful dictatorship was joined by the
stuffed bellies of the higher-ups, the people endowed with the ‘gift’ of the
phoney anarchist message of ‘Shut up and forget!’
‘Shut up and forget!’ That I cannot do!
The truth is that ‘our’ ministers – like cockroaches and like the CNT
National Committee – knew only too well what was being hushed up: the
rash of murders of MLE comrades being carried out daily on the fronts and
in the rearguard.
What breed of anarchists and revolutionaries were these altar-boys who
willingly abetted the political crime of ‘See No Evil, Speak No Evil’ and
facilitated the extermination of so many of our comrades? For these and
other reasons, we of the Friends of Durruti do not find political
collaboration with the Negrín government, or any other, acceptable.
We were too trusting of the higher committees in the organisation. They
showed us the reformist political plumage which was to do us such damage
later, but could not stop the oncoming wave of the Spanish people with their
cries of ‘To the barricades!’ and with, in the front line, the real anarchists of
yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Within a few days, the Organisation and the MLE as a whole suffered a
second deadly blow with the mobilisation of conscripts thanks to the diktat
of the big talker Juan Negrín.

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The government managed to cow the shepherds of the CNT and FAI even
though these were not unaware of the bloody plans of the Soviet and
Republican governments – the one every whit as tyrannical as the other. In
one respect at least the Negrín government was by far the worse, in that it
knew it could depend upon weapons and personnel from the Russian
government led by Stalin to hunt down every member from the confederal
and anarchist organisation until not a single one was left alive in Spain.
Anyone with the slightest sense of shame and human feeling need only mull
it over and they will leap to their feet with fists punching the air, [overcome
by] a sense of rage and [thirst for] revenge on account of the snares of
political criminality the MLE was trapped in – or later found itself trapped
by.
Our movement countenanced something that was all too easily foreseen,
especially when the CNT and the FAI became just another political party,
taking orders from Negrín’s murderous government. Overnight, like a swarm
of clowns, these two-faced people, drawn from the political party that once
upon a time had been the CNT, took to the streets in police uniforms,
complete with shouldered rifles and belted pistols, taking their orders from
some dog from the chekas, at the behest of the black-souled Negrín.
I have said something about this shameful, ruinous, wretched and inhuman
matter in my earlier writings. Today, allow me to explore it more fully for
the benefit of the public eager to learn of the chicanery of the communist
chekas; of the foul contrivances to which society – or, rather, those at the
top of it – subjects human beings so as to leave those at the bottom in the
lurch.
The hundreds upon hundreds of clownish guards, who had once been trusted
by the CNT and the FAI during the War and Revolution launched back on 19
July, were, as a general rule, assigned to stand guard over and enforce the
criminal order that held sway in every single prison in Spain.
What needs to be made completely clear is what only the thousands knew
who were held in the gloomy dungeons of these penitentiaries. I know
whereof I speak, and let me say that many of those prisoners were arrested
and jailed without being tried before any court; they were simply handed
down arbitrary sentences for being members of the CNT and FAI, for having
endured the great torment and painful suffering of the struggle against a foe
powerfully endowed with weapons and munitions. Apparently all of this
entailed the murder of innocent comrades by the thousands, comrades who

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had done no wrong other than thinking and toiling freely on behalf of a
peaceful, free society.
‘Our’ ministers and the leadership of the CNT National Committee were
unmoved by this. They had each sold out and never lifted a finger, any more
than the Libertarian Movement as a whole, which was trapped and muzzled,
unable to breathe because of the witless criminals whose every endeavour
was designed to bring the Libertarian Movement to ruination, putting paid to
all of the real anarcho-syndicalists in the CNT and the militants of the FAI.
Such was the ‘secret’ of the confessional harboured by the pirate Negrín, to
whom these buffoons – ‘our’ ministers – deferred, kow-towing to the foul
Negrín [even though] more conscientious comrades had given them no
warrant to proceed with any such sell-out and submission to an inquisitorial
state.
The truth is that [given] an anarchist Social Revolution like ours of 19 July,
we should have been the ones doing what instead the enemy did to us. And
what we did was the precise opposite of what we ought to have been doing.
And so, irreversibly, we lost the Revolution and we lost the War. Let’s not
pin the blame on the anti-human criminal laws of contemptible enemy
politicians. The blame rests with every one of us in the MLE; let’s not try to
shift and offload it. As I have said thousands of times over, the moment
anarchism committed the iniquitous act or massive error of agreeing to
political collaboration with the criminal government of the satanic Negrín,
we were done for. From that point forward, Spanish anarchism ceased to
represent a promising hope and spur to world anarchism.
Every one of the lousy, contrived ulterior motives behind the actions of the
two-faced politicians was exposed by the social justice of the Revolution.
We faced two problems. If not for ourselves, then at least for coming
generations: Why did we take up the ministries? And why were the May
Events [of 1937] such a resounding failure? These two problems need to be
clarified because, following that initial failure, the unforgivable happened,
through treachery – say it fearlessly and in all sincerity – by the
aforementioned comrades who pinned the blame on the organisation,
describing it as fascist, 8 and on the Friends of Durruti, labeling them
‘uncontrollables’. But in actuality, these were the true anarchists, and those
who had, for months, been denouncing what was being hatched, and who
were, in the outcome, jailed and condemned to death for their pains.
How could these collaborationists purport to be anarchists and

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revolutionaries, when in fact it was they, in concert with such a Bolshevik
government, who were persecuting and murdering their own brethren? The
fact is, comrade Álvarez, that another opportunity like this is unlikely to
present itself for 500 years.
We had them all at our mercy, yet we failed to finish them off. Especially
our number one enemy, the Communist Party, which, in the name of its
sainted, criminal democracy, soft-soaped the top men in the CNT and FAI,
leaving them dumbfounded and breathless. And the MLE never demurred at
this loss of ground. They were all gripped and silenced by wartime
circumstances – not least the oft-mentioned criminal big shot and his
malicious associates. The war furnished the best possible pretext upon
which to accomplish their plans and ambitions for exterminating Spanish
anarchism as a whole.
Let all lovers of Anarchy ponder and bear in mind what was said in articles
carried at the outset of the War by the CNT’s Confederal mouthpiece, where
the National Committee of the National Confederation of Labour called
upon comrades to show solidarity by enlisting in the Security Guard and
Assault Guard corps! The call sent out by that sort of newspaper insertion
was answered by hundreds who, to the shame of those concerned, claimed
to belong to the CNT and the FAI. Like clowns, they were mobilised and
placed at Negrín’s disposal. And, being from the CNT (which was
supposed to be opposed to all governmental or any other sort of discipline),
they were the most disciplined of the Security Guards, who soon lost all
sense of dignity and made up the execution squads. Facing them when some
wretched communist barked the order ‘Fire!’ real anarchists perished,
shouting ‘Long live Anarchy!’ The anarchists are the ones lying in all the
ditches in fortresses all over Spain, their names and efforts bringing honour
to the truest, sublimest ideal for which they gave their very lives; all for a
more balanced, equitable, free society; for what has been described as
Libertarian Communism.
Not for nothing did the National Committee slip its soothing balm into the
newspaper CNT and into Barcelona’s Solidaridad Obrera at the start of the
War. How clearly can I remember the one that declared: ‘We fail to
understand how the comrades from the Friends of Durruti, all of them
familiar to the CNT and the FAI, can ignore the watchwords and
determinations made by the CNT National Committee!’
We of the Friends of Durruti were always the pick of the bunch. As
anarchists, there was no way that we could countenance this foul betrayal of

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the Spanish people’s Social Revolution, of all those lives given up in
defeating the fascist uprising of the bigwigged and rosaried supporters of
General Franco, that felon, egged on by his confederates like Hitler and
Mussolini!
Nor could we of the Friends of Durruti, as lifelong members of the CNT and
FAI as well as of the Libertarian Youth, countenance militarisation, nor the
rotten deviation of the two-faced reformists in embracing political
collaboration with Negrín’s Spanish government. That trespass by the
higher-ups of the CNT and FAI amounted to a betrayal without precedent in
the history of anarchism.
The upshot of that error was that the onward march of the libertarian ideas
professed by Spanish and world anarchism alike was brought to a standstill.
And what are we to say about that productive hatchery of anarchist affinity,
the groups of comrades who became the Friends of Durruti, honestly
ripening and blossoming in deeds of love and sacrifice? We were the finest
exponents of the trust and brotherhood that obtained between comrades
prior to the Social Revolution for which they gave their lives unhesitatingly
from 19 July 1936 onwards.
The wholesome and the good paid the price for the undeserved
consequences [of] the lousy ambitions of the long-standing, stinking weed
that grew and grew, to the detriment of the people. All that I can say is that
the day-to-day experience of dedication to the common good of humanity
was, and is, a standing rebuke to all of us who lived through the Revolution.
How many Friends of Durruti would we have loved to have had then (and
even today) within the CNT and the FAI – those born fighters who offered
up their lives filling combat stations and positions of responsibility – their
only watchword ‘Do not do unto others that which you would not have done
to yourself!’ My message and my handiwork have been based upon this
approach to living.
While serving in Gelsa de Ebro with the 21st Centuria of the Durruti
Division – made up of CNT and FAI comrades – I was one of the first [to
participate] in the revolutionary conquest and liberation of lots of villages
that had found themselves in the hands of the fascists, villages such as
Barbastro, Villanueva, Pina de Ebro and Gelsa de Ebro. These localities
lived Libertarian Communism until the Negrín government – master of the
Spanish people – formally declared [that the experiment was being wound
up], once it had the higher-up shepherds of the CNT and FAI well and truly

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yoked to its backward-looking policies.
At a stroke, Negrín ordered militarisation of the troops, whereupon the
comrades from the General Commissariat of War – whom I had known from
before the revolution – wasted no time in visiting me in Gelsa de Ebro to
offer me a captain’s star, or the rank of major in the Republic’s Popular
Army. Yet again I declined the offer, telling them that they might find a use
for such braid it they were to shove it up what are sometimes referred to as
their backsides.
They took the initiative, when the fact is that we anarchists held in our hands
– in the flesh – the crucible of the Spanish people’s Revolution: the sole
spiritual objective pointing us towards the direct route, the only route to
winning the Revolution and the War.
But, as we all know, what is bred in the bone will come out in the flesh, to
lead us to perdition. By means of our entry into the Republican government
the fondest wishes of the mighty star of Negrín (and the communists) were
fulfilled; they couldn’t wait to dispatch to ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ’ mass
grave loads of anarchist comrades. The figure for those murdered in the war
in Spain sits at something like a million.9 Yet again, for all the sea of blood
spilled by comrades from the libertarian family, the same tired old
politicking, leading folk by the nose all over the world, may offer them a
change of footwear, but they carry on stubbing their toes on the rocks of
torment and servility.
This is nothing but treacherous politicking from above. That [politicking],
riding on the back of the concerted efforts of both the happy and the
unhappy, opens up no prospect other than injustice and abuse perpetrated by
those at the top against those at the bottom, the [injustice] of those who stand
for market forces in production, [the injustice] of him who divides and
subdivides, so as to cream off for himself the lion’s share – the share that
goes to all the bigwigs of politicking behind closed doors, of all the nobs
who live entirely off the sweat of others.
This is exactly what happened to the international proletariat in the bygone
days of the French Revolution and Russian Revolution, the history of which
has been so regularly rehearsed in socially progressive and ideological
books and literary publications. In both of those [revolutions], the world
proletariat struggled and sacrificed on behalf of political factions eager for
power so as to thwart an oppressive backlash from their rivals; in the final
analysis, the promise of a better future of peace and freedom for the people

141
added up only to sacrifice and death for workers who offered up their lives
for a peaceful society with human fellowship for all. In those revolutions,
the sole upshot of all the fine promises was that the tyrant in place was
swapped for a different tyrant who proved to be even worse.
This earlier experience should have been borne in mind by the leading lights
among the CNT’s and FAI’s committees – and I shall never weary of those
initials – so that they did not meddle where they had no call to meddle.
Although maybe, if we bear in mind their record during the Revolution and
War, this was as much as and more than they wanted, because, politically
speaking, they joined the government of the oft-cited traitor to the republican
cause (Dr Negrín) so as to make us lose both the Revolution and the War.
And while we would do well not to lose sight of this historical experience
of the Spanish people, we should bear in mind no less the meaning of the
counter-revolutionary revolt that filled the streets of Barcelona with all the
horses and hounds of public dis-order at the behest of the Generalidad
government. Its purpose was none other than wiping from the social and
revolutionary map of Spain the Catalan anarchists and others – those whose
cause, wheresoever they may have been, and for which they fought with all
the resources at their command, was the ‘common good’ of every human
being and people.
As the evidence has repeatedly shown, politics is harmful and materialistic.
Thanks to its strutting tyrants, it commits the most horrific outrages and
crimes that have brought disgrace upon the human race and dimmed the very
sun that gives us light.
The Spanish people know only too well that on 19 July 1936 it was the
anarchists who thwarted General Franco’s fascist uprising, just as it was we
anarchists in Barcelona who, on that second occasion on 3 May 1937,
routed the counter-revolution. And when the whole crew of the
Generalidad’s hirelings were cornered and doomed, they sought help and
reinforcements from the central government, which was by then based in
Valencia. With indecent haste, the Republic’s government – and it sickens
and embarrasses me to say this – sent in ‘our’ anarchist ministers, who
showed up with their loudspeakers, blathering about a ceasefire. These
agents of the government knew that they were engaged in a very ugly
business and that they were wholly at odds with anarchist straight-dealing.
Why should we not pose the question to ourselves: were these anarchist
ministers misled, or had they been tainted by politics?

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Ultimately we can see the upshot of García Oliver’s performance: the
Russians furnished him with all manner of documentation so that he could
get out to the Americas; I refuse to spend any more time on the reasons why,
on arrival [there] he launched his Libertarian Workers’ Party, which brought
him no joy, even if he was supposed to be the ‘leader’ – assuming that
anarchism has leaders.
And what are we to say about Federica Montseny, the other peddler of the
ceasefire order? We shall keep our opinion to ourselves: everybody will be
better off that way. Because . . . that ceasefire order from the anarchist
ministers is a sore point, and there is a lot that could be said about it.
A big, brotherly hug to you and your family from a comrade, who is at your
disposal and at the disposal of Anarchy,
Joaquín Pérez, 26th (Durruti) Division Militian
London, 23 July 1996
Notes
1. CNT-FAI official pronouncements became increasingly bland.
2. There was a massive crackdown in the autumn of 1938, imprisoned
revolutionaries outnumbering Franco supporters in Montjuich.
3. The numbers are clearly overstated here. The author has some excuse
however, because the SIM enforced a policy of collective responsibility in
that draft-dodgers and deserters, if not made amenable to the law, found
family members and/or associates subject to reprisals in their place. Thus
the numbers would be no exaggeration if they refer to everyone on the
republican side impacted by the Negrinists/communists.
4. These may have been, respectively, Shtern (‘Sebastian’) and Kuznetsov
(‘Lepanto’). This however is guesswork; more information is available on
Cheka figures in Spain than on actual Soviet servicemen.
5. See note 9 on page 33.
6. Probably meaning Comintern operatives or OGPU representatives.
7. The ‘split’ thus brought a general collapse. For the men in the front lines
or immersed in collectivisations, these matters were remote but too many of
the membership were content to be led and steered into collaboration on the
pretext that this was ‘circumstantial’. Anarchists put their principles into
cold storage – bad – and in the end got no benefit from that (worse). As

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Sébastien Faure put it, either the principles are right and fit the facts or they
need to be amended or dumped entirely.
8. Probably a reference to the communist charges that the May Events were
triggered by Franco’s fifth columnists who had provoked the CNT into
serving fascist interests.
9. Today’s historians have cut this figure by approximately one half; and in
any event, the figure would include those killed on both of the warring
sides.

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1936–39: AN AUTHENTIC WITNESS SPEAKS

Did we manage to make the Revolution? No! A thousand times no!


If we had, it might have been a very different story. The words above may
well not be understood nor welcomed by some comrades because, all in all,
we did things that only true revolutionaries can do, men who subscribe to
the ideal of a more humane world, men who succeeded in giving capitalism,
the clergy and the military the rudest of shocks through their courage,
heroism, blood and sacrifice.
Because those men, and that enslaved and humiliated, famished, harried,
murdered and imprisoned people, had the courage to build up a war
industry, collectivise every sector of production in city and countryside
alike, collectivise farming, household services, gas and power, water, food.
Nothing was beyond the revolution’s remit, not even health and hospitals.
Such was the tremendous contribution made by anarchism’s idealists.
Together with their great sister organisation – the CNT – they set (in spite of
everything and everybody) the finest possible example of what the workers
and producers are capable of, without need for leadership, orders or
exploitation from an insatiable capitalism. We were and are revolutionary
anarchists who countenance no form of government and no military, much
less any church. The latter organisation was always in cahoots with the state
and capitalism and we know only too well who they were, though we need
not name them.
The CNT and the FAI fell hook, line and sinker. Their personnel – who had
given their all for the revolution – also succumbed, unwittingly so, and
betrayed the organisations they stood for.

Those heretics1 were no more anarchist than the blackguard that looks at
you and smiles, only to stab you in the back. In that regard, collaboration
was agreed and anything genuinely revolutionary and good about anarchism
and anarcho-syndicalism was thereby extinguished.
Cautionary words from the IWA secretary and the words of the orator
Sébastien Faure went unheeded. World anarchism was left bewildered by
the Spanish anarchists’ decision. Yet again they were tail-ending people

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who had, only days earlier, been torturing, jailing and repressing anarchists.
Spanish anarchists will never be forgiven for such an act of betrayal as
agreeing to collaborate with the state. And what about the cowardice of
those who hijacked those two organisations and their great revolutionary
prestige so that everything might proceed as they wished?
This is a stain that has been recorded in the history of the world’s peoples
as the two dirty faces of high treason, with which the Revolution faced the
beginning of the end. Having held everything in our hands, we lost
everything thanks to our own dereliction, not knowing how to progress and
carry off the social-revolutionary venture that was our pride and joy, and
which represented the high water mark for the rebelliousness of Spanish
anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists.
Despite the great achievements and great steps forward that we brought off
so masterfully – the collectives for instance – we were to surrender entirely
to reactionary politicians.
Following the deaths of two of world anarchism’s ablest representatives –
Francisco Ascaso and Buenaventura Durruti – the anarchist organisations
drifted aimlessly day after day. Not only did rottenness spread through their
membership in the rearguard, but also the Communist Party was allowed to
capture more and more of the levers of power and all the ventures that we
anarchist revolutionaries had launched.
To the great shame of Spanish anarchism and heedless of the membership,
the National Committee of the CNT – reformist and collaborationist to a
man – decided, at the prompting of Largo Caballero (then the leader of the
Republic’s government), to send four comrades to fill four ministerial
chairs. And the eyes of that blessed gentleman – now in political dirty
business with the National Committee – twinkled with delight at the success
of the case for political collaboration. López and Peiró – reformists, both of
them – answered the call without a qualm. García Oliver – shrewder and
craftier – spelled out his misgivings to the others, as did Federica Montseny,
who weighed up the pros and cons with her father before bowing to the
situation.
Every single government in the world was perplexed – and this includes the
totalitarian powers – by the sight of organisations that had always opposed
governments of every stripe with the very same weapons that they
themselves used – ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’ – backing down.
We revolutionaries were atrophied from the top down, even those of us from

146
the Libertarian Youth. This is a millstone we must carry around with us
forever.
People abroad were asking how this could be possible. After the fight we
had put up – at gunpoint – throughout the nineteenth century, this step we had
taken, in making ourselves the laughing stock, not merely of politicians the
world over but also of the workers who had placed such trust in us, was
unimaginable.
But there was a doubly noxious spectre at work – the cockroach Communist
Party – undermining the foothold of the CNT and FAI by means of
provocation and criminality on a daily basis, with our finest comrades being
murdered. Such provocations culminated in their daring to unleash a
counter-revolution, which in turn culminated in the May Events of 1937.
It was a matter of no importance to our reformist shepherds on high that on
that historic day, 19 July 1936, we anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists had
taken to the streets to defend the Revolution that had cost us so much blood,
along with quite a few priceless lives. Within 10 months we had lost some
90 per cent of what had been achieved on 19 July 1936 in our titanic
struggle against fascism.
What appeared at the outset to be directed at the POUM (a party at odds
with the CP) ended up targeting the anarchists. This was all in accordance
with orders issued by Stalin: the anarchists were to be wiped out to a man.
The rot in the organisation was located in the upper echelons, and at a point
when we had the counter-revolutionaries on the run, up turned García
Oliver and Federica with orders for a ceasefire. Next, we of the Friends of
Durruti, the real anarchists, all of us well known within the CNT-FAI, as I
had been, myself, since the age of 15 or 16, were outlawed by the
‘luminaries’ of the political CNT’s powerful and rabid reformism.
Injustices of every sort were being perpetrated against true revolutionaries,
who put their heart and strength into the fight against the Communist Party
and the whole Popular Front. No direct struggle against them was more
heartfelt than that of the Friends of Durruti, those dyed-in-the-wool
anarchists and revolutionaries.
But the announcements and warning issued by the comrades from the
Friends of Durruti were of no avail. They had all fought with Durruti on the
Aragón front and were unadulterated anarchists; they gambled their lives on
the front as well as during the May Events. They were the mainstay of those

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events. They called for a Revolutionary Junta, for the culprits of the May
Events to be shot, for all of the armed paramilitary corps to be stripped of
their weapons, for socialisation of the economy, and for the disbanding of
all the political parties that had attacked the working class. They also asked
that all the POUM comrades who had fought alongside the anarchists and
anarcho-syndicalists on Barcelona’s streets against the communists and the
whole Popular Front be given their due.
Come the fateful ceasefire order, the POUM was outlawed and denounced
as acting on orders from Franco. After a lengthy trial, their members were
convicted and imprisoned. Everything was seized from them and from the
29th Division, which belonged to them; the communists disbanded it,
murdering a number of the comrades from that party in the rearguard, as
well as on the battlefronts.
But – and this needs saying too – it seems that quite a bit of the
responsibility for this lay with the Regional and National Committees of the
CNT and FAI. They acquiesced in the trial and sentencing to death of a
number of comrades from the Friends of Durruti, who were removed to the
Montjuich fortress to await execution. In an even greater paradox, the
warders and members of the execution squads were CNT and FAI members,
carrying out the most treacherous and corrupt of policies.
How far did such treachery by CNT and FAI personnel go? The communists
did not dare do to the anarchists what they had done to the POUM, for they
knew only too well the risks entailed. How come Companys – whose life
had been spared – was allowed to resume his bullying of the libertarian
organisations?
The Revolution was lost for good with the May Events, for lack of
knowledge as to how to see it through. With the Revolution, the War went
too. There was no longer a will to fight: the people’s morale plummeted and
the north and south of Aragón were lost as a result. Then came Catalonia
and the centre – which had taken such a toll in blood – lost without a shot
fired.
Next would come the diaspora. – The first step, internment in French
concentration camps: penal servitude, beatings with rifle butts, shootings.2
To cap it all, in God’s name, the cross was brandished at the moment they
were shot. Not that the church escaped the mess that Francoism created at
the end of the War.

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I am so grateful to the governments of France, England, the US, and the
Soviet Union, indeed, for the great help they gave us: they all opted to serve
the Republic up on a plate to fascism rather than countenance success by the
people in arms. Democracies indeed! And this when there was a Popular
Front government in France. Fear of the Germans and of the anarchists made
them betray us. Later, every one of them had to bear the consequences, even
though they emerged victorious from the Second World War.
Cutting short this exposition of the real history, let me say that revolutions
are either carried out or they are not. A libertarian, anarchist organisation
like ours struggles, and ought to struggle, for the Social Revolution when
one erupts, no matter the consequences. Indifference and cowardice will not
do: what carries the day is moral belief in the sacrifices required by the
social revolution in order to bring about an end, once and for all, to
pauperdom and to man’s exploitation of his fellow man.
All revolutions are bloody; blood flows through cities and villages unless
you clean up and mop up. If you do not kill – and, I know, no one has a right
to kill – they kill you and overrun you; and the rivers of human blood spilled
by the age-old foe run to the sea.
How naive we were to think that we had it all in hand, that our turn had
come to spare lives. The loss of the Revolution spared no one, least of all
those of us who were on the battlefronts, giving our all in the fight against
fascism. But behind the lines, neither leaders nor militants were safe – some
because of treachery, others for acquiescing in it. It was our duty to clear out
all of the camouflaged members of the Generalidad and Madrid
governments, and to do it with the urgency that the Revolution requires. Our
number one duty was to purge the actual leadership of maverick comrades
who contrived to impose their wishes in the name of our beliefs; comrades
who, while calling themselves anarchists, sold out to the politicians,
betraying the Revolution and even their own fathers. To some extent,
apologies coming from human beings are to be heeded and welcomed, but,
never, ever, those offered in full cognisance of ‘Long Live Chains!’
We should never have agreed to militarisation, whereby we were rounded
up and herded by those who were giving the orders and dispatching many an
anarchist like a sheep to the slaughter. We embraced political collaboration,
we embraced war, we agreed to militarisation, we agreed to the ceasefire of
3 May 1937 and we agreed to the CNT and FAI becoming just another
political party. Just like the rest of them, the MLE ended up in the service of
the blessed retinue of scoundrels and skivvies of which the Spanish

149
government executioner, Juan Negrín, was able to boast.
What was the cause of all this? The key lies in those who merely believed
in anarchy in a pedantic way. I’ve said it before on several occasions: in
life, the Social Revolution unveils its secrets whether you are a friend to it
or a foe.3 Our minister comrades and the members of other higher-up CNT
and FAI committees that sold out to the monstrous Satan known as Negrín in
the name of anarchist ideas stand exposed. Upcoming anarchist generations
within Spain and elsewhere might do well to heed this.
Let me say again that, given the degree of rottenness in the garbage by which
we were surrounded, we Spanish anarchists should never have agreed to
militarisation, and perhaps not even the War itself. We ought to have gone
instead for guerrilla warfare, operating within the enemy camp, destroying
bridges, highways, barracks, airfields, railways, factories, power and gas
pipelines, dams, etc. Thousands upon thousands of lives might then have
been saved and maybe the Spanish holocaust, which cost so very many
lives, might have been averted.
To conclude, I want to place it on record that once militarisation was
embraced, rank went to the heads – and the waistlines – of some comrades,
especially those wearing the scrambled egg of high-ranking officers. It is a
revolutionary disgrace that men purporting to be anarchists should have
become so attached to military rank.
The various points and mistakes that I have mentioned regarding personnel
from our libertarian camp are evidence enough of the weeds that delivered
the Spanish people up to the derailment, vengeance and suffering that cannot
be counted or understood, no matter how much light Nature’s sun may shed
for us.
Time and again we stumbled at the same hurdle and walked into the same
trap that was set for us in the quarrel between the starveling and the old
familiar enemy. When are we going to wake up to the fact that politics is a
chain and gangrene upon the working class? And that the state is a tyrant that
extinguishes all of a man’s sensibilities as far as the peace and freedom of
peoples are concerned?
Here it might not be out of order to mention what little has been said and put
in writing about the War Materials Purchasing Commissions appointed by
the two ministers holding down the most important posts in the Civil War-
time Spanish government [to wit] Prime Minister [Largo Caballero] and

150
Defence Minister Indalecio Prieto. [During] the War they acted according to
their own whim and advantage together with the two men appointed as
secretaries and pirates roaming the seas and cities of Europe: Alejandro
Otero4 and Manuel Escudero [both] commissioned by Juan Negrín’s
Spanish government to procure war materials.5
Let world anarchism remember that this gang of magpies launched – under
cover of the war in Spain – the biggest theft against those of us engaged in a
bona fide fight against fascism! On a variety of occasions, this led to the
spilling of pools of blood by our soldiers, for want of the weaponry of war
for which Republican units were so frequently lobbying the Negrín
government. I personally put in such a revolutionary request on behalf of the
Durruti Column at an early stage, when Largo Caballero was head of the
Spanish government. This was at a point when we of the Friends of Durruti
had captured various villages in Aragón, as far as Pina de Ebro and Gelsa
de Ebro.
The river Ebro became a stout trench that served the enemy in the
reorganisation and reinforcement of the Aragonese capital. It offered the
republican army a respite, a rest and a chance to cool its heels while it
awaited the arrival of the new weaponry allocated to the attack upon the
enemy in this peerless struggle. You had to see it to believe it! For want of
the requisite weaponry, the sole, welcome opportunity to capture Zaragoza
went begging.6 The enemy was dug in there against the revolutionary
onslaught from revolutionary militias. The fascists were forced to retreat
from certain villages into the city of Zaragoza that they already held.
It was during this wait for weapons that the government imposed
militarisation. Harassment and murder of CNT and FAI comrades continued
daily, abetted by our closed-mouth minister comrades; they acquiesced in
and approved – as traitors and accomplices – the most horrific acts of
criminality carried out by the government, and, as political partners in that
government, by those ministers themselves.
Can any comrade tell me if, during the stewardship of our ministers in the
Largo Caballero or Juan Negrín governments, anything was published in the
libertarian mouthpieces that was addressed to their own organisations? Did
they ever spell out their objections to the monstrous killing of innocent
comrades who were being murdered and executed in secret dungeons
around Spain by the very government that they as politicians and traitors
represented in the name of Anarchy?

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Had they had only a shred of dignity and decency, our ministerial
representatives and the rest – as free individuals – would have had time to
reflect and wriggle free of the political snare in which they were caught. So
don’t come to us with excuses, apologies and alibis, be they new-fangled or
old hat. If they walked into the trap, it was of their own volition and with the
intention of doing a lot of damage and no favours to anarchism and humanity.
Politics [sic] carries within it a worm that poisons the soil and poisons
human beings. The fact is that we know only too well the record of criminal
immorality in Dr Juan Negrín’s leadership of the Spanish government, like a
mighty star with no purpose but to destroy the Spanish people by any means
at its disposal. The government of Negrín, the real inquisitor of the Spanish
people, sold them a pup with its ‘blessed politics’ in pursuit of personal
advantage. The direct action seen in the 19 July 1936 Social Revolution
alone held out the best prospect for standing firm against fascists of every
stripe. But since he was touted as something he was not, the Spanish people
placed its full trust in him, as a ‘done deal’, whereupon it transpired that he
was an ogrish dictator and 100 per cent the enemy of Spain. And as such,
onto the War Materials Purchasing Commission (he was scarcely likely to
appoint me) he appointed his henchmen Otero and Escudero, pirates and
traitors made from the same rotten stuff as Negrín and Prieto, their sponsors.
That much is bluntly confirmed for us by the actual documentary record as
well as by the Mexican Legation in Paris, which showed such selfless and
disinterested sympathy with Spain’s cause. It decided to open an
investigation to clarify matters, under the supervision of the legation’s own
chancellor, Don Epigenio Guzmán. The ensuing report showed clearly that
the War Materials Purchasing Commission had had five ships available for
hire in a Polish port. When the ships were loaded with war materials bought
by the Spanish Commission, and were bound ostensibly for the Madrid
government, they had actually been underhandedly sold on to Franco’s
agents, for which reason the ships’ crews, once ready to put to sea, found
that their intended unloading port, Ceuta, was in Franco’s hands. The same
fate awaited the Sylvia, carrying some 154 million pesetas’ worth of war
materials. Likewise the steamship Roma. Otero’s own delegate, Escudero,
loaded the Roma with material meant for the government of Spain and yet
again, displaying the traitor’s swagger and brass neck to back it up, dared to
say that the course to be set and the port of delivery would only be
disclosed by the political delegate once the vessel was on the high seas.
Today there is an appreciation that it had been arranged, prior to the ship’s
ever putting to sea, that once the Roma was near to El Ferrol the ship’s

152
captain would slow her down as if waiting for the arrival of rebel ships
which in fact did put in an appearance and, without further ado, as if it had
all been agreed and dealt with in advance, the ship was escorted by them
into El Ferrol and surrendered to Franco.
Otero and Escudero, the mysterious henchmen on the War Materials
Purchasing Commission, were the hostile accomplices and lackeys of the
same rotten breed as Juan Negrín’s government, which had deliberately
appointed them to act thus in order to sacrifice and inflict the direst
punishment on a Spanish people that deserved better luck. And time and
again they hatched their inhuman and murderous schemes throughout the
revolution and the war in Spain as lots of man-made waste bobbed to the
surface, doing great damage by the light of day to anarchist ideas that then as
now were out to plant the seeds of social justice, peace and freedom for all
of the peoples of the Earth. As the War raged those treacherous pirates
enjoyed luxury holidays in the capitals and towns of Europe, while their
purses were bulging and they alone were in charge of disbursements as they
bought and sold the weapons of war traitorously in order to feather their
own nests. Instead of spending their budget to ensure that arms were sent to
the front lines to fight the fascist foe, they treated them as if they were their
own and hawked them to our enemies. I know where I’d like to see all these
scoundrels and knaves! … I would have moved heaven and earth to ensure
that they did not miss out on their blessed paradise, unless they had gone to
it already. That way we might have prevented these mercenaries having
become major millionaires on the back of the people’s blood and on the
lives lost in the Revolution and the War. Meanwhile, I am aware of and
defer to what the documentary record shows.
The War Materials Purchasing Commission was headed, despite all the
Spanish government’s efforts to disguise the fact, by Juan Negrín himself,
[who] was Public Enemy Number One. It was he, the culprit and guiding
hand, who, broadly speaking, as leader of the Spanish government and the
power behind the mobilisation for war in Spain, immersed himself from
head to toe in the ways of terrorism so as to wipe out anybody whose
thinking diverged from his own. It is to this end, as I have stated above, that
the commission indulged in the dirtiest dealings and most widespread
looting and thievery under cover of the War in Spain. On the back of the
carte blanche granted them by the puppet government of Negrín they did
just as they pleased. Reliable evidence of all these thugs and their dirty-
dealing can be found in the testimony relating to all of the incidents briefly
set out above and to their hypocritical betrayal of the Spanish people’s

153
cause, its revolution and its war effort. I have proof of everything stated
here, the record of which is penned in pure anarchist heart’s blood.7 Unless
it is read properly one would find it hard to credit what politicking is
capable of as it drives mercilessly on in hot pursuit of the upper hand – and
spreads its materialist poison.
And, to conclude this report and thereby put a little more in perspective the
trickery, treachery and thievery by some of those who rule over us, let me
finish with a grateful remembrance of those who fought and perished for
freedom’s sake. May the soil lie lightly upon them! Needless to say, a big
hug goes out to all those anarchists [sic] and CNT personnel [sic] who
always stood in the line of fire, and also to those of us to whom it fell to
fight in the May Events, not forgetting the winners of 19 July 1936, none
other than the men of the CNT- FAI.
The greatest regret that the working class can feel is that an opportunity like
the one that presented itself to us on that unforgettable 19 July may well not
come again for another 500 years …
Your ever-honest anarchist comrade,
Joaquín Pérez
London, October 1996

Notes
1. The reference here seems to be to the collaborationist CNT
members/leaders who let down the organisation and its tradition.
2. The ‘penal servitude, beatings with rifle butts, shootings’ referred to
would have been those suffered in Francoist prisons and work camps in
Spain.
3. Again Joaquín Pérez distinguishes between those who felt and lived their
anarchism and the higher-ups who ‘led’ it and ‘represented’ it and it is clear
which side he is on.
4. In fact, Alejandro Otero (JPN’s error).
5. Otero and Escudero were initially appointed well before Negrín became
PM. They were Prieto’s appointees. Largo Caballero was prime minister
and defence minister when Prieto was navy and air minister. Between them
they shared responsibility for the war effort. Prieto’s truncated ministry was

154
used by him to establish arms purchasing commissions with huge budgets
and staffed by trusted confidants of questionable expertise, honesty and
loyalties. JPN refers to the Civil-War-time government as if it were
unchanged from 1936 to 1939, so Prieto the navy and air minister and Prieto
the defence minister (which he became after the departure of Caballero and
the appointment of Negrín as prime minister) would have been one and the
same to him, especially as regards the self-serving use/misuse of
government funds and arms procurement exercises. Even after the arms
purchasing commission on which Otero and Escudero served was wound
up, there were monies unaccounted for and commissions paid out to them,
and Otero especially carried on profitably engaging in deal-making as
before.
6. The focus on the Ebro and the build-up to the battle there drew attention
and effort away from the chances of taking Zaragoza.
7. See the Documents part of this volume.

155
MEMORANDA ON COMMUNIST POLICY
INSIDE THE REPUBLICAN ARMY

The communists in the service of Moscow and of the chekas that infested
antifascist Spain after July 1936 often acted as if they were in a fiefdom
where they were lords and masters, not knowing, or forgetting, that Spain
was not Russia . . . The methods revealed by many eyewitnesses who
endured the brutality and suffered the torture and torments inflicted in the
‘private prisons’ of their chekas are enough to justify anything we recount
about this gloomy episode ushered in by communists, or ‘chinos’1 . . . The
army, and especially the International Brigades, have been the setting for the
violence and the sad, tragic, dictatorial obsessions of the ‘chinos’ in most
of the units in which they were in control.
All of this flowed from the relentless secret agenda and skullduggery under
the control of all the high-ranking corrupt personalities of the puppet
Spanish government that left so much to be desired in the Revolution and
War in Spain from 19 July 1936 onwards.
From the very moment [that] the head of the Spanish government ensconced
himself in the highest of ministerial offices, right through to the day he was
laid in his tomb, he had no improvement to offer the Spanish people beyond
his own slogan about hurricanes and deathly terror 2 for every person
whose thinking was not in line with that of the blood-stained ogre of the
hammer and sickle.3
It is common knowledge that material urges and ambitions in the individual
are a poison that causes great damage [in] today’s capitalist society. That
poison flows without restraint, just the way we see a river flowing
downhill. As the personal looting by the figureheads and miscreants of
Spanish government policy reminds us, it4 was the real traitor to and
saboteur of the revolution and war dating from way back on 19 July 1936.
All of these usurpers of the Spanish people’s cause and everyone like them,
from the lapdogs through to the bootlickers, [conducted themselves]
politically like major players in the business of the administration of the
Spanish people’s assets.5 The prime minister and so very many individuals,
high up and low down, proved, during the Revolution and the War in Spain
and throughout, to be real racketeers and thieves. Using the War as a pretext

156
– and as high-ranking dignitaries responsible for the huge resources of the
Spanish people’s treasury – these lousy hoodlums had no need to wait for
the most decent, most honourable worker in Spain to give them carte
blanche to thieve, before filling their huge knapsacks with incalculable sums
that natural law dictated were the common inheritance of the Spanish people
as a whole. Where did they go, those sums, and how come they were lost to
the Spanish people? And how come the slaughter of upwards of a million
people who gave their lives during the Spanish war? 6 Which is why it
should be a matter of shame to us Spaniards – those of us who have a sense
of shame – when it is patently obvious that – in dribs and drabs – those
deaths were prompted and racked up by those very same corrupt politicians:
all with a very particular eye to devastating and murdering the entire MLE
family: the CNT, the FAI and the Libertarian Youth.
The fact is that the Spanish [republican] government of Juan Negrín [did
precisely that], together with the entire crew of gangsters from the
communist chekas, who all had carte blanche when it came to arresting and
inflicting the most horrific inquisitorial tortures upon anybody whose beliefs
differed from their own. I have reliable evidence on the basis of which I can
speak of this matter at some length. But for now just let me explain the
political leadership made up of that great corrupt swarm from the
communist chekas: these false guardians were luminaries in the Spanish
war and in Juan Negrín’s government. The most surprising thing is that, in
the midst of war, days ahead of its conclusion, they were all ready to flee,
bags packed, plans made and escape routes and luxury destinations
finalised: which is why theirs was a war of drip-by-drip, the better to
murder and destroy the Spanish people.
That was still their train of thought just days prior to the finale of the war,
these bigwigs of Spanish republican government politics – poisonous
government flies who never ceased hatching those sorts of plans7 – since
they were very well aware that, no matter how much misery and hunger the
working people might be experiencing, in the turmoil it was facing, its
strength must not be drained away, not even by our calling to account the big
traitors inside the administration. In this respect these puppets were ruled by
materialistic ambition, enjoyed at the cost of another man’s sweat.
Let the world proletariat, young and old, keep this in mind: that we must not
allow Direct Action for Social Justice be lulled to sleep, the way it was by
the political collaboration of the Confederal Organisation – the CNT-FAI –
in agreeing to comrades of ours becoming ministers in the Spanish

157
[republican] government – the bloodiest and most treacherous government
in the history of the Spanish proletariat. Which is why I deem it a matter of
the utmost importance that we see the filthy intrigues of the politicians, those
materialistic fantasists, those abiding keepers of the state teat, for what they
were. I mean the rulers, government figures and henchmen of the all-too-
familiar retinue of J. Negrín and Prieto, who had carte blanche to go off the
rails or to do something rather more serious than making honest mistakes.

Notes
1. ‘Chinos’ or Chinese, a nickname earned by the CP literature’s obsession
with events in China in the 1920s and early 1930s and, possibly also, by the
inscrutability of communist tactics.
2. No record seems to have survived of any speech by Negrín that uses the
hurricane/whirlwind and terror imagery. His more customary slogan was the
very simple ‘Resist’.
3. Stalin.
5. i.e. the poison of material urges and ambitions.
4. Meaning they conducted themselves with assets as if they owned them
when they merely held them in trust for the Spanish people.
6. The racketeer politicians creamed off money from arms deals and lined
their pockets while prolonging a war that claimed a huge number of lives
needlessly. The war could as easily have ended earlier had the arms the
Republic needed been obtained; instead, the war was eked out with just
enough arms to keep the slaughter going. (See the ‘Documents’ part of this
volume.)
7. Negrín and the communists went on about resisting to the bitter end, while
they were arranging for their own families and leaderships to slip safely
away, and getting their assets out of the country, before the collapse.

158
MEMORANDUM:
THE CNT AND THE FAI IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR 1

Of heroic Spain
It is utterly essential for the membership2 that they should know the truth
about things that happened in the Revolution and the War in Spain – things
that might be credited or indeed debited to the Spanish people but which,
even 60 years on, pass unregistered and very much ignored.
Formerly the Tierra y Libertad Column, now the 153rd Brigade
Thus, for example, there are accounts given in the Documents part of this
volume, under the title ‘Two Dispatches from the War’. These are written in
the language typical of reports from army commanders and committees that
relate to the deeds reported in dispatches that deserve to be included in
these memoirs in that they vividly reflect a number of facets of the struggle
that have not made it into the official record.
These accounts could not be published in the libertarian press because the
censor always moved heaven and earth to exclude anything that praised the
units and men of the Libertarian Movement; and because they cite things that
do not make very welcome reading as far as certain VIPs are concerned;
[they] lift the lid on a lot of truths, exposing the vacuousness lurking behind
certain very high-ranking officers.3
Belchite was taken by the men of the 153rd Brigade and by the 25th
Division, that is, by CNT and FAI personnel. The fortress of cement and
steel was destroyed by dynamite by the battle-hardened fighters from
confederal units, whereas communist officers, even with their Russian
advisers, had spectacularly failed. The then the war minister Prieto, rubbing
the communists’ noses in their failure, spoke of ‘the Spanish forces, under
the command and leadership of Spaniards, which have conquered Belchite’.
In Belchite the libertarians – from the 153rd [Brigade] and the 25th
[Division] – covered themselves in glory. [These were] warriors who in
March 1938 would re-form the celebrated ‘C’ Machinegun Battalion.
It was those same heroes from the 153rd that performed another
unbelievable feat on the Segre. [It is] the men of the 153rd Brigade who,

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like every other unit created and trained by the CNT and anarchists, are
even now, in January 1939, recording the bloodiest and most heroic feats on
the front lines in Catalonia, holding up the invaders’ onslaught. Those of
them that are still alive, after the tremendous bloodletting endured in so
many engagements, are a credit to those who have fallen, never again to
rise, and to their ideals and the libertarian organisations to which they
belonged.
These accounts offer a short sample of the CNT’s and FAI’s record in the
war for freedom. With pages such as these might be written the history of the
anarchists’ participation in the great battles and decisive moments in that
epic. Because on every front, in the major battles, in make-or-break
moments, the men of the CNT and of the FAI were at their posts, doing their
duty and setting the example. [This is] the sound and joint doing of the
crystal-clear libertarian blood of the National Confederation of Labour
[CNT] and the Iberian Anarchist Federation [FAI], which the Aragonese
people, no less, were able to acknowledge and embrace as their own, as the
beloved offspring of the essence of Libertarian Communism [that they are].

Meanwhile, 4 it is a matter of the utmost importance that the Spanish people


should not fall again into the same trap or snare into which it tumbled
before, let alone into the political cesspit into which communist scoundrels
continue to prod the unsuspecting today just as they did yesterday.
‘Seeing is believing.’ The most I ever saw and identified in the course of my
long life, a real monster complete with claws and tail, is fascism, but the
Communist Party has no reason to feel second best. Only the name is
different: in every other regard, let the peoples of planet Earth bear in mind
and never forget that these are the true inquisitors and torturers of millions
of innocents who have been ‘disappeared’ and murdered simply for thinking
differently.
Such blighted dictatorships [are] driven by what I consider the inhuman,
authoritarian conventions conjured up by the mighty god of corrupt
politicking on high – the inspiration behind the bloodletting yesterday as
well as today, which, generation after generation, under one form or another,
holds the world proletariat shackled and subject to its dominion and control.
It is more than self-evident – and history is our best witness here, as its
unvarnished record bears out – that the anarchists had no option but to join
forces solely for the benefit of mankind: [for the sake of] anarchist Social
Revolution. [The anarchists] answered the call, to oppose politicking front

160
men of this or that government, men [who back then] were every bit as much
deceitful, sleight-of-hand rulers as [are] those who sit in the government
today.
Bear in mind that the power of politicians and of politics is a power they
owe to the tyranny of the military sabre. In whatever guise it may come [it]
brings with it the virus of the cross and the rosary to bless and approve the
great massacres of human beings carried out in concert with the slavery and
inequalities which sustain the tyrannical ascendancy of church, state and
capitalism over the noble-minded folk who toil away at the bottom.
So it was that on 19 July 1936 the people threw itself onto the streets. The
hangmen and the authorities – [the] fascists – rose up against the people,
aided and abetted by that filthy, jumped-up little general, Franco. Very little
has been said about the work [the anarchists] accomplished in those early
moments that launched the revolution. I say this because on that occasion –
on that historic occasion – the Largo Caballero government showed itself
[sic] one hundred per cent opposed to Franco’s fascist coup d’état. 5 Be that
as it may, on the eve of the Revolution, we of the CNT and FAI wasted no
time petitioning it or any other government for weapons: that would have
been the best way of [keeping us] hanging around, waiting for weapons that
never came. Waiting would have meant sacrificing our life to the enemy and
the lives of any who were with us. Which is what was happening to us as
later on we faced up to the enemy in the War in Spain. That time it was we
who wasted time petitioning our government for weapons so that we might
attack and liberate different Aragonese towns that were in the hands of the
fascists.6 Faced with heroic, unparalleled opposition from the libertarian
militians from the Durruti Column’s 21st Centuria, it was only days before
the fascists were forced into retreat and fell back to the far side of the river
Ebro. They withdrew and dug in in Zaragoza – the [nerve] centre of the
Aragonese people.7 Besides the Durruti Column’s libertarian militias, we
should remember those who worked the land in common, the partners of the
militians in the defence against Francoism. [This] was the finest example of
common sense to which the people of Aragón committed themselves, and a
number of books, pamphlets, reports etc. dealing with the feats of labour of
the Aragonese workers have been written, on the sole subject of their
admirable, upright libertarian achievement. Hundreds of peasant collectives
were set up, each fully committed to the task of working for the Spanish
people’s cause. Novel forms of social existence were introduced.
The libertarian columns that set off from Barcelona in July 1936 encouraged

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and boosted this revolutionary change. The whole of antifascist Aragón
lived for the Revolution. The striving, the spirit and the inclinations of
Aragón were unmistakably confederal and libertarian. To the CNT and the
FAI and their Aragonese membership fell the historical role of mounting a
formidable economic, political, social and cultural experiment, drawing
into the revolution’s orbit peasant masses that provided men for the
battlefront and for intensive, concerted labours, the keynotes of which were
equality and social justice.
Like one enormous laboratory, Aragón conjured up a network of collectives
federated with one another. And because the achievements of the Aragonese
people were libertarian achievements, inspired and guided by the CNT and
FAI, it drew the hatred of those who, in the middle of war – and while
noisily preaching the virtues of ‘unity’ – set themselves the task of
discrediting and trying to tear down anything that was a revolutionary, CNT
and anarchist creation. The Communist Party – the party of the counter-
revolution in Spain – which provoked the tragic events of May 1937, in
connivance with Estat Catalá and ‘Esquerra’ personnel, and which, in order
to join battle with the FAI, purchased short arms in France and plotted in
Paris with the agents of Dencas, with deserters such as [Ventura] Gassol and
others of that crew, was unable to achieve its purpose, because the
revolutionary potential of the CNT and FAI was proved on the streets of
Barcelona.
But after May 1937, after Largo Caballero had been successfully ousted
from government, the party came up with another dead loss in the shape of
the government of Juan Negrín – that malignant Satan [who] did all in his
power to destroy the Libertarian Movement’s revolutionary handiwork. This
new government [carried out] the repression that its predecessor had
refused to carry out. It started to ‘raise the dead’ and to bring charges
relating to actions carried out during the glory days of the Revolution in July
1936. It had its own terror machine operating at full stretch, mobilising its
gangs of torturers and criminals from the communist chekas and, in the
middle of all this provocation, there was no doubt but that this traitor would
zero in on the Spanish Revolution’s most worthy exponent – confederal
Aragón.
Next came the dissolution of the Council of Aragón, following the intrigues
and treachery of Popular Front politicians who, only days before, had
committed themselves to defending the Council as a body genuinely
representative of the Aragonese people.8 But the only people who could

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have waged war on libertarian Aragón – that productive, hardworking
beehive – was someone with a deep-seated hatred of the confederal
proletariat: someone boasting the characteristics of the classic executioners
of the people: someone who would not shrink from spilling workers’ blood,
even though those workers had defended Spain against the fascist menace. A
better choice could scarcely have been made.
The Communist Party – again through the Spanish government – dispatched
the 11th Division to Aragón; its commander was the notorious Líster, the
man who did such damage in the War in Spain to all Spaniards.
Unfortunately, the Communist Party is blighted by such bad seed, [by]
hangmen and malefactors of that stripe. To the shame (not that it ever had
any) of the Spanish government in place during those days of Revolution and
War, communist venom (as in this instance) [prevailed] over one person
after another with its argument of ‘orders from above’.
Take a further case, [featuring] this communist ogre: it happened in Spain in
the Andalusian region, but every antifascist ought to express his horror and
contempt for its sponsors, in view of the monstrousness of it and the means
by which it was contrived.

For some time9 vague, or not so vague, complaints had been coming in
about the conduct of communist personnel across the Andalusian region,
especially those sectors manned by army units that were under the sway of
that party. One of the sectors chiefly affected was the one manned by the
troops from the XXIII Army Corps, which happened to be under the control
of the well-known communist Lieutenant-Colonel Galán. That sector stood
out on account of the astounding ease with which personnel not supportive
of the party would go missing: personnel who might sometimes be
categorised as neutrals and, at others, as unashamedly leftist. Take the case
of a socialist from the town of Paters10 – someone with a long record as a
revolutionary. Along with a further five people from that town who were
arrested, he became the victim of the ley de fugas [‘shot trying to escape’
rule] at the hands of Bailan [sic], an intelligence captain from the army
corps in question. [Bailan] is a person with the direst record who, prior to
the uprising, had spent his time collecting taxes as a bailiff, being the worst
in the entire region. He is currently busily mopping up persons capable of
compromising his position.
The aforementioned shooting was carried out on the orders of the
commander of the XXIII Army Corps [Galán], despite interventions by the

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Almería Provincial Socialist Committee, by the governor of the city and by
Colonel Memayo [sic], who even spoke directly to Defence Minister Prieto,
who gave the order for said captain to be placed under arrest. At present the
Communist Party is actively working at burying the affair, using whatever
means it has at its disposal.
Very serious though it may be, that case is small beer [compared] with the
one we shall now recount.
One fine day the brigades attached to the XXIII Army Corps received orders
emanating from the corps commander stating that each brigade should send
over a platoon or squad of persons with unimpeachable antifascist
credentials. This was done and they were issued with full orders to make
their way to Turón – a little village of some 2,500 inhabitants in the
Alpujarras in Granada.11 There they were told that their mission was to
eliminate fascists for the good of the Cause. Those appointed by each
brigade arrived in Turón and killed some 80 people, the majority of whom
were put to death without any grounds – in that they were not disaffected, let
alone did they represent any threat. It emerged that, out of ignorance, CNT,
Socialist Party and other personnel had killed persons belonging to their
very own organisations, in the belief that they were carrying out the wishes
of the courts, just like their superiors had told them.
There are cases too where daughters have been raped in order to avert their
fathers’ being murdered.12 The most repugnant aspect of this being the
manner in which these things were done, as they were carried out in broad
daylight, in full view of everybody.
There was a wave of tragic terror at the time also. The Turón-to-Murtas
highway was under construction and the dead were buried under the
highway and an attempt was made to hush this up. But under pressure from
public opinion – which had got wind of these things – the Army of
Andalusia’s Standing Tribunal was unable to brazen it out and was forced to
order a basic enquiry. Thirty-five corpses were exhumed and they gave up
on exhuming the rest because that would have meant the complete
destruction of the highway under which they were buried. The court began
taking statements and thus it came to light that the orders had come down
from the officer commanding the XXIII Army Corps – a sort of viceroy in
Andalusia – and that the whole thing was his doing. [The court] had him
stood down so that it could pass word to the government and ask for
instructions. The court did not dare confront Galán, he being all-powerful in

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the region. By way of proof of what we are saying we offer a complete
transcription of the report on the case by the president of the Army of
Andalusia’s Standing Tribunal [forwarded] to the Court Inspection Service.
That report states:
In accordance with the matter raised in dispatch No. 667 of the
12th inst [August 1938], I have the honour of informing Your
Excellency of the following regarding Case No. 110-1938, for
the purposes of briefing our superiors.
Following a report from the Law Consultancy, in early June last,
His Excellency the Officer Commanding this Army forwarded
to this court a report received at the Department regarding
political prisoners in Turón, by orders of the Officer
Commanding the XXIII Army Corps, in the light of various
dispatches issued by the officer commanding said Detachment
registering the death at the hands of soldiers-of-the-guard of a
number of detainees, 54 in number, for attempting to escape on
successive days. Since there was nothing in the investigation
carried out to suggest culpability in terms of negligent custody
and as there was nothing to show that the burials had been made
in accordance with the law and since other enquiries are
required in such instances of violent death – possibly
concealing even graver offences – it was agreed in June,
following the taking of the opinion of the army provost-martial
and in accordance with his determination, that initial enquiries
be carried out on the basis that it was inappropriate to overstate
the facts until such time as there was clear evidence of
criminality, and serious criminality at that. From the outset, the
officer commanding the army staff was formally briefed on the
potential implications of the facts, albeit that it had not been
shown that the prisoners had been killed without their
attempting to escape, and the officer commanding arranged with
the members of this tribunal plus the legal adviser that we
should proceed with discretion, lest the regime’s enemies be
furnished with grounds for escalating their campaign to defame
our struggle. It was also indicated by the signatory and other
colleagues that there was a need immediately to relieve the
military forces making up the garrison of the detachment
concerned, and this was done, the lieutenant-colonel
commanding the detachment and its sergeants being required to

165
make statements to the tribunal’s recording clerk. In doing so
they all stood by statements that they had earlier made to the
officer drafting the report that led to the earlier investigations,
but were arrested and held incommunicado pending the outcome
of the exhumations and the autopsies conducted on the corpses,
for which preparations are afoot. Which is how the
investigation stood when an Army Commander, acting on orders
from the General Staff, collected oral testimony – evidence
that, once it became known, confirmed the worst fears that the
deaths of the prisoners had not been due to attempting to escape.
That Commander made a declaration in the course of the initial
procedure, and at roughly this same point. The sergeants held
incommunicado asked for the opportunity to make further
statements and in said statements they too confirmed the
criminality quite clearly. As a result of such enquiries, a
criminal file was opened and the corpses were exhumed,
autopsies carried out and deaths recorded in the Civil Register.
This investigation was carried out with commendable zeal,
competence and discretion by this court’s Investigative
Rapporteur and deputy prosecutors D. Eugenio Jiménez Álvarez
and D. Eduardo Vera Sales. It was not possible for all of the
bodies to be exhumed in that they were buried in the very bed of
the Turón-to-Murta highway, on the construction of which
prisoners from the Department were employed. The autopsy
examinations carried out have not produced anything concrete,
in that the bodies were in a completely decomposed state, and
in many instances it was impossible even to determine if there
were gunshot injuries. The only data used for the identification
as well as in the locating of the various corpses were those
supplied by a site foreman and the arrested persons were not
questioned. In the light of these enquiries and given the gravity
of the implications and the serious charges that might ensue, the
Army Provost-Marshal, the clerk of the court and the
undersigned arranged to put the matter to the Officer
Commanding the Army, our view being that persisting with the
enquiries might do huge damage if the incidents in question
were to be made public, albeit that even more damage might be
caused if the investigation was to be suspended and the
incidents concealed. Once the facts had been established, no

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further decisions would be made until such time as the facts and
the various options available could be put to our military
commanders and their superiors, it being a matter for them to
assess the magnitude of the matter and determine whether we
should press on.
The officer commanding this army was indeed of the opinion
that this was a serious matter and that if the investigation should
carry on, it could prove a double-edged sword: and given the
stage the prosecution case had reached, with no one thus far
cited nor the incidents classified, the matter should be brought
to the attention of the government by our minister of national
defence and a sealed report forwarded to His Excellency the
general commanding the Central-Southern Armies Group.
Speaking for our own part, what might be described as the
abnormality of the affair was pointed out in last month’s
memorandum as forwarded to the court inspectors and the facts
made known accordingly. It merely remains for it to be noted
that the Turón detachment was made up of political prisoners
that the governor of Almería had handed over to the Army so
that they might be deployed on necessary projects of service to
the war effort.
None of what I have the honour to set out for Your Excellency
regarding Case 110 prejudices the implementation of whatever
measures Your Excellency or higher authorities might deem
necessary.
Baza, 13 August 1938.’

I shall refrain from comment on the matter described:13 I would rather that
the reader – ignorant of this and many another matter that is etched in my
memory – should do so, given the actual commission of acts like these
carried out during the Revolution and war in Spain. [They are] anti-human
[sic] acts of terror and murder that should aggrieve anyone unless he thinks
along the same lines as that out-and-out bloodthirsty monster,14 Juan
Negrín’s Spanish government. [He] together with his Russian accomplice –
Stalin – had no reason to feel second best to fascism.
The facts make it plain to us that because the same mad ambition and
politicking egomania powered by material urges appears on Earth in every

167
generation, one must conclude that there may be grounds for believing that
the poison peddled by the higher-ups resulted in the paralysis of the spirit of
direct action dormant in the lower-downs [sic]. So, regrettable though it
may be, we cannot avoid the statement that it will take more than 500 years
before there comes to pass another Social Revolution like the one that Spain
experienced in 1936–39.
Notes
1. We do not know who wrote the first six paragraphs here, which are
followed by a number apparently by JPN; finally come two paragraphs at
the end, beginning ‘I shall refrain from comment on the matter described . . .’
that are clearly by JPN.
2. The MLE generally, or the CNT.
3. Meaning that they were all spin and propaganda, but with very little
actual ‘bottom’ to them – Communist Party creations who failed the test of
reality.
4. The text from here onwards seems highly likely to have been written by
JPN ​– it is certainly in his kind of language.
5. Largo Caballero was not prime minister at the outbreak of the fascist
rising. The socialists had not wanted, in February 1936, to revive their
failed experiment in socialist–republican coalition government prior to
1934, and declined to join the republican parties in the cabinet. The
socialists’ plan was to let the Republic and republicans run their course,
exhaust themselves, prove themselves a spent force and then for socialists to
deal with fascism. This would be through a revolution, Spanish-style, led by
Largo Caballero, casting the republicans as Kerensky to his Lenin.
However, although the socialists had their armed militias (the
MAOC/Worker–Peasant Antifascist Militias) prior to July 1936, their
support among unionised workers and the political youth was ebbing to both
the communists and the anarchists. The Largo Caballero government that
took office on 4 September 1936 replaced a republican line-up and injected
some steel and commitment into the resistance to the military’s would-be
coup that the generals had planned and to which the bourgeois republicans
had reacted so lamely; hence the reference in the text here is complimentary
to Caballero – ‘on that historic occasion’.
6. The government was asked to issue weapons to the people and because of
its shilly-shallying and the petitioners’ readiness to await its decision a

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number of cities/regions were lost, including, especially, Zaragoza.
7. The stymieing of the Column’s progress against Zaragoza (a CNT
stronghold in Francoist hands) suited certain republican political interests
very well and limited the CNT’s influence within the republican camp.
8. The Regional Council of Aragón was constituted in 1936, becoming in
effect the revolutionary government of that province. It was headed by
Joaquín Ascaso. Following the May 1937 fighting in Barcelona, the CNT
was dropped from the national government and its ‘notables’ were
preoccupied with proving their gravitas and responsibility and securing
ministerial office again. Aragón had taken the collectivisation programme
further than any other region and CNT military commanders there had
rejected meddling by Russian advisers. As early as June 1937 a plan had
been formulated to dissolve the Council of Aragón and on 12 July President
Azaña signed the order for this to proceed. In late June/early July
republican forces from Catalonia had carried out armed incursions and
made arrests in Aragón. The CNT notables counseled a cautious response
lest a further outbreak of internecine fighting (as in May) erupt. In the
interval there was a reshuffle and redeployment of the armed forces and
officers in Aragón and the order abolishing the Council of Aragón was
made public and enforced by the communist commander Enrique Lister and
his 11th Division in August. Throughout the months since May the CNT
national committee had rather lamely urged caution and its reaction was one
of sadness rather than anger, let alone resistance.
9. From this paragraph onwards the writer is again not JPN, as signaled in
the paragraph’s final sentence by the word ‘currently’, indicating that it is
from a contemporary report.
10. Possibly a misprint for Paterna.
11. Turón was a labour camp within Colonel Galán’s command. Some 90
inmates were murdered (shot) by camp guards during 1938. Following
complaints to the Red Cross an investigation was mounted and Galán was
removed from command of the XXIII Army Corps and his chief of staff and
the camp commandant were sacked.
12. The clear suggestion is that they submitted to rape in order to save their
fathers’ lives.
13. As noted earlier, the final two paragraphs of commentary closing the
chapter are by JPN.

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14. The author’s comma suggests he means the whole government line-up.

CONSEQUENCES OF THE SPANISH REVOLUTION OF


1936–39

The Spanish anarchists and the CNT-FAI – the MLE as a whole – were
wholly obliged to embark upon Social Revolution because of the uprising
by the military against a lawfully constituted regime, the republican regime
endorsed in the free elections of February 1936. The military had the
backing of capital, clergy and the fascist nations of Germany and Italy.
There were others, which, surreptitiously and stealthily, also backed the
fascist uprising – places like England, to name but one. The uprising was
led by a felonious general who had pledged loyalty to the Republic, as had
the rest; a pledge that they all betrayed (except for the ones that were caught
in the republican zone).
When it comes to the making of a revolution – and even though our hand was
forced – the belief was that one had to seize the moment – as we did; but
within 24 hours we had backed off from it, either out of fear or
incompetence or on account of the ‘go for broke’ scenario, meaning the
proclamation of Libertarian Communism, the belief being that that would
turn us into dictators, which implied wholesale departure from our free and
humane rationale. So we did not follow through and, little by little, we paid
the price, as we would see with the passage of the days, months and years.

170
Once the road to revolution had been taken, if that revolution was to be
made then anyone inimical – such as the military, the capitalists, the clergy –
had to be eliminated. Anyone known to be a diehard enemy, not only of
anarchism, but also of the people — the very people that committed itself
massively to the fight against fascism and which routed it in the major cities
and towns around Spain – had to be defeated.
Where we had emerged as the victors we were the masters. This was a
Revolution whereby the Spanish people set an example to the whole world;
with their organisational and fighting abilities, the Spanish revolutionaries
broke down the entire capitalist and government model. Every manifestation
of the state fell into the people’s hands.
But having won, how weak and ignorant we proved to be! We failed to
eradicate the blight of politicians; we failed to sweep aside, once and for
all, all those who had been enslaving the workers for centuries. All of them,
with no exceptions – not Azaña and not Companys – all of them should have
gone, root and branch. Likewise the bourgeoisie and every enemy of the
producing class. Hadn’t we made the Revolution? Then our mission was
quite simply to eradicate those behind the wretchedness, the slavery, the
harassment of the workers and the arbitrary, casual jailing of them; and
ultimately behind the dispatching of them [the workers] to the garrote vil.
What we didn’t do to our enemies, they did to us. Our fate was therefore to
lose and to pay the price, both during and after the War. We lost upwards of
a million comrades, between those who perished during the fighting and
those shot afterwards by Francoists.1 The CNT organisationally, and
anarchism itself, suffered the heaviest damage, having been the most
prodigious participants in the fight to the death against all these traitors and
foes.
Sticking to the pros and cons of the Revolution, truth be told, we were not
ready. We had to act expeditiously to organise everything, given that
everything – industry, agriculture, health, transport, food supplies,
engineering and specialist expertise – had been abandoned. Since all of it
was in the hands of private or government ventures – let’s be frank –
goodwill and good faith notwithstanding, we were short of time. We were
short of technicians, short of men with enough expertise to get the rearguard
in order. We were short of men to keep the front lines supplied with food,
munitions, medical services, as well as men with enough nous to plan
guerrilla warfare and attacks on the enemy. We were short of all sorts of
war materials such as planes, tanks and everything else needed for the

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Revolution and the War. There was another major consideration: the world
was against us. But in spite of all this, we set an example that even now,
some 60 years on, deserves praise and which will never be forgotten in the
history of the world.
But let’s continue with the questions: How come there was no cleansing of
the rearguard? The first move we should have made was to rid ourselves of
all the traitors inside our organisation, who were seated on the committees,
holding a variety of positions of responsibility. We ought to have rid
ourselves of men who styled themselves comrades but who used blackmail
and some of whom grew fat and bloated at everybody else’s expense. We
were not able to stop them in their tracks or curb their activities. We
couldn’t have behaved more naively in dealing with such traitors to the
Revolution and to the ideas they said they subscribed to! All of these dark,
two-faced shadows merely added to the rotten handiwork of fifth-columnists
busily undermining the rearguard with their false rumours. Out of good faith
we issued them with passports for France and they slipped over into the
Francoist zone.
We made massive mistakes. For a start, there was the Negrín government’s
inquisition. Negrín, as commander of the army and of the Spanish people, is
responsible for thousands upon thousands of murders – he being the
executioner. He, and his Russian confederate Stalin, undertook – as out-and-
out inquisitors – to utterly eradicate the entire MLE until not a single
member of the CNT or of the FAI was left alive. This was the big chance
that power during the War offered them: that at a whim, and in the name of
the Spanish government, the communists – all those great gangs of human
trash from the chekas – were given carte blanche to arrest anyone they
chose. Unless you carried a Hammer and Sickle Party card in your pocket,
you would be very lucky to make it safely home. This sort of thing was
everyday fare on the battlefronts, as well as in the rearguard. What a
disgrace! The Communist Party is only too well aware of it; on 19 July
1936 the communists were only half a dozen backbiting cockroaches who,
prior to that, had never earned anything other than the utter contempt of the
Spanish people.
Let us turn now to infiltration by the communists who counted for nothing in
the Revolution – just the usual four Kilkenny cats – up until they hurriedly
marshalled lies and calumnies by the ton against the Largo Caballero
government. Throughout, they displayed a consistency in their preferences
vis-à-vis tyrants, and are, in consequence, famous for their skullduggery and

172
have nothing to learn from fans of the Falange. The fact is that the Largo
Caballero government was forced to step down early in the war in Spain –
just as Negrín wanted. Unfortunately, Juan Negrín – a gangrenous communist
to his very marrow, and unmatched for cowardice and bloodthirstiness –
turned the Spanish government into a sink of plague and corruption. Negrín
issued a fire-and-brimstone order for the extermination, once and for all, of
everything that galled him – Progress, Freedom and Equality. But those
things were cherished by and dear to the entire MLE: they lay at the root of
the CNT, FAI and Libertarian Youth, which worked on their behalf and
which had been created for that very purpose.
We should all ask ourselves and ponder what we were back on 19 July (and
before that) compared with what we are at present. Let me speak the truth as
I see it – albeit only a partial truth, or a higher truth. I continue to seek and
uncover facts about the direct betrayers of the Social Revolution. Cavalier
and hard-faced, they sold out their ideals to the tyrant capital; sold off the
moral dignity of what they claimed to be and claimed to feel, just for a
rotten political bone they were content to gnaw upon. [By my reckoning] it
would have been better had they never been born. Then they might not have
been exposed as useless trash that has betrayed the common cause of the
world’s proletariat – into which they stuck their noses alongside the devil’s
spawn. They were certainly made for one another – political traitors to the
Social Revolution and the Spanish War [begun] that 19 July 1936.
We need to speak with the actual historical benefit of first-hand experience,
as I mentioned earlier. Back on 19 July, the Social Revolution was won by
the antifascist Spanish people – headed by the anarchists to whom the
swords and rosaries were forced to surrender and defer under the fiery
onslaught of anarchist direct action. International fascism – which had lots
of observers in Spain at that point – was hoping to see victory go to
Franco’s Falange. But those scoundrels were mistaken and, across more
than half of Spain, they got what they deserved. The fact is that, in the life-
and-death struggle with the oppressor and fascist tyrant, they ran aground on
the rock of anarchist conviction. This was something that came as a
tremendous shock to scoundrels and contemptible politicians of varying
hues.
So, for the time being, fascism had been defeated in most of Spain. At this
point the first grave error was made – as the higher-ups in the organisation
had determined it would – by saying that we should put the Revolution out
of our minds. Civil War was declared between the two factions of Spain –

173
Republicans and Fascists – and the upshot of that conflict was that Juan
Negrín indulged himself as helmsman of the War and of the Spanish people,
and behaved like a savage ogre, drawing torrents of human blood from the
libertarian and anarchist family.
It seems incredible that once the government ordered militarisation, our
ministerial comrades, like good little students, were assured of their mess of
potage. Those in positions of control sat mute and obedient; they refused to
see that, beyond their rotten coteries and their chief, our ministers, as token
political shepherds, served up the entire CNT-FAI on a plate to their
criminal leader, Negrín. From that point on, the CNT and FAI became just
another political party, taking orders and direction from the Spanish
government of the bloodthirsty ogre, Juan Negrín, in deference to wartime
circumstances.
The foulest and most horrific aspect of this was what was happening on a
daily basis in the front lines and in the rearguard. Instead of taking aim at the
fascist enemy in front of them, the various braided and bestarred higher-ups,
in hock to the government political clique, amended the aim of their rifles so
as to murder a comrade commissar from the CNT or FAI. This was a very
common occurrence, with thousands upon thousands of instances affecting
fallen comrades. This is why – at the behest of traitors – we embraced
political collaboration and thereby besmirched and disgraced our ideas and
our organisations. We discovered that our token ministers – ‘who’,
somebody said, ‘took off, leaving behind an unacceptable blot upon the
history of the IWA that the international proletariat will find hard to expunge
or forget’ [sic] – were useless.
All of this, and much more besides, is why those two confederates, Negrín
and Stalin, stirred themselves and made capital out of the War. I have shown
this before on a number of occasions: those ogres had it in mind to use brute
force to see to it that not a single comrade from the CNT-FAI (and others
besides) was left alive; the communist thirst for blood knew no bounds.
When the revolution broke out the communists were nothing, yet we allowed
them to treat us off-handedly. Within a few months, they were the ones who
ruled the roost on the battlefronts and in the rearguard. What did the bigshots
from the CNT and the FAI do? We were overruled by political elements of
all sorts, particularly by the Communist Party, which, having infiltrated our
national and regional committees, was gradually betraying the two
libertarian organisations. We failed to eliminate them, or lacked the
gumption so to do; we watched as our own comrades stood guard over

174
genuinely anarchist comrades – such as the Friends of Durruti – when they
were thrown in prison after the May Events.
With their unassailable political clout, the communists were gaining the
upper hand, on the fronts as well as in the rearguard. They were backed in
every direction by Stalin who, in return for the huge stocks of gold that were
shipped off to Russia, sent us a trickle of war materials that had been used
during the 1914–18 war. The Soviet Union also threw in the odd technician,
the aim being to build a satellite nation far from her borders, just in case one
became necessary.
With all of the arguments for and against, with which we have been regaled
by lousy, sham political collaboration, the MLE – apart from the ‘Durruti
Column’ [sic] – was delivered up and sucked into the politicking of
Negrín’s Spanish government by our all-too-visible, eager-beaver,
swaggering ministers.
The Negrín government was tail-ended by our straw ministers, and they in
turn – out of fear of what might befall them – by all of the bigwigs from the
organisation’s higher committees. It is worth stating – or at any rate, allow
me to state it openly and plainly – that three-quarters of them have, as killers
and cowards, helped ensure that the CNT and FAI – part of the overall MLE
– jettisoned that most clear-cut and most human of ideals: social justice.
Politically speaking, the fear of terror was introduced during the War,
specifically by cockroaches corrupted by the policy of the Communist Party,
which craved nothing other than the utter extinction of Spanish anarchism as
a whole.
Bear in mind and ponder the fact that all of this – and a lot more besides –
befell us through our own fault, in that we had refused, or failed, to root out
the weeds that corrupted our hard work and our very lives. Meanwhile, at
top speed, the blight of cockroaches from the chekas set up their
inquisitorial jails, dungeons and secret graveyards, all of them underground
in the huge premises they had at their free disposal. There hundreds and
thousands faced torture and murder, and not just the occasional fascist thug
but people of proven antifascist credentials. The mere fact that one did not
possess a Communist Party card was sufficient to be classed as an enemy.
Hundreds upon hundreds of our comrades perished there, without a finger
lifted on their behalf by the CNT National Committee or by the FAI.
And then the predictable happened. Stalin issued the order for all non-
communists, especially the anarchists – their real bogeymen – and POUM

175
personnel, to be eliminated. The latter were genuine revolutionaries and
honest idealists, as they showed by fighting fervently against fascism. Then
along came the May Events; pay attention to them, for they were a crucial to
the loss of the Revolution and of the War.
Earlier there had been acts of provocation, with the killings of anarchists in
La Fatarella and in Puigcerdá, as well as provocation in the Lower [Bajo]
Llobregat. On 3 May, the Barcelona police chief, the shrewd communist –
and one-time CNT member – Rodríguez Salas, and Barcelona’s mayor,
Artemi Aiguadé, set about storming the telephone exchange, which was in
the joint hands of the CNT and the UGT. That is when the CNT and POUM
barricades started to go up. The fight was against the entire Popular Front
and against the Generalidad, which, under Companys, was betraying us yet
again. Hundreds were wounded and killed in the clashes. We were masters
of the streets and had seized back control of everything. And then, out of the
blue, two anarchist ministers showed up in Barcelona crying ‘Cease fire!’
This was our Revolution’s apocalypse. We had all let it down; some through
cowardice, some through failing to eliminate the traitors. No one survived
the wreck, but it should be placed on record that the Friends of Durruti and
a few comrades from the CNT and FAI gave their lives for their ideals;
those of us who remained had no option but to back down. The sacrifices of
thousands of young CNT members and anarchists who had given their lives
on the front lines or in the rearguard proved pointless. We had lost the
Revolution.
Later, the communists in power outlawed the POUM, murdering its leader
Nin, a few days ahead of this. They jailed all its members as ‘fascists’,
some of them being condemned to death at a trial in which both the judges
who took part (as well as the witnesses who gave evidence against the
POUM membership) ought to have been shot out of hand because they were
the real fascists. Communist Party loyalists, under orders from Stalin – and
betraying the Spanish Revolution – were the ones who caused the War to be
lost.
Next came exile and the concentration camps – and starvation – in France,
where we were treated appallingly. Many thousands turned back to Spain,
only to end up in the prisons. Thousands of antifascists were shot – 99 per
cent of them simply for being on the left, or for having fought in the
Republican zone, or for having held office in that zone or in the rearguard. It
was a bullet in the back of the head for anyone over 25 years of age. What
we cannot bring ourselves to forgive is that the man chiefly responsible for

176
our holocaust should die quietly, or indeed ranting, in his bed.2 Thousands
of pages could be written about the Spanish Revolution and Civil War; it is
an inexhaustible source. Hundreds of books have been written to attract the
interest of the young around the globe. What a pity we lost!
But in spite of all these sad social, revolutionary and human events, we set
an example to all the world’s workers: a people in arms withstood the
world’s fascists for 33 months, despite treachery by every nation except
Mexico – the only country that did its utmost for the Revolution and for the
fight against fascism (and here it is only right that we remember the Mexican
president, Cárdenas).
Now, there is no one better placed than a direct, honest and sincere
protagonist to comment on the facts of the counter-revolution that was
mounted in Barcelona on 3 May 1937. The CNT, the FAI and the POUM
stood together against that counter-revolution as genuine revolutionary
friends. The POUM was a breakaway from the Communist Party, and its
chairman, Andrés Nin, was abducted and shot by the Communist Party on
Stalin’s instructions.
The May Events opened on the 3rd. Having failed to gain control of the War
and form a Russian satellite government, Stalin ordered the Communist
Party to set the counter-revolution in motion. To this end he had to start by
annihilating the POUM minority, but what really bothered him was the CNT
and the FAI. For some days, the Communist Party had been pulling its most
active personnel and killers out of front-line duty and dispatching them into
the rearguard to seize the upper hand in Catalonia – in which ambition they
were frustrated. Days ahead of May, they also stormed a barracks from
which they commandeered tanks on Moscow’s instructions. This is how
Comorera, the Communist Party’s secretary, came to show up in Paris to buy
pistols and other weapons: in order to implement their counter-
revolutionary schemes.
I want to make it clear beyond all else that the May Events exposed not only
the loss of heart by the men of the CNT and FAI – due to the loss of the
Revolution – but also that the war was a dead duck since Russia would
rather see a Francoist victory than a republican one. In that war, it was
traitors from the Communist Party (in the service of the USSR) that, in the
rearguard and in the front lines, were murdering anarchists and genuine
republicans.
The CNT and the FAI and the POUM, during the May events, fought on the

177
streets of Barcelona against the Bolsheviks, 3 the Generalidad, the Assault
Guards, the Civil Guard and the socialists, which is to say, against all the
other factions of so-called revolutionary or republican Spain.
On 3 May, the chief of police, in the service of the Communist Party,
together with Barcelona’s mayor, Aiguadé, issued the order for a raid on the
telephone exchange, occupied by the CNT and by a UGT branch ever since
19 July 1936. Previously, provocations had occurred in the Lower
Llobregat, in Molins del Rey and in Puigcerdá, with several anarchist
comrades murdered: the counter-revolution was stirring.
The attack launched by police chief Rodríguez Salas and mayor Artemio
Aiguadé was a surprise one, and they were able to exploit the confusion in
order to overrun the ground floor of the telephone exchange. But the genuine
revolutionaries – the sons of the people, the deserved victors of 19 July, in
conjunction with whom, for the first time and through the CNT, the people
routed an army of incompetents and drunkards – barricaded themselves
inside the building. If anybody questions that, go ask the Friends of Durruti.
On 3 May we threw up close to 300 barricades in the city of Barcelona – a
city of undiluted anarchist mettle. Yet again, we showed all the bigshots of
disorder and of corrupt Catalan politics that we libertarians stood ready to
die for the Revolution, to defend not merely the Revolution itself but also
the very existence of the Republic.
The communists hung the label of ‘fascist’ on the POUM, when these were
genuine revolutionaries; but the communists had not reckoned with the CNT,
which was the real master of the streets. The CNT Regional Committee had
been ensconced since 19 July 1936 in the Vía Layetana, opposite the Banco
de España and between the police headquarters and the Generalidad. Both
of these were the enemy and were fighting flat-out against the CNT and the
POUM. And, of course, the latter were fighting the Revolution’s number one
enemy, the Communist Party, with President Companys himself to the fore.
Generalidad councillor Vidiella and the Generalidad president himself
called upon the CNT workers to give up their weapons even though we
could hear sniping, bombs and artillery around the city. From the fortress of
Montjuich, the CNT’s artillery were trained on the Generalidad. Once again
– as on 19 July — the CNT gained the upper hand in the Revolution. All of
the forces placed at the disposal of the communists – not excepting our own
bigshot ministers – betrayed the people’s rebellion against its executioners
and betrayed the Spanish Republic. And just when we held victory in our

178
grasp, two of the anarchist ministers took on the role of Judas: García
Oliver, minister of justice, and Federica Montseny, minister of health. They
arrived from Valencia with the order that there was to be a ceasefire, for the
sake of the Republic. That order was the final blow dealt to the men who
had given their all for the people’s success – real revolutionaries – who
were let down by the forces of the Republic and – this needs saying, even
should it pain us to say it – by the CNT and FAI committees. The Friends of
Durruti and the rank and file alone saved their honour. The people’s huge
advances such as the collectives in transport, health, farming, the railways,
etc., ended up in the hands of reactionaries.
The killings, not merely in the rearguard but also in the front lines, the
disbandment of the POUM’s 29th Division, the jailing of committees, the
murders of young libertarians, the jails filled with antifascists and the
establishment of a puppet government like Negrín’s, in hock to Russian
communism, led to a great diaspora of Spanish revolutionaries. The
Republic was sold down the river to the fascists by the Spanish Communist
Party, which shipped gold to Russia in return for equipment that was, most
of it, already obsolete, having seen service in the 1914–18 war.
Joaquín Pérez
Notes
1. As noted earlier, historians have cut this figure by approximately one
half; and in any event, the figure would include those killed on both of the
warring sides.
2. It is unclear whether this reference is to Franco or to Negrín.
3. That is, Moscow-liners.

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THE DELIGHTS OF OUR POLITICAL
COLLABORATION
No to Anarchist Collaboration in Constituted Governments-
in-Exile

Were I not compelled by duty and love of freedom and justice to speak out
so that the truth might be told for the sake of the fraternity of the libertarian
family, I would not utter a word.
My sole ambition, my whole life long, has always been to embrace what is
good, and that fair, humane motto is one that I have always been glad to
pursue. It was what brought me into the ranks of the CNT: to defend human
wellbeing and equality. It was in the CNT that I found the selfless example,
the impeccably moral conduct and feelings of fellowship that so helped
bolster the libertarian ideas permanently at odds with the leadership
principle that the political notion of the state gradually spawns.
Convinced that the first precondition for introducing harmony into life and
guaranteeing human happiness is to put paid to man’s deception of his
fellow man, while shunning submissiveness and exploitation and
championing the freedom of others as much as our own, I was revolted by
the wayward thoughts of those who claimed to represent the MLE. These
thoughts, conceived who knows where, were spelled out with
unprecedented brazenness by the new friends of the state: people who, once
upon a time, styled themselves anarchists, only to retreat later from
[anarchism’s] precepts and – willingly or otherwise – to turn into enemies
of the working class. I view them as I do any professional politician;
indeed, I view them more dimly, if we take into account their respective
origins.
The passage of time has not banished from my memory the consequences of
the trespass made in the CNT’s name during our war, and the mere thought
of it prompts me to condemn, with all the power I can muster, the weasel
words by which an attempt is being made to repeat actions that must be
avoided at all costs. Let these upstarts know that the CNT has been, is and
will continue to be, apolitical and the enemy of the state that usurps the
people’s rights, and that the CNT will not countenance its name being used
to repeat dismal past history.

180
Among the many things that happened during our revolutionary war, there
are quite a few of which the painful memory should be borne very much in
mind. It fell to me to be an eyewitness to one such episode. Such was the
degree of the pain that the memory of it can never be erased from my mind.
Ignorant at the time, and ignorant still of the reason why, I was arrested in
Barcelona in 1938 by a gang of policemen of motley persuasions and taken
to Special Headquarters, likewise staffed by a very motley crew. A few
days later they moved me to the castle of Montjuich where I passed through
the notorious cells of ‘The Tube’.

During my time in the Palace of Justice,1 I made the acquaintance of three


Assault Guard comrades. One of them was under sentence of death and the
other two – who, two days before they were arrested had been on duty in
that castle of dismal memory – told me: ‘They’ll definitely be sending you
to Montjuich. Well, once you get there, you must make yourself known to
“such-and-such” who is an outstanding comrade.’ He would have been in
the SIM and was in charge of searching all inmates before they set foot in
the cells. On passing through his office I reminded him of the ‘reference’
given by the guard ‘comrades’, only to receive a gaoler’s response: ‘I’m
here to do my duty.’ Probably to reinforce his point, he searched me after he
had searched a few others and he examined the very hairs on my head. Of
course, I was not surprised. I was handcuffed to one of the guards I
mentioned earlier – and you know how I just love guards! The poor fellow
was cursing the day he had entered the service of the government.
As we stepped into the cells of the accursed ‘Tube’, a CNT warder carrying
a bunch of keys in one hand and a rifle in the other opened the door. To my
great surprise a group of comrades pounced on me, hugging me. These were
comrades whom I had known for some years and I trusted them implicitly.
When the initial emotion subsided, I showed some interest as they explained
to me the reasons for their being there. They told me: ‘All we know is that
we’re here as “suspects”, some of us, and others because we’re
“dangerous”. And, apparently, under sentence of death.’ Not without great
pain they recounted the treatment doled out to comrades from the CNT – as I
was shortly to discover for myself. No one could explain how, after so many
years of fighting for freedom, after the shared sacrifices prior to and during
the War, we were being watched by gaolers who, though purporting to
belong to the CNT, lashed out with rifle-butts or shoved us up against the
wall. We had handed victory to our enemies and they were wreaking a
craven vengeance on us!

181
As a small token, let me say that when we were removed under escort to
attend to our physical needs – a rifle-bearing warder for each and every one
of us – we had occasion to pass the general population areas where the
fascists were kept. Those areas were cleaner and they received a very
different treatment from the sort meted out to us. But then they were fascists,
whereas we were ‘dangerous’ anarchists marked down for the firing squad!
I spent a few days in such company. Four of these cellmates of mine –
comrades, rather than Assault Guards or prison warders – were held
incommunicado in a separate cell. One day in December 1938 they got the
awful news: ‘You are to face the firing squad in Montjuich Castle at
daybreak.’ I remember that the response of those comrades, brothers marked
for murder, was to spit right in the faces of the warders who claimed to be
in the CNT. One of the condemned men asked the prison governor – a
communist – if he might see his compañera before he died. He was assured
that he could, but by the time she reached the castle, it was already too late.
El Nano was already two days in the ground, and with him the other three
who suffered the same fate.
As they were being taken away to be shot, the men who had embraced me on
the day I arrived in the cells asked the governor if they might embrace me
again one last time and, under the watchful eyes of a handful of goons, we
hugged, shouting out ‘Long live Anarchy!’ Their final words were: ‘We have
but a few hours left to live; we are relying on you, if you survive, to tell our
comrades and the entire organisation that we go to our deaths thinking about
our beloved ideas and crying out “Long live Anarchy!”‘
With such conviction and steadfastness, those comrades then withdrew to
face the murderous lead, like the thousands upon thousands of others who
perished before and after them under the jackboot of a variety of rulers in
Montjuich of dismal memory. The difference now was that earlier and later
there were no warders, guards or soldiers purporting to be members of the
CNT. What an insult!
MLE people should never forget the past, which must never be repeated. So
when the hypocritical announcement is made that a move is to be made to
drag our movement into governmental collaboration – with those of us who
refuse to become accessories to this irresponsibility subjected to badgering
and insult – we have an obligation to reply to this gambit. Many a comrade
lies rotting in the soil of Spain on account of an indelible faux pas; but many,
many more of us stood up against a dark future that must in no wise come to

182
pass. Montjuich 19382 must be consigned to history and never repeated. We
have no wish to see our executioners posing as comrades, no wish to see
our organisation forced into sponsoring questionable acts.
Joaquín Pérez Navarro
[undated, but written in exile]
Notes
1. The main courthouse (probably with remand cells), different both from
police HQ, or the quasi-official ‘secret’ prisons run by the SIM, and from
the Montjuich fortress, notoriously used as a prison.
2. Due to the crackdown on revolutionaries after 1937 and the escalating
activities of the SIM, the numbers of revolutionaries rather than ‘fascists’
held in Montjuich soared and this led to great satisfaction with the
Republican government and the sluggish response from the CNT. 1938
would have been the ‘headline year’, singled out because it started well and
ended badly and 1939 was cut short by the arrival of the Francoists forces
at the end of January. See François Godicheaux ‘Répression politique,
mobilisation politique et violence dans une institution pénale: La Cárcel
Modelo de Barcelone pendant la guerre civile espagnole’, in Crime,
History & Societies, vol. 8, no. 1 (2004), available at: URL:
/index511.html:DOI:10.4000/chs.511

183
A WORD TO THE WISE

There is a duty upon each and every confederal militant who enlists in the
ranks of any of the three wings of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE).
This is to look to the future with the utmost bona fides and the virtues that
characterise us – which are the very essence of revolutionary morale and
staunch supports of our beloved ideas, ideas which are destined to flesh out
the whole noble historic dream of the Spanish people. For coordinated
action is the righteous path, and needs the reinforcement of coordination
today – the marshalling of all the efforts of the defence cadres and of the
specific groups of all three branches in order to steer them towards a single
goal as the sole representation of the entire Libertarian Movement.
Constructing an effective organisation through which to funnel all the forces
dedicated to our cause should command the unconditional support of every
one of us as we pursue the aforementioned mission. That is the sort of
commitment and responsibility for which our ideas cry out, at present and at
all times. What is needed is higher organisational morale and more belief in
our [confederal] activities – there may be noise aplenty, but very few nuts
are being cracked.
In this respect, every militant must take a plain and unmistakable stand and
be a faithful reflection of the cause we pursue. Our endeavours required
great sacrifices from the giants upholding the cause of freedom, who never
expected, nor did they ever agree to accept, any reward from the
organisation for their efforts. If we joined, it was out of sheer belief, and
driven by our innate human consciousness and a will to share (and this is
true of all of those we have been proud to have met there) the simple
happiness of the fairest fate a human being can meet in this wretched,
thuggish society in which we find ourselves. For all its recourse to suicidal
obsession and for all the sparkling ingots at the disposal of the Holy
Inquisition, it has never been able to buy off or to besmirch the splendid
image of our anarchist cause, so steadfast has been the belief and
determination of CNT personnel. The record of the CNT is the essential
underpinning of our modus operandi: it is the most glorious, the most solid,
the most humane record the Earth has to show, in that its every page was
written by the giants of freedom in deeds of blood and sacrifice, over and
over again, in exploit after exploit.

184
Only those whose heads are in their feet can fail to respect that achievement,
that cause. Such folk could never agree that freedom and equality might
deliver the same wellbeing to every single one of us. [That would be] the
line of all the ambitious – some of whom have already blown their cover
and shown their true colours, both in the past and in the present.
Allow me, on behalf of the CNT, to thank you warmly for the services you
have rendered it in the course of your record as players cast in a grotesque
farce – with your faces wrapped in filthy rags, since you never had the
insolence [in the course of your organisational activities] to speak up within
the CNT or inside the groups to which you belonged and say ‘I want to be a
minister. I want to be a general. I want to be our village watchman. I want to
be a complete reactionary, barking orders and commanding obedience.’
You are all too well aware that inside the CNT such sordidness was always
out of place and that, today as in the past, you’ll wait a long time before you
hear the glorious CNT say ‘Thanks a bunch, you wretches.’
You poor fools – lost and swallowed up in the emptiness of politics, rushing
around in a desperate search for a better kind of carnival. For with your
inane puppet show you never even paused for a moment to reflect that the
anarchist militant is a blend of reason and conviction. Because, when it
comes down to it, we are grown-ups quite capable of walking the byways of
decency, progress and humanity rather than going down the twisting paths
along which you poor devils have wanted us to follow you.
It is high time for every well-meaning militant to reflect – and reflect today
rather than tomorrow – on how to achieve honest cordiality with his CNT
brethren.
The ministerial cuckoos – much-trumpeted, ill-meaning – finished up lonely
and discredited; or even were drawn, as a result of the squalid political
schemes in which the collaborationists so distinguished themselves, onto the
same old multi-hued political merry-go-round. Nothing mattered to those
cuckoos as long as they were masters of the fate of the Spanish People. It
mattered not whether it was a crown made of pounds sterling, of US dollars,
or of other trinkets that gave them tyrant status, so long as they could operate
in the realms of ambition and professional politics. [Let me put it to those
politicking gents:] Is that the way to ensure freedom for the Spanish People?
That people will answer you with whatever deeds you deserve, just the
same way as – and more cleverly than – it gave you its answer back on 19
July 1936.

185
And now let me close these remarks by urging all Libertarian Movement
comrades to return to their grassroots posts, especially those comrades who
claim to mean well, but whose activity, as a result either of the chastening
they got in exile [or for some other reason] display a touch of isolation and
a dereliction both of ideas and of what always constituted the anarchist code
of morality.
Let us prove ourselves worthy of admiration and to be loyal lovers of the
cause we purport to be driven by. And, from that moral basis, which is
never to be forgotten, we must look out for the welfare of the Libertarian
Movement. Also and equally, we must keep a weather eye out for those
disreputable dreamers who fan the embers not only of their own would-be
leadership but also of leaderism generally in our ranks.1
Joaquín Pérez Navarro
London, 2 March 1948
Note
1. The political phenomenon liderismo (leaderism) is well understood in
the Spanish-speaking world, left or right, e.g. it is regularly used about
Castroism in Cuba – it means not just leadership but the stress of the
importance and/or power of the leader. Where there is leaderism there is
followerism and hierarchy, whereas simple leadership can refer simply to
natural and temporary gradations of initiative at given points.

186
PART III — DOCUMENTS
TWO DISPATCHES FROM THE WAR
How the Heroes of the 153rd Took Belchite to Cries of
‘Long live the FAI!’

A heroic brigade: the 153rd, formerly the Tierra y Libertad


Column
The Spanish infantry has demonstrated its superiority over the enemy
infantry. And shown, as well, that the human element remains the crucial and
telling factor in warfare, no matter the scale of modern armaments. But we
do not intend in this dispatch to enter into considerations of a doctrinal
nature: of all the Mixed Brigades making up the Republic’s regular army,
some have distinguished themselves by their singular heroism and derring-
do in battle. These are the units that, over a more or less regulation training
period, while absorbing lessons in military technique, have yet retained the
revolutionary essence that brought their personnel together back on 19 July
1936. And even though they may swear by an anachronistic Republic in
which nobody believes, and even though they may at formal ceremonies
hear only the strains of the Himno de Riego, and even though no flag may fly
over headquarters and command posts other than that of the Republic, a
revolutionary mystique nestles in the deepest recesses of the soul; in the
tragic hour of supreme heroism, the hymn of Revolution, To The
Barricades!, bursts forth from their breasts in deep and manly accents; red-
and-black kerchiefs, lovingly stored in knapsacks, are wrapped around
heads and to the war cry of ‘Long live the CNT!’ they attack the enemy’s
positions.
Origins of the 153rd Brigade
Few, if any, other brigades from our army have undergone the same
vicissitudes as the 153rd, which set out from Barcelona at the outbreak of
the war bearing the same title as the official mouthpiece of the Catalan FAI,
‘Tierra y Libertad’.
Its very first commander – if such he must be called – was the railway
militant Ramos, who died a hero’s death in those early months. Because of
the disorder and chaos that prevailed at the time of the enemy advance on
Madrid, the column was somewhat knocked off its stride, but distinguished

187
itself amply in the defence of the Spanish capital. Even so, the government
refused to recognise its legitimacy on account of the supposed
‘uncontrollability’ of its personnel, who held meetings as if they were about
union business and indicated diffidence about militarisation.
The Catalan regional committees of the CNT and the FAI appointed the
renowned Barcelona group, made up of men of action and known as the
‘Pachim’ group, to take charge of the overhaul of the Brigade.
Antonio Seba Amorós took command and the decidedly worthwhile
remnants of the Batallón de la Muerte (Death Battalion) were added in.
But the government continued to withhold its recognition, refusing to give it
weapons or to pay it. The ‘boys’ armed themselves the way they had back
on 19 July: with weapons wrested from the enemy in raids in which daring
was everything, or by picking up the weapons jettisoned on the battlefield
by comrades from the International Brigades and other, non-international
units . . . Food supplies were provided by the collectives and the trade
unions.
The taking of Belchite
We come now to the famous battle of Belchite. After asking and asking,
Seba managed to get General Pozas – who counted for nothing and never
did – to let him take part in the operation. The Brigade had only 800 men – a
Mixed Brigade is 3,000-strong. Belchite was an unassailable fortress. A 2-
kilometre-thick ring of trenches of varying depths defended the place. The
huge oval, 8 kilometres wide at its broadest point – with covered trenches,
casemates and parapets that were a veritable armed anthill, most of it built
at ground level – did not have a single point of vulnerability. The
Republic’s airforce, artillery and tanks attacked with fury, but Belchite did
not fall. Upwards of 50,000 men tried their desperate best. Under a horrific
hail of aerial bombardment and constantly harried by enemy gunfire, the
republican infantry overran that ground, metre by metre, position by
position.
After 10 days our hand-grenades were nibbling at the walls on the periphery
of Belchite, but there was no real vigour behind the assault; people were
materially wiped out by fatigue, there were thousands of losses and there
was no way of evacuating the wounded, nor any effective medical
assistance because the enemy airforce, far outnumbering our own, held the
line.

188
The high command running operations were losing heart. The then minister
of defence, Prieto, spluttered and threatened to have high-ranking
commanders shot – and what good would that have done, had it been
anything more than a rant?
A foreign general, Walter, sent for Seba.
‘If your men do not enter Belchite by five o’clock this afternoon, I’ll have
you shot and disband your brigade.’
‘But general! … !
‘But me no buts! You heard me!’ the general thundered, in a mad fury.

Seba returned to the forward positions with his head bandaged.1 He


addressed his men, the battalion commanders and commissars: ‘Our time
has come. We either enter Belchite or we all perish in the attempt: the
honour of the brigade and the prestige of the FAI are at stake here.’
The artillery fell silent. The planes ceased flying. Only the odd rifle shot
could be heard. Like a cornered animal, the enemy, ensconced in the
buildings in Belchite, sure of successfully defending the town, had also
stopped shooting, to spare his ammunition. He had a firing line overlooking
every approach. Furthermore, he knew that surrender meant death: they
were almost all Civil Guards, Requetés and Falangists; the very people
who mowed down so many thousands of antifascists in Zaragoza. Then
again, traitors though they may have been, they were Spaniards and thus
proud warriors. Had they been Italians they would long since have
surrendered or taken to their heels the way they did at Guadalajara.
Those precious minutes were put to good use. The watchword raced through
the trenches, warming hearts. (Seba was careful not to say why his head was
bandaged.) The few men of the 153rd manned a strung-out line. They were
broken up into companies and placed under strange commanders. Now they
were in the same position as before, but bound by one order: when the
shooting started, Major Seba’s men, wherever they might be, were to throw
themselves into the attack. Only the second battalion was still united. Which
is where Leal, Comisario Rosa, Ginester and the brigade staff were. They
approached Belchite from the eastern flank. The Juana confederal battalion
– Aragonese to a man – were to attack from the west, along with the 25th
Division’s notorious dynamiter teams under the command of Ramiro,
Batista, Sancho and Continente (the most sublime and heroic guerrilla
operators in Aragón). Seba’s men had hand-grenades and automatic rifles

189
galore. Every officer, major, captain or lieutenant carried a loaded pack. As
did the commissars.
The moment had come. Time to gain ground. To open up a breach and
venture into Belchite’s town centre streets . . . The hymn To The
Barricades!’ floated serene, grave and tragic:
Though pain and death await us
Duty urges us on against the foe.
Seba was on the telephone: ‘Ready? Let’s go!’
The first dynamite blasts and the angry song of the machine guns drowned
that heroic anthem. The bravos from the 25th Division struck from the
western flank. Belchite cowered and shuddered. The enemy fought back
furiously. The first buildings were shattered. Some went up in flames. The
stench of burning human flesh floated through air heavy with gunpowder.
Fascist redoubts came under assault from in front, from the flank and from
the rear. After two hours the infernal racket of gunfire began to fade. And the
dark blanket of night covered the smoking ruins . . . Groans of pain, the
lugubrious moans from those trapped beneath the rubble, the screams of
unhinged terror and the worried pleas from the women and children held in
the cellars by the fascists who refused to evacuate the civilian population
seemed in stark contrast to the war cry hanging over the ruins of Belchite,
just as it had earlier hung, to the world’s amazement, over the streets of
Barcelona: ‘Long live the FAI!’
The elderly General Pozas had been summoned by the staff directing the
operations, who told him, ‘Belchite belongs to the Republic!’
The general sought to check this out for himself. And went to Belchite.
Where he was moved to tears . . . He hugged a man whose uniform had been
reduced to shreds and who was laden at the waist with bombs, his right
hand tightly gripping an automatic rifle.
Flames from a nearby building lit up the three golden bars – a captain’s bars
– clinging to a strip of jacket. At the sight of them, the general hugged him
again. The man was like a statue, neither speaking nor gesturing. The
general felt a warm liquid trickle across his hand. The captain was
wounded.
‘What unit you with?’
The man was wrenched out of daydream. And reacted abruptly. He made to

190
switch his rifle to another hand but he dropped it. He raised a clenched fist
as if to deliver a hammer blow and in a tremulous voice stated:
‘153rd Brigade, general!’
It was the same story with another and another and another . . . The dry,
snappy and – why not admit it? – menacing words echoed through every
corner of Belchite:
‘153rd Brigade, general!’
Pozas then turned to an odd individual: dark-skinned, almost black, with a
kerchief tied about his head. His trousers cut off above the knee and a bushy
beard made his gigantic figure look odd. Naturally the general assumed that
he must be one of those International Brigade guys operating in Belchite.
But, folding his arms and looking behind him, he gazed jovially at the old
man:
‘What unit you with, my brave man?’
A voice that boomed like a thunderclap made the general shudder:
‘153rd Mixed Brigade, general!’
The following day, Indalecio Prieto hailed ‘the Spanish forces, under the
command and leadership of Spaniards, which have conquered Belchite.’
Between dead and wounded, the Brigade lost 360 of its 800 men. But it
earned its place in the regular army . . . Seba was appointed sector
commander and was promised promotion to lieutenant-colonel . . .
However, Messrs Mantecón and Castillo – the governor of Aragón and
Commissar of the Army of the East, respectively – managed to remove Seba
from the brigade, on the grounds that he had protected the collectives to the
detriment of ‘individualists’. His place was taken by comrade Antonio
Teresa Miguel – former commander of the ‘Isaac Puente’ Battalion in
Bilbao, a man awarded the Medal of Freedom for his conduct on the field of
battle, but he was not long for that post. Commissar Villaverde was also
stood down. Now the command of the brigade has been handed to the
Communist Party. It makes up part of a division whose officers and
commissars are communists and that division is part of an army corps
likewise under a commander and a commissar from that party . . . We cite
these facts, not to do injury to good friendship between antifascists but so
that the precise measure of the heroism of the fighting men of the 153rd
Brigade can be gauged when they are obliged to fight under the orders of

191
men with whom they share no ties of affinity – all thanks to Lady Politicking
– and with no outside incentive beyond a steely, barrack-style discipline . . .
The fact is that they harbour, as we do, the hope that this will some day
come to an end! But for the moment, what matters is taking the fight to the
fascists.
The Battle of the Segre
An operation conceived by the high command itself. Objective: the capture
of Balaguer. Starting at midnight on 9 August 1938, republican forces were
to ford the river Segre at a number of different points. The success of the
operation staked all on the element of surprise. But there were still some
traitors around! Forces from the XVIII Army Corps were in action around
Villanueva de la Barca. The 153rd Brigade had been picked out as the best
and held in reserve.
Protected by 22 tanks, the 3rd Carabinero Brigade – the ‘sons of Negrín’ as
the veterans called them – and the 7th Cavalry Regiment advanced. The
enemy, tipped off, allowed them to cross the river. He opened the Camarasa
sluice gates, flooding the river, whose waters swept away the bridges. A
firing pattern worked out to perfection literally mowed down our forces
who, retreating in dismay from the unexpected enemy onslaught, tried to
cross back over the river, in whose bed most of the tanks wound up.
A feeling of catastrophe took hold. The High Command issued orders for the
153rd Brigade to cross the river. Which was impracticable, at least until
such time as the floodwaters and torrent diminished. Hours without end
passed. The offensive had failed and thus was suspended, but there was
gear to be salvaged and wounded stranded on the far bank of the river in
need of rescue.
A day of tragedy and grief for our side. Troopers from the heroic brigade
passed the night bivouacked close to the scene of the tragedy, ready for
action. Their veterans’ instincts drank in what even eyes could not see. They
knew it all! A sinister daybreak gradually stained the horizon with purple,
as if reluctant to unveil the pain of the antifascist soldiery.
Major Feliciano Llach– known to his men as ‘Leal’ – had just returned from
headquarters and gathered his captains and section commanders together.
Some whistling was heard and in dribs and drabs some men emerged from
the irrigation ditches on the flat ground, from the uneven ground and from the
shadows of almond and olive trees, shuffling slowly and calmly forwards.
The remnants of the glorious 2nd Battalion!

192
For an hour they trekked in silence, keeping to the uneven ground so as to
keep out of sight. En route they came upon half-naked, rifle-less carabineers
travelling in the opposite direction. A radiant sun had driven away the last
remaining night clouds. Nobody uttered a word, but they were all thinking:
‘What’s with this song and dance of ours in broad daylight, after the
drubbing meted out to the carabineers … ?’
But they resigned themselves to it: ‘Well, if those are Leal’s orders …’
By then they were well down between the meandering banks of the river,
crawling along the ground. Enemy observers had just spotted this gambit,
because an artillery bombardment now began. There was no time to lose.
The battalion commander gave the agreed signal. With impeccable style,
Leal’s men forded the river, the waters of which had reverted to normal.
Strafing by enemy aircraft began. The men hit the dirt. Leal gave his orders:
‘Forward, comrades!’
As if spurred on by some magical spell, they stood up and started running.
Hand-grenades played their savage symphony. Hours of pain and anguish
turned into an indescribable euphoria. Those dynamiters really were driven
by the impulse of Revolution!
They successfully overran an area 800 metres deep and 1,200 metres wide.
Throughout the day they fortified their bridgehead and held the enemy at bay.
‘My lads are out of their minds with delight’ – Leal told me – ‘because
they’ve recovered the carabineers’ brand-new machineguns.’
‘What Brigades are you from?’ asked the carabineers who had been
abandoned, wounded, on the battlefield and left to the mercy of the enemy.
‘The FAI’s’ – ‘The CNT’s’ – ‘the Libertarian Youth’s’, came the response
from Leal’s ‘boys’, albeit some of them would never see 40 again . . .
And solicitously they tended to the wounded, to the ‘sons of Negrín’.
The enemy had concentrated his artillery fire on the river, stopping
fortification gear and supplies from being ferried across. The bringing to a
halt of the offensive allowed him to spend the day pitting his best assault
troops against this handful of brave men. And then night fell... Our veterans
know all about waiting. They had improvised some parapets; casting their
rifles aside with contempt they caressed the brand-new machineguns,
deployed in the best possible manner: they had lots of automatic rifles and

193
bombs by the thousands. When had that ever been the case before?
A dark dense mass approached. The alert had already been sounded:
‘The enemy is approaching. Moors and lots of them! Silence!’
It was as if our men were holding their breath. The earth whispered under
the invaders’ feet. They closed en masse, in fan formation, aiming to attack
every point along that crescent. They were almost upon them . . . Fifty
metres? A hundred metres? They had stopped and hugged the ground,
readying themselves for the start of the attack.
And through the dark quiet of the night the song of Revolution rose, more
tragic and more heroic than ever:
Freedom is the most cherished blessing
And must be defended today with faith and ardour,
Though pain and death await us.

The machineguns sang out, their fiery shells thudding into mercenary bodies.
The enemy was gripped by panic. Dynamiter teams and riflemen leapt from
the parapets, driven mad by enthusiasm. The field was strewn with corpses.
That night they fought off eleven infantry assaults! The following day, it was
six, stiffened by lots of tanks.
The parapets were 50 metres apart. Conversations started up: ‘You Reds
are very brave, but you’re going to lose this war because you have no one to
help you . . . ‘
‘Take that, maricón! A little something from the CNT!’
‘And this one’s from the FAI!’
‘And here’s one from the Libertarian Youth!’ – our lads called out as they
hurled their bombs.
On the 12th, there were further infantry attacks with tank support and
softening-up artillery barrages. The mortar, the most lethal of all the
weapons of war, never let up. But Leal’s men stuck by their posts, still using
the tactic of waiting for the enemy to draw nearer. That night they took a
major and four second-lieutenants in hand-to-hand fighting.
On the night of the 13th the brigade’s First Battalion under CNT comrade

194
Ferrandiz arrived to bolster the Second. From that day on the enemy
switched tactics: given that our people were huddled together in such a
small area, he concentrated his attention there and kept it under heavy and
sustained artillery fire, aerial bombardment and strafing and a barrage from
mortars of every calibre. It was simply horrific: men were forced to spend
all their time flattened against the earth and even then there was no way of
protecting oneself from shrapnel; stress levels rose and there was no way to
eat or sleep. Which is how the heroic fighters from the erstwhile ‘Tierra y
Libertad’ Column were left until the order to withdraw came down on the
18th. They had achieved their objective: the tanks now belonged to the
Republic.2
On the 17th, Leal sustained serious wounds. It was the first time that the
enemy poured down salvoes of between 50 and 100 mortar shells. Between
dead, wounded, sick and missing, the two battalions suffered 400 losses.
Comment? None required. The heroism of Spanish workers and the stoicism
with which they [overcame] adversities within and without defy all
contemplation. The best one can do is modestly note a few of the details of
this feat. There is one thing that we shall say, though: that people’s stoicism
is sustained by belief in the Revolution. On the day that belief evaporates, it
will all come tumbling down . . . Got that, you gravediggers of the
Revolution?
[In the field, October 1938]
Notes
1. The implication must be that Seba came to blows with his superior.
2. That is, the 153rd was able to recapture the gear abandoned by a
previous republican attack force – including, it seems, tanks.

195
COMMUNIST POLICY INSIDE THE ARMY, JANUARY
1938

In the 153rd Brigade, formerly the Tierra y Libertad Column: the


communists’ all-out offensive against this glorious unit with CNT origins
Other documents report on operations carried out by the 153rd Brigade,
formed on the basis of the erstwhile Tierra y Libertad Column. It is evident
from its performance that the said brigade, made up chiefly of CNT and FAI
personnel, has rightly been regarded as one of the most heroic brigades and
boasts the most exemplary record.
From positions of high rank within the Army and through their unquestioning
henchmen, the communists have concentrated the big guns on the 153rd. As a
result of orders handed down from above, the Brigade has been answerable,
turn and turn about, to commanders who have resigned and to communist
army corps. Brutal and thoughtless treatment plus a never-ending series of
insults have been accompanied by divisive policies, all with the same end
in mind: getting control of the Brigade while purging it of its confederal
complexion by taking over positions of command.
A document summarising Communist Party policy within the Popular Army,
consisting of instructions from the Central Committee to party cells and
members, was discovered in the 153rd Mixed Brigade in October 1938,
shortly before the events reported in other documents taken from the
Memorandum. The instructions are most eloquent; the activities carried out
by the communists are consonant with said instructions from their party.
Included in the Memoirs section of this volume, in ‘Memorandum: The CNT
and the FAI in the Spanish War’, is one of the reports from a document made
up of several memoranda forwarded by the higher committees of the CNT
and FAI to the government; there is evidence that can be compared to the
message irrefutably implicit in the ‘instructions’ set out below. In that report
there is a copy of the minutes of a meeting held by Communist Party
servicemen and commissars wherein they agreed measures to neutralise
CNT and FAI personnel from the army by any means necessary.
Without going deeply into various parts of those ‘instructions’ from the
party, obsessed with destroying the mightiest obstacle to their dictatorial

196
ambitions (the Spanish libertarian movement), we shall allow the document
to speak for itself regarding how those persons who have acted thus and act
thus still even as the people spills its blood and Spanish anarchists display
exemplary heroism and responsibility in the freedom struggle should be
described.

Instructions from the Communist Party Central Committee to


party cells and members
Guidelines to be borne in mind by the comrades from our cells
as well as by the Communist Party.
1. Our cells inside every unit, company, squadron and platoon
must be perfected day after day.
2. By any means necessary, ensure a clean sweep of CNT
officers and commanders and their replacement by like-minded,
sound comrades drawn from the ranks of the PC (Communist
Party), JSU (Unified Socialist Youth) or PSUC (Unified
Socialist Party of Catalonia).
3. To bring this about, a campaign is to be launched to discredit
all opposing officers and commanders as well as of ‘FAI’
militants scattered through the battalion and brigade units.
4. Our own commanders and officers being mobilised, they are
to take vigorous action against groups organised or which may
yet be organised in the units of the brigade and which have any
affinity with the CNT and the FAI.
5. Use up units in which the FAI has a preponderance by
committing these constantly to operations as part of the most
daunting military operations.
6. To bring the above about, we need daily more coordinated
effort from all who pride themselves on Communist Party
membership.’
Judging by what was done to the 153rd, erstwhile Tierra y Libertad,
Brigade as well as throughout the war and on every single front where they
had the chance to apply their methods, the communists are wholly in
agreement with the instructions emanating from the party to its instruments.

197
Following a series of reshuffles within the 153rd Brigade, it has been
attached to the 30th Division, the commander of which owes his
appointment to Galán, 1 the commander of the X Army Corps, whom he
follows absolutely unconditionally. And as will emerge from the various
reports making up this document, the leadership of the Brigade and various
officerships have been ‘captured’ by communist intriguers who sing their
own praises.
The situation created by such partisan activities among the Brigade’s
membership is plain if we review the happenings that have prompted
repeated intervention by the libertarian organisations.
The men who filled so many sparkling pages in the war by proudly
defending their reputations as militants of the CNT, FAI and Libertarian
Youth, men who had a hand in the capture of Belchite in Aragón and [saw
action] on the Segre, etc., under the command of anarchist militants,
watched as the leadership of their beloved unit fell into the inept hands of
politicians in the service of the Communist Party. They saw some of their
comrades mysteriously go missing, a sure sign that they have been
murdered. They saw command of the brigade wrested from militants who
had proved their ability to lead it. The most recent commander to be stood
down (comrade Teresa) was removed so that a communist could be
appointed, whom the hopeless drunkard Arano replaced in his turn. This,
even though, as is stressed in one of his reports, Teresa is so able that his
counsel is taken not merely by the divisional commander, who is utterly
inept, but also by no less than Lieutenant-Colonel Francisco Galán who has,
from his position in command of the XI Army Corps, more than complied
with his party’s instructions. A few days ago (this being January 1939)
Galán was removed from his command in the middle of an enemy offensive
and at a time when the 25th Division had earned everyone’s admiration on
account of its stunning performance. There have been many instances in
which confederal units have been detached from larger units and thrown into
operations led by communist military and political (party) superiors
unquestioningly compliant with the party’s policy. The case of this brigade
which, together with other CNT brigades, defeated the enemy in Belchite at
the cost of tremendous sacrifices, only for communist brigades or divisions
promptly to show up to claim the laurels and be plastered all over the
newspapers, is not an isolated one. Any more than is the example unique
that was set by libertarian fighters on the Segre, when a battalion from the
153rd Brigade crossed the river (even as others were ‘turning tail’ and
scrambling madly back in the opposite direction) and went on to salvage

198
precious gear while the enemy hurled tons of shrapnel at them by deploying
his gunnery and his aircraft. Over the two and a half years of this war, the
persecution visited upon the 153rd Brigade’s CNT and FAI militants has not
been the exception, either. On the contrary, on a greater or lesser scale and
with varying degrees of success, by resorting to pretty much disloyal,
criminal methods, the communists have everywhere and at all times
condemned our comrades to a more devastating war than that waged by the
enemy from the trenches opposite. But the 153rd Brigade’s case is one of
the most notorious instances in terms of the viciousness that Communist
Party personnel have brought to their attempts to discredit and obliterate the
anarchists. So any reaction that feelings of indignation may have triggered
from the troopers and officers thus offended again may be justifiable. Thus
[among the surviving] documentation one will find statements2 which, while
they could not be made public while the battle is raging, deserve to be made
known and circulated when the time comes, so that the evaluation of the
performances of one and all may be made on an informed basis.
Like no other army unit, the brigade was right there in the toughest fighting
in the war, mounting operations on its own initiative or holding out against
the enemy: a brigade that has been used as shock troops, its officers and
commissars always leading their men from the front, several of them
wounded or killed in battle while carrying out epic feats that deserved
warmest congratulations. A brigade that had a record of quiet heroism
which official agencies never deigned to mention nor reward: one fine day
the 153rd found itself with ‘orders from above’ that simply could not be
disobeyed, whereby its officers, tried and tested in battle right from day
one, were stood down and incompetent communists sent in as replacements
for them, the upshot being that under ‘orders from above’ its best
commissars and officers were dispatched to other units. Some had been
placed on a charge on some flimsy pretext prior to their being stood down,
after they had been praised to the rafters for their merits. Take the case of
Seba, who was stood down in February 1938 for supporting the
‘collectives’ in the rearguard (according to then governor Mantecón), his
decisive performance in Belchite forgotten. Or Teresa (his successor), who
was stripped of his command even though he was acknowledged as a great
officer and used as a consultant and as a go-between in dealings between
the army corps and the division once he had been relieved of his command
of the brigade on no serious grounds. Or Leal, who in the Segre operations
(see above) and at the head of the battalion under his command successfully
pulled off a mission which several brigades before him had failed to

199
accomplish. He was wounded and recommended for the Medal of Valour
and for a brigade command, only to find himself jailed over the death of the
commissar appointed to the 153rd.
Report from the Liaison Committee (Eastern Front) of the
Defence Section of the CNT National Committee on the
153rd Brigade and 30th Division
In the aforementioned report the Liaison Committee, a body
answerable to the CNT National Committee, Defence Section,
sets out facts collected on location and for which it can vouch
utterly. Those facts simply bear out certain accusations levelled
at the communists in the other reports included with this report.
It ought to be placed on record, in order to avoid
misinterpretation, that the Lieutenant-Colonel Perea3 cited in
this report is not a communist, nor has he connived with the
party’s intrigues, but, on the contrary is a member of the Iberian
Federal Party, and on friendly terms with the CNT.
Notes
1. Referred to in the Memoirs part of this volume, ‘Memorandum: The CNT
and the FAI in the Spanish War’.
2. See F. Piqueras, El SIM y el Partido Comunista 1936–1939 (Barcelona:
Ediciones Libertarias, 1988); listed in it at the end of Document 28 are five
documents, some of which are reproduced. These are 1: Report from the
Liaison Committee of the Defence Section of the CNT National Committee
on the situation of the 153rd Brigade and 30th Division, 2. Facts lifted from
a letter from a militant to the FAI Peninsular Committee on the situation of
the Brigade. 3. A fragment from a letter from the 26th Division’s ‘Durruti’
cultural groups regarding what happened to the 153rd Brigade. 4. Report on
some measures taken by the Communists against the comrades from the
153rd Brigade. 5. Reports forwarded to the Organisation by the delegates of
the Libertarian Movement of Catalonia (Executive Committee).
3. Juan Perea Capolino was a republican military figure under the
monarchy. He served some time in Montjuich then for his beliefs, and was
in touch with an anarcho-syndicalist action committee based in Badalona.
He returned from retirement to offer his services to the Republic and by July
1936 had been promoted from the ranks to infantry major and took charge of
a militia column operating in Navafria. He later took over from General

200
Kleber in the battle for Madrid in 1936, going on to command the IV Army
Corps before he was transferred, following communist intrigues, to the
Aragón front, finishing the war as a colonel and in command of the Army of
the East. He was deliberately excluded from involvement the battle of the
Ebro, which was meant to showcase communist military excellence because
his men were around 80 per cent Catalans and many of them libertarians.
Not himself a libertarian, he was sympathetic to the CNT-FAI and came
from a federalist political background. He was highly regarded by Cipriano
Mera

201
THE COMMUNIST PARTY’S CHEKAS

This document comprises two impressive accounts. Both are from men who
passed through the clutches of the communist inquisition, enduring the
ghastly tortures described. The Communist Party of Spain commandeered
Santa Ursula –a nunnery – after 19 July.
Later the building was placed at the disposal of the government and turned
into a prison for the notorious Special Brigade in the service of the ‘cheka’.
A Catalan, Justín García, and a catspaw of the GPU led that Special
Brigade. Its real directors were, initially, the Russian Leo Ledermann and
then the Pole Scheier-Hochem [sic]. A number of German Communist Party
militants and Spanish Communist Party personnel worked alongside this
Scheier [sic], Santa Ursula’s new governor: his henchman was a Russian
who went by the name ‘Rossi’.
In May 1937, the fascist prisoners were transferred to the Modelo prison in
Barcelona. Later, the same thing was done with all the Spanish inmates, so
that Santa Ursula finished up as an exclusive destination for foreigners. The
narrative will tell the rest of the story.
As to the Barcelona cheka, the tragic eloquence of our comrade Trafalgar
requires no further comment. The report in which this comrade recounts his
odyssey was written in December 1937. Both accounts were published in a
small pamphlet.
The Santa Ursula Clandestine Prison in Valencia:
Interrogation and Torture
The police methods used in Santa Ursula by the Special Brigade
are identical to those in current use in Italy, Germany and
Russia. They are a synthesis of the tortures of the Inquisition,
complemented by every modern refinement.
Prisoners due for interrogation were sent for between 11 and 12
o’clock at night. Interrogations took place, generally, on
premises at no. 9, Avenida Nicolás Salmerón [Valencia].
With a list of the chosen, police would walk into the large
rooms used as dormitories and generally housing upwards of

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thirty detainees. The guards were silhouetted for a few seconds
in the light-bathed rectangle of the doorway. A tragic
puzzlement coursed through the room. The silence was
redoubled. The police would call out some names, generally
foreign names, and some vague shadows would rise from their
blankets to get dressed and follow the guards, in silence, half
stumbling from sleepiness and terror. Then the door would slam
shut after the intense sound of heavy footfalls and rifle butts and
a panicked silence would settle once more over the darkened
dormitory. In the end the strain on their nerves dulled the wits of
the prisoners, whose heads would fall heavily, wrapped in the
folds of their blankets. Those questioned used to return at first
light: some exhausted from hunger and weariness, others
barbarously tortured, their bodies replete with wounds and
bruises. Some never came back. Those whose flesh still bore
the memory and the signs of torture were dispatched to the
basement – the convalescent ward – until such time as their
wounds less starkly betrayed the ill treatment. Most of the
inmates never knew why they had been arrested. In many
instances, they were the victims not so much of political
vendetta as of personal vindictiveness.
Lots of foreigners were arrested simply for the crime of being
foreign. Especially Germans and Italians bereft of any consular
assistance. Which is not to say that all the Santa Ursula inmates
were innocent victims. No, because there were real fascists,
confessed fascists there who never made any bones about their
ideology. But, maybe on account of their candour, these were
never of any interest to the police from the Special Brigade.
Such police were obsessed with spying: they claimed to see a
spy in every foreigner; especially the Germans and Italians,
even though the latter might have impeccable and sparkling
records as revolutionaries. Interrogations never related to hard
and fast proof or suspicions. But rather addressed bare-faced
suppositions, products of the imagination which these thuggish
and perverse policemen expected to see confirmed: and, if not,
there were false accusations, deliberately devised to extract
news and details that had absolutely nothing to do with spying.
Thus was the attempt made to extract information about the

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political work of revolutionary groups unconnected with the
Third International, especially oppositionist groups; or
industrial secrets and formulas from peaceable engineers or
petit-bourgeois industrialists. Foreign airmen who from day one
had been fighting on the side of republican, revolutionary Spain,
who might have been better placed than anyone else to talk
about heroism and sacrifice – but who had had the temerity to
question its efficiency – found themselves disgracefully locked
up overnight in Santa Ursula. Agents of suppliers of planes,
weapons and all manner of war materials, dispatched by bona
fide foreign companies to lobby the lawful government – and
which were thus competitors to the USSR – became spies and
were locked up in Santa Ursula.
Foreign experts, proven antifascists with a wealth of experience
in naval weaponry – coastal defences, the mining of ports,
warships and naval battle tactics – and who had arrived with
references from antifascist parties and organisations to offer
their expertise to the government of the Republic, found
themselves charged as spies and jailed in Santa Ursula.
Engineers and war industry technicians as well as military
experts tried and tested in the 1914–18 war, and various other
campaigns, went the same way as the rest.
The Stalinists wanted no competition of any sort. They were
after an absolute monopoly in every realm, the better to bring
influence to bear on overall policy here; and they even went so
far as to eliminate their competitors physically. The Special
Brigade had that repulsive, not to mention counter-
revolutionary, assignment.
The interrogations always followed this broad pattern. Spying
charges, which never failed, were skillfully mixed in with
thousands of bland queries. The allegations of supposed
espionage were, generally, as far-fetched as they were
laughable. There was no evidence: and the details were
guesswork, figments of the imagination.
The prisoners, amid wisecracks and sarcastic irony, afterwards
commented upon that aspect of the interrogation, as inconsistent
as it was inane, in the ex-nunnery’s cells. As a rule and
depending on his character and temperament, the accused

204
argued back. Some refused to answer. Others replied with insult
and obtuseness. In every response, even the most cordial, there
was a streak of profoundly concentrated hatred that very often
overpowered feelings of terror as such.
The commissioner in charge of the interrogation would set to his
work with a cynical and criminal amiability. If the accused lost
control of his nerves and was going where the police officer
wanted to steer him – that is, was heading in the direction of
accusing himself – everything was going splendidly. But if the
most refined inquisition – comparable only to the procedures in
use in the concentration camps of Germany and Italy – [was not
working] when the accused held firm against the monstrous
accusations and even dared to defend himself, then the
commissioner used to push a red button on his desk, whereupon
the goons mentioned earlier appeared. Precisely how many of
the latter then arrived – usually there were between two and
four – was dependent on the prisoner’s physique.
They lashed out with angular wooden poles. The edges bit into
the skin, sometimes leaving many splinters embedded in the
flesh. Iron bars wrapped in cloth were also in regular use. This
would carry on until the victim collapsed, unconscious. Unless
he came round quickly, buckets of cold water were poured over
his body. If he persisted in denying guilt, the beating began all
over again. And if the accused dug in his heels, the torture
turned bestial: he was punished with kicks and thrown against
the wall; the most refined techniques were deployed against
such prisoners.
[The torturers] cold-bloodedly surveyed the fallen bodies of
antifascists – they knew perfectly well with whom they were
dealing – reduced to bleeding lumps of meat. At which point the
interrogation ended. Later the accused was dropped back to
Santa Ursula and dumped in the underground cells, denied
assistance of any sort so as to avoid indiscreet witnesses. There
were some prisoners who were subjected to such treatment over
a matter of weeks. There was no human force capable of
withstanding this. Lots finished up by caving in and signing all
manner of papers and [accusatory] documents. Out of necessity
they admitted to being fascists and highly dangerous spies. Once

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broken and confessed, they were left alone in the basements of
Santa Ursula. [This] was the convalescent ward. Later, once
their bloody wounds had healed, they were brought back to the
collective dormitories and could mingle with the other inmates.
The wounds left behind thick scars that may well never fade.
Some ‘convalescents’ were unable to sit or lie down for several
days on account of the pain; others, under their ragged clothing,
displayed enormous bruises and whole parts of their body from
which the skin had been pulled off: there were even areas
where the absence of flesh afforded the sight of whitish pale
bones. Finally, strong men who could not have been in better
health prior to their arrest finished up succumbing to frequent
loss of blood from the lungs.
Justín García, the director, took a direct hand in these bestial
outrages. His speciality was to use both hands to squeeze the
neck, cutting off the breath. It was slow, irresistible
strangulation. The veins in the throat would bulge and the
[prisoner’s] face change colour, from bright red to a cadaverous
white. Many a detainee who underwent this torment eventually
passed out, the victim of a heart attack. Another of his many
amusements was squeezing the fingernails with vice-grips, and
throwing metal paperweights and other items that abounded on
the commissar’s desk. There [was] nothing more tragic than
those terror-stricken faces, with sometimes parted lips, broken
teeth, bleeding from the eyebrows and chewing blood clots.
Several detainees who tried to fight off the commissioner’s
savage onslaught had their hands bound with pieces of electric
cable that bit into the flesh, leaving deep, bluish furrows on the
wrists.
To soften up those who would later appear before the
commissioner, they were locked in an adjacent room so that they
could overhear the ‘entertainment’. Many of the detainees – the
women especially – had a hard time in that anteroom to pain,
prior to interrogation, fainting and having nervous breakdowns.
Only those who have seen and heard such scenes can fathom the
state of feverish excitement in which detainees arrived for
interrogation. The poor wretches’ heart-rending screams could
be heard through the doors: ‘I’m no spy!’ – ‘I’m an antifascist!’

206
– ‘Comrades, really, I’m one of yours!’ – ‘I fought so many
months on the front!’
Pleading mingled with exclamations of pain, shouts of anger and
blaspheming. None of which did any good: they must be spies.
They had to own up and sign a statement to that effect. That was
the will of the Russo-Spanish GPU.
Many accused did not have the physical and psychological
strength needed to endure such interrogations, which were
repeated five or six times over, as often as it took. They signed
whatever was presented to them, without so much as reading it.
Later, when confronted with the documents they had signed, they
understood the tragic reality.
They were done for. It was too late by then. The ministers of
war and the interior had been presented with evidence and
confessions, signed in the accused’s own hand.
A message of commendation expressed the authorities’ gratitude
to these busy, indefatigable commissars. And a number of
wretches – labelled spies at the GPU’s whim – paid with their
lives for having been part of the opposition to the communists,
or having possessed technical and industrial expertise likely to
overshadow the hegemony of Stalinist production.
But the police activity of agents acting on GPU orders did not
stop there. In addition to the torture inflicted on the
aforementioned premises at no. 9, Avenida Nicolás Salmerón,
as briefly outlined above, there were yet other, more refined
[torture] methods. In addition [there were] beatings and ill
treatment doled out at the Interior Ministry station in the Calle
de Bailén, which handled more minor cases, and these affected
prisoners of Spanish nationality. Also, mock paseos
[executions] [were staged] that were the order of the day and
these generally finished up on the outskirts of the city with the
accused stood up against the wall and threatened at gunpoint so
as to extract compromising statements. And there were some
methods employed the very recollection of which caused folk to
quake with fear.
Santa Ursula – an adjunct to the police stations where
interrogations were carried out – was a Machiavellian

207
compendium of every conceivable form of torture. Whole books
could be filled with the ordeals and tortures inflicted. In the
basement of the ex-nunnery there was a cellar used once upon a
time as a burial ground for the nuns. The walls were adorned
with dark niches. Properly used it should have been able to
accommodate some forty dead bodies. When the Communist
Party commandeered the building after July [1936] some
peasants carried out the hygienic task of removing the corpses
by night and carrying them away for burial. Those corpses, in
the throes of decomposing, gave off an unbearable stench. The
peasants’ task could scarcely have been any more loathsome and
was left half-finished. There were bones left in every corner
and half-decomposed bodies abandoned here and there. The
poorer detainees, trouserless and barefooted, were locked up in
that cellar. No light penetrated there. The humid, fetid air was
deathly. It stank of rotting flesh. In the darkness the decomposing
flesh also produced phosphorescent light. Monster rats, absolute
masters of this paradise, scampered back and forth, indifferent
to the dead or the living.
The average detention in that hellhole lasted twenty-four hours.
The half-naked prisoners had time to ponder the points put to
them in the police station. Some fainted as they reached the
cellar. But nobody troubled to lift them up. They were left there,
sprawled amid the decomposing corpses. After a few moments,
other, rather livelier inmates would try to make their stay less of
an ordeal and fought off the armies of rats. They cleaned out the
niches and, climbing inside them, waited patiently for life to
resume. When legs began to ache from the damp and from lack
of exercise, they had no way of stretching their legs and
limbering up. [In these circumstances] there was no feeling as
repulsive as finding some corpse’s hand or leg underfoot.
Other prisoners were locked up in the punishment cells that had
been used, in the convent’s heyday, to discipline – for a few
hours at a time – nuns who had infringed the rules of the house.
These cells were stone tombs 1.20 metres wide by 1.20 metres
deep and 2 metres tall. [Prisoners] spent sometimes months in
those cells, with no one to talk to, with no natural light, with no
artificial light, with no pillows, no blankets, and scarcely any
fresh air. The unfortunate inhabitants of these cells were forced

208
into a sitting position and to lie down on the hard, damp, cold
stone floor. The only times they were allowed out of the cells
for a few moments was to attend to calls of nature.
After a fortnight living in those tombs, the prisoners looked like
living dead. Other comrades reckoned they looked like
hobgoblins answering calls of nature. By the time they were
brought back to the dorms with the other prisoners they were
mere shadows of their former selves. They carried within them
the seed of incurable diseases and their joints were hideously
swollen from rheumatism.
In a room specially set aside for torture, there was quite a large
press, the upper part of it in the shape of a swastika. This was
meant to poke fun at fascism. Some satire! [The torturers]
placed the hapless prisoner between the two plates and turned
the crank-handle. The Hitlerite swastika then slowly pressed
harder and harder against his chest. Under the escalating
pressure the ribs, lungs and heart were all but entirely
immobilised. Even then we knew the implications for the future
. . . The lungs are extremely delicate organs.
Other toys much used were the ‘wardrobes’. Of these there
were two types. One type measured 1.80 or 2 metres in height,
the rest 1.25 metres. In the former it was possible to stand
upright. In the latter one was forced to hunker down. Some
prisoners spent whole weeks locked inside the latter type of
wardrobe. By the time they were taken out they were deathly
rigid. It took them a good few days to recover the use of their
legs and for weeks thereafter those legs were swollen from top
to bottom.
Whether detainees were placed in the taller wardrobe or the
shorter one was entirely up to the commissar. There was one
cynical and heartless captain whose habit was to invite the
prisoner very politely to step inside the wardrobe, to horse
laughs from the other police present. One poor French woman in
her forties, who was somewhat obese, was placed in one such
wardrobe and, since the door could not close, her flesh was
squeezed and constrained by several loops of rope.
One Belgian, a fighter from the International Brigade, maimed

209
during frontline service and receiving hospital treatment, had
the misfortune to drink rather too much more than usual. He was
arrested and policemen who had never seen frontline service
themselves placed him in the wardrobe. Outraged and as a very
justified protest, he smashed up the torture instrument. As a
punishment he was locked up for four days in the smaller
wardrobe. There were dozens of such incidents.
Another no less criminal ordeal was the crates. Huge crates a
metre cube – or maybe slightly larger – had a hole cut in the top
for the head to poke through. Prisoners were placed inside these
for weeks on end, unable either quite to stand or to sit. It would
be hard to devise a more uncomfortable stance. Unable to reach
out of the crate, they required police help in order to eat. Often
these policemen would amuse themselves with those human
heads, teasing them with the food, offering and then snatching
away the spoon, leaving the prisoner looking stupid and open-
mouthed.
Other [prisoners] were bound by the hand to a ring that hung
two metres above floor level, the prisoner separated from the
wall by a sort of a ditch rather more than one metre in width.
For the first few hours, the discomfort was bearable: but as the
prisoner began to weary, as his strength deserted him, the body
tended to fall towards the ditch. How many poor wretches, their
strength deserting them, lost their balance and spent entire hours
dangling from that ring, fainting from the pain!
The number of instances we might present run into the dozens
and hundreds. To that end we are putting together a more
comprehensive, documented record. Here we shall confine
ourselves to [reviewing] a series of instances selected at
random.
German national Hoffmann, 35 years old, resident in Spain for
the past 8 years, was subjected to the wardrobes, bloody
torture, the corpse cellar and mock executions.
Politico, an Italian national aged 40, a member of the UGT and
15 years a resident of Spain, married to a Spanish wife, a
family man and waiter by trade, was beaten and treated brutally.
And signed his ‘statement’. He has been forlornly awaiting trial

210
since March [1937].
The German Rosenbom [sic] – 40 years old, 8 years in Spain –
another waiter, had all of his teeth knocked out during
interrogation. He developed internal injuries that have become
incurable. Awaiting trial since February [1937].
The Spanish lawyer Diego V. was also subjected to criminal
torture. Since that proved fruitless, they burned the soles of his
feet. The poor wretch twisted and turned like a hanged man. As
a result of all of this he was unable to walk for weeks on end.
The German A. Raab, 42, a first-class technician, came to Spain
on a contract issued by the government to set up an aircraft
manufacture and assembly plant. He was arrested with ten of his
finest technicians, all of them foreigners. There was absolutely
no evidence against them. Not so much as a whisper. Even so,
they were subjected to the wardrobes, beaten and, some of
them, thrown into the stone ‘tombs’. Their food was so rationed
that they were seen like starving dogs, poking through the
rubbish, in search of some stray titbit. Later a number of them
were freed. The rest, along with Raab, were held as hostages to
prevent the others from saying too much abroad. Meanwhile, the
GPU has desperately been searching for especially juicy
evidence by which to justify their outrages.
They alleged of the German Herbert Hils [sic], a 35-year-old
travelling salesman, that they had found spying equipment in his
luggage. Between punches and insults, he was interrogated over
eight separate sessions. His lungs were utterly destroyed by the
kicks he received in the chest. He spent several days in the
corpse cellar. After a number of spectacular mock executions,
he signed ‘his statement’. What had previously been a man in
perfect health was reduced to a human rag waiting in vain for
his trial [in 1937].
Marine engineer Augusto Jehbe [sic], a 46-year-old German,
was accused of having links to Hitlerite fascism. He was a
weak, thin man. Over 7 consecutive days he was beaten. His
body was reduced to a hunk of bleeding meat. But they never got
the slightest admission out of him. Then they let him be for 14
days. Throughout that time he was unable to rise from his bed

211
and had to lie on his stomach. His back had been turned into one
huge gaping wound.
Fellow prisoners tending to him could not fight back the tears of
rage provoked by this picture of savagery. One poor woman, a
fellow prisoner, suffered a nervous breakdown. After 2 weeks’
rest, the interrogations and beatings resumed. In the end nothing
was left of him but a harrowing wreck of a man. He had been
awaiting trial since March [1937].
The Stalinist GPU’s cynicism and ruthlessness outdoes any
methods of repression ever known before. They never took the
condition of the detainees into consideration. Healthy or sick,
men or women, fascists or antifascists, it was all one as far as
the Special Brigade was concerned. And worst of all, none of
these sacrifices served any purpose. Once they had the
confessions they were after, once the statements had been signed
and sealed, the prisoners were dumped, forgotten, in the gloomy
dormitories of Santa Ursula. Trials never came; understandably
so. The police knew only too well that, in court, the victims
would denounce the outrages and crimes committed against
them: that the final confession signed in the midst of writhing
pain would be thrown out; that they would become implacably
accusatory.
But Santa Ursula’s secret could not be kept indefinitely; nor
could it accommodate so much pain. The truth finally filters out
even through the thickest walls and best-sealed doors.
Accounts of tragedy and bloodshed reached the workers’
organisations and public opinion. The underground press of the
revolutionary groups and the labour press abroad published
accounts of the outrages committed in Santa Ursula. The
[republican] government was forced to intervene. But its
intervention was belated and lame: it did not probe to the
bottom of the affair. The Stalinists were still in the government
and there was no question of a hasty falling-out. Besides, there
were the phoney dossiers and witness statements, extracted by
force, of course, to quiet careless mouths and unduly suspicious
minds.
But the [republican] government has thus far [in October 1937]

212
been oblivious to the fact that many of its own suppliers of war
materials, many of its industrial and military technicians, have
been incarcerated in Santa Ursula. Or that others have vanished
for good. They came to Spain with every personal and financial
assurance. All the credentials, documentation and contracts they
needed were issued to them at the Paris embassy. And now they
have vanished. The government believes them to be abroad. But
they committed the ‘crime’ of being expert competitors against
our Russian friends. And the Special Brigade made it its
business to dispose of them.
Government commissioners and even workers’ organisation
representatives often drop into Santa Ursula. One time, it was
Irujo, the minister of justice, in the flesh. Well ahead of time, the
officers of the guard announced the visit to the commissioners at
the Bailén station. The latter immediately decamped to Santa
Ursula and made preparations for ‘the dance’. The visitors
never saw the corpse cellar, or the wardrobes, or the mistreated
inmates. A few prisoners, overcoming feelings of terror,
occasionally made so bold as to address the visitors, without, of
course, broaching the real issue. In any event, what few
improvements were made to the internal regime were due to
such actions by the inmates. When the visitors were foreign,
they were only shown what the commissioners wanted them to
see. They were not allowed to talk with the inmates and passed
among them as if on a stroll through the zoological gardens. And
they certainly left with the impression that things there were not
quite as bad as the word abroad had had it.
In June [1937] there were notable changes within the Counter-
Espionage Brigade. Cazorla, the inspiration behind these
Special Brigades, had stepped down from his post. This upstart
recruit to the Communist Party had been the chief coverer-up of
the outrages committed under the aegis of the Russo-Spanish
GPU and is, without a doubt, the man actually and chiefly
responsible for all of the crimes and for the inquisitorial regime
enforced in the ‘chekas’ around the country.
Justín García was arrested and brought face to face with some
of his victims. Later he vanished from there and nothing more
has been heard of him. No doubt he will be well guarded on

213
some Communist Party premises or abroad. Leo Lederbaum
[sic] also went missing. [Rumour] has it that they have
promoted and rewarded him. Scheier-Hochem carried on there,
running the establishment, but with his powers curtailed.
The Special Brigade and Santa Ursula remained under the direct
control of the Interior Ministry. But the victims are still there
and it is just possible that they are still locked up in the ex-
nunnery, albeit there is no proof of their being blameworthy.
Certainly, in order to forestall the crimes carried out from
coming to public knowledge; definitely, in order to avoid
awkward witnesses; and assuredly to dodge the stark accusation
of mutilated and battered bodies.
The revolutionary proletariat of Spain and the wider world
will, some day soon, be bringing people to book. Santa Ursula
will go down as a page of pain and blood in the upward course
of our revolution. But Santa Ursula will have an extraordinary
impact on the world labour movement. The bloody wounds, the
beatings, the screams of pain and the contortions of the
wretched, battered victims of Santa Ursula are Stalinism’s death
knell.
With tragic starkness, Santa Ursula highlights the degeneracy of
official communism, which has abandoned the proletariat’s
revolutionary interests in order to serve as the shock troops and
goons of the worldwide bourgeois revolution.1
Anonymous
[October 1937]

Two Months in the Calle Córcega Cheka in Barcelona


Name: J. H. Trafalgar. Twenty-one years old, short and slim. He would look
like a child, were it not for the traces of suffering and battle marking his
face and body. He is Aragonese, a son of Teruel. At the age of 14 he parted
company with his family ‘to roam the world’. Proudly, he says: ‘I know
three out of the five fifths of this world like the back of my hand.’ For all his
youthfulness, he is already a veteran revolutionary fighter. For years now he
has been active in the CNT and a member of a FAI group. And is quite a
well-known figure in organisation circles.

214
Prior to the rebel uprising and prior even to the proclamation of the
Republic, he had been tried and convicted several times over. 19 July
opened the gates of the prison where he was serving a 12-year sentence for
[the incident relating to] the Calle Margarit bombs.
Straightforward, grinning, edgy, he is an anonymous fighter for libertarian
ideas. One of the red guerrillas that only Spain’s revolutionary proletariat
knows how to produce.
In the early stages of the army revolt, he set off for the Aragón front with the
very first columns. He played a telling part in the capture of Caspe and
surrounding towns. He was actively involved in the defence of Madrid and
for upwards of a year served in the ranks of the ‘Durruti’ Column and was
twice wounded, once in the left leg by shrapnel, and once in the forehead by
a bullet. He dreams about the barricades and the violent chatter of
machineguns and was born for struggle and combat. With a grin he says:
‘The whiff of gunpowder is attractive enough to make the head spin.’
At present he is in Barcelona’s Modelo Prison. He spent two months in the
Calle Córcega cheka. Sometimes grinning, sometimes in tragic tones, he
recounts for us the glorious feats of a prostituted police force made up of
adventurers and thieves and placed in the service of counter-revolution. As
he tells of his woes, Trafalgar gets up from his seat and nervously paces
backwards and forwards in his cell. This is his tale.
I was picked up on 11 September last year [1937?]. I was having a quiet
coffee at the [Café] Moka with a female comrade. They took me to the Calle
Córcega, to a maverick cheka headed by a gutless wonder, one of the dregs
of society, a real product of the contradictions of the times we are living in.
His name was Gaspar Dalmau Carbonell. He was active in the PSUC and
flirting with the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya. This Dalmau was later
governor of the Modelo Prison in Barcelona. His activities in charge of that
establishment are quite notorious.
His henchmen were a number of individuals by the names of Calero,
Samper and Ricardo, to name only a few of the names I can now recall. I
was accused of having used bombs and automatic pistols during the May
Events [1937] to attack the Estat Català clubhouse in the Plaza Universidad.
I remained in the cheka for 28 days, kept strictly incommunicado, or rather,
‘missing’, insofar as none of my comrades could trace my whereabouts.
During that month in sequestration, I spent 8 days without a bite to eat. In the
end, since they could not prove anything against me, I was transferred to the

215
‘lechera’ (dairy) and later still to the cells at Police Headquarters, spending
two days in each of these locations, subject, of course, to the very same
incommunicado status.
Interrogation
My real odyssey started at that point. I was informed that I was to be
released but this order was not enforced. Waiting by the door at
Headquarters for me were the very same police as had staffed the cheka and
they had a car. At which I caught on. My release orders had been signed so
as to erase any future leads and so as to remove all traces I might have left
behind.
The car ferried us back to the Calle Córcega. I was locked up in a second-
floor room. That night, shortly after or before midnight, I was moved to the
upper floor for interrogation, which was carried out in an office, assuredly
the office of the station chief. First I was very formally informed that the
earlier charge against me had been withdrawn and that now I was being
accused of having been a direct participant in or at least involved in the
preparation of the attempt on the life of Andreu, the president of the
Barcelona High Court.
I explained where I had spent the day of the assassination bid and stated that
I knew nothing about it and that – as the organisation had stated, in the pages
of Soli[daridad Obrera] – I strenuously condemned it.
Not that anything I said made any difference. The cheka police stated over
and over again that I had been in on the assassination bid. That if I were to
‘sing’, I would be set free, be driven out of the country and reap a splendid
reward; that if I had any wit at all I should denounce those who had taken
part in it or at least those who – given the style of the bid – might have had a
hand in it. Otherwise, I was threatened with the usual paseo.
Gradually the questioning – which had started out cordial and sweet – grew
more pointed. The situation could scarcely have been any more theatrical
but it suited the character of the interrogation. I remained seated in my easy
chair. Around me were Dalmau, with his sarcastic grin, Calero, toying with
a dagger; and a number of others, in various poses. There was a very
powerful light trained on us from the desk a little over a metre away. The
rest of the room was in complete darkness. It was nothing but movie tricks
and borrowings from detective novels.
The police used to chorus their various questions together. At the same time,

216
from the shadows and from behind a folding screen, an accusing voice
claimed to have spotted me in a private car outside the courthouse on the
day of the assassination bid. Despite my repeated insistence that he show
his face, he refused to step out from behind the screen, alleging that he was
afraid of my taking revenge on him in the future.
The whole setup was fit to wreck the nerves of even the strongest among us.
Tiredness, weakness, the questioning, the name-calling, the electric light, the
dagger, were all swirling around in my head in a crazy dance. In the end,
losing hope and convinced that they would wind up killing me – and eager
to end this nightmare as soon as I could – I owned up:
‘Yes, it was me’ – but the policemen had no interest in my statement. They
were perfectly well aware that I had not been implicated. What they were
after was finding out the names of the real perpetrators. And they carried on
in that vein. My response was emphatic:
‘Yes, it was me. Together with Azaña and Companys.’ Which signaled the
collapse of all their expectations. The policeman had to acknowledge
defeat. It was time to process me.

The bathroom
Dalmau rose to his feet [saying]: ‘You know what you have to do, as usual’
– he told his subordinates. The policemen drew their pistols and put a bullet
up the spout. This was the beginning of the end. Calero tried to handcuff my
hands behind my back. My wristwatch was making that difficult to achieve.
I calmly undid my watch and it was handed to Calero: ‘Here, in return for
delivering the coup de grace at the earliest possible opportunity . . . ‘
We went downstairs to the second floor. They ushered me into the bathroom.
I suppose they were intent on avoiding the sound of a gunshot being heard
from the street outside. But the policemen did not seem to be in any hurry.
They tossed a bar of soap into the bath and turned on the taps. The soap was
French-made, it would appear, as I realised a few days later when, quite by
chance, the wrapper came into my hands.
The bar was a big one, weighing a kilo at least. I was staring at the scene,
not quite understanding these guys’ true intentions. The loud, monotonous
sound of the water spilling into the bath played on my tiredness, making me
insanely drowsy.

217
With those minor preparations out of the way, the interrogation
recommenced. With a mixture of threats and advice:
‘Don’t be stupid. Confess while you still have a few minutes left to live.’
The idea of death underlay their every word. I yearned to be done with it
once and for all. I actually craved the feeling of the cold steel of the
policemen’s guns against my temples. But my interrogators’ intentions were
so refined . . . How could I not have understood this earlier? Half an hour
later, in the bathroom, the water had filled the bath to the brim. After one
final question, Calero turned to his confederates:
‘We’re going to have to put him in, don’t you agree?’
And before I could grasp why they were so keen to force me into taking a
bath in the middle of the night – and me still in my street clothes – I found
myself hoisted into the air, my head dangling down and my feet pointing at
the ceiling.
And the real torture started. A fresh question and my head grazed the surface
of the water. My answer, of course, was the same as before. And I have
little clear recollection now. My head was shoved right down to the bottom
of the bath.
I remember my wrists, swollen from the binding handcuffs, hurting me
extraordinarily. I must have made stupid, unconscious efforts to break loose.
The bluish crease left by the cuffs took weeks to fade away.
At the bottom of the bath, I tried to hold out against the unspeakable. I held
my breath for a few seconds that seemed like ages. After that I could stand it
no longer. I needed air. I starting swallowing water everywhere; through the
mouth, the nose, the ears. I felt as if the water was reaching my very brain.
So I lost the run of myself. The only thing that remained was the instinct of
self-preservation, the mounting of a brutal and impassioned defence.
I have a vague recollection that I started lashing out with every part of my
body: the head, the shoulders and the arms. Now that I think of it, I can
imagine what a picture I must have made. Like the final throes of a rabbit
hung up by the back legs and given the deathblow.
I soon passed out. I can’t even imagine what a fall I took. By the time I came
round again, I was out of the water and stretched out in an armchair, my legs
on one side, and my head on the other. I had vomited rings around me. Soap
is an excellent emetic. My entire body ached.

218
My head was spinning as if I was drunk. Once my ideas began to take shape
again, the police came back, bombarding me with their questions. Over
yonder was the bathroom door and there was the sound of voices arguing.
Among the voices I remember Dalmau’s voice perfectly. I shall never forget
it as long as I live. From there anything I said could be jotted down without
any danger of being spattered with water drops or vomit.
Given the resounding failure of the interrogation so far, I was set back in the
bath to a chorus of insults and oaths from the policemen. This time it took
me a few seconds before I passed out. By the time I came to again, I was
throwing up again and stretched out on the chair. The policemen’s nerves,
too, had snapped and they were being as brutal as they could. They were
beating me, raining punches and kicks to the accompaniment of crude talk:
‘I shit on your mother, you sonofabitch.’
‘Anarchist bastard!’
‘We’re going to wipe you all out!’
And then, having calmed down somewhat, it was back to the monotonous
questioning. I was so wrecked inside and outside that I was physically
incapable of answering. Ready to have done with it once and for all and
mustering whatever strength I had left, I stood up and let myself slump
heavily into the tub. Better to drown [than] to go on enduring this torture.
The policemen had stripped me and laid me out on a pillow. My clothes and
shoes were taken away. And that is how I was left for 4 days. [I was]
completely naked, with just a blanket to serve as a wrap and clothing
whenever I had to go outside to answer a call of nature. After 4 days and
repeated requests my clothes were returned to me. I spent 8 days unable to
get out of bed, my entire body aching, and 4 days without a bite to eat. That
is what a dismal condition I was in, physically. The smell of soap made me
gag. I could taste it in my palate, in my throat, in my stomach and in my very
intestines. I eventually grew used to it. The police had not given up, though.
Over those 8 days they would turn up on an hourly and half-hourly basis to
take a statement from me. I reckon every single agent from the cheka must
have paraded before me, all with the same questions and the same
corollary: the bathroom.
As their parade passed before me I noticed how the policemen had divided
up my best clothes and personal belongings between them. One was wearing
my bracelet, one my ring, a third my belt and a fourth used my lighter to light

219
his cigarettes . . . No question about it: not only were they executioners, but
they were common thieves to boot.
Those hours and entire days of bitterness and helplessness encapsulate all
my memories of the cheka. There is only one thing that sticks out amid the
tragedy: the attitude of some Assault Guards. On the day I was interrogated,
they refused to beat me, defying orders from Dalmau. Later, lying prostrate
in my bed, I had a brief, but heartening visit from some of them. They were
concerned for my well being and offered me cigarettes, talked to me of
events on the outside and were scathing in their condemnation of my
outrageous treatment. My impression is that, without even realising it, they
saved my life.
The paseo
Once I was on the road to recovery, I was summoned up to the third floor
again to make my statement. This was repeated a further two times. My
nerves were on edge: I was convinced that these statements would
inevitably wind up in the bathroom. But luckily I was mistaken. One night
they had me get into a private car. According to the police, we were off for
a face-to-face meeting with my accuser. I understood only too well. The car
turned into the Calle Salmerón and headed out towards La Rabassada. Once
outside Barcelona, we came upon a car stopped in the middle of the
highway. Waiting there for us, and no mistake. They made me get out.
Walked me over to the ditch. The highway was in darkness. The car
headlights illuminated the far side. I could plainly see that my number was
up.
Out of the car in front climbed three men who walked towards us. One of
them, addressing me, stated that he had seen me on the day of the
assassination attempt, from a private vehicle parked opposite the
courthouse. The policemen grinned with satisfaction. This was the
eyewitness – what a witness! – that I had been insisting should declare my
guilt.
Giving me a little slap on the back, they told me:
‘You can prepare yourself for death.’
Vehemently I answered that they could kill me whenever they pleased. The
Organisation knew where I had been taken. In transit through the cells at
Headquarters I had bumped into comrades and had managed to get word out
to the Legal Commission and to my group. Dying made no difference to me.

220
And the loss of me did not matter much to the Movement. Besides, I was
convinced that it would not take long before I would be avenged.
Playing the big men, the policemen offered me one last chance to save my
life. I had to name the perpetrators or my accomplices, as they called them.
If I refused to budge, they would be obliged to ‘put a bullet into me’ and
‘kill me like a dog.’
The same old song again: my treachery would bring a money reward, or I
would be punished by death. But I held my ground. I had come that far and I
could see it through to a finish. In the end the policemen twigged that they
had failed. So they bundled me back inside the car and back we went. They
had come up with a formula for it:
‘We’re going to give you one more day to collect yourself and make your
decision.’
Afterwards
After that, there was not much to tell. There was a change of boss in the
Calle Córcega station. A policeman – if memory serves – who was a
member of the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya. He treated me very
correctly. He deeply deplored what had happened and solemnly undertook
to make me amenable to the courts.
Shortly after that, Burillo ordered me transferred to Headquarters and three
days after that to the Modelo Prison. On arrival in the Calle de Entenza, I
found that Gaspar Dalmau had been appointed governor there. It needed a
gutless wonder to tighten the noose on antifascist prisoners. Which is when I
realised that I, with my battered body, had helped Dalmau’s rapid career
advancement.
We two could not live under the same roof. Which is why I was not admitted
to the Modelo but was moved to Tarrasa [sic] jail. I do not want to go into
this additional trip to Sabadell, about which I knew nothing: it showed
every sign of being another paseo.
A few days after that the Andreu assassination bid trial opened. The judge
arrived to take a statement from me but, of course, the prosecutor withdrew
the charges for lack of evidence.
Recently I have been returned to the Modelo prison in Barcelona. They have
nothing concrete against me but they are holding me in preventive custody.
Yet another arbitrary act. The purpose of all this is to compel me to keep

221
quiet. But they won’t have their way. I am ready to face whatever it takes.
Signing this statement with my own name. Appearing in front of whoever, in
order to stand by it.
Even should it cost me my life; I am convinced that, by exposing the
rottenness of the current police arrangements, I am helping the Spanish
proletariat to locate the authentic path to social revolution.
[undated]
Note
1. The communists turned back the Revolution until the Republic had only
bourgeois property rights and constitutional promises to offer.

222
OTERO AND ESCUDERO

Alejandro Otero was a gynaecologist and professor from Granada


University, a PSOE/UGT member, former councillor and deputy for
Granada. He finished up in comfortable exile in Mexico, dying there in
1953, still prominent in the PSOE.

In his book El Oro de Negrin,1 Francisco Olaya cites a CNT National


Committee report that notes:
News reaches us of another scandalous deal pulled off about a
month ago and relating to the purchase of eight anti-aircraft
batteries by D. Alejandro Otero . . . What with the cost of the
guns, reckoned at no less than a million apiece, and the cost of
the ammunition, it came to a hundred million francs and, from
what we hear, Mr Otero received a 20 per cent commission,
which is to say, 20 million francs . . . What is going on, sorry to
say, with this much cited gynaecologist who for some unknown
reason is the only expert allowed to purchase weapons, is an
outright scandal. Not to say laughable. Can you imagine England
or France, if they were involved in a war or conflict such as
ours, not being to find anybody other than a doctor when it came
to procurement of weapons? So what prompted that choice? His
dexterity in the use of the forceps, maybe? The mere fact that he
was a friend and elector of Prieto’s and of Fernando de los
Rios.
Olaya comments: ‘And lest it be thought that this is political rivalry talking,
Negrín had an agent [C = Celestino Álvarez] – a fellow PSOE member –
engaged in monitoring activity in Paris who reported this to him re Otero:
Comrade Otero served on the first Purchasing Commission as
the representative of our Party. When comrade Prieto as
Defence minister wound up that commission, comrade Otero
struck out on his own account, making his own purchases and
frittering away money, on himself, mostly. Not his own money,
of course, but State funds. In all likelihood comrade Otero with
his purchases has not spared the Spanish state any serious

223
commitment. Which is to say that comrade Otero may not have
made any great equipment purchases, of course, in that he was
not able to and because he has run into countless obstacles, etc.
But there is no question but that Comrade Otero has squandered
funds as if he had been making huge purchases. Comrade
Otero’s cavalier approach is already famous throughout Paris.
On every visit he stays at the best hotels; sleeps with the most
expensive women; eats in the finest restaurants and finally forks
out splendid tips for the most mundane services.
Like the hundred francs handed to a hotel waiter for bringing
him a pack of cigarettes that cost eight, telling him, with a
seigneurial wave, to keep the change.
This had been brought to Prieto’s attention but Otero was not reined in and
‘C’ comments:
And comrade Otero carries on frittering away state funds
without restraint, funds sorely needed for other purposes, for the
purchase, say, of the spectrum of equipment that we do not
possess or of products that are vitally necessary, or simply for
food for Spanish workers whose failure to produce more is
because of malnourishment. (pp.149–50)
Otero was alleged (in a CNT National Committee report cited by Olaya) to
stay at the Hotel George V in Paris in a 250 francs a night hotel room and
‘none of his trips cost less than 20,000 francs . . .’
‘It was the practice [says Olaya] of procurement agents like Otero to refuse
goods at cost X but to place an order at X+20 per cent or more, with the
difference being split between them and the supplier, and then to claim a
generous commission for themselves on each sale.’
Olaya also quotes PSOE minister Julián Zugazagoitia’s memoirs re Otero:
During his time as Defence minister, Prieto said to me, referring
to Otero: ‘What a splendid example of self-sacrifice and
anonymity!’ . . . His successor, Negrín, apropos of a cabinet
reshuffle, as names were being bandied about and since
somebody had pointedly dwelt on Otero’s name, declared: ‘No
way! Otero is indispensable at Armaments.’ (p. 35)
Olaya notes that all the records of the Arms Purchasing Commissions have

224
gone missing. No republican archive holds them nor do they appear in any
Francoist archive, despite claims that the Nationalists retrieved them from
Paris in 1940.
Manuel Escudero was first secretary of the Mexican legation in France and
is described as ‘an individual of the direst antecedents’. After the incident
with the vessel the Sylvia,2 the Mexican Embassy in Paris had its
chancellor, Epigenio Guzman draft a report on Escudero:
In Gdynia the Sylvia took on German gear meant for the rebels.
That fact alone would have been reason enough for war
materials held in the port of Danzig for the republican
government not to be entrusted to the same ship, especially
given that it was an open secret that the ship-owner and her
captain were shady. However the opportunity to place that
cargo on the Mexican vessel, the Hidalgo, which left for
Antwerp with an empty hold, or on the Greek ship, the Vicencia
that arrived two days later, was missed. Besides, the Sylvia was
an old, poorly maintained ship, with 36 years’ sailing behind
her and cost more to hire than she was worth. On Alejandro
Otero’s recommendation, Manuel Escudero took charge of the
hiring and loading of the cargo and everything was handled so
indiscreetly that the very bellboys knew the purpose of the
voyage. Manuel Escudero made several needless trips to Berlin
and twice tried to get in touch with Von Faupel, while in
Warsaw he was on very friendly terms with an officer from the
Francoist army by the name of Quibrache or Quibracha. The
loss of the Sylvia and other ships should not be put down to the
fortunes of war or German treachery alone, but to the probable
bad faith with which Escudero, Otero and their hangers-on
operated, they having negotiated in advance with the fascists to
sell said ships, thereby acting in a doubly treacherous fashion.
First by lining their pockets from negotiation of the purchase of
war materials and then by selling the enemy details that allowed
him to prevent the material from reaching its destination.
Besides, it is known that Escudero, who is on his uppers and
whose wage is less than 10,000 [francs] has bought a car worth
52,310 francs from the DIA Company in Berlin. (Olaya, pp. 75–
6)
On 31 May 1937 the Mexican government dismissed Escudero from his post

225
at the embassy in Paris and ordered him to return to Mexico He chose to
make for Lithuania instead. The villa in St Jean de Luz had cost him
between 2 and 3 million francs.
Mexican special envoys Rafael Garcia Travesi and Ignacio D. Silva also
drew up a separate report dated 27/12/37 (after 6 months’ investigations in
France), stating:
Escudero spent six months in Berlin. In the matter of the Sylvia he was
abetted by a Spaniard, whom he had murdered in Gdynia port. We are
assured that he has amassed a substantial fortune from the profits made on
purchases and betrayal of arms bound for the Spanish government. He is
currently living in a mansion that belongs to him, the Villa Cornelia in St
Jean de Luz (France), immediately adjacent to the Spanish border on the
rebel side, it being certain that Escudero is presently working for Francoist
spymasters and is under constant watch by the French Deuxième Bureau.
The matter of Escudero was raised in the Mexican senate and although
Epigenio Guzman published his report in the Mexican magazine Hoy in mid-
1938, Otero was retained in position and the Spanish government ignored
the matter.
Notes
1. Francisco Olaya, El Oro de Negrín (Móstoles: Madre Tierra, 1990).
2. See in the Memoirs section, ‘1936–39: An Authentic Witness Speaks’.

226
WORLD ANARCHIST FEDERATION: RUSSIA OUT TO
THROTTLE SPAIN

From the Austrian Section of the Worldwide Anarchist Federation


[Federación Anarquista Universal] we have just received this report, which
the aforementioned body came by from reliable sources, calling upon us to
pass it on to our comrades in the peninsula to alert them to the criminal
conspiracy. We have translated the most telling paragraphs so that all may
know of the ambitions harboured by Soviet Russia.
Vienna, 26 August 1937
Dear Comrades
From the FAU World Secretariat
We have learned from very authoritative sources that a secret
conference was held mid-month in Paris between Negrín and
his representatives – Marcelino Pascua – [and] the Russian
ambassador to the Valencia government. The Russian
ambassador revealed the outcome of the personal audience he
had had with Stalin, which audience arrived at the following
conclusions:
Russia will shortly be funneling military and warfare assistance
to the Valencia government on a grand scale, on a scale not to be
compared with anything seen to date. Airplanes by the hundreds,
heavy artillery, tanks, tremendous amounts of munitions and
other essentials are to arrive in Barcelona. In the ports of
Odessa and Batun [sic] Russian ships are to be loaded up with
said war matériel which will then be brought ashore in the ports
of loyalist Spain. Stalin insists categorically that the Valencia
government must agree unconditionally to his political aims and
direction of military operations in Spain. General Loginov is to
be dispatched to Valencia as military ‘attaché’ [sic] and Captain
Chernossekov1 as naval ‘attaché’ [sic]. Both are to have the
right to oversee the Republican army’s military and naval
operations. A staff made up of fifteen members of the Russian

227
General Staff is to be posted to Spain.
In addition to which the Valencia government must mount a great
crackdown on all anti-Stalinist personnel, especially the
anarchists of the FAI, the syndicalists of the CNT and the
Trotskyists of the POUM, until they have been eliminated
utterly. For the purposes of this crackdown, ‘Cheka’ agents
formerly with the Secret Service Department operating in the
South American republics and with perfect command of the
Spanish language are to be posted to Spain. Said agents are to
blend with the Negrín government, which will be required to
afford them all necessary assistance in hunting down all
opposition personnel. The Negrín government agreed to all of
these conditions imposed by Stalin upon loyalist Spain, in return
for his help in winning the war.
We had already taken it for granted that Russia harboured the
same ambitions in Spain as are harboured by Italy, Germany,
Britain and France. Just when the people was on the verge of
defeating Franco and his hordes, Russia, like France and
Britain, agreed to the neutrality pact that served to deprive the
Spanish people of its legitimate right to purchase arms, whereas
Mussolini and Hitler sent ships laden with arms for Franco
under the very noses of Russian, French and British inspectors.
Like Britain and France, Russia conjured up the Franco menace
as a means of compelling the Spanish people to accept a
government – the Negrín government – that might serve the
interests of the Spanish bourgeoisie and the aforementioned
powers. And now that the Spanish people can no longer fend off
the universal invasion, Russia offers her aid at the price of her
very existence. What difference is there between the stance
adopted by Italy and Germany vis-à-vis Spain, and that
espoused by Russia? Let the reader judge.
The world’s proletariat which has been looking for the
salvation of the proletariat in the peninsula and for its own
salvation to the bourgeois democracies or to the imposed
deviation that the anarcho-syndicalist movement has had to
embrace merely to survive … has left world capitalism a free
hand to put obstacles in the way of our movement in the
peninsula and so we offer a MEA CULPA for our own damnable

228
cowardice.
The Worldwide Secretariat
Note
1. The original, presumably German, spellings have been changed here from
Loginow and Tachernossekow into more anglified forms.

229
MANIFESTO OF THE ‘FRIENDS OF DURRUTI’
GROUPING

This manifesto was first printed on the presses of the POUM’s newspaper
La Batalla on 8 May 1937, a courtesy extended to the Friends by José
Rebull, the paper’s administrator, acting on his own personal initiative. At
that point the Friends had no paper of their own. It subsequently appeared in
the Friends’ newspaper El Amigo del Pueblo, No. 1 (19 May 1937). At that
point the paper was overground and the censor had erased huge chunks of
the text. The parts erased are in bold.
WORKERS!
Provocation by the counter-revolution
The raid on the Telephone Exchange building was a rallying
call for the forces of counter-revolution. The launch of an
all-out attack on the working class.
The historic crossroads that we have been clearly and
emphatically flagging up for some days has now erupted on
Catalan soil with all of the hallmarks of tragedy. 3 May 1937
was the eruption of aggression from the petit-bourgeois
parties and the forces of public order which, feeling
powerless in the face of the advance of the forces of
revolution, made ready to drown our righteous and highly
humane intentions in bloodshed.
We were not wide of the mark when we stated at the public
rally held by the ‘Friends of Durruti’ in the Goya theatre –
on 2 May, the very eve of the battle now joined – that an
attack upon the workers was then imminent. We pointed out
that the funeral for Roldán Cortada, the mutiny by the
Ripoll carabineers, and a series of other provocations,
represented links in a chain being forged in government
centres where representatives of so-called ‘antifascist’
sectors, as they are described, are based.

230
Involved in this provocation, in pride of place, were the
Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia [PSUC], Estat Català,
the Esquerra Republicana and those armed corps in the pay
of the Generalidad. All of these forces were counting upon
informal, not to say official, backing from the Generalidad
of Catalonia and from the Valencia government.
The proletariat on the street
The raid against the Telephone Exchange, spearheaded by
no less than Rodríguez Salas, drew a unanimous response
from the proletariat as it took to the streets, weapons at the
ready. The fighting persisted for 4 days, the workers
fighting with indescribable bravery. Again our pavements
were stained with blood.
We have eclipsed the unforgettable days of the ‘July
Events’ [1936]. We conquered the streets and we refuse to
give them up, for they are ours and because we won them in
open, determined combat.
The present upheaval
The argument has been put that the ‘July Events’ were a
response to a fascist provocation, but we of the ‘Friends of
Durruti’ have always argued, publicly, that at the very essence
of the unforgettable happenings in July was the proletariat’s
unquenchable yearning for emancipation.
We find ourselves in the same boat
In the current ‘May Events’ [1937], even though a
provocation did take place, we did not take to the streets
merely to press for the disarming of the armed agencies: no,
we want to see to it that the full price is charged for the
blood spilled.
What we are living through is the transition beyond a petite-
bourgeois phase. The battle joined by the Catalan
proletariat revolves around a yearning for a movement that
must be embodied by its [absolute] 100 per cent dominion.
Our Grouping, which was on the streets and on the

231
barricades defending the proletariat’s gains, calls for the
comprehensive triumph of Social Revolution. We cannot
swallow the fiction – and counter-revolutionary fact – that a
new government should be put together with the very same
parties, albeit represented by different faces. This is such an
egregious deceit that we cannot fathom how the CNT
Committees and some committees from the Grouping are
[not] insisting upon the immediate formation of a
Revolutionary Junta, the shooting of the guilty ones, the
disarming of the armed corps, the socialisation of the
economy and the disbanding of all the political parties that
have turned on the working class.
The Generalidad stands for nothing. Its continued existence
is a boost to the counter-revolution. We workers won the
battle. It is inconceivable that the CNT committees should
have acted with such timorousness as to order a CEASE-
FIRE! and, indeed, ordered a return to work, when we were
on the very brink of total victory. No thought has been given
to where the attack emanated from, no heed paid to the true
meaning of current happenings. Such conduct has to be
characterised as treachery to the revolution; something that
no one, in the name of anything, should either commit or
encourage. We are at a loss as to how to describe the
execrable handiwork of Solidaridad Obrera and its leading
CNT militants.
The CNT Regional Committee disowns us
Not that we were surprised that the so-called accountable
committees of the CNT disowned us. WE knew in advance that
those committees could scarcely do otherwise than hobble the
advance of the proletariat. We are only too familiar with the
treintistas serving on the Regional Committee.
We are the ‘Friends of Durruti’ and we have enough moral
authority to disown as incompetents and cowards these
individuals who have betrayed the Revolution and the working
class. Just when we have no enemies to face, they hand power
back to Companys and to the petite bourgeoisie; and they hand
over Public Order to the counter-revolutionary Valencia

232
government and the Defence portfolio to General Pozas.
This is treachery on a huge scale. The working class’s two
essential guarantees, Security and Defence, are handed on a
plate to our enemies.
What to do?
Regardless of the truce agreed, the spirit of the events we have
just come through still stands. The great mistake has been made
of affording the enemy time to reinforce his positions. The
Valencia government has been afforded the opportunity to send
troops to the counter-revolution. The opportunity for an all-out
attack has gone a-begging and there has been no coordination of
efforts in terms of the insurrection. Time and ammunition have
been squandered on mere skirmishing
Instead of planning a swift and daring attack, intelligence
and leadership have been wanting. The cease-fire does not
presuppose a defeat. Even though we have yet to achieve
our objectives, we have boosted our armaments. We must
not surrender captured weaponry to the counter-revolution.
It belongs to the working class. There is a lingering danger
from our enemies who still hold their positions and who still
have weapons aplenty.
Let us keep a weather eye out for coming events. Let us not lose
heart. Let us keep up our solid revolutionary morale. Let us not
forget that we have a trump card to play. Let us not be bedazzled
by the alleged danger of an attack from the ships of the British
navy when, in actual fact, the democracies are brazen in their
support of fascism. Let us read the present times aright.
Our adversaries sought to destroy the revolutionary proletariat
so as to lay the groundwork for an armistice sponsored by the
British and French governments; and, at the same time, to ensure
capital’s dominion within the confines of proletarian Spain.
Let us not give up the streets.
Let us keep alive the indomitable spirit that characterised
Durruti, on the streets, in the workplace and wherever we may
be. Let us stand ready to finish off the great undertaking upon

233
which we embarked during those unforgettable days imbued
with the spirit of our FRONT-LINE comrades who have made
their voices heard over the speculators, the insatiable
bureaucracy and the inequality and palaver that lingers still,
despite the torrents of blood spilled.
COMRADES:
Battle stations. Do not lose heart!
Stand ready to answer the call when it comes!
Long live the Social Revolution!
Down with the counter-revolution!
Hail to our fallen comrades!

Comment: I have here EL AMIGO DEL PUEBLO, the mouthpiece of the


‘Friends of Durruti’ grouping, which was made up mostly of personnel
hostile to militarisation, many of them having quit units of the nascent
Popular Army after the volunteer militias were disbanded. It was one of the
most radical groups thrown up by the revolutionary process in 1936–1937:
and it lobbied for prosecution of the revolution of 19 July 1936 as opposed
to the compromise line espoused by Juan García Oliver who had captured
the leadership of the FAI after Durruti’s death. They were to be found on the
barricades in May [1937], fighting alongside POUM militias and
championing a line of cleaning up the so-called rearguard, as well as the
manner in which the machinery of state was being directed and the war
being run on the front. Once the compromisers had strangled ‘May 37’ [sic],
when the winning side handed its guns over to the beaten one, they were cast
by the new political line-up (as were many others) in the role of scapegoats,
so as to douse the last remaining embers of the fire and restore bourgeois
‘normality’.
Of the eight newspapers that we published as our mouthpiece during the
conflict one edition was actually put together in the cells at the Vía Layetana
and another from inside prison: the paper we used was pinched by CNT
militants from the shipments sent from the paper-mill and meant for other
anarchist papers; and our editions were printed surreptitiously on the very
same presses as the latter. Issues no. 5 to no. 8 were printed in Perpignan –
albeit that this detail was not made absolutely [plain]. And the four issues
produced in exile by our few surviving members from 1956 [?] onwards . . .
used the title EL AMIGO DEL PUEBLO also. Furthermore, we have
reprinted a text issued [by the Grouping], as Hacia una nueva revolución

234
[Towards a Fresh Revolution], condensing its analysis and programme.
There are also reprints of various contemporary leaflets and manifestos
referring to our ‘Friends of Durruti’. Day after day, year after year, [we
were the ones] who remembered our unforgettable comrade Buenaventura
Durruti, who perished on the Madrid front on 20 November 1936, killed by
an enemy bullet through the heart – his fate was sealed and medical science
could do nothing for him. At the same time we remember all who died for
freedom’s sake; just as we do all who died facing the Falangist firing squad
and cried out ‘LONG LIVE LIBERTY!’ looking directly into the eyes of
their murderers who these days – if they are still living – cannot sleep easy
in their beds, haunted as they are by the piercing eyes of their victims.
Durruti was an indefatigable battler, honest, capable of captivating the
masses with just a look, capable of leading an entire people to victory,
capable of giving his last remaining garment away to a comrade in need.
We shall never weary of saying it: We of the CNT and the FAI and the entire
Libertarian Movement must COMMEMORATE him, for his life was one
unrelenting struggle for Social Revolution, for structural change within
society and for the people. His life was always upheaval on behalf of the
most sublime ideal humanity has to show, ANARCHY. Persecuted in a
number of European and American countries, he had always emerged
unscathed. From Spain he was deported to Guinea in 1932: he passed
through jails and prisons and a range of police stations; all for the sake of
his ideal and his championship of the oppressed. He was a son of the people
and it was they that raised him up. His name was on everyone’s lips and he
was a real fillip to the morale of the militias and people of Madrid, when
Madrid was low on morale and hopeless; when Franco’s troops presumed
that Madrid was already beaten and had surrendered. He was the panacea in
the rebirth of an entire people that defended its capital at the cost of blood,
sweat and tears. He was one of the founders of the ‘Los Solidarios’ group
back in 1920, and, with that group, co-founder of the Librairie Internationale
in Paris, putting up 300,000 pesetas. That same group was also founder of
the Librería Anarquista – as yet unfinished. He was also a founder of the
Antifascist Militias Committee, but quit [it] on the third day to go off to
capture Zaragoza, reaching the very gates of that city. However, it could not
be taken due to shortage of arms and due to the boycott that the republican
government enforced against the CNT militias, in which it worked hand in
glove with the communists and in which it had the backing of the Russians –
their preference being for victory for fascism-Franco-Falangism rather than

235
that the Social Revolution should succeed. His words to a Toronto reporter:
‘We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We carry a new world here, in our
hearts: we shall inherit the earth’ have become world famous and a lot of
ink has been expended on them. It is a rare book that deals with our war and
revolution that fails to mention his name, since, with his daring, battle-
hardened militians, he rescued the city of Madrid. With that courage and
brio of his, Durruti was always in the front ranks of them, setting the
example, and it was this that cost him his life, that he was forever in the
front ranks, at the head of his militians.
But Madrid did not fall, and despite Francoism’s plentiful supply of war
materials and aircraft, it took 33 months before she surrendered. So was he
a caudillo, a leader, an idol? NO! He was merely a son of the people.
His funeral was attended by upwards of a million people. The CNT, the
FAI, their militians and world anarchism, as well as his own people, wept
inconsolably for their best-loved son, for the man who had done most for the
Revolution and for the working class.
His death has yet to be avenged.
Joaquín Pérez

236
TOWARDS A FRESH REVOLUTION: A HISTORY AND
INTERPRETATION OF EVENTS IN SPAIN UP TILL 1938
A Document of the Friends of Durruti

Overture to the Spanish Revolution


Political rotation, which in Spain took the form of constitutionalists and
absolutists alternating in power (the ‘clasico turno’), collapsed beyond
repair with a coup d’état mounted in the capital of Catalonia by a drunken,
cantankerous general in the year 1923.
The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera was the direct outcome of politics
pursued amid maladministration, monopolies, bureaucratic perks, rake-offs,
concessions and a whole mass of profiteering operated with the blessing of
officialdom.
The military reaction of 1923 was a direct result of one of the reasons why
our country is impoverished, one that has absorbed nearly the whole
national budget. Spain’s colonial power spawned a rogue’s gallery of
adventurers, mercenaries and professional politicians, and a cohort of
dealers in cheap flesh.
As long as the bureaucracy of the sabre and the captains of industry had
plenty of scope to plunder and loot in the overseas possessions, then Spain
as such could go on her way more or less unaffected. But colonial disaster
held the key to the collapse of this situation, which was maintained by an
unscrupulous, ruthless minority.
At the close of the nineteenth century the military were deprived of the
spoils they craved. They had no option but to return to the peninsula, their
braid soaked in blood, bearing the shame of beings inept even in their own
profession – that of bearing arms.
From that moment forward, the Spanish people have been confronted by a
problem fraught with difficulties. Thousands of these protégés of a syphilitic
king returned to gorge on the natives of the mother country, since they no
longer had the opportunity to go on impoverishing the peoples of the
colonies, who cursed Spain’s representatives as thieves and assassins in
generals’ sashes and braid.
The public exchequer stood in need of an immediate outlet. The Algeçiras

237
conference laid the borders of Morocco open to attack. The mines of the
Rif, coveted by the Count of Romanones, became an abyss demanding the
blood and the money of the Spanish people.
One thousand million pesetas the Moroccan venture cost the nation’s
exchequer, plus many thousands of lives sacrificed to the financial cartel
represented by the farmer Count of Romanones.
The most startling points in this Spanish slaughter, revolving around the iron
deposits in the tribal territory of Beni-Bu-Ifrur, near the mountain of Af-
Laten, are the tragedies of Baranco del Lobo and Anual.
The military have ever been a millstone about the neck of the working
people. Look at the Defence Juntas, of evil memory. The moving spirit
behind them, Colonel Márquez, tried to infuse them with a liberal outlook,
but La Cierva’s patronage intrigues far outweighed the transitory goodwill
of a colonel who ended up persecuted and imprisoned in Montjuich.
General Primo de Rivera was the incarnation of this whole past we have
mentioned. Thanks to the strength of López Ochoa – and with the passive
help of the bourgeoisie, the latifundists, the clergy, and the financiers – he
brandished his sword from the lofty heights of power.
There is written proof that this former captain-general of Catalonia entered
the fray for the purpose of cancelling out the Picasso inquiry’s findings – in
which Alfonso XIII and his man of straw, Silvestre the general, were
directly implicated. This interpretation of the facts is undoubtedly well
founded; but what precipitated the military’s move was unquestionably the
disquiet among the working class. Having had its fill of outrage and
systematic thievery, the working class was preparing to banish those
responsible for its misfortune from Spanish soil. The financial and
industrial bourgeoisie placed all their resources at the disposal of the army.
They restricted credit, sabotaged the economy, applied the lockout and
provoked strikes. Great displays of rejoicing from the Catalan bourgeoisie
greeted the army’s Polish-style dictatorship.
The Primo de Rivera era must be categorised as an effort by the ruling class
to weaken the working class, whose actions were to take on a more positive
form at a later date. This reprisal was an updated, more comprehensive re-
enactment of the past, with the same moral turpitude and eternal arrogance
that have martyred the corpse of a Spain that is ever noble in its rags.
Berenguer, who was himself supplanted by Aznar, replaced this

238
philandering general. And, to top it all, it was the Count of Romanones – an
agent of the Intelligence Service – who supervised the transfer of power
from the monarchy to his former secretary, Don Niceto Alcalá-Zamora. He,
along with the son of Maura and with the assistance of Marañon, the palace
physician (and also of the Intelligence Service), laid the foundations for a
republic that was bound to end in the most frightful stench.
The new republic was completely unpopular. Instead of following socialist
guidelines, forged in the clamour of the streets, the same parasites held
sway as in the days of the Bourbons. Power was in the hands of politicians
who were good servants of the monarchy. Alcalá- Zamora was a
recalcitrant monarchist, a representative of the clergy and latifundists. There
was Azaña, one-time party colleague of Melquiades Álvarez; Miguel
Maura, yet another monarchist; and Alejandro Lerroux, a man with no
honour at all . . .
Disconsolate Spain took the path of betrayals, of useless secret meetings.
April’s comedy was to be paid for with torrents of blood.
What the April Republic was to bring forth was catastrophe. Son of Ferrer’s
murderer, author of 108 deaths, the minister who gave the order to fire ‘at
will’ turned our countryside into a network of funeral crosses.
Seeing their hopes violently crushed, the working masses turned angrily
against the April fiasco. Miguel Maura1 mobilised the armed forces of his
brand-new republic to crush and destroy the workers. Pasajes Arnedo,
Castilblanco, Seville, Catalonia . . . all describe the true nature of the
republic – that exiles the monarch but with his monies intact, and conveys
him in a ship of the line. Alfonso XIII’s family shook hands warmly with
General Sanjurjo. In August 1932, and again in July 1936, the general
unleashed attacks on a people betrayed by politicians who had given him a
free hand. He was an assassin with a royalist background. According to
reports, the Count of Romanones said in the station at El Escorial: ‘Hasta
muy pronto’ (Until we meet again, very soon).
The republic prattled on in endless exchanges of views. The Constituent
Cortes came up with no solution to any problem. The question of the army,
which only execution pickets [firing squads] could resolve, turned into
farce. Azaña allowed the military to retire under such exceptional terms that
the effect was an enormous upsurge in the non-productive population while
the barracks were handed over to the monarchist officer class.

239
Likewise, the religious issue was sidestepped. The church should have been
expropriated without compensation, not to mention the provision for
religion and clerics being eliminated from the nation’s budget. This was not
done. Instead the religious orders were legalised, and the droves who
sought refuge in 300 religious orders and 6,000 conventos (male and female
convents) given citizenship rights. There was no attempt to eradicate this
cancer that has eaten away at the Spanish soul for so many centuries. The
Mendizábal administration achieved more than this Republic even though
the latter had the benefit of an extra 100 years’ experience. And they failed
to confiscate the 5,000,000,000 pesetas’ worth of Jesuit investment in the
nation’s economy. Nor was a solution found to the problem of finances. The
debts and commitments of the monarchy were acknowledged. The budget
rocketed. Non-productive classes expanded and the bureaucracy underwent
tremendous growth. The public debt, standing at 3,000,000,000 pesetas in
1814, grew phenomenally with the colonial losses and the Moroccan
disaster – experiencing a slight deflation at the time of Villaverde –
reaching the astronomical sum of 22,000,000,000 in the time of the April
Republic.
14 April brought protection to the rentier and oppression to the consumer.
The tax on rent was quite merciless. The policy being applied was plainly a
bourgeois one, even if the Socialists were in power. Monopolies remained
the order of the day, with the smuggler March evading jail as and when he
pleased.
Nor was the problem of the statutes resolved any more satisfactorily. There
may have been talk, in one of the articles of the constitution, of a federal or
federative republic, but for all the talk centralism still prevailed.
The agrarian problem ended in fiasco. The Institute for Agrarian Reform
was a hotbed of nepotism. 5,000 peasants were to be settled each year.
Some 5,000,000 needed land. With this laughably optimistic policy of
reform the end might have been in sight after 1,000 years!
They came to the labour question armed with a horrendous jargon. Workers’
control consisted of such delegation of power as friendship and favouritism
might allow.
Spain’s colonial status became an issue with the Telefónica affair. So, for
all the bluster from Prieto and even though, in a debate at the Ateneo in
Madrid, the Telefónica contract had been written off by the bloated socialist
minister as one-sided, lo and behold it proved better for the Telefónica

240
workers to be mown down when they took to the streets in pursuit of a
demand for fair pay and for North American capital to be shored up instead.
We have lived through two biennia. The Red and the Black. During both the
working class were persecuted in dastardly fashion.
The socialists operated as the lackeys of capitalism. The laws for the
Defence of the Republic for Public Order, and the Law of 8 April, were
wholly repressive in their nature. The right used them as it chose. The
workers’ reaction can be seen in the burning of the convents, in the events in
Barcelona and Figols on 8 January and 3 December. Deportations to Bata
and Villa Cisneros were yet further steps towards surrendering the Republic
to the proletariat’s eternal enemies.
Both biennia were filled with tragedy. Responsibility for the right’s
occupying a dominant position must be borne by the social democracy. And
it is their fault if the revolution has not been able to escape foreign
intervention. In April 1931 the Italian fascists had not extricated themselves
from the thorn of Adowa and the Hitlerites had not yet managed to erect a
nationalistic, totalitarian state. Circumstances were favourable. But
treachery by the socialists and reformism from Pestaña and his acolytes
prevented the moment of truth (which was later to cost even more dearly)
from arriving.
Out of this ill-assorted hotchpotch of situations surged October.
The overture to July was born in the Asturias. There the struggle was
pursued with courage and ferocity.2 Inside Catalonia, Dencas set himself the
task of alienating the working class from that revolt, which could have been
crucial.
All the socialists wanted to do in October was to prevent Alcalá- Zamora
from handing over to the right – in the same way as they had frightened him
before with their strikes. Had they desired revolution they would have
exploited the peasant revolt of June 1934 or even timed it to coordinate city
with countryside. But the socialists were swept aside by the working class.
The Lerroux–Gil-Robles government lasted two years; two black years of
repression and imprisonment culminating in the ‘Free the Prisoners’
elections (elecciones pro-presos) that bore fruit in the events of July.

19 July
The tragedy of Spain knows no end. The most vivid pens fail to describe the

241
tragedy of a people whose bodies and minds are scarred by past and present
horrors. Our writers cannot accurately reflect the Calvary of a race that
appears to have been born to suffer.
In February 1936 the sad picture of this Spanish scene was at its blackest.
On that date Spain was one vast detention camp. Thousands of workers
were behind bars.
We stood then on the eve of July. We must call to mind the events that paved
the way for the army rebellion.
The policies of the Black Biennium were bankrupt. Gil Robles had not
slaked the appetites of his followers. A conflict had arisen between Alcala
Zamora and the leader of Acción Popular (i.e. Gil Robles). The Jesuits
were supporting the president of the Republic. He was their new hope: not
for nothing had he raised the banner for constitutional reform and religion.
How long the Cortes would last was uncertain. The Radicals had broken
away from the rightist bloc, feeling quite estranged from the heart of the
nation. Stormy sittings matched a policy that was base, repugnant and
criminal in its crudity.
The proletariat was beginning to make itself felt in a more befitting manner.
Monster rallies held in the stadium in Madrid, in Barcelona and in Valencia
commanded huge crowds. That these exhibitions of determination and the
spirit of revolt served to renew the credibility of an old reactionary figure
such as Azaña is something to be regretted. It was an error that would have
to be paid for later on with interest. Alcalá-Zamora thought he was in
control of the situation. The Cortes was dissolved. Franco, Goded,
Cabanellas, Queipo de Llano, Mola – these were Zamora’s puppets. He
chose a financier-bandit, one Portela Valladares, to carry his plan into
effect.
The resources of the state failed the Galician cacique. In spite of electoral
malpractice and the ministry’s list of approved candidates, the results of the
February elections failed to set the Holy See’s mind at rest.
Finding his plans frustrated, Alcalá-Zamora urged Portela to proclaim a
state of emergency. Portela did not dare. He realised that the people of
Spain were on the streets and recommended that Azaña be sent for. He was
right. The politician from the Red Biennium was to be a temporary sedative.
That was precisely what the reactionaries were after at that point . . . a
breathing space during which to put the final touches to preparations for the
revolt by the generals who frequented the Plaza de Oriente.

242
The successful elections of February failed to open the eyes of the
Socialists. The monster rallies to protest against the numbers imprisoned,
the enthusiasm for the release of the prisoners taken during the great drama
of October [in the Asturias] – all this suggested nothing new to them. They
stuck to their old ways. A new Cortes. A fresh election for the presidency of
the Republic. They kept Alcalá-Zamora’s plans and his scheme for handing
control over to the military and not to the people.
But the proletariat had learned the harsh lesson of the two biennia they had
lived through. They dashed headlong into the streets. Firebrands set
religious centres ablaze. The clamour from the imprisoned defied their
walls. City and country were equally aroused.
The ignorance of the social democrats postponed the outburst by the people.
Fortunately, after 5 months, the rightists’ lack of sophistication and their
failure to appreciate the truly counter-revolutionary roles of Azaña and
Prieto brought the issue onto the streets.
There was sporadic violence from February to July. Yet again workers’
blood was spilled. The strike by the building unions in Madrid, and a clash
in Malaga, exposed the cretinism of the February politicians.
Boldly the right mobilised for an attack on the situation emerging from the
emotion-filled elections. Fascists killed the coward’s way, arousing hatred
by their surprise attacks. There was a vague feeling that black Spain was
planning something. The talk was persistently of army mutiny.
There was no doubt. The proletariat was setting out along the road to July.
The government took a back seat. Faced with a choice between fascism and
the proletariat, they opted for the former. To cover his tracks, Number One
traitor Casares Quiroga would threaten the rightists from the government
benches, inciting them to take to the streets.
Calvo Sotelo’s murderer brought things to a head. When rumour had it that
the army would be invading the streets at any moment the rumours seemed
probably true. But did those in government take any preventive measures?
Franco was in command in the Canaries, Goded in the Balearics, and Mola
in Navarra . . . Why was the whole bunch not dismissed? The fascists could
also rely on powerful allies in government circles!
On 17 July that nemesis we had been warding off for some time unmasked
itself. In the Balearics, in Morocco, in the Canaries, the officers were in
open revolt.

243
What was done to bring the rebellion to an abrupt halt? What did the
government of that scum Casares Quiroga do? Shut itself up in complete
inertia. Concealed the gravity of the situation from the people. Imposed a
rigorous censorship. Refused weapons to the proletariat.
There was still time, between 17 July and 19 July, to compel the militarists
to capitulate. But a highly suspect, suicidal attitude prevailed. Casares
Quiroga was Mola’s accomplice. He kept him on in Pamplona, even after he
had proclaimed himself openly in revolt against the results of the February
elections, and regardless of the protection he was extending to all the
conspirators on the right.
The treachery by the left is obvious. No arms were given to the people,
because the bourgeois democrats were afraid of the proletariat. In Zaragoza
the attitude of the governor, Vera Coronel, who prevaricated with the
workers’ representatives in negotiations, helped the fascists to victory. And
in Valencia, when all of Spain was already plunged into fighting, the rebels
were allowed to remain in their barracks.
At this historic, blood-soaked hour, it is not with mealy mouths that we
charge those Republican politicians who acted openly in favour of fascism
out of their fear of the working class. We accuse Azaña, Casares, Quiroga,
Companys, and the Socialists, all the farceurs from the Republic which,
built on a one-act sketch in April, had laid waste the homes of the working
class. And this was happening because of the failure to make the revolution
at the correct time.
The people had to go and look for weapons. They took them by right of
conquest. Gained them by their own exertions.
They were given nothing; not by the Government of the – Republic, not by
the Generalitat – not one rifle!
On 19 July, as on other great occasions before, the proletariat took up its
positions in the streets. For some days it had been keeping a close vigil on
the streets of every settlement in Spain. In the capital city of Catalonia,
memories of glorious past struggles were being conjured up.
The first weapons were seized by workers from some supply ships lying at
anchor in the port of Barcelona, the Manuel Arnus and the Marqués de
Comillas.
As dawn broke on 19 July and the militarists surged onto the streets they

244
faced an attack from the Catalan people, who stormed barracks and fought
on until the last fascist redoubt had been taken.
The Catalan proletariat saved the proletariat of Spain from fascism.
Proletarian Catalonia became a beacon shedding its light over all of Spain.
No matter that the agrarian regions of Spain were in fascist hands – we, the
workers of the industrial zones, would redeem our comrades from the
captivity that had befallen them.
In Madrid, the pattern was the same. No arms were distributed there, either.
They were won in the streets. The proletariat fought and stormed the
Montana barracks, overwhelming the soldiery. And then, with shotguns and
whatever else they could get their hands on, the workers set out for the
Sierra de Guadarrama to cut off the advance of General Mola. With the
Navarre brigades behind him, he was preparing to conquer the capital city
of Castille.
Fascism was routed in the North, in Levante and in a number of places in
Aragón, Andalusia and Extremadura. But elsewhere in the peninsula the
workers were disarmed and had to contend with leftist governors who
eased the way for the Spanish fascists.
Casares Quiroga made way for a government under Martinez Barrio. This
politician, who torpedoed the April Constituent Cortes, came into office in
order to reach an understanding with the fascists and hand power over to
them. Swift reflex action by the working class aborted one of the most
infamous acts of treachery ever conceived. If this treachery was never
implemented, it was only for lack of time. The politicians, beginning with
Azaña, should have paid for this vile maneoeuvre with their heads. This
initial pessimistic outlook, and the suggestion of surrender circulating in
official circles, was voided by the ferocity of the proletariat. Giral replaced
Martínez Barrio.
We have presented an anecdotal outline of how events developed. But it
behoves us to dwell a little longer on July and to examine what sort of
revolution was achieved in those days of glory.
There has been a lot of theorising about July. The bourgeois democrats and
Marxists insist that the popular explosion in July must be classified as a
legitimate act of self-defence by a proletariat that saw itself under attack
from its worst enemy. Taking this as their basic thesis, the argument then is
that July cannot be deemed a typically revolutionary, class phenomenon.

245
This thesis from our opponents is a fallacy. Revolutions do break out
unforeseen, but they are always preceded by a long period of gestation.
April opened one era, closed another. And right in the foreground in the
April era, and right through to July the working class continued to occupy
the advance positions of the revolution. Had the proletariat not surged
headlong onto the streets in July, it would have done so at some other point,
nor would it have desisted from its noble undertaking – to free itself of the
bourgeois yoke.
From the petite bourgeoisie comes an allegation that we were all of us – all
shades of opinion – out in the streets. But we must remind them that, but for
the CNT and the FAI rushing to where danger was greatest, there would
have been a repeat performance of the comic opera in Barcelona in October.
In Catalonia, the organised workers in the CNT predominated. If there are
any who deny that, it is through ignorance or an attempt to ignore the history
of the CNT on Catalan soil.
The July revolution drew its impetus from the workers and, as such, was a
class revolution. On the streets and at a theoretical level, all the petite
bourgeoisie did was an afterthought, nothing more.
But other considerations are equally important, perhaps more so. The
memory of the political conditions which capitalism caused in the
seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has grown vague. What is
more, petit-bourgeois democratic illusions regarding what earlier bids –
like 1873, or April – brought about have been shattered. After February the
only type of revolution possible in Spain was social revolution – such as
that which blazed with such splendour in July.
April was decisive. It was enough to prevent our falling into the same error.
By which we do not mean only the repression of which we were the targets.
We shall confine ourselves solely to the nonsensical argument put forward
by the Marxists.
How do we account for the fact that in the July revolution we saw a
repetition of the errors we have criticised hundreds and hundreds of times?
How come we did not hold out for social revolution in July? How come
workers’ organisations failed to assume maximum control of the country?
The vast majority of the working population stood by the CNT. Inside
Catalonia, the CNT was the majority organisation. What happened, that the
CNT did not make its revolution, the people’s revolution, and the revolution

246
of the majority of the population?
What happened was what had to happen. The CNT was utterly devoid of
revolutionary theory. We did not have a concrete programme. We had no
idea where we were going. We had lyricism aplenty; but when all is said
and done, we did not know what to do with our masses of workers or how
to give substance to the popular effusion that erupted inside our
organisations. By not knowing what to do, we handed the revolution on a
platter to the bourgeoisie and the Marxists who supported the farce of
yesteryear. What is worse, we allowed the bourgeoisie a breathing space –
to return, to re-form and to behave, as would a conqueror.
The CNT did not know how to live up to its role. It did not want to push
ahead with the revolution with all its consequences. They were frightened
by the foreign fleets, claiming that Barcelona would come under fire from
ships of the English fleet.
Has any revolution ever been made without having to overcome countless
difficulties? Has there been any revolution in the world, of the advanced
type, that has been able to avert foreign intervention?
Using fear as a springboard and letting oneself be swayed by timidity, one
never succeeds. Only the bold, the resolute, the men of courage may attain
great victories. The timid have no right to lead the masses.
When an organisation’s whole existence has been spent preaching
revolution it has an obligation to act whenever a favourable set of
circumstances arises. And in July the occasion did present itself. The CNT
ought to have leapt into the driver’s seat in the country, delivering a severe
coup de grâce to all that is outmoded and archaic. In this way we would
have won the war and saved the revolution.
But it did the opposite. It collaborated with the bourgeoisie in the affairs of
state, precisely when the state was crumbling away on all sides. It bolstered
up Companys and company. It breathed a lungful of oxygen into an anaemic,
terror-stricken bourgeoisie.
One of the most direct reasons why the revolution was asphyxiated and the
CNT displaced is that it behaved like a minority group, even though it had a
majority in the streets.
With this minority outlook the CNT was not able to make its plans prevail; it
found itself continually sabotaged and trapped in the web of a confused,

247
deceitful policy. Inside the Generalitat, as well as on the City Council, we
had fewer votes than other groups, even though we had far more members.
And, what’s more, we were the ones who conquered the streets. Why did
we give them up so crassly?
On the other hand, we would assert that revolutions are totalitarian, no
matter who says otherwise. What happens is that the various aspects of
revolution are progressively dealt with, but with the proviso that the class,
which represents the new order of things, is the one with most
responsibility. And when things are done by halves we have what presently
concerns us: the disaster of July.
In July a Committee of Antifascist Militias was set up. It was not a class
organ. Bourgeois and counter-revolutionary factions had their
representatives on it. It looked as if this committee had been set up as a
counter-balance to the Generalitat. But it was all sham. Control patrols
were organised. They were men of the barricades, men of the streets.
Factories, workshops and businesses were taken over and the latifundists
tackled. Defence committees and supply committees were established in
each locality and municipality.
Sixteen months have rolled past. What remains? Of the spirit of July, only a
memory. Of the organisms of July, a yesterday.
But the machinery of politics and the petite bourgeoisie lingers on, intact.
The taproots of some sectors, maintained solely by the backs of the workers,
linger on in the Plaza de la República in the Catalan capital.

3 May
It has been inside the barracks of Catalonia that counter-revolution has made
its greatest efforts to crush the essentials of the July revolution.
The economic structure of Catalonia allowed for great masses of workers,
educated to class-consciousness in the atmosphere of factory and workshop,
to be concentrated. This particular feature of the centres of manufacture is
extremely favourable to the attainment of the end of the revolution. In July,
Catalonia’s working people placed social life on a fresh basis. There was a
resurgence by an indomitable proletariat with the critical equipment of long
years of struggle within the ranks of the confederation. Social revolution
could have been a fact in Catalonia. Furthermore, this revolutionary
proletariat could have served as a counterweight to a bureaucratic,
reformist Madrid and the influence of the Catholic Basque country.

248
But the events took a different turn. The revolution was not made in
Catalonia. Realising that once again the proletariat was saddled with a
leadership of quibblers, the petite bourgeoisie, which had gone into hiding
in its backrooms in July, hastened to join battle.
When we speak of the middle class, the shocking fact is that we have to
refer to Marxists, who have been inundated by shopkeepers and the Lliga’s
120,000 voters.
In Catalonia, socialism has been a pitiful creature. Members opposed to
revolution have swelled its ranks. It has captained the counter-revolution. It
has spawned a UGT that has been turned into an appendage of the GEPCI.
Marxist leaders have sung the praises of counter-revolution. They have
crafted slogans about the issue of a united front while first eliminating the
POUM and then trying to repeat the operation on the CNT.
The manoeuvres of the petit bourgeoisie, in alliance with the socialists and
communists, culminated in the events of May.
There have been conflicting versions of just what happened in May. But the
truth of the matter is that the counter-revolution wanted the working class on
the streets in a disorganised manner so that they might be crushed. They
partially attained their objectives, thanks to the stupidity of some leaders
who gave the ceasefire order and dubbed the Friends of Durruti agents
provocateurs just when the streets had been won and the enemy eliminated.
Self-evidently, the counter-revolution had an interest in control of public
order passing under the supervision of the Valencia Government. They
succeeded in that, thanks to Largo Caballero. It is worth noting that at this
time the CNT had four ministers in the cabinet.
It has also been pointed out that the petite bourgeoisie had hatched a scheme
providing for foreign intervention on the pretext of disorder breaking out.
That a foreign flotilla would sail for Barcelona was a certainty. And there
has been talk of motorised divisions of the French army on the verge of
intervening at frontier posts. To this might be added the conspiratorial work
of politicians meeting in the French capital.
The atmosphere had become very tense. CNT membership cards were being
torn up. CNT and FAI militants were being disarmed. There were
continuous clashes, which only by the merest chance did not turn out to have
more serious consequences. The provocations that we workers had to put up
with were manifold. The threats from the desk-ocracy came out into the

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open, naked and unashamed.
The death of a socialist militant – Roldán – was exploited as the pretext for
a monster display of strength in which all the counter-revolutionary crew
took part.
Everything that went wrong was blamed on the CNT. Anarchists were
blamed for every misfortune. Food shortages were laid at the door of the
supply committees.
The explosion came on 3 May. With the cognisance of Ayguade, Rodríguez
Salas, commissar for public order, headed a unit of Assault Guards and
burst into the Telephone Exchange. They tried to disarm the CNT comrades,
even though the Exchange was under joint control of the CNT and UGT.
This move by Rodríguez Salas – who belongs to the PSUC – was a call to
arms. Within a few hours barricades had gone up in all the streets in
Barcelona city. The crackle of rifle-fire and the rattle of machineguns could
be heard and the air was filled with the sounds of cannon salvoes and the
reports of bombs.
At the end of a few hours, the tide had turned in the favour of the
proletarians enrolled in the CNT who had, as in July, defended their rights
with guns in hand. We took the streets. They were ours. There was no power
on earth that could have wrested them from us. Working-class areas fell to
us quickly. Then the enemy’s territory was eaten away, little by little, to a
redoubt in a section of the residential area – the city centre – which would
have fallen soon, but for the defection of the CNT committees.
Realising the indecision that showed itself in the fighting, and the lack of
leadership and organisation evident in the street, our grouping issued a
leaflet followed by a manifesto.
They labelled us agents provocateurs because we demanded that
provocateurs be shot, that the armed forces be disbanded, that political
parties who had armed the provocation be suppressed, and also that a
revolutionary junta be established, to press on with the socialisation of the
economy and to claim all economic power for the unions.
Our analysis, as set out in those moments of tension in both leaflet and
manifesto, insisted that the barricades should not be abandoned
unconditionally, since that would be the first time in history when a
victorious army had yielded ground to the enemy.

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Guarantees were needed that we would not be persecuted. But the chieftains
of the CNT gave assurances that the organisation’s representatives in the
Generalitat would look out for the working class. Nonetheless, the second
part of what had come to pass hours earlier in Valencia emerged.
The barricades were abandoned without our having good reason for doing
so. As the Catalan scene was returning to calm, the excesses perpetrated by
the Marxists and the public forces came to light. We had been right.
Comrade Berneri was snatched from his home and shot to death in the
middle of the street: 30 comrades were discovered, horribly mutilated, in
Sardanola; comrade Martínez of the Libertarian Youth lost his life in a
manner unknown, in the private dungeons of the Cheka, and a large number
of comrades from the CNT and FAI were brutally murdered.
We must remember that Professor Berneri was a learned Italian comrade
from that anti-fascist Italy that was filling the deportation islands, the
cemeteries and the concentration camps. Like his anti-fascist comrades, he
could not stay in Mussolini’s Italy.
The murders were followed by a wave of intense repression. Comrades
were arrested in connection with the events in July and May: there were
attacks on unions, collectives and offices of the Friends of Durruti, the
Libertarian Youth and the POUM.
One event we cannot pass over. The disappearance and death of Andrés
Nin. More than half-a-year has elapsed now and the government has yet to
clear up the so-called mystery surrounding Nin’s murder. Shall we know
one day who killed him?
After May, the counter-revolution felt stronger than ever. Foreign powers
lent assistance to this reaction by the desk-ocracy. Within a few days the
Negrín government had been formed, with two ends behind its
establishment: the annihilation of the revolutionary section of the proletariat
and preparation for an abrazo de Vergara. Meanwhile in Catalonia a
government composed of secretaries from the political parties and union
organisations was set up, until Luis Companys ousted the CNT
representatives from the Generalitat.
What took place in May was quite different from what happened in July. In
May the proletariat fought with what was self-evidently a class spirit. There
could be no doubt that the working class wanted to radicalise the revolution.
However much the reactionary press may try to obscure the nature of May, it

251
will go down in history as a sudden and well-timed blow aimed by the
proletariat. Feeling that the revolution was threatened they came onto the
streets to save and revitalise it.
In May we were in time to save the revolution. Many perhaps regret having
heeded the call for a ceasefire in those historic moments. And are pained at
the sight of jails crammed with workers.
The Friends of Durruti Group did its duty. We were the only ones equal to
the challenge of the circumstances. We could foresee the outcome.
May can never be forgotten. It was the loudest knock the working class has
delivered on the portals of the bourgeoisie. Whenever they come to speak of
the events in May, historians will have to pay homage to the Catalan
proletariat, who laid down the yardstick for the new era, which must be 100
per cent proletarian.’
Spain’s independence
Intervention by foreign powers in the Spanish scene has brought into focus
the eternal dilemma in which our country has always found itself.
Since the sixteenth century Spain’s political life has been a lien of foreign
powers. Two dynasties – one Austrian, the other Bourbon, not to mention the
short reign of Amadeo of Savoy – kept the people of Spain in subjection up
to 14 April 1931.
Spain’s independence has always been a fiction. The Foreign Office and the
Quai d’Orsay have played a most important role in our decisions.
Remember the pardoning of Sanjurjo after his rebellion in August 1932,
granted only after pressure from the French government?
The Spanish economy, a pre-eminently agrarian one, has kept us tied to the
apron strings of the big industrial powers. In order to export our produce we
have been obliged to buy machinery we could have made at home. And in
return for London taking our oranges, we are urged to buy English coal, with
the inevitable result that the working day in our coalmines is reduced
because of the slump in production at home.
We export iron, copper and other minerals in order to buy the finished
machinery, built by the very country that bought its raw materials from us.
Our subsoil is extremely rich, but foreign capital owns it. The tentacles of
international finance, which devours the people’s wealth, grip our country.
Spanish workers have always sweated in order to satisfy the dividends and

252
substantial profits of foreign stockholders and financiers.
From the dawn of our history, a spirit of independence has been evident in
Spaniards. Invasions have been numerous, but they never managed to
extinguish the sacred flame of independence.
When we come to the current invasion, it is clearly of a nature that contrasts
with the earlier ones, in that in the case of the Iberians, Phoenicians,
Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs or French there was no social dimension.
During the Napoleonic invasion, liberals and absolutists stood shoulder to
shoulder in the fray. El Empecinado found Father Merino at his side, though
only through force of circumstance.
During the expedition of the Duke of Angoulême, authorised by the Holy
Alliance from Vienna, opinion in the Peninsula was noticeably divided.
Father Merino sided with the invaders. El Empecinado, for his part,
resisted the entry of the foreign forces.
What is happening today is a re-enactment of what happened in the reign of
Ferdinand VII. Once again in Vienna there has been a conference of fascist
dictators for the purpose of organising their invasion of Spain. And the
workers in arms have taken up the mantle of El Empecinado.
Germany and Italy need raw materials. They need iron, copper, lead and
mercury. But these Spanish mineral deposits are the preserve of France and
England. Yet even though Spain faces subjection, England does not protest.
On the contrary – in a vile maneoeuvre, she tries to negotiate with Franco.
Since the war began, she has helped blockade ports held by us. Fascist
ships unload war materials at fascist-controlled ports . . . and take on ore,
livestock, and oil . . . International fascism needs food for its machine.
Hitler’s slogan – more guns, less butter – and Mussolini’s autarky lead them
to sack the agricultural regions under the iron rule of the rebel generals.
In economic matters, we have always been dependent on other countries.
Commercial treaties and the balance of payments have never operated in our
favour. This trend has been a nightmare for our economy.
Spain’s problem is a colonial one. Capitalism, having extinguished
feudalism in its own territory, finds itself in the incongruous position of
having to bolster feudal regimes in the countries it seeks to exploit. This
goes for Spain as it does likewise for China.

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It is up to the working class to ensure Spain’s independence. Native
capitalism will not do it, since international capital crosses all frontiers.
This is Spain’s current predicament. It is up to us workers to root out the
foreign capitalists. Patriotism does not enter into it. It is a matter of class
interests.
As the international intrigues go on, it is safe to assume that England will
manage to settle the Spanish question on the basis of an ignominious status
quo. Will she make economic concessions to Germany and Italy? Will
partial rights to our subsoil resources be hived off to foreign powers? Will
Spain be partitioned?
England is interested in our mineral wealth. Such is the colossal pressure of
a fascism spread throughout the world and party to the famous Anti-
Comintern Pact, that, at best, perfidious Albion will yield – always
provided that there is no threat to the free passage of her shipping through
the Mare Nostrum.
It is hard to guess what will happen. We must put no trust in the League of
Nations, or in the host of committees and sub-committees, or in conferences
whose only purpose, like the Nyon Conference, is to waste time on the
matter. But it is worth noting that the English Conservatives have recalled
Lord Halifax, the author of the massacres in India.
There can be only one question for us: will France be ready to place in the
balance not only her maritime, but also her territorial security? Will France
keep to the non-intervention policy hammered out by Leon Blum? Is she
prepared to renounce her colonial army?
Let us trust no one. Salvation lies in our own hands. Foreign powers incline
to the lesser evil, to the cabal. And the working class will find a way to
prevent Spain being made subject to an international arrangement, like
Tangiers, Danzig or the Saar.
Victory or death, comrades. That is the choice at the present moment.
Collaboration and class struggle
In Spain, as has generally been the case in every country, the workers’
movement has shown two tendencies. One, the collaborationist one, and the
other that admits no truck whatsoever with the enemy.
In this country of ours, it has been socialism with its trade-union offshoot the
UGT that has played the classic role of reformists. It is a refuge for

254
renegade workers, even of infiltrators into workers’ organisations whose
sole purpose is to yoke the proletariat to the cart of the bourgeoisie.
The statements made by Indalecio Prieto during the Red Biennium, on the
occasion of the railwaymen’s strike, encapsulate the essence of
collaborationism. They are notorious: ‘I am a minister first, and then a
socialist,’ Don Inda stated then.
The Spanish revolution has suffered because of the reformists’ pernicious
influence on its direction. There has been no willingness to interpret the
social, class meaning of the July happenings.
The class struggle that the CNT has always preached has been relegated to a
secondary position by a series of issues that have proved enormously
prejudicial to the course of the Revolution. Noting this demotion, we must
deplore not only this disfiguration of the revolution, but also in organic
terms the ground lost through the failure to keep strictly to the line of
revolution on a class basis and also through having trampled revolutionary
syndicalism into the ground.
The unions are the organs that genuinely articulate the workers’ class feeling
in their eternal battle with capitalism. If we relegate the unions to a
secondary position, it follows naturally that the interests of the proletariat
will be prejudiced.
Collaborationism is to be deplored at all times. There must be no
collaboration with capitalism whether outside the bourgeois state or from
within the government itself. As producers our place is in the unions,
reinforcing the only bodies that ought to survive a revolution headed by the
workers.
Class struggle is no obstacle to workers continuing at present to fight on in
the battlefields and working in the war industries. But it is imperative to
keep it in mind that we proceed to each new initiative with a class sense,
giving the unions the priority that is their due.
There must be no other economic body outside the unions to restrict their
powers. And the state cannot be retained in the face of the unions – let alone
bolstered up by our own forces. The fight against capitalism goes on. Inside
our own territory there is still a bourgeoisie connected with the international
bourgeoisie. The problem now is what it has been for years.
Let us keep the unions true to themselves. Let us keep to the line mapped out

255
by the CNT in its particular confrontation with our native bourgeoisie, as
was always the norm up to 19 July.
Collaborationists are allies of the bourgeoisie. Individuals who advocate
such relations have no feeling for the class struggle, nor have they the
slightest regard for the unions. Never must we accept the consolidation of
our enemy’s positions.
The enemy must be restricted. If we ever get time to catch our breaths we
must never allow that social deviation to develop into a position of open
assistance to capital.
There can be absolutely no common ground between exploiters and
exploited. Which shall prevail – bourgeoisie or workers – only battle can
decide. Certainly not both of them at once.
The working class holds the future in its hands. We pariahs have nothing to
lose and, on the contrary, we can win our emancipation, which is the destiny
of the family of workers.
Let us break the shackles. Let us strengthen our unions. Let us keep alive the
spirit of class struggle.
Our position
It is time to be specific. We shall be so, with respect to each of the problems
posed by the present situation.
With regard to the problem of the war, we back the idea of the army being
under the absolute control of the working class. Officers with their origins
in the capitalist regime do not deserve the slightest trust from us. Desertions
have been numerous and most of the disasters we have encountered can be
laid down to obvious betrayals by officers. As to the army, we want a
revolutionary one led exclusively by workers, and, should any officer be
retained, it must be under the strictest supervision.
We insist that the workers direct the war. We have grounds aplenty for this.
The defeats at Toledo, Talavera, the loss of the North and Malaga point to
incompetence and lack of integrity in government circles, for the following
reasons:
The North of Spain could have been saved if the war materials needed for
resistance to the enemy had been obtained. The means were there. The Bank
of Spain had enough gold to flood Spanish soil with weaponry. Why was it
not done? There was time. We must remember that the non-intervention

256
controls did not begin to make their presence felt until the war in Spain was
already some months old.
Leadership in the conduct of the war has been disastrous. Largo Caballero’s
record is lamentable. That the Aragón Front has not been given the arms its
so needs is his fault. His reluctance to arm the Aragonese sector has
prevented Aragón from saving herself from the clutches of the fascists. At
the same time this could have taken the pressure off the fronts around
Madrid and the North. And it was Largo Caballero who expressed the
sentiment that sending arms to the Aragón Front was like handing them over
to the CNT.
We are opposed to collaboration with bourgeois groups. We do not believe
that the class approach can be abandoned.
Revolutionary workers must not shoulder official posts, nor establish
themselves in the ministries. For as long as the war lasts, collaboration is
permissible – on the battlefield, in the trenches, on the parapets and in
productive labour in the rearguard.
Our place is in the unions, in the workplace, keeping alive that spirit of
rebellion that will bloom on the earliest occasion that presents itself.
We must have no part of combinations devised by bourgeois politicians
acting in concert with foreign chancelleries. That would be tantamount to
strengthening our enemies and tightening the noose of capitalism. No more
portfolios. No more ministries. Let’s get back to the unions and the nitty-
gritty of work tools.
Let us campaign for unity among the proletariat. But on the understanding
that this unity must be between workers, and not with bureaucrats or
sinecurists.
At present, an agreement by the CNT with the revolutionary wing of the
UGT is a feasible prospect. But we do not believe that an understanding is
possible with the UGT of Catalonia, or with Prieto’s followers.
Socialisation of the economy is crucial to victory in the war and progress
in the revolution. The present drift cannot continue. Nor should anyone
believe there is any advantage in the various centres of production operating
to no coordinated pattern.
But it has to be the workers who see that this is done.

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Nor should the business about religion come up for further discussion. The
people have already delivered their final verdict on that issue. Nonetheless,
a tendency aimed at reopening the churches has emerged. The
implementation of the law of freedom of worship and the celebration of
masses lead us to the conclusion that those in government have forgotten the
days of the great burnings.

There must be strict rationing in the distribution of goods. That workers


should go hungry while hoarders find food in restaurants controlled by the
working class is intolerable.
Distribution must be socialised and accompanied by rationing.
Bureaucracy must go. The thousands of desk-jockeys who have descended
on Barcelona are one of the worst plagues ever visited on us. In place of a
sinecurist, there ought to be a worker. And by desk-jockey we mean any
café layabout.

Absolute suppression of the bureaucracy


Fabulous rates of pay must go immediately. It is scandalous that where
militiamen are earning 10 pesetas a day, the bureaucrats are taking home
such huge wages. Azaña and Companys are each still drawing the same
salary as before.
We want to see the introduction of the family wage. And an end, once and
for all, to this galling inequality.
It must be the people who administer justice. We cannot countenance the
false practice that has grown up in this regard. There has been a drift away
from the early class tribunals to courts made up of career magistrates. And
we are going back to the way things used to be. Now they are doing away
with the juries.
Proletarian justice belongs to the workers alone.
There must be progress towards socialisation of the farming industry in
Spain. The sabotaging of the collectives has harmed agriculture enormously
and has favoured speculation. Contact between town and countryside will
bring the peasants closer to the proletarian class. And the mentality of the
farm worker used to tilling his own particular plot will be changed.
Like any other activity in the country that falls under the headings social,

258
cultural or economic, cultural problems are the indisputable province of the
workers. It was they who set the pattern of this new era.
The workers will enforce revolutionary order. We insist that the uniformed
corps, which are no guarantee of revolution, be dissolved. The unions must
supply the men whose task it is to guard the new order we wish to install.
As to foreign policy, we shall accept no armistice; and, when it comes to
propagandising our revolution, we are of the view that that work must be
done among the production centres abroad – not in any chancelleries, let
alone any cabals.
We must speak to the workers abroad in the language of revolution. So far
the vocabulary of democracy has been employed. It has to be brought home
to the workers’ organisations, to everyone, that they must act: to sabotage
fascist production: to refuse to load raw materials or war materials for the
assassins of the Spanish people. And that they must demonstrate in the
streets, to demand fair treatment by their governments for the cause we
defend, which is the cause of the world’s proletariat.
Our programme
Revolutions cannot succeed if they have no guiding lights, no immediate
objectives. That is what we find lacking in the July revolution. Although it
had the strength, the CNT did not know how to mould and shape the activity
that arose spontaneously in the street. The leadership itself were startled by
events which were, as far as they were concerned, totally unexpected.
They had no idea which course of action to pursue. There was no theory.
Year after year we had spent speculating around abstractions. ‘What is to be
done?’ the leaders were asking themselves then. And they allowed the
revolution to be lost.
Such exalted moments leave no time for hesitancy. Rather, one must know
where one is headed. This is precisely the vacuum we seek to fill, since we
feel that what happened in July and May must never happen again.
We are introducing a slight variation in anarchism into our programme: the
establishment of a Revolutionary Junta.
As we see it, the revolution needs organisms to oversee it, and repress, in
an organised sense, hostile sectors. As current events have shown, such
sectors do not accept oblivion unless they are crushed.
There may be anarchist comrades who feel certain ideological misgivings,

259
but the lesson of experience is enough to induce us to stop pussyfooting.
Unless we want a repetition of what is happening to the present revolution,
we must proceed with the utmost energy against those who are not identified
with the working class.
After this brief preamble, we shall now proceed to set out the items of our
programme.
1. Establishment of a Revolutionary Junta or National Defence
Council
This body will be organised as follows: members of the revolutionary Junta
will be elected by democratic vote in the union organisations. Account is to
be taken of the number of comrades away at the front; these comrades must
have the right to representation. The Junta will steer clear of economic
affairs, which are the exclusive preserve of the unions.
The functions of the revolutionary Junta are as follows:
(a) Management of the war.
(b) Supervision of revolutionary order.
(c) International affairs.
(d) Revolutionary propaganda.
Posts to come up regularly for reallocation so as to prevent anyone growing
attached to them. And the union assemblies will exercise control over the
Junta’s activities.
2. All economic power to the unions
Since July the unions have supplied evidence of the great capacity for
constructive labour. Had we not relegated them to a secondary position, they
would have yielded a great return on the investment. It will be the unions
that structure the proletarian economy.
An Economic Council may also be set up, taking into consideration the
natures of the industrial unions and industrial federations, to improve the
coordination of economic activities.
3. Free municipality
Prior to the coming of the foreign dynasties, municipal rights were defended
with great tenacity in Spain. Such decentralisation precluded the erection of

260
a new state system. And in this new Spain that the proletariat looks forward
to, the charter of freedoms that went under at Villalar3 shall rise again. And
the so-called Catalan and Basque problems will be resolved . . .
The Municipality will take charge of those functions of society that fall
outside the preserve of the unions. And since the society we are going to
build will be composed exclusively of producers, it will be the unions, no
less, that will provide sustenance for the municipalities. And since there is
no disparity of interests, there can be no conflict.
The Municipalities will be organised at the level of local, comarcal
[regional] and peninsular federations. Unions and municipalities will
maintain liaison at local, comarcal and national levels.
TOWARDS A FRESH REVOLUTION
The demise of the July revolution has been rapid. None of the revolutions
generally regarded as the archetypes of social revolution experienced such a
giddy decline.
There can be no theorising about events following one another in stages,
because revolution is not yet a fact. It is imperative that the inexhaustible
genius of proletarian Spain be tapped once again. We must go out and make
a new beginning.
Revolutions occur with great frequency in our country. Sometimes they are
embarked upon without the requisite conditions being present and with no
possibility of success. One has to be able to divine the precise moment,
psychologically and insurrectionally speaking. The outcome hangs on the
correct choice.
Making forecasts is no easy task. Who can say when a new July or even a
new May may be possible? We may assume, however, that in Spain the
conditions will present themselves afresh.
If the war continues to take this unfavourable turn, all the politicians looking
for a way to arrive at an armistice and a fraternal embrace will have to be
cast on to the dungheap. Good evidence of this is the sabotaging of the war,
the war industries and the whole gamut of supplies, as well as the inflated
prices of food – an inflation fomented by those in power with an eye to
creating a favourable atmosphere in which to execute their plans for
strangling the revolution.
It may, perhaps, be that a negotiated settlement becomes a reality. Then the

261
time will have come to resist it by force of arms. And should we win the
war those problems that are posed in such poignant form today will be
raised again on the return of our comrades from the fronts. What solutions
will be found to them?
How will the industry of war be converted into an industry of peace? Will
there be work for the fighting men? Will all the victims be looked after?
Will the officer class resign itself to the loss of its sinecures? Can markets
be won back again?
The three dates we have described4 each correspond to different positions.
We cannot say which will apply. The problem, however, hinges on the
preparation of a new rebellion so that the proletariat can assume control of
the country in a definite way.
They cannot say we are overreacting. The present moment has nothing
revolutionary about it. The counter-revolution feels quite bold enough to
mount all sorts of provocations. The jails are crammed with workers. The
rights of the proletariat are openly denied. We revolutionary workers are
treated like underlings. The language of the bureaucrats, in uniform and out
of uniform, is intolerable. Not to mention the attacks on the unions.
A fresh revolution is the only course of action open. Let us set about its
preparation. And when the crunch comes, we shall join the comrades who
are today away fighting on the fronts, the comrades in the jails and the
comrades who, even now, cherish the hope of a revolution that may bring
justice to the working class – all in the streets together.
To the success of a fresh revolution that will bring the workers of town and
country complete satisfaction. To the attainment of an anarchist society that
will satisfy man’s aspirations.
Forward, comrades!
Notes
1. On Maura, see also Melchór Rodriguez’s 1932 article ‘Tragic Balance
Sheet’ on ‘Mr 108’, i.e. Maura, in KSL Bulletin no. 58–59, June 2009.
2. The miners’ strike, which became a revolutionary uprising, was
suppressed savagely by colonial troops commanded by Franco.
3. The battle of Villalar on 23 April 1521 saw the crushing defeat of the
comunero rebels, paving the way for autocratic monarchy uninhibited by the

262
rights of the lower orders.
4. Presumably April 1931, July 1936 and May 1937.

263
THE FRIENDS OF DURRUTI:
SOME OF ITS MEMBERS AND/OR CONTRIBUTORS
TO ITS PAPER EL AMIGO DEL PUEBLO
Paul Sharkey
1. Jaime Balius – A disabled journalist. A former medical student of
middle-class origins. Opposed the Primo de Rivera dictatorship and from
then on was associated with the CNT and FAI. Regular contributor to
Solidaridad Obrera in 1935–36. Author of a pamphlet Octubre catalan!,
heavily advertised in Solidaridad Obrera in 1935, dealing with the October
1934 insurrection. Also wrote for the paper Ideas of the Bajo Llobregat
comarca – a hard-line anarchist area. Secretary of the Friends of Durruti
and director of its paper. He was imprisoned in Barcelona’s Model Prison
and also held by the Political Social Brigade under the Negrín government.
2. Pablo Ruiz – Fought at Durruti’s side in the capture of the Atarazanas
barracks in Barcelona in 1936. Prominent in the Durruti Column. Editor of
El Amigo del Pueblo.
3. Domingo Paniagua – Editor of El Amigo del Pueblo.
4. Juan Español.
5. ‘Mingo’ (Ponciano Alonso) – A writer of the ‘novelas de la ideal’ so
popular in CNT-FAI circles before 1936.
6. Francisco Carreno – A close collaborator of Durruti’s as a member of
the Column’s War Committee. Visited Russia along with Martin Gudell in
late 1936 bearing a message from Durruti to the Soviet workers – not their
government. Attended a meeting by the Friends of Durruti in the Poliorama
Theatre in Barcelona, a short time before May 1937. Died in France in
February 1947.
7. Eleuterio Roig – One of the editors of El Amigo del Pueblo.
8. Jaime Rodríguez.
9. Juan Santana Calero – A libertarian youth leader from around Malaga,
and a member of the Libertarian Youth’s Catalan Regional Committee with
responsibility for press, publicity and culture.

264
10. ‘Fulmen’ – Had a regular column in the Friends of Durruti paper
concentrating on analogies between the Spanish and French revolutions.
11. ‘Atarca’.
12. Ada Marti.
13. Manuel Sánchez – From the mining town of Sallent whose death was
recorded in El Amigo del Pueblo no. 2 dated 26 May 1937.
14. ‘Artemisa’ – Writer on El Amigo del Pueblo.
15. Francisco Garcia – His death was reported in Solidaridad Obrera, 16
April 1937, as being ‘of especial interest to Friends of Durruti’ group
16. In Solidaridad Obrera of 28 May 1937, the Regional Committee of the
CNT and the FAI and the local Barcelona Federation of unions said these
organisations should proceed to expel members of the Friends of Durruti
from their ranks unless they publicly disowned the group. Next day
Solidaridad Obrera carried such a statement from Joaquín Aubi and Rosa
Muñoz, resigning from the group.
Balius is confident that the group had the backing of the CNT-FAI
grassroots, and the Friends of Durruti had groups in Sans, Torrasa, Gracia,
Sabadell and Sallent, with sympathisers on the Aragón front.
The Friends of Durruti were especially strong in the Food Syndicate. El
Amigo del Pueblo no. 8 dated 21 September 1937 carries a report of a
police attack on that union’s premises in the early hours of 20 September
1937. Hundreds of Civil (Republican) Guards, with tanks, an artillery
battery and machine guns descended on the local, arresting 23 people there.
In El Amigo del Pueblo no. 2 (26 May 1937), the Friends of Durruti record
certain donations to their press fund: 1,000 pesetas from the X group on the
Aragón front, l,000 pesetas from the comrades at Pina, 100 pesetas from
Miguel Chueca (of the Council of Aragón) and 25 pesetas from Gregorio
Jover and 25 from the committee at Bellver de Cinca. A militiaman’s wages
were 10 pesetas a day at the time.

265
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES AND FURTHER INFORMATION
Paul Sharkey
Aiguadé, Artemio (1889–1946) Catalanist politician with responsibility
for Public Order in May 1937. A member of the Republican Esquerra (Left)
Party.
Aláiz, Felipe (1887–1959) Influential journalist and author active in the
libertarian press in Spain between 1920 and 1950. Argued the case for a
‘purist’ version of anarchism.
Alba Probably the José Alba who served with the Durruti Column in
Aragón, in the Gelsa sector and on its War Committee. He was a member of
the Friends of Durruti and, following a hold-up at the Born market in
Barcelona, was arrested and shot.
Alcalá-Zamora, Niceto (1877–1949) Liberal monarchist and Catholic
politician who served as president of the Republic in 1931 before resigning
over the Republic’s treatment of the church.
Álvarez Ferreras, Félix (1921–2009) Spanish anarchist who was raised in
France and returned to Spain in 1931. Fought in the Civil War, re-entering
republican Spain after the collapse of the Catalan front in order to fight on.
Later moved to Canada and settled there. Prolific writer and poet.
Álvarez, Germinal Son of Felix Álvarez Ferreras.
Álvarez, Melquiades (1864–1936) Member of the monarchist Reformist
Party in 1912 and speaker of the Spanish parliament in 1922–23. Later
joined the republican Liberal Democratic Party before drifting rightwards
after 1933. He was murdered by a republican mob in a Madrid prison on 23
August 1936.
Andreu, Josep (1906–93) Co-founder of the Esquerra of Catalunya who
was appointed chair of the Barcelona Territorial High Court and Court of
Cassation in 1936, in which duties he alleged that his life had been
attempted three times. An attempt on his life on 3 August 1937 led to the
arrest and charging of José Battle, a prominent activist with the CNT
Prisoners’ Aid Committee.
Ascaso, Francisco (1901–36) Leading member of the Solidarios and
Nosotros anarchist groups; he was killed while storming the Atarazanas

266
barracks in Barcelona in July 1936.
Assault Guards Paramilitary police corps established in 1932 to deal with
public order matters. In December 1936 it was amalgamated with the Civil
Guard to form the Internal Security Corps that retained specialist Assault
(public order) Units.
Azaña, Manuel (1880–1940) Bourgeois republican politician who served
as president of the Republic 1936–39. In the first years of the Republic his
doctrinaire threats to ‘make mincemeat’ of the army and claim that Spain
was ‘no longer Catholic’ did much to fan the flames of hostility to the
Republic.
Batista Possibly the Batista who headed a team of dynamiters on the
Aragón front.
Blum, Léon (1872–1950) French Socialist Party leader and head of the
French Popular Front government in France in 1936.
Burillo, Ricardo (1891–1940) Infantry major who served in the Assault
Guard in Madrid in 1936, by which time he was a communist. Later, as
Security director-general he oversaw the crackdown on the POUM and
revolutionary left in Catalonia. Allegedly once said he had only three
loyalties: the army, the party and freemasonry. Finished the war as a
supporter of the Casado Junta. Executed by the Francoists for alleged
complicity in the murder of rightwing politician Calvo Sotelo in Madrid in
July 1936, which he denied to the end.
Cabañas, José (1913–95) Member of the Libertarian Youth, CNT and FAI
who served in the ‘España Libre’ Column during the Civil War. In 1938 he
was military secretary on the FIJL Peninsular Committee. In 1939 he
resettled in England where he headed the CNT delegation for some years.
Cabanellas, Miguel (1862–1938) Liberal republican officer who opposed
the Primo de Rivera dictatorship but who was part of the ‘Directory’ behind
the July 1936 army mutiny.
Cano Ruiz, Benjamín (1908–88) Highly respected journalist, poet and
painter who was co-founder of the FAI in 1927, active in the Libertarian
Youth and worked as a rationalist schoolteacher and in libertarian
journalism for Ruta, Tiempos Nuevos and Solidaridad Obrera. Exiled in
Mexico after the Civil War.

267
Cara al sol The party anthem of the Spanish Falange.
Cárdenas, Lázaro (1895–1970) President of Mexico (1934–40) and friend
to Spanish republicans during and after the Civil War.
Casado, Segismundo (1893–1968) Professional army officer fighting for
the Republic. Alarmed by the Communist Party–Negrín’s talk of mounting
resistance ‘to the death’ while ensuring that leading cadres and politicians
and their families were safely evacuated, he mounted a counter-coup in
March 1939, assisted by Cipriano Mera. While his counter-coup
succeeded, the Nationalist camp refused to entertain anything other than
unconditional surrender.
Casares Quiroga, Santiago (1881–1950) Galician home-ruler and later
member of the Republican Left party. During his term as Interior minister,
the security forces stained their reputation with incidents in Castilblanco,
Arnedo and Casas Viejas. He was prime minister at the time of the mutiny in
July 1936, to which his response was inadequate.
Catalanist Term used to describe policies or parties stressing Catalan
language and identity, encompassing a wide gamut from apolitical linguistic
activists to near-fascist separatists.
Cazorla Probably José Cazorla, Stalinist active in the chekas in Madrid.
CEDA A loose confederation of conservative Catholic parties led by José
María Gil-Robles. Committed to the preservation of Catholic values rather
than to any specific political regime, it was regarded as reactionary rather
than merely conservative.
Cheka Slang term for the ‘private’ prisons (and their operators) operating
outside of and parallel to the legal system within the republican camp.
Obvious allusion to the Russian experience. Their existence was first
denounced in Solidaridad Obrera in Barcelona in July 1936.
Civil Guard Founded in 1844 to combat rural banditry, the Civil Guard
became a byword for brutal repression.
Comarca Essentially the equivalent of a county (adjective comarcal).
Comorera, Juan (1895–1957) Catalan socialist who led the PSUC, the
Catalan chapter of the Comintern. His war on the anarchist ‘tribes’ (his
expression) and revolutionary committees made him a champion of Stalinist
policy and turned his party into a haven for anti-revolutionaries.

268
Companys, Lluís (1882–1940) One-time labour lawyer for the CNT, he
founded the Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana), leading
the home-rule Generalitat government. In 1940 he was extradited to Spain
from occupied France, court-martialled and executed.
Continente, possibly Cayetano Continente Bermúdez (a.k.a. El Abuelo)
Aragonese peasant who led the long-range guerrilla group ‘Los
Libertadores’, operating behind Francoist lines. Arrested at the end of the
Civil War,
Dalmau Carbonell, Gaspar Communist and ex-policeman in charge of the
cheka in the Calle Córcega in Barcelona. In November 1937, he was made
governor of the Modelo prison, replacing a predecessor deemed too ‘soft’
on the CNT and POUM inmates.
De La Cierva, Ricardo (1926–) Conservative Spanish historian and
politician. His uncle, Juan de La Cierva, served as a minister under
Alfonso XIII.
Delso de Miguel Joaquín Recruited at an early age to the CNT and
Libertarian Youth, and a member of the FAI’s ‘Z’ group with José Grunfeld,
he served on a number of inter-organisation liaison groups during the Civil
War, escaping from Spain via Levante on board a British vessel, the
Galatea. A ‘collaborationist’ during the Civil War and an ‘orthodox’
afterwards, with time he drifted towards views more challenging of the
MLE leadership in Toulouse and had contacts with ‘Quico’ Sabaté.
Dencás, Josep (1900–65) Co-founder of Estat Catalá party. An
authoritarian Catalanist and visceral enemy of the CNT and FAI. Close
confederate of the Badía brothers, who used policing powers to harass the
CNT. After the failure of the October 1934 revolt, he made an ignominious
escape via a sewer to a safe haven in fascist Italy.
Durruti, Buenaventura (1896–1936) Legendary CNT-FAI man of action,
founder of the Durruti Column and incarnation of the values that the Friends
of Durruti Group was founded to preserve and uphold. He was killed the
battle for Madrid in November 1936, probably by ‘friendly fire’. (See The
Death of Durruti, Joan Llarch)
El Campesino (real name Valentín González) (1904–83) Colourful
communist wartime military commander. Larger-than-life character,
sectarian, murderous and undisciplined. Later fell out with the Communist

269
Party.
El Empecinado (a.k.a. Juan Martin Diaz) (1775–1825) Famous Spanish
guerrilla leader, fought the French in the Peninsular War, but, being a liberal
of constitutionalist inclinations, was executed by King Ferdinand VII.
Escamots Catalanist action groups
Escudero, Manuel Attaché at the Mexican embassy in Paris, involved in
much skullduggery in relation to arms purchases made on behalf of the
Spanish Republic and at extravagant rates of commission.
España fuera de España London-based organ of the UK chapter of the
CNT-in-exile. Began publication in the 1960s under Agustín Roa and
Antonio Vargas.
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya The Catalan Left Republican political
party led by Lluís Companys.
Estat Catalá Catalanist party out to achieve Catalan independence from
Spain. Its members in the 1930s covered a wide spectrum from the
apolitical to the quasi-fascist.

FAI Iberian Anarchist Federation, launched in Valencia in 1927 and


representing both Portugal and Spain. Headed by its Peninsular Committee.
(See We, the anarchists, Stuart Christie)
FAU Free Workers’ Union (German: Freie Arbeiterinnen-und Arbeiter-
Union or Freie ArbeiterInnen-Union; abbreviated FAU) German anarcho-
syndicalist union; German section of the International Workers Association
(IWA). The name is often abbreviated to FAU-IAA or FAU/IAA
Faure, Sébastien (1858–1942) Leading French anarchist. Founder of Le
Libertaire newspaper and a tireless propagandist, active in the Dreyfus
Affair. The ‘Grand Old Man’ of French anarchism in the 1920s–30s.
Ferrándiz, Juan, or sometimes José From Manresa, he served on the
defence/militias committee of the CNT Opposition Unions in 1936 before
serving with the 153rd Mixed Brigade as a lieutenant. Killed in action in
Badull in the Sierra de Montsech in May 1938.
Fraga Iribarne, Manuel (1922–2012) Urbane politician who served as
minister of Tourism and Information under Franco. The ‘acceptable’ face of

270
Francoism.
Friends of Durruti Group of CNT-FAI members disgruntled at the
organisations’ collaborationist policy and retreat from revolutionary
positions of July 1936. Came to prominence during the May Days when it
urged the victorious workers to finish the job, reassert the anarchist
presence and see the revolution through regardless of the consequences.
Galán Rodríguez, Francisco (1902–71) Highly regarded communist
military commander active in the defence of Madrid which earned him great
popularity. A favoured son of the party and promoted accordingly, he ended
the Civil War in disgrace following execution of some 90 prisoners in Turón
which was part of his command. Withdrew from politics and lived in exile
in Argentina.
Garcia, Justiniano Republican major and head of the escort of PSOE
minister Ángel Galarza prior to the Civil War: active in the cheka in the
Santa Ursula convent near Valencia. Communist and head of intelligence at
the Interior Ministry.
García Oliver, Juan (1901–80) CNT-FAI ‘man of action’ who became a
government minister (minister of Justice) and who played a leading part in
ensuring an end to hostilities in Barcelona in May 1937, for which many
(not least the Friends of Durruti) would never forgive him.
García Pradas, José (1910–88) CNT journalist with great influence in
Madrid. Served on the CNT’s Defence Junta in the Centre region. Backed
the Casado coup against Negrín and the communists.
Gassol, (Bona) Ventura (1893–1980) Catalan writer and politician, co-
founder of the Esquerra party in Catalonia. During the Civil War he
specialised in the protection of works of art and helped save threatened
clergy, earning him the enmity of the FAI that forced him into exile in
France.
Generalidad/Generalitat Catalonia’s home-rule administration.
GEPCI Catalan organisation embracing small traders and manufacturers.
Largely controlled by the PSUC, it harboured many anti-revolutionaries.
Gil-Robles, José María (1899–1980) Conservative leader of the CEDA
coalition. CEDA’s entry into government alongside Lerroux triggered the
October 1934 uprising by the left. Gil-Robles spent the Civil War years in

271
Portugal, aiming to revive the monarchy.
Ginester (should be Ginestet Sanfeliu), Antonio (1915-1938) A member
of the ‘Progreso’ anarchist group, Ginestet was one of a cohort of anarchists
with links to Argentina who occupied positions of note in the CNT-FAI
structures during the war. He served on the War Committee of the Tierra y
Libertad Column.
Goded, Manuel (1882–1936) General implicated in the July 1936
rebellion: his task was to seize control of Catalonia, in which he failed.
Tried and executed.
González Inestal, Miguel (1904–90s) CNT union organiser and later CNT
commissar-general on the Central General Staff. One of a cohort of
hardheaded, practically minded anti-communist CNT leaders based in
Madrid and prepared to embrace military discipline to speed the end of the
war.
Guerra, Camilo CNT member killed in Barcelona in 1938 by ‘counter-
revolutionaries’. Nothing else known.
Himno de Riego Spanish republican anthem.
Iglesias, Pablo (1850–1985) Member of the First International who sided
with Karl Marx against Bakunin and founded the Spanish UGT and PSOE
(Spanish Workers’ Socialist Party).
Irujo, Manuel (1909–85) Conservative Basque Nationalist Party (PNV)
politician whose attempts at asserting his responsibilities and authority as
minister of the Interior were ignored and circumvented by communist
influence and parallel structures.
Jaurès, Jean (1859–1914) French socialist politician prior to the Great
War. Assassinated by a French ultra-nationalist, Raoul Villain, for his
opposition to war in 1914.

La Fatarella Small town near Tarragona. In January 1937 there was a


sensational clash between armed anarchists and local residents opposing
attempts at collectivisation. The anarchist version is that the opposition was
the work of fifth columnists, reactionaries and fascists. In the February 1936
elections the right had claimed 800 votes from the 2,000-inhabitant town
and the left the grand total of 4 (for the Esquerra), The local CNT had just

272
16 members. Would-be collectivisers were driven out at gunpoint and
called in reinforcements from Reus and Barcelona. Around 30 La Fatarella
residents were killed in the clash. The dead on the anarchist side included
Barcelona control patrolmen Francisco Cano and Portillo. Needless to say
the incident was a boon to PSUC propaganda.
Largo Caballero, Francisco (1869–1946) PSOE and UGT leader whose
earlier collaboration with the Primo de Rivera dictatorship in the 1920s
gave way to increasing radicalisation, driving the PSOE to the left, to the
discomfort of Prieto and Negrín. Secured CNT ministers for his cabinet in
November 1936.
Leal (a.k.a. Feliciano Llach) Commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 153rd
Mixed Brigade (formerly the Tierra y Libertad Column), he distinguished
himself in the battle for Belchite in which he was wounded. Subsequently he
was one of a number of libertarian commanders from the 153rd arrested in
connection with the death of Enrique Rigabert who had been investigating
certain irregularities in the Brigade. In early 1939, just prior to the loss of
Catalonia to the fascists, the Libertarian Youth were (according to Abel
Paz’s autobiography) putting together a ‘snatch squad’ to rescue him from
prison in Montjuich.
Lerroux, Alejandro (1865–1949) Anticlerical, rabble-rousing politician
whose youthful supporters were once known as the ‘Young Barbarians’. His
opposition to Catalanism and monarchy earned him a degree of support but
as time passed he drifted further and further to the right. It was against a
CEDA–Lerroux government that the October 1934 Revolution was directed.
He spent the Civil War in Portugal.
Líster, Enrique (1907–94) Moscow-trained Spanish Communist Party
military commander, notorious for the destruction of the Aragonese
collectives in the autumn of 1937 by his 11th Division.
López, Gerardo Sometime contributor to the CNT press in exile in the UK.
Nothing else known.
López Ochoa, Eduardo (1877–1936) Army officer and freemason who
was a republican plotter against Primo de Rivera. Under the Second
Republic he was instrumental in crushing the October 1934 uprising, as a
result of which he was murdered in his hospital bed in July 1936.
López Sánchez, Juan (1900–72) Moderate CNT member, one of two
treintistas among the four CNT representatives awarded ministerial office

273
in Largo Caballero’s November 1936 cabinet. After spending some time in
exile in the UK he returned to Spain and cooperated with the Francoist
Vertical Syndicates.
Lorenzo, Anselmo (1842–1914) First Internationalist, the ‘grand old man’
of Spanish anarchism, the living link between Bakuninism and the CNT.
Lozano, Manuel (b. 1913) Anarchist who served on several fronts in the
Spanish Civil War before escaping to Oran, North Africa. There he joined
the Free French and Leclerc’s Armoured Division, helping to liberate Paris,
Strasbourg, Dachau and Berchtesgaden. After the war he remained with the
anarchist movement but withdrew from activism. Editor of Ráfagas.
Mantecón, José Ignacio A member of the Republican Left Party, Mantecón
served on the Council of Aragón from December 1936. After the dissolution
of the Council of Aragón he became regional governor and fiercely anti-
libertarian.
Marañón, Gregorio (1887–1960) Erudite Spanish liberal of impeccable
credentials. The Friends of Durruti manifesto Towards a Fresh Revolution
pointedly refers to him as the man of the Intelligence Service (the last two
words being in English), the insinuation as to his anglophilia being clear.
March, Juan (1880–1962) Businessman with multiple interests in the real
and black economy, associated with tax evasion, fraud and bribery; he was
a financial backer of the rebels’ coup attempt in 1936.
Márquez, Benito Colonel who acted as spokesman for army malcontents
who formed the juntas de defensa in 1917. When he was jailed, fellow
officers petitioned for him to be released and in the general strike in August
1917 he served the establishment loyally.
Maura, Miguel (1887–1971) Conservative minister for the Interior in the
provisional government that eased the transition from monarchy to Republic.
The lethal impact of the police and security forces during his term in office
was such as to disabuse many of the hopes they had vested in a republic.
May Events The eruption of open fighting in May 1937 between the
libertarian left and POUM on one side and the forces of the Generalitat,
PSUC and Estat Catalá on the other.
Mendizábal, Juan Álvarez (1790–1853) In the 19th century, he presided
over state seizure and disposal of much church land, a measure that proved

274
not to be the panacea it had been believed it would be.
Merino, Baltasar (a.k.a. ‘Father’ or ‘Priest’ Merino) (1769–1840)
Spanish guerrilla leader of absolutist views who fought the French in the
Peninsular War before siding with the Carlists in the 1830s and being forced
into exile at the end of the First Carlist War.
Mixed Brigades A mode of military organisation whereby a Brigade would
have additional services (machine-gunners, artillery, etc.), affording it
greater self-reliance and impact on the battlefield.
MLE The composite name used for the CNT, FAI and Libertarian Youth.
Literally Spanish Libertarian Movement.
Mola, Emilio (1887–1937) General who was the ‘director’ of the army
rebellion in 1936. In charge of the northern front of the rebellion, he spoke
of four columns closing on Madrid with a fifth column in readiness within
the city.
Monferrer, Luis Spanish author of a study of Spanish republican exiles in
Britain (1936–77), published in Madrid in 2008.
Montseny, Federica (1905–94) One of two faista ministers who joined the
government of Largo Caballero in 1936 on behalf of the CNT-FAI. Her
confidence in her ability to preserve anarchist principle was not shared by
the Friends of Durruti who saw her as one of the main peddlers of the policy
of collaborationism.
Negrín, Juan (1889–1956) Physician and PSOE member who served as
Minister of Finance under Largo Caballero before replacing the latter as
prime minister in 1937. Heavily dependent on the communists. He was
removed as premier by the Casado coup in Madrid in 1939 but headed the
republican government-in-exile up until 1945.
Nin, Andrés (1892–1937) POUM leader, Generalitat minister, one-time
CNT leader, former member of the Moscow soviet and oppositionist
Marxist. ‘Disappeared’ by the Stalinists in 1937 who alleged, nonsensically,
that he had been ‘rescued’ by his Nazi confederates.
Nosaltres Sols (Ourselves Alone) Extremist paramilitary organisation
within the Estat Catalá orbit; founded in 1931 by Daniel Cardona, it
consciously imitated the Sinn Fein experience in Ireland; hence the name.
Orto Influential review published in Barcelona, 1984–, and showcasing the

275
libertarian movement and Spanish revolution.
Otaegui, Ángel (d. 1975) As one of the defendants in the Burgos Trial, this
ETA member was one of Franco’s last victims.
Otero, Manuel (should be Alejandro) (1889–1953) Physician and PSOE
deputy whose performance as an arms-purchasing agent on behalf of the
Republic was heavily criticised. He was prominent in the PSOE in exile in
Mexico and served in the republican government-in-exile.
Peirats, José (1908–89) Construction worker who was, in his time, a
member of the Libertarian Youth, FAI and CNT. During the Civil War he
opposed collaboration with the state. Served as general secretary of the
MLE in 1947 and 1950 and is remembered chiefly for his monumental,
three-volume The CNT in the Spanish Revolution.
Peiró, Juan (1887–1942) CNT leader involved in the glass industry.
Resentful of the FAI for compromising the hard-won status and assets of the
CNT, he had been a treintista and joined the so-called Opposition Unions
that rejoined the CNT fold at the Zaragoza congress in May 1936. He served
in the republican government as a CNT minister. Extradited from France by
the Francoists, he rejected their attempts to recruit him to their ‘vertical
syndicate’ unions and was executed.
Perea Capolino, Juan (1890–1967) Perea joined the infantry aged 14 and
had been promoted lieutenant by the age of 25. Under the monarchy he had
been a plotter in cahoots with the CNT with which he remained on good
terms. After retiring as a captain in 1924, he volunteered his services to the
Republic in 1936 and commanded militia units before taking command of
the 5th Division and later of the IV and XXI Army Corps. In 1938 he was
made Officer Commanding the Army of the East and finished the war as a
colonel. Later left for exile in France and then Mexico.
Pestaña, Ángel (1886–1937) CNT leader, instrumental in keeping the CNT
out of the Third International. As general secretary he became more
moderate, signing the treintista manifesto, defecting to the Opposition
Unions and then launching his own Syndicalist Party.
POUM Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification. Revolutionary Marxist party
formed from the amalgamation of two anti-Stalinist Marxist groups, the
BOC, led by Joaquín Maurín, and the Communist Left, led by Andrés Nin.
Pozas, Sebastián (1876–1946) Professional officer who was inspector-

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general of the Civil Guard in 1936, later assuming command of the
Republic’s Army of the Centre before assuming control of the Army of the
East following the May events in 1937.
Prieto, Indalecio (1883–1962) A leading light of the Socialist Party, he
served as Navy and Army minister in the Largo Caballero government
before becoming minister of Defence under Negrín. He became alarmed at
Communist Party influence and was accused of ‘defeatism’.
Primo de Rivera, José Antonio (1903–36) Son of Miguel and founder of
the Spanish Falange, a self-consciously radical nationalist party committed
to Spanish unity. Murdered in prison in July 1936 by republicans.
Primo de Rivera, Miguel (1870–1930) General who ruled Spain from
1923 until 1929, trying to use the UGT as a single state-sponsored trade
union and to form a single party, the Unión Patriotica.
PSOE Initials of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party.
Puigcerdá Spanish Pyrenean town on the border with France. Under
anarchist control it was a crossing point for men and materials. The 1937
murder of its CNT mayor, Antonio Martín, was one of a number of
incidents that served as a prelude to the May Events, after which the town
was taken over by the Carabineers and central government control asserted.
Queipo de Llano, Gonzalo (1875–1951) Nationalist general who rebelled
in July 1936 and controlled southern Spain. Notorious for his crass brutality
and coarse propaganda radio broadcasts.
Ráfagas Spanish exile review published in Paris beginning in 1992.
Ramos, José, sometimes Juan Anarchist who served with the Tierra y
Libertad Column.
Roa, Agustín (1915–99) Secretary of the Barcelona Local Libertarian
Youth Federation in May 1937. Exiled in France, deported to N. Africa and
liberated from a French concentration camp there by Allied forces in 1942.
Served out the rest of the war in the Pioneer Corps before settling in
England, where he represented the CNT. Prolific journalist in Spanish and
anarchist publications, he co-founded España fuera de España and in 1960
co-founded the Spanish Ex-Servicemen’s Association in Britain.
Ródenas, Libertad (1892–1970) Sister of CNT activist Progreso
Ródenas, she was a very staunch anarcho-syndicalist. Wife of José Viadiu

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(below).
Rodríguez Salas, Eusebio One-time CNT member who ran the ‘action
groups’ of the Bloc Obrer i Camperol (Worker–Peasant Bloc) before
switching to the PSUC after its formation in 1936. His raid on the Telephone
Exchange in Barcelona in May 1937 provided the spark for the May Events.
Later expelled from the PSUC for ‘Titoism’.
Rodriguez, Floreal 1930s-born activist with the underground CNT under
Franco: a haulier, he was given a heavy sentence under ‘banditry and
terrorism’ legislation for transporting propaganda. Served time in 13
Francoist prisons and escaped from Puerto de Santa Maria in January 1971.
Romanones, Count (1863–1950) A constitutional monarchist politician and
Liberal Party leader who served terms as prime minister under Alfonso
XIII. An anglophile, he negotiated safe passage from Spain for Alfonso XIII
in 1931.
Rosa, Antonio One of the chiefs of the Tierra y Libertad Column’s gunnery
section. In 1938, a communist-inspired roundup of anarchist commanders
Rosa, Leal, Armesto, Ester and Bach led to substantial numbers of
deserters fleeing to the 26th (Durruti) Division for safety.
Ruiz, Acracio (real name Juan Molina Ortega) (1909–94) CNT–FAI
member who served in the España Libre Column before becoming political
commissar with the 77th Mixed Brigade. In the latter stages of the Civil War
he worked closely with Cipriano Mera on the Centre Region’s Defence
Junta and helped Casado in the pre-emptive coup mounted against Negrín
and the Communist Party. Later spent years in Britain before returning to
Spain. Served on Defensa Interior agency set up by the MLE to orchestrate
violent attempts to overthrow Francoism.
Ruiz, Juan (d. 1983) Member of the Libertarian Youth and influential CNT
secretary in Marbella in 1936. Later exiled in Britain where he lectured in
British universities on childhood education.
Salgado, Manuel (1899–1967) Served on the CNT’s Defence Junta in the
Centre region (Madrid). Edited its paper, Frente Libertario, for a time.
Influential anti-communist and at one-time, briefly, chief of the special
services at the Ministry of War. Exiled in Britain.
Sanjurjo, José (1872–1936) General who, as chief of the hated Civil
Guard, attempted a coup against the Republic in 1932, was amnestied in

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1934 and who was to have been the figurehead of the army rebellion in July
1936, except that the plane bringing him from Portugal crashed, catapulting
Francisco Franco into that position.
Seba Amorós, Antonio Commanded the 153rd Mixed Brigade in the taking
of Belchite before being replaced by Antonio Teresa, but in post-Civil-War
Barcelona became a police informant, participating in the underground CNT
structures in cahoots with traitor Eliseo Melis until driven out of Barcelona
following an attack on him by the Los Maños action group. Melis was later
assassinated.
Seguí, Salvador (1887–1923) Anarchist union leader held in great affection
and respect. Co-founder of the Solidaridad Obrera organisation which
prefigured the CNT, he was murdered by gunmen in the employ of the
bosses.
Siembra Anarchist review of which 30+ issues were published in Alicante
during 1991–99.
Silvestre, (1871–1921) Spain’s equivalent to George Custer, he was killed
when rebels in ‘Spanish’ Morocco wiped out a Spanish army in the battle of
Annual in 1921.
SIM (Military Investigation Service) Agency formed by Socialist Party
leaders to combat espionage, defeatism and desertion in the republican
camp. Its inquisitorial methods, communist infiltration and practices of
holding family members answerable for the ‘offences’ of suspects quickly
earned it notoriety. Formally, it was an agency of government; practically, it
often followed an agenda set by the communists and by the Comintern.
Solidaridad Obrera The official mouthpiece of the CNT in Barcelona,
called after the organisation (Workers’ Solidarity) out of which the CNT had
grown. Popularly referred to simply as Soli.
Teresa Miguel, Antonio Basque anarchist with distinguished military
record, one-time commander of the Isaac Puente Battalion in the Basque
Country, then served in Asturias as a major (earning the Medal of Freedom,
the highest decoration, for his part in the battle of El Mazuco), before
joining and serving with the 153rd Brigade, replacing Seba as its
commander by early 1938; like Leal he was transferred owing to communist
intrigues. Later commanded the 146th Brigade.
Tierra y Libertad Column Formed in August 1936 as a volunteer militia,

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taking the iconic name of the official FAI newspaper. Greatly resisted the
regularisation of the militias in 1937 and threatened to return to Barcelona
during the May Events that year to confront the communists. Re-formed as
the 153rd Mixed Brigade, which was subsequently dispersed among other
units due to heavy losses and desertions following a communist take-over.
Toryho, Jacinto (1911–89) Professionally qualified journalist brought in to
run Solidaridad Obrera; by early 1937 he was holding it to the official pro-
collaborationist line of the CNT’s higher committees. Continued his career
in journalism (print and TV) in exile in Argentina.
Treintista From the Manifesto of the Thirty (treinta). Originally a group of
committed CNT members and officials alarmed at the threat posed to actual
gains made under the Republic and to the potential threat to which the
CNT’s assets were being exposed by spontaneous and maverick
insurrectionism spearheaded by the FAI. Later, treintista came to be used a
term of abuse directed at moderate CNT members ‘soft’ on republican
politicians.
UGT Workers’ General Union: the trade union wing of the PSOE. Split by
1936–37 between pro-communists and followers of Francisco Largo
Caballero.
Vargas, Antonio (1918–2009) Libertarian Youth member who had
problems with the Communist Party during the Civil War. After that he
wound up in a French concentration camp in Djelfa, leaving it to serve in
the British Army with Agustín Roa. After the war he settled in England and
by 1967 was secretary of the UK chapter of the CNT. Co-publisher of
España fuera de España. Returned to Spain in 1999.
Vergara embrace (abrazo de Vergara) The gesture of ‘reconciliation’
whereby, in Vergara in 1839, the First Carlist War (1833–1839) was ended
with a symbolic embrace by the opposing leaders. Ever since, the term has
meant a shabby and superficial gesture.
Viadiu, José (1890–1973) Veteran CNT militant from Igualada, associate of
Salvador Seguí; married to Libertad Ródenas (see above). He edited
Solidaridad Obrera just before the final collapse of the Republic. Two of
their children, Armand and Héctor, were evacuated from Spain to the USSR
in 1938 and died in the siege of Leningrad. A younger child, Ismael Viadiu,
was reunited with his parents in exile in Mexico in 1946.
Villaverde Sometime political commissar of the 153rd Mixed Brigade; took

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over from Señer as commander of the ‘Espartaco’ Battalion of the Tierra y
Libertad Column.
Vinalesa Small town near Valencia, scene of armed confrontation between
Assault Guards and anarchist militias in early March 1937. The anarchists,
who made up half of the local revolutionary committee, wanted to see
collectivisation extended from the barbershop and jute production sectors to
farming as a whole. Socialists and republicans opposed this. The Valencia
government was in any case trying to regularise administration by winding
up local committees. A new municipal council was elected in January 1937.
A dispute arose over the use of the theatre formerly owned by Catholic
Action and used by the anarchists to billet the militias. The local anarchists
brought in thirty militians led by José Pellicer of the Iron Column. The
government sent in an Assault Guard unit to bring the anarchists to heel.
Perhaps as many as 300 anarchists and Iron Column militians, unhappy with
growing government interference and the regularisation of the militias, made
for Vinalesa. The government then dispatched 1,000 Assault Guards to the
town. This convoy was ambushed using machine-guns. In the end, 200
anarchists were arrested, collectivisation was halted, the local committees
were snuffed out and regularisation was imposed on the Iron Column while
92 of its members were behind bars.
General ‘Walter’ (real name, Karol Swierczewski) (1897–1947) Polish
commander in the Red Army, graduate of the Frunze Military Academy: he
led the XIV International Brigade and 35th International Division. Killed in
1947, allegedly by members of the anti-Soviet Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

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