The CNT in the Spanish Revolution (Vols 2-3) by José Peirats Valls ISBN 978-1-873976-29-6 /& 24-1(Kindle eBook)

Edited and revised by Chris Ealham. Translated by Paul Sharkey (£5.90/$9.27/Eur7,32)

‘I salute my sun and I salute my land
I salute you Spain
Will I again see your sky in the silver moon
Of enchanted nights?
My heart is heavy and tired.
I leave you my country
Juan de Pena

Vol. 2.

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Vol. 3.

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José Peiratss ‘The CNT in the Spanish Revolution’ is a landmark in the historiography of the Spanish Civil War. Without it, the role of anarchism in that conflict could never be reconstructed. It is effectively the official CNT history of the war, passionate, partisan but, above all, intelligent. Its huge sweeping canvas covers all areas of the anarchist experience — the spontaneous militias, the revolutionary collectives, the moral dilemmas occasioned by the clash of revolutionary ideals and the stark reality of the war effort against Franco and his German Nazi and Italian Fascist allies.

Originally published in Toulouse in the early 1950s, it was a rarity anxiously searched for by historians and others who gleefully pillaged its wealth of documentation. Even its republication in Paris in 1971 by the exiled Spanish publishing house, Ruedo lbérico, though welcome, still left the book in the territory of specialists. For that reason alone, the present project to publish the entire work in English is to be applauded. However, there are various other reasons why this new edition is an obligatory purchase for any serious university library and indeed for all those interested in the history of both the Spanish Civil War and of anarchism in the twentieth century. In the first place, neither of the previous editions, despite their immense scale, had detailed indexes. Inevitably that rendered them difficult to use. Now, this edition is carefully indexed in a way that converts the work into a usable tool for historians and makes it much easier for the general reader to dip in with greater purpose and pleasure. Furthermore, these new volumes are accompanied by superb introductions and detailed notes supplied by Chris Ealham. The notes are fascinating, full of erudition lightly worn. Not only do they turn the volumes into a splendid aid to research, but the astonishing tale of starvation, prison and exile that lies behind the saga of the book’s completion is compellingly readable and a minor classic of historical reconstruction. The Cańada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies is proud to be associated with this magnificent project.

Professor Paul Preston London School of Economics

The CNT in the Spanish Revolution (Vol 2) by José Peirats Valls, ISBN 978-1-873976-24-1 (Edited and introduced by Chris Ealham (Translated by Paul Sharkey and Chris Ealham) Vol. 2.

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The CNT in the Spanish Revolution (Volume 2), José Peirats Valls (Kindle eBook)

CONTENTS of Vol 2 (1936-1937)

Glossary of organisations

 The life and struggles of José Peirats by Chris Ealham

Chapter 1: Spain and the World

‘Preventive neutrality’ by the democracies. The Giral government. The secret Italo-Spanish pact. Count Ciano’s diaries. Prieto reacts to the Non-Intervention Pact. America’s neutrality law. Rome and Berlin recognise Franco. Republican government manifesto. Franco-British mediation. The CNT warns against intervention. Against the recruitment of volunteers. The march of war. Assault on Madrid. Fall of Irún, San Sebastian, Badajoz, Toledo, ‘the night Madrid was saved’. ‘Blond Moors’ in Jarama. Disaster in Guadalajara. Militarisation of the confederal militias. Durango and Guernica. Views of international anti-fascism. Role of the Internationals. The voice of León Felipe.

Chapter 2: Organisational life and Trade Union Unity

Regional Plenum of CNT Peasants in Catalonia. National Plenum of the CNT’s Communications Unions. Regional Plenum of the Anarchist Groups of Catalonia. National Plenum of the Steel and Metalworking industries. Definition of the Unions and National Industrial Federations (NIF). National Plenum of the Union of of the Agricultural, Fishing and Food Industries. Regional Plenum of the Transport Unions of the Centre. National Plenum of the Federation of Railwayworkers. Towards a National Plenum of Technicians. Regional Congress of Castilian Peasants. National Plenum of FIJL Regional Committees. The events of Vilanesa. Soviet press defamation. CNT-UGT Alliance. State of the Problem. The Only Party of the Proletariat. The Alliance in Aragón.

Chapter 3: The Shadow of the Kremlin

The National Committee of the CNT and the Central Committee of the Communist Party establish bases of compromise. Stalinist duplicity. Clandestine prisons. The Maroto Case. The confederal National Committee takes sides. Press censorship and prosecution. Communist terrorism in the villages of Castile. The Cazorla affair. Dissolution of the Madrid Defence Junta. Reforming Madrid’s Municipal Council. Murcia under the Communist Checas. Protest by the National Committee of the CNT. People’s Tribunals. Revolutionary legislation.

Chapter 4: The miracle of the war industries

The Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth. The Libertarian Youth of Catalonia. Tendencies and positions. A pact with the JSY. The meeting in the Plaça de Catalunya. The crisis of the Pact. Alliance Youth Congress in Madrid. What happened between the Northern CNT and the government of Euskadi. The JSU as a front for the Communist Party. Against the Catalan war industries. An ignoble campaign. The miracle of a popular creation. From Lluís Companys to Indalecio Prieto. Soviet intrigues in the nationalised industries. Scandal of the purchasing commission. A Plenum of Libertarian Movement regional committees.

Chapter 5: The tide of counter-revolution

Education and propaganda. Press and publications. School for militants. Information and propaganda offices. The Coliseum conferences. ‘Anarchism and the Spanish reality’. More on the December crisis. The POUM’s sacrifice. War of slogans and injuries. ‘Above all else, win the war’. Comorera’s political intrigues. Soviet ships. The re-emergence of Rodríguez Sala. ‘Energetic declarations’. The work of the enterprise cells. The mourners of the liaison committees. Anti-collectivist congress. The events of La Fatarella. The mystery of the twelve stolen tanks. Fresh crisis in the Generalitat. The aborting of a solution. The solutionless solution.

Chapter 6: The bloody events of May

The events of Puigcerdà. A chain of provocations. A sombre First of May. ‘No one must allow themselves to be disarmed!’ The attack on the Barcelona Telephone Exchange. Popular mobilisation and first confrontations. Cease fire! Armistice negotiations. ‘The friends of Durruti’. The checas in action. The murder of Camilo Berneri. The threat of foreign intervention. Attempt on the life of Federica Montseny. Central government intervention. The peace of the cemeteries. Provocations continue. The murder of the hostages. The kidnapping of Andreu Nin. Bloody repercussions. Response of the front-line militias. The ‘pacification programme’. Press censorship and disarmament. A manifesto from the National Committee. The motives behind the provocation. The black hand of Stalin. Conclusions.

Chapter 7: The crisis of the Caballero government

The breakdown of public order in Catalonia. The Executive Council of the Generalitat. Military gangs of the Generalitat. Beginnings of a crisis. A historic Council of Ministers. The crisis deepens. Political breakdown. The Negrín government. The CNT and UGT despair of government. More on the deepening crisis. The CNT in opposition. Confederal ex-ministers explain themselves. Speeces of Juan López, García Oliver, Joan Peiró and Federica Montseny. Crisis in the Socialist Party.

Chapter 8: The political demise of the CNT

Police repression throughout Catalonia. Denouncing new provocations. National Plenum of Regional Committees. Towards a new stage of collaboration. A FAI circular. ‘Minimum programme of government’. Regional Plenum of Unions and Anarchist Groups. Plenum resolutions. Meeting in the Paris Winter Velodrome. Peasant activities. The Catalan Federation of Agricultural Industries.. Towards the National Federation of Peasants. An extraordinary Plenum of the International Workingmen’s Association (AIT). The death of Mola and the fall of Bilbao. The Marxist Bloc. Confederal Meeting in Valencia. The CNT justifies its involvement in the central government. A fresh crisis for for the Generalitat. Exclusion of the CNT. Manifesto of the Regional Committee of Catalonia. The birds of ill-omen return.

Chapter 9: Ironies of a first  anniversary

Historic Plenum of the FAI. A new structure is announced. Anarchist intervention in public institutions. The specific organisation of the masses. Towards a new political party? The groups react. Against the Special Tribunals. The growing offensive against the POUM. The CNT protests. First anniversary of the revolution. Denouncing a crime of state: the murder of Andreu Nin. Timid explanations by the minister of justice. The churches reopen. Trial opens of the ‘Tortosa affair’, A new Stalinist creation: the GEPCI. Complications in the socialist crisis. Largo Caballero under attack. A new CNT-UGT pact.

Chapter 10: Destruction of the Council of Aragón

The offensive begins. The imaginary terrorist plot. The attempt on the life of the president of the Barcelona High Court. Soviet ‘untouchables’. Comorera and the ‘tribes’. The Barbastro Assembly and the Alcañiz Plenum. Joaquín Ascaso’s speech. A confederal meeting. The dissolution of the Council of Aragón. Lìster’s 11th Division. Orchestration of the communist press. Repression. The destruction of the collectives and the municipal councils. The CNT protests. Political horse-trading. Towards normality. The Caspe Plenum. Reorganisation. Victorious offensive on the south-Ebro front. Artillery barrage from Zaragoza. Tragic collapse of the northern front. Conjectures. Lìster’s cynical telegram to General Miaja.

Chapter 11: The crisis of the socialist movement

More on the ‘only party of the proletariat’. Stalin’s diplomatic messenger. The ‘United Socialist Party’ of Jaén. A new diplomatic charm offensive. Assault on the ‘Escalopios’. Preparations for attack on the UGT executive. Ultimatum. The meeting on the stairs. Schism. Caballero’s speech in the Pardiñas cinema. Intervention by the International Federation of Trade Unions. Attack on La Correspondencia de Valencia. León Jouhaux arbitrates. Unification. The communists win the game.


The CNT in the Spanish Revolution (Vol 3) by José Peirats Valls, ISBN 978-1-873976-29-6 . Edited and introduced by Chris Ealham (Translated by Paul Sharkey and Chris Ealham) Vol. 3.

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The CNT in the Spanish Revolution (Volume 3) by José Peirats Valls

CONTENTS of Vol 3 (1938-1939)

Glossary of organisations

The history of Spanish anarchism in the English language by Chris Ealham

1: The Valencia Economic Forum

Catalan agricultural issues. The land redistribution decree. A national plenum with an economic focus. Creation of a labour inspectorate. Remuneration arrangements. Establishment of a Trade Union Bank. The Trade Union Insurance Agency. Confederal publications. Intensification of consumer cooperatives. Administrative centralisation on a mixed footing. The Confederal Economic Council. Federations of Industry and general labour regulations. The Spanish stock-breeding question.

2: The New Trade Union Platform

Take-over of public entertainments in Catalonia. The collectivists respond with a general strike. A typical compromise arrangement. Clarification of the ‘collectivisation decree’. Towards a new trade union unity platform. The UGT’s proposals. The CNT’s counter-proposals. ‘Marx and Bakunin would embrace one another’. Francoist military pressure a factor in the agreement. The 2nd FIJL national Congress. Autonomy and centralism. The new Peninsular Committee. Basis of the Anti-fascist Youth Alliance (AJA)

3: From Victory in Teruel to Disaster in Aragón         

The build-up to the offensive. The capture and loss of Teruel. A critique of the operation. The collapse of the eastern front. The offensive grinds to a standstill. Another week of tragedy in Barcelona. The workers desert the factories under furious air raids. The responses from the trade union organisations and Popuar Front. Cabinet reshuffle. The volunteer battalions. The Executive Committee of the Libertarian Movement. Sanctions on militants. Sub-committees in the central zone. A manifesto from the CNT’s national sub-committee. The Catalan CNT and UGT sign up to a new agreement. Tracking the disaster in the east. Generalities.

4: The Libertarian Movement’s crisis within

The Geneva life-belt. The alleged disintegration of the enemy rearguard. The miracle of the Marne invoked. Operations in the Alt Segre. Nostalgia for guerrilla warfare. The oppressive shadow of hunger. Doctor Negrín’s 13 Points.  The FAI’s reaction. The CNT enraptured. The poisonous impact of defective reasoning. The FAI lowers its flag. The crisis within the Libertarian Movement.

5: The August Crisis and the Battle of the Ebro

Plenum of the Libertarian Movement in Catalonia. National Plenum of the CNT regional committees. The political truce called off. Recuperation and state taske-over of the revolution’s gains. The August crisis. State take-over of the war industries in Catalonia. Silence from the CNT and objections from the FAI. The ‘reform’ of the Commissariat. The political crisis resolved. The SIM, Negrín’s political skeleton key. The offensive grinds to a halt in Catalonia. The battle of Levante. The Ebro gambit. A war of attrition. The retreat. A critical report from the FAI’s military secretariat.

6: Francoist Policy

Italy and Germany critical of their military suggestions being ignored. Signs of guerrilla activity in the North. The threat of French intervention. Sketch of the Francoist rearguard. The Anglo-Italian agreement or the Republic stabbed in the back. The Czechoslovak crisis and the threat of world war. Franco assures France that he will remain neutral. The volunteers withdrawn. Fresh urgent demands for war materials. Forceful economic pressure from Germany. The mining legislation of 9 October. Goering’s wrath or the gun to Franco’s breast. The draft German-Spanish treaty. The evasive twists and turns of Francoist policy. The mining compensation legislation.

7: The State Take-Over of the War Industries

The phases of and pretext for the take-over. Conversations in Valencia and in Barcelona. The Russian advisors bring about failure. Regarding the 11 August decree. The committees cave in and the workers stand firm. The resistance in Madrid. The resistance in Valencia. The War Industry Council, the final redoubt. The UGT switches sides. Situation of the war industries in the Centre-South-Levante zone. Factories turned into penal colonies. The take-over process in Catalonia. The aircraft plants in Sabadell. The Elizalde and Hispano-Suiza works. Managerial chaos and the blight of bureaucracy. Falling productivity levels. The Catalan metalworkers stand their ground. More on the dark chapter of the Purchasing Commissions abroad.

8: Libertarians and Communists in the War

Loss of morale as a factor in the defeat. The need for fresh officers. The hundred thousand sons of Negrín. The nascent military caste. Nonsensical and partisan discipline. Hunger in the rearguard. ‘Resist! Resist!’ The Soviet high command in Alcalá de Henares. The Under-Secretariat of Land Forces, a recruitment machine. The file on Antonio Cordón. A flurry of admissions to the War School. A tailor-made army for Modesto. Promotions, dismissals and other monopolies. A political map of the army. The work of the cells. The International Brigades seen from within. The 43rd Division’s ‘heroics’.

9: Terror on the Front

Murders in the front lines reported to the Defence Minister. Minutes of a gathering of communist servicemen at which the decision was made to exterminate political adversaries. From words to deeds. Several cases of murder. The craven murder of Turón. An official document on this collective criminality. A further series of killings. The case of José Meca, Juan Hervás and Jaime Trepat. The terror policy in the army health corps. Mysterious deaths in field hospitals. Towards ‘conquest’ of the 153rd Brigade. A systematic campaign of murder. The 26th Division’s ‘Durruti’ groups make common cause with their downtrodden brethren. The final ‘conquest’ of the brigade.

10: Terror in the Rearguard

The SIM, the new Spanish Inquisition. The cheka in the former convent of Santa Ursula. Evolution of the police. The SIM commanders and their advisors. Their immorality and criminality. The impact abroad of these crimes. Fact-finding teams in Spain. The communist press counter-attacks. The ‘comrades from special services’. The GPU frames the POUM. How Andreu Nin was done to death. ‘No more “being taken for a ride”!’ The POUM on trial. The accused, the witnesses and the verdict. ‘We must, and do convict.’

11: From the October Plenum to the Loss of Catalonia

The national plenum of the Libertarian Movement’s regional committees. Proceedings, stances and resolutions. A glimpse of the Negrinist Byzantium. The CNT’s fatalism and snorts of orthodoxy from the FAI. The third part to the discord. Sounding the alarm and the blackmail to which it gave rise. The meeting in Pedralbes. Crumbs for the Basque government and Generalitat. The CNT rumpus. A flood of literary heroics. Confronting the awful truth. A short military assessment. The forecasts of the central high command. ‘Bring on the bull!’ The final push against Catalonia. The Army of the Ebro collapses. Valiant resistance from the 26th Division. The fall of Barcelona. Negrín’s bombast. The ‘Republic of El Cadí’. Exodus.

12: The Last Bulwark

The position in the Central Zone in the wake of the loss of Catalonia. General mobilisation. Declaration of a state of war. The libertarians deploy their defences. Criticism of the offensive operation in Extremadura. Arrival of Negrín. The government of ‘resistance’ begins to wind things down. Report on the loss of Barcelona. Watchwords from the committees now in France. What it was like to talk to Negrín ‘as an equal’. Cipriano Mera’s indiscipline. Britain and France recognise Franco. Azaña resigns. The ‘political issue’. Friction between the FAI and the CNT. Minister Segundo Blanco’s eccentricities. Measures to counter an imminent pro-Negrín coup d’état.


12: Woe to the Vanquished

The communist high command in the Centre-South Zone. The meeting between Casado and Negrín. The meeting at the Los Llanos aerodrome. Two competitors racing against time. ‘The first strike has double the effect’. The Negrinist ploy frustrated. Proclamation of the National Defence Council. The government’s craven flight. Events in Cartagena. The fleet absconds. The communist revolt against the Defence Council. Move the 14th Division up to Madrid! Moscow’s henchmen surrender. The Libertarian Movement’s national committee. Negotiating with the enemy. Unconditional surrender! Negotiations break down. The enemy onslaught and the collapse of the front lines. A soldier’s peace. Evacuation arrangements. Negrín’s revenge. Humaniarian appeals to the democracies go unheeded. Two exhibits for the prosecution. Alicante. Vae victis!


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Edited and revised by Chris Ealham. Translated by Paul Sharkey (£5.90/$9.27/Eur7,32)”

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