The Life and Universe of anarchist Octavio Alberola by Xavier Montanyà (translated by Paul Sharkey)

Agustín Comotto’s new biography of Octavio Alberola, El peso de las estrellas (Rayo Verde), delves into the 20th century libertarian struggle through the life, considered thoughts and ideals of one of the most pugnacious anarchists of our day.

In Octavio Alberola we have the red thread connecting and affording meaning to the continuity between the libertarian struggles under the Republic and the civil war, the anti-Franco struggle, the revolts and armed actions of the 1970s, right up to the fresh re-formulations of anarchism in a globalized world. The narrative and his thoughts on his life and times as offered to us by the author of this book, the Argentinean writer and artist Agustín Comotto, through the skilful use of two voices embodying two generations, allows for a contextual analysis of things.  We have the voice of a protagonist who lived through historic times and personal and collective tragedies, and an activist familiar with great players in history such as García Oliver, Cipriano Mera, Federica Montseny, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Régis Debray and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.

Furthermore, the book plunges into the contradictions and misgivings, certainties and ethical commitment to his ideas and to society that have always guided Alberola’s life through an unrelenting re-framing of the anarchist idea and the meaning of social struggle, not forgetting what it means to live one’s own individual life in accordance with anarchist ideas too. We discover not just the activist but also the person alive to and curious about the world of culture and thought. He was a very good friend of Agustín García Calvo and locked horns with Noam Chomsky, among others. His intellectual interests range from quantum physics and relativity theory to art, music, history, cinema, engineering and architecture.

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DIARY OF DEPORTEE ANTONIO DETTORI, RED TRIANGLE NO 94450

Translated by Paul Sharkey. Text transcribed and notes added by Franco Bertolucci [1]

Antonio Dettori. Red triangle and number used to identify prisoners in the Nazi Bolzano Transit Camp, 1944-1945

This is a selection from his journal, the full version of which opens and closes in Genoa. In between come arrest, torture, transfer to Germany, the lager, forced march to another lager, liberation and home-coming to Italy. Carrying the diary with him throughout. An extraordinary story. The diary is to be published in full by BFS (Biblioteca Franco Serantini), Pisa.

II

A young informer (G.P.), in the pay of the ‘Silvio Parodi’ Brigata Nera [Black Brigade] having successfully infiltrated the ranks of the ‘Squadre di Azione Antifascista’ [Antifascist Action Squads], invited a number of members of said Squads to a meeting, supposedly a reading of a manifesto from the ‘National Salvation Committee’. Scarcely had the invitees arrived at the meeting place than they were arrested.

During the interrogations we learnt of the scale of that informer’s efforts and the identity of the informer himself. In fact, our interrogators knew all about our activities right down to the tiniest detail, especially as regards weapons, funding and past contacts with partisans and political figures. So, on the evening of 19 August 1944, at 21.00 hours, the National Republican Guard (GNR) and agents from the ‘Silvio Parodi’ Black Brigade, together with personnel from the ‘Squadra Mai Morti’ from Pisa (relocated to Genoa for purposes relating to the war) burst, armed and numerous, into our meeting place, arresting four individuals plus the informer himself, he being set free later on the pretext that he had military duties.[2]

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ITALIAN-SPEAKING ANARCHISTS DEPORTED TO GERMANY DURING WWII by Franco Bertolucci (from ‘A Rivista Anarchica’, Milan, No 415, April 2017). Translated by Paul Sharkey

Bodies of a Brunhausen KZ Außenkommando, most of them Italian.

1. Carlo ALVISI: Barber, born Bologna on 5 May 1918. In October 1936, he set off to defend the Spanish Republic, enlisting in the Italian Section of the CNT-FAI’s “Ascaso” Column and fought on the Huesca front. In late January 1937, he returned to Luxembourg and was arrested there by the Germans in July 1941 and put in a concentration camp near Berlin. On 20 April 1942, he was released and made his way back to Luxembourg where he worked in a foundry. Rearrested, he was handed over to the Italian police and convicted for failure to do his military service. After 8 September 1943, he was freed, but during the Nazi occupation of Italy he was deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Freed at the end of the war, he went back to living in Luxembourg. After 18 January 1971, he adopted the name PIANELLI, having been acknowledged by his father, Ambrosio PIANELLI. Date of death unknown.

Dachau, 24 May 1933: first prisoners doing forced labour.

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Michel Camilleri — an interview. Translated by Paul Sharkey

“You may not want to admit it but you know very well that whenever you revert to a certain form of struggle that might be described as armed struggle, there is a very good chance that things are not going to come to a happy conclusion.”

I am Michel Camilleri and I was known as Ratapanade, meaning Bat, but between ourselves and as Jean-Marc (i.e. Jean-Marc Rouillan) has stated in his books, back in the day a lot of folk reckoned that that was my real surname.

I am 66 years and 2 months old, whereas Jean-Marc is 66 years and 1 month. It is like when you were a kid, you used to say you were 13-and-a-half and to begin with you counted in halves and then when you come to the end you are still counting in halves. No need to kid yourself. Your impression is that time passes slowly whereas it whizzes by (Laughter).

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Women and The Guerrilla War by “Imanol” (From “Diagonal”, July and August 2015. Translated by Paul Sharkey)

Teresa Pla aka La Pastora aka Durruti (left) and Julia Hermosilla Sagredo (right)

Today we shall try to add our own particular grain of sand to the odd and sometimes thorny topic of the role of women in the guerrilla struggle. Whereas their part in support roles and their roles as couriers meant that their participation was unquestioned and crucial … estimates say that they made up about 40% or almost 50% in regions like Galicia and Asturias … it is scarcely surprising that estimates of their engagement with guerrilla activity fall to about 2%, giving an overall figure of 150. Or maybe this not such a surprise, if we look at the overall status of women within Spain, with a slight exception made for the republican era, as witness this late 19th century article in La Vanguardia:

From her intellect to her stature, everything about her is inferior and the opposite of men … Woman, per se, is not like man, a complete being; she is merely the instrument of reproduction, the one destined to perpetuate the species; whereas man is destined to bring her progress, the generator of intelligence, at once creative and a demiurge of the world of society. And so everything bends in the direction of inequality between the sexes and to non-equivalence.”

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