Vichy, 20 January 1942. TOP SECRET

Re: The Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in France.

The 'odd couple': the perfidious Germinal Esgleas i Jaume and partner Federica Montseny i Mañé (see Pistoleros! Vol 3)

An interesting ‘Top Secret’ report on the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in exile in France by the Vichy police Special Branch (Police Judiciare General Inspectorate) dated 20 January 1942*. (Côte document – Archives du Gard 1W170). The ‘Germinal’ mentioned in the report is Germinal Esgleas i Jaume, partner of Federica Montseny, whose (joint) perfidious villainy is one of the key themes explored in Pistoleros! (Volume 3).

 Vichy, 20 January 1942. TOP SECRET

Re: The Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in France.

Some months ago, the police in Casablanca stumbled upon an anarchist propaganda centre in the Spanish refugee community in Morocco. The instructions for said foreign propaganda emanated from France where the movement appeared to be under the direction of persons called “Germinal” and “Marin”. Enquiries carried out by Superintendent Taupin of the Police Judiciare General Inspectorate resulted in the identification of the promoters of this Libertarian Movement who had set themselves up as a National Committee.

Origin: For the origin of the Libertarian Movement we must look to Spain where it was born and where, for a little less than a century past, it grew in Spanish labour circles, under the influence of the First International’s theorists, finding a favourable welcome since individuals there by their very nature carry a germ of anarchism within them. The Libertarian Movement moved into the realm of politics with the foundation of the Iberian Anarchist Federation( FAI) and into the trade union realm with the founding of the National Confederation of Labour. It should not be forgotten that the FAI remained clandestine at all times, so it was in need of an official agency through which to bring its influence to bear on the public authorities. That agency is the CNT, the leaders of which are, broadly speaking, affiliated to the FAI or, at the very least, in sympathy with libertarian ideas and it is through them that this influence is brought to bear. The participation in the Largo Caballero government of four CNT representatives enjoying ministerial status is a very telling example, for Federica Montseny, Juan Garcia Oliver, Juan Peiró and Juan López are, above all else, representatives of the FAI. The libertarian family comprises of the CNT, the FAI and the Libertarian Youth.

 The Libertarian Movement in France: The defeat inflicted upon the Spanish republican army forced the leaders and members of the CNT and FAI to seek refuge in France. The Spanish Refugee Aid Agency (SERE) and the Spanish Republican Aid Council (JARE), bodies set up in Paris to handle emigration and accommodation matters for republican refugees, enabled the Libertarian Movement’s leaders to make a tentative effort to rally their members, but that attempt was short-lived, because the SERE and the JARE were disbanded and their leaders brought before the courts in the Seine [department] for breaching the orders of 12 August and 26 September 1939. Despite these steps, the emigration and accommodation issue as it affects Spaniards remains a very pressing one in Spanish quarters and the former partners of the SERE and JARE continued their activities in concert with the legation from Mexico which, under the French-Mexican accords of 22 August 1941, took responsibility for the problem of Spanish refugees in France, effectively supplanting the two agencies that had been set up in Paris and which had, as we have stated, been disbanded. Under cover of correspondence and circulars on the subject of emigration issues, they were peddling libertarian propaganda inspired by some “national Committee” the secretary of which was none other than Montseny’s husband, Jaime José [Germinal} Esgleas, b. in Malgrat on 5 October 1903, a deportee in Salon (Dordogne), an individual named in the Police Nationale’s list of suspects since 15 June 1938 as an anarchist propagandist. The other members of the “National Committee” were: Federica Montseny Mañé, Esgleas’s wife, b. Madrid on 12 February, a deportee in Salon (Dordogne) and erstwhile Health and Social Assistance minister in the Largo Caballero government, a renowned propagandist named in Police Nationale records as an anarchist: Germinal de Souza, b. in Porto (Portugal) on 22 May 1906, a Spanish national, secretary of the FAI and member of the CNT, who appeared in List No 2 of persons suspected of terrorist threats as published by the Police Nationale with this comment “expelled from France as a dangerous anarchist”: Francisco Isgleas Piernau, b. 16 February 1916 in San Feliu de Guixols, one-time political commissar with the [{popular] Army, Counsellor for Defence in the Generalitat government, member of the CNT Policy Commission, FAI member, listed as a terrorist in the suspects’ list NO 1 compiled by the Police Nationale back in April 1939.{ Valerio Mas Casas b. 24 May 1894 in Barcelona, Counsellor for Economy, Public Services and Social Assistance with the Generalitat of Catalonia and a CNT member; Pedro Herrera Camarero, b. 18 January 1909 in Valladolid, chair of the Foreign Trade Board of Catalonia, minister of Social Assistance and Health in the government of Catalonia, secretary of the CNT’s Catalonian union, member of the FAI Peninsular committee and delegate on the General Council of the SIA (International Antifascist Solidarity). It should be pointed out that some Libertarian Movement members – including those that under the chairmanship of General Miaja, had formed the Madrid Defence Junta, the last nucleus defending the Republic and who had fled to London in 1939 – refused to acknowledge the authority of Esgleas or this National Committee. That tendency, known as the “London friends” are represented by Manuel Salago [Salgado PS] and José González Pradas who got together in London with: Manuel González Marín aka “Manuel Marín”, b. in Archena on 4 July 1898, a deportee in Albefeuille-Lagarde (Tarn-et-Garonne department), a member of the National Council of the Madrid Defence Junta, named in the archives of the Prefecturate of Police as an active CNT and FAI member and anarchist posing a grave danger to public order: Eduardo del Val Bescós aka “Val”, b. in Jaca on 13 October 1908, a deportee in Toulouse at No 20, rue Beausejour, government delegate in the organising of the militias in Madrid and member of the Madrid Defence Junta: Francisco Ponzán Vidal, b. 30 March 1912 in Oviedo, a deportee in the home of Madame Viñuales at 41 rue Limarec in Toulouse.

Propaganda The propaganda activity takes the shape of the issuance of circulars and the exchange of letters that deal broadly with emigration matters or other matters having a bearing on the problems of Spanish refugees in France, but which are used as opportunities to expound philosophical notions of an anarchist bent. The object being to regroup the CNT membership, renewing and bolstering past ties of solidarity between them and maintaining contacts with an eye to possible return to Spain. At present a return to their land of birth appears impossible and likewise passage to the Americas. The upshot of all of this is that we are left with a mass of individuals who showed what they were made of during the Spanish civil war and who stand ready to cross the frontier in the event of the collapse of the Franco regime, representing a standing threat to public order in this country. It from among such Spanish libertarian circles that agents tasked with carrying out acts of sabotage or outrages on our soil may be recruited by the [French] Communist Party or the intelligence services of foreign powers. The circulation of such circulars and propaganda by means of correspondence are at the root of unrest in Spanish refugee circles in France.  In some cities, the Movement’s representatives have set up committees, out-and-out anarchist cells, the function of which is to monitor the membership in their region, circulate circulars and indeed, as in Morocco, facilitate the escape of those interned in concentration camps under guard or drafted into foreign labour companies, in which the Movement has its representatives too.  The national Committee of the Libertarian Movement in France also liaises with those members who have remained behind in Spain and with those who have fled to the Americas or to England. Such liaison is the responsibility of its agents.  As for those members residing in France, North Africa or Morocco, correspondence is routed through the following intermediaries: Mateo Baruta Vila, poste restante, Marseilles; Francisco Sánchez at the Mexican consulate in Marseilles or Félix Rambaud at PO Box 31, Marseilles. The latter collect letters addressed to Germinal [Esgleas] and forward them to one André Germain, PO Box 49 in Périgueux who passes them to the Libertarian Movement’s General Secretary. As for Manuel González Marín, his correspondence is addressed in the name of Cayetana Alcaine at 5 rue Bombet in Montauban. It should be pointed out that Libertarian Movement members are encouraged to use everyday language in their correspondence. The aforementioned Germinal de Souza, Francisco Isgleas Piernau, Valerio Mas Casas and Pedro Herrera Camarero are currently held of the Le Vernet camp (Ariege). José Jaime aka ‘Ger’ aka ‘Germi’ aka ‘Germinal’; Manuel González Marín, Eduardo de Val Bescós, Mateo Baruta Vila b. 18 July 1901 in Molins de Llobregat [Molins del Rey}, a deportee living at the Hotel Sainte Claire at 12 rue Sainte Claire in Mareilles and Francisco Sánchez Martinez, b. 29 April 1909 in Villamayor de Santiago, a deportee at 11 Rue du Coq in Marseilles have been arrested and are subject to the authority of the 17th Military Division’s Standing Court Martial based in Toulouse, on charges of threatening anarchist activities posing a threat to the external security of the state, an offence set out in Article 80 of the Penal Code. Francisco Ponzán Vidal has been released on licence and Julio Sanjurjo López, deportee of 13 rue de la Redoune in Estaque Plage (Bouches-du-Rhone department), in contact with the membership in Morocco, has gone on the run. In the course of enquiries many addresses were uncovered, the most noteworthy being included in this present list.

Translated by Paul Sharkey

* The Nazis occupied Vichy France on 11 November 1942


2 Responses to “Vichy, 20 January 1942. TOP SECRET

Re: The Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in France.”

  1. […] and a member of the factory strike committee. In 1947 he crossed into France where he contacted the Spanish Libertarian Movement in Exile (MLE) in Toulouse, and found employment in the mines of Cransac. The following year he joined […]

  2. […] and a member of the factory strike committee. In 1947 he crossed into France where he contacted the Spanish Libertarian Movement in Exile (MLE) in Toulouse, and found employment in the mines of Cransac. The following year he joined […]