Within the Spanish anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movements there were three distinct points of view on the question of war and revolution. The first, probably the majority view, was that the war would be over in a matter of weeks, after all, a few days had been enough to rout the army in Barcelona and other industrial centres, and that the social revolution and Libertarian Communism as debated and adopted by the CNT’s national congress at Zaragoza in February, five months previously, was an inseparable aspect of the struggle against economic and social oppression. Thus, the movement should proceed immediately to socialise the factories, the land and their communities. READ INSIDE
Spanish anarchism and revolutionary action – 1961-1974 by Octavio Alberola and Ariane Gransac with Prologue by Luis Andrés Edo, ChristieBooks:
This account of the role of anarchist activism in Europe between 1961 and 1974 (by two of the principal protagonists in the events they describe) was first published in Spanish and French in 1975, shortly after the authors’ release from prison following the kidnapping Francoist banker Baltasar Suárez. To this day it remains essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the history and development of the libertarian opposition to the Franco Dictatorship subsequent to the urban and rural guerrilla tactics as practised by Sabaté, Facerías, and Caraquemada, etc. It examines the birth of the clandestine ‘Defensa Interior’ Section of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE – CNT-FAI-FIJL) through to ‘The First of May Group‘ and its influence on — and links with — other European action groups of the later 1960s and early 1970s, groups such as ‘The Angry Brigade‘, the ‘Grupos Autonomos de Combate — GAC‘, 2nd June Group, the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación — ‘MIL‘, Gruppo d’Azione Partigiano – GAP, Grupos de Acción Revolucionaria Internacional — ‘GARI‘, etc.
The story begins in late 1961 with the creation of Sección DEFENSA INTERIOR (DI), the clandestine planning and action organisation set up at the Limoges Congress in France by the Defence Commission of the recently reunited three wings of the exiled Spanish libertarian movement (MLE — Movimiento Libertario Español) — the CNT, the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist trade union; the FAI, the Iberian Anarchist Federation, and the FIJL, the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth. One of the DI’s principal objectives was to organise and carry out attempts on the life of General Franco. Its other role was to generate examples of resistance by means of propaganda by deed. The DI’s short-term objectives were: to remind the world, unremittingly, that Franco’s brutal and repressive dictatorship had not only survived WWII but was now flourishing through tourism and US financial and diplomatic support; to provide solidarity for those continuining the struggle within Spain; to polarise public opinion and focus attention on the plight of the steadily increasing number of political prisoners in Franco’s jails; to interrupt the conduct of Francoist commercial and diplomatic life; undermine its financial basis — tourism; to take the struggle against Franco into the international sphere by showing the world that Franco did not enjoy unchallenged power and that there was resistance to the regime within and beyond Spain’s borders.
This compelling and moving book, first published in Spanish in 1972 (and in English in 1974), examines the life of one of the best-known of all the Spanish resistance fighters — Francisco Sabaté Llopart, known as El Quico, General Franco’s ‘Public Enemy No. 1’. But it is more than this, for the author, Antonio Téllez, traces in detail what has been called ‘a little-known period of Spanish history’, the period that saw the development of the Anarchist resistance to the Fascist regime following the tragic end of the Spanish Civil War, a resistance that continues to this day (1974). It paints a striking picture not only of the development of resistance in Spain, but also of its too-long ignored influence on contemporary (1960s and 1970s) urban guerrilla movements in South America and in Europe.
It is a sad story: of a man who would not compromise his ideals nor treat with a system he found tyrannical and vile, a man who devoted his adult life to freeing the most openly oppressed people in Europe. But Sabaté ‘s story does not end in 1960, as did his life, in the dusty street in San Celoni surrounded by Militia and Guardia Civil and broken by their bullets. His struggle was taken up by men and women throughout Spain. As Téllez demonstrates, Sabaté proved by his selfless battle that the individual is never helpless; there is always a possibility of rebelling and defending an idea one considers just. Francisco Sabaté, unquenchably brave, undismayed by failure, unmarked by treachery, gave to his people and to the free world the knowledge of the rightness of his cause.
The Anarchist Pimpernel. Francisco Ponzán Vidal (1936 1944). The anarchists in the Spanish Civil War and the Allied Escape Networks of WWII by Antonio Téllez Solá (With the collaboration of Pilar Ponzán Vidal). Translated by Paul Sharkey. (
(Originally published in Spanish in 1996 as: ‘La Red de Evasion del Grupo Ponzán. Anarquistas en la guerra secreta contra el franquismo y el nazismo (1936-1944)’. This e-edition has been translated by Paul Sharkey from Tellez’s subsequently re-written and updated (1997) typescript, which incorporates the memoirs of Pilar Ponzán Vidal (Francisco’s sister) and Tellez’s hitherto unpublished work on Agustín Remiro ‘El Guerrillero Anarquista Agustín Remiro y el Batallón de Ametralladoras “C” (Batallón Remiro)’.
Founder and organiser of the escape and evasion lines used by the ‘Pat O’Leary’ and ‘Sabot’ networks, the French security services (Travaux Ruraux), and local French Resistance organisations, from 1940 to 1943, Francisco Ponzán Vidal’s group, consisting mainly of Spanish anarchist exiles, saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of resistance fighters, evadees and escaped prisoners of war. Between January 1942 and April 1943 (when he was arrested by the Vichy milice), Ponzán’s records, consisting of two notebooks, list the names, dates and some photographs of 311 Allied evaders who successfully escaped to Spain and Gibraltar through his network. The names in the books include those of Lt. Airey Neave (the later MI9 officer and Thatcherite Tory MP), and RAF sergeant John Prendergast (later Sir John, colonial police chief — Kenya, Cyprus and Aden — and head of the Royal Hong Kong Police Special Branch). (Interestingly, one of those evaders who owed their life to anarchists was the ungrateful psycopath Harold ‘Tanky” Challenor, a Commando during the war, who later joined the Metropolitan Police (West End Central) and famously — and unsuccessfully— attempted to frame anarchist cartoonist Donald Rooum by claiming to have found a piece of brick — ‘an offensive weapon ‘ — in his pocket at a demonstration against the unpopular Greek king and queen during their visit to London in 1963). Other successful — and appreciative — evaders Ponzán’s anarchist network helped to make it back to Britain included Bill Sparks (my wife’s cousin’s brother) and major ‘Blondie’ Hasler, the sole survivors of ‘Operation Frankton’, the ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ Royal Marine commando raid on German ships in Bordeaux harbour.
Around 6:30 pm on 17 August 1944 a number of trucks carrying some 50 prisoners left Saint-Michel prison in Toulouse heading northwest along the Albi road. Half an hour or so later, people living on the outskirts of the village of Buzet-sur-Tarn (Haute Garonne) saw a caravan of German military vehicles with an accompanying Gestapo touring car turn off the road and drive up a track into a wood. Shortly afterwards they heard shouts and the sounds of automatic gunfire and rifle shots coming from the woods. The shooting continued for 45 minutes. Some time later the vehicles emerged and returned in the direction of Toulouse. Two days later, informed by local residents, the authorities from Buzet-sur-Tarn visited the woods where they discovered the site of a chilling massacre. Beneath a still smouldering funeral pyre — and the debris of two burned-out barns, of which only smoke-blackened side walls bearing the pockmarks of bullets remained standing — they found what the carbonized remains of the 50 prisoners, all members of the Resistance. Among the blackened corpses was that of Francisco Ponzán Vidal, a lifelong Spanish anarchist and CNT union militant, one of countless unsung heroes of the Spanish Civil War and the anti-Francoist and anti-Nazi/Vichy resistance.
Founder and organiser of the escape and evasion lines used by the ‘Pat O’Leary’ and ‘Sabot’ networks, the French security services (Travaux Ruraux), and local French Resistance organisations, from 1940 to 1943, Francisco Ponzán Vidal’s group, consisting mainly of Spanish anarchist exiles, saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of resistance fighters, evadees and escaped prisoners of war. Between January 1942 and April 1943 (when he was arrested by the Vichy milice), Ponzán’s records, consisting of two notebooks, list the names, dates and some photographs of 311 Allied evaders who successfully escaped to Spain and Gibraltar through his network. The names in the books include those of Lt. Airey Neave (the later MI9 officer and Thatcherite Tory MP), and RAF sergeant John Prendergast (later Sir John, colonial police chief — Kenya, Cyprus and Aden — and head of the Royal Hong Kong Police Special Branch). Among other successful evaders Ponzán’s anarchist network helped to make it back to Britain included Bill Sparks (my wife’s cousin’s brother) and major ‘Blondie’ Hasler, the sole survivors of ‘Operation Frankton’, the ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ Royal Marine commando raid on German ships in Bordeaux harbour.