Some notes on Franco’s military justice system, the consejos de guerra sumarísimos

Until 1964 Franco’s political prisoners were dealt with by special military courts, ‘consejos de guerra’. The most active of these was the ‘Special Tribunal for the Represion of Freemasonry and Communism’ (Tribunal Especial para la Represión de la Masonería y el Comunismo) established on 1 March 1940. Between that date and 1953, the Tribunal heard 27,085 cases and passed sentence on 8,918 prisoners in 940 secret trials. According to the Army Board (Alto Estado Mayor) sentencing figures for 1954 were 1,266; 1955, 902; 1957, 723; 1958, 717. Its victims included those arrested in the reviving labour movement and the industrial unrest of the 1950s, including the strikes of 1951, ’53, ’57-’58, and of course the wave of student activism of 1956. According to the official figures issued by the Ministry of Justice for 1959 there were 14,957 prisoners in the regime’s jails. Of these 816 were sentenced for crimes against state security and 385 for ‘Banditry and Terrorism”. At the same time, New York Times reporter Bernjamin Welles reported that these figures didn’t include 35 women, 15 freemasons and 470 other individuals convicted of ‘common law’ crimes, but who were, in fact, political prisoners, making a total of 1,721 political prisoners held by the regime.*

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MEMORIA HISTORICA Las Relaciones Comerciales y Políticas Franco-Españolas y sus Repercusiones en las Actividades de los Refugiados Anti-Franquistas (1945-1964) por Antonio Téllez Solá

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En este compendio no examinaremos las relaciones franco-españolas en los años de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, con el régimen de Vichy, durante el cual el mariscal Philippe Petain accedió a ciertas peticiones dél gobierno franquista referentes a la extradición de dirigentes republicanos, algunos de los cuales fueron fusilados en Espana. Partiremos de 1945, cuando con la victoria de las naciones aliadas las relaciones franco-españolas adquirieron, durante varios años, un carácter muy diferente, dado que Francia preconizaba una política internacional de repudio del régimen franquista.

Los antifranquistas españoles en el exilio colaboraron activamente con las fuerzas aliadas durante la contienda y en Francia ocuparon un lugar destacado en la Resistencia contra el ocupante nazi. Al producirse la liberación, pues, gozaron de la simpatía de amplios sectores de la población, de numerosas personas políticasy, sobre todo, de autoridades locales.

El gobierno francés, mediante decreto del 15 de marzo de 1945, concedió cualidad de refugiados políticos a los españoles que habían huido del régimen franquista y en el mes de julio del mismo año creaba una Oficina central encargada de aportarles la protección jurídica y administrativa para los refugiados, bajo el patrocinio del Comité Intergubernamental para los Refugiados (CIR).

A partir de 1945 las actividades de los refugiados antifranquistas fueron objeto de incesantes y apremientes quejas de Madrid al Delegado francés en España, quejas que la prensa española secundaba activamente con campañas contra las escuelas de terrorismo en Francia, los efectivos guerrilleros cerca de la frontera y sus incursiones en la Península y también en lo referente a los consulados españoles que habían sido ocupados por los refugiados durante la etapa de la liberación de Francia. En 1945 comenzaron a ser evacuados y puestos a la disposición del Encargado de Negocios español.

THE OCTOBER INSURRECTION by Paul Avrich (from ‘The Russian Anarchists’)

The bosses are often swine, but there’ll always be bosses, won’t there? What’s the good of racking your brains to try and make sense out of it? — GRANDPA BONNEMORT, ZOLA’S Germinal

Russian anarchist sailors, 1917

The anarchists set themselves apart from all other radical groups in Russia by their implacable opposition to the state in any form. Faithfully they cleaved to Bakunin’s dictum that every government, no matter who controls it, is an instrument of oppression. Nor did they exclude the “dictatorship of the proletariat” from this indictment, despite the fact that it was a basic tenet of their Bolshevik allies. Though the anarchists shared Lenin’s determination to destroy the Provisional Government, Bakunin’s warnings about the power-hungry Marxists lingered in their thoughts.

Their latent suspicions of the “socialist-careerists”1 rose to the surface in early September, after the Bolshevik party won majorities in both the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets. Svobodnaia Kommuna, organ of the Petrograd Federation of Anarchists, recollected the oft-repeated allegation of Bakunin and Kropotkin that the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat really meant “the dictatorship of the Social Democratic party.”2 Every revolution of the past, the journal reminded its readers, simply yielded a new set of tyrants, a new privileged class, to lord it over the masses; let us hope, it declared, that the people will be wise enough not to let Kerenskii and Lenin become their new masters—”the Danton and Robespierre” of the Russian Revolution.3   [The Russian Anarchists] Continue reading “THE OCTOBER INSURRECTION by Paul Avrich (from ‘The Russian Anarchists’)” »

Anatoli Zhelezniakov 1895-1919 – stormy petrel. A pen portrait by Paul Avrich

Anatoli Zhelezniakov (1895-1919)

“The guard is tired.” With these words, uttered on the night of January 5/6, 1918, a young anarchist sailor named Anatoli Zhelezniakov dispersed the Constituent Assembly and carved a small niche for himself in the history of the Russian Revolution. When the tsarist regime collapsed in February 1917, Zhelezniakov had been serving on a minelayer based in Kronstadt, the famous headquarters of the Baltic Fleet near the capital city of Petrograd. After the February Revolution, anarchists and other militants occupied the villa of P.P. Durnovo, the Governor of Moscow during the revolution of 1905, and converted it into a revolutionary commune and a “house of rest,” with rooms for reading and discussion and a garden as a playground for their children. To hostile minds, however, the Durnovo villa had become a foul den of iniquity, “a sort of Brocken, where the powers of evil assembled, witches’ Sabbaths were held, and there were orgies, plots, dark and sinister, and doubtless bloody doings,” as N.N. Sukhanov wrote in his notes on the Russian Revolution. Yet the villa was left undisturbed until June 5, 1917, when a number of its anarchist occupants tried to seize the printing plant of a middle-class newspaper. The First Congress of Soviets, then in session in the capital, denounced the raisers as “criminals who call themselves anarchists,” and on June 7, P.N. Pereverzev, the Minister of Justice in the Provisional Government ordered the anarchists to evacuate the house immediately. [The Russian Anarchists]

By Paul Avrich (Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review, No 5, 1979)

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Mariano R. Vázquez (‘Marianet’) — a pen portrait by ‘Farquhar McHarg’

Mariano R. Vázquez (1909-1939)

November 1936: “Farquhar was adamant that things began going badly wrong in 1936 with the vertiginous rise to power of Mariano R. Vázquez . ‘Marianet’, as he was known, was the protégé of the CNT’s collaborationist secretary-general, Horacio Martínez Prieto, and Juan García Oliver —first to the position of regional secretary of the Catalan CNT then, in November 1936, to the post of secretary-general of the CNT National Committee…

“According to Farquhar, it was Marianet who — largely single-handedly, but ably assisted by Montseny, Esgleas and others who should have known better — began suffocating the revolutionary process with his bureaucratic and cowardly deference to the Catalan and Madrid governments, and to the British and French consuls in Barcelona by ensuring that the CNT did not socialise those countries’ important commercial interests in Catalonia. Tragically, the majority of the membership acquiesced to this, by allowing the CNT-FAI street patrols to be replaced first by the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias, then by security forces answerable only to the Generalidad Defence Council…

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