General Franco Made Me A Terrorist. The Christie File: part 2. 1964-1967

£1.50

On the last day of July 1964 Stuart Christie, a newly-turned 18-year-old Glaswegian anarchist, left London for Paris and Madrid on a mission whose objective was to kill the last of the Axis dictators — General Francisco Franco. This was to be the last of at least 30 attempts on the fascist leader’s life. This second volume of ‘The Christie File’ takes us through the prison years which followed Stuart’s summary drumhead court-martial in Madrid where he faced possible execution by garrote-vil, just six weeks after his 18th birthday.
Of course, as Stuart Christie has already indicated elsewhere, he was no more a terrorist in 1964 than Chamberlain, the British prime minister, would have been in 1938 had he chosen to end Hitler’s life at Munich with a thrust from his famous umbrella. Unfortunately for Stuart and his comrades of the anarchist Defensa Interior, their attempt on the life of the dictator of Spain, the last surviving Axis power, lacked sufficient security and ended when Stuart, having celebrated his eighteenth birthday only the previous month, became, one August day in central Madrid, the victim of an ambush by the Gestapo-trained Brigado PolÍtico Social and shortly thereafter the recipient of a sentence of twenty years in a foreign prison system infamous for its pitiless harshness.
Fortunately, the powers of observation of both the personal and the political — not to mention the intimate and often irrational connection between the two — which enabled Stuart to give us Part 1 of his memoirs, the compelling My Granny Made Me An Anarchist, seem if anything to have become sharper in prison. For while he had escaped the death penalty, he still faced the almost unimaginably terrifying prospect for someone then his age of seeing in every New Year until 1984 behind the kind of bars not usually associated with Hogmanay.
Thus when he arrived back in Britain three years later, pardoned thanks to the combined diplomatic embarrassment of the Franco regime and the actions on the outside of redoubtable helpers — including not least his mother — he brought with him the makings of this second part of his life story, including its account of and reflections on his arrest, interrogation, trial and imprisonment, the relentless workings of the fascist punishment machine and the diverse mentalities and politics of its operators and victims. His honest and disturbing account includes, inevitably, the often bizarre and sometimes hilarious events that allowed him to keep his sense of humour and hence his ultimately indomitable good cheer, behind even those grim, unscalable walls. — Mark Hendy (secretary of the Christie-Carballo Defence Committee, 1964)
The great thing about Stuart Christie’s memoirs is their singularity. I’ve read nothing quite like them. Their rich mixture of personal, political and social history sheds invaluable light on many important but neglected corners of British (and European) life in the twentieth century. Also, their wit and generous ambition makes these books a treat to read.— Ian Jack, editor, Granta
I was reading Stuart Christie’s autobiography which was good as he tells you all about the cock-ups and doesn’t try to make himself a hero — because the thing with Franco was a bit of a flop at the end. But I had to stop reading it because it was beginning to dominate the way I felt about everything around me — like reading Orwell. Aye, Stuart was very windswept and interesting but he’s made it hard for the rest of us to get through Customs without being searched. — Billy Connolly, Gullible’s Travels

Description

On the last day of July 1964 Stuart Christie, a newly-turned 18-year-old Glaswegian anarchist, left London for Paris and Madrid on a mission whose objective was to kill the last of the Axis dictators — General Francisco Franco. This was to be the last of at least 30 attempts on the fascist leader’s life. This second volume of ‘The Christie File’ takes us through the prison years which followed Stuart’s summary drumhead court-martial in Madrid where he faced possible execution by garrote-vil, just six weeks after his 18th birthday. Of course, as Stuart Christie has already indicated elsewhere, he was no more a terrorist in 1964 than Chamberlain, the British prime minister, would have been in 1938 had he chosen to end Hitler’s life at Munich with a thrust from his famous umbrella. Unfortunately for Stuart and his comrades of the anarchist Defensa Interior, their attempt on the life of the dictator of Spain, the last surviving Axis power, lacked sufficient security and ended when Stuart, having celebrated his eighteenth birthday only the previous month, became, one August day in central Madrid, the victim of an ambush by the Gestapo-trained Brigado PolÍtico Social and shortly thereafter the recipient of a sentence of twenty years in a foreign prison system infamous for its pitiless harshness. Fortunately, the powers of observation of both the personal and the political — not to mention the intimate and often irrational connection between the two — which enabled Stuart to give us Part 1 of his memoirs, the compelling My Granny Made Me An Anarchist, seem if anything to have become sharper in prison. For while he had escaped the death penalty, he still faced the almost unimaginably terrifying prospect for someone then his age of seeing in every New Year until 1984 behind the kind of bars not usually associated with Hogmanay. Thus when he arrived back in Britain three years later, pardoned thanks to the combined diplomatic embarrassment of the Franco regime and the actions on the outside of redoubtable helpers — including not least his mother — he brought with him the makings of this second part of his life story, including its account of and reflections on his arrest, interrogation, trial and imprisonment, the relentless workings of the fascist punishment machine and the diverse mentalities and politics of its operators and victims. His honest and disturbing account includes, inevitably, the often bizarre and sometimes hilarious events that allowed him to keep his sense of humour and hence his ultimately indomitable good cheer, behind even those grim, unscalable walls. — Mark Hendy (secretary of the Christie-Carballo Defence Committee, 1964) The great thing about Stuart Christie’s memoirs is their singularity. I’ve read nothing quite like them. Their rich mixture of personal, political and social history sheds invaluable light on many important but neglected corners of British (and European) life in the twentieth century. Also, their wit and generous ambition makes these books a treat to read.— Ian Jack, editor, Granta I was reading Stuart Christie’s autobiography which was good as he tells you all about the cock-ups and doesn’t try to make himself a hero — because the thing with Franco was a bit of a flop at the end. But I had to stop reading it because it was beginning to dominate the way I felt about everything around me — like reading Orwell. Aye, Stuart was very windswept and interesting but he’s made it hard for the rest of us to get through Customs without being searched. — Billy Connolly, Gullible’s Travels