‘The revolution ended in May’, Mikel Muñoz’s 2015 film (Spanish with French subtitles) on the five days of infamy and treachery that ended Spain’s social revolution. In the Spring of 1937, with the anti-fascist war at its peak, the pro-Stalinist ‘socialists’ of the PSOE, led by Finance Minister Juan Negrín, the communist-led PSUC (The Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia) led by Juan Comorera, supported by right wing nationalists of the Estat Català, moved against the power bases of the anarcho-syndicalist workers’ militias in Catalonia, starting on April 25 with the customs post at Puigcerdá on the French border, and culminating in the attempted seizure of the Barcelona Telephone Exchange. The latter action and the call for the CNT employees defending the building and adjoining barrio barricades to abandon their positions and give up their arms was endorsed by the infamous ‘notables’ of the higher committees of the CNT, particularly anarchist ministers Federica Montseny and Juan Garcia Oliver, and CNT National Secretary Mariano T. Vazquez. The following account of the ‘Events of May’ is from ‘Building Utopia’.
However, as his obituary in the New York Times (11 July 2016) set out, behind this glamorous award-studded life lay something that ran much deeper. The son of a Greek immigrant restaurant-owner (whose restaurant came under repeated Ku Klux Klan attacks) and an Indiana elementary-school teacher, John Brademas recalled how his father told him on several occasions that he would strive not to leave him a great legacy (unlikely as he was an immigrant to Indiana and owner of a modest restaurant) but rather a first-rate education. Brademas embraced his father’s educational ambitions and never forgot his origins. In fact, James Fernandez (New York University) stressed in his obituary that “towering over everything else, perhaps, was the wisdom, decency and compassion of a truly extraordinary man who never forgot where he came from.”1