TO DIE IN MADRID. THE MAN WHO KILLED DURRUTI — José Manzana; the person responsible, Federica Montseny

durrutikiller
Above left: Durruti’s Generalidad-appointed military adviser, Sergeant José Manzana (circled), a professional soldier, was a drill sergeant in the Corps of Artillery and an Olympic-standard pistol-shooting champion. On the morning of 19 July he escaped from the besieged Barcelona Dockyard to join the Confederal militias. From that time on he accompanied Durruti everywhere, and was at his side on the Aragón front where he became his military adviser following Captain Enrique Pérez-Farrás’s recall to Barcelona by the Generalitat to head up the Mossos d’Escuadra (Catalan police). After Durruti’s death Manzana returned to the Aragón front to reorganize the remainder of the Durruti Column and prepare it for militarisation while Ricardo Sanz assumed command of the column in Madrid. Militarisation of the column was finally completed on 28 April 1937, less than a week before the Stalinist coup of May 3-8. Above right: Sergeant José Manzana, wearing a militiaman’s cap, his wounded right arm in a sling, is in the first line of mourners. On his left is the grieving widow, Emilienne Morin, whose features bear all the emotion evoked by the death of her compañero. Holding her other arm is Miguel Yoldi’s wife.

Madrid, 20 November 1936: Today is the 80th anniversary of the mysterious death of the anarchist Buenaventura Durruti.

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November 1936 was a milestone in the civil war. Having surrounded Madrid, the mutinous fascist army was making a supreme effort to overrun the capital. On 4 November 1936 the ‘notable leaders’ [Horacio Prieto (CNT National Secretary before Vázquez), Mariano R. Vázquez (CNT National Secretary), Federica Montseny (Minister of Health), Diego Abad de Santillán (Secretary of the Peninsular Committee of the FAI), Joan Peiró (Minister for Industry), Juan López (Minister for Trade), García Oliver (Minister of Justice)] of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT and anarchist FAI Peninsular Committee finally and completely abandoned the Confederation’s apolitical stance by taking it upon themselves to accept four nominal ministries in the central government of Largo Caballero. Many believed this was a cynical move on the part of Caballero to facilitate the government’s flight to Valencia and to pre-empt any criticism, or, presumably, any revolutionary initiatives from the anarcho-syndicalist rank and file. Coincidentally (if you believe in coincidences!), two days later, on 6 November, Largo Caballero and his cabinet, including his newly appointed anarchist ministers, fled to Valencia — while the people of Madrid rallied to the city’s defence to cries of ‘Long Live Madrid Without Government!’

 

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BARRICADES IN BARCELONA. The CNT from the victory of July 1936 to the necessary defeat of May 1937 Agustín Guillamón. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

BarricadesBarcelonasmallBARRICADES IN BARCELONA. The CNT from the victory of July 1936 to the necessary defeat of May 1937

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BARRICADES IN BARCELONA focuses on Barcelona in 1936-1937; it provides an account of the street battles and victory of July 1936, examines the defence and neighborhood committees that defeated the uprising in the city, and addresses the arbitrary decision of the CNT-FAI superior committees to collaborate with counterrevolutionary parties and social groups to preserve anti-fascist unity at any price, and how this decision culminated, in May 1937, in the defeat of the revolution. It also focuses on the emerging discontent among the anarchosyndicalist rank and file and the role of The Friends of Durruti Group in crystallizing opposition to official CNT policies.

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THE SPANISH LABYRINTH An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War Gerald Brenan eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

SpanLabyrinthsmallTHE SPANISH LABYRINTH An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)  Also available from Kobo

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Written during the Spanish Civil War, published in 1943, revised in 1950 and republished in paperback in1960, The Spanish Labyrinth assesses the social and political background of the war, not the war itself. Brenan a middle-class, liberal, Anglo-Irish expatriate who lived in Spain from 1919 until 1936, returning in 1953 — wrote comprehensively about the political and religious divisions in Spain from the 16th to the 20th centuries: the church, the tensions with Liberalism, the ‘patria chica’ and the main autonomous regions, Carlism, industrialisation, the agrarian question, communal life, the Republic, the Constituent Cortes, class struggle, etc. — not forgetting the important role of anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism in Spanish politics. And although his attitude to the Spanish anarchist–anarcho-syndicalist movement and working class in general is patronising and condescending, it is to an extent understandable given his middle-class upbringing, prejudices and friendship circles.

Brenan swallowed, uncritically, contemporary hysterical, calumnious and propagandistic accounts of ‘irresponsible’, ‘ruthless’ and ‘typical’ acts of mass terrorism allegedly ‘carried out by the Durruti column in Aragón, and by the militia in Madrid on their way to the front’. Describing them as ‘the counterpart of the September Massacres of 1792’, he goes on to compare Durruti to the fanatical ultra-Catholic Carlist general Ramón Cabrera, and refers to the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) as a ‘secret society’, which it most definitely was not (see my We, the Anarchists. A Study of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) 1927—1937). He also states as fact (and without adducing any evidence) that the advent of the FAI brought with it an increasingly noticeable trend in Spanish anarchism: ‘the inclusion within its ranks of professional criminals — thieves and gunmen who certainly would not have been accepted by any other working class party — together with idealists of the purest and most selfless kind.’

In spite of Brenan’s shortcomings as an historian and his ambivalence toward the Spanish anarchist movement, as a personal insight The Spanish Labyrinth remains a highly readable, comprehensive and valuable account of social and political life in Spain in the years leading up to the Civil War.

REVIEW OF THE SPANISH LABYRINTH BY MARIE LOUISE BERNERI, an editor of War Commentary and 
later Freedom, until her death at the age of 31 in 1949. She was the
 author of Journey Through Utopia (Routledge) and Neither East Nor
 West (Freedom Press). Her article was originally written for Now! in
 1944 as a review of the original edition of Brenan’s book:

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FROM DEFENCE CADRES TO POPULAR MILITIAS by Agustín Guillamón eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

DefenceCadrescoversmallFROM DEFENCE CADRES TO POPULAR MILITIAS by Agustín Guillamón

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A short history summarising the transformation of Barcelona’s CNT Defence Committees during the 1930s from their origins as street fighting units to their reorganisation as integrated combat/ intelligence formations, to their suppression by the Republic after the working class defeat of May 1937. The defence cadres were formed shortly after the proclamation of the Republic, and were a continuation of the armed defence groups of the years of ‘pistolerismo’.

1936

FACERÍAS – Urban Guerrilla Warfare (1939-1957)

The Libertarian Movement’s Struggle against Francoism in Spain and in Exile by Antonio Téllez Solà. Print copy and eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

NOW AVAILABLE! FACERÍAS  — Urban Guerrilla Warfare (1939-1957). The Libertarian Movement’s Struggle against Francoism in Spain and in Exile by Antonio Téllez Solà (ISBN 978-1-873976-49-4), 413pp (indexed with 16 pp of photographs) £15.95 (+£3.50 p+p UK)

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Anarchist urban guerrilla and member of the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth (FIJL) since 1936, José Lluis Facerías fought on the Aragón front during the Spanish Civil War, where he was taken prisoner and held until 1945. Following his release he rejoined the clandestine anarcho-syndicalist trade union, the CNT, and dedicated himself to the armed struggle against the Francoist dictatorship. From March 1946 until his death in a police ambush in 1957, Facerias was the driving force behind the anarchist defence groups operating in Barcelona.

BARCELONA, Friday, 30 August 1957, 10:45 am. In the deserted Sant Andreu district of Barcelona, a burst of automatic gunfire crackles and, as if pushed by some mighty hand, a man on the corner of the Paseo Verdún and the Calle del Doctor Pi i Molist slumps against a low wall. A pistol appears in his hand. His eyes scan the tree-lined boulevard leading off to his right towards the Santa Cruz mental clinic, but he sees no sign of life. Suddenly, he realises he has been betrayed. Unseen assailants are shooting at him from windows overlooking the junction of the Paseo Urrutia and Calle del Doctor Pi i Molist. The first burst of gunfire shatters the man’s ankle. Further rifle shots ring out and bullets ricochet around him . . .

Facerías : Urban Guerrilla Warfare (1939-1957); The Libertarian Movement’s Struggle Against Francoism in Spain and in Exile by Antonio Téllez Solà (reviewed in the Kate Sharpley Library Bulletin )

Facerías “was a steadfast champion of an essentially anarchist-inspired labour movement like the CNT of Spain; an organisation that might offer the proletariat guidance rather than content itself with being a tiny minority in opposition to or critical of reformist and authoritarian activity. He wanted an anarchism that might be at once the head and the arm of the proletariat rather than some sort of laboratory for doctrine or the monopoly of philosophers. … As far as he was concerned, moral solidarity, whilst undoubtedly necessary, had to be matched by material action; and if help was not forthcoming through lawful means, they should resort to unlawful means, to expropriation.” (p303, p305).

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