Anarchism and Political Change in Spain Schism, Polarisation and Reconstruction of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, 1939–1979 by Maggie Torres. Preface by Stuart Christie

Sussex Academic Press, hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-936-4  £85.00 / $109.95

Maggie Torre’s welcome and rigorous study analysing the CNT’s trajectory during its thirty-five years of clandestinity and exile, describes, convincingly and in satisfying detail, the internal and external vicissitudes and complexities that led, in December 1979, to the steady eclipse of anarcho-syndicalist influence following the CNT’s first Congress in Spain since Zaragoza in 1936: the carrot and stick of thirty-five years of vicious and murderous repression and co-option of militants into the Francoist vertical unions; thirty years of the baleful and corrupting influence of the Gestapo-compromised Federica Montseny (1905-1994) and Germinal Esgleas (1903-1981) controlling an oligarchic mutual aid society in exile, and seeking to control — and betray, —the clandestine union organisation inside Spain; the changing nature of Spain’s labour movement in the 1950s and 1960s; the impact of the guerrilla action groups and Defensa Interior’s direct actions targeting Spanish tourism and its attempts to kill Franco; ‘cincopuntismo’ and the CNT’s relations with the vertical union; the ideological evolution of Spanish anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism in the 1960s and 1970s; the Scala-type machinations of the ‘Bunker’ to ensure a seamless, Dr Who-like transition to power and retain control in the brave new world of post-Francoist democracy.

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Defensa Interior. The Final Curtain for Libertarian Violence by Ángel Herrerín López (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia — Centro de Investigaciones de le Democracia Española). Translated by Paul Sharkey

Defensa Interior (DI) was a clandestine anarchist organisation, founded in September 1961 by the congress of the Movimiento Libertario Español (Spanish Libertarian Movement: CNT, FAI, FIJL, Mujeres Libres) and disbanded by their 1965 congress. The objective of the DI was to revitalise and co-ordinate international resistance against the Francoist State, and to organise the assassination of General Franco. It quickly became clear, however, that it was, primarily, the new generation of young libertarians (FIJL) who demonstrated the political will to relaunch the armed struggle against Franco, a strategy that in reality had long since been abandoned — and actively sabotaged! — by the Toulouse-based leadership of the CNT-FAI (principally Federica Montseny, Germinal Esgleas and Vicente Llansola. My personal preferred explanation [i.e. SC]  for Esgleas’ and Montseny’s behaviour — which is outlined in Pistoleros 3 —  is that they had been seriously compromised by their collaboration with the Gestapo during the Occupation, which explains why they were never handed over to Franco, as occurred with most other prominent Spanish Republican exiles.  After the war the Gestapo’s archives fell into the hands of the Soviets, which would have provided the Communists with leverage over the CNT/MLE in exile, thus ensuring the CNT’s passivity and allowing the PCE free rein as the principal opposition to the Franco regime. The Gestapo’s information was also more than likely available to the Spanish police and security services). It was to be the last time the CNT, the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist labour union in exile, created a defence structure and funded the formation of action/defence groups.

ÁNGEL HERRERÍN LÓPEZ, is the author of the highly recommended: La CNT durante el franquismo. Clandestinidad y exilio (1939-1975),


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Octavio Alberola, interviewed by Agustín Guillamón in November 2016

Octavio Alberola Suriñach (Alaior, Menorca, 1928), anarcho-syndicalist and Franco’s public enemy No. 1 from 1962 to 1975. Exiled with his parents to Mexico in 1939, Alberola studied civil engineering and theoretical physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where he became involved with the Libertarian Youth and the CNT in exile. He also worked, from 1956, with the exiled Cubans of the July 26 Movement and the Student Revolutionary Directory until the fall of the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. In 1962 the Defense Committee of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) formed the clandestine Interior Defence (Defensa Interior) Committee, to which Alberola was delegated as a representative of the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth (FIJL). Consequently, Alberola moved to France to coordinate the DI’s harrying, propagandist and solidarity actions across Europe, including inside Spain. These actions included an assassination attempt against Francisco Franco in San Sebastián in the summer of 1962, the first of a number of attentats. The San Sebastian attempt failed due to technical problems with the triggering device — and because Franco arrived later than expected.

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LOS AÑOS DEL PISTOLERISMO. Ensayo para una guerra civil — León-Ignacio. (Jacinto León Ignacio Ruiz de Cardenas —1919-1991)

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Durante cinco años. de 1919 a 1923, las luchas obreras adquirieron un tono de extraordinaria violencia. Gentes de distinta ideología y diferente clase social se mataban por las calles a plena luz del día. Fue el equivalente a las revueltas espartaquistas de Alemania y a las marxistas de Hungría y otros varios países. El recuerdo de aquellos años trágicos se mantiene aún y resultan familiares los nombres de Martínez Anido, de Arlegui y del Noi del Sucre. Sin embargo, poca gente sabe cómo se llegó a eso y de qué forma, y en qué circunstancias se desarrolló la lucha.

El presente libro es un intento de exponerlo de forma cronológica y de aclarar quiénes lo hicieron y por qué lo hicieron. Se ha pretendido sobre todo exponer el gran drama humano que representó la resistencia sindicalista y la represión burguesa que ocurrieron paralelamente y que fueron consecuencia una de otra en un continuo círculo vicioso. Asimismo. el libro intenta exponer las consecuencias que durante años tuvo esa lucha, impulsada por extremistas de ambos bandos. hasta que la convivencia llegó a ser imposible. Fue un ensayo de guerra civil.

Jacinto León Ignacio Ruiz de Cardenas (1919-1991)

León-Ignacio nació en Barcelona el 21 de agosto de 1919. Estudió en el colegio del Redentor y en la English School, ambos de Barcelona, con breves intermedios en el Lycée de Foix, Francia, y en el Institut Tecnic Eulália de Barcelona.

Ha sido redactor de la revista Fotogramas y ha colaborado en El Correo Catalán, Algo, Horizonte y TeleleXprés de Barcelona.

Es autor de varias novelas: A ras de tierra, Corpus de Sangre en Barcelona, que él llama reportaje histórico, y Los quinquis, un estudio sobre este desconocido grupo social que nada tiene que ver con el uso que se hace de la palabra.

En el presente libro aborda un tema que le intereso casi desde niño. En su primera infancia seguía vivo el recuerdo de las violentas luchas sociales de Barcelona. Para un niño significaba casi una novela del Oeste. Más adelante, por curiosidad, fue hablando con cuantos habían vivido o conocido aquella epoca y aquella lucha. Cierto día en casa de Dionisio Ridruejo se dijo, precisamente al comentar aquellos años, que hacia falta un estudio de ese período tan oscuro y tan trágico. Entonces concibió la idea del presente libro, cuya preparación y redacción han sido muy difíciles.

Photo archives: 1918 a ; 1918 b ; 1918 c ; 1919 a ; 1919 b ; 1920s a ; 1920s b ; 1920s c

THE FALSE BARON VON KÖNIG. A dossier by Raymond Batkin eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

VonKoenigTHE FALSE BARON VON KÖNIG. A dossier by Raymond Batkin. Look Inside e

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The so-called ‘Baron von König’ has been of interest to historians of the Spanish anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movements since 1918, mainly because of his relationship with Superintendent Manuel Bravo Portillo, head of Barcelona’s Special Services Brigade (the then Brigada Politico-Social); that and the fact that on the latter’s death at the hands of a CNT (the anarcho-syndicalist labour union) defence group in September 1919, von König, a French secret service agent, took over as head of the pistoleros, the anti-union death squads funded by the Patronal, the Catalan employers’ confederation. Von König’s role as the killers’ gangmaster was explored in some detail in the three-volume work ‘¡Pistoleros! — The Chronicles of Farquhar McHarg’, but little was known about his activities pre- and post-Spain 1914-1920. Raymond Batkin has prepared the following dossier on ‘von König’s’ background following the publication of French author Éric Maillard’s biography (in French), Rudolf Stallmann alias Baron von König – Rodolfe Lemoine alias Rex; it is the first book based on the life of Rudolf Stallmann (his birth name) from his early years in Berlin through to his death in a French military prison in 1946.

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