Durruti in the Spanish Revolution

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(1921 - 2009)
Abel Paz (1921–2009) was a Spanish anarchist and historian who fought in the Spanish Civil War and wrote multiple volumes on anarchist history, including a biography of Buenaventura Durruti, an influential anarchist during the war. He kept the anarchist tradition throughout his life, including a decade in Francoist Spain's jails and multiple decades in exile in France. (From : Wikipedia.org.)

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Durruti in the Spanish Revolution

From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org

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TO JENNY, WHOSE CONSTANT AND CONTINUED SUPPORT MADE THIS BOOK POSSIBLE. (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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TRANSLATOR’S ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I translated this book in honor of Durruti’s revolutionary legacy and, to a lesser extent, Paz’s contributions as a partizan intellectual. Many people from the around world have helped me along the way. I must first thank AK Press for asking me to translate the work and for their consistent encouragement. I am particularly grateful to AK’s Charles Weigl. His expert and exhaustive editorial assistance enabled me to improve the manuscript dramatically. Eva García, Nadia Gil Velazquez, and Astrid Wessels all patiently helped me unravel countless obscure and idiomatic passages. Dieter Gebauer and Laia Canals both provided indispensable aid. Julie Herrada from the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan graciously and promptly mailed me various important documents. I am indebted to Paul Glavin for his unflagging support for my literary endeavors over the years. Annette Burkin and Rebecca DeWitt copy edi... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Preface to the spanish edition For a variety of reasons, we were initially unable to publish this biography in its original language and had to bring it into the world in translated form. However, readers curious enough to buy the Spanish and French editions should be aware that the Spanish version is distinct from the French in important ways. We should also inform readers that they may find material in this biography that they have seen elsewhere, in works by other authors. This is because many unscrupulous “historians” and “specialists” have extracted information from the French edition of this book without indicating—and sometimes even deliberately concealing—its origin. Anyone with concerns can be assured that we have used primary sources almost exclusively. This compels us to include abundant and sometimes cumbersome footnotes, but we believe that it is important to note our sources, especially when treating... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Note to the second spanish edition I want to thank the comrades at the Fundación Anselmo Lorenzo for publishing this new, revised, and corrected edition of Durruti and especially José Luis Gutiérrez for his introduction and notes. Barcelona, April 1996 (The introduction by José Luis Gutiérrez appears as an Afterwards in this English translation.)... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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FIRST PART: The Rebel CHAPTER I. Between the cross and the hammer At 4:00 pm on June 4, 1923, unknown assailants opened fire on a black car across from the St. Paul Home School in the outskirts of Zaragoza. They fired thirteen bullets, one of which penetrated the heart of one of the car’s occupants. The victim died instantly. He was Juan Soldevila Romero, the Archbishop Cardinal of Zaragoza. News of the prelate’s death terrified local authorities and thrilled the humble classes. The police were paralyzed with shock at first, but went into action quickly, and tried their best to overcome the stubborn silence of the locals. El Heraldo de Aragón, the only newspaper in Zaragoza with an evening edition, had to completely re-do its front page. It printed a full-page photograph of the deceased with the headline “An unusual and abominable crime.” There was tremendous anxiety in... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER II. August 1917 The proletariat, now strong and populous due to the industrial expansion, entered into open revolutionary struggle. The decisive moments of the battle occurred in the summer of 1917, as Spain teetered on the brink of revolution. Since the beginning of the century, the Catalan and Basque industrial bourgeoisie understood that the principal obstacle to its growth lay in Spain’s economic and political structures and that the country would never develop as long as the clergy, aristocracy, and military monopolized political power. They thus initiated an offensive aimed at displacing the parties that had been taking turns running the state and linked their efforts, psychologically, to deeply rooted autonomist sentiments among the Catalan and Basque peoples. These passions were becoming increasingly separatist in character and represented a growing challenge to the power of the central government in Madrid. The expl... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER III. From Exile to Anarchism In early September, Buenaventura and his friend “El Toto” went to Gijón, which suggests that Durruti had formed lasting bonds with the Asturian miners during the events in Matallana. He was there only briefly. By December, he was in Vals-les-Bains (Les Ardeches, France), where he mailed a reassuring postcard to his family: “I’m doing quite well, thanks to the help of a Spanish family named Martínez.” Several things occurred during Buenaventura’s short stopover in Gijón that may help explain his later activities in France. Durruti and his friend had different concerns. The police were after “El Toto” for acts of sabotage that occurred during the strike, whereas Buenaventura had his own preoccupation: he had deserted from the army. Shortly before the strike, he had been called up in the second military draft of... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER IV. Los justicieros When Buenaventura arrived in San Sebastián, the CNT was making inroads into an area that the Socialist Party and its union body, the UGT, had dominated until then. Prior to the CNT’s Second Congress in 1919, anarchist activity in the Basque region was limited to printed propaganda put out by the small number of groups there. But anarchists in San Sebastián and also Bilbao began to go into action and lay down solid organizational roots after the 1917 general strike and the dramatic increase in anarcho-syndicalist activity throughout the country. Around this time, workers began building the Gran Kursaal casino at the mouth of the Urumea River and labors from Aragón and Logroño came to participate in the undertaking. The anarchist group in San Sebastian set out to organize this mass of immigrant workers, under the guidance of veteran militant Moisés Ruiz. Activists from Zaragoza and Logr... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER V. Confronting government terror Marcelino and Gregorio were well known in Zaragoza, but this was Buenaventura’s first time in the city. They arrived in the early morning and decided to go to the Centro de Estudios Sociales on Augustín Street, instead of to Inocencio Pina’s house (one of the local Justicieros). Durruti found himself in a different world when he crossed the building’s threshold. San Sebastián’s workers’ center was quite small and Gijón’s Centro de Estudios Sociales (led by Eleuterio Quintanilla) was unknown to him. Now, for the first time, Buenaventura was in a workers’ center that was large enough to genuinely meet the movement’s needs. All the activities, even the intellectual ones, took place there. Various signs hung on the rooms: Food workers, Metalworkers, Electricity, Light and Gas, Waiters, etc. There was a well-stocked library and, nearby, the office of... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER VI. Zaragoza, 1922 Life was calm in Zaragoza in June 1921. Durruti was working in a locksmith’s shop and the pistoleros still hadn’t gone into action. The unions were functioning more or less normally, but their legal situation was ambiguous. The inmates waiting to be tried in the Predicadores prison were the only discordant factor. Francisco Ascaso had also become seriously ill, due to mistreatment by prison authorities and the poor conditions. In response, his comrades wrote the Prisoner Support Committee and asked them to intensify their work on his behalf. Buenaventura felt some admiration for Ascaso, since Pina and the others spoke of him with genuine veneration. On several occasions, Durruti said that he wanted to visit him in prison, but his friends invariably objected to such a reckless idea. Durruti stayed in Pina’s house and lived like a hermit there. Zaragoza police began to lose interest in him... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER VII. Los solidarios There was enormous turmoil in Barcelona when Durruti and his friends arrived in August 1922. Pistoleros had just tried to kill the well-known anarchist Angel Pestaña and there was a general strike throughout Catalonia. A group of Catalan intellectuals publicly denounced the authorities’ failure to stop the bourgeoisie’s intolerable aggressions and, in the Parliament, Socialist deputy Indalecio Prieto demanded that the government force Martínez Anido’s resignation. President Sánchez Guerra had to intervene. Although “Martínez Anido’s star began to pale,” pistolerismo continued to operate through the so-called Free Unions [ Sindicatos Libres]. These were labor organizations created and manipulated by the bosses and protected by the church, which hoped to use them to implant a Catholic syndicalism. Ramón Sales, who founde... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER VIII. José Regueral and Cardinal Soldevila Although Durruti rejected Pina’s idea that they should make themselves into “professional revolutionaries,” this is what he and the other Solidarios would become due to the course of events. The Solidarios had to adopt a lifestyle in keeping with the demands of their insurgent activities, but it should be noted that Durruti and his comrades were never “salaried revolutionaries,” something that clearly distinguished them from the bureaucrats and “permanents” of the socialist, communist, and syndicalist organizations. García Oliver commented on the issue many years later: “I joined the CNT in 1919 and lived through all the turbulent phases of its struggle for survival. With other good comrades, I organized Sections, Unions, Locals, and Counties; I took part in hundreds of assemblies, rallies, and conferences; I fought day and night, with m... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER IX. Toward the Primo de Rivera dictatorship While Zaragoza police used the most odious tactics to find the men who killed Cardinal Soldevila, the person that the press depicted as the central figure in the matter—the “terrible Durruti”—was released from the San Sebastián Provincial Prison. The incongruities of the law! The last time that Durruti’s mother had visited him in prison, he promised her that he would go to León the minute that he was freed and spend some time with the family. But when he found out about the arrest of Ascaso and the other comrades in Zaragoza, he decided against the León trip and went to Barcelona without delay. Durruti could see that there was serious confusion among anarchists and CNTistas as soon as he arrived. Three tendencies struggled to impose their control on the Confederation. One was a misguided revolutionary position that wanted to institutionalize... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER X. The Revolutionary Center of Paris García Vivancos arrived in Barcelona in late November 1923 feeling discouraged about his trip to the Asturian capital. At first things had looked promising when he landed in Oviedo: a soldier in the regiment guarding the Oviedo prison promised to mobilize his comrades to help break Torres Escartín out. The plan’s pieces slowly fell into place and, when it was nearly time to execute it, everything was ruined: soldiers from another regiment took over prison security. García Vivancos now had to work to secure the collaboration of a whole new squad of guards. He immediately began to sound things out, but began to worry when the police questioned him about his activities in Oviedo. While he had a good alibi—documents indicating that he was a traveling knitwear salesman—and the interrogation went well, it seemed clear that the guards had not been transferred by accident. He left Oviedo at... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XI. Guerrillas in Latin America The stopover in New York was brief; only long enough to stock up for the trip to Cuba. Although Ascaso and Durruti were heading to Argentina, they decided to spend some time in the Caribbean island once they set foot in Havana. They went to the home of a young man by the name of J.A., a Spanish émigré who supported libertarian ideas and whose address they had received from Ricardo Sanz. J.A. was as young as his two visitors, but didn’t share their faith in revolutionary violence. He could be described as an evolutionary anarchist. J.A. received Durruti and Ascaso fraternally and opened his home to them, but they soon quarreled over the question of strategy. J.A., like the other Spanish anarchists living in Cuba, thought that the anarchist’s task was educational and that it was futile to try to cut short the journey to a libertarian society, particularly given the lack of education among... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XII. From Simón Radowitzky to Boris Wladimirovich Due to circumstances beyond their control, Durruti and Ascaso’s “Latin American excursion” would end in the country where it should have begun. And, even worse, police from three countries were chasing the Errantes for “crimes” of a character that had divided the Argentine anarchist movement in 1925. Specifically, some anarchists advocated expropriation and attacks on individuals, while others vigorously opposed such tactics and believed that they were destructive to the movement. The tendency toward violence was a natural consequence of the Argentine state’s vicious oppression of the workers’ movement. Indeed, government harassment and the high number of anarchists among the waves of immigrants and exiles arriving in the country meant that there would be an abundance of combative anarchists in Argentina. Argentina’s militant labor federatio... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XIII. Los Errantes in Buenos Aires in 1925 We will say more about Severino di Giovanni. The child of a wealthy family, he was born in Italy on March 17, 1901 in the Abruzos region, 180 kilometers east of Rome. He studied to be a schoolteacher and, in his free time, typography. He began to explore anarchism as a youth through readings of Bakunin, Malatesta, Proudhon, and Kropotkin. He was orphaned at nineteen and, a year later, devoted himself completely himself to the anarchist movement. The “March on Rome” occurred in 1922, and Mussolini took power shortly thereafter. Severino fled the country, along with his two brothers and many other radical workers. Some settled in France and others went to Argentina. Severino was among the latter group and arrived in Buenos Aries in May 1923. He promptly got a job as a typographic worker and joined the FORA. The Radical Party governed the country then. This party represe... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XIV. Toward Paris: 1926 After the holdup of the bank in San Martín, police were now sure of the thieves’ identities. They increased surveillance of the city’s anarchist circles and tightened control over the borders and ports. It would seem impossible for Durruti, Ascaso, and Jover to pass through the net that police had thrown over the region and yet that is exactly what they did. They set off for Europe in Montevideo at the end of February 1926. Los Errantes experienced some of the most difficult moments of their lives between January 19 and their departure. It was very hard for them to find a safe place to hide and some veteran militants who knew Durruti and Ascaso from Spain even turned their backs on them; not because of police pressure, but simply to avoid getting involved. Had it not been for members of the Unión Sindical Argentina and the La Antorcha and El Libertario groups, it is ve... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XV. The plot against Alfonso XIII Alfonso XIII couldn’t take a step without inspiring some Spaniard to try to kill him. He was the target of at least a dozen alleged assassination attempts and yet somehow always emerged unharmed. The attempt on May 17, 1902, on the day of the coronation, failed. What was being prepared for him in Paris on May 31, 1905 was discovered in time. Exactly one year later Mateo Morral killed twenty-six people and injured 107 with a bomb on the King’s Wedding day and still couldn’t get to his target. Other men who tried to take out Alfonso XIII also had their hopes dispelled. It seemed written that this monarch would die of old age in bed. Mindful of such threats against the King, the Spanish embassy in Paris took stringent security precautions and also asked French police to imprison any Spanish exile who might be tempted to execute the monarch. The French police consented to this request and launched... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XVI. The International Anarchist Defense Committee Parisian Anarchists first campaigned to save Sacco and Vanzetti through the International Anarchist Defense Committee (IADC) and latter through the Freedom for Sacco and Vanzetti Committee. This permitted the IADC to retain a broader focus. There was an unmistakable need for the IADC, given the oppression of anarchists in Russia under the Bolsheviks, in Italy under Mussolini, and in Spain under Primo de Rivera. They defended Sacco and Vanzetti as victims of North American capitalism imprisoned because of their revolutionary activism among Italian exiles in the United States. Of course the American legal system tried to conceal its function as a tool of the ruling class and thus obscured the social and political content of the trial; it charged the Italian anarchists with armed robbery as a way to deceive American and world opinion. The goal of Paris’s Freedom for Sacco and Vanzetti Commit... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XVII. The Anarcho-Communist Union and the Poincaré government Louis Lecoin set out to do nothing less than crush French Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré’s foreign policy. Louis Barthou—a faithful servant of the bourgeoisie—was the Minister of Justice—and the veteran socialist Aristides Briand occupied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The government called itself the “leftwing block” and had won the elections on May 4, 1924 under that name (against the “rightwing block”). The Socialists were well represented in the National Assembly, which had the Radical-Socialist Édouard Herriot as president. However, this leftwing government executed the policies of the right, both internationally as well as domestically. We can find proof of this in its conduct in Morocco, where it helped Alfonso XIII exterminate Abdel-Krim’s guerrillas. The culmination of the government’s friendly policy towa... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XVIII. The anti-parliamentarianism of Louis Lecoin The French Justice Minister was committed to sending the Spaniards to Argentina. In the National Assembly, a deputy asked Barthou if the government would give them to Spain. The minister replied categorically: “To Spain, no.” The contradiction was glaring: Alfonso XIII said that they had killed the Cardinal Archbishop of Zaragoza and robbed the Gijón bank, which French law recognized as political acts. Then why did France recognize crimes of the same nature supposedly committed in Argentina as common law offenses? Why two weights and two measures? As an Argentine worker said in the Crítica newspaper’s survey, France and Argentina were “playing a diplomatic game that will ultimately lead to Argentina shipping Ascaso, Durruti, and Jover to Spain.” But the battle wasn’t over and both Argentine and French workers were determined to do everything in their power to... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XIX. Emilienne, Berthe, and Nestor Makhno Although the French government freed the three anarchists, it also ruled that they had to leave the country within fifteen days. Where should they go? The Asylum Support Committee frantically began trying to get them an entrance visa for any European country. None of the embassies refused their request outright, but none replied affirmatively either. During the trying wait for a positive response, Durruti, Ascaso, and Jover talked about the possibility of living in some corner of the earth, beyond the law, as they were accustomed. But Gregorio Jover had a family to think about and needed to find a solution that would keep his compañera and two children at his side. He resolved the problem with some false documents, which enabled him to settle in Béziers, where he supported himself as a cabinetmaker. Unemployed, Durruti and Ascaso spent their afternoons in the Anarchist Bookstore, located on Pra... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XX. Lyon, and in prison again Even though Lyon was a large city, police control was so lax there that it was hardly evident when Durruti and Ascaso arrived in early November 1927. Using false identity papers, it wouldn’t be hard for Durruti and his friend to find work and live tranquilly while waiting for the right moment to return to Spain. They would simply have to avoid hotels and be cautious. They found housing, work, a discreet daily routine, but not tranquility. These men of action, restless by temperament, could not sit on the sidelines and passively watch the days go by. They began to inform themselves about the state of the exiled anarchist movement in France and also about the movement’s development in Spain. During the fifteen days they spent in Paris after their release from prison, they found out about the underground conference held in Valencia on July 24 and 25. They also learned that participants at the event had forged the statut... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXI. Clandestine in Europe While Durruti and Ascaso were imprisoned in Lyon, the Asylum Support Committee inquired at various embassies and consulates in Paris about the possibility of getting them an entrance visa. “Our country cannot give asylum to dangerous anarchists,” was the most common response. There was some hope in the fact that the Soviet Union had replied positively to their query the previous year, but neither Ascaso nor Durruti were very enthusiastic about the idea of going to the USSR and all their comrades, including Makhno, warned them against such a move. Thus, the two didn’t know where to go when they were released, although they did need to leave France immediately. They concluded that perhaps they could hide out in some Central European country once they possessed of Soviet passports. They went to the Soviet Consulate as soon as they arrived in Brussels to pursue the matter of the Russian entra... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXII. The fall of Primo de Rivera The only thing revealed by Ascaso and Durruti’s interrogation and Camilo Berneri’s arrest was Mussolini’s obsession with inventing conspiracies and assassination plots. Perhaps the Italian dictator was yearning for those that he couldn’t carry out when he was active in Socialist ranks and tried to pass for a “professional revolutionary” in Switzerland. Authorities verified the links between Durruti, Ascaso, and Berneri and then deported the latter for entering the country with a false passport. However, they did not expel Ascaso or Durruti, which suggests that members of the Belgian Socialist Party had made efforts on their behalf or that the government simply dismissed the matter as an Italian concern. Both things were probably true, although what is important is that police didn’t bother Ascaso or Durruti any further and that our friends were able to continue their ac... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXIII. The Murder of Fermín Galán The CNT would soon become the country’s most important proletarian organization, thanks to the dramatic reorganization of its unions, the impact of its rallies on the workers, and the widespread distribution of publications. The renewal of the anarcho-syndicalist movement began not only to fill the monarchy’s ruling classes with fear, but also the politicians conspiring against it. For their part, the exiles in France and Belgium were brimming with excitement, thinking that the hardships of the past were justified by the new turn of events. It was harvest time and the harvest looked good. Indeed, many of these refugees were so excited by the developments in Spain that they did not wait for the declaration of the Republic—and, with it, political amnesty—but decided to return to Spain secretly. Juan Manuel Molina, head of Tierra y Libertad and its press Etyl, was among those who m... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXIV. “Viva Macià! Death to Cambó!” Everything started around 1:00 pm on April 14, 1931 to a backdrop of the tricolored flag flying in the street. It was spontaneous, sincere, and enthusiastic. Workers made flags out of scraps of fabric in the textile factories. “To Barcelona!” was the shout in the factories. One by one the looms and other machines shut down; the stores, businesses, and restaurants closed. With the factories at a standstill and workers flooding the streets, it seemed like an enormous festival was taking place in the city. The joyous and contagious racket reminded some older workers of July 1909 or 1917, but of course without the violence or barricades. The youngsters chanted the same slogans as the older ones: “Viva the Republic! Viva Macià! Death to Cambó!” It also seemed to be the day of the woman. Women stood out, frenzied and passiona... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXV. The new government and its political program The April 15 issue of the Gaceta Oficial reported on the composition of the new government, as well as all the appointments and administrative orders. A new group now controlled the state. The ministries were distributed among those who had cooked up the Pact of San Sebastián and in accordance with their commitment to unity. There were three ministries for the Socialists: Fernando de los Ríos, in the Ministry of Justice. Francisco Largo Caballero, in the Ministry of Labor. Indalecio Prieto, in the Treasury Ministry The Radical Socialists followed the Socialists in importance, with two ministries: Alvaro de Albornoz, in the Ministry of Public Works. Marcelino Domingo, in the Ministry of Public Education. Then, with the same nu... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Second Part: The Militant CHAPTER I. April 14, 1931 Durruti, Ascaso, Liberto Callejas, Joaquín Cortés, and other exiles in Brussels were among the first militants to arrive in Barcelona. García Oliver, Aurelio Fernández, Torres Escartín, and other Solidarios who had been in prison or exiled elsewhere followed closely on their heels. Echoes of the previous day’s popular celebration were still in the air when Ascaso and Durruti met with Ricardo Sanz on April 15, who had experienced the Monarchy’s last moments and the proclamation of the Second Republic. Ricardo Sanz enthusiastically told them about the heroic deeds of the CNT, which had expelled the Lerrouxist Emiliano Iglesias from the Civil Government and put Lluís Companys in his place. Durruti and Ascaso were not impressed and must have lamented the contradiction between the CNT’s activity... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER II. Before May 1: the Forces in Play Durruti mailed his first letter to his family since returning to Spain on May 6, 1931. He wrote: Please excuse me for not writing earlier, but I’ve had a lot of work to do. And, on top of everything, I’ve had to look after two French comrades who have come to Barcelona to report on our movement. I have a double responsibility, as their friend and comrade [he is referring to Louis Lecoin and Odeón, representatives from the French Anarchist Federation]. I spoke at a rally that we organized on May 1. When I got off the platform, a fellow from León introduced himself to me and told me that he’s thinking of heading there. I pleaded with him to go see you and tell you the details of my life here. With regard to your trip to Barcelona, I have to tell you something: my life is completely abnormal and it would be impossible for me to attend t... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER III. May 1, 1931 April 14 and May 1 were dates with deep social meaning and their proximity only highlighted the difference between the two: one had a political content and the other was for the workers. In fact, this May Day was going to be the Spanish proletariat’s April 14. The fate of the Second Republic hung on the confrontation between these dates. The UGT and the Socialist Party organized the May Day workers’ parade in Madrid. Three Socialist ministers presided over the event, making it an almost governmental ceremony. A small number of Communists joined in for propagandistic purposes. They photographed strategically placed militants as they posed with CP banners. The party then distributed copies of the photos abroad and printed them in La Correspondencia Comunista in order to demonstrate the party’s influence on the Spanish working class. Other than this, the rally unfolded like a day of popular... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER IV. The Nosotros group faces the CNT and the Republic The CNT and FAI both called meetings to decide how to respond to the restrictive policy that the new Catalanist leaders would surely try to impose on them. Speeches and statements that Macià made after the May Day tragedy indicated that he was afraid of falling out with the CNT workers and hoped that they would help him pass the Catalan Autonomy Statute in the referendum due to be held shortly. Also, some militants supported a “truce” and thought that the CNT should give the Catalan politicians an opportunity to exercise their new power in peace: in other words, they wanted the CNT to strike a deal with the governing Catalanists. Others countered that authorities would see any expression of good will as a sign of CNT weakness and a disavowal of the anarchist groups who fought with the police. It would suggest a rupture between the CNT and the FAI, which the politi... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER V. The FAI and the CNT meet There was no doubt that the FAI had a significant influence on the CNT, but the relationship between the two organizations was unclear. That is why the FAI’s Tierra y Libertad emphasized disagreements in the brief article that it ran about the international rally that we discussed in the previous chapter. “The voice of the FAI was not heard there, which would have been the voice of Iberian anarchism. It was absent, and quite absent. In Spain, the anarchist voice has more right than any to be heard at these meetings of the CNT and AIT.” On June 10, one day before the CNT Congress was due to begin, the FAI held its first Peninsular Conference in Madrid. One hundred twenty county representatives were present. The Conference resolved to do the following: Conduct a propaganda tour throughout the Peninsula, beginning on August 1. (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER VI. The republic’s social policy and the CNT The Congress’s decision to embrace the Federations of Industry would seem to indicate that the CNT’s moderate tendency had seized control of the organization. However, the exact opposite would occur: ultimately, it will be the more radial wing that will impose its revolutionary line on the anarcho- syndicalist confederation. Shortly after Congress attendees had returned home, the most important labor conflict during the Republic’s five years erupted: the telephone workers’ strike. After the proclamation of the Republic, the majority of telephone workers unionized with the CNT and formed the National Telephone Workers’ Union. Previously they had not been unionized and thus at the management’s mercy, but after unionizing they began to make demands on the company. The company was intransigent and the workers went on strike. Only CNT workers support... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER VII. In the middle of a storm without a compass Miguel Maura’s boasting was a challenge to the CNT. To take the blow without reacting would only encourage his authoritarianism, yet there was no point in protesting benignly with a long document in the workers’ press. What to do? The only solution was to continue the struggle in the street. The Nosotros group was destined to play an important role in the new period that the CNT was entering at this time. As we will see later, CNT “moderates” will derisively label them “Blanquists” and say that they had a “simplistic” analysis of the country’s social conditions. History would determine the value of the respective theses in play. Shortly after the proclamation of the Republic, the Nosotros group met to define its strategy: “They studied the political and social problem from every angle. A Republic based on in... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER VIII. Durruti and García Oliver respond to “The Thirty” Durruti was never very fond of the press. In his view, paid journalists wrote simply to please their employers and although they received a salary, they lacked a “workers’ conscience.” Most workers, despite being paid, could refuse to produce something that they considered detrimental to their class. “For example, Barcelona’s bricklayers and forgers,” he said, “refused to build the Modelo Prison because they knew that they were constructing their own tombs. I can’t think of any journalist who has done something similar.” With opinions like these, Durruti was unlikely to seek out journalists to comment publicly on the manifesto released by “The Thirty.” The fact that he did make a statement in the press was due to the efforts of Eduardo de Guzmán, editor of La Tierra (an independent newspaper... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER IX. Two paradoxical processes: Alfonso XIII and the Gijón bank Given these statements from Durruti and García Oliver, and the opposing comments from Juan Peiró and his friends, it was inevitable that the manifesto would become a subject of debate within CNT unions, particularly those in Catalonia. The fact that “the Thirty” had used the bourgeois press as a vehicle to voice their disagreements was one of the things that most upset militants. That, and the timing of their statement, made it harder for the CNT and anarchists to effectively confront the government’s persecution as well as the criticisms that Socialists and Communists were lodging against them. In this context, it is worth quoting a letter that Durruti sent to his brother Manolín, who was active among the Socialists in León: I’m just sending a few lines to tell you that the Sevilla comrades haven’t gon... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER X. The insurrection in Alto Llobregat While social conditions continued to deteriorate, deputies and ministers were busy drafting the constitution of the Second Republic. The discussion of article 26, which treated the separation of the church and state and limited the church’s activity in public life, shattered the political unity in the government. This article was approved on October 13 by 178 votes against fifty-nine, with the abstention of the Radical-Socialists (who supported an even stronger text). Miguel Maura and Alcalá Zamora saw this as a betrayal of the Pact of San Sebastián and resigned from the government. The Socialists and Republicans overcame the crisis by forming a new government without the Rightwing. Manuel Azaña continued to hold the purse strings of the Ministry of War and stood in for Alcalá Zamora as Prime Minister. Santiago Casares Quiroga replaced Maura in the Interior Ministry and José Giral... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XI. The steamship Buenos Aires The militants who hadn’t been captured during the January 20 raid—such as Ortiz, Sanz, and García Oliver—met and decided that they would pressure their respective unions to push the CNT National Committee to declare a general strike throughout the country. They believed that this was the only way to stop the government from deporting their comrades. The Manufacturing and Textile Workers’ Union held an emergency meeting and voted to support the general strike. It sent García Oliver, as its representative, to a meeting of the National Committee, which was based in Barcelona and led by Angel Pestaña at the time. García Oliver drafted the following report for his union: The National Committee met on the evening of February 9. García Oliver, the secretary, and other delegates were present. He [Pestaña] read the notes sent by... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XII. Guinea — Fernando Poo – The Canaries The government gathered the Andalusian detainees in Cádiz and loaded them onto the Buenos Aires as soon as it anchored outside the port. The ship then set off into the Atlantic toward the Canaries, leaving behind a Spain in chaos. The militants from Valencia went on the Sánchez Barcáiztegui destroyer and met the others in Las Palmas. As previously noted, anarchists in Tarrasa took over Town Hall and proclaimed libertarian communism on February 14 as a protest against the deportations. There were more clashes with the Civil Guard and more deaths. There were general or partial strikes in large cities. Bombs tore down telephone poles and demolished electrical installations. The government did everything it could to make matters worse by provoking the Rightwing with demagogery. Although the government really had no intention of attacking, the Right too... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XIII. Split in the CNT The Spanish socio-political situation evolved during the six months that Durruti and his comrades spent in exile. Under pressure from the uprising launched by Sanjurjo and his friends, the Parliament ended up approving the Agrarian Reform Law and as well as the Catalan Autonomy Statute. The latter went into effect in mid-September 1932: from then on Catalonia would have an autonomous government called the Generalitat. It could approve its own laws, institute social reforms, modify educational statutes, and exercise control over public order. Although Madrid was still in change of military matters, there was an understanding between the Catalan and Madrid governments with respect to the appointment of the principle military leaders. When Madrid conferred responsibility for public order to the Generalitat, it also handed over the famous one thousand rifles bought by Los Solidarios in Eibar in 1923. The situation wi... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XIV. The insurrectional cycle Durruti was released in early December 1932 after nearly three months of governmental detention and would never know why he had been incarcerated. He was again on the street and again with the same problems as always, although it was not difficult for him to get his job back at the textile factory that had employed him on May 11, 1931 (his first work since returning from France). Mimi immediately worried about how long his freedom would last when, three days after his release, Durruti told her that the whole group would gather that night. The meeting took place in García Oliver’s house in the Sants district. The following were present at the designated hour: Antonio Ortiz, Gregorio Jover, Francisco Ascaso and his brother Domingo (who did not belong to the group but everyone trusted), Aurelio Fernández, María Luisa Tejedor (Aurelio’s compañera... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XV. Prisoner in El Puerto de Santa María Like many of those who participated in the January 8 rebellion, Durruti and Ascaso were able to elude the police and disappear for a time while they waited for the storm to pass. The Police Chief was then the ex-conspirator Miguel Badía. In 1925, he had planted a bomb on the Garraf coast in an attempt to blow up the train carrying Alfonso XIII to Barcelona. He asked Los Solidarios to help him carry out the attack and they provided him with the dynamite that he needed. Miguel Badía thus had extensive and longstanding knowledge of the anarchists, although that did not stop him from being a much more violent Police Chief with the Confederals than Colonel José Arlegui. Induced by a hatred of anarchism, he took the repression to the extreme, particularly against García Oliver, who escaped death by a pure miracle. With respect to Durruti and Ascaso, he swore that he... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XVI. From electoral strike to insurrection The three “vagrants” released from El Puerto de Santa María arrived in Barcelona just as Alcalá Zamora threw the country into turmoil with the dissolution of the Parliament and call for legislative elections. This was a straightforward political opportunity for the parties, but the elections were a difficult issue for the CNT. Its position on the elections had to be consistent with its absentionist convictions, but also consonant with the new political situation created by the rise of the Rightwing after the failure of the leftwing government. In November 1933, for the first time in its history, the CNT would be the central force determining the political fate of the country. We will explore the CNT’s internal life, but must first place our protagonists in the onerous social conditions existing in Barcelona at the time. The bourgeoisie fired workers readily and often abusively. Althou... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XVII. Socialism, absent in december 1933 The Right’s electoral victory on November 19, 1933 was a surprise to no one. A divided left, a working class disappointed in the Republicans and Socialists, and the CNT’s abstention campaign made the results easy to anticipate. The Left won ninety-nine seats (including sixty for the Socialists and one for the Communist Party); the Center, 156 (including 102 for the Radicals); and the Right, 217 (115 went to the CEDA). Comparing this with the outcome of the elections in June 1931 shows a significant defeat: the Left, 263 deputies (including 116 Socialists); the Center, 110 (twenty- two belonging to Maura and Alcalá Zamora), and the Right; forty-four (including twenty-six agrarians). The Socialist Party lost fifty-six seats between 1931 and 1933. Was Spain turning right? To suggest that would be a sharp misreading of the situation. There were high levels of abstention in ar... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XVIII. The general strike in Zaragoza Durruti left Burgos with the comrades from Zaragoza who had been imprisoned with him (Ejarque, Joaquín Ascaso, the Alcrudo brothers, etc) and they paid a visit to local militants when they stopped in the capital of Aragón. They could see the effects of the general strike declared in solidarity with the prisoners as soon as they set foot in the Zaragoza train station. The unions said that the strike would last until the government freed everyone detained for the December events and, since there were still militants in prison, the strike continued. Nothing functioned in the city except vital services like hospitals, dairies, and bakeries. All the other branches of production were suspended, including lighting and public services like garbage collection. Zaragoza seemed like a city under siege, but there was enormous enthusiasm among the workers. The CNT in other parts of the country offered to send shipments... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XIX. A historic meeting between the CNT and Companys Scholars of this extremely agitated period in Spain’s history have passed over this meeting between the CNT and Generalitat President Lluís Companys. Indeed, we have never seen it cited and were ourselves unaware of it for a time. We learned of the meeting only by chance, while reading the CNT’s underground publications from the era. There is an article on page three of the first issue of La Voz Confederal, (dated June 2, 1934) entitled “Report on the meeting between the President of the Generalitat and comrades Sanz, Isgleas, García Oliver, Herreros, and Carbó, representatives of the CNT’s Catalan Regional Confederation.” The meeting took place on Wednesday May 9, 1934, three days after the brutal attack described in the previous chapter. Had the encounter been arranged before or after those events? We don’t know... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XX. From the damm boycott to the cells of the headquarters Durruti had been intensely active since returning to Barcelona in May 1934, in the CNT unions as well as FAI groups. His activist commitments and need to look for a job made it impossible for him to carry on a normal life in the way that it is commonly imagined when one is in a couple and has a child. It is thus difficult to say much about Durruti’s family life, but we can offer a few anecdotes, which help give a human dimension to his personality. In his daily behavior, Durruti had overcome many of the customs of Spanish men in relation to women. Since he was blacklisted by the bourgeoisie, it was Mimi who bore the burden of household expenses by working as a box office clerk in a cinema or in the “chain” of metallurgic or textile factories. Durruti did his best to care for their little girl and attend to the home. It was not unusual for his frequent visitors to find him in the kit... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXI. October 6 in Barcelona: against whom? The Socialist Party feared that CEDA leader Gil Robles would try to install fascism in Spain. Paradoxically, those protesting the fascist threat in September had been inactive on December 8, 1933 when CNT workers rose up in arms to confront that very danger and were massacred as a result. That would have been a good time to intervene, but the good Republicans and legalistic Socialists preferred to stay in the comfort of their homes, hoping that the CNT would do their dirty work for them or disintegrate in the process. Instead of supporting the CNT revolutionaries when the time was right, the more extreme Socialist leaders undertook an adventure of their own nearly one year later. Its goals will always remain a mystery. The pervasive nationalist propaganda and Madrid’s annulment of the law on agricultural contracts had inflamed the Catalanists. They jumped on the bandwagon and enrolled in the Soci... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXII. The Asturian Commune Gil Robles was undoubtedly the shrewdest of Spain’s reactionaries. He understood that the country’s problem was social not political and that while the CNT had been unable to unleash a revolution, it had maintained a state of pre-revolutionary ferment that was so dynamic that one could break out at any time. Gil Robles’s political strategy rested on interrupting that process, which is exactly what he did on October 5 by forcing the Socialist Party to either accept the CEDA ministry or rise up. His cleverness lay in his ability to know precisely when he could provoke an uprising without jeopardizing the privileges of the ruling classes. What made Gil Robles so confident that he would risk inciting a revolution? His confidence lay in the very complexity of the Spanish situation, in which his supposed opponents had made a social problem into a political one and thus became his objective allies. Basque leaders stood a... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXIII. “Peace and order reign in Asturias” When the government ended its military operations in Asturias, it told journalists that “peace and order reign in the rebel zone.” That “peace and order” caused 1335 worker deaths, 2951 injuries, and an undetermined number of exiles, who took refuge in the mountains. The working class paid dearly for that bourgeois “peace and order.” The government entrusted the mission of imposing order to Civil Guard commander Lisardo Doval and Judge Alarcón. Instruments of torture were improvised in the cells and the legal system ground on. Thirty thousand people were detained. But this wasn’t enough for the Rightwing: it wanted an even harsher crackdown. Calvo Sotelo stated as much in the November 6 session of the Parliament. Alejandro Lerroux declared that his government would be “merciless in Asturias.” “Until the seeds o... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXIV. “Banditry, no; collective expropriation, yes!” Durruti followed the country’s political and social evolution from Barcelona’s Modelo prison with great interest. The disposition of Lerroux’s government, the savagery in Asturias, and the Rightwing’s insatiable demand for “more heads” all presaged a bloody conflict. The inmates constantly discussed all these issues in the Modelo’s cells and courtyards. Durruti argued emphatically that they had to be careful not to squander their strength and patiently work to rebuild the unions. He saw organization as the key element in a revolutionary victory or a confrontation with the reactionaries. He also noted that “if the Right tries to take power, it won’t do so like Primo de Rivera. Asturias should be an example: the issue in Spain is not bourgeois democracy or fascism, but fascism or social revolution. Bourgeois democracy died after the elections... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXV. Toward the “Popular Front” The time that Durruti spent going in and out of jail did not undermine his optimism or change the direction of his thought, but such prolonged “isolations” were hard on the CNT and FAI. The organizations suffered while some of its most valuable militants wasted away in prison. Durruti would start devouring magazines and newspapers as soon as he left prison, until a new incarceration again disrupted his access to information and ability to following the thread of events. It was only his intuitive capacity to grasp issues and developments that saved him. His last conversation with Ascaso before his arrest revolved around what looked like the Socialist Party’s new strategy of forming alliances and coalitions, in which the Communist Party would also play a role thanks to Largo Caballero’s Bolshevik “measles.” They agreed that the CNT would face problems if the Popular F... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXVI. The CNT judges Durruti The “straperlo” affair was what brought down the Radical Party in the summer of 1935. “Straperlo” was a game of roulette designed to ensure that the house always won. Its inventor, a Dutchman named Daniel Strauss, had bribed various government officials to obtain permission for the game’s use in San Sebastián’s Gran Casino. However, the government received complaints and was forced to withdraw its authorization. The Dutchman had paid dearly for the permission and asked for compensation from his accomplices. He obtained nothing and, feeling deceived, publicly denounced how he had been treated and revealed the names of the culpable government men. Leading figures in the Radical Party were compromised, including Aurelio Lerroux, Alejandro Lerroux’s son. This caused a scandal and the government had to respond. Alcalá Zamora resolved the crisis by dismissing Lerroux. After soundi... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXVII. February 16, 1936 Manuel Azaña and the Socialist Party began discussing the creation of the electoral coalition on November 14, 1935. Leaders of the SP proposed a platform that could serve as its foundation, although only the clause on amnesty in their suggested program would be retained later. The program that was ultimately adopted was an extremely modest republican platform in every sense. It called for: a) Amnesty for prisoners convicted of social-political crimes committed after November 1933. Anyone sentenced for such crimes between 1931 and 1933 would not receive amnesty, which meant that a large number of anarchist militants would remain in prison. b) Rehire state employes that the Rightwing fired for their political views. c) Reestablish the Constitution. d) Address socials problems in the countryside and carry out administrative reforms, like reducing taxes, etc. Ot... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXVIII. The Fourth Congress of the CNT The Nosotros group achieved a new level of dynamism after January 1936. Its members threw themselves into action: they worked to strengthen the CNT’s unions, built up CNT-FAI Defense Committees, and forged contacts with soldiers in order to stay informed about developments within the military. Of course they also went almost daily to conferences, union meetings, and rallies. However, the Nosotros group wasn’t alone in this; all CNT and FAI militants seemed to be growing increasingly engaged. The CNT had no paid staff, other than the general secretary of the National Committee and the income it brought in from dues went entirely to prisoners, propaganda, and unemployed workers. However, despite the fact that the government constantly forced it underground (especially in Barcelona), it still managed to be an important presence in Spanish life, with its million and a half members... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXIX. The long wait for July 19, 1936 When Manuel Azaña became President of the Republic on May 10, Santiago Casares Quiroga became both Prime Minister and Minister of War. Casares Quiroga responded to the conspiracy against the Republic in the same way as his predecessor: he acted oblivious. As far as he was concerned, “there’s no reason to be alarmed; the government has the situation under control.” The absurdity of this attitude became clear after July 10, when everyone saw that the government had completely lost control. The soldiers enlisted in the plot took orders only from General Mola, the leader of the rebellion who had installed his General Staff in Pamplona. When soldiers loyal to the Republic saw the ineffectiveness of the Ministry of War, they put themselves at the disposal of the workers’ organizations or political parties of their preference and prepared for the battle that everyone now believed was inevitable. F... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Third Part: The revolutionary, from july 19 to november 20, 1936 CHAPTER I. Barcelona in flames The fascists put their military apparatus in gear just before five in the morning. The leaders knew what they wanted, but the soldiers had been deceived into thinking that they were defending a Republic in peril. The Montesa Calvary regiments took Tarragona Street toward the Plaza de España. The Santiago regiment left its barracks on Lepanto Street and followed Industria Street on their way to the “Cinc d’Ors.” The Seventh Light Artillery from Sant Andreu divided into two columns; one circumvallated the city and the other cut across it, both heading for the Plaza de Cataluña. The Mountain Artillery from the Docks took Icaria Avenue; its objective was Palacio Plaza and control of the port. The Badajoz Infantry Regiment left its barracks in Pedralbes behind it and advanced along the Diag... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER II. General Goded surrenders Several officers went out to greet Goded when his hydroplane landed at the naval base. They shouted “Viva” when he emerged from the plane. That reception alerted the base’s mechanics to the fact that there was no “anarchist rebellion against the Republic,” but rather a military uprising against the government. They went into action against the seditious officer corps. The officers welcomed Goded in such a way because they were expected to do so, not out of real enthusiasm. However, even if they had been genuinely excited, it is unlikely that they could have cheered him up after what he saw while flying over Barcelona. Commander Lázaro, leader of his General Staff, stepped toward Goded and whispered: “My General, I think we’ve stuck ourselves in a mousetrap.” “I know, but I’ve given my word and here I am.”... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER III. The death of Ascaso The Pedralbes barracks was the first to fall into workers’ hands. Then it was the Alcántara barracks at 5:30 pm; Lepanto at 6:00 pm; the Montesa barracks at 8:00 pm; the Docks shortly before midnight, and the Sant Andreu Central Artillery Barracks at midnight exactly. The mechanics on the naval base took over after arresting the officers there. The soldiers in the Montjuich fortress seized their seditious officers and liberated their loyalist commander, Gil Cabrera, who had been detained. Worker and Soldier Committees were formed immediately in all the barracks. What began as a movement to defend the Republic became a social revolution in a matter of hours. This confirmed Durruti’s assertion that the revolution would emerge in a reply to an attempted rightwing coup. While Barcelona’s proletariat secured its control over the Catalan capital, everyone wondered what was happening in Madrid and thro... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER IV. July 20 The revolutionary wave had totally disrupted the fabric of civic life. Even Solidaridad Obrera lost its editor and staff in the tumult. The July 20 issue was the work of a group of militants who had noticed the empty editorial office while randomly passing by and took the initiative to edit, layout, and print that historic edition. Their example, multiplied by thousands, became the point of departure for the new forms of social organization that rose from the ruins of the old regime. Daily life had been transformed and the first forays into industrial self-management began (in transportation and food distribution, specifically). Power lay in the street on July 20, represented by the people in arms. The army and the police had disappeared as institutions: soldiers, policemen, and workers formed a united block. The spirit of solidarity and fraternity was pervasive. Men and women, freed... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER V. Lluís Companys confronts the CNT, and the CNT confronts itself Meeting participants sent a commission to meet with Lluís Companys. The group included García Oliver, Durruti, and Aurelio Fernández. Strangely, given the short distance to the Palace, they made the trip by automobile. They went to the Plaza de Jaime I and followed the street by that name up to the Plaza de la República. A detachment of Mozos de Escuadra stood at the Palace entrance. There were Assault Guards in the cross streets as well as civilians with Catalanist armbands. The heavily armed CNT and FAI men got out of the car. The leader of the Mozos de Escuadra greeted us at the entrance of the Generalitat. We were armed to the teeth—rifles, machine-guns, and pistols—and ragged and dirty from all the dust and smoke. “We are the CNT and FAI representatives that Companys called,” we told h... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER VI. The Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias of Catalonia The CNT accepted “democratic collaboration” and, according to García Oliver, the structural result was as follows: “The Central Committee of Anti- Fascist Militias was accepted and the balance of forces within it established. Although the distribution of seats wasn’t just—the UGT and Socialist Party, who were minorities in Catalonia, received as many as the triumphant CNT and anarchists—this was a sacrifice designed to lead the dictatorial parties down the path of loyal collaboration and to avoid suicidal competitions.” This was not a bad idea, but groups make concessions when they are in the minority and not the majority. In any case, the CNT and FAI’s political enemies will avail themselves of this generous sacrifice in Catalonia, but won’t make similar gestures in places where the CNT lacks predominance. T... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER VII. The Durruti-García Oliver offensive On July 23, 1936, García Oliver spoke to the workers of Aragón by radio. He gave an incendiary speech: “Leave your homes. Throw yourselves on the enemy. Don’t wait a minute longer. Get to work right now. CNT and FAI militants have to distinguish themselves in this. Our comrades must be the vanguard fighters. If we have to die, then we have to die.... Durruti and I are leaving for the front with expeditionary columns. We will send a squad of planes to bomb the barracks. Activists of the CNT and FAI have to carry out the duty demanded by the present hour. Use every resource. Don’t wait until I stop talking. Leave your home. Burn, destroy, defeat fascism!” The announcement that they were organizing workers columns to march on Aragón aroused enormous excitement in Barcelona. The workers went to their respective unions to enlist as volunteers an... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER VIII. The Durruti Column People crowded around to watch the Column pass through the villages. After seeing Durruti, more than one person exclaimed: “But he can’t be the boss! He’s not wearing stripes!” Others, better informed, replied that “an anarchist is never a boss and so wouldn’t wear stripes.” Elsewhere peasants received the Column with shouts of joy and cheers to the CNT-FAI. Wherever the Column stopped, Durruti got out of his car to speak to the town’s residents, who gathered around the new arrivals: Have you organized your collective? Don’t wait any longer. Occupy the land. Organize yourselves without bosses or parasites among you. If you don’t do that, there’s no reason for us to continue forward. We have to create a new world, different from the one that we’re destroying. Otherwise, youth will die on the b... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER IX. “The clandestine revolution” Reserves of rifle ammunition on the Aragón front were essentially exhausted only two weeks into the war. They also had to send many of the old model 94 rifles to gunsmiths for repair and often discard them as unserviceable. The artillery had to fire with great economy due to the lack of shells and the modest Republican air force made only brief appearances, which did little more than annoy the fascists, who had Italian and German planes at their disposal. The Black and Red Column (led by Antonio Ortiz) tried unsuccessfully to take the fortified fascist positions in Belchite several times. The fascists received constant reinforcements and ammunition from Zaragoza and Calatayud, which greatly reduced the Column’s chances of success. Things were not much better for the militiamen in the Alcubierre sector, whose attempts to sever communication between Huesca and Zaragoza also failed. Franco&... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER X. Koltsov visits the Durruti Column We noted that activities in Durruti’s sector had diminished by the time he left for Barcelona. The Column’s most advanced position was on “Calabazares Altos,” an observation point from which it was possible to see Zaragoza. Aguilar, Osera de Ebro, Monegrillo, and Farlete had been conquered. Pina was under siege. The shortage of ammunition made it impossible to consider large operations, so the guerrilla groups’ surprise attacks became more frequent: One day it is the Internationals, who avail themselves of a ford in the vicinity of Aguilar and cross the Ebro. They surprise the enemy forces in their trenches, attack, and take them prisoner. Another day it is La Banda Negra, who wade across the river and assault the rebel command post in Fuentes de Ebro. They seize fifty-nine prisoners (including several officers) and an excellent war booty. Later, it i... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XI. Largo Caballero, reconstructing the republican state Largo Caballero broke his enigmatic silence on September 4 and told the country that he would assume the leadership of the government and the war. There would be five Socialist ministers in his government, including Juan Negrín in the Treasury Ministry, Julio Alvarez del Vayo in Foreign Affairs, and Indalecio Prieto in the Ministry of the Navy. He gave two ministries to the Communists—Agriculture to Vicente Uribe and Public Instruction to Jesús Hernández—and the rest went to Republican politicians sympathetic to President Manuel Azaña. Largo Caballero set out to reconstruct a state that had broken to pieces, between the rebel attacks and the popular mobilizations. He was the only politician capable of accomplishing this. He not only enjoyed a certain prestige among the working masses, but also in high places elsewhere. Moscow’s agents in Spain... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XII. García Oliver, Largo Caballero, and the problem of Morocco When the press reported on Durruti’s speech, each paper interpreted it according to its political color. The Communists and Socialists focused exclusively on Durruti’s call to ship arms to the front. The PSUC newspaper used it as an opportunity to polemicize against the “uncontrollables,” who fled the battle fronts and kept weapons in the rearguard that were needed in the trenches. It also made veiled attacks on the Revolutionary Committees and openly criticized the unions and collectives. The paper inveighed against “utopian economic experiments” and told people to focus on producing with efficient structures of command and obedience. It wasn’t the time to make a revolution, but to defend the Republican legality that the fascists had put in jeopardy. The Barcelona Revolutionary Committees were the first to react against... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XIII. Antonov Ovssenko and García Oliver From the very beginning, the Spanish civil war transcended the country’s national boundaries and had to be understood as an international affair. Italy (Mussolini) and Germany (Hitler) were the first countries to intervene. France (Popular Front) followed later, when it provided armaments to the Spanish Republican government. The French government was forced to determine its position on July 19 when it received a telegram from Prime Minister José Giral that reminded it of a 1932 agreement between the two nations on arms sales and that requested the rapid delivery of planes, trucks, and ammunition. Léon Blum consulted with the men of his party after receiving Giral’s cable: some insisted that France had to fulfill its obligations to Spain whereas others objected, saying that doing so would put them at risk of war with Germany. Prime Minister Blum held the latter view. Soci... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XIV. The spanish gold road to Russia By late September 1936, the euphoria of July 19 seemed like a distant memory. The revolution hadn’t been defeated but it was under siege, between Moscow and Madrid. Madrid controlled the national treasury and Moscow, thanks to the non-intervention policy, became the custodian of the Spanish Republic. And the horrors of war were a reality. Everywhere Franco’s troops went they used terror as a psychological weapon. In many places, people fought only to save their lives. The tragedy of Andalusia and Extremadura brought that home. And while the war spread, ascending from the south toward Madrid and descending in the north, the government’s only concern seemed to be creating a strong state that could reverse the workers’ conquests. Largo Caballero’s recently formed government accomplished the latest counterrevolutionary act when it abandoned Irún, thus isolating the north by land. (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XV. The Libertarian Confederation of Aragón Pierre Besnard reflected on the efforts that he and Durruti made to acquire arms in Madrid: Largo Caballero—who really did not think very highly of our intervention—let himself be convinced (or Rosemberg knew how to convince him) that it was better to wait for Russian help.... Clearly Russia would never have played any role, either then or later, if Spain had used its gold to buy its own arms from abroad.... Rosemberg was able to persuade the stubborn Caballero and, from then on, it was obvious that the government would never purchase the 1,600 million worth of war materiel. And it didn’t: in part due to the sellers, largely due to the buyers, and mostly due the Russians, who portrayed the sellers as Franco’s agents.... That is why free Spain didn’t get the weapons it needed and how Russia could repay hard cash with materiel of dubious value, which... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XVI. Stalin’s shadow over Spain A rebel offensive against the area occupied by the Durruti Column coincided with the Bujaraloz assembly and the Sariñena military conference. Fascist Lieutenant Colonel Urrutia led a large force made up of infantry battalion number 19, three armored car companies, the “Tercio of the Pillar,” three machine-gunner companies from the Gerona Regiment, machine-gunners fighting under the “Palafox” flag, five Falange companies, two squadrons, and two batteries. There were approximately 4,500 men, as well as air support. On October 4, he attacked to the north of Osera and Villafranca. On October 8, he launched another assault in the direction of Farlete and got within three kilometers of the town. On October 10, the rebels sent a large number of reinforcements to Perdiguera, Zuera, Villanueva, and Quinto. That night, fascist troops took off from Perdiguera to ascend the heights that run al... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XVII. “Viva Madrid without government!” When the four CNT ministers sat down with the rest of Largo Caballero’s government, the rebel columns maneuvering to take Madrid had nearly surrounded the city. Many leading Republicans and Socialists (including Indalecio Prieto) thought that Madrid would fall in a matter of hours or two or three days at the most. Government officials focused more on leaving the city—escaping to Valencia—than on organizing the resistance. Consumed by panic, the ministers pressured Largo Caballero to order a departure and let the “crazies” make Madrid a new Numantia if they wanted to do so. They intended to stay well beyond the line of fire. Although there was a different sentiment in Barcelona, and shells weren’t landing in the Plaza de Cataluña as they did in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, there was the same level of turmoil. However, no one there thought... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XVIII. The crossing of the manzanares river In this chapter, like many others, we must confront contradictory accounts of Durruti’s activities. The first difficulty arises when we try to establish exactly when the Durruti Column reached Madrid. The claim that the Durruti Column entered Madrid on November 13 is very important for those who argue that the fascists were able to set foot in Madrid’s University City because the Durruti Column cowered before the enemy avalanche and allowed them to pass. From that, it is only natural to conclude that “CNT militias contributed nothing to the defense of Madrid and the Communist Party was responsible for the resistance.” One can find this outlandish assertion in the now “classic” works of endless “impartial” historians. But what if the Durruti Column actually arrived in Madrid on November 16? That simple fact would oblige historians—the honest ones, at least—... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XIX. The Durruti Column in Madrid The CNT militants in the Center region were the first to request Durruti’s presence in Madrid. Recognizing that his legendary name could offer an immense psychological boost to the resistance, they decided at a November 9 meeting to bring him into the struggle for the capital. David Antona and Miguel Inestal went to Bujaraloz to convince him to come to the city. Apparently the government had the same idea and Federica Montseny, on its behalf, also set out to secure an agreement with Durruti. There was also activity in Barcelona designed to get Durruti to go to Madrid. Soviet Consul Ovssenko told the Generalitat’s Ministry of Defense that if it sent reinforcements to Madrid quickly, the Russians would arm them. Diego Abad de Santillán, occupying García Oliver’s old post in the Ministry of Defense, urgently summoned all the Column leaders in Aragón to a meeting... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XX. November 19, 1936 Durruti met with Vicente Rojo and General Miaja in the Ministry of War and told them about the state of his Column (or what remained of it). Durruti was neither the only one in the University City whose forces were in dreadful shape nor the only one to press the General Staff for a relief. But what could Miaja and Rojo do? The battle for Madrid didn’t unfold according to the classical patterns that they had studied in military school. In fact, these men had been reduced to little more than coordinators of information, which they retransmitted to those responsible for the various sectors at nightfall of each day. It was the fighters themselves who dictated the defensive strategy, by their own volition and without coercion. “The militias won the battle for Madrid,” Rojo repeated constantly then and also later in writings on the topic. The only positive thing that Durruti extracted from his meeting with Rojo... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXI. Durruti kills Durruti They carried Durruti’s mortally wounded body into the Column Hospital at the Hotel Ritz between 2:30 and 3:00 pm. The doctors on duty were José Santamaría Jaume (manger of the Column’s Health Service), Moya Prats, Martínez Fraile, Cunill, Sabatés, and Abades. They immediately took him into the operating room, which had been installed in the basement as a precaution against the constant bomb raids. All the medical personnel rushed there once they found out the patient’s identity. “Durruti recognized a trusted friend among them and sat up slightly on the table on which they’d placed him. He spoke with an excited and upset voice; he was confused and incredulous at what had happened to him. The doctor grew pale when he heard Durruti’s revealing words. With a firm gesture, he ordered him to be quiet.” Once the doctors examined... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER XXII. Durruti’s funeral While Durruti slowly died in room fifteen of the Hotel Ritz, the CNT militants in Madrid continued their meeting on Reforma Agraria Street. Ariel didn’t dare send the news to Solidaridad Obrera in Barcelona before the meeting’s decisions were publicly revealed. “To disclose Durruti’s death without examining the consequences would have been flippant at the time.” He was afraid of undermining the fighters’ morale. Franco’s troops had redoubled their efforts and any change in the Republican side could have disastrous results for the defense of Madrid. Cipriano Mera reached Valencia around 6:00 am and found that the building housing the CNT National Committee was empty at that early hour. He bumped into a young man there and explained that he urgently needed to see García Oliver and Federica Montseny. The youth told him that they were staying with most of the oth... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Fourth Part: The deaths of Durruti The purge of Trotskyist and anarcho-syndicalist elements has begun in Catalonia. This work will be conducted in Spain with the same vigor with which it was conducted in the USSR. — Pravda, December 17, 1936 Introduction The fourth section of this book would be unnecessary if a haze of confusion hadn’t emerged around Durruti’s death immediately after it occurred. But, since the mystery of his death still exists today, forty years after the fact, we are obliged to add this epilogue. From the moment Durruti received the injury that would end his life, the witnesses of the event began circulating contradictory accounts of the incident, which even the CNT could not counteract. There were clear political interests motivating each account. Koltsov correctly acknowledged that Durruti was one o... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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FIRST CHAPTER. The first versions CIPRIANO MERA (NOVEMBER 18) Manzana asked me to go up to one of the flat roofs of the so-called Cerro del Pimiento, where we saw that the Hospital Clínico was indeed in enemy hands. To retake it, given the positions, we would have to capture the whole block in front of the hospital house-by-house. We went up to Canalillo, so our people could seize the cemetery in front of the reservoir of the Isabel II Canal, the nuns’ convent, the Guzmán el Bueno Civil Guard barracks, the Geography and Cadastral Institute, the Red Cross Hospital, and the whole colony of little houses north of the Metropolitan Stadium. ANTONIO BONILLA (NOVEMBER 19) To defend the area, the survivors of the Durruti Column took positions in cottages near Pablo Iglesias, some 400 meters from the Hospital Clínico, whose building in construction wa... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER II. Fact or fiction? Mathieu Corman (militiaman in the Column’s International Group) Durruti was killed by a blast of gunfire when he got out of his car. That was the only victory of the “fifth column” in Madrid. The militiamen surrounded the house from where the gunshots came and killed everyone inside. Another Column fighter, who prefers to remain anonymous, expanded on Corman’s version: J.M. When they left the Headquarters on Miguel Angel Street, Bonilla, Manzana, and a third person whose name I don’t recall took their seats in the car. Once they got to the Moncloa Plaza—the place closest to the Hospital Clínico—Durruti told the driver to stop near one of the cottages on the avenue. Just as he did so, someone in a cottage shot at the vehicle. A bullet pierced the car window and injured Durruti in... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER III. Contradictions and fabrications in the presented versions None of the above attempts to resolve the mystery of Durruti’s death are credible enough to be accepted as the “last word” on the topic. There are simple too many contradictions, omissions, or other inadequacies. While each account may have some positive element and perhaps all of those elements, taken together, could produce a narrative of Durruti’s death that is more consistent with the truth, that would involve pure speculation, which is hardly appropriate in historical research. The Stalinist version first surfaced in Izvestia; it was reinforced by the journalist from London’s Times Literary Supplement, and was finally embraced by historian Federico Bravo Morata. It was the latter who wrote that Durruti “joined the Communists, on the condition that his membership be kept secret until the opportune moment.” The... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER IV. Durruti’s second death, or his political assassination There is no legitimate hypothesis about Durruti’s death that could diminish him or the organization to which he gave the best years of his life. The controversy over his death is not a consequence of his death per se, but rather the nature of the struggle in which the Spanish working people were engaged at the time and Durruti’s revolutionary role within it: specifically, the battle between the revolutionary and counterrevolutionary forces that began in late September of 1936. In the context of a revolution in retreat, Durruti evoked the possibility of a return to and renewal of the journey initiated on July 19, 1936. He was a beacon of hope whose presence suggested that not everything was lost and that peasants and workers, if they continued to fight, could truly re-conquer Spain. His death was a terrible blow to the revolutionaries. Indeed, there were already ominous... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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CHAPTER V. Conclusion Today, with the Red Army captive and disarmed, National troops have achieved their final military objectives. THE WAR HAS ENDED. Burgos, April 1, 1939. Year of the Victory. (Final war report of the National Army) Time was passing. The French and international proletariat did not rise up and Spanish revolutionaries lost their first battle. General Franco’s forces imposed the “white peace of the cemeteries” described by Georges Bernanos. More than 250,000 executed, 500,000 exiled in France, and a million dead or disappeared—that was the tragic balance of the military adventure initiated in Morocco on July 17, 1936. And Spain, the so-called “red” Spain that Socialist León Blum and Bolshevik Stalin abandoned to its fate, entered the tragic night of fascist domination that would... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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APPENDIX. The jigsaw puzzle of the search for Durruti’s body When Antonio de Senillosa was a deputy for the Democratic Coalition, he submitted a motion in Congress to compel the government to give documents seized in Catalonia during the civil war to the Generalitat. At the time, the San Ambrosio Archive in Salamanca held these important historical resources. The Minister of Culture supported the motion and said the following: “I’m in a position to promise that this slice of Catalonia’s history will be housed in Catalonia shortly.” Today, fifteen years later, the archival material has been recovered. However, the history of Durruti and Ascaso’s lives is not only in the archives, but also scattered throughout Spain. Among other places, it is in Barcelona’s South-East Cemetery. ERASING HISTORY We will begin by identifying questions that must be asked to Barcelona’s city councilors an... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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Translator’s note: The Civil Guard was a paramilitary police force created in 1844 to patrol rural areas. Translator’s note: Alfonso XIII (1885–1941) was born in 1886, six months after the death of his father, Alfonso II. He assumed the throne in 1902 at age 16. The present King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, is his grandson. Translator’s note: The Mesta was an “association of Spanish sheep farmers, formed to regulate sheep raising and to prevent cultivation of pastureland. Its date of origin is uncertain, but by 1273 Alfonso X of Castile formally recognized its long-established privileges, which were confirmed and extended by his successors. The Mesta gradually escaped local jurisdiction and came under direct supervision of the crown. It prospered, especially in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, by exporting wool from its highly prized Merino sheep. The Mesta yielded large revenues to the crown,... (From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

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