Forty-seven years ago today, in 1963, two young Spanish anarchists were executed by General Franco’s obscene regime for a Passport Office bombing of which they had no knowledge, while the real perpetrators slipped quietly away. Despite the absence of any evidence of their involvement, Francisco Granados (27) and Joaquin Data Martinez Delgado (29) – both members of the anti-Franco movement called the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth – were interrogated, brutally tortured, tried behind closed doors and executed by garotte at Franco’s notorious Carabanchel Prison, and all of this in just eighteen days after having been arrested.
For many, these unfortunates were but two more victims of an unrestrained and merciless tyrant estimated to have executed almost two million non-combatants between 1939-75, during his arduous near four-decade-long reign of terror. But what separated this grotesque event from the rest of Franco’s merciless pogroms against his own people was that it took place not at the chaotic post-Civil War beginning of his ‘reign’, but twenty-four grueling years into his rule, and during this cynical tyrant’s attempt to pass off his regime as ‘respectable’ to the rest of the Western World. For, as a resurgent wave of underground resistance began –throughout 1963 – to rise up from the ashes of violent repression, General Franco openly recommenced his policy of institutionalised revenge and intent to eradicate from Spain all democrats, liberals, socialists and – above all others – his most-despised enemies from the war, the communists and anarchists. (more…)
I have been working my way through the late Shaun Downey‘s telling of the Red Cushing story. We started at the end of the Spanish Civil War, with Thomas “Red” Cushing, veteran Irish Republican fighter, joining up with the Americans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Then, in the next installment, he got disillusioned with the Brigade’s Communist officers, and headed off to join the British Army to fight Hitler instead. Shaun then cut to Cushing as a POW alongside Stalin’s son, whose suicide he claims he played a bizarre part in.
Some months later, in 2009, Shaun went back to fill in the gaps.
It’s been a while since I wrote about Thomas “Red” Cushing. I promised to do so a lot earlier but hey ho! This is the first of a group of posts covering Red Cushing’s time between leaving Spain disillusioned and his time in Sachsenhausen with Yakov Stalin. This is taken from his autobiography “Soldier For Hire” (John Calder 1962) (more…)
Last week, I published the first installment of Shaun Downey’s series on the great Red Cushing, as a tribute to Shaun who died last month. Parts 2 and 3 were taken from Ciaran Crossey’s Ireland and the Spanish Civil War website, so I will not reproduce it in full.
Part 2 deals with Cushing joining the International Brigade (after hearing in a New York bar about “General O’Duffy’s Blue Shirts”, Catholic Irish Republicans fighting in Spain on the fascist side), becoming platoon leader in Number One Company, the Lincoln Washington Battalion, and his scrapes with the Communist Party commissars who sought to discipline the Brigadiers.
We had no idea what the overall situation was. Any information about the general course of the war was carefully withheld from us by the Party leaders. Gradually it dawned on these political panjandrums that what they needed in Spain was less tub-thumping and more military know-how, so at last they decided to ship me back to the States with a view to recruiting some young men with initiative and leadership qualities.
Part 3 sees Red’s disillusionment tempting him to join the French Foreign Legion, but deciding that war with fascist Germany was the enemy he should be fighting, leading him to return to Britain to sign up there:
I travelled to England by way of Paris and Dieppe, disembarking at Newhaven and proceeding to Victoria… As I was leaving Victoria, with a view to catching a ‘bus to Paddington. a slimy-looking character tried to sell me The Daily Worker. His smug references to the Spanish Civil War so incensed me that I hauled off and belted him one. I derived a great deal of personal satisfaction out of that blow, throwing into it all the anger and disgust I felt about Communist mismanagement in Spain. It symbolised for me my complete repudiation of the Party line…
Jams concludes, tempting us on to the next intallment:
Make of this what you will. Cushing was a larger than life character but think he should be read with a pinch of salt. His later adventures as a POW-cum-potential German spy are a mixture of comedy and tragedy.
However, it is at this point we jump forward to Jams’ real story, which unfolds after Red has been taken prisoner by the Germans. As before, I have edited punctuation and format, but no text, and added some hyperlinks for reference.
It was my good fortune to wander into the bookshop in the departure lounge at Cork Airport. Otherwise I would not have picked up a copy of Terence O’Reilly’s Hitler’s Irishmen.Hitler’s Irishmen is mainly concerned with the fortunes of “James Brady” (a pseudonym – we do not know his true identity) and Frank Stringer, two soldiers who were imprisoned in Jersey at the time of the German occupation and who became the only Irishmen to join the Waffen SS. It also provides a detailed account of the farcical attempt to raise an “Irish Brigade” from the POW population. Roger Casement had tried the same thing during WWI with little success – his Irish Brigade numbered just over 50 men. This attempt attracted a mere handful; and some of them had no intention of serving the Reich. Brady and Stinger and the Friesack Camp are for another day though.
By 1942 the Germans realised that four of the recruits (William Murphy, Patrick O’Brien, Andrew Walsh and our old friend Thomas “Red” Cushing) were not quite as loyal to the Reich as originally thought. The four were sent to a segregation unit in Saschenhausen concentration camp.
Born in 1907 Yakov Iosifovich Dzhugashvili (I will use Stalin rather than Dzhugashvili) was Joseph Stalin’s oldest child. An artillery lieutenant, he was taken prisoner by the Wehrmacht at Smolensk in July 1941. By 1942 he too was in Saschenhausen sharing accommodation [wiuth] Vasili Korkorin, the nephew of Vyacheslav Molotov , Murphy, O’Brian, Walsh and Red Cushing.
Yakov Stalin died in Saschenhausen in April 1943. The general consensus seems to be that he effectively committed suicide either with or without the help of a German bullet. However, more than one reason has been put forward for his suicide.
Cause 1: Abandonment
According to a Time article from 1 March 1968 Yakov, devastated by his father’s refusal of a German offer to exchange him for Field Marshall Von Paulus (who had surrendered at Stalingrad in January), picked his way through a maze of trip wires to the camp fence. He then called to a nearby SS guard: “Don’t be a coward. Shoot, shoot.” When the prisoner made a grab for the fence, the guard obliged, firing a single bullet which killed him in instantly.
Cause 2: Shame over the Katyn massacres
In June 2001, however, the Daily Telegraph carried an article which purported to provide the definitive answer to Yakov’s end. Already dispirited by his father’s rejection of an exchange for Von Paulus, Stalin was so overcome by shame at the news of his father’s massacre of 15,000 Poles at Katyn in 1940 that he committed suicide by flinging himself on to the camp’s electric fence.
According to professor John Erickson (an authority on the Great Patriotic War who died in 2002), “It is clear that Yakov, who had become close friends with the Poles and had made two abortive escape attempts with them, was so distraught when goaded with the news of his father’s massacre of the Polish officers, which was revealed in German newspapers in 1943, that he took his life. Driven to despair by the horrific conditions in the camp – he was emaciated and on the point of starvation – and the strain of the propaganda campaign the Germans had involved him in, the news that his father had sanctioned the Poles’ murder was the final straw.”
To be continued
On Monday, I posted that my friend Shaun Downey – described by Francis Sedgemore as “ Gentleman and Blogger of the Parish of Romford” - has died. Shaun was what I have called before a “citizen scholar”, a polymath, who rigorously researched and shared his passions. Among his interests were military history, anti-fascist partisans and Irish Republicanism.
When blogs are not attended, there is a terrible tendency for them to be hacked and become fonts for spam, which is a shameful fate for someone who has passed. Mindful of that, and in tribute to him, I have decided to re-post over time a long series he wrote on an extraordinary figure, Red Cushing. Here is the first installment, from August 2008. Shaun italicised his quotes rather than indenting them, so I have indented the whole post to make its authorship as clear as possible. I have added a couple of hyperlinks and two pieces of punctuation.
This post was inspired by recent posts by two of my favourite bloggers: Roland Dodds on the vandalising of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion memorial and Bob from Brockley’s Spanish Civil War in San Fransisco.
Irishman Thomas “Red” Cushing is almost certainly resting in his grave now (if he were still alive he would be in his late 90s) but he definitely had a life less ordinary. In the first 35 years of his life he was an IRA member, had a yoyo career in the US army with a sideline of training Sandino’s forces; served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (his sobriquet refers to his hair not his political allegiance, he has bolshie, not a Bolshevik!), joined the British army, taken prisoner during the fall of France…. and then his adventures really began!
I first came across his name in “Renegades: Hitler’s Englishmen”, Adrian Weale’s excellent account of the Britisches Freikorps (the BFC) and other British traitors of WWII Cushing was mentioned in respect of the Reich’s farcical attempt to raise an Irish legion. He also appears in Mark Hull’s “Irish Secrets: Espionage in Wartime Ireland” and Terrence O’ Reilly’s “Hitler’s Irishmen”. However, he was no traitor himself and he continued his career in the British Army into the 1960s
Cushing wrote an account of his rollercoaster life in the book “Soldier For Hire”. It is long out of print but fortunately it is not hard to track down a reasonably inexpensive copy. The chapter “No Castles in Spain” which covers his time in Spain is very handily reproduced on Ciaran Crossey’s superb Ireland and the Spanish Civil War website. Plagiarism is not intended but I have a damaged wrist and anything that will cut down my typing is a godsend at the moment!
… While on demob leave, I stayed at the Army and Navy Club in Lexington Avenue, New York. I took the opportunity of visiting all the army posts where I had friends. To keep myself solvent I boxed a few times. Then, one morning in 1936, I wandered as far as the Army Base in Brooklyn, hoping to bump into somebody I knew…
My luck was out… I finished up in a saloon bar, sitting at the same table as five or six young fellows, listening to their conversation and occasionally chipping in when the talk became general. Somehow we had got on to the subject of soldiering abroad. During a lull in the discussion, an unmistakably military figure detached itself from the bar and slid easily into the seat next to mine.
‘I’m recruiting for the Lincoln Washington Battalion, now serving in Spain,’ he announced without preamble. ‘Any of you guys interested?’ ‘What are the prospects?’ I asked him. He shrugged. ‘Well, I guess that depends on what you can do. Have you soldiered before?’
I fished from my wallet the army documents I carried around with me and dropped them on the table in front of him. He scrutinised them in silence, lingering especially over an impressive list of courses I had passed. At last he looked up and eyed me appraisingly. ‘Seems to me you’re the type we want, brother. Can’t guarantee it, but with these qualifications you should swing a commission.’
‘Never mind the commission. My interests are tipple and bananas.’
… First we went to a building on the Grand Concourse, where I was medically examined and pronounced physically fit. Then, we proceeded to a dingy office not far from Union Square. There I completed a sort of application form, signed on the dotted line and was duly inducted. I received a cash advance of fifty dollars and was warned to hold myself in readiness… A day or two later, my instructions arrived. I was ordered to report to an address on Eighth Avenue and Sixteenth Street… I was introduced to a number of curious characters, all belonging to the school of thought that condemns soap and water as capitalist luxuries. Even before they opened their mouths, I knew what I had let myself in for. I had stepped into a gathering of Communist Party members.
Although I had no time for such crapology, I decided to ride along with them and find out how they ticked. I therefore listened patiently to my long-haired friend’s appreciation of the situation. .. I had been appointed conducting officer and was responsible for shepherding forty volunteers from New York to the Spanish front.
…The ‘Commissar’, as I had mentally labelled him, next led me into a dance hall, where I passed on his information to my comrades… When I first saw them, my heart sank. There were intellectuals, students from Columbia University and a generous sprinkling of Bowery bums and dead-beats, who had evidently espoused the Communist cause in order to be issued with meal tickets…. When I had finished, the Commissar gave them a long political speech, loaded with the usual Communist clichés. The workers of the world had to unite, fight for freedom, win a lasting peace and had nothing to lose but their chains. The students and the self-styled intelligentsia lapped it all up, but the talk made little impression on the bums. The squad was then dismissed and the Party members gathered round me, eager to give me a propaganda injection.
‘Gentlemen,’ I said to the shower of nanny goats, ‘I’m a professional soldier, not a politician. I’ve volunteered to go to Spain simply for the experience. As far as I’m concerned, you can stick your Communist racket up your jaxies! So cheerio, comrades! I’ll be seeing you at nine o’clock to-morrow morning.’ With an ironic bow to the Commissar, I made a quick exit…
To be continued
There are a couple of interesting comments on the post:
Joseph Conlon said…
My dad met Red Cushing. We have a photo of him on our bathroom wall at home. I’m just reading the book ‘Soldier For Hire’ and its great so far.
I asked my dad today – Red’s dad seems like a bit of a nutter to which her replied “yes but Red’s daughter was even worse”… guess I have got more to find out…
I was Red Cushing’s platoon commander 9n Germany (Berlin) and Korea in the 1950′s. I have many stories about him – most of which revolved around his problem with “the drink” (he really loved his beer!). He was truly a one of a kind character, and I’m pleased to see that people are still interested in his exploits.
A wonderful gallery at Libcom. Here’s just a taste – go enjoy the real thing.
01 Jan 1939
Irish volunteers injured during the Spanish Civil War arrive back in Dublin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Collection: Hulton Archive
From IISG: Antecedents of Ester Borras
Membership card FEDIP, 1945
Arch José Ester Borrás 5
As an anarchist, José Ester Borras (1913-1980) fled from Spain to France. There he was active in the underground during the Second World War. Arrested by the Gestapo on 30 October 1943, he was deported to Mauthausen. He survived and established the Federación Española de Deportados e Internados Políticos (FEDIP) in Toulouse shortly after liberation. The FEDIP offered relief to Spaniards like Ester Borras, who were politicial refugees and had been interned in concentration camps. Borras was one of the first members of his own organization. The IISH has the archives of both Ester Borras and the FEDIP.
He’d turned 40 just days previously. Here’s his Daily Bleed page:
[October 26:] 1913 — José Ester Borrás (1913-1980) lives, Berga (province of Barcelona). Spanish anarchist, active in the resistance in France & in the Mauthausen concentration camp, & co-founder of the founder of the Federación Española de Deportados e Internados Políticos (Spanish Federation of Former Political prisoners & camp inmates [FEDIP]).
Ester fought in the famed Colonna Tierra y Libertad during the Spanish Revolution of 1936. He was arrested by the communists, fled to France, arrested & tortured by the Gestapo…
I only just noticed that one of my favourite blogs has been back for a few weeks from an enviably long summer break. Thanks to him for this fascinating obituary.
A short biography of Léandre Valero an anarchist who “critically supported” the Algerian independence movement
The recent death of Léandre Valero on 21st August shines a light on the activities of the Fédération Communiste Libertaire in France in the 1950s and its attitudes towards the independence movement in Algeria.
The son of an anarchist from Andalucia,who had fought with the FAI during the Revolution and Civil War, Valero was born in Oran in Algeria on the 12th October 1923. This meant that he became fluent in Spanish, French and Arabic.
He joined the Forces Françaises Libres, the groups initiated by De Gaulle which refused to accept the capitulation of France, during the Second World War. He took part in several campaigns and was involved in the liberation of several concentration camps. Following this, and apparently against his will, he was then sent to fight in Indo-China in January 1946. Here he established contact with the Vietminh and supplied them with petrol from French bases. Reported as a “demoralising element”, he was sent back to France in August of the same year.
Here he went to Paris. He made the decision to join the Fédération Anarchiste. The first person he met from the FA was the full-timer at their offices, who was none other than Georges Brassens, later to become known as one of France’s greatest singer-songwriters. He then moved to Auxerre working as a toolmaker-fitter. At the Gardy factory – where he set up a large section of the CNT – Valero allied himself with Georges Fontenis within the FA, and stayed with the organisation when it was transformed into the Fédération Communiste Libertaire.
He accepted the decision of the FCL to send him to Algeria in 1954 to aid the Mouvement Libertaire Nord-Africain (MLNA) in close relation with the FCL. Its main activists were the docker Duteuil, Idir Amazit, Derbal Salah and the teachers Fernand Doukhan, Jean Decharriene and Guy Martin. He obtained employment in a factory at Alger.
The MNLA gave assistance to the independence movement of Messali Hadj (distinct from the FLN). The FCL gave critical support to the independentist groups and Valero was to say : “You suffer from double oppressions. We are going to help you to get rid of colonial oppression. After that, it’s up to you to get rid of the oppression of your own capitalists!”. After the 1954 insurrection the main activity of the MNLA was support for Hadj’s organisation. Valero served as a “letter box” and sometimes a driver for the independentist leaders. At the same time Valero carried out propaganda selling the FCL paper Le Libertaire in the streets. He always carried a revolver in his pocket on these occasions and had to fire off several shots during a street sale.
In August 1955 he got a job as a foreman on a farm in Constantine province. Here he made contact with the guerrilla groups of the FLN ( Front de Libération Nationale) and supplied them with arms. In summer 1956, to avoid a military call-up in Algeria, he decided to return to France and live underground. The MNLA , now more and more under threat, decided to dissolve itself and all its archives and arms were thrown in the Mediterranean.
Part of the FCL had decided to go underground in summer 1956. These included Fontenis, Pierre Morain, Paul Philippe and Valero himself. With the amnesty offered by de Gaulle in 1958 Valero returned to Auxerre where he again got work in a factory. He was active in the CGT and in 1960 served on the departmental union of the CGT in the Yonne department. The factory where he worked was the first to go out on strike in the Yonne in May 1968 and Valero was one of the chief activists in the movement in the department.
Valero retired in 1983. In 1991 he joined the libertarian organisation Alternative Libertaire at its foundation, remaining with it until 2000. He remained active in free thought agitation and a neighbourhood association until the end of his life.
Sources: obituary in Alternative Libertaire no. 210, October 2011
New at Libcom:
I’m really looking forward to reading this…
The Story of the Iron Column: Militant Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War
Paul Sharkey (Translator) and Abel Paz
Publisher: AK Press
Release Date: 2011-07-13
The members of the Iron Column were among the most notorious anarchists in the Spanish Civil War. They were intransigent in the face of the fascist revolt, but also in defence of the revolution’s gains.
We say to all workers, to all revolutionaries, to all anarchists: At the front or in the rearguard, wherever you may be, fight against the enemies of your liberty and demolish fascism. But also make sure that your exertions do not bring about the installation of a dictatorial regime that would represent the continuation, with all of its vices and defects, of the whole state of affairs that we are trying to obliterate. Now with weapons and later with the tools of labour, learn to live without tyrants and to develop for yourselves the only road to freedom. These are the feelings of the Iron Column, and they have been explained clearly and simply.
Comrades: Death to fascism! Long live the social revolution! Long live anarchy!
~ The Iron Column, 1 October 1936
Abel Paz (1921-2009) was a fifteen-year-old anarchist when the Spanish Revolution began. After the revolution’s defeat, he spent several years in exile, returning to Spain in 1942 as a guerrilla fighter against the Franco regime. He spent most of the subsequent eleven years in prison. Paz spent his later years authoring biographical and autobiographical works and delivering lectures celebrating the achievements of the Spanish anarchists. His book Durruti in the Spanish Revolution, was published by AK Press in 2006.
Paul Sharkey, an accomplished translator, has almost single-handedly made available a vast body of non-English language anarchist texts. His numerous translations include the works of Nestor Makhno, Osvaldo Bayer, Errico Malatesta, Daniel Guérin, José Peirats, and Antonio Téllez.
Iron Column Records is a distro and label spreading the anti-fascist message through no-nonsense music and merchandise. We are 100% non-profit – ALL proceeds from sales are given to antifa groups or anti-fascists in need.
We have a growing range of music from some of the finest anti-fascist bands and labels on the planet, and we plan to expand it as money allows. If you are in a band or involved with a label that is sympathetic to what we’re doing, please get in touch to see if we can work something out.
We’ve also produced a range of t-shirts with eye-catching anti-fascist designs and are planning to release our first album under our own imprint in the near future – watch this space!
We hope that you find something you like in our list and we look forwards to hearing from you.
Iron Column Records.
Related articles (more…)
NOW AVAILABLE! FACERÍAS — Urban Guerrilla Warfare (1939-1957). The Libertarian Movement’s Struggle against Francoism in Spain and in Exile by Antonio Téllez Solà (ISBN 978-1-873976-49-4), 413pp (indexed with 16 pp of photographs) £15.95 (+£3.50 p+p UK) (PDF) (ISSUU)
Anarchist urban guerrilla and member of the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth (FIJL) since 1936, José Lluis Facerías fought on the Aragón front during the Spanish Civil War, where he was taken prisoner and held until 1945. Following his release he rejoined the clandestine anarcho-syndicalist trade union, the CNT, and dedicated himself to the armed struggle against the Francoist dictatorship. From March 1946 until his death in a police ambush in 1957, Facerias was the driving force behind the anarchist defence groups operating in Barcelona.
BARCELONA, Friday, 30 August 1957, 10:45 am. In the deserted Sant Andreu district of Barcelona, a burst of automatic gunfire crackles and, as if pushed by some mighty hand, a man on the corner of the Paseo Verdún and the Calle del Doctor Pi i Molist slumps against a low wall. A pistol appears in his hand. His eyes scan the tree-lined boulevard leading off to his right towards the Santa Cruz mental clinic, but he sees no sign of life. Suddenly, he realises he has been betrayed. Unseen assailants are shooting at him from windows overlooking the junction of the Paseo Urrutia and Calle del Doctor Pi i Molist. The first burst of gunfire shatters the man’s ankle. Further rifle shots ring out and bullets ricochet around him . . .
Related articles (more…)
Criticism etc writes on Raya Dunayevskaya, Tito nostalgia, Howard Fast and Spain. Extract:
[...] Dunayavskaya’s passing mention of Tito’s activities in Spainduring the revolution. Tito was a seasoned Comintern functionary long before he lead the partisan war against the Germans and it is an accepted part of his biography that in the 1930s he funneled volunteers from the Balkans to Spainto serve in the International Brigades. Proof that Tito was actually in Spainduring the revolution is scant, but the novelist and recipient of the Stalin Peace Prize, Howard Fast, author of Spartacus(which was made into the film starring Kirk Douglas), wrote a 1944 homage with the immortal title The Incredible Tito which places him in the country. If this is accurate, it is entirely possible that Tito participated in the Stalinist repression of the POUM and the Trotskyists (or the Bolshevik-Leninists, as they called themselves).
Fast claims in his memoir Being Red, that at the time in 1946 when he was called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his work with the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee he learned that the Josip Broz in Spain he had heard about as an employee of the Office of War Information during WWII was not the one we know as Tito, but rather another person by that name (Fast was questioned about aid that may have helped Broz escape occupied France). Criticism &c. is inclined to belive the story as Fast recorded it in 1944. Regardless, Dunayevskaya may well have been informed from sources closer to the topic than Fast was privy to.
The irony in all of this is that in their frantic search for post-WW II perspectives, the Trotskyists went strongly pro-Tito for a time afterYugoslavia’s expulsion from the Cominform.
C etc is right in noting the Tito nostalgia that pervades the left, both neo-Pabloite Trots and fellow travelling social democrats like Tony Benn. It was one of the factors that led much of the left to find themselves on the wrong side of the Yugoslav conflicts of the 1990s, when many associated the irredentist and ultimately genocidal Serbian nationalism with the partisan cause and the Croatian, Bosnian and other resistances to it with the Ustache.
- Arabic translation of Marxism and Freedom available on pdf (dmitryev.wordpress.com)
- Kritik & theory (antigerman.wordpress.com)
- Iran – philosophy and organization (dmitryev.wordpress.com)
- Criticism etc: Marxist humanism (poumista.wordpress.com)
Eric Blair is better known as George Orwell, author and journalist. Orwell’s work includes 1984, Animal Farm and Homage to Catalonia, his personal account of his experiences during the Spanish Civil War. [At Poumista]
John Cornford was a Cambridge–educated poet. He fought initially with the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM) and saw action at Perdiguera and Aragon in 1936 before falling ill and returning to England. He quickly returned, having recruited several friends, to join the English Battalion of the International Brigades, and was badly wounded at the Battle of Madrid in November 1936. He was killed at the battle of Lopera on 27 December 1936, shortly after returning to the front. [At Poumista]
Bob Doyle was an Irish member of the International Brigades. He was captured in 1938 at Calaceite, near the Aragon front, along with Irish Brigade leader Frank Ryan. After spending 11 months in a concentration camp he was among those exchanged for Italian prisoners of war. He died at the age of 92 on 22 January 2009. [At Poumista]
Frank Ryan, a prominent member of the IRA, led a group of Irish volunteers to fight with the International Brigades in Spain. He fought at the Battle of Jarama and was seriously wounded in March 1937. He was later captured and imprisoned by Nationalist forces before being released to the Germans in 1940. [At Poumista]
And more on the hats of the UHP:
In this poster, the image of a fighting miner emerges from behind a hill inscribed with the word “Asturias”. This refers to a region located along Spain’s northern coast, on the Bay of Biscay. The fighter carries a rifle on his shoulder and prepares to throw a stick of dynamite. Behind him a mother cares for her two young children. The green color of the sinuous mountains evokes the greenery of a region known for its abundant rainfall.
The message under the image refers to events that occurred in Asturias in 1934 and in 1937, and also to the organization issuing this poster, the Socorro Rojo de España, or Spanish Red Aid. The Red Aid was founded by the Comintern in 1921; its activities in Spain had begun before the war, assisting in the revolutionary strike that was held in many parts of the country in the fall of 1934. This strike was most successful in Asturias, where it was led by a united front of miners of socialist, communist and anarchist persuasion; thus the initials UHP in the cap worn by the miner in this poster, which stand for Unión de Hermanos Proletarios, or Union of Proletarian Brothers. After two weeks of revolution, the rebellion surrendered on October 18, 1934. The repression was conducted by military forces led by General Franco on orders from the Republican government. It is to these events that the inscription “October 1934″ in this poster refers. The second date on the poster, 1937, refers to the Civil War. In the late summer of that year, military forces, this time in rebellion against the Republic, were set to attack Asturias. The region prepared for its defense, which was much publicized throughout the country. After intense fighting, Asturias finally fell to the Nationalist army on October 21. This poster shows the mythic dimension that the Asturias revolution of 1934 had acquired in Spain immediately before and during the war. The defense of Asturias in 1937 by revolutionary miners like the one represented in this image immediately evoked the earlier events and provided an ideal opportunity to rouse the passion of the masses anew.
The author of this scene, Tomás, designed other posters during the war, but he is not otherwise known. This poster must have been designed and printed at the time of the events it commemorates, in October 1937, presumably before the fall of Asturias to the Nationalist army on October 21.
We have so many times said, for it is important to bear this in mind that the Spanish libertarian revolution was set in motion as a consequence of the Francoist attack which made it possible to put into action revolutionary forces which without it were condemned to new and sterile failures. And when we say “sterile failures” we are referring to the attempts made in January 1932, January and December 1933 (revolutionary and insurrectional attempts organised and manned by the C.N.T.-F.A.I.) to which one must add the Asturian miners’ insurrection in October 1934 in which socialist, U.G.T. and C.N.T. workers (in spite of the stupid opposition of the national Comité of the C.N.T.) and even Communists took part. All these attempts were crushed by the more powerful forces of the State, supported by the non-revolutionary political parties which, for all that, were not fascist.
- Spanish Civil War on Liverpool’s Catholic population (liverpoolhistorysocietyquestions.wordpress.com)
- TOC – War in History, Vol. 18, No. 2 (warstudies.wordpress.com)
- Leading Photographers: Gerda Taro (clikclique.wordpress.com)
- Capa’s Life (phillbrowncontextual.wordpress.com)
One of Leigh Fermor’s colleagues, another distinguished classicist named Montague Woodhouse, once told me that Greek villagers urged him to strike the hardest possible blows against the Nazis, so as to make the inevitable reprisals worthwhile. He lived up to this by demolishing the Gorgapotamos viaduct in 1942, wrecking Nazi communications. But the brutality of the combat doesn’t negate that moment of civilized gallantry at Mount Ida, where the idea of culture over barbarism also scored a brief triumph. (Woodhouse went on to become a Conservative politician and active Cold Warrior, but while fighting Hitler he was quite happy to work with Communist and nationalist fighters, and he wrote in his memoirs that “the only bearable war is a war of national liberation.”)
What a cast of literally classic characters this league of gentleman comprised. Bernard Knox went with poet John Cornford to fight for the Spanish Republic, was later parachuted into France and Italy to arrange the covert demolition and sabotage of Vichy and Mussolini, and, after the war, set up the Center for Hellenic Studies at Yale. Nicholas Hammond, who had walked rifle in hand over the mountains of Epirus and Macedonia, later suggested from his study of the terrain that those seeking the burial treasure of Philip of Macedon might consider digging at Vergina. (He was right.) Some of the brotherhood was very much to the left: Basil Davidson helped organize Tito’s red partisans in Bosnia, and after the war he went to work with the African rebels who fought against fascist Portugal’s dirty empire. Frank Thompson, brother of the British Marxist historian Edward Thompson, was liaison officer to the resistance in Bulgaria before being betrayed and executed. Others were more ambivalent: Sir Fitzroy Maclean was a Tory aristocrat but helped persuade Churchill that Tito’s forces in Yugoslavia were harder fighters than the monarchists when it came to killing Nazis. On the more traditional side of British derring-do, Billy McLean and Julian Amery emerged from the guerrilla resistance in Albania with a lively hatred of Communism and later took part in several quixotic attempts to “roll back” the Iron Curtain. Col. David Smiley saw irregular action in almost every theater, and in the 1960s and 1970s he organized the almost unique defeat of a Communist insurgency in Oman.
Now the bugle has sounded for the last and perhaps the most Byronic of this astonishing generation.
Many will remember the TV show This is Your Life. Greek television had their own version, and in 1972 it was Paddy’s turn to be embarrassed and surprised by meeting again people that he had come across in his life. His surprise and clear delight at meeting with the ‘Abduction Gang’ of Cretan Andartes is clear. The ‘senior’ partisans, Manoli and George (see picture left) are the first two guests, and they seem barely changed.
The highlight must be when the presenter introduces a slightly frail General Heinrich Kreipe. Paddy is delighted to see him again, and immediately starts to talk to the General in German saying how good it is to see him after all these years. (more…)
Chava Alberstein: “Zog nit keynmol”
Paul Robeson: “Zog nit keynmol”
The liner notes from the Paul Robeson version read as follows. I am curious about this. I hear what sounds like booing amongst the applause. This was the month, June 1949, when the greatest of Soviet Yiddish poets, among the greatest Yiddish poets, were arrested, to be murdered in 1952. I am curious about what Robeson knew about this, and if he knew what he thought. (more…)