13 Nov 1937
Bodies of children awaiting burial after a Nationalist air raid on their school at Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Collection: Hulton Archive
And loads of great material from entdinglichung:
* George Orwell: Mein Katalonien (Nemesis)
* Manifesto & Policy of the POUM during the Barcelona May Days (La Bataille Socialiste)
* Augustin Souchy: The Tragic Week in May (The Struggle Site)
* Grandizo Munis: The Spanish Left in its Own Words (Marxists Internet Archive)
* Hugo Oehler: Barricades in Barcelona (Revolutionary History)
* Waldemar Bolze: Where are the Real Saboteurs? (Revolutionary History)
* Andreu Nin: The May Days in Barcelona (Marxists Internet Archive)
* Katia Landau: Stalinism in Spain (Marxists Internet Archive)
Related articles (more…)
- May 7
- The fighting in Barcelona concludes, with more than 500 dead and over 1500 wounded. Many are still under illegal arrest in several Communist-controlled police stations, militia barracks and secret prisons.
- May 8
- In Barcelona, police find the horribly mutilated bodies of 12 murdered young men. Eight of the bodies are so mutilated that they cannot be identified. The four identified bodies belong to young anarchists, illegally arrested together with eight friends on May 4 outside the Communist militia barracks in Barcelona, when they were passing by on a truck with “CNT” written on it. The names of the identified young men are: Cesar Fernández Neri, Jose Villena, Juan Antonio, and Luis Carneras. Police also found the dead bodies of the Italian anarchist professor Camillo Berneri and two of his friends, who were arrested during the May incidents by Communist militias. (As squads of Communist Party of Spain members (apparently under orders from Joseph Stalin) took to the streets in order to hunt down leading anarchists, Berneri had been dragged from his home and murdered. His body, riddled with bullets, was found during the night, near the headquarters of the Generalitat de Catalunya.)
- Barricades in Barcelona by Hugo Oehler
- The Tragic Week in May by Augustin Souchy
- Manifesto of the poum during the Barcelona may-days
Luis Companys obtains a fragile truce between the different fighting groups, on the basis of which Rodriguez Salas, now blamed for the police action against the telephone central, has to resign. Communist commandos are still arresting people. Wikipedia
“Neutral” police troops from Valencia arrive in Barcelona to stop the fighting. The 5,000 Assault Guards (chosen more or less carefully for their political opinions, to ensure a “neutral” force and the trust of both sides) occupy several strategic points throughout the city. The workers abandon the barricades and the telephone central is handed over to the government. When the Assault Guards enter the city and passed by the central building of the anarchist CNT, several hundreds of them salute the black and red Anarchist flag on the building. Nevertheless, reprisals against the anti-Stalinist left are starting throughout the Republic.
…They had taken my rifle away again, and there seemed to be nothing that one could usefully do. Another Englishman and myself decided to go back to the Hotel Continental. There was a lot of firing in the distance, but seemingly none in the Ramblas. On the way up we looked in at the food-market. A very few stalls had opened; they were besieged by a crowd of people from the working-class quarters south of the Ramblas. Just as we got there, there was a heavy crash of rifle-fire outside, some panes of glass in the roof were shivered, and the crowd went flying for the back exits. A few stalls remained open, however; we managed to get a cup of coffee each and buy a wedge of goat’s-milk cheese which I tucked in beside my bombs. A few days later I was very glad of that cheese.
At the street-corner where I had seen the Anarchists begin firing the day before a barricade was now standing. The man behind it (I was on the other side of the street) shouted to me to be careful. The Civil Guards in the church tower were firing indiscriminately at everyone who passed. I paused and then crossed the opening at a run; sure enough, a bullet cracked past me, uncomfortably close. When I neared the P.O.U.M. Executive Building, still on the other side of the road, there were fresh shouts of warning from some Shock Troopers standing in the doorway—shouts which, at the moment, I did not understand. There were trees and a newspaper kiosk between myself and the building (streets of this type in Spain have a broad walk running down the middle), and I could not see what they were pointing at. I went up to the Continental, made sure that all was well, washed my face, and then went back to the P.O.U.M. Executive Building (it was about a hundred yards down the street) to ask for orders. By this time the roar of rifle and machine-gun fire from various directions was almost comparable to the din of a battle. I had just found Kopp and was asking him what we were supposed to do when there was a series of appalling crashes down below. The din was so loud that I made sure someone must be firing at us with a field-gun. Actually it was only hand-grenades, which make double their usual noise when they burst among stone buildings. …
Related articles (more…)
First, a link to a book review – A Hidden History of National Liberation: Ngo Van’s In the Crossfire, AK Press. Really interesting stuff.
Now, it’s good to have Entdinglichung back, who has this up:
More catching-up on old stuff recently made available online, today it is about stuff from France from groups „beyond“ stalinism and social democracy:
Bataille Socialiste reminds us, that a number of issues of the left-socialist underground journal L’Insurgé which was produced by a group in the Lyon area around Marie-Gabriel Fugère has been made available online by Gallica:
* Two issues of Organisation Libertaire
* The first La Voix du travail , of the AIT, August 1926
* The first six issues of La Revue Anarchiste, 1929-1930
News stuff from the RaDAR from the vaults of the French section of the Fourth International:
* The first 14 issues of La Lutte de classes, the clandestine journal of Groupe communiste 1942-44, the group around Alexander Korner (Barta) which finally evolved into Lutte ouvrière
Zunächst eine „Entschuldigung“, da es rein zeitlich und materiell nicht mehr leistbar ist, wird es in absehbarer Zukunft keine Updates mit dem Titel „Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und weniger radikalen) Linken“ mehr geben, stattdessen werde ich versuchen, mehr Qualität statt Quantität zu bringen und (thematisch mehr fokussiert) einzelne frisch online gestellte Archivalien vorzustellen, hier also drei Lesehinweise zur spanischen Revolution, gefunden aufLibCom:
Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona During the Popular Fronts (1991) von Michael Seidman ist inzwischen auch in deutscher Sprache erschienen (einen Auszug hier), die vollständige englischsprachige Fassung gibt es auf LibCom als pdf- oder html-Fassung
Class, Culture and Conflict in Barcelona, 1898-1937 (2005) von Chris Ealham
The Friends of Durruti Group: 1937-39 (1996) von Agustin Guilamòn
And, below the fold, some recent additions to the Marxist Internet Archive. (more…)
First, we are at war. And it is a war that will be long. We are poorly organized and our people do not know what war is. – Andre Nin, summer 1936
On 19th July 1936, the working class of Barcelona and Madrid succeeded in defeating the army and repelling the fascists in their attempt to take over Spain. It marked the beginning of an anarchist revolution, the lessons of which remain relevant 75 years later.There are numerous accounts and analyses of the revolution’s successes and failures in print and on the internet. This article from Do or die at the 70th anniversary provides a succinct overview, whilst An Anarchist FAQ goes into considerably more depth from a theoretical standpoint. The pamphlet Towards a Fresh Revolution, written by the Friends of Durruti in 1938, offers a radical position from in the midsts of the war as it raged on.However, to mark the anniversary, I would like to draw people’s attention to the documentary Living Utopia: The Anarchists and the Spanish Revolution. Featuring personal testimonies from numerous anarcho-syndicalist militants who took part, it is in my view a fitting way to mark this anniversary of a significant milestone in revolutionary class struggle.
July 19, 2011 marks the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, and the remarkable social revolution which followed. Gaston Leval (1895-1978) was the great chronicler of the positive accomplishments of the Spanish anarchists and people during the Spanish Revolution and Civil War. In the following short piece, published in Resistance Volume XII, No. 1, April 1954, Leval describes the process of collectivization which spread through various areas of Spain, often spontaneously, and the obstacles ranged against the collectives. Leval deals with the collectives in much greater detail in his book, Collectives in the Spanish Revolution (London: Freedom Press, 1975). I included excerpts from that book in Chapter 23 of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, Volume One: From Anarchy to Anarchism (300CE-1939), Selection 126, “Libertarian Democracy.” [READ THE REST]
The poster above, via La Bataille socialiste, is for an exhibition in Barcelona, that Sarah went to see. Sarah reports that the exhibition had English language editions of the POUM’s Spanish Revolution newsletter from 1937. Anyone has images of these or pdfs or text or anything, please let me and Sarah know.
Watch: Land and Freedom. Londoners note:
- The hats of the proletarian brothers (poumista.wordpress.com)
- Spanish Revolution An LGBT Activist in Spain Speaks (pinkbananaworld.com)
- 10 of the best books set in Barcelona (sparrowreads.com)
- From the archive of struggle: Haymarket and May Day (poumista.wordpress.com)
The Municipality of Barcelona – Zone under surveillance
A book I want to read: Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn, letters by American socialist Lois Orr and some by her husband Charles Orr.
Letters from Barcelona provides a unique insight into the mentality and actions of an entire generation of socialist activists caught up in the maelstrom of cataclysmic events in interwar Europe. Based on carefully chosen representative selections from the copious letters sent by the young protagonist to family and friends in the United States, the atmosphere described in these letters vividly recreates the challenges, the hopes and the disappointments associated with living in Barcelona in the first year of the Catalan Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. These letters reconstruct the vibrant atmosphere of the campaign for a self-managed socialist society, stymied and ultimately crushed by the twin challenges of fascist and Stalinist dictatorships. The primary documents are placed into a larger context by the editor’s introductory remarks on the nature of the Catalan Revolution and the place of Lois Orr’s writings in the emerging literature on women’s autobiographies.
In the last three decades, since the publication of Albert Prago’s Jews in the international brigades in Spain in 1979 by Jewish Currents, there has been considerable interest in the massive role of Jewish fighters in the Spanish civil war. Most of them were within the orbit of the official Communist movement, which controlled and dominated the International Brigades – and also the narration of its later history. As Gerben Zaagsma and Martin Sugarman argue, the Stalinist version of that history obscured the specifically Jewish dimension to their motivations. This Jewish dimension was retrieved in the 1970s and 1980s by Jewish radical groups like Jewish Currents in the US and Jewish Socialist in the UK. However, their important commemorative work tends to focus on the Communists of the International Brigades. Lenni Brenner’s polemic Zionism in the Age of Dictators approached the issue from a different angle: showing that the Zionist movement had no interest in anti-fascism in Spain. However, although he also provides some interesting exceptions, his emphasis confirms the Stalinist historiography in marginalising the specifically Jewish motivations and the non-Stalinist participants.
In this blog post, I want to simply mention some of the Jewish participants in the Spanish Civil War who were also part of the anti-Stalinist movement, and specifically participants who were associated with the “Three and a Half International”, the anti-Stalinist socialist international that also included the Spanish POUM and the British ILP. The information is taken from Martin Sugarman, of AJEX, Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, and his booklet Against Fascism. I have added hyperlinks. Material in italics comes from other sources, as given at the end of the extracts. (more…)
Agusti Centelle (1909-1985) was considered one of the foremost photojournalist during the Spanish Civil War. Called “Spanish Robert Capa”, he was one of the great image-makers of the Republican resistance during the war. Originally working in Barcelona and throughout Catalonia, He exiled himself over the Pyrenees to the Bram refugee camp when his side lost. There in Bram, under extremely difficult conditions, he continued to photograph. When he returned into Spain, he hid several thousand negatives to protect the identities of the revolutionaries from Franco. Only forty years later after Franco died, Centelles returned to France and reclaimed many of his negatives.
His most iconic photo was shown above. Taken in Barcelona on 19 July 1936, it shows the republican forces barricading behind the dead horses. Like Picasso’s anguished horse in Guernica, dead horses and soon-to-be-dead revolutionaries showed the chaos, violence, conflict and suffering unleashed by the civil war. The photo was titled, “Assault Guards in Diputacio Street. Barcelona”. Like Capa’s Loyalist Militiaman, the photo has long be accused of being staged. An exhibition at Centro Cultural Conde Duque in February 2008 confirmed that suspicion by showing the contact strip from which the final work was taken. The image was indeed the best composed and the most convincing of the entire photo-op.
See his other photos here.
From The Kate Sharpley Library: The 19th of July is the anniversary of the Spanish Revolution of 1936. To mark the date, here’s a review of “Durruti in the Spanish Revolution” by Abel Paz, anarchist historian, who has sadly died recently.
Having already reported on the visit to Ireland of Catalan POUM veteran Roma Marquez Santo [TOMORROW NIGHT IN DUBLIN], here are some more related links. Marquez Santo was also in Salford, at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford , for the launch of Not Just Orwell by Christopher Hall, telling the story of the ILP volunteers who fought in Spain against fascism. Not Just Orwell is published by Warren and Pell. A plaque to the ILP Contingent was also unveiled, and attended by Sidney Robinson, an Independent Labour Party activist in the 1930s who chaired the Newport Spanish Aid Committee. (Excellent report from Matthew Brown at the ILP. Good report at The Olive Press, including a wonderful YouTube of revolutionary Barcelona and George Orwell drinking tea [from George Orwell: A Life in Pictures]. Brief reports at SB News and Histomatist.)
Related material at Bataille Socialiste: a YouTube of the POUM cavalry in Barcelona.
More on the POUM from BS here, including just a couple of English texts:
- The Problem of Marxist Unity [POUM] (1936)
Robert Capa’s “Mexican” Suitcase. photo © Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Gerda Taro, Air Raid Victim in the Morgue, Valencia, 1937.
- Images above from a post on Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour (Chim) at Venetian Red: highly recommended.
- Review of Victor Serge’s Unforgiving Years. ( “Yet another blow struck against Stalinist despotism and for the recovery of an authentic socialist tradition from the ‘midnight in the century’ of totalitarianism. This project is part of what Vasily Grossman called the ‘radiant dossier’ that would emerge from the debris of NKVD archives that one day would be opened.” )
- E. San Juan Jr on Bertolt Brecht on the Spanish Civil War and the Philippine Revolution.
- Sklyansky on Robert Service’s new biography of Trotsky.
- Mayakovsky’s Suicide, by Leon Trotsky, at Rustbelt Radical.
- Intense light on a forgotten war: Ian Gibson’s introduction to David Baird’s Between Two Fires, on the Andalusian anti-Franco partisans.
- Of cars, footballers, fascists and rockers: a wonderful post on Barcelona. Film fragments from 1900 to now, including the July ’36 revolution, la Rumba Catalana and Manu Chao.
- Remember the Christmas of 1946: bizarre Stalinist marginalia.
- James Connolly as hero, at Rustbelt Radical. Great Irish folk music YouTubes at the end.
- Rosie Bell on the anatomy of a song.
- Yet again: Ron Radosh on Pete Seeger, continued.
- Subversive Historian: Grapes of Wrath, Argentina’s May Day massacre 1909, Ludlow Massacre, the Limerick Soviet, Zapata’s assassination, Kronstadt.
- Some Readings on Workers Councils, Militancy, and Generalized Self-Management (Pannekoek, Cajo Brendel, Benjamin Peret, Marcelo Vieta, etc)
- Stroppyblog: 1931 again?
- Ellen Wilkinson: a great MP.
- And, for all the old hacks, Kevin Higgins sums up the mood.
- The woman who captured Robert Capa’s heart (independent.co.uk)
- Dalí, Richter and Houdini in Chains! (nytimes.com)
- The Trotsky Conundrum (3quarksdaily.com)
- Frida: raises an eyebrow | Reel History (guardian.co.uk)
- Album: Lila Downs, Y la Misteriosa en Paris – Live (World Village) (independent.co.uk)
A Great of the Workers’ Movement: Abel Paz (1921 – 2009).
Abel Paz, pen name of Diego Camacho, has died.
Brought to politics in the 1930s as a member of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) (CNT Obituary) Diego fought in Spain against Franco and the counter-revolution. A member of the legendary Durruti column he took part in some of the most violent batttles. As a supporter of the libertarian syndicalist side he participated in the – failed – 1937 Barcelona combat against the Stalinist take-over. At the end of the war, when Catalonia finally had gone down in 1939, Paz survived and fled to France. The author of a number of important histories of the Spanish war, he remained a committed anarchist all his life, saying that,
“El anarquismo invoca una vida completamente diferente. Trata de vivir esta utopía un poco cada día.
Anarchism means a completely different form of life. Try to live a little of this utopia every day.
If anyone on the left dismisses anarchism, one should contemplate the life of this hero of the international workers’ movement.
Read “Barcelona in Flames”, an extract from his Durruti book, here.
א New at Libcom: Joe Jacobs (Solidarity UK) on the organisational question. (More Joe Jacobs here.)
[Lou] Gottlieb had a concert grand he put in a hen house at the Morningstar Ranch. There, he played Brahms and other classical works. He meditated, did yoga and clowned while his sidekick, another musician named Ramón Sender Barayón, the son of Ramón J. Sender, the exiled Spanish novelist, played it straight. Sender was literally born amid the sound of machine guns during “Red October,” within close proximity of the opening battles of the Spanish Civil War, in 1934. His father, a native of Aragon, was a co-founder of Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista, or P.O.U.M., the Trotskyist militia whose ranks were filled with international volunteers, including such literary luminaries as George Orwell, author of 1984.
א liber.rhetoricae: on slogans, taglines, enthymemes, and figures of brevity in general. Extract:
Trotsky as agitator allows his contact with the lived experience of the Spanish people to challenge Trotsky as theorist or propagandist. He allows what he learns to challenge his assumptions about historical laws and revolutionary processes. This is important. “Are we not confronted with an historical paradox?” Trotsky asks, and in asking opens the possibility that any doctrine of continuity between world revolution and the Russian revolution requires urgent review and perhaps revision in light of facts discovered on the ground in Spain. Set aside your views on Trotsky or his analysis or the success of Trotsky’s enterprise. This is rhetoric as method, it is the very definition of a rational process, and it is dialectical in character in the classical sense of dialectics. This is a community engaged in review, interpretation, and argument, in the form of communicators testing their arguments in live conditions.
א Jim Sleeper: Gaza needs a George Orwell now. Extract:
If a new Orwell informs us that Israel, although it’s hideously cruel and wrong, isn’t the only evil enemy of freedom in Gaza, will anyone want to know?
#4: Leon Trotsky
Why He Had to Go
In 1917, Trotsky was Lenin’s right hand man when the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia. He created and commanded the Red Army and was a member of the Politburo, which oversaw all other branches of Soviet government and made all policy decisions. He also wore glasses and had a wicked goatee, so you know he read books and shit.
Quiet, I’m reading this shit.
After Lenin died, Trotsky was expelled from the Communist party and kicked out of Russia. In return, Trotsky attempted to enter the United States to testify before Congress that Stalin was a major douchebag. Upon hearing this, Stalin decided his next move would be to expel Trotsky from life.
How He Went Down
Trotsky was denied entry into the U.S. and eventually found his way to a home in Mexico City. It was there that he was attacked by Ramon Mercader, an assassin working for Stalin.
While Trotsky was home reading some shit, Mercader buried an ice axe into the back of his skull.
This just pissed Trotsky off.
He stood up from his desk, axe in head, and spit on Mercader. Then he went after the assassin, wrestling with him. Trotsky’s bodyguards heard the commotion (where the fuck were they a few minutes ago?) and came running in to subdue the assassin and get Trotsky to the hospital.
Trotsky made it to the hospital and underwent surgery before finally dying a day later from complications related to being brained with a goddamn ice axe. We’re hoping he lived long enough to fire those bodyguards.
A couple of items at Jewcy:
In furtherance of an ongoing interest in the historiography of the Spanish civil war, I note with delight that the Catalan novelist Joan Marsé, born in Barcelona in 1933, has been awarded Spain’s highest literary honor, the Cervantes Prize. While I am normally no fan of such distinctions, which are typically empty and serve to corrupt literary life (see my numerous polemics on the Nobel sweepstakes), the 2008 Cervantes for Marsé is a welcome event.
Marsé remains best known for his novel Si te dicen que caí, written while Spanish dictator Francisco Franco still lived, and translated poorly into English in 1979 as The Fallen. It deals with the fate of anarchists and militants of the Partit Obrer d’Unificacio Marxista or POUM, in which Orwell served, after the triumph of the Nationalist forces in 1939. It was made into a splendid movie by Vicente Aranda Ezquerra, a leading Catalan director – self-taught in film art – who was born in 1926 and lived through the civil war. Aranda is an unabashed sympathizer of the Spanish anarchosyndicalist movement, the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and its active cadre formation, the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI). Paradoxically, however, the first offering in a trilogy of his films about the Spanish war, originally titled, like the novel, Si te dicen que caí, but also released under the title Aventis, was more sympathetic to the POUM. [Read the rest]
In a newsstand at Barajas Airport in Madrid, the day before I headed back to Kosovo and its echoes of the Spanish civil war, I saw a title on a table of books. It read Las víctimas de Negrín: Reinvindicación del POUM (The Victims of Negrín: Vindication of the POUM). The author was Antonio Cruz González, a Spanish labor activist and historian. [Read the rest]