One of the purposes of this blog is to join the dots in a history of the anti-Stalinist left: transnational traditions of dissident Marxism, democratic and libertarian socialism and class struggle anarchism which have actively resisted totalitarianism in all its forms. I came across this at the blog Psychadelic Bolshevik, and I take the liberty of reproducing it here. I’ve covered a lot of this material before (click on the tags at the bottom for more), but this puts it all together well. After I pasted it in, I realised most of it is the text by Nick Heath published on libcom, to which I have added a hyperlink where the quotation starts. However, in re-reading that, I am a little confused on the different French Trotskyists twists and turns, so added a note on that. If anyone can check that and let me know if I’ve got it right, I’d be grateful.
A wonderful gallery at Libcom. Here’s just a taste – go enjoy the real thing.
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…)
From Francis Sedgemore:
Last of the Durruti Column
It’s not the usual kind of character portrait you see on the BBC News website, but yesterday there was published an article on Antonio Garcia Baron, who is the sole surviving member of the Durruti Column. Baron and his anarchist comrades held Franco’s fascist forces at bay in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39.
Baron fled Spain following the defeat of the Republicans. In 1940 he landed in Dunkirk, and there was captured by the German army and imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz in Austria. After World War II, Baron, who was by now stateless, relocated to Bolivia. There he briefly did psychological battle with a local catholic priest before settling down and founding a libertarian community in a remote jungle location 60 kilometres from San Buenaventura.
During his interview for the BBC article, Baron told Alfonso Daniels about his time in Mauthausen, including an exchange with Heinrich Himmler. The SS chief agreed with Baron that the Roman Catholic Church was a fine ally of the Nazis:
“He replied that it was true, but that after the war I would see all the cardinals with the Pope marching there, pointing at the chimney of the crematorium.”
Read the rest of the story of this fascinating man.
See also: NY Brit