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(en) Spaine, Anarchico Galatea FAI: The anarchist movement and the Spanish civil war - Ninth Part, Posted on September 5, 2022 by galatea (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 18 Sep 2022 08:16:31 +0300

V. Mayo sangriento: Barcelona 1937 and after ---- A predictable storm ---- The "events of May", that is the armed confrontation inside the anti-fascist camp, are not a bolt from the blue. The signs of a growing tension can be found, as well as in the killings of La Fatarella at the end of January 1937, in a couple of accidents in which two important exponents of the opposing tendencies die: CNT - FAI and POUM on the one hand and PSUC and ERC on the one hand. other. On April 25 Roldán Cortada, exponent of the UGT, of the PSUC and former of the CNT (treintista wing), was killed in dark circumstances; two days later, in the village of Puigcerdà in the Pyrenees, Antonio Martín, a well-known anarchist militant, falls into a conflict with the Generalitat police.
Also in April the protests of the population explode for food shortages, and this increases the sense of precariousness and tension caused above all by the first bombings of the Italian legionary aviation, which cause dozens of deaths and considerable destruction. May Day, the traditional international meeting of workers' movements, does not see any march or other mass initiatives which, in the already heated climate, could have given rise to provocations and further violent clashes.
In those days the Generalitat renewed yet another pressing invitation to the Patrullas de Control of the workers' organizations to hand over their weapons to the new unified security service placed under its orders. The prevailing belief in the working base is well expressed by an article that appeared in "Solidaridad Obrera" on 2 May: " Comrades, weapons are worth more than speeches!", Followed by the consistent rejection by the "people in arms". In fact, the Patrullas continue to operate and void the injunction of the Catalan government, to which they remind that those weapons were conquered at very high human costs on July 19, 1936 and that they guarantee real and not delegated power, not even through the CNT - FAI, at the top of the institutions. For some time the forces that oppose collectivization and in general the revolution in progress have found their political referent in the PSUC. This party was born in Barcelona in July 1936 immediately after the victory over the coup, in which its members participated very little, and has grown strongly month after month. His entry into the Catalan autonomous government initially gave him few places, but soon his space expanded by exploiting the popularity of the Soviet Union.
The PSUC soon became the USSR's crucial point of reference for bringing the revolutionary situation in Catalonia under control, a territory where anarcho-syndicalism and, albeit to a much lesser extent, non-Stalinist Marxism have a considerable influence on the masses of workers. Furthermore, both allow themselves to attack the image and politics of the Kremlin, in particular by denouncing the Stalinist trials underway in 1936. These criticisms, which unite Marxist dissidence with sectors of the most powerful CNT, give a lot of annoyance to the Soviet state that presents itself. as the "homeland of socialism". To underline the strategic function of the PSUC,
The "fratricidal war" between anti-fascists began on 3 May when a group of Generalitat policemen, under the command of Rodríguez Salas, an officer belonging to the PSUC, attacked the Telefonica building in the central Plaza de Catalunya. The stated purpose is to install the delegate appointed by the Companys government as responsible for running a valuable service that holds de facto power. The rumor has been circulating for some time, probably, that a telephone call from the President of the Republic Manuel Azaña was blocked by a Cenetist switchboard operator who would have mocked the highest political figure. The offense would constitute the straw that overflows the camel already filled with the "patience" of Companys, who complains about the indiscipline of most of the anarcho-syndicalist militants. But the episode, or its representation, it can also be read as the symbol of the intolerance of institutional power towards a real power that relies on the control of strategic points, such as the telephone exchange. This site, occupied after a bitter struggle by the CNT fighters, is managed collectively by one of its Comité, with some UGT delegates in a subordinate position. For many militants of the CNT - FAI it is an achievement, reached on July 19, 1936, not to be missed.
The armed workers of the Telefonica barricade themselves on the upper floors, while the autonomous police remain on the ground floor. The news immediately circulated in the popular districts of the city and in a few hours a spontaneous general strike broke out: dozens of barricades were erected, similar to those of 19 July, around which the shootings multiplied.
A notable part of the members of the CNT - FAI believe that the time has come to put a stop to the expansionism of the PSUC, which is counting on its alliance with the ERC. The appeals for calm and confidence launched by the political and trade union leaders in the course of the negotiations to "resolve the incident" are perplexing. On the radio, for a couple of days, the proclamations of the autonomist and communist leaders alternate with those of the anarcho-syndicalist leaders. Among the latter we hear the voices of two Catalan ministers of the CNT considered leading exponents of irreducible anarchism: García Oliver and Montseny. Everyone says they are in favor of ending the struggle, dismantling the barricades and returning to work and calm, with the promise that those responsible for the police provocation at Telefonica would be removed. By now the dead are numbered by the dozen and will reach more than 300 throughout Catalonia[1]. On May 5, shooting near the headquarters of the organizations was recorded and two leading exponents of the parties to the conflict were killed. Antoni Sesé, general secretary of the UGT and manager of the PSUC, is unable to take possession of the post of new minister of the Generalitat as he falls close to the Sindicato de la Industria del Espectáculo of the CNT; Domingo Ascaso, elder brother of Francisco, the hero who fell on July 20, 1936, is fatally shot a couple of hours after Sesé. secretary general of the UGT and manager of the PSUC, he is unable to take possession of the post of new minister of the Generalitat as he falls close to the Sindicato de la Industria del Espectáculo of the CNT; Domingo Ascaso, elder brother of Francisco, the hero who fell on July 20, 1936, is fatally shot a couple of hours after Sesé. secretary general of the UGT and manager of the PSUC, he is unable to take possession of the post of new minister of the Generalitat as he falls close to the Sindicato de la Industria del Espectáculo of the CNT; Domingo Ascaso, elder brother of Francisco, the hero who fell on July 20, 1936, is fatally shot a couple of hours after Sesé.
Meanwhile, the Largo Caballero government appropriates the public order and defense services of the Generalitat, suppressing the autonomous Catalan offices, sends a couple of warships into the port and prepares the shipment of thousands of Guardias de Asalto to re-establish institutional control and public order. On the morning of May 6, the bodies of Camillo Berneri and Francesco Barbieri were also found near Plaça Sant Jaume, near the seat of the autonomous government. Calls to cease the shootings eventually achieve the desired effect, and if any confrontation continues, overall the intensity and severity decrease significantly. A group of radicals, both libertarian and Marxist, which is called Los Amigos de Durruti[2]tries to trigger a revolutionary movement against the renunciation line of the bureaucracies of the libertarian organizations, but the intent manages to survive only a few days. On May 7, according to the Generalitat, he resumes work in factories and offices, as well as in public transport. The conclusion is hailed as a victory by the PSUC, evidently aware of the risks taken in those days, while the CNT - FAI declares that the hectic days ended without winners or losers. In reality, it is not easy for anarchist leaders to take stock of this tragic conflict that reveals the limits and contradictions of collaboration in the name of the anti-fascist war. The progressive increase of influence from formations, such as the PSUC and the ERC, that July 19, 1936 seemed to count for very little, and this to the detriment of the strengths of the libertarians, implies a very negative judgment on the choice of the CNT - FAI leadership not to push the revolutionary momentum to the bottom, at least in Catalonia[3]. On the other hand, as reiterated several times, the confrontation does not take place only in the richest, most modern and most libertarian region of Spain.
May 1937 causes the irreversible crisis of anarchist participation in the government of Largo Caballero. The socialist leader, an expression of the UGT, is put in difficulty by the pressing request of the PCE ministers to decree the dissolution of the POUM, accused of "espionage in favor of the enemy" and of being "the inspirer of the criminal putsch of Catalonia"[4]. The former union leader, once hailed by the Stalinists as the "Spanish Lenin", refuses to accept this request and resigns. Two days later, on the immediate designation of Azaña, a new government was appointed chaired again by a socialist, Juan Negrín, but this time coming from the current of Indalecio Prieto, responsible for the organizational and bureaucratic structures of the PSOE and therefore rival of Largo Caballero. Beyond the socialist label,

The hunt for dissident revolutionaries
After the suspension of the newspaper "La Batalla", the closure of the offices and the expulsion from local government bodies, on June 16, 1937 the Comité Ejecutivo del POUM, including the secretary, was arrested en bloc. Andreu Nin, former member of the government of the Generalitat.

The goal for the Stalinist Communists, in the wake of the contemporary Moscow trials, is to obtain full confessions from the espionage defendants, in particular from the most prominent personality, the Catalan Nin. The latter, after extolling the Russian revolution in the early 1920s and then attacking the centralization of power in the hands of Stalin and the repression against the old Bolsheviks, fled the USSR to escape the Soviet police. The interrogations he is subjected to, in prisons managed directly and secretly by the PCE, are particularly harsh, but Nin seems not to give in. The inquisitors continue to torture him to make him plead guilty, according to the practice tested in the Soviet Union in the trials of the "counter-revolutionaries". As in other similar cases, the useless questioning leads to death or the impossibility of presenting the accused in a public trial. The delicate question is resolved with an already tested practice: liberation is pretended by a Nazi team and his body disappears in the Madrid countryside. To those who write on the walls: «¿Donde está Nin?», The pro-Moscow Communists answer «¡lei Está en Burgos o en Berlín!», The capitals of Franco's and Nazi enemies. In recent times, research conducted in the KGB archive in Moscow confirmed that both this and other disappearances were directly led by the Kremlin. The trial of the other leaders of the POUM was held in October 1937 and ended with the acquittal of the charges of espionage and treason, but with a conviction for causing the clashes in Mayo sangriento[5].
In Barcelona and beyond, after the end of the armed conflict, the repressive institutions proceed with hundreds of arrests of the most radical militants. A paradoxical situation arises. The CNT apparently keeps its strength almost intact: the confederal armed columns support a not secondary part of the war effort, the industrial and rural communities continue to function thanks to the strong anarchist influence, the trade unions are in full swing. At the same time, however, hundreds of militants, if not thousands, are arrested on infamous charges such as having stolen or killed under trade union protection. And the crimes were also committed in the early stages of the popular armed response to the coup attempt. To get an idea of the scale of the phenomenon, it should be borne in mind that in the Tortosa prison, in southern Catalonia,
The response of the Catalan CNT takes place at two levels: promoting the establishment, inside and outside the prisons, of Comité pro Presos to support prisoners and the formation, decided by the Comité Regional, of a special Comisión Jurídica directed by the lawyer Eduardo Barriobero, Republican close to the CNT and defender in many trials before 1936. In fact, the Comisión is paying for the progressive loss of real power of the union and little can do in favor of the "anti-fascist prisoners" who wait for a long time for the relative public trials to take place. Officials of prisons and judicial offices respond with sufficiency and generality, unthinkable before May 1937, to requests for precise information on the contents of the accusations and on the detentions in progress. The situation seems to have stalled to the point that some unions criticize the "ghost commission" and go so far as to organize evasions by relying on the complicity of the employees of the prison structure, appointed at the time when García Oliver was Minister of Justice. Some illegally freed detainees are then also made to flee from Barcelona and find protection in the confederal columns at the front.
Within the various bodies of the CNT there are heated debates on how to operate in defense of the detainees, who are often accused of wholly spurious crimes. The union leaders are particularly reluctant to protect the CNT militants who were most exposed in the clashes of May 1937, who mostly remained without official organizational support until December 1937.

In a meeting of the Comité Regional of that period, the final motion recognizes the correct position of the Comité Jurídico against the defense of extremist elements, even if they are members of the CNT, and delegates any solidarity commitment to the individual unions who will choose it under their own responsibility.
Numerous letters of protest are sent from the prisons, in particular from the Modelo of Barcelona, to the institutional bodies and to the Comité of the CNT. In general, forms of open struggle are threatened in the case of non-protective interventions or non-respect for the rights of "anti-fascist prisoners"[6]. The secretary of the Catalan CNT, Josep Doménech, meets with the Minister of Justice of the Generalitat to obtain permission to visit the jailed militants, who are on the verge of unleashing a revolt. After a couple of days, over 200 detainees deemed "dangerous" are urgently transferred to other prisons in the region and for a few months the situation remains under the control of the authorities. Following various forms of protest, from the hunger strike to the destruction of furniture, which also includes jailed international volunteers, 800 prisoners of various political tendencies are moved to the new prison residence in the center of Barcelona, recently inaugurated, and to the work camps in the surrounding area. It is the latter solution that, in the course of 1938, made it possible to defuse the prison revolts, with the agreement of the CNT which managed to obtain many releases.

Keep on... https://gruppoanarchicogalatea.noblogs.org/post/2022/09/06/il-movimento-anarchico-e-la-guerra-civile-spagnola-decima-parte/

Note to the capitol
[1]P. Pagès, Catalonia at war..., cit., p. 209. Altre fonti stimano in circa 500 i morti del maggio 1937.
[2]M. Amorós, The revolution betrayed. The true story of Balius and The Friends of Durruti, Virus, Barcelona, 2003.
[3]C. Semprun Maura, Libertad!, Elèuthera, Milano, 1996.
[4]P. Pagès, Catalonia at war..., cit., pp. . 211-213.
[5]The burning theme of May 1937 still produces new works. Most recent is the dense and "equidistant" one by F. Gallego, Barcelona, mayo de 1937, Debate, Barcelona, 2007. Among the "lined up" we remember at least the anthology Barcelona, mayo 1937. Testimonios desde las barricadas, Alikornio, Barcelona, 2006 and A. Guillamón, Barricadas en Barcelona, Spartaco Internacional, sl, 2007. Intentions of ideological reflection on May and on the political line of the revolutionary left can be found in the work of G. Munis, Lessons of a defeat, promise of victory, Lotta Comunista, Milan, 2007. To defend himself from the accusation of having planned and managed the complex plan of the kidnapping, interrogation and disappearance of Nin, the Trieste communist Vittorio Vidali refers to the normality of Stalin's eliminations: "Why on earth would I have to organize that staging?" At that time, if an anarchist or a poumista had to be shot, it was done without fuss. Let alone if they needed me». In G. Bocca, Palmiro Togliatti, Laterza, Rome-Bari, 1973, p. 301.
[6]F. Godicheau, The Spanish War. Republic and revolution in Catalonia (1936-1939), Odile Jacob, Paris, 2004, pp. 297-328.

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