Partos, Pal (1911-1964) aka Paul Polgare, Pablo Polgare, Folgare

Short biography of Hungarian who moved from being influenced by Karl Korsch to being the keeper of the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist union CNT archives

Pal Partos was born in Budapest in 1911. He completed his studies in Germany where he met Karl Korsch and was influenced by his ideas, in sum his view that the present Communist Parties were no more than social-democratic parties, his “anti-organisational” views that in the present situation loose networks would allow a rebirth of a genuine revolutionary movement whilst more formal structures would restrict that, and that the Soviet Union was state capitalist.

Pal Partos joined the Munka-kör (Work Circle) group of Lajos Kassak which had developed in Hungary at the end of the 1920s as a radical leftist milieu and which included those on the left of social-democracy, through the Hungarian versions of Trotskyism to forms of council communism. Partos was part of an oppositional group – “The Oppo” which objected to Kassak’s failure to give strong criticisms of the Soviet Union along with Lajos Szabo and Pal Justus (Szabo also being influenced by Korsch a little later than Partos). They split with Kassak in autumn 1930.

In 1931 Lajos Szabó, Andor Szirtes, Pál Justus, Béla Tábor, Károly Heinlein and Pál Partos translated and published with their commentaries Marx’s Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy under the pseudonym of “Lantos”. Shortly after Partos emigrated to France where in Paris he came into contact with the anarcho-syndicalist movement and worked with, among others, Manes Sperber and Arthur Koestler at the Institute for the Study of Fascism.

At the outbreak of the Revolution in 1936 he moved to Spain where, under the name of Pablo Polgare , he went to work in the international propaganda section of the CNT-FAI1 alongside Augustin Souchy and Martin Gudell. He was a member of the Grupo Accion Internacional (International Action Group) which asked to be admitted to the FAI in Barcelona in 1937.

In 1938 he was put forward for the position of Economic Secretary of the Peninsular Committee of the FAI, a proposal which was opposed by the Italian anarchist Bonomini who accused him of having formerly maintained friendships with Marxists. However, he worked on the politico-social secretariat of the Peninsular Committee of the FAI in Valencia. Around this time with Diego Abad de Santillan and Martin Gudell he contacted the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam in order to ensure the preservation of the archives of the Spanish libertarian movement. He also wrote for the magazine Timon (Barcelona, 1938, six issues) edited by Abad de Santillan.

On March 24, 1939, in Valencia, he signed as secretary of the FAI one of its last circulars with a motion on the attitude to adopt when going into hiding after the victory of Franco. On the last day of the war he was able to get aboard a ship at Gandia for England where he joined the core of the exile CNT-FAI in London. He was custodian of the CNT archives there and José Peirats with his help used these archives for his history of the CNT.

Partos also contributed to the libertarian Reconstrucción (London, 1946 to 1948, at least 12 issues) organ of the MLE (Spanish Libertarian Movement) in Britain. With Souchy he was one of the first to write on the Spanish collectivisations – Colectivizaciones: constructiva of the obra la revolucion española – in 1937. He also helped Olaya write his book El Oro Negrin (The Negrin Gold) on how the Socialist Prime Minister Negrin had stolen the Spanish gold stocks and accelerated defeat after the Second World War with information from the archives.

As well as using the names Polgare and Folgare, Albert Meltzer says that he also used the anglicised name Porter and speaks disapprovingly of his work for the Ministry of Information – which acted as the propaganda arm of the government – during the Second World War, providing propaganda and information on Spain.

He killed himself in 1964.

Nick Heath

Sources:
- Dictionnaire des militants anarchistes: http://militants-anarchistes.info/spip.php?article6853
- Konok, Peter. 'Lajos Kassák and the Hungarian Left Radical Milieu (1926–1934)', in Regimes and Transformations. Hungary in the Twentieth Century, edited by István Feitl and Balázs Sipos.
- Meltzer, Albert. I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels.

  • 1. libcom note: the CNT (National Confederation of Labour) was the main anarcho-syndicalist union and the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) the main anarchist organisation)

Comments

Entdinglichung
Jan 25 2013 12:57

interesting, didn't know that there were "Korschists" outside Germany and the German Exile

Dannny
Jan 8 2017 22:24

Very interesting, thank you. Incidentally, Partos continued to correspond with Korsch while the former was in Spain (there's a little relevant stuff here: https://gimenologues.org/spip.php?article350 ). Korsch was sympathetic to the CNT, he had attended the Madrid Congress in 1931 and wrote some pretty perceptive articles on Spain in the 30s.

Steven.
Jan 9 2017 10:05

Great stuff as always. If anyone anywhere has a photo of Pal that would be excellent

Entdinglichung
Jan 9 2017 11:22

Korsch and his supporters stopped around 1927/28 to build an own centralised organisation, they worked as a loose network of local circles inside other existing parties, unions and cultural organisations of the workers movement in a non-sectarian way (can't really be considered entryism), even inside Germany with big variations depending on local conditions, in some places inside the SPD or KPD, in some places in smaller groups like the SAPD or the Leninbund, in their strongholds like Moenchengladbach and Bocholt as independent groups ... quite likely that "Korschists" in Spain were CNT members