8. An ‘apolitical’ revolution

Anarchism, revolution and civil war

From early July, the CNT-FAI and its militants had been on a war footing in anticipation of a military coup. With activists deployed at the gates of the main barracks in the city and with informants recruited among conscript soldiers inside, the CNT leaders had ample intelligence that a coup was imminent. While the CNT leadership might have been correct in its claim that the workers were potentially the most valuable ally in the struggle against reaction, its demand that the central and Catalan authorities arm the supporters of a revolutionary syndicalist organisation was ultimately naive. Yet equally naive was the calculation of the authorities that loyal republican police units, whose combined forces then stood at 1,960, could counter a mobilisation of the 6,000 troops garrisoned in Barcelona.1 Wary of offending the ‘patriotic and loyal’ army, the authorities censored warnings in Solidaridad Obrera that the military was about to rise against the Republic on the grounds that these were an ‘insult’ to the armed forces.2 In mid-July, the CNT issued a call to its activists to concentrate in union centres and ateneus in preparation for the coming struggle. By night, small groups of militants requisitioned arms, disarming nightwatchmen and policemen.3 Meanwhile, the few weapons possessed by the defence committees—mainly pistols and homemade grenades, along with a few rifles and a smaller number of sub-machine-guns—were distributed in the barris.

The tense wait came to an end between 4am and 5am on Sunday 19 July, when army units and their civilian fascist supporters set out from various garrisons around the city with the intention of seizing strategic locations (squares and traffic intersections), major public buildings (Generalitat departments and the civil governor’s office) and the telephone exchange. The grupistas set their plano de defensa in motion. In what was a prearranged signal for the CNT defence committees to take to the streets, militants activated the factory sirens that normally called workers to work across the city Besides rousing the people of Barcelona from their sleep, the shrill noise of the sirens doubtless had a psychological impact on the military rebels and their fascist supporters, who immediately encountered armed resistance from loyal police units and workers. As the morning wore on and more troops entered the streets, the fighting became ever more intense, particularly in the main squares in the city centre. The workers mobilised not to defend republican institutions but to protect their communities and the working-class public sphere, which were threatened by the military coup.4 Barricades were erected across the city, especially around workers’ centres and near the major thoroughfares, preventing the military from entering the barris and rendering their passage to the city centre perilous and problematic. By mid-afternoon, following intense flghting, the rebellion had clearly failed. CNT militants controlled hundreds of rifles, machine-guns and army cannons seized from the insurgents and were increasingly the protagonists in the street fighting. Popular forces occupied the radio station, while cenetistas seized the telephone exchange after a fierce gun battle.5 The rebels, meanwhile, were desperately isolated in the Atarazanas barracks at the bottom of the Rambles and in the Carmelite church in the city centre and in the Sant Andreu barracks on Barcelona’s northern outskirts.

While the military rising in Barcelona was badly organised (for instance, there was no attempt to seize the radio station), more than anything the supporters of the coup were overwhelmed by the armed response on the streets. Although only partially implemented, the principles of the plano de defensa proved quite effective. Premised on the reality that the grupistas lacked the firepower to prevent the rebels from leaving their barracks, the plano relied on guerrilla tactics designed to stretch the resources of the rebels and demoralise the enemy.6 Yet it would be wrong to exaggerate the scale of coordination of what was effectively a series of local resistance actions by workers based around the barricades and organised through community and union structures.7 The knowledge that the grupistas had of the local area was an important factor. The army proved incapable of adapting to the local topography, while resisters adapted their fight to the built environment, using doorways, trees, roof tops and balconies to open up sudden new fronts in the struggle for the streets.8 The Rambles, where the CNT defence committees established their headquarters, and the neighbouring Raval, for decades the site of popular insurrection in the city, became a key zone. The Builders’ Union office, on Mercaders Street in the Raval, was another important operations centre, coordinating the efforts of various nearby barricades. Armed cenetistas massed in the myriad back streets of the Raval, where they organised flying squads that weaved their way to engage the military in the Atarazanas barracks and on the Paral.lel.9


Figure 8.1 Workers resisting the military coup, 19–20 July 1936
Source: Francesc Bonamusa, Pere Gabriel, Josep Lluís Martin Ramos and Josep Termes, Història Gràfica del Moviment Obrer a Catalunya, Barcelona, 1989, p. 274

Around midnight on the evening of 19 July, the Sant Andreu barracks was stormed by CNT activists, who seized 90,000 rifles. The following day, buoyed up by its new-found armed power, the CNT massed its forces on the Rambles for a final and successful assault on the Atarazanas barracks, the last stronghold of the rebels.10 The grupistas and the CNT defence committees had finally triumphed over the military. However, the extent to which the elitist ‘revolutionary gymnastics’ were a suitable preparation for the July street fighting is debatable. Both the socialists and the dissident communists of the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista, or Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification), the product of the fusion of the BOC with a small Trotskyist grouping, not to mention republican and catalaniste elements in the security forces, contributed greatly to the popular resistance to the rising.11 However, what was beyond dispute was that on 20 July the CNT held the initiative: it was the biggest armed force, the de facto master of the streets of Barcelona and indeed of much of Catalonia, opening up a new revolutionary situation.12 The July coup then created the revolutionary ‘spark’ that the anarchist radicals had long prophesied.

President Companys now faced something he had feared since 1931: the republican project was genuinely threatened by the armed power of the CNT. The republican state had fractured, its monopoly of armed power, the sine qua non for all state power, lost: part of the army had joined with the rebels, who controlled a significant amount of Spanish territory, while part of the security forces had lost its discipline and allied with the people. Importantly, although the state was displaced from the centre of political life, it had not been replaced by a new revolutionary power, and this gave Companys an opportunity to contain the revolutionary impulses emanating from the streets. On 20 July, with the street fighting over in Barcelona and with the Spanish Civil War underway, Companys invited the CNT-FAI leadership to the Generalitat in what constituted a risky but wily display of brinkmanship. Apparently overcome with emotion by the recent struggle, Companys flattered the CNT-FAI leaders on their role in the victory over the military, telling them:

Today you are the masters of the city and of Catalonia…. You have conquered everything and everything is in your power. If you do not need me or want me as President of Catalonia… I shall become just another soldier in the struggle against fascism. If, on the other hand, you believe in this post… I and the men of my party…can be useful in this struggle.13

In effect, Companys invited the CNT-FAI to take power alone or join forces with the other Popular Front parties in the CCMA (Comité Central de Milicies Antifeixistes, or Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias), a new body composed of pro-republican political and trade union groups designed to organise the fight to recapture the areas where the coup had succeeded.14

The CNT-FAI leaders had no plan to seize state power or to organise revolutionary political structures and were unprepared to consolidate their victory on the streets by imposing a new political compact. Unlike the French and Russian revolutions, therefore, the Spanish revolution did not destroy the old state apparatus.15 Instead, sensing that Companys and the republican order were impotent, the anarchists simply ignored the shell of the old state.

At an impromptu and hastily convened assembly, CNT-FAI activists committed the movement to ‘democratic collaboration’ with the republicans for the sake of unity in the war against fascism, thereby accepting Companys’ offer to share power with the bourgeois republicans and other Popular Front groups. Among the CNT-FAI leaders, only García Oliver raised the call ‘to go the whole way’ (ir a por el todo) towards social transformation; however, he represented a tiny minority among his comrades, most of whom regarded him as an advocate of ‘anarchist dictatorship’.16 The inter-class CCMA was thus established on 21 July.17 The CCMA, which had the appearance of a revolutionary body, was a trade union-dominated government and war ministry in all but name, and it allowed the anarchists to participate in power without compromising their anti-statist principles.18 For the supporters of the republican state, meanwhile, the creation of the CCMA offered a respite from revolutionary political change: it preserved the legality of the bourgeois republican state and, as we will see, it provided an opportunity to outmanoeuvre the politically inexpert CNT-FAI leaders.

8.1 Urban revolution from below

While the anarchist leaders committed themselves to ‘democratic collaboration’ with the political representatives of the middle classes, the CNT-FAI grassroots made their revolution in the streets of Barcelona, reorganising production and taking over the factories and estates in what was the greatest revolutionary festival in the history of contemporary Europe. Throughout much of the area where the coup had been put down, the most revolutionary sections of the urban and rural working class had no interest in returning to the status quo as it stood before the failed coup: they interpreted the triumph over the military in the July days as an opportunity to fulfil their collective dreams of social and economic justice. In the case of Barcelona, these dreams were structured and inflected by the experience of direct action collective protests and by the sediments of culture that we discussed in Chapters 2 and 7. In this respect, the post-July urban transformation can be seen as the continuation of a much longer workers’ struggle in defence of their ‘right to the city’.19

The new working-class street power revolved around the barricades. On 24 July, Solidaridad Obrera reported that ‘Barcelona consists of barricades populated by the this defenders of proletarian liberties…. Hundreds of barricades defend the proletarian city from its enemies’.20 As one eye-witness observed, ‘Barcelona was converted into a labyrinth of barricades’, which signified the victory of the workers and their desire for a new order.21 As a mobilising symbol, the barricades were an affirmation of the spirit of solidarity and community autonomy in the barris, while in practical terms they were central to the popular victory in the July street fighting: they impeded the movement of the military rebels and their civilian supporters and protected the barris from possible attack by the rebels.22 The barricades also played a decisive role in the revolution: not only did they dislocate the rhythms and circuits of power within the old bourgeois city but, in the days of revolutionary euphoria and general strike that followed the defeat of the military coup, armed workers extended their power across Catalonia and into neighbouring Valencia and Aragón through a network of check-points.23 Moreover, when, on 27 July, the Barcelona CNT issued a manifesto calling for a return to work, only those barricades that impeded the circulation of trams and buses were dismantled, the rest remaining as a signifier of the new power of the workers.24

The barricades were the spatial tool of a nascent power: the web of armed local or neighbourhood revolutionary committees who controlled movement to, from and within the city and that constituted the most fundamental cell of revolutionary power.25 The committees were a grassroots response to the power vacuum that followed the fracturing of the republican state in July. During the early weeks of the revolution, nearly all power emanated from and filtered through the local committees, organs that, in the words of one union manifesto, wielded ‘an authority [that] carried the stamp of the barricades’.26

Catalan home rule within the Spanish state was superseded by revolutionary independence: workers’ militias and their barricades controlled the French-Catalan border, and responsibility for defence rested in Barcelona, not Madrid. The authority of both the central government in Madrid and the Generalitat was eclipsed by that of the revolutionary committees. Notwithstanding the anti-statist sentiments of the anarchist leaders and their supporters, the committees functioned as a locally articulated executive power, imposing a kind of dictatorship of the proletariat on the streets of Barcelona.27


Figure 8.2 Armed workers, July 1936, accompanied by a uniformed but hatless member of the armed forces
Source: Ateneu Enciclopèdic Popular

Working-class power was exercised through a series of locally recruited armed groups, such as the rearguard militias (milicias de retaguardia), investigation and surveillance groups (grupos de investigación y vigilancia), control patrols (patrullas de control) and the militias that set off to fight the rebel-controlled zone. Formed by the local revolutionary committees for community defence, these armed squads imposed ‘class justice’ in the barris and launched punitive raids into bourgeois residential areas, frequently in cars requisitioned from the rich, in search of ‘enemies of the people’: those who were perceived either to have supported the old urban system and/or to have backed the military coup, whether actively or by creating a political and social climate that favoured the military rebellion.28 In essence, the squads pursued the goal of community purity, of a neighbourhood purged of reactionaries and the construction of a revolutionary city through the violent eradication of the social networks that perpetuated the old city. When it came to determining the social and political loyalties and past conduct of detainees, the local knowledge possessed by the armed defenders of the revolution gave them a real and lethal advantage over a distant bureaucracy.29

The armed revolutionary groups have often been criticised for the swift and exemplary form of justice that they administered.30 Many reports of repression were grossly exaggerated at the time and afterwards, such as the stories of revolutionaries raping nuns, and even pro-Francoists later recognised that many accounts were pure fantasy aimed at winning the propaganda war.31 It is also unfair to attribute all violence to the radical anarchists, for there was much ‘revolutionary terror’ in areas where anarchism was weak.32 Moreover, we should not forget the immediate context for the violence in July and August: the insecurity and paranoia generated by ‘fifth column’ snipers and gunmen33 and the anger at news of the systematic slaughter of CNT militants in Zaragoza by fascists and the military, which prompted Solidaridad Obrera to publish huge headlines promising ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!’34

However, there was a qualitative and quantitative difference between violence in the fascist-controlled area, where it was used freely as a terroristic device to subdue potentially ‘disloyal’ masses and/or to crush the resistance of the civilian population, and that in the republican zone, where, as time went on, the various anti-fascist organisations and the authorities struggled to limit the extent of ‘unofficial’ or ‘spontaneous’ violence.35 This is well illustrated in the case of some of the supporters of the expropriations. Following the July events, the ‘social prisoners’—expropriators, ‘men of action’ and foreign anarchists who were classed as ‘common criminals’ and had therefore not been amnestied by the Popular Front government in February—were freed from Barcelona’s Model Jail.36 Upon their release, many joined the militias that set out to fight fascism, but some remained in Barcelona and joined the patrullas that policed the rearguard. Among the latter was Josep Gardenyes, who, along with other members of his grupo de afinidad and individual anarchists, remained devotees of the illegal deed. In the new circumstances after July, Gardenyes and grupos like his pursued once more the logic of their own illegalist agendas, giving rise to fears about the activities of incontrolats (uncontrollables) who were exploiting the new circumstances for personal gain. Fearing that illegalist practices could disgrace both the organisation and the revolutionary project, the CNT-FAI leaders issued a declaration warning that anyone who ‘undertook house searches and committed acts contrary to the anarchist spirit’ or that compromised the nascent ‘revolutionary order’ would be shot.37 This threat was later implemented in the case of Gardenyes, who was detained by members of the patrullas and executed without trial, upsetting many radicals in the anarchist movement.38

Contrary to the Francoist/conservative view of ‘Red Terror with a vengeance…a flood of murder and lawlessness’,39 most of the killings in Barcelona during the civil war were not carried out by newly formed militia groups; rather, they occurred in an organised manner under the tutelage of the republican authorities at the Montjuïc military fortress.40 Doubtless the fact that workers were armed and that they were no longer contained by the old state apparatus encouraged many to take justice into their own hands, yet the ‘terror’ was anything but a ‘wave of blind violence’ by socially uprooted ‘vandals’, as has been suggested by some historians.41 While there is no census or register of the members of the armed revolutionary groups, anecdotal and autobiographical evidence suggests that the groups included skilled workers in their number. They were also comprised of activists from the main anti-fascist organisations from before the civil war, who therefore had some level of political education and experience. Indeed, many of the district revolutionary committees were established through the transformation of organised working-class social and political spaces (the armed CNT defence groups responsible for picketing and security at meetings and marches, union workplace committees and community groups, such as the ateneus) the very autonomous proletarian para-society threatened by the July 1936 uprising. Moreover, the patrullas, the closest body there was to a revolutionary police force, were normally recruited from the districts they policed; and they drew strength from local networks of solidarity, friendship, kinship and neighbouring and assumed many of the functions of a community police force.42 For instance, ‘antisocial’ elements such as pimps and drug pushers were killed by the patrullas.43

The violence was intimately linked to the cosmology of working-class society and the way people in the barris interpreted the world. It was directed at ‘outsiders’, who had been defined by CNT discourse as an immoral and parasitic ‘other’ surviving from the sweat of the labour of the workers and that had to be ‘cleansed’ for the ‘good of public health’, in other words, for the sake of the community.44 Peiró, the moderate anarchosyndicalist, summed up the prevailing structure of feeling when he wrote:

Revolution is revolution, and it is therefore logical that the revolution brings in its wake bloodshed. The capitalist system, the temporal power of the Church and the rule of the caciques (bosses) over the centuries has all been sustained and fed by the pain and blood of the people. Logically, then, following the victory of the people, the blood of those who for many centuries maintained their power and privilege by means of organised violence, unnecessary pain and unhappiness and death, will be spilt.45

Perhaps surprisingly, then, although some industrialists perished after July, employers and senior managers accounted for a tiny proportion of those who were killed in the Barcelona area during the revolution and civil war.46 There was no drive to eliminate the bourgeoisie as a class, and members of the patrullas and the district revolutionary committees often protected capitalists, even intervening to save the lives of some.47 Industrialists, meanwhile, like the middle classes as a whole, enjoyed the political protection of republican groups and, increasingly, of the newly formed PSUC (Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya or Catalan Communist Party), the new champion of intermediate and petit bourgeois elements in the city. However, nearly all the industrialists who were murdered perished during the period from July to November, during what can best be described as ‘revolutionary violence’. Targeting the traditional circuits of urban power, this violence was directed at the political and social enemies of the revolutionary city, particularly representatives of the organised Church, the main ideological structure of the old urban order, and members of the armed forces. Most of the dead were therefore regarded in the barris as the legitimate targets of repression or, as it was expressed in the vox populi, as the ‘settling of scores’.48 This was more than evident in the case of Planes, the La Publicitat journalist who contributed greatly to the ‘moral panics’ surrounding ‘anarchist-robbers’, whose body was found on the Arabassada highway, an isolated road on the outskirts of the city that became notorious as a destination point for the paseos, the one-way trips organised by armed workers for both suspected and proven counter-revolutionaries. Several policemen and other hated figures, such as Ramon Sales, the founder of the Sindicatos libres, were also killed.49

In political terms, the main organ of revolutionary power—the district committees, which were distinct from the CNT-organised district committees discussed in earlier chapters—were never as democratic as soviets: they did not practice genuine direct democracy, and delegates, who often attained their positions due to the respect they enjoyed among the community, were not subject to immediate recall. Nevertheless, while most of the members of the district committees were CNT members, they were nominally independent of the formal working-class organisations and often did not follow the orders of the Confederation.50 Instead, the overwhelming majority of the committees practised a radical form of neighbourhood democracy that drew on Barcelona’s working-class culture, with its emphasis on community self-reliance. The district committees formed the basis of the only genuinely revolutionary body established in July, the ephemeral Federación de barricadas (Federation of Barricades), which was founded by base activists in the heat of the struggle against the military.51 Mirroring the district federations of the Paris Commune or the councils established during the other major urban working-class insurrections in Paris (1848 and 1871), Petrograd (1917), Berlin (1918–19) and Turin (1920), the Federación de barricadas represented, in embryonic form, a revolutionary alternative to state power. It surpassed the Paris Commune as an experiment in local power. Like the old state, the Federación de barricadas had an armed power, which was based in the ‘Bakunin Barracks’, formerly the Pedralbes Barracks, an important recruiting station for the anarchist militias. Yet the Federación de barricadas simultaneously highlighted one of the central shortcomings of the revolution: the absence of a new institutional form that could give expression to the popular desire for revolution and the objective need to prosecute a civil war. For while the Federación de barricadas employed revolutionary tactics in the battle for the streets in July, it had the essentially short-term aims of crushing the military uprising and of securing control of urban space. Moreover, no organisation argued that the Federación de barricadas or the local committees be transformed into a genuinely revolutionary government or assembly.52

While this unwillingness to create a coordinating revolutionary authority can, in part, be attributed to the ideology of the anarcho-syndicalist leadership, it also reflected the anti-power culture of the local working class. Indeed, the grassroots were largely concerned with power at street level and not with the creation of new structures. It is then difficult to talk of ‘dual power’, for there was a multiplicity of powers dispersed and located within discrete spatial scales, from the workplace and the neighbourhood to the city. Overall, there were three powers: the organs of the old state represented by the Generalitat, the CNT-FAI leadership, and the grassroots working class power of the local revolutionary and factory committees.53

Yet from July onwards, the political limitations of the revolution were obscured by popular triumphalism, a feeling that workers as a class had finally seized control of their history.54 As one shrewd activist commented: ‘Groups of men and women revealed in an obvious, almost scandalous, form, the joy of victors; as if everything was done and completed, when in reality the most difficult and important work had not yet even begun’.55 Triumphalism was exuded on the streets, where workers enjoyed new freedoms following the displacement of the state apparatus that had previously regulated access to public space. As one worker put it: ‘the streets belonged to us’.56 Activists, in particular, were intoxicated by their new feelings of power in the street, factory and working-class neighbourhoods, which they interpreted as the definitive victory over their enemies: they put faith in the invincibility of the ‘people in arms’, and they ostentatiously displayed their new-found weaponry, one of the most important symbols of working-class power, along with the cars confiscated from the well-to-do, in a carnival-like atmosphere that was fuelled by a popular feeling of liberation. Armed proletarian power appeared supreme, and many confused their victory over the military with the triumph of the revolution. Meanwhile, the introduction of compulsory unionisation allowed the CNT to regain the strength it had enjoyed in 1931 and more: by March 1937, membership had reached unprecedented levels, the Catalan organisation alone claiming 1.2 million members.57 In these circumstances, one anarchist leader commented that ‘To overpower the CNT in Barcelona could only be the dream of madmen’.58

The appearance of proletarian triumph was amplified at an everyday level because the dominant structures and collective symbols of bourgeois power and rank, such as money, ties and suits, were displaced by new working-class symbols and motifs. Amid a general proletarianisation of everyday life, hats and ties became far less evident on the streets as working-class dress was adopted by many prudent members of the elite and the middle classes, particularly those with something to hide, along with members of the clergy, who borrowed clothes from servants and sympathetic workers in an attempt to evade ‘revolutionary justice’. In some extreme cases, the rich emulated the dress of radical anarchists and milicianos.59 The red-and-black colours of the CNT-FAI, one of the new signifiers of urban power, were very much in evidence: they were on huge flags draped over occupied buildings; they hung from balconies; they were painted on collectivised trams and figured on the caps, scarves and badges sold on stalls on the Rambles.60 The visual aspect of the city seemed to confirm the arrival of a new workers’ democracy— buildings, palaces and hotels were adorned with banner slogans and the portraits of revolutionary leaders, and the walls became a popular tribune, decorated with propaganda, graffiti, fly-posters and manifestos, a democratic display of knowledge at street level.

Until May 1937, when the central republican state reasserted its authority, the district revolutionary committees allowed local communities to take control of the built environment and exercise new power over everyday life. As the committees set about addressing the immediate problems facing the barris, a new set of social relations and solidaristic practices was instituted. For instance, in the immediate aftermath of the coup, with the shops closed and with industry and commerce paralysed, the district revolutionary committees formed comités de aprovisionamiento (distribution committees) to organise food distribution in the barris. In practice, armed groups expropriated essential foodstuffs and clothes from shops and warehouses, which were then distributed in the barris by local revolutionary committees. In a further attempt to simplify food provision, and reflecting the same experience of neighbourhood democracy that underpinned the 1931 rent strike, a network of communal eating houses (comedores populares) was founded by the local committees and the city’s unions, which distributed vouchers that entitled recipients to meals.

Ironically, the urban revolutionary fiesta started on the streets on 21 July, the same day that the anarchist leaders agreed to share power in the CCMA with the other Popular Front parties. Groups of workers, frequently organised through the local revolutionary committees, as well as union and political groups, occupied elite neighbourhoods, Church property, business offices, hotels and the palaces of the rich.61 This pattern was repeated across the city, with anti-fascist groups and even small groups of anarchists occupying the houses of the well-to-do.62 Consequently, at the very moment that the CNT-FAI leadership committed itself to collaborating with democratic forces, it was confronted by a revolution of its grassroots supporters.

The urban changes were most dramatic in the case of Laietana Way, the business avenue that had been the pride of the local bourgeoisie. Renamed Durruti Way following the death of the legendary Catalan anarchist leader in November 1936 on the Madrid front, this avenue became a signifier of the new power of the revolutionary organisations—the Banc d’Espanya building was occupied by the CNT63, and Casa Cambó, formerly the head office of the Federació Patronal Catalana, the main Catalan employers’ association, became known as Casa CNT-FAI, the nerve centre of the Barcelona anarchist and union movements; when the CNT Construction Union extended the Casa CNT-FAI and office space was given to the IWA, the international federation of anarcho-syndicalist unions, this building was converted into a centre for world revolution.64 Laietana Way also reflected the changing nature of repressive power in Barcelona: before the revolution, the city’s main police station was located there; after July, armed working-class bodies like the CNT’s defence committee occupied an office block on this street, while the servicios de investigación (investigation services), a kind of workers’ police, was based in the nearby Casa CNT-FAI. The July revolution therefore allowed for the reclamation and reoccupation by the working class of a space from which it had been expelled in the 1900s, in direct opposition to the bourgeois strategy of spatial marginalisation and exclusion.65

As far as the material and economic achievements of the revolutionary city, these dated from 27 July, when the CNT called for a return to work, prompting a second wave of occupations of factories and workplaces as workers seized control of the means of production.66 Around 3,000 enterprises were collectivised in Barcelona alone.67 No revolutionary group called for the expropriation of the bourgeoisie; rather, workers’ control was a grassroots response in the many workplaces where managers and owners had either fled the city or been killed. At the same time, there were employers and senior managers, particularly those with technical knowledge and skills, who remained in many workplaces, earning salaries equivalent to those of the workers.68

The transformation of workplaces followed the anarchists’ organic view of social relations, according to which the end of alienated labour presupposed transcending the artificial frontiers erected within the capitalist city between the social and the economic and between work and leisure. Prominent here were attempts to end the physical separation of work and community. Créches were founded in big factories, allowing women to emerge from the domestic sphere and participate in the workplace. In some workplaces, ambitious educational programmes were introduced, including day classes in general education and foreign languages, which coincided with breaks in production. Libraries were also established in factories, permitting workers to broaden their intellectual horizons while at work and further harmonising the social and economic aspects of everyday life. However, as has been demonstrated by Michael Seidman, the demands of the civil war and the acceptance by the CNT-FAI leadership of a productivist ideology aimed at maximising war production seriously undermined these initiatives and resulted in continuing workplace alienation.69

Greater success was achieved with the expansion of the city’s urban services after July, when the possibility arose of addressing longstanding demands for new forms of collective consumption by organising welfare, housing and urban social services more closely in line with the practical needs of communities. Even hostile sources acknowledged that the revolution brought an increase in social services.70 Spaces constructed for the exclusive use of the bourgeoisie were collectivised and used for solidaristic ends. The social priorities of the revolutionary city were reflected in the changing function of hotels, such as the Barcelona Ritz, which became Hotel Gastronómico no. 1, a communal eating house under union control providing meals for members of the militia, the urban dispossessed from poor inner-city barris, cabaret artists and factory workers.71 In a further attempt to open up and humanise elite spaces, a canteen serving meals to members of the local community was established in a former office of the employers’ association.72 Private homes of members of the elite were also converted into public restaurants or into housing for the homeless, refugees and the aged, and for those who lived in overcrowded accommodation. Meanwhile, special committees were established at neighbourhood level to provide work opportunities for the unemployed, particularly in building programmes. For the remaining jobless, the new system of distribution in the revolutionary city entitled them to food from neighbourhood stores and to eat in public canteens. This assistance to the unemployed ensured that begging was largely eradicated after July.73

More ambitious still was the extension of medical services. One of the immediate concerns of the local revolutionary committees in July was the organisation of medical care for wounded street fighters. This was followed by a concerted drive to improve medical services in working-class districts in a bid to overcome the huge differentials between the barris and the elite neighbourhoods. By July 1937, therefore, in addition to the many local medical centres located in houses once owned by the rich, six new hospitals had been established.74


Figure 8.3 Hotel Gastronómico no. 1, formerly the Barcelona Ritz, one of the many communal eating houses established after July 1936
Source: Francesc Bonamusa, Pere Gabriel, Josep Lluís Martin Ramos and Josep Termes, História Gràfica del Moviment Obrer a Catalunya, Barcelona, 1989, p. 314

Another great success was the huge expansion of educational provision, a mission that was very much in keeping with the anarchist maxim that knowledge is an essential precondition for liberation. Barely a week after the suppression of the military rising, on 27 July, a Generalitat decree established the CENU (Consell de l’Escola Nova Unificada or Council for the New Unified School), a new educational authority that was greatly inspired by anarchist pedagogues. It was located in a former religious college in a huge building in central Barcelona, and the accent of its educational message was on class consciousness, on forging ‘active agents’ who could struggle consciously against oppression. In the first five months of revolution, the number of children in school in l’Hospitalet doubled to 8,000.75 During the same period, over 20,000 new school places were established in Barcelona, creating a right to education that had never existed previously. By the spring of 1937, the CENU was coordinating the activities of 4,700 teachers in over 300 schools across Catalonia.76

While the CNT Construction Union built some new schools, most were located in confiscated buildings. Church schools and convents became places of secular learning: one former seminary became the Universidad Obrera (Workers’ University), while some churches were adapted as schools by the Construction Union.77 Public libraries and schools were founded in the houses of the rich, their private book collections routinely socialised and amalgamated to form new public or school libraries. Reflecting the moral stance of the CNT, one school was established in a former dance hall.78 In what was a continuation of the pre-civil war cultural initiatives of the CNT-FAI, the anarchists extended their adult education classes in the neighbourhood ateneus, many of which were able to increase their activities and reach growing numbers of people by either moving to buildings once owned by the rich or the Church or by expanding their former premises.

The urban revolution also entailed the creative destruction of the old markers of power, rank and privilege in what constituted both an assertion of revolutionary power over the cityscape and an attempt to establish a non-hierarchical landscape. On a symbolic level, urban reference points, such as the street names that previously honoured aristocrats, bankers, monarchs, virgins and saints, were changed to acknowledge revolutionary heroes such as Engels, Kropotkin, the Chicago and the Montjuïc martyrs and Spartacus, popular literary figures like Dostoyevsky, or, in the case of Social Revolution Street, simply as a tribute to the revolution. Other spaces were named after those who fell in the fight against fascism, such as ‘The Square of the Unknown Militiaman’.79 Other symbolic reference points of the old urban order, such as bourgeois monumentalism, were similarly destroyed in a radical reform of the built environment. In the days following the July street fighting, the monument to Count Güell, one of the most illustrious members of the Barcelona bourgeoisie, was redecorated with paint and given a new graffiti dedication ‘To the victims of the military rising’ (Victimes 19 Juliol).80 Other statues with elite significance were removed, such as the monument to the monarchist General Prim, which was taken by members of the anarchist youth movement and melted down for use in the war industries.81

The motor car was one bourgeois status symbol that was joyfully appropriated by revolutionaries. In what was the first revolution in the motor age, nearly all of the hostile accounts of the revolutionary period emphasise the irrationality of those workers who seized the cars of the rich, crudely daubing the vehicles with the initials CNT-FAI before destroying them—and occasionally the lives of the occupants—in traffic accidents caused either by the dangerous driving of ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’ men or by lack of driving experience.82 But revolutionary motoring possessed its own logic. In the first instance, the destruction of cars reflected a desire to usher in a new set of spatial relations as well as resistance to the attempts by the local and central republican authorities to impose a new urban order of controlled consumption, consisting of new rules of circulation and traffic lights designed to improve the flow of capital and goods. That many sets of traffic lights were destroyed during the July street fighting, along with the readiness of revolutionaries to ignore the remaining ones, can be interpreted as a protest against the changing rhythms of the capitalist city, a defiance anchored in a working-class culture that had long defined itself in terms of its hostility towards mechanised and capitalised forms of transport such as trams and cars, which threatened the intimate social geography of the barris. Indeed, in contrast to members of the elite, workers had a more direct relationship with the streets, and they experienced urban life very differently, as we saw in Chapter 2.

On another level, once news of the rising broke, it was rational that armed workers should seize cars, for not only did this enhance their mobility in the struggle against the insurgents, it also simultaneously prevented the same cars from being used by counterrevolutionaries.83 It seems most likely that cars were marked with the initials CNT-FAI not for purposes of identification at barricades, since it would be easy for counterrevolutionaries to do the same, but as a symbol of the workers’ victory over the old order and their conquest of the icons of bourgeois privilege. For revolutionary motorists, cars were a thrilling demonstration of their new power over their everyday lives, and it was inevitable that some would derive pleasure from that power through play. It was these games that, in the words of one observer of revolutionary urban behaviour, converted Barcelona into an ‘improvised driving school’, ‘a cemetery for cars’.84 Equally, the destruction of cars can be viewed as just one example of the ascetic thrust of the Spanish revolution, a proletarian anti-consumerist iconoclasm directed at an important element in the nascent system of consumer capitalism. Meanwhile, even though there may have been much reckless driving during the revolution, traffic accidents were hardly new, and before and after the revolution motoring skills and road safety in the city were the cause of much concern. Yet perhaps more than anything, the condemnations of revolutionary motoring underscored the sense of anguish of the elite at the demise of bourgeois control of the city.85 In this respect, the trepidation caused by ‘the cars of fear and death’86 used to transport many former car owners on paseos is utterly comprehensible.87

The urban revolution presupposed the destruction of certain elements of the architecture of state repression. One poignant example was the women’s prison on Amalia Street, in the Raval. Previously the city’s main jail and the site of executions in the nineteenth century, a substantial part of its population consisted of poor female workers who, through economic misfortune, had turned to prostitution. Staffed by nuns with a reputation for brutality and inquisitorial practices, for many workers the women’s prison was a particularly despised symbol of the tyranny and obscurantism of the old order. Inevitably, then, on 19 July, when the street fighting had barely ended, the prison was stormed by a crowd that led the detainees to freedom. Once empty, members of the local community demolished part of the jail. In an attempt to humanise the building, the red-and-black CNT flag was flown over the jail and a sign outside announced: This torture house was closed by the people, July 1936’.88 Later, at an assembly of the anarcho-feminist group Mujeres Libres (Free Women), a decision was taken to demolish the jail; this was acted upon by members of the Construction Union on 21 August.89

Other spaces that contained memories of the repression of yesteryear were closed down, such as the Asil Durán, a church-run borstal synonymous in the barris with the torture and abuse, sometimes sexual, of its working-class male internees.90 Also, in what was both an affirmation of proletarian memory and an attack on official memory, armed groups destroyed the court archives and the management records of the Barcelona Tram Company, where a few hundred workers had been victimised after a long and bitter strike that ended just a few months before the revolution.91

Consistent with the culture of working class resistance to the spatial logic of bourgeois control in the city and betraying signs of earlier protest repertoires, those deemed responsible for the military coup were punished through the destruction of their property.92 There are numerous reports of crowds sacking and destroying the homes of the rich and right-wing politicians, as well as Italian and German economic interests.93 Reliable sources, including several hostile eye-witness accounts, attest to the orderly nature of these protests.94 There was also a normative element to these actions. For instance, following an attack on the offices of an Italian shipping company on the Rambles, property and furniture was emptied onto the street along with a sign that read: ‘This furniture is the property of foreigners who disgraced themselves. Don’t you disgrace yourselves by taking it’.95 Italy


Figure 8.4 Workers burning property, July 1936. One of the many horses to perish in the street flghting can also be seen here.
Source: Ateneu Enciclopèdic Popular

Perhaps the most controversial example of creative destruction was directed at Church property. The repression of the Church was a unique aspect of the Spanish revolution. In most parts of Barcelona, the local revolutionary committees organised the initial offensive against the Church during ‘days of smoky justice’.96 A succession of observers, both foreign and native, have, from diverse political perspectives, highlighted the deliberate nature of the crowds that transformed religious spaces. Thus the Austrian sociologist Franz Borkenau described a church burning in central Barcelona as ‘an administrative business’, with the fire brigade on hand to prevent fire spreading to adjoining buildings.97 There was a strong politico-moral element to the assault on the organised Church: a member of an anticlerical crowd invited Stansbury Pearse, a Barcelona-based English businessmen, to join an attack on a church in the name of the ‘humanity of the people’.98 That crowds were not motivated by personal gain was borne out by their disregard for money and valuable items, which were frequently burned or discarded. We can also assume that the crowds were fully conscious of their actions, since on 21 July the CNT forbade the sale of alcohol.99 Furthermore, the fate of some churches was decided at community assemblies.100 Equally, once it had been agreed that churches were to be protected, efforts were taken on the ground to ensure that they were not attacked.101 Few church buildings were therefore destroyed (a 1937 republican government report concluded that only thirteen of 236 ecclesiastical structures had been demolished in Barcelona).102

Most of the destructive activity focused on collective symbols of worship. Many of the fires organised by anti-clerical crowds took place outside churches and saw the burning of these church symbols, along with paintings and furniture, such as pews. Although some treasures were destroyed, the desecration of church murals and art reflected the overwhelming popular desire to eliminate what were perceived as collective symbols of the oppressive old order. Meanwhile, there is evidence that revolutionary groups made a concerted effort to save items of artistic value, and ‘technical commissions’ were formed to assess the contents of churches.103 Religious art previously confined to the catacombs was placed in museums and exhibited, while the libraries of Catholic settlements were dispatched to schools and other educational establishments. Although confiscated Church gold was used to fund the republican war effort, and church bells were melted down by the war industries, efforts were taken to preserve items of cultural or historical value.104

The invasion of the churches was frequently accompanied by a popular sacrophobic fiesta. In what might be described as a set of anti-clerical counter-rituals, workers donned vestments and robes and carried liturgical objects to burlesque religious practices in mock masses, ceremonies and processions, all of which caused much hilarity among the crowds that gathered to view such spectacles.105 Holy statues were a particular target for derision; some were decked out in militia uniforms, while others were publicly destroyed, decapitated and even executed by firing squads. On a more macabre level, tombs were frequently profaned. Mummified bodies were displayed outside churches for public scrutiny and ridicule, and skulls were used to adorn altars and for games of street football.106 There was also an effort to eliminate references to religion in everyday life, the farewell ‘adios’ being replaced by ‘salut’.107

Despite the attention that has been devoted to church burning and desecration, most church property was expropriated by local revolutionary committees, trade unions and political parties and then designated for new uses. In what constituted a radical resumption of the process of the disentitlement and civil utilisation of church property that started in the first part of the nineteenth century, many religious buildings were used for a variety of secular purposes, such as public canteens, schools, community and refugee centres, warehouses, workshops, militia recruiting stations, and detention and interrogation centres.108 The reallocation of Church property was eminently rational: it responded to a plan to overcome deficits in the built environment by converting what anti-clericals regarded as spaces of darkness and obscurantism into spaces of light and reason. Thus in one barri the local church was converted into a cinema. Elsewhere, confession boxes were used as newspaper kiosks, market stalls and bus shelters, while later in the civil war, church crypts were converted into air raid shelters in response to the real danger of air attack.109

The assault on the Church was governed by an overarching project: to launch a mortal blow against the bourgeois traditionalist public sphere by collapsing the foundations of the principle transmitter of elite ideology.110 For revolutionaries, the ‘religious problem’ required emphatic action to ‘purify’ society of the ‘plague of religion’ by ‘destroying the Church as a social institution’.111 In this way, apparently petty or vindictive acts of profanity, such as the ridiculing of icons and the radical subversion of the ecclesiastical ritual on which Catholic practice was based, demonstrated that the Church had been conquered by a new power and that human beings could take control of their lives and destroy the alienating force of religion. Similarly, the storming of churches signified the popular triumph over one of the key elements of the landscape of power. Even the most extreme sacrophobic violence, such as the mass elimination of priests, can be viewed in terms of this conscious project to extinguish organised religion, thereby freeing city space from corrupting clerical influences and forging a new space without religion.

There is a consensus among specialists on anti-clericalism that no single factor can explain the scale of the violence after July 1936.112 Certainly, short-term political factors played a part: the willingness to punish the Church for its support of the old regime and its later contribution to political instability during the Republic. Then, once the civil war began, Church support for the insurgents led the clergy to be regarded as a military enemy. Yet the iconoclasm of the war was part of a long history of popular blasphemy in Spain, which had reportedly found an echo in the vox populi.113 Equally, the burning of churches and other subversive practices had figured in the protest repertoire of the Barcelona working class since the 1830s and, right up until the civil war, were nourished by the liberal proletarian secular culture propagated by republicans, socialists and anarchists.114

One explanatory factor that has generally been overlooked in any analysis of anticlericalism is the cultural frames of local workers.115 In the popular mind, as we saw in Chapter 2, the Church, which had long justified the status quo and called on the lowly to accept as divine will the suffering that accompanied their social position, was synonymous with reactionary causes. Furthermore, as in the 1909 anti-clerical riots, as a major landowner and financial power, the Church was closely identified with the state and the urban and agrarian elites, a vision that was not dispelled by the vociferous opposition of the clergy to trade unions, both in their publications and from the pulpit.116 Moreover, many workers, as we saw in Chapter 1, had direct experience of the ‘persecutory religiosity’117 of the clergy in a range of institutions, such as schools, hospitals, workhouses, orphanages and borstals, in which the inefficient central state allowed the Church to play a prominent role.118 For many workers, therefore, the attack on the Church after July 1936 signalled an end to the intrusive presence of the clergy in their everyday lives and a blow against a hated structure of oppression.

Yet in some areas of everyday life the effects of the revolution were more muted. The survival and accommodation of some urban rhythms and cultural traditions within the new city caused consternation among the more puritanical revolutionaries. Take, for instance, the inability of the revolution to completely overturn gender relations. Although Spain’s first female cabinet minister, the anarcho-feminist Montseny, ensured that women attained formal legal equality with men, as well as the right to divorce and abortion on demand, male attitudes were slow to change. Many of the daily impediments to the full participation of women in social and political life continued during the revolution: cafes and bars remained male spaces; even by day women faced sexual harassment on the streets and on public transport, and many young women still went chaperoned in public.119 In part, this reflected the logic of Popular Frontism, which relegated profound social transformation to an indeterminate date in the future. Yet equally relevant was the adherence to traditional gender values by many within the democratic camp, such as the Generalitat, which employed sexualised images of women to mobilise men for the militias.120 Similar criticisms can be levelled against the main— male-led—revolutionary groups. A foreign female revolutionary noted the sexual segregation at POUM meetings as well as a residual level of machismo among poumistas, who openly mocked militia women.121 For all their efforts to break with the culture of the ‘old Spain’, anarchists were not averse to rallying women to the anti-fascist cause in ways that reaffirmed traditional female roles, such as ‘making socks, scarves and winter clothes for our militiamen’.122 Meanwhile, Montseny, often seen as the doyenne of anarcho-feminism, justified the flirtatious remarks (piropos) made by the militiamen guarding Casa CNT-FAI to passing women, even suggesting that women might find them pleasant!123 This ambivalence is further witnessed in the failure of the anarchist movement to close Barcelona’s brothels after the July revolution, something that was easily within its power. While the more radical sections of the anarchist movement insisted that the revolution lacked all meaning if prostitution was allowed to continue, other anarchists, including some of the CNT-FAI leadership, who were known to visit prostitutes, appreciated the importance of an outlet for the sexual energies of male factory workers and militiamen on leave. A similar pragmatism prevailed among the CNT-FAI rank and file, and anarchist militiamen were regularly spotted in the large queues that formed outside the city’s remaining brothels.124

8.2 The end of the revolution

Notwithstanding the profound revolutionary energies and impulses of the barris, the revolution was an incomplete revolution. Central to the weaknesses of the revolution, both in Catalonia and indeed elsewhere in the Republican zone, was its failure to generate an overarching institutional structure capable of coordinating the war effort and simultaneously harmonising the activities of the myriad workers’ collectives. In political terms, the revolution was underdeveloped and inchoate. Apart from the ephemeral Federación de barricadas, the revolution in Barcelona failed to generate any revolutionary institution. As we have seen, the anarchists had a doctrinal opposition to the state, and they baulked at fashioning new organs of political power in July, while the POUM—the only party to raise the slogan of a ‘revolutionary state’—was weakened by its limited influence and its political ambivalence and contradictions.125 This unresolved question of political power created an inherently unstable situation; it also signified the political limits, and indeed the limitations, of the revolution in Catalonia and in Spain. Consequently, the initial revolutionary push of July–August 1936 was not built upon; it represented the apogee of the revolution, as workers’ power remained fragmented and atomised on the streets, dispersed among a multitude of comités without any coordination at regional or national level.

It is frequently noted that the collectivist project was undermined by the dilemmas of ‘war versus revolution’ that dominated the republican camp during the civil war.126 Yet in the classic debate of war versus revolution, the revolution side of the equation was always in a position of weakness. Perforce the logic of the war dictated the creation of some kind of centralised authority geared towards directing the struggle against the antirepublican generals and their Italian fascist and German Nazi backers.127 In the absence of a revolutionary political structure, it was the bourgeois republican state that increasingly played a coordinating role during the civil war. Although eclipsed by the power of the proletarian-dominated CCMA during July and August, the Generalitat and the republican state survived the revolution and continued to enjoy a legal existence.

Remarkably, the anarchist hierarchy consented to and connived at the reconstruction of the bourgeois state ‘from above’ for raisons de guerre. Having committed the CNT-FAI to a Popular Front policy of ‘democratic collaboration’ in July, the anarchist leadership was drawn ineluctably into an accommodation with existing political forces. This resulted in a series of compromises that facilitated the emergence of counter-revolutionary poles of power, culminating in the reconstitution of the old state and, simultaneously, in the erosion of the power of the local committees. In this respect, the period of the CCMA (July–September), when revolutionary fervour was at its height, constituted a breathing space for the supporters of republican authority during which the collapsed authority of the state was gradually strengthened to the detriment of the new grassroots forms of revolutionary power. Thus, in what was the first step towards the centralisation of power, the CCMA institutionalised new bodies like the distribution committees, assuming overall responsibility for food supply and the administration of justice, law and order and military defence, areas that had briefly fallen under the jurisdiction of the local revolutionary committees. While the local committees retained much importance and power, bodies such as the workers’ patrullas lost their autonomy.128

The next major compromise by the anarchist leaders came at the end of September. Following pressure from the ERC for the CCMA to be replaced by a reconstituted Generalitat, the CNT-FAI hierarchy embraced Companys’ offer of three cabinet posts within a new Popular Front-style government. When, on 26 September, the incumbent anarchist ministers took their posts in the Catalan government, they became bound through collective responsibility to the other Popular Front parties, including the middleclass republicans.129 While for internal reasons the CNT-FAI leaders dressed up their governmental role with a maximalist discourse, even portraying the Generalitat as a revolutionary body to the rank-and-file, they nevertheless fully accepted the collaborationist logic of the Popular Front, which involved containing the revolution in order to preserve wartime cabinet unity, or what one anarchist later described as the ‘antifascist pact’.130

Constrained by their ministerial commitments, the anarchist ministers became passive spectators as the revolutionary changes were eroded by the other Popular Front parties. In October 1936, the Generalitat issued two decrees that, on paper at least, affirmed the formal power of the state over the revolution. The first decree disbanded the anarchist dominated local revolutionary committees that emerged after July, replacing them with municipal councils (consells municipals) made up of all Popular Front parties.131 Meanwhile, a second decree ‘legalised’ the large revolutionary collectives, effectively bolstering the power of the Generalitat over the economy. While these centralising decrees were ignored in areas of revolutionary strength and/or where republican groups and the Popular Front parties were weak, they nevertheless guaranteed that ‘normality was re-established’ in the political sphere, as was noted by one leading republican.132 Having grasped the political nettle by joining the Generalitat, there was now nothing to stop the CNT-FAI entering central government in November. Solidaridad Obrera summed up the prevailing mood of reformism among the anarchist leaders, commenting that a government with anarchist ministers had ‘ceased to be a force for the oppression of the working class just as the state [was] no longer an organism that divides society into classes’.133 As the CNT-FAI hierachy became obsessed with high politics, it stood by as the POUM, the left-wing of the Generalitat, was expelled from the cabinet in December 1936. In return for an increase in CNT-FAI representation in government, the anarchist cabinet members accepted the exclusion of the POUM.134

The passivity of the anarchist hierarchy stood in sharp contrast to the aggression with which the most fervent supporters of the Popular Front pursued the reconstruction of the republican state. With the ERC discredited by its failure to prevent the July revolution and Companys’ apparent accommodation of the CNT-FAI, the PSUC emerged as ‘the champion of social conservatism’ and galvanised the opposition to the revolution.135 In contrast to the ERC, which relied on quiet diplomacy to curb the anarchists, the Stalinist PSUC possessed the political will to confront the revolutionary Left. Through their vociferous denunciations of the ‘disorder’ of revolution, the Stalinists articulated a new ideology of order and acquired a social constituency among the same intermediate urban sectors—small capitalists, shopkeepers and the Catalan police—that had been attracted to the ‘republic of order’ after 1931 and that had felt defenceless since the July revolution.136 Another major area of PSUC growth was among the rabassaires, the Catalan tenant farmers and small rural property owners, who were, ironically, the closest local equivalent to the kulaks. Thus, by the end of 1937, nearly 10,000 Catalan peasants were paid-up Communist Party members, accounting for over one-quarter of PSUC members.137 In order to coordinate the anti-revolutionary energies of their supporters, the psuquistes formed the GEPCI (Gremis i Entitats de Petits Comerciants i Industrials, or Federation of Small Traders and Manufacturers), a conservative pressure group made up of 18,000 shopkeepers and small traders, who petitioned for a return to free trade.138 While the social constituency of the PSUC made it a unique formation among the Comintern parties, given that the immense majority of Catalan workers were already organised by the CNT by the time of its creation, the middle classes and other intermediate strata organised within the GEPCI represented the only potential growth area for the new party. Moreover, because the propertied strata that entered the PSUC lacked any mobilising power in the streets and were accustomed to expressing themselves politically through conventional governmental channels, they were attracted to the Stalinist strategy for reconstructing the apparatus of the republican state.

In the first part of 1937, the CNT-FAI rank-and-file responded to the growing attacks on the revolution. The opposition to the Popular Front coagulated among the surviving local revolutionary committees, the CNT defence committees and the patrullas. It also acquired organised expression from sections of the anarchist and POUM youth movements, which organised a rally of 14,000 young revolutionaries in Barcelona in February 1937, prompting calls for a ‘Revolutionary Youth Front’ (Frente Revolucionario Juvenil).139 This upsurge of revolutionary feeling reflected the popular frustration that the socio-economic and political concessions made by the CNT-FAI leaders since July 1936 had not been converted into either significant foreign aid for the Republic or Soviet military aid to the revolutionary Catalan militias. There was also a material basis to this revolutionary opposition. The nascent protest movement galvanised around soaring inflation, which had pushed up the cost of certain basic foodstuffs by 100 percent in the six months of the civil war, much to the detriment of the poorest sectors of urban society. The revolutionaries attributed inflation to the avarice of the small capitalist interests organised in the GEPCI and protected by the PSUC, which, it was alleged, and not entirely without justification, were hoarding crops in an attempt to raise prices. Testifying to the rupture between the urban and the rural economies, armed workers’ groups from Barcelona, including members of the patrullas, initiated raids from the city to requisition crops from the countryside.140 Given the PSUC sponsorship of the rights of agrarian property holders, such activities inflamed tensions between the state security forces and armed workers’ groups.

Despite arguments for a ‘second revolution’,141 the revolutionary opposition never became more than a defensive movement, primarily concerned with checking the assault by a reconstituted republican state on the power of the local committees and the patrullas. However, even as a defensive alliance, the revolutionary opposition signified an open challenge to the reconstruction of state power. Thus, throughout the spring, the PSUC and republicans increased their political campaign against the local committees and the patrullas and for the right of the state to wield a monopoly of armed power and to control the working-class public sphere. In February, the Stalinists maintained the momentum of their campaign in favour of a ‘single authority’ by organising a protest by policemen against the patrullas.142 On the streets, meanwhile, the clashes between the patrullas and the Generalitat police became increasingly frequent as intermittent warfare erupted in Catalonia between the reorganised state forces and the dispersed revolutionary powers.143 Finally, at the end of April, the Generalitat decreed that the patrullas be disarmed, a measure that prompted a series of isolated gunfights between the members of the patrullas and the security forces as each of the two armed powers moved to disarm the other. According to the Generalitat, the level of tension in Barcelona was so great that it proved necessary to ban the May Day commemorations scheduled for the first weekend in May, a decision that, given the city’s proud working-class traditions, can equally be interpreted as a provocation by the government. Certainly, the prohibition of May Day rallies did nothing to dampen the conflicts on the streets between the rival armed powers as two days later the ‘civil war within the civil war’ erupted in Barcelona, on 3 May 1937.

The spark for the so-called ‘May Days’ was the attempt by the Catalan police to seize the telephone exchange, a move that brought to a head all the latent tensions between the two powers in Barcelona, sparking off four days of street fighting between the state police on the one hand and the patrullas, the POUM and anarchist militants from the local revolutionary committees on the other. Barcelona was divided: the barris were sealed off from the rest of the city by a network of barricades guarded by armed workers, while 2,000 policemen and armed PSUC units enjoyed an unstable grip over the main civic and administrative buildings in the city centre, such as the Generalitat Palace. Although the revolutionaries had the upper hand in Barcelona and in most of Catalonia, their mobilisations lacked coordination, so, while anarchist radicals and poumistas seized the streets and controlled working-class neighbourhoods, there was no organ capable of channelling the revolutionary energies against the state.144 In effect, then, the May 1937 struggles were a leaderless, spontaneous protest movement against the erosion of revolutionary power, which, like the popular uprising against the military coup the previous July, lacked a clear political focus. Meanwhile, the CNT-FAI leaders, who remained trapped within the logic of Popular Front collaborationism, adopted a conciliatory stance from the start of the fighting, eventually brokering a negotiated compromise designed to end the conflict and bring down the barricades.145

Companys’ assurances that there would be ‘neither victors nor vanquished’ after the ‘May Days’ proved empty.146 Afterwards, we see the definitive eradication of revolutionary power. With the remnants of the barricades still on the streets, the anarchist leaders were pushed onto the defensive when, much to their surprise, they were ejected from the Generalitat, just as the POUM had been six months earlier. The Catalan authorities no longer saw the need to consult the anarchist chiefs, who quickly appreciated that they had not extracted adequate political guarantees when brokering the truce that ended the May conflict. By calling for the barricades to be dismantled, the CNT-FAI leaders effectively negotiated away their main sources of power, which was in the streets. The remaining revolutionary committees were subsequently disbanded, their arms confiscated, by governmental decree and, when necessary, with violence. The power of the barris, like the revolution, was at an end. Lastly, the POUM was banned and repressed, legally and extra-judicially, as reflected by the fate of its leader, Andreu Nin, who was brutally tortured and murdered.

Revolution now became a distant dream, completely superseded by the war. This did not stop the city from being punished for its revolutionary ‘heresy’. During 1937–39, fascist air raids killed 2,428 people and destroyed around 1,500 buildings in the ‘city of evil’.147 Tellingly, the air raids were not entirely random or indiscriminate attacks on the urban fabric. Rather, terror from the skies focused on the barris, especially the Raval, Barceloneta and Poble Sec, regardless of whether these areas possessed any targets of military significance. Bourgeois neighbourhoods, by comparison, were largely unaffected.148 This targeted repression reached its height during the Franco dictatorship, when the working class bore the brunt of repressive state policies and when it became the policy of the regime to humiliate the proletarian city. While the city of the workers survived the long night of Francoism, the labour movement culture that emerged in the full light of day in the 1970s was markedly distinct from that which prevailed in the 1930s.

  • 1. A.Paz, Durruti en la Revolución española, Madrid, 1996, pp. 462–4.
  • 2. SO, 17 July 1936.
  • 3. Miró, Vida, p. 168
  • 4. A.Paz, Viaje al pasado (1936–1939), Barcelona, 1995, p. 19.
  • 5. On the streetfighting, see Llarch, Rojinegros, pp. 87–103 and Juan García Oliver, ‘Ce que fut le 19 de Juillet’, Le Libertaire, 18 August 1938.
  • 6. Le Libertaire, 18 August 1938.
  • 7. Llarch, Rojinegros, p. 96.
  • 8. A.Paz, 19 de Juliol del ‘36’ a Barcelona, Barcelona, 1988, pp. 76, 78, 85.
  • 9. Le Libertaire, 18 August 1938.
  • 10. Diluvio, 22 July 1936.
  • 11. Paz, Juliol, pp. 69–115; M.Cruells, La revolta del 1936 d Barcelona, Barcelona, 1976, pp. 155–214; Bueso, Recuerdos, Vol. 2, pp. 144–95; García, Eco, pp. 171–7.
  • 12. C.Ametlla, Catalunya, paradís perdut (la guerra civil i la revolució anarco-comunista), Barcelona, 1984, p. 92.
  • 13. Cited in H.Graham, The Spanish Republic at War, 1936–1939, Cambridge, 2002, p. 218.
  • 14. J.E.Adsuar, ‘El Comité Central de Milicies Antifeixistes’, L’Avenç, 14, 1979, pp. 50–6.
  • 15. F.Borkenau, ‘State and revolution in the Paris Commune, the Russian Revolution, and the Spanish Civil War’, The Sociological Review 29(1), 1937, pp. 41–75.
  • 16. García, Eco, pp. 177–94.
  • 17. LaV, 22 July 1936.
  • 18. C.Lorenzo, Los anarquistas españoles y el poder, Paris, 1972, 81–8; García, Eco, pp. 153– 293. The CCMA also had jurisdiction over the economy, the war industries and policing.
  • 19. H.Lefebvre, Le droit a la ville, Paris, 1968.
  • 20. SO, 24 July 1936.
  • 21. Paz, Viaje, pp. 23–4.
  • 22. For instance, a huge barricade prevented entry into the Raval from Paral.lel.
  • 23. Ametlla, Catalunya, p. 41.
  • 24. Letter from Benjamin Péret to André Breton, Barcelona, 11 August 1936, in B. Péret, Death to the Pigs: Selected Writings, London, 1988, p. 182; F.Borkenau, The Spanish Cockpit. An Eyewitness Account of the Political and Social Conflicts of the Spanish Civil War, London, 1937, p. 175; J.Langdon-Davies, Behind the Spanish Barricades, New York, 1936, pp. l 19, 126.
  • 25. Paz, Juliol, p. 87. For an analysis of the nature of popular power, see G.Munis, Jalones de derrota, promesa de victoria. Crítica y teoría de la Revolución Española, Bilbao, 1977, pp. 286–359.
  • 26. ‘Al pueblo de Barcelona’, joint CNT-UGT manifesto, September 1936.
  • 27. They were described as ‘governing committees’ (Comites Gobierno) (Lorenzo, Anarquistas), a point appreciated by elite commentators, who recognised their ‘unlimited power’ on the streets (A.Guardiola, Barcelona en poder del Soviet (el infierno rojo). Relato de un testigo, Barcelona, 1939, pp. 30, 47). Meanwhile, according to German sociologist, Franz Borkenau, Barcelona ‘overwhelmed me by the suddenness with which it revealed the real character of a workers’ dictatorship’ (Cockpit, p. 175).
  • 28. Bueso, Recuerdos, Vol. 2, p. 191.
  • 29. Paz, Viaje, pp. 71–2.
  • 30. Guardiola, Barcelona, p. 67; F.Lacruz, El alzamiento, la revolución y el terror en Barcelona (19 julio 1936–26 enero 1939), Barcelona, 1943, p. 138; C.Salter, Try-Out in Spain, New York, 1943, p. 18.
  • 31. J.M.Sànchez, The Spanish Civil War as a Religious Tragedy, Notre Dame, IN, 1987, p. 57; Borkenau, Cockpit, p. 75.
  • 32. J.Miravitlles, Gent que he conegut, Barcelona, 1980, p. 82.
  • 33. Noticiero, 27 July 1936; Lacruz, Alzamiento, p. 97; Paz, Viaje, p. 44.
  • 34. SO, 24 July 1936.
  • 35. M.Richards, A Time of Silence: Civil War and the Culture of Repression in Franco’s Spain, 1936–1945, Cambridge, 1998, pp. 31–2.
  • 36. Treball, 8 August 1936; Peirats, CNT, Vol. 1, pp. 211, 215; Abad, Memorias, pp. 220–1; Paz, Juliol, pp. 101–3.
  • 37. SO, 30 July 1936.
  • 38. García, Eco, pp. 229–30.
  • 39. Salter, Try-Out, p. 18.
  • 40. J.M.Solé i Sabaté and J.Villarroya i Font, La repressió a la reraguarda de Catalunya (1936– 1939), Barcelona, 1989, Vol. 1, p. 12.
  • 41. Solé and Villarroya, Repressió, Vol. 1, pp. 172, 450; J.de la Cueva, ‘Religious persecution, anticlerical tradition and revolution: on atrocities against the clergy during the Spanish Civil War’, Journal of Contemporary History 33, 1998, p. 358.
  • 42. J.Casanovas i Codina, ‘El testimoniatge d’un membre de les patrulles de control de Sants’, in La guerra i la revolució a Catalunya. II Col.loqui Internacional sobre la Guerra Civil Espanyola (1936–1939), Barcelona, 1986, pp. 51–9. Following complaints about a shopkeeper who was proflteering from food shortages, members of the militia and locals joined forces to destroy the shop of the offending trader (Noticiero, 27 July 1936).
  • 43. H.Kaminski, Los de Barcelona, Barcelona, 1976 [1937], p. 66.
  • 44. SO, 6 September 1936.
  • 45. Peiró, Perill, pp. 39–40.
  • 46. Solé and Villarroya, Repressió, Vol. 1, p. 347.
  • 47. Llarch, Rojinegros, pp. 126, 150–1; A.Monjo and C.Vega, Els treballadors i la guerra civil Història d’una indústria catalana col.lectivitzada, Barcelona, 1986, pp. 68–9.
  • 48. Beriain, Prat, pp. 52–3.
  • 49. T.Caballé y Clos, Barcelona roja. Dietario de la revolución (julio 1936–enero 1939), Barcelona, 1939, pp. 50–62.
  • 50. According to Paz, 8,000–10,000 activists in Barcelona followed neither the orders of the Central Committee of Anti-fascist Militias nor those of the ‘higher committees’ of the CNTFAI (Viaje, p. 64).
  • 51. Paz, Viaje, p. 28.
  • 52. According to Paz, Viaje, p. 64, the barricades ‘lacked a precise objective’. Only when the power of the revolution had faded did radical anarchists appreciate that the district revolutionary committees might have served as the focal point for local politics; see Ruta, 14 May 1937.
  • 53. Paz, Viaje p. 51.
  • 54. P.Broué, R.Fraser and P.Vilar, Metodología històrica de la Guerra y Revolución españolas, Barcelona, 1980, p. 39.
  • 55. Beriain, Prat, p. 86; Carrasco, Barcelona, p. 13.
  • 56. Antonio Turón interviewed in Vivir.
  • 57. CRT, Memoria del Congreso Extraordinario de la Confederación Regional del Trabajo de Cataluña celebrado en Barcelona los días 25 de febrero al 3 de marzo de 1937, Barcelona, 1937.
  • 58. Sanz, Sindicalismo, p. 306.
  • 59. Kaminski, Barcelona, p. 37; Lacruz, Alzamiento, p. 129; Salter, Try-Out, p. 29; Llarch, Rojinegros, pp. 127–8, 152.
  • 60. Borkenau, Cockpit, pp. 69–70; J.McNair, Spanish Diary, Manchester, n.d., p. 6. M.Low and J.Brea, Red Spanish Notebook, San Francisco, 1979 [1937], p. 21.
  • 61. In the city centre, the POUM occupied the Hotel Falcon, the Lyon d’Or cafe and the Virreina Palace on the Rambles; the anarchist youth established its HQ in the palace of an aristocrat who had fled to France (Bueso, Recuerdos, p. 190; Paz, Viaje, pp. 28, 76; Carrasco, Barcelona, p. 15).
  • 62. Paz, Viaje, p. 56.
  • 63. Solé and Villarroya, Repressió, Vol. 1, p. 290.
  • 64. Information provided by Manel Aisa Pàmpols.
  • 65. See López Sànchez, Verano, pp. 49–73.
  • 66. Paz, Viaje, p. 48.
  • 67. A.Castells Durán, Les col. lectivitzacions a Barcelona, 1936–1939, Barcelona, 1993.
  • 68. Perhaps as much as 50 percent of the bourgeoisie fled Barcelona (A.Souchy and P.Folgare, Colectivizaciones: la obra constructiva de la revolución española, Barcelona, 1977, p. 75).
  • 69. M.Seidman, Workers against Work. Labor in Paris and Barcelona during the Popular Fronts, Berkeley, Calif., 1991, passim.
  • 70. J.Palou Garí, Treinta y dos meses de esclavitud en la quefue zona roja de España, Barcelona, 1939, p. 30.
  • 71. Langdon-Davies, Barricades, pp. 119, 142. The Right was scandalised by the transformation of the Ritz; see ‘Schmit’, 5 meses con los rojos en Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, 1937, p. 26.
  • 72. Paz, Juliol p. 114.
  • 73. Low and Brea, Notebook, p. 19; Borkenau, Cockpit, p. 115; C.Santacana i Torres, Victoriosos i derrotats: el franquisme a I’Hospitalet, 1939–1951, Barcelona, 1994, p. 52.
  • 74. G.Leval, Collectives in the Spanish Revolution, London, 1975, pp. 269–70. Before the revolution, infant mortality rates in proletarian Raval were twice as high as in bourgeois parts of the city.
  • 75. Ideas, 29 December 1936.
  • 76. Miró, Vida, p. 287.
  • 77. Noticiero, 27 July 1936.
  • 78. Llarch, Rojinegros, pp. 121–2.
  • 79. Paz, Viaje pp. 56, 115; Caballé, Barcelona, pp. 85–6.
  • 80. Langdon-Davies, Barricades, plate 2.
  • 81. Paz, Viaje, p. 58; Caballé, Barcelona, p. 71.
  • 82. M.Laird, ‘A diary of revolution’, The Atlantic Monthly, November 1936, p. 524; Langdon- Davies, Barricades, pp. 119, 145; C.Pi Sunyer, La República y la guerra. Memorias de un político catalán, Mexico, 1975, p. 390; Salter, Try-Out, pp. 9–11; Guardiola, Barcelona, p. 39; Lacruz, Alzamiento, pp. 117–18; H.E.Knoblaugh, Correspondent in Spain, London, 1937, p. 33; Caballé, Barcelona, p. 11; Pérez, Terror, p. 9; ‘Schmit’, Barcelona, pp. 5–6.
  • 83. Salter, Try-Out, pp. 9–11.
  • 84. The Arenas bullring in the working-class barri of Sants was the resting place for wrecked cars in the days after the revolution (Carrasco, Barcelona pp. 21–2).
  • 85. Laird, ‘Diary’, pp. 524–6; Lacruz, Alzamiento, p. 129; Ametlla, Catalunya, p. 86.
  • 86. Llarch, Rojinegros, p. 120.
  • 87. Pi, República, p. 390; Guardiola, Barcelona, pp. 36, 39; Caballé, Barcelona, p. 11.
  • 88. Langdon-Davies, Barricades, p. 141.
  • 89. SO, 13 August 1936; Caballé, Barcelona, p. 44. Additional information provided by Manel Aisa Pàmpols.
  • 90. SO, 6 December 1932 and 8 August 1933.
  • 91. SO, 26 July 1936.
  • 92. On the survival of so-called ‘traditional’ forms of protest, see Pérez Ledesma, Estabilidad y conflicto social, pp. 165–202.
  • 93. The house of Pich i Pon, the COPUB president, was attacked, while property belonging to Emiliano Iglesias, the Radical Party leader in the city, and Cambó, leader of the bourgeois Lliga, was destroyed (SO, 26 July 1936; Caballé, Barcelona, pp. 32–4).
  • 94. Laird, ‘Diary’, p. 522; Borkenau, Cockpit, p. 74; Pi, República, p. 393; Lacruz, Alzamiento, p. 121; Palou, Esclavitud, pp. 143–4.
  • 95. P.O’Donnell, Salud! An Irishman in Spain, London, 1937, p. 100.
  • 96. Paz, Viaje, p. 42; Carrasco, Barcelona, p. 29.
  • 97. The Times, 23–24 July 1936; O’Donnell, Salud!, pp. 97–9, 151; E.A.Peers, Catalonia Infelix, London, 1937, pp. 258–9; Borkenau, Cockpit, p. 74.
  • 98. Stansbury Pearse declined the invitation ‘on the grounds that he was an Englishman’! (‘Spain: the truth’, The Tablet, 15 August 1936, pp. 203–4).
  • 99. Carrasco, Barcelona, p. 15.
  • 100. P.O’Donnell, ‘An Irishman in Spain’, The Nineteenth Century, December 1936, p. 704.
  • 101. On the walls of some churches was written: ‘Respect this building! It belongs to the people!’ (I.Gríful, A los veinte años de aquello, julio-diciembre de 1936, Barcelona, 1956, p. 33).
  • 102. A.Balcells, ‘El destí dels ediflcis eclesiàstics de Barcelona durant la guerra civil espanyola’, in A.Balcells (ed.), Violència social i poder politic. Sis estudis històrics sobre la Catalunya contemporània, Barcelona, 2001, pp. 202–9.
  • 103. Langdon-Davis, Barricades, pp. 177–8.
  • 104. Balcells, ‘Edificis’, p. 191.
  • 105. O’Donnell, ‘lrishman’, pp. 701, 704–5.
  • 106. Between 23 and 25 July, 40,000 People Filed past the Iglesia De La Enseñanza on Aragó Street to Inspect the Disinterred and Partly Mummified Bodies of Clerics (Pérez, Terror, Pp. 18–21).
  • 107. G.Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, London, 1938, p. 3.
  • 108. Beriain, Prat, p. 55; Solé and Villarroya, Repressió, Vol. 1, pp. 102, 289; Balcells, ‘Edificis’, p. 191.
  • 109. Balcells, ‘Edificis’, pp. 202, 207, 209.
  • 110. SO, 15 August 1936.
  • 111. Carrasco, Barcelona, pp. 13, 27; SO, 30 July and 20 August 1936; LaB, 19 August 1936; LaV, 2 August 1936.
  • 112. M.Pérez Ledesma, ‘Studies on anticlericalism in contemporary Spain’, International Review of Social History 46, 2001, pp. 227–55; Sànchez, Tragedy, pp. 23–4.
  • 113. M.Delgado, La ira sagrada: anticlericalismo, iconoclastia y antirritualismo en la España contemporánea, Barcelona, 1992, pp. 71–9.
  • 114. Alvarez Junco, Emperador, pp. 397–418.
  • 115. D.Castro Alfín, ‘Cultura, política y cultura política en la violenci
    a anticlerical’, in R.Cruz and M.Pérez Ledesma (eds), Cultura y movilización en la España contemporánea, Madrid, 1997, p. 70.
  • 116. J.Estivill and G.Barbat, ‘L’anticlericalisme en la revolta popular del 1909’, L’Avenç 2, 1977, p. 35.
  • 117. G.Ranzato, ‘Dies Irae. La persecuzione religiosa nella zona repubblicana durante la Guerra civile spagnola (1936–1939)’, Movimento operaio e socialista 2, 1988,p. 195.
  • 118. J.Estivill and G.Barbat, Anticléricalisme populaire en Catalogne au début du siècle’, Social Compass 28, 1980, pp. 219, 225.
  • 119. Miró, Vida, p. 195; Kaminski, Barcelona, p. 61; Borkenau, Cockpit, p. 73; Low and Brea, Notebook, p. 61.
  • 120. One recruiting poster carried an image of a woman in tight-fitting dungarees uttering the slogan ‘Les milicies us necessiten!’ (‘The militias need you!’), representing, in the words of one British observer, ‘the hiring of Aphrodite to help the work of Ares, which I had always felt to be hitting below the belt’ (Langdon-Davies, Barricades, p. 156).
  • 121. Low and Brea, Notebook, pp. 47, 181, 186–7.
  • 122. Carrasco, Barcelona, p. 81.
  • 123. Kaminski, Barcelona, pp. 36, 63.
  • 124. Ruta, 28 November 1936; Low and Brea, Notebook, pp. 196–7.
  • 125. LaB, 6 August and 17 September 1936, 1 May 1937.
  • 126. C.Ealham, ‘The Spanish Revolution: 60 Years On’, Tesserae. Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies 2, 1996, pp. 209–34.
  • 127. In his oral history of the civil war, Ronald Fraser observed that ‘power, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Even more so in the crucible of a civil war which is the politics of class struggle risen to the extreme of armed conflict’: Blood of Spain. The Experience of Civil War, 1936– 1939, London, 1979, p. 180.
  • 128. Casanovas i Codina, ‘Testimoniatge’, pp. 51–9.
  • 129. P.Pages, Andreu Nin: su evolución política (1911–1937), Madrid, 1975, pp. 223–66; F.Bonamusa, Andreu Nin y el movimiento comunista en España (1930–1937), Barcelona, 1977, pp. 289–96, 305–13.
  • 130. LaB, 23 September, 1 and 24 October 1936; SO, 27–29 September 1936; Josep Costas, cited in M.Sànchez et al., Los sucesos de mayo de 1937, una revolución en la República, Barcelona, 1988, p. 48.
  • 131. Butlettí Oficial de la Generalitat, 17 October 1936.
  • 132. A.Ossorio y Gallardo, Vida y sacrificio de Lluís Companys, Buenos Aires, 1943, p. 172.
  • 133. SO, 4 November 1936.
  • 134. SO, 16–17 December 1936; Diari de Barcelona, 9 and 16 December 1936; La Humanitat, 13 December 1936.
  • 135. Martin, Agony, p. 399.
  • 136. M.Benavides, Guerray revolución en Cataluña, Mexico, 1978, p. 220.
  • 137. A.Mayayo i Artal, ‘Els militants: els senyals lluminosos de I’organització’, L’Avenç 95, 1986, p. 46; V.Alba, História del Marxisme a Catalunya, 1919–1939, Barcelona, 1974, Vol. 2, p. 287.
  • 138. Munis, Jalones, p. 298; B.Bolloten, The Spanish Civil War. Revolution and Counterrevolution, Hemel Hempstead, 1991, pp. 84, 396–7. According to the semi-offical history of the CNT, ‘in Catalonia, communism converted itself into the receptacle of the demands of the small bourgeoisie, little artesans and shopkeepers and especially, the little landowners of the Catalan countryside’: Peirats, CNT, Vol. 2, p. 127.
  • 139. Ruta, 16 February–9 March 1937; Nosotros, 9 and 14 April 1937; Acracia, 10 and 28 April 1937; Ideas, 7 January and 11 March 1937.
  • 140. Diari de Barcelona, 8 January and 9 February 1937; LaB, 1 and 5 January 1937.
  • 141. Agrupación Amigos de Durruti, Hacia la segunda revolución, n.p., n.d.
  • 142. Diari de Barcelona, 9 February 1937; Cruells, Societat, p. 233.
  • 143. H.Graham, ‘“Against the state”: a genealogy of the Barcelona May Days (1937)’, European History Quarterly 29(1), 1999, pp. 485–542.
  • 144. Los Amigos de Durruti, a dissident anarchist group, issued a number of slogans from the barricades, but it lacked the influence to challenge the conciliatory stance of the CNT-FAI hierarchy See Frank Mintz and Miguel Peciña, Los amigos de durruti, los trotsquistas y los sucesos de mayo, Madrid, 1978, and Agustín Guillamón, ‘Los Amigos de Durruti, 1937– 1939’, Balance 3, 1994.
  • 145. There are no reliable figures for the casualties of the ‘May events’, and estimates vary from 235 to 1,000 deaths and 1,000 to 4,500 wounded: Huertas, Obrers, p. 273; Alba, Marxisme, Vol. 2, p. 227; D.Abad de Santillán, Por qué perdimos la guerra, Buenos Aires, 1940, p. 138. The lower estimate seems more accurate.
  • 146. Cited in P.Broué, La revolución española, Barcelona, 1977, p. 135.
  • 147. J.Villarroya i Font, Els bombardeigs de Barcelona durant la guerra civil (1936–1939), Barcelona, 1981; J.Langdon-Davies, ‘Bombs over Barcelona’, The Spectator, 14 July 1938.
  • 148. J.Gomis, Testigo de poca edad (1936–1943), Barcelona, 1968, pp. 40, 77, 96–7.