A short biography of Italian anarchist and Spanish Civil War fighter Bruno Salvadori, alias Antoine or Antonio Gimenez.
Alias Antoine or Antonio Gimenez, born 14 December 1910, Italy, died 26 December 1982, France
Bruno Salvadori was born on 14th December 1910 at Chiani, in the province of Pisa in Italy. His father worked in public works (Bridges and Highways). He fought in the First World War and died in Lyons, France. His mother and his 2 sisters lived in Livorno in 1919, meeting up with his father who was working near Venice for the holidays.
Around about 12-13 years old during 1922-3 he came in contact with the anarchists in Livorno as a result of the street battles with the Blackshirts. He briefly met famous anarchist Errico Malatesta, and was initiated into anarchist ideas. He devoured the works of Peter Kropotkin and Malatesta, the poems of Pietro Gori and “an infinity of pamphlets”. His mother died as a result of a liver condition around 1928 towards the end of his adolescence. This had a traumatic effect on him.
He moved to Marseilles at the beginning of 1930. He was expelled back to Italy in October of the same year, to do his military service. He was issued with a year passport for France for convalescence during his military service in 1933. During his stays in Marseilles he met the friends he referred to as Jo and Fred (they were later both killed in combat alongside him in the Spanish Civil War). During this period he lived the life of a tramp or hobo. He took part in smuggling and the passage of anarchist newspapers and pamphlets over the border. During this period he was arrested on a number of occasions by the French authorities and served a total of 10 months in prison. He was also arrested in Barcelona in 1935 for attempting to sell his passport, which led the Italian fascist police to open a dossier on him as a subversive element. He frequented anarchist circles in Barcelona and was expelled from Spain to Portugal in June 1935. He was again arrested in early 1936 and was imprisoned in the Modelo prison in Barcelona. He started corresponding with the Italian anarchist Giuseppe Pasotti who was running an efficient network in Perpignan in southern France for the evasion of people, the distribution of propaganda and to support imprisoned comrades in Spain. After having served his sentence, he was expelled to France.
Now he became known as Antonio Gimenez and the Italian police lost his trace. He returned to Spain and worked on the land near Lerida. He had joined the anarchist trade union the CNT by now.
With the revolutionary events of 1936 he joined the Durruti Column – named after Buenaventura Durruti - and then its International Group. He took a part in the fierce battles of Sietamo, Farlete and then the horrific events at Perdiguera, where he lost many close comrades and friends. He got to know Antonia Mateo-Clavel and her daughter Pilar at Penalba, in Huesca province and they established a relationship as partner and step-daughter.
He was profoundly disgusted by the betrayals of anarchists Federica Montseny and Garcia Oliver, who had both joined the government, at the end of the May Days in 1937. He was demobilised in 1938 along with all other foreign volunteers. He lived for a time in Barcelona before the ultimate defeat and the withdrawal from Spain. He left Spain via Port Bou the 9th February 1939. He was interned in the Argeles concentration camp and was a part of the anarchist group Liberta o Morte there. This organised on the basis of survival and collective defence in the face of malnutrition, hostility from the Communists in the camps and bad treatment. A Senegalese camp guard was blown up with a grenade as a result of his behaviour by the group.
He worked on the Atlantic Wall in the labour gangs for a while in the Royan area, and he participated in acts of sabotage and resistance. He was freed from the labour gangs in October 1944 and was allowed to settle with his family in Limoges, where they lived from 1948-51. They then settled in Marseilles where he worked as a building worker and he continued to work there up to his early retirement as a result of back problems. He appears not to have been politically active in this period.
He loved literature and began to write poetry and novels mixing autobiography and fiction. He wrote his Memoirs of the War in Spain during 1974 and 1976, a document that is profoundly moving, relying on his memory alone. He tried to get it published but did not get a positive response even from libertarian publishing ventures. His frankness about his sensual relations with women in this work seemed to put them all off!
In 1976 his granddaughter Viviane’s political curiosity led him to re-establish contact with our movement. He started attending meetings of the Marseilles group of the Federation Anarchiste and was often to be seen at the permanences (“at home”) of the group. Everyone knew him as Antoine.
He died of cancer on the 26th December 1982, surrounded by all the comrades and friends of the group. His death was registered under his false identity, which had been given to him by Pasotti.
The last sentence of his Memoirs reads:
"I see the Earth, my country, I see Humanity, my family, slowly poisoned by the spirit of lucre, by the sordid interest of a few who are advancing to death, to total destruction, and in thinking of you, my friends vanished in fighting for an Ideal of absolute equality, of total liberty, I say to myself that you were right: only a libertarian society can save men and the world."
If you speak French you can read his Memoirs and much more besides at www.plusloin.org/gimenez/
This document needs someone to translate it into English as it is one of the most moving, poignant and profoundly human documents of the Spanish Revolution and Civil War