6. Militarised anarchism, 1932–36

Submitted by Steven. on September 15, 2011

6.1 The cycle of insurrections

In what constituted the beginning of a series of armed insurrections, on 18 January 1932 anarchist-led miners in Figols disarmed members of the security forces and raised the red-and-black flag of the CNT over official buildings before proclaiming libertarian communism.1 The rising lit a tinderbox in the worker colonies of the Llobregat valley, which had been radicalised by a series of recent trade union struggles involving textile workers and miners for better wages and working conditions.2 The Barcelona CNT, which had clearly not been forewarned, learned about the rising on the afternoon of 19 January; a further 24 hours elapsed before activists from the local federation met delegates from the regional and national committees to plan support actions that might open up a second front of struggle.3 Even then, instead of preparing an immediate solidarity strike, union militants, including faístas, ‘went home to bed’. Finally, before what it called the ‘consummated act’, the Catalan CRT ‘agreed to make the movement its own’. However, it was not until the weekend that local CNT leaders called a general strike, which, timed as it was, had an impact only on a few factories and on the service and transport sectors. Consequently, only on Monday, a full week after the start of the Figols rising, was the strike felt in the Barcelona area, when the defence committees entered the fray, setting up barricades in Clot and Sant Andreu in north Barcelona and engaging the asaltos in a number of gunfights, particularly in La Torrassa, where an asalto was killed.

The January strike demonstrated that the defence committees were still far from operational. Revealing considerable naivety, Durruti and Francisco Ascaso were arrested by police in La Tranquilidad on Paral.lel, a popular anarchist meeting place.4 It was later revealed that the grupistas in the streets lacked weaponry because the ‘quartermaster’, who knew of their whereabouts, had been arrested. Unarmed, the grupos could not hold the streets: by the end of the first full day of the Barcelona general strike over 200 arrests had been made, and heavily armed asaltos were dispatched to occupy the barris. In Figols, meanwhile, isolated and outnumbered, the insurgents surrendered to the army5

The authorities were far from conciliatory. In an attempt to decapitate a radicalised labour movement, 104 anarchists were deported without trial to Spanish Africa under the Ley de Defensa de la República; several of the deportees, including Durruti and Francisco Ascaso, had played no part in the rising.6 The clampdown on revolutionary groups was so far-reaching that even groups like the BOC, which opposed the rising, had its offices closed and some of its activists interned without trial. Yet the CNT bore the brunt of the repression: Solidaridad Obrera was banned for several weeks and all CNT unions were closed, providing employers with an opportunity to victimise militants. The scale of the repression inhibited any effective protest against the deportations. When, at a meeting of the CNT local federation, the Builders’ Union called for a 24-hour general protest strike, the Transport and Railway Workers’ unions revealed that any such stoppage was impossible because the CNT ‘has lost control of the workers’ owing to ‘the disorientation that exists within our class following the recent mobilisation’.7 The only protest registered against the deportations was paramilitary: the defence committees replied with a campaign of armed propaganda, including a series of bomb attacks against official buildings, such as the council chambers, and against workplaces where militants had been victimised.8

The January action and its aftermath brought the tensions inside the CNT to a head. The treintistas and the BOC argued that the chaotic putsch exemplified the limitations of the libertarians.9 The radical anarchists, meanwhile, mythologised the rising as a blood offering to anarchy, deflecting attention away from the inadequacy of their insurrectionary preparations with a fierce campaign against the ‘cowardice’ of their enemies.10 Increasingly, the radical line held sway within the CNT. Thus, the Barcelona local federation blamed the failure of the ‘revolution’ on ‘reformists’, even though, as one of the moderates pointed out, they, like the radicals, had failed to seize the initiative.11

The highly charged atmosphere inside the CNT following the deportations precluded any reasonable discussion of tactics, and critics of the radical line were simply denounced as ‘counter-revolutionaries’.12 At the April 1932 Catalan CRT plenum in Sabadell, the BOC-inclined unions, including the local federations from Girona, Lleida and Tarragona, along with a number of individual cenetistas from Barcelona, were expelled. Not content with expelling communist heretics, grupistas attacked BOC meetings, resulting in bloody skirmishes.13 But the greatest vitriol was reserved for anarcho-syndicalists. Peiró, a treintista and former CNT secretary-general who had devoted his entire life to the unions, was denounced as a ‘police agent’.14 Faced with increasingly personal attacks, Pestaña and his lieutenant Emili Mira resigned from the national and regional committees, respectively, in March 1932 and were duly replaced by faístas. With the treintistas now almost totally isolated in the CNT committee structure, the treintista-controlled Sabadell unions were expelled in September. This coincided with what moderates described as an ‘uncivil war’, in which treintista activists were physically assaulted by grupistas in the streets, at work and at union meetings.15

The split precipitated a staggering membership crisis. From its high point of 400,000 in August 1931, membership of the Catalan CRT fell to 222,000 in April 1932. However, with most of the membership losses in provincial Catalonia, the position of the radicals in their Barcelona stronghold was secure. Indeed, during the first year of the Republic, the CNT lost under 50,000 members in the Barcelona region (approximately one-quarter of the overall losses of the Catalan CNT), and with nearly 150,000 cenetistas in Barcelona province, the expulsion of the dissident communists and the anarcho-syndicalists enhanced the Barcelona local federation’s importance within the regional organisation.16 Nevertheless, a combination of the split and the increased tempo of repression eroded the mass mobilising capacity of the unions, a trend noted by the British consul in Barcelona, who observed that, by late May 1932, ‘the bulk of the working people are failing to respond to [CNT] propaganda as readily as before’.17

Undeterred and, moreover, unrestrained by any organised internal opposition to the ‘revolutionary gymnastics’, the radicals substituted their own violence for mass union struggles. Accordingly, 1933, which was welcomed by Solidaridad Obrera as ‘the year of the social revolution’, began and ended with anti-republican anarchist uprisings.18 The second insurrectionary putsch began on Sunday 8 January 1933, almost a year after the Figols rising. While this action had a greater impact in Barcelona and in a few other key areas of anarchist influence, it nonetheless revealed that few improvements had been made in either revolutionary strategy or organisation.19 By launching the rising on a Sunday, it was clear that the insurgents trusted exclusively in armed power and had scant interest in incorporating larger numbers of trade unionists in their struggle. Although the insurrectionists hoped that a general strike of railwaymen would coincide with their mobilisation, they viewed the strike in purely military terms, as a measure that might impede troop movements. Moreover, the revolutionaries ignored both UGT strength on the railways and the divisions among the CNT railway workers, who eventually aborted their stoppage at the eleventh hour. Nevertheless, the rising went ahead, in no small part due to the influence of members of Nosotros, eight of whom were represented on the Catalan CRT Defence Committee.20 García Oliver, the secretary of the Catalan CRT Defence Committee, successfully prevailed upon Manuel Rivas, the faísta general secretary of the CNT and secretary of the National Defence Committee, to endorse the action.21

The element of surprise, along with much-needed weaponry, was lost in the days before the rising when police discovered a number of bomb factories in the barris and intercepted faístas as they ferried supplies of arms and explosives around Barcelona. A police raid on the Builders’ Union offices on Mercaders Street yielded a large haul of ammunition, and there was much press speculation that a rising was imminent. Finally, following the accidental explosion of a bomb factory in Sant Andreu, the date of the rising had to be brought forward. The signal for the insurrection was the detonation of a huge bomb placed by CNT sewage workers in the drains beneath the main police station on Laietana Way, an act that almost killed García Oliver and other anarchists held in the cells there. Armed mainly with homemade, yet quite reliable, hand grenades, the insurrectionaries lacked firearms and, unsurprisingly, therefore, the putsch was a shortlived affair. The first major action by the insurgents—a two-pronged attack on the Law Courts and the nearby Sant Agustí barracks, on the edge of the city centre—ended after a 15-minute gunfight; having failed in their bid to procure much-needed weaponry, a hundred grupistas retreated into Poblenou. An attempt by around fifty grupistas to storm the Atarazanas barracks, at the port end of the Rambles, was thwarted, but only after a two-hour gunfight on the Rambles and the neighbouring streets in the Raval, which left two members of the security forces and a faísta dead. With the city centre relatively quiet, the arena of combat shifted to the barris. In the anarchist stronghold of Clot, insurgents erected barricades, seized cars from the rich and held the barri for several hours, clashing fiercely with the Guardia Civil and killing a policemen. There was also much fighting in Poblenou and l’Hospitalet. However, by the end of the following day, despite some sporadic gunfire in and around the Raval, the rising had run its course.

The January 1933 rising was most memorable for the repression that followed. Detainees were viciously beaten in the Laietana Way police station. It appears that members of Nosotros were singled out by the police: García Oliver was left with a cracked skull and broken ribs, while Alfons Piera had his face beaten and his nose broken with a rifle butt.22 This order was interpreted by the asaltos as an invitation to apply the Ley de Fugas: twenty-two civilians died, including several women and children; as a macabre lesson to the rest of the villagers, the charred bodies of the dead were left on display before burial.23

Within the logic of ‘revolutionary gymnastics’, the January 1933 putsch and the rise in state brutality made it a greater success than the January 1932 rising insofar as it stymied the political incorporation of the working class. The CNT, meanwhile, had its own problems incorporating workers and continued to shed members. By March 1933, the Catalan CRT membership was under 200,000, around half the total two years earlier. The CNT in the Barcelona area had lost 30,000 members in under a year, although with around 110,000 members, the Barcelona CNT could still hold sway over the Catalan CRT and the National Committee.24 The radicals were unmoved in their voluntarist conceptions that they could give the revolutionary process a push without the communists, socialists or even the anarcho-syndicalists. Thus, just one month after the suppression of the January 1933 putsch, the FAI Peninsular Committee affirmed that ‘we have no doubt the social revolution will soon come’.25

The final insurrectionary essay was the culminating point of the ‘Huelga electoral’ (‘electoral strike’) called by the CNT and the FAI during the November 1933 general elections. This was a decisive moment in the political history of the 1930s, as the quasifascist CEDA (Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas, or Spanish Confederation of Right-wing Groups) threatened both the parliamentary majority of the reformist Left and the very future of the Republic.26 In sharp contrast to the benevolent apoliticism of 1931, the anarchists attempted to mobilise around the resentments that had accumulated during the first two republican years, the social policy of ‘police stations, prisons and courts’, which ‘converted the nation into a prison’ and the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes, a ‘fascist experiment with a democratic label’.27 Playing an ultra-leftist, divisive role that had much in common with the German Communist Party (KPD) prior to Hitler’s electoral triumph, the radical anarchists argued that there was no difference between the various electoral options, even suggesting that fascism was already in power. Accordingly, Macià, the ‘leader of the Catalan bourgeoisie’, who ‘betrayed’ the Spanish Revolution in 1931 with his ‘false promises as friend of the poor’, represented, for the anarchists, the ‘initial premise’ of Catalan fascism and the ‘guarantor of the bourgeois political order’.28 Also like the KPD, the CNT and the FAI blocked united anti-fascist action, directing their fury against what they regarded as the ‘fascism’ of their enemies, be they treintista, socialist, republican or bloquista, all of whom were regarded as variants of authoritarianism. Meanwhile, the radicals downplayed the danger of the far Right, suggesting that the quintessential ‘libertarian spirit’ of the Iberian people would thwart fascism, unlike in Germany, where Hitler’s triumph reflected the authoritarianism ‘at the heart of every German’.29

Typically, the radicals exaggerated their own strength, warning that, if the elections ‘opened the door to fascism’, the ‘iron front’ of the CNT-FAI would destroy fascism and the Republic. Equally, a high level of abstention in the ‘political comedy’ would be interpreted as a mandate for the ‘anarchist revolutionary experience’. These themes were reiterated at a series of monster CNT rallies, some of which were the biggest ever seen in 1930s Barcelona, which took place immediately before and after the elections. In Clot, a crowd of 90,000 workers heard Durruti, recently released from jail for his part in the January 1933 rising, launch an impassioned plea for the amnesty of the 9,000 workers imprisoned in Spain. Days later, a rally organised by the anarchist weekly Tierra y Libertad attracted over 100,000 people, who heard Francisco Ascaso announce that ‘the hope of the international proletariat and the disinherited of the world’ was that the CNT pass a ‘death sentence’ on the state and make its revolution ‘in the street’. Durruti closed the meeting with a typically rousing conclusion: ‘we have already talked for too long: it is the time for action…. Seize what belongs to us…. The world awaits our bulldozing revolution’.30

The rise in abstention in the November elections reflected the prevailing working-class dissatisfaction with the Republic as well as a pre-existing set of views about the incapability of elections and governments to change the lot of the dispossessed. Yet for the radicals, the news of the centre-right electoral victory and of the negligible turnout at the polls in anarchist strongholds was readily interpreted as evidence that a ‘revolutionary situation’ had arrived. In the days after the elections, the defence committees spearheaded a strategy of tension, launching a wave of gun and bomb attacks near several army barracks in the city. This coincided with a strike by CNT tram workers during which there were daily bomb attacks on tramlines and plant. The bombings, which occurred on and near busy streets, increasingly endangered civilians. One bomb was detonated at a tram station, seriously injuring a group of printers, one of whom was killed, as they left work. The following day, another huge bomb killed a soldier and injured eight workers.31 Amid apocalyptic prophecies that a ‘revolutionary hurricane’ would unleash the final battle against fascism’, posters appeared on the walls of the barris advising women and children to remain indoors as ‘men of strong will’ were about to embark upon the ‘road to revolution’.32 Figure 6.1 Reclaiming urban space: civil guards and members of the community observing a recently demolished barricade in l’Hospitalet, 1933
Source: Francesc Bonamusa, Pere Gabriel, Josep Lluís Martin Ramos and Josep Termes, Història Gràfica del Moviment Obrer a Catalunya, Barcelona, 1989, p. 259

When, on 8 December, the faístas made their move, as in January 1933, the authorities were prepared for the uprising.33 Besides the fact that the anarchists had promised a rising if the Right won the elections, there had been incessant rumours of an imminent insurrection from the moment that the results had been announced. Meanwhile, in response to bomb attacks, martial law had been introduced in Barcelona on 4 December, and the security forces flooded the streets. In the city centre, the Guàrdia Civil established machine-gun posts on key tram routes and at major intersections, and police cadets were mobilised to increase the presence of the security forces in the barris. With civil liberties suspended, the military authorities closed off the proletarian public sphere, banning all CNT unions and newspapers and arresting key activists, including Durruti, one of the main architects of the mobilisation. In Terrassa, the main FAI stronghold in Barcelona province, the rising was effectively decapitated when seventy faístas were interned without trial. Nevertheless, the insurgents’ ranks were swollen when anarchists and ‘social’ and ‘common’ criminals escaped from the Model Jail after members of the CNT Public Services Union excavated a tunnel running into the prison from the drains outside.34

This time the rising was accompanied by a general strike that was strongest in the industrial barris of Poblenou, Sant Martí and Sants. However, CNT pickets faced obvious difficulties imposing an exclusively anarchist-inspired stoppage in those factories in which dissident communists or anarcho-syndicalists accounted for the majority of the workforce, and there were reports of armed clashes between faístas and rival groups of workers. The frustration of the anarchists with those who rejected the libertarian revolution was reflected in a ‘scorched earth’ policy of bomb attacks at factories where the strike was resisted. On at least one occasion, grupistas bombed factories without warning, showing enormous contempt for the lives of non-CNT operatives.

The epicentre of the rising in the greater Barcelona area was the l’Hospitalet barris of La Torrassa, Collblanc and Santa Eulàlia, where local anarchists mobilised around the urban tensions and contradictions that had developed within these rapidly developed districts.35 When, on 8 December, a general strike left the big factories empty, the grupistas took to the streets and the insurrectionaries had effective control of most of the city for four days. As one local anarchist reflected in his autobiography, the local community was drawn into the uprising: ‘fathers, mothers, girlfriends, everyone, as soon as they knew what was going on went onto the streets to help in whatever way they could’.36 The ‘l’Hospitalet Commune’ promised a new social system. Bars and taverns that were deemed to brutalise workers were closed down, and union committees and armed groups of workers requisitioned produce from shops, markets and warehouses, which was made available to the local community. Armed workers set out to dislocate the old structures of repression and punish those who were popularly viewed to have profited from the local networks of exploitation. Factories belonging to employers with a reputation for vindictiveness towards their workers were sabotaged or torched. At Santa Eulàlia market, where there had been persistent conflict between street vendors and market traders, dozens of stalls were attacked. Crowds occupied various official buildings. The municipal archive was destroyed. Offices belonging to urban property owners were seized, as was the local branch of the Radical Party, the party that had recently taken power in Madrid after the November elections. Nevertheless, the lives of the rich were respected. The only act of retribution was directed at a leading local member of the fascist party, the Falange Española, who was taken from his house and shot. As night fell on the first day of the rising, much of l’Hospitalet was left in darkness when members of Los Novatos (The Novices), one of the best-armed grupos de afinidad in the Barcelona area, blew up the central electricity terminal in La Torrassa. At this point, the asaltos stationed in l’Hospitalet withdrew to the relative safety of Barcelona. Electricity cables and telephone lines were also cut, and barricades were established at key places. Encouraged by the success of the ‘l’Hospitalet Commune’, an armed crowd set off towards Barcelona, although their march was halted after they clashed with security forces on the Sants-Collblanc border.37

if While armed workers repelled the security forces sent from Barcelona to crush the rising from their barricades, the ‘l’Hospitalet Commune’ was effectively contained. Once the insurrection in Barcelona and beyond had been quelled, it could not survive in isolation. Faced with a growing number of incursions from the security forces, on 12 December the revolutionaries withdrew from the streets. Two days later, army units, backed by a force of 1,500 civil and assault guards and policemen, occupied the city and started to round up CNT militants.

Figure 6.2 An Assault Guard protecting a tram during the 1933–34 Barcelona transport strike
Source: Francesc Bonamusa, Pere Gabriel, Josep Lluís Martin Ramos and Josep Termes, Història Gràfica del Moviment Obrer a Catalunya, Barcelona, 1989, p. 256–7

It is difficult to draw up anything other than a critical balance of the ‘cycle of insurrections’. First, the uprisings revealed the confused revolutionary perspectives of the anarchists, in particular the absence of a coherent spatial dimension. Not only were the objectives of the ‘revolutionary gymnastics’ unclear, but the insurgents did not possess the necessary arms and manpower to confront the security forces: even Los Novatos, one of the better-equipped grupos de afinidad, had nothing more substantial than Thompson submachine-guns.38 Since their formation in 1931, the defence committees had been drilled in basic paramilitary techniques (principally the use of firearms and grenades), but they were little more than a streetfighting force and had not become a neighbourhoodbased guerrilla army, as Nosotros had hoped.39 Certainly, the grupistas provided evidence of their effectiveness as urban guerrillas in the barris, where they were relatively safe, protected by closely knit working-class communities, and where their well-developed supply and communication lines allowed them to move around with relative ease and launch lightning attacks on the security forces.40 As one activist later observed: There was a great solidarity…. Nobody reported us’.41 However, the grupos were incapable of converting isolated local actions into a more offensive action that could lead to a powerful transformation at regional or state level. Although the risings increased the militancy of many activists and helped to forge a reliable corps of fighters in the heat of war, they tended to alienate the faint-hearted. Even locally, the anarchists encountered problems mobilising communities, and it was only during the ‘l’Hospitalet Commune’ in December 1933 that the ‘revolutionary gymnastics’ drew on community networks. This failure of the anarchists to harness the solidarities of the barris was perhaps the greatest shortcoming of the risings, which revealed that community solidarity was far stronger than the organised solidarity of the CNT; the former, which was based on a much smaller network of reciprocity (family, workplace and barri) was more enduring and constant, little dependent on the wider political context, whereas the latter was conditional upon a more complex range of political and institutional factors. This explains why the CNT’s organised solidarity was strong during 1931–32 due to the optimism following the collapse of the monarchy and the birth of the Republic, whereas from early 1932 onwards it was eroded by state repression, which raised the potential costs of mobilisation for many workers to unacceptable levels. Nor was there a consistent attempt by the radicals to combine the risings with mass mobilisations or a revolutionary general strike. It is anyway unlikely that a revolutionary general strike would have had any real chance of success, given the decline in CNT power after the 1932 split and given that the ‘cycle of insurrections’ began after the summer 1931 strike wave, when the masses were already demobilised. Consequently, only limited numbers of workers participated in the insurrections, and while more undoubtedly sympathised with this anti-state violence, given the relative secrecy that surrounded these vanguard actions, such support was invariably retrospective and passive. It is difficult to know exactly how many people participated in the risings, but it seems likely that there were between 200 and 300 faístas in Barcelona before the civil war, a minority of whom were opposed to violence of all forms. However, if we also consider members of the defence committees, we might conclude that there were, at most, 400 to 500 participants in the ‘revolutionary gymnastics’ out of 150,000 workers in the city.42 For the most part, the insurrectionists were generally younger, unmarried and unskilled workers, who found it easier to bear the potential cost of a frontal clash with the state forces. There is also evidence that the grupistas, many of whom had been educated in ateneus and rationalist schools, had a higher level of learning and culture than that found in the average worker.43

Second, the ‘revolutionary gymnastics’ stimulated an ascendant repressive curve that enabled the state to assert its control over the barris and areas that were previously ‘nogo zones’ for the security forces. For instance, after the January 1933 rising, a Guardia Civil camp was established in the Santa Coloma cases barates.44 Yet while the repression could often be withstood due to local loyalties in the barris, the organised solidarity of the CNT was severely tested. Compared with the repression after the January 1932 rising, which was relatively short-lived and limited to Catalonia, that which followed the 1933 risings amounted to a comprehensive offensive against the CNT throughout Spain. By the time of the December 1933 rising, some of the major Barcelona unions had only recently reopened and then faced immediate closure. The l’Hospitalet CNT did not function openly until February 1936. Employers took advantage of the newly favourable circumstances to victimise workplace activists, cut wages and lay off workers.45 All forms of working-class expression were persecuted: the workers’ press was banned intermittently and fined capriciously by the authorities, while cultural institutions such as the ateneus and the rationalist schools were closed down for long periods. With hundreds of anarchists and cenetistas interned without trial and many more jailed for their involvement in strikes and insurrections, the prison population expanded vertiginously, prompting Solidaridad Obrera to declare that ‘the whole of Spain is a prison’.46

Repression also continued to affect revolutionary groups hostile to ‘putschism’, such as the BOC, which was sometimes banned; several of its activists were also interned without trial. With the authorities obsessed with ‘anarcho-communist plots’, the police tried to charge Andreu Nin, the communist intellectual and respected Catalan translator of Russian literary classics, with possession of explosives in an obvious frame-up that was eventually dropped after a number of high-ranking Catalan politicians intervened.47

Notwithstanding the nefarious consequences of the risings, and regardless of the fact that united proletarian action would increase the prospects of a successful revolution, the radicals persisted with their politique de pire, convinced that the worse things became the quicker their day would arrive. Indeed, shortly after the December 1933 action, the CNT National Committee resumed its attack on its ‘fascist’ enemies within the labour movement, boasting that the CNT-FAI was, ‘as before, at the head of the revolution and in the front line against the fascist threat’; it also expressed its commitment to the ‘revolutionary gymnastics’, because ‘these revolutions make the people ready’.48

6.2 Militarised syndicalism

The CNT did not entirely turn its back on its traditional trade union activities during the ‘cycle of insurrections’; to do so would have brought the serious risk of losing its membership further. Nevertheless, there was a tendency for the grupistas to compensate for the CNT’s lost collective power through small group violence and armed propaganda.

For instance, with the unions incapable of halting redundancies, grupos threatened employers who sacked workers, either sending threatening letters (anónimas) or visiting factories and warning they would be ‘dead men’ if they did not hire workers from the CNT bolsa de trabajo. In one such case, Joseph Mitchell, the Scottish manager of the L’Escocesa textile factory, who had sacked several CNT activists, received a stamped note from a group called La mano que aprieta (The Arm Twisters) warning him that if the victimised cenetistas were not re-employed within fifteen days, they would bomb the factory: ‘We will be very cruel, for it means nothing to us if the factory closes and the whole show ends up in the street…. The vengeance will be terrible. There will be days of mourning in your home and in L’Escocesa’. The note ended with a pledge, which the grupo later honoured, to send Mitchell on ‘a one-way trip from which there is no possible return’.49 Nor was this an isolated case. In the tram sector, where 400 cenetistas had been victimised, grupistas launched a bombing campaign on plant and armed attacks on managers in a bid to achieve the re-employment of the sacked workers. In similar fashion, grupistas protested at prison conditions by shooting the director of the Model Jail. Two l’Hospitalet employers were also killed in the summer of 1933 in separate machine-gun attacks.50

The archetypal militarised conflict of this period was the builders’ strike of 1933, an epic conflict that dominated city life for four months and which provides an insight into the multi-faceted nature of union practices and cultures of contestation in 1930s Barcelona: trade union divisions, the UGT’s strategy of negotiation, the CNT’s direct action, the anarchists’ armed propaganda, and the commingling of traditional and modern (riots, strikes and demonstrations) protest repertoires.51 Construction workers, the most deprecated section of the workforce, had been devastated by un-employment since the collapse of the dictatorship in 1930. A mainstay of faísmo since 1930, the Builders’ Union sought to attain the six-hour day as a means of reducing unemployment, despite the fact that the employers in the sector had never even accepted the legal working day of eight hours.

When the dispute began, the UGT Construction Union immediately initiated a case in the jurados mixtos in an attempt to forestall a strike and channel the conflict into the institutional arena. However, since the CNT was, by a long way, the biggest union in this sector, a strike was inevitable. Although the CNT was careful to comply with legal stipulations prior to the stoppage, the authorities immediately started harassing the union, banning strike meetings at short notice in an attempt to demoralise the strikers. Determined to pursue their right to strike, the cenetistas were unbowed. If anything, the more the authorities clamped down on the union, the more violent became their response.

This was epitomised by the 25,000-strong demonstration organised in June to protest against a series of bans on strike meetings. Despite the fact that the authorities had been informed of the march, the security forces blocked its path at Universitat Square, thereby preventing it from reaching nearby Catalunya Square. After a brief stand-off, during which the demonstrators refused to disperse, asaltos opened fire on the march, killing one striker and wounding many others. In the ensuing chaos, the march split up: part remained in Universitat Square, which was transformed into a battleground as builders armed themselves with bottles and chairs from nearby bars, tore up paving stones and clashed with the security forces. Unable to proceed to the city centre, another group of marchers veered off along Sant Antoni Avenue towards the Raval, although ‘only after’, in the words of Solidaridad Obrera, ‘smashing to pieces all the windows of the shops and cafes of that bourgeois thoroughfare’, causing thousands of pesetas worth of damage, requisitioning foodstuffs and registering their protest at the authorities by attacking the property of their middle-class supporters.52 The following month, as the builders insisted upon their right to the streets, another protest march that was blocked by asaltos resulted in running battles as strikers attempted to regroup in the city centre. A section of the march entered the Raval, attacking businesses and seizing goods and food. Two later incidents highlighted the vicious social divisions in the city at this time. When the protesters entered Hospital Road, they were greeted by an armed group of shopkeepers, who opened fire, killing a bystander. Minutes later, some of the marchers identified a strike-breaking foreman, who was shot and killed.53

With the employers and the authorities holding firm in their opposition to any compromise, and with a blanket ban on demonstrations, the strike became protracted and the possibilities for mass mobilisation circumscribed. Increasingly, the defence committees intervened, launching a series of bomb attacks on building sites in the hope that the material damage would impel the employers to accept union demands.54 By early August, explosions were occurring at a rate of nearly one a day, and grupistas started attacking Guàrdia Civil patrols escorting ‘scabs’ to building sites. Tierra y Libertad announced that the ‘socialist assassins’ who betrayed the struggles of the working class would be ‘tried’, and grupistas responded, killing seven leading ugetistas in Barcelona in the space of a few weeks. In the most grotesque case, an ugetista construction worker was murdered as he walked hand-in-hand with his young daughter in a Sants street.55

While some employers accepted union demands and sacked ‘scabs’ through fear of bomb attacks,56 the constellation of forces—the authorities, employers, security forces and the socialists—allied against the CNT was such that the grupistas were unable to find a way out of the stalemate. Finally, the anarchist leadership of the Builders’ Union put a motion to the rank-and-file in favour of returning to work with a 44-hour week, along with small wage rises and slightly improved working conditions, a settlement that differed little from the deal brokered by the UGT in the jurados months earlier and which had then been rejected by the CNT. Fearing a grassroots rebellion and in a clear break with CNT democratic traditions, the union leadership organised a secret ballot to vote on the deal. Indicative of the demoralisation among the rank and file, from a union membership of around 35,000, under 2,000 builders voted in the secret ballot, 1,227 of whom accepted the motion to return to work.57

We see then that the CNT had come to depend on a small core of militants for whom violence was the main form of politics. In many ways, this experience was comparable with the rise of grupismo after World War One, when the limitations placed on CNT syndical praxis allowed the most determined and committed militants to come to the fore. Thus, throughout 1934–35, the defence committees maintained a significant level of violence, even though, as was clear from the 1933 builders’ strike, the vanguard militarism of the grupistas could not offset the CNT’s waning collective strength.58

Instead, individual and small-group terrorism increased repressive dynamics and further complicated trade union actions. On occasions, grupista terror provided employers with a convenient justification for closing workplaces and sacking workers.59 The grupistas also displayed much disdain for union democracy: in 1934, during a dispute at a Barcelona textile factory, they pointedly ignored a branch union resolution rejecting ‘individual terror’ and killed the employer.60 Nor did the grupistas tolerate the right of workers to affiliate to anti-CNT unions. As the CNT lost the importance it once held for the Barcelona working class, the grupos became increasingly sensitive to criticism from the growing number of anti-libertarian voices within the labour movement, the militaristic ethos of the grupos validating physical attacks on bloquista and treintista ‘scum’ (canalla) in the bid to ‘persuade’ workers to affiliate to the CNT for ‘health reasons’.61

6.3 Funding the movement—the expropriators

The dependency of the CNT on the grupos was accentuated further by the financial crisis of the unions. At the start of the Republic, it had been agreed that branch unions would make monthly contributions to the local prisoners’ support committee, the body that was responsible for the Victims of the social struggle’, helping those who were blacklisted after strikes, paying the legal costs of detainees and assisting the dependent relatives of jailed activists and the perseguidos, the militants forced to go ‘on the run’ to evade the authorities. Yet because it was common for many rank-and-file members and even militants to default on their union dues, contributions to the prisoners’ support committee often went unpaid, the shortfall being made up by the regional and national committees and by local fundraising activities, benefit concerts and impromptu collections in workplaces and in the barris.62

However, once the CNT entered a new protest cycle in the summer of 1931 and became locked into battle with the state, official sanctions and repression severely disrupted the day-to-day fundraising activities of the unions. For instance, while in the spring of 1932 the Barcelona Prisoners’ Support Committee met around one-third of its costs by organising benefits and collections, in the more repressive climate of 1933–34 the authorities were in no mood to tolerate such activities and CNT collections were criminalised, union fundraisers becoming liable to imprisonment under the Ley de Vagos.

During the same period, we also need to recall that the advent of the ‘revolutionary gymnastics’ placed additional demands on the CNT’s resources as unions faced a barrage of legal bans and fines. The CNT press was a particular target for the authorities, and a combination of censorship, bans and fines meant that increasing amounts of union money was required to subsidise the press. By 1934, the editorial board of Solidaridad Obrera admitted that the paper was ‘broke’, on the verge of being ‘killed’ by the censor. The FAI press encountered similar problems: longstanding plans to create an anarchist daily had been shelved, and Tierra y Libertad was heavily in debt.63

Lastly, we need to consider the above in the context of the CNT’s profound membership crisis after thousands of members departed the organisation during 1932–33. Worse still, the unions that left the CNT were, in general terms, based on more skilled sectors of the workforce and were thus better placed to fund the movement.64 Meanwhile, as we have seen, the bulk of the unions that remained in the CNT, particularly in Barcelona, more often than not had larger numbers of unskilled and unemployed members, for whom non-payment of dues was the norm. By the start of 1934, therefore, the Barcelona local federation had a weekly deficit of 40,000 pesetas.65

Yet while the economic crisis of the CNT affected the entire organisation, its implications were greatest for those bodies that sustained the principles of active solidarity on which the Confederation was based. For instance, in September 1933 the Comité Pro-Perseguidos Internacionales (Exiles’ Support Group), which assisted foreign anarchists fleeing repression, admitted that it was in a ‘desperate state’, its lack of economic resources leaving it ‘embarrassed’ and unable to help refugees with ‘unwonted frequency’. The prisoners’ support committees were, all too often, in a similarly parlous state. Matters became so bad that the Marseilles Prisoners’ Support Committee, a pivotal body within the CNT support network that assisted activists smuggled out of Barcelona port, announced that it could no longer offer financial support to militants. Meanwhile, following restlessness among prisoners’ families at the irregularity of welfare payments, a group of detainees in Barcelona issued a motion of censure against the local federation for tolerating the ‘inefficiency’ of the prisoners’ support committee and the ‘lack of attention’ paid to those who had ‘fallen in the struggle against capitalism and the state’.66 The prisoners also proposed the formation of ‘special committees’ to collect what they obliquely described as ‘extraordinary contributions’.67

In an attempt to save the organisation from collapse, the armed groups within the orbit of the CNT and the FAI initiated new forms of fundraising. It is not certain from where the instruction emanated. It has been suggested that the FAI Peninsular Committee issued an appeal to the defence committees and its own grupos for money.68 Yet it is far from certain that the FAI had authority in such matters, and it is more likely that the order came from the Catalan CRT, which was ultimately responsible for the unions, press and prisoners’ welfare in the region. However, what we can be sure about is the fact that the recourse to illegal funding strategies cannot be explained solely in terms of the economic crisis of the CNT, for many revolutionary groups faced economic limitations on their activities during the 1930s and did not follow this path. Rather, it was the rise of the radical anarchists, for whom armed actions were central to all social protest, which sealed the switch to illegal fundraising tactics. Indeed, in much the same way as the radicals justified the illegality of the unemployed, so also did they rationalise that which funded the movement, drawing a sharp distinction between the term ‘robber’ and those who requisitioned money for ‘the cause’.69 Thus, just as the armed grupos were called upon to fill the vacuum left by the decline in CNT syndical muscle, so too were they required to secure the internal funding of the Confederation.

There was no single funding mechanism. In some cases, a form of ‘revolutionary tax’ was levied against employers and companies, who were informed of the sum involved (which depended on company size and which might run into tens of thousands of pesetas for large enterprises), the method of payment and the sanctions for non-payment, which ranged from the threat of sabotage against plant to the murder of managers. Since the authorities discouraged employers from meeting these ‘tax’ demands, it is difficult to know how often it was paid. We can nevertheless get a sense of how the ‘revolutionary tax’ operated from anecdotal evidence in the memoirs of managers and activists and from the press following the killing of employers for non-payment. There is also evidence that the ‘revolutionary tax’ was imposed on businesses that had been involved in strikes with the CNT and were thus held responsible for exhausting the resources of both the movement and their supporters.70 In l’Hospitalet, the Comité libertario pro-revolución social (Libertarian Committee for Social Revolution) levied the ‘tax’ on high-profile businessmen, such as Salvador Gil i Gil, a local councillor active in the repression of street traders.71

Yet the most common method of funding was armed expropriation, normally involving attacks on banks and payrolls. As one militant explained, ‘to raid a bank was an episode of the social war’.72 Although, as we saw in Chapter 2, this strategy was used by anarchist groups after World War One, it was first utilised by CNT squads in the republican period during the wood workers’ strike (November 1932 to April 1933), when pickets punished intransigent employers by expropriating their cash boxes and safes.73 Sometimes, businesses owned by right wingers were also deliberately targeted.74 This funding tactic became highly attractive because, as one activist explained, ‘one well prepared attack and you get away with a sum of money equal to four weeks collections’.75 By 1934, expropriations were a recurring feature of urban life, sometimes bringing as much as 100,000 pesetas into union funds at a single stroke.76

The expropriations presented Companys, who replaced the recently deceased Macià as president of the Generalitat at the end of 1933, with a sharp dilemma. On 1 January 1934, in accordance with the devolution programme specified by the Catalan Autonomy Statute, the Generalitat’s newly formed Comissaria d’Ordre Públic (Public Order Office) assumed responsibility for policing.77 Determined to demonstrate its competence in the realm of public order to a suspicious centre-right government in Madrid and a critical Lliga in Barcelona, the Generalitat increased ‘the drive to persecute robbers, murderers and wreckers’, fearing that anything less would give the impression that order had been lost.78 Responsibility for the new autonomous Catalan police rested with Josep Dencàs and Miquel Badia, Generalitat interior minister and Barcelona police chief, respectively. While apparently catalanising the security forces, Dencàs and Badia, both of whom had close links with the quasi-fascist ERC youth movement, the escamots, politicised policing in a way that had never been seen before. Along with his brother Josep, Badia drafted the violently anti-CNT, anti-migrant escamots into the Catalan police; the Sometent was also purged and replaced by escamots.79 Meanwhile, Jaume Vachier, an ERC councillor and businessman, took charge of the Guàrdia Urbana.80

Because the expropriations were viewed as a deliberate attack on Catalan institutions, the grupistas were now repressed without quarter. The legal sanctions applied against grupistas and expropriators were stern: anyone found in possession of explosives could expect a prison term of up to twenty-two years; armed robbery normally meant a sentence of between thirteen and seventeen years, while the crime of firing at the police was normally punished with nine years in jail.81 Yet this did not deter the expropriators, who compromised the key professional claim of the police—that the force detected crime— for if the grupistas were not detained inflagrante delicto they proved difficult, near impossible, to apprehend.82 In fact, when cornered, the expropriators, who were equipped with a range of weaponry, including pistols, sub-machine-guns and grenades, were a genuine match for the security forces. Following a payroll heist at a factory in central Barcelona, one grupo used guns and grenades to break through a police cordon and, when they were later intercepted by an asalto patrol in Santa Coloma, another gun battle ensued, after which the expropriators disappeared.83

The elimination of the ‘cancer of banditry’ was a key factor in the evolution of the new autonomous police.84 Police Chief Badia, who was known to his admirers as Capità Collons (Captain Balls), took personal responsibility for the repression of the expropriators, regularly joining the front line during shootouts and picking up a number of gunshot wounds in the process. According to one Barcelona faísta who had connections in catalaniste circles, Badia planned to establish a special police unit dedicated to the extra-judicial killing of anarchists, an initiative that was blocked by the personal intervention of Companys, who feared the consequences of a return to the pistolerisme of the early 1920s.85 Nevertheless, Badia succeeded in raising the stakes in the war against the expropriators and the grupistas, adding a new viciousness to the history of policing in Iberia. Independent doctors regularly confirmed that suspected grupistas leaving the Comissaria d’Ordre Public had been brutally mistreated and, according to anarchists and communists who had experience with the police during the monarchy and the Republic, the autonomous Catalan security forces were the most vicious of all.86 In one notorious case, following a shoot-out between police and an armed gang on the outskirts of the city, Badia left wounded ‘murcianos’ without medical treatment, and it was only after a heated argument with a Guardia Civil commander that an ambulance was called to the scene.87 There is also evidence that the Generalitat police adopted a policy of selective assassination of ‘FAI criminals’. The first suspicious death occurred in early 1934, when the body of a young faísta was found on wasteland on the outskirts of Barcelona. Although the deceased had apparently earlier participated in a gunfight with the police, the fact that he died from a single shot from a police-issue revolver suggested that he had been summarily executed. In a separate case, an unarmed cenetista was shot and killed in broad daylight by an off-duty policeman in a Les Corts street. Memories of 1920s police tactics were evoked again when an unarmed grupista was shot in the back after he allegedly ‘attempted to escape’. Meanwhile, in mid-April, after a gunfight in which over 200 rounds were exchanged, Bruno Alpini, an Italian anarchist and expropriator, was killed on Paral.lel in what was regarded in anarchist circles as a classic act of Ley de Fugas.88 The following month, two more expropriators were shot dead by police in the drive to ‘clean up’ Barcelona.89

Despite intense police pressure, the number of expropriations showed no sign of abating throughout 1934 and 1935, demonstrating that increased policing does not necessarily reduce illegality. This very point was recognised in a police report published in the press in April 1935: ‘When a trial for robbery or an assassination occurs, immediately new robberies are committed…an established chain of punishable events…. It is this continuity that it is vital to break’.90 There are several reasons for this ‘continuity’. First, it was impossible for the authorities to provide a permanent guard for the numerous large sums of money transported around and concentrated within the city that were targeted by well-drilled and selective expropriators, who apparently launched attacks when they knew they had a good chance of escape. Moreover, since speed was one of the expropriators’ main allies, they used cars, often hijacked taxis or stolen from the rich, that they knew were faster than police models. The expropriators also recognised that, if they were injured, they would be looked after by the organisation and could receive medical attention from doctors supportive of the CNT-FAI.91

Second, the expropriation squads were deeply rooted in the social formation and were virtually impossible for the police to infiltrate. Recruited from proven activists from the defence committees and the prisoners’ support committee, as well as some of the more willing and capable members of the grupos de afinidad, the expropriators were trusted individuals, many of whom during earlier, less repressive times had organised union collections in workplaces and barris.92 Some expropriators were ‘professional revolutionaries’ in the classic sense; they had experience of evading the police from the postwar years, possessed the necessary pseudonyms and false identities and tended to move around, staying with comrades and in ‘safe houses’.93 In a positive sense, this commitment to the movement explains the high level of probity among the expropriators, who also needed little reminder of the sanctions that would have been applied to anyone who attempted to abscond with the organisation’s money.

In addition to the unity derived from a common ideology and shared objectives, the expropriators also relied on the affective ties of kinship and neighbouring. Many expropriators were recruited from local families with a history of anarchist and union activism. Moreover, the family structure, so often associated with the stability of the existing order, frequently gave considerable coherence to the high-risk activities of the expropriators. In one squad, a father and son worked together.94 Meanwhile, Los Novatos, a grupo de afinidad active in funding initiatives, included five brothers from the Cano Ruiz family and two other sets of brothers, all of whom resided within a square kilometre of one another in the La Torrassa barri.95

The esprit de corps that so typifies such close-knit groups ensured that, when the security forces succeeded in detaining members of a squad, they stubbornly refused to betray their comrades by talking to the police or by passing information on to the authorities. Indeed, detained grupistas relied on a version of omertà, repeatedly informing police that they had occasioned upon their accomplices in a bar or cafe, that they could not remember anything about their appearance and that they had failed to ask their names. Grupistas also frequently told police that these same strangers had lent them any arms they had in their possession at the time of their arrest, a completely unbelievable story concocted not to appear credible but to frustrate police investigations. Meanwhile, anyone who gave in to police pressure ran the danger of being perceived as a traitor, a perfidy that was dealt with in summary fashion.96

A few other observations can be made about the expropriators. They were invariably male. Women rarely participated and, when they did, their involvement was almost exclusively of an auxiliary nature. The expropriators were also predominantly young and single. Even the more seasoned activists in the squads were normally under forty, while the most active expropriators of the 1930s were in their early twenties, such as Josep Martorell i Virgili, dubbed Public Enemy Number One’ in the bourgeois press, who was only twenty when arrested, by which time he had launched a series of bank robberies for the CNT and for the anarchist movement.97

The expropriations provide yet another example of the readiness of the anarchists to mobilise beyond the factory proletariat and channel the rebellion of those deemed unmobilisable by other left-wing groups. This was perhaps epitomised by the presence of several former detainees from the Asil Durán borstal among the expropriators, such as the aforementioned Martorell.98 The eclectic tactical repertoire of the anarchists, their continuing ability to combine ‘modern’ with older protest forms, increased the vitality of their resistance struggle, and, in equal measure, scandalised the ‘men of order’. We will now address the implications of this in the cultural sphere.

  • 1 My analysis is based on the following sources: LasN, L’Opinió, Veu and LaV, 20–30 January 1932; TyL, 23 January–26 February 1932; Luchador, 5–26 February 1932; SO, 20 January and 3–6 March 1932; Cultura Libertaria, 5 February 1932; LaB, 29 January–11 February 1932; minutes of the plenum of the Barcelona CNT local federation, 5 February, 7 and 10 March 1932 (AHN/SGC); C.Borderias, ‘La insurrección del Alt Llobregat. Enero 1932. Un estudio de historia oral’, MA thesis, University of Barcelona, 1977.
  • 2 Gobernador Civil de Barcelona al Ministro de la Gobernación, 29 December 1931, Legajo 7a (AHN/MG).
  • 3 SO, 17 January 1932.
  • 4 Paz, Chumberas, p. 119.
  • 5 Azaña, Obras, Vol. 2, pp. 139–41, Vol. 3, pp. 311–12; Ballbé, Orden, p. 342.
  • 6 Madrid, Ocho, pp. 171–2; Azaña, Obras, Vol. 3, pp. 326–39; Calle, 19 February 1932; LasN, 11 February 1932; TyL, 26 February and 4 March 1932; LaB, 9 and 30 June 1932.
  • 7 Minutes of the plenum of the Barcelona CNT local federation, 8 February 1932 (AHN/SGC); LasN, 2 and 17 February 1932; TyL and Cultura Libertaria, 1 April 1932.
  • 8 TyL, 8 April 1932; LasN, 16–21 February 1932; LaV, 5 April 1932; Peirats, CNT, Vol. 1, pp. 65–6.
  • 9 Cultura Libertaria, 5 February 1932; LaB, 29 January, 4 and 11 February 1932.
  • 10 Luchador, 5 and 12 February 1932.
  • 11 Thus, Jover, of the ‘Nosotros’ group, claimed that the revolution ‘would have triumphed in Spain and even in Barcelona had the Regional Committee not sabotaged it’. Minutes of the plenum of the Barcelona CNT local federation, 5 and 7 February, 7 and 10 March 1932 (AHN/SGC).
  • 12 Minutes of the plenum of the Barcelona CNT local federation, 29 November 1931, 10 February and 25 March 1932 (AHN/SGC).
  • 13 LaB, 25 February, 3 March, 7 July, 15 September, 13 and 27 October, 10 and 17 November 1932.
  • 14 TyL, 1 and 22 April 1932; Luchador, 5, 12, 19 February, 8, 15 April 1932; SO, 15 March 1932.
  • 15 SO, 18 March, 3 May, 17 June, 30 September 1932; Cultura Libertaria, 20 May, 17 June, 15 July, 16 and 23 September, 7 and 21 October, 3, 10 and 17 November, 14 and 21 December 1932, 3 January and 3 March 1933; Sindicalismo, 14 February, 14 and 21 April 1933; TyL, 14 April 1933.
  • 16 SO, 26 April 1932; LaB, 21 April and 1 May 1932.
  • 17 Report from Consul-General King, 30 May 1932, FO371/16505/W6457/12/41 (PRO).
  • 18 SO, 1 January 1933.
  • 19 This analysis is based on CyN, January 1933; LaV, Veu and L’Opinió, 1–23 January 1933; SO, 1–26 January, 5 February 1933; García, Eco, pp. 130–3; Paz, Durruti, pp. 244–9; letter from Sir G.Grahame, 10 January 1933, FO371/17426/W472/116/41 and reports from Consul-General King, 10–11 January 1933, FO371/17426/W576 /116/41 and FO371/17426/W577/116/41 (PRO).
  • 20 García, Eco, p. 172.
  • 21 Elorza, Utopia, p. 455; Bookchin, Anarchists, p. 227.
  • 22 SO, 13–14, 28 and 31 January, 2–4 February 1933; Luchador, 10 February 1933; TyL, 27 January and 17 March 1933. And no However, the most notorious example of repression came in the village of Casas Viejas in Andalusia, where local anarchists rose in the belief that the insurrection had succeeded everywhere else in Spain. Fearing that the Casas Viejas rising might be copied elsewhere, Arturo Menéndez, director-general of internal security, who had served as Barcelona police chief during the first months of the Republic, ordered that the rising be quelled as quickly and forcefully as possible. The promotion of Menéndez from a position in Barcelona to one in central government highlighted the way in which an experience of public order in the Catalan capital was viewed in official circles as a suitable apprenticeship for a senior position in the state apparatus.
  • 23 F.Urales, La barbarie gubernamental: España 1933, Barcelona, 1933; J.Mintz, The Anarchists of Casas Viejas, Chicago, 1982, pp. 186–200.
  • 24 CRT, Memoria…1933, pp. 5–9.
  • 25 Paz, Durruti, pp. 248–9; SO, 10 February 1933.
  • 26 P.Preston, The Coming of the Spanish Civil War. Reform, Reaction and Revolution in the Second Republic, London, 1978, pp. 92–130.
  • 27 SO, 15–17, 28 and 31 January 1933, 15 June, 2, 16 and 28 August 1934; TyL, 1 August and 20 October 1933.
  • 28 Luchador, 28 July 1933; SO, 21 July, 4 August, 29 October and 15 November 1933.
  • 29 SO, 1 and 10 February, 1 March, 22 September, 12, 15 and 17 October, 23 November 1933; LaRB, 15 November 1933.
  • 30 SO, 22 October, 1, 7–10, 17 and 23 November, 1–2 December 1933; TyL, 24 November and 1 December 1933; LaRB, 30 November 1933.
  • 31 Adelante, 19, 23–24 and 28 November, 2–3 December 1933; LaV, 19, 21, 23, 28 and 30 November, 3 and 5 December 1933; SO, 3 December 1933.
  • 32 SO, 11, 16 and 18 November 1933; Adelante, 23 November 1933; Fortitud, 31 December 1933; TyL, 24 November 1933.
  • 33 See La Humanitat, LaV, Veu, Adelante and L’Opinió, 5–22 December 1933; JS, 16 December 1933; CyN, December 1933; report from Sir G.Grahame, 12 December 1933, FO371/17427/W14410/116/41 and report from Consul-General King, 12 December 1933, FO371/17427/W14776/116/41 (PRO).
  • 34 Peirats, unpublished memoirs, pp. 38–9.
  • 35 Communiqués from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 8–10 December 1933, and report from the mayor of l’Hospitalet to Lluís Companys, president of the Generalitat, 29 December 1933 (AH1’HL/AM); Peirats, unpublished memoirs, pp. 37–9; D.Marin, Clandestinos, Barcelona, 2002, pp. 196–201.
  • 36 Miguel Grau, cited in Marin ‘Llibertat’, p. 124, n. 48.
  • 37 SO, 24 April 1934.
  • 38 Eyre, Sabaté, p. 66.
  • 39 Abad, Memorias, pp. 216–7, 246; Ortiz, p. 86.
  • 40 LaV, 31 October and 1 November 1934; Adelante, 17 February 1934; LasN, 12 May 1934; Malaquer, Años, p. 114.
  • 41 J.Camós, ‘Testimoniatges de Francesc Pedra i Marià Corominas. L’activitat política a l’Hospitalet de Llobregat (1923–46)’, L’Avenç 60, 1983, p. 13.
  • 42 Balcells, Crisis, p. 196, n. 22; Huertas, Obrers, p. 243; Miró, Cataluña, p. 49.
  • 43 LaP, 10 April 1934 and 8–9 January 1935.
  • 44 Veu, 19 January 1933; LaV, 11–14 January 1933; SO, 12 and 26–31 January, 16 and 30 August, 20 September 1933. Pensioner Meanwhile, the December 1933 rising provided the authorities with a pretext to occupy La Torrassa and initiate a series of house searches in pursuit of ‘wrongdoers’. Adelante, 5 January 1934.
  • 45 SO, 28 January 1933.
  • 46 Sanz, Sindicalismo, p. 245; LaB, 9 February 1933; Urales, Barbarie, p. 23; SO, 5–8 February and 10 March 1933.
  • 47 M.Sànchez, La Segona República i la Guerra Civil a Cerdanyola (1931–1939), Barcelona, 1993, p. 59; LaB, 12 January–2 February, 27 April, 8 June, 27 July 1933; Azaña, Obras, Vol. 3, pp. 505, 512; L’Opinió, 1–8 April 1933.
  • 48 Adelante, 19 and 30 December 1933; LaRB, 28 December 1933.
  • 49 LaV, 11 and 16 January, 22 February, 13 September 1934; L’Opinió, 19 January 1934.
  • 50 LaV, 5 January, 17 May and 20 July 1933; CyN, June–July and November 1933.
  • 51 For the 1933 builders’ strike, see CyN, April–September 1933; SO, 5 March–15 August 1933; TyL, 28 April 1933; LaB, 20 April–24 August 1933; LaV and L’Opinió, 18 March–17 August 1933; JS, 29 April, 27 May, 19 August and 21 October 1933; Sindicalismo, 1–15 September 1933.
  • 52 SO, LaP, LaV, 13 June 1933; TyL, 16 June 1933; CyN, June 1933; Luchador, 23 June 1933.
  • 53 LaV, 11 July 1933; SO, 12 July 1933; CyN, July 1933.
  • 54 Interview with ‘Juan’, November 1997.
  • 55 CyN, May–August 1933; TyL, 2 June 1933; L’Opinió, 9 July 1933; Sindicalismo, 14 July 1933; JS, 15 and 22 July, 4 November 1933; LaV, 21 July 1933.
  • 56 Martin, Recuerdos, p. 87.
  • 57 TyL, 11 August 1933; SO, 12 and 15 August 1933; Correspondencia Sindical Internacional, 20 June and 18 July 1933.
  • 58 SO, 7 July and 3–18 August 1934; LaV, 24–27 November 1934 and 23 July 1935; LasN, 11 December 1935 and 2 February 1936.
  • 59 LaV, 28 April, 4–17 August, 31 October, 1 November and 26 December 1934, 27 June 1935; LasN, 16–17 January 1936; Adelante, 8 March 1934.
  • 60 Adelante, 9–11 and 21 February 1934; LaV, 22 February and 4–5 December 1934.
  • 61 LasN, 26–27 May 1934; SO, 1–5 and 23–24 September, 1–10 October, 4 November 1933, 5 August 1934; Sindicalismo, 14 July, 1–4 and 25 August, 15 September, 27 October, 3 November 1933; El Transporte, 18 June 1934; Cataluña Obrera, 26 May 1933; CyN, March–November 1933; Catalunya Roja, 19 October 1933; TyL, 2 June 1933; Luchador, 31 March, 9–23 June and 28 July 1933; LaB, 31 August, 7–21 September and 19 October 1933; Adelante, 17–20 October, 1–7 and 19 November 1933; Mall, 4 November 1933.
  • 62 Monjo,‘CNT’, pp. 155, 225.
  • 63 SO, 9 December 1931, 5 and 17 January, 9 March 1932, 15 January, 24 June, 10 August, 7 October 1933, 13 July 1934; minutes of the Barcelona CNT local federation, 28 December 1931 (AHN/SGC); CRT, Informe que el director de ‘Soli’, Liberto Callejas, presenta al pleno de Sindicatos de Cataluña, que se celebrará en Terrassa los días 24 y siguientes de diciembre de 1932, Barcelona, n.d., passim; CRT, Memoria…1933, passim; Peirats, Figuras, p. 44; LaP, 8 April 1934; TyL, 17 and 24 October 1931; Iniciales, January–June 1935.
  • 64 Take, for instance, the treintista-inclined Sabadell unions, which were among the wealthiest and best organised in Catalonia.
  • 65 SO, 20 September 1933; LaP, 5–11 April 1934.
  • 66 Minutes of the plenums of the Barcelona CNT local federation, 7 and 29 November 1931 (AHN/SGC); LaP, 5–11 April 1934; SO, 11 December 1931, 18 and 24 March, 29 May 1932, 17 and 19 September 1933; TyL, 19 November 1935.
  • 67 SO, 19 September 1933; LaP, 8 April 1934.
  • 68 J.L.Gutiérrez Molina, La Idea revolucionaria. El anarquismo organizado en Andalucía y Cádiz durante los años treinta, Madrid, 1993, p. 73.
  • 69 Paz, Chumberas, p. 113.
  • 70 Malaquer, Trabajo, p. 114; Veu, 16 May 1933; LaV, 19 May 1933; communiqué from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 20 March 1936 (AHl’HL/AM); L.Massaguer, Mauthausen: fin de trayecto. Un anarquista en los campos de la muerte, Madrid, 1997, p. 14.
  • 71 The committee was described as the ‘Committee for Social Revolutionary Terrorism’ in the daily press. LaV, 19 May 1933, 27 March and 19 July 1934; LasN, 4 October 1934; Veu, 16 May 1933; Marin, Clandestinos, p. 184.
  • 72 Porcel, Revuelta, pp. 118–21.
  • 73 García, Eco, p. 208; CyN, February–March and June 1933; LaV, January–March, 15 June and 31 October 1933.
  • 74 Eyre, Sabaté, pp. 42–4.
  • 75 Porcel, Revuelta, pp. 118–21.
  • 76 See the daily press for 1934, especially L’Opinió, 2 January and 30 March 1934; LasN, 1–31 May and 4 October 1934; LaV, 21 March, 19 July, 2 August and 5–9 September 1934; LaP, 5–12 April 1934.
  • 77 A.Balcells, Historia Contemporánea de Cataluña, Barcelona, 1983, p. 256.
  • 78 Veu, 12 July 1933; L’Opinió, 24 and 28 March, 3 and 13 April 1934; LaV, 14 July 1934.
  • 79 Veu, 17 February and 24 May 1934; Butlletí Oficial de la Generalitat, 21 June 1934.
  • 80 LaV, 28 March 1934; L’Opinió, 24 March 1934; Adelante, 2 March 1934.
  • 81 LaV, 3 April and 2 September 1934; Veu, 18–28 April 1934; SO, 6 July 1934.
  • 82 LaV, 30 April 1935.
  • 83 LaV, 18 September 1932, 25 June 1933, 15 and 23 February, 31 March and 15–18 April 1934, 2 July 1935; LaP, 1–12 April 1934, 2 July 1935; TyL, 29 August 1931; LasN, 18 September 1932 and 4 September 1934; Adelante, 9–13 January 1934; García, Eco, p. 94.
  • 84 L’Opinió, 24 and 28 March, 3 April, 9 August 1934.
  • 85 J.Balius, Octubre catalán, Barcelona, n.d, p. 11.
  • 86 SO, 6–7 and 31 July 1934; Balius, Octubre, p. 10; García, Eco, p. 225; LaP, 10 April 1934.
  • 87 SO, 24 August 1934; Alba and Casasús, Diàlegs, p. 28; LaV, 19 and 25 July 1934; LasN, 15– 18 May 1934; Balius, Octubre, p. 11.
  • 88 LaV, 23 February, 15–18 April and 17–19 July 1934; SO, 17–20 and 25 July, 9 September 1934; Veu, 15 April 1934; L’Opinió, 17 April 1934; El Noticiero Universal, 16 April 1934; Paz, Chumberas, p. 142.
  • 89 L’Opinió, 7 March and 17 April 1934; LaP, 18 April 1934; LasN, 20 April 1933 and 17–18 May 1934; SO, 9 September 1934.
  • 90 Iniciales, November 1934; FAI, 8 January 1935; LaV, 22–25 December 1934 and 30 April 1935.
  • 91 LaP, 1–6 April 1934.
  • 92 TyL, 18 July 1931, 23 January 1932, 24 February and 23 September 1933; LaP, 8–9 January 1935; LaV, 25 July 1931, 27 December 1932, 19–20 October and 6 December 1933, 27 December 1934, 3, 8–9, 16 and 27 January, 2 February, 10 April, 29 July 1935; LasN, 6 and 16 February 1932, 4 September 1935; Matí, 14 November 1935; SO, 6 September 1934 and 28 April 1936; L’Opinió, 19–20 October 1933.
  • 93
    Massaguer, Mauthausen, p. 14.
  • 94 García, Eco, pp. 30, 61, 469; LaV, 6 January, 4 and 21 April, 3, 6 and 23 June, 18 August, 31 October, 13–14 December 1933, 2 January, 22 February, 5 August, 7, 22 and 27 December 1934, 4–9 January, 14 and 31 May 1935; L’Opinió, 2 January 1934; LasN, 14–20 January, 16–17 May 1931, 6–8 and 23 May 1934, 4–5 February 1936; La Humanitat, 5 June 1933; Veu, 6 January 1933 and 6 March 1934; LaP, 1 April and 11 May 1934, 4 and 8–9 January 1935; SO, 27 August 1932 and 25 April 1936; Léon-Ignacio, Años, p. 298; Monjo, ‘CNT’, p. 191.
  • 95 Marin, ‘Llibertat’, pp. 480–5.
  • 96 LaP, 11 April 1934; LaV, 15 February, 11 December 1934 and 11–12 December 1935; LasN, 4 September 1934.
  • 97 LaV, 29 April, 6 and 23 June, 13 December 1933, 30 January, 1 and 15 February, 31 March 1934; TyL, 29 August 1931 and 14 July 1933; LaP, 1–10 April 1934 and 8–9 January 1935; Peiró, Peiró, pp. 32–3; LasN, 16 February 1932; García, Eco, pp. 210–11; La Humanitat, 5 June 1933; L’Opinió, 30 March 1934.
  • 98 LaP, 4 January 1935; Téllez, Sabaté, p. 24; Veu, 21 April