The 'Friends of Durruti' and the 'People's friend' - part 1



We saw, in part one, that opposition began to show itself against the lawyers who were, to a greater or lesser extent, accustomed to ministerial collaboration. Notably the Catalan Libertarian youth had declared their refusal to "become accomplices by staying silent" and they had even added "we are ready to return to illegal existence if necessary..."

In the spring [*1] of 1937 a grouping of opposition militants began to come out in public under the name of the "Amigos de Durruti" and before the May days, they wrote in a leaflet[*2]:

"The revolutionary and anarchist spirit of the 19th of July has lost its focus... The CNT and FAI who, during the early July days, best embodied the revolutionary direction and potential energy of the streets, today find themselves in a weakened position since they failed to trust in themselves during the days evoked above. We accepted collaboration, as minor partners, while we were by far the major force on the streets. We reinforced the representatives of the decrepit, counter-revolutionary petit-bourgeois.

In no way can we tolerate the adjournment of the revolution until the end of the military conflict.

The glorious workers' militias... are facing the danger of being transformed into a regular army which doesn't offer the least safeguard to the working class."

In this leaflet, the Friends of Durruti draw attention to the threat that the 'public order' project for Catalonia was posing. The project was postponed but was to raise its head again. It aimed to replace the revolutionary forces in the rear with a repressive body, "neutral, amorphous, capitulating in the face of the counter revolution". Prophetically, the Friends of Durruti added that "if such plans come to hold sway, it will not be long before we once again fill the prisons. "

During the May days they published a leaflet and a manifesto which were warmly received by the workers. Here are the contents of the leaflet (written in the midst of the action, the style is sober).

"CNT-FAI, 'Friends of Durruti' grouping:

Workers, let us not abandon the streets. A revolutionary junta. Execution of the guilty. Disarming of the armed bodies. Socialisation of the economy. Dissolution of the political parties who have attacked the working class. We salute our comrades of the POUM (Workers party of Marxist unity) who have been at our sides in the streets. Long live the social revolution!"

But who made up the "Friends of Durruti"? They called themselves an 'agrupacion', that is to say, not a group, but more a grouping, a rallying. They were all CNT activists, many were also members of the militias who had not agreed with militarisation, some had even left the militias when militarisation had been put in place. Others were members of the popular patrols. A good number of them were still at the front in the predominantly confederal units which had emerged from the 'iron column', the 'Durruti column' and others. But after the May days they were slandered, treated as 'uncontrollables', as 'provocateurs', even as Stalinist agents by the leadership of the CNT and FAI, or as fascist agents by the Stalinists and their allies.

It should be added that the officials of the libertarian movement were to voluntarily classify them as Trotskyists, due to their courageous defence of the POUM and its activists. The Trotskyists, extremely happy with this godsend, tried to give some credence to the rumour. Recently, issue 10 of 'cahiers Leon Trotski' (published by the institution of the same name which is made up of various groups of the Trotskyist persuasion) published a study by F.M. Aranda on the "Friends of Durruti". The author laboriously attempts to demonstrate the collaboration between these militants and the Trotskyists of the period. What is the truth of the matter?

The sole established fact, out of all the alleged secret agreements, is the relations between a few of the Friends of Durruti and one, yes one single Trotskyist activist, as it happens the German Hans Davis Freund, known by the pseudonym Moulin. Nothing is said about the nature of these relations, none of the names of the members of the "Friends of Durruti" in question is specified... But this seems sufficient to this 'historian' to speak of a "close association"! On page 83 of the same issue of the same publication, Pierre Brouff recalls, more honestly, that the "Friends of Durruti" "rejected a meeting to plan common activities"...the file is thus extremely thin.

As for the defence of the POUM, this would appear logical. The Stalinists wanted to destroy the POUM, which opposed their hegemony and defended the victims of the Moscow show-trials. Not being able to directly take on the CNT-FAI, the Stalinists blocked every alliance which was independent of them (for example the collaboration between the libertarian youth and the POUM's youth wing). We have seen that the leaders of the CNT-FAI accepted the expulsion of the POUM from the government but that in May 1937, the libertarian workers fought side-by-side with those of the POUM.

Having said this, it should be pointed out that the politics of the POUM leadership was as disastrous as that of the CNT-FAI.

In fact, the myth of the Trotskyism of the Friends of Durruti came from the libertarian movement and the Trotskyists tried to give the myth a significance which it never had. They took advantage of the fact that the anarchist leaders, rejecting all rigorous analysis coming from their own ranks, were trying to discredit the "Friends of Durruti" and were assisting in their repression. In a milieu where the worst insult was to be labelled a 'Marxist', this also allowed them to avoid dealing with their urgent problems and their proper responsibilities.

In any case, the "Friends of Durruti", who went on to publish a newspaper instead of leaflets as their mouthpiece, were to stridently stand their ground, proclaiming their adherence to revolutionary anarchism despite the disavowals and slanders that the highest circles of the official libertarian movement never failed to hurl at them. This paper EL Amigo del Pueblo, the people's friend, was published from July to September 1937, in eight issues. In the first issue, on page 4, two long articles throw light on the attachment of the Friends of Durruti to the libertarian movement. We read, in an article entitled

"Introducing ourselves. Why we are publishing, what do we want, where are we going?.

We have appeared publicly without in the least wanting to engage in personal squabbles. Our aims are loftier. The success of our aspirations is measured in days of triumph and passion for our ideas and desires.

We feel a pure love for the National Confederation of Labour and for the Anarchist Federation of Iberia. But this very attachment which we profess for these organisations which is of the same substance as our worries, incites us to confront certain insinuations which we judge as wicked and unwarranted".

The following issue included on page 3, in large type:

"The association of the Friends of Durruti is made up of CNT and FAI activists. Only syndical assemblies can expel us from the Confederal organisation. Meetings of local and cantonal delegates do not have the power to expel comrades. We challenge the committees to put the question of the 'Friends of Durruti' to the assemblies, where the sovereignty of the organisation resides."

The attachment of the Friends of Durruti to the organisations of the libertarian movement went as far as an attempted reconciliation as we can read in the communiqué in large type on the bottom of the front page of the third issue:

"Respecting the agreement reached during the plenum of groups of the FAI, and hoping that the committees of the CNT and FAI will do the same, we are making a correction to the suggestion of treason which appeared in the manifesto that came out during the May days.

We repeat what we declared during the plenum, that we didn't attribute a sense of bad faith and negligence to the word 'treason'. It is with that interpretation in mind that we reconsider the use of the word 'treason' in the hope that the committees will also rectify the suggestion of 'agents-provocateurs' which they have hurled at us.

We have been the first to set the record straight. We are waiting for the committees to follow the example shown here, in the very near future."

The story of this attempted compromise is again taken up in detail in issue 5, published on the 20th of July, of which most of page 3 is taken up with a solemn appeal. We see, in this text entitled "The grouping of Friends of Durruti to the workers", how the conflict between the Friends of Durruti and the official organs of the CNT and FAI had been played out. How, after positions had been taken in the aftermath of the May days, despite the promises, the syndical assemblies had not been convoked to discuss the issues and how the committees had taken the decision to expel the members of the Friends of Durruti, despite the fact that the Libertarian youth and many activists were opposed to the measure. The expulsions, having been confirmed by a national plenum bringing together the regional organisations (the Andalusian regional organisation opposed the decision), were in fact rarely carried out in the unions.

The appeal to the workers which finished with cries of "long live the social revolution, long live libertarian communism" and pointed out the sympathetic mood encountered by the Friends of Durruti, was to be scarcely heard.

However, the various issues of "Amigo del Pueblo" contained news of significant subscriptions, of new members, of the formation of new branches, either in confederal units or in localities in Catalonia (Sans, Tarrassa or Sabadell for example). But in a short on page 2 of issue 3, and in a large banner on the bottom of page 3 of the same issue, we learn that the Barcelona local federation of the Libertarian Youth and the Youth defence committees had informed the regional committees of the CNT and FAI of their agreement with the Friends of Durruti's interpretation of the May days. But the grouping's influence was to remain almost exclusively limited to Catalonia and most of the combatants in the predominantly libertarian units never even knew of their existence[*3]. They lacked the means of publicising themselves; Repression both overt and hidden, exercised by the government and CNT committees was to triumph quickly.

Issue 4 of Amigo del Pueblo contained news of the arrest of Jaime Balius [*4], the chief editor of the publication, and the closure by the police of their office on No. 1 Ramblas de la Flores.

The following issues were partly given over to the denouncing the escalating repression and the difficulties of publishing the paper. On September 21st 1937, the last issue, number 8, left the presses.

Thus the Friends of Durruti were unable to be the rallying point for the anarchist opposition, spread thinly in the Confederal masses and at the front. But at least they were able to leave a legacy to the proletariat, a collection of analyses and programmatic proposals which must be taken into account.


It is in this publication [*5], which has already been cited that we find the core of the programme and analysis of the Friends of Durruti.

We possess copies (photo-copied) of the 8 issues of this paper, which appeared between July and the end of September 1937. Without doubt, everything is found here, but since we are materially obliged to make a selection, we have concentrated on the more profound articles and been more restrained with regard to the polemic and apologetic articles. However something must be said about the latter due to their frequency and repetitively. This doggedness is significant, as is the style employed which is likely to surprise today's readers.

It should be stated, even if this is less and less true, that anarchist literature (with reference to the press more than theoretical texts) makes intensive use of romantic-revolutionary lyricism. One can find long incantory passages, appealing as much to the memory of ancient Rome, as to the French revolution. Whats more, Spain has a penchant for excessively epic concoctions[*6] and the language lends itself to soaring, passionate. But it certainly wouldn't be sufficient to see this as merely the desire of the activists to express their exalted sentiments. It represents the last flames of an epoch. Spain of 1936 was one of the last homes of the insurrectional storm which Europe had experienced during the previous century.

To get back to essential matters, the fundamental problems, we have therefore selected articles and grouped them together under a certain number of topics. Each topic is indicated by a sub heading and makes reference to published articles.


Before addressing the substantial questions, there is a question which our readers certainly have the right to ask and which should certainly be answered: why the reference to Durruti?

Along with Francisco Ascaso, who was equally venerated by El Amigo del Pueblo, Buenaventura Durruti was the most popular revolutionary in 1936 Spain. Ascaso fell on the 19th of July 1936 at the head of the CNT-FAI combatants during the assault of the Atarazanas barracks. Durruti left Barcelona for the Aragon front with a column of militiamen. He then made for Madrid which was under imminent threat from the fascists. On the 20th of November he was fatally wounded in circumstances which remain obscure. His life was a series of adventures and his death on the Madrid front turned him into a legend.

To learn about the episodes of his life as much as about the circumstances of his death, Abel Paz' book must be consulted (see the bibliography). Equally, to complement and correct it, Garcia Oliver's book, cited above, reveals the less laudable aspects of Durruti's personality. One point deserves clarification; Durruti, Ascaso and the whole 'Solidarios' affinity group would have been thought of as 'anarcho-bolsheviks' by certain Spanish anarchists in the '20s. They were partisans of a revolutionary alliance with other forces of the left, since strictly anarchist insurrections would have been doomed to failure. They talked of a conquest of 'power', after 'the old machinery of state had been destroyed'. Such a point of view has nothing in common with 'governmental participation', contrary to Cesar M. Lorenzo's claims in his book 'Spanish anarchists and government'. Furthermore, between that old period and 1936 Durruti had evolved.

Who can say what orientation he would have had if death hadn't come so soon? All we know is that he wanted to mobilise all energy to defeat fascism and that he had expressed his indignation and contempt for the indifference and negligence in the rear. A declaration made just before his death (and reproduced on page 4 of issue 3 of Amigo del Pueblo) condemns "the plots the internal struggles" and demands that the leaders be "sincere and construct an efficient economy to allow the running of a modern war". He asks for the "effective mobilisation of all the workers in the rear". He expresses reservations about the need for militarisation and affirms the efficiency of discipline at the front.

It is not certain that he would have followed, to a full extent, the decisions of the activists who were to find themselves in radical opposition to the leadership of the CNT and FAI in 1937. However, one can still understand why those activists should have chosen him as a symbol of a stern struggle without concessions.

The first page of issue 1 of Amigo del Pueblo reveals a lot. It is in colour and contains only a proclamation and slogans around a portrait of Durruti holding the flag of the CNT, the "bandera roji-negra". Here is the essential parts of that proclamation, the tone of which is fully in the spirit of that revolutionary lyricism, which was inseparable from Spanish anarchism.

"Envelloped in the folds of the red and black flag, our proletariat rose to the surface with an ardent desire for absolute liberation.

One man bestrode those sublime days. Buenaventura Durruti rooted himself in the heart of the multitudes. He fought for the workers, he died for them. His immortal past is inextricably linked to that red and black flag which gallantly floated in the majestic July dawn. On his coffin we have discharged him of his burden, in taking it upon our shoulders. With this flag held aloft, we will fall or we will overcome. There is no middle ground: to vanquish or to die".

The bottom of the page declares, in very large type:

"Are we provocateurs? Are we the same old thing? Durruti is our guide! His flag is ours! Long live the FAI! Long live the CNT!"

The determination to attach themselves to the memory of Durruti (and at the same time to reply to the accusation of being 'provocateurs' or 'irresponsibles') is evident in all of the following issues.

Can we talk of a cult of personality here?
And does Amigo del Pueblo answer this question?

The second issue of the paper is more given over to Francicso Ascano and indeed the two men are inseparable with regards to the esteem in which they are held by our Spanish comrades, as they were inseparable in the events which marked out their lives. But issue 3, under the heading "let us imitate the people's heroes", declares on page 2:

"...we are mindful of our position as iconoclasts. However, Buenaventura Durruti would have been outraged by those who audaciously falsify his positions and ideas. Without lyricism or opportunism he would have unamhuously fought against the expanding schemes which are letting us lose the July revolution.

It must be understood that to imitate Durruti means neither to hesitate nor to weaken. It means that we ponder the experience of the July movement and, after analysing it, we decide that the counter-revolution will not carry the day when faced with our conception of responsibility."

Issue 5 takes up the issue again, in a more general sense. But this article, printed on page 4 in the 'ideas' section and entitled "no idols, no arbitrary decisions" is clearly an opinion piece, addressing those outside the Friends of Durruti.

One part of this article takes up the defence of the Friends of Durruti (the grouping is described as an "anarchist institution, created in the lingering glory which a dead leader[*7] left beyond his grave". It supports the righteousness of their fight against "the traditional centralism of every government and variety of state" and against the "incongruous" centralism of the supposed anarchists who had decreed the expulsion of the Friends of Durruti from the workers' movement. The other part of the article deals with "the hero" and declares: "we are opposed to all types of idolatry or personal cult...". Further on, with reference to Durruti, it says:

"he obtained the hero's glory by virtue of his character and sentiments, not for his ideas. And, as regards his perfect idealism, there are other people among the anonymous masses who are not considered to be symbols and who could perhaps surpass our hero"

The following issue (no 6, 12 August 1937), comes back to the question under the heading "Los Caudillos"[*7]. But the 'caudillism' which is denounced is that of the parties which reigns in the highest spheres of the CNT and FAI. It is the caudillism of those who have been built up by the press and orators. It is a different matter when it concerns the "hero".

"have we not said a thousand times that it is up to the people to choose their men and that if the people wish to give superior consideration to one than to others, that it is they who must decide? What is not acceptable is that 'caudillos' should be fabricated with ink and quill.

A caudillo fell in front of Madrid. Buenaventura Durruti obtained the esteem of the popular will because he acted as the people wished him to.

(...)Buenaventura Durruti was a caudillo. But he didn't become one through petty flattery. He attained that state through the course of his life, on the street and battlefield, while those others who aspire to be caudillos were hanging out in the halls of grand hotels alongside elegant tourists"

This is all that we can discover in the guise of a self-critique! Otherwise, this matter was not addressed again in the last issues of Amigo del Pueblo.


We have seen, in the first part of our study, that a significant number of anarchist and confederal activists protested against the spirit of concession which guided the committees at the summit of the organisations.

However the advocates of governmental collaboration weren't always cursory[*8]. Thus Diego Abad de Santillan stated subtly that the necessary revolution would be carried out by the masses and that the government was merely a good instrument for waging the war. He added that, moreover, the presence of revolutionaries in the government would 'perhaps' allow them to prevent the state from putting 'excessive obstacles' in the way of the people's aspirations. D.A. de Santillan argued this line in Soli (the popular abbreviation for Solaridad brera) on April the 16th, a few days before the events of May. He forgot to say that the NT-FAI officers were collaborating in a bourgeois government which was constantly striving to limit the workers' conquests[*9] and which had ousted the POUM without the Garcia Olivers or he Montsenys having raised their voices in protest. He also forgot to specify that the central government had in no way supported the armament production effort which was carried out in Catalonia and that the libertarian columns of the Aragon front weren't receiving any arms and hat consequently the government, while excelling in reinforcing the security forces of the ear, didn't have a clue how to wage the war. How could D.A. de Santillan not see that defence of the bourgeois was being reinforced every day against the steps taken by the masses of workers and peasants, while the Stalinists were extending their power by their control of the forces of repression as well as by their parallel police force.

But ministerialism was to culminate in the May days. It was the main task of issue 1 of q>Amigo del Pueblo to throw light on this and to take an intransigent position on it. The first issue, which is undated, appeared visibly rushed, some articles being almost entirely suppressed y the censor. We can reasonably suppose that it was published on May 15th as it reproduces a text from Barcelona, dated 11th May 1937.

In appearance this issue is consecrated to magnifying the memory of Durruti. In reality it is largely focused on the May days. The second page, at least half of which was chopped out by he implacable censorship, opens the debate without hesitation, by comparing 2 manifestos; That of the regional committees (CNT, FAI and Libertarian Youth) and that of the Friends of Durruti. The regional committees' manifesto is an appeal for workers' unity in order to face up to the provocations, an appeal for political honesty in the rear. It welcomes the "popular decision" which caused the enemy's plan to be halted. But this enemy is not identified and after trying to justify the CNT and FAI's line in the aftermath of July 19th 1936 and presenting the moderation of their present demands as a sign of "nobleness and loyalty", it finishes with the following catch-cries "Long live the proletariat's revolutionary alliance! Down with the counter-revolution! Long live the CNT-UGT unity, the guarantee of triumph in the war and revolution". This manifesto contains no reminder of the revolutionary objectives, it helps to perpetuate illusions (especially when one knows what the UGT leaders in Catalonia were up to), it contains no criticism of the government and doesn't say a word about the CNT ministers. It is the very epitome of amH3uity and political weakness.

As for the Friends of Durruti's manifesto, it is much more radically censored, it denounces the illusions in anti-fascist unity and the treason's of the leaders. Here are the outstanding passages (the parts in bold are sub-headings in the original text).

It has been stated that the days of July (1936) were a response to fascist provocation, but we, the Friends of Durruti, have publicly supported the position that the essence of those memorable July days resides in the proletariat's desire for absolute emancipation.

The regional committee of the CNT disowns us

This disavowal on the part of the supposed executive committees does not surprise us. We know in advance that these committees are capable of doing nothing except to paralyse the advance of the proletariat. We know only too well the trentistes who are members of the regional committee.

We are the Friends of Durruti who have enough moral authority to denounce these individuals who have betrayed the revolution and the working class, through their incompetence and negligence. When we had no more enemies in our way, they handed power back to Companys and the petit-bourgeois and whats more, gave control of public order back to the Valencia government and general Pozas' defence service.

The treason is enormous, the two essential safeguards of the working class, security and defence, handed to our enemies on a plate.

What to do?

Despite the arranged truce, the spirit of the days which we have just gone through still exists. We have committed the enormous error of giving time to our adversaries to reinforce their positions. We have granted the Valencia government the chance to send reinforcements to the counter revolution.

We didn't know how to strike at the heart and there was no co-ordination on the field of insurrection.

We are observing events to come. We are not discouraged. Our revolutionary morale remains solid. We recognise that this is a crucial stage for us. We will not let ourselves be duped by the supposed danger of an attack by the ships of the English squadron when in reality the democratic powers are assisting fascism with impunity.

(...)comrades no weakness

Long live the social revolution! Down with the counter-revolution!

On the same page, a little article entitled, "Commentaries" is worth quoting:

"We are reproducing the manifesto which the regional committee has just launched and we are juxtaposing the manifesto which our grouping published a few days beforehand and a leaflet"(we don't possess the full text of these writings - translators note).

"We are pointing out to workers that the same committees which treated us as provocateurs during the May days have to recognise that it is necessary to adopt harsh and decisive positions in favour of our revolutionary conquests.

However, in the above mentioned manifesto, we observe an extraordinary obstacle. We continue to believe that the real spirit of the May days can't be explained, but we applaud the fact that the events themselves had the effect of showing the committees that their behaviour has been seriously regrettable and wrong."

It is in this same first issue that Eleuterio Roig, one of the principal editors, compares the "two dates" of July 1936 and May 1937, in an article on page 3. He emphasises that while the opportunity of the days of July '36 had been lost, the May days would have allowed a return to revolution. But while July '36 was wasted due to incapacity and the absence of a practical vision, while this amounted to an "error", on the contrary in May '37 we must talk of "treason" and the article concludes that "the heads of the guilty must roll in the dust"

But the condemnation of ministerialism wouldn't be complete without recalling that the leaders had entered the Generalidad government and central government while the plenum of the regional organisations of the CNT had envisaged proletarian unity in terms of revolutionary bodies, regional and national juntas of defence. This bureaucratic deviation is denounced in the article from page 4 of issue 1 that has already been cited in connection with the introduction of the Friends of Durruti. Finally the article emphasises the fact that the pages of the CNT press are closed to opposition and for this reason a publication which can reaffirm revolutionary positions is needed.


One of the tasks that the Friends of Durruti gave themselves was the denunciation of counter-revolutionary schemes. We have seen that the first issue of Amigo del Pueblo had already addressed this topic with respect to the May days. The popular patrols, whose existence was threatened, are praised and the pages of the paper are offered to them. The suppression of the popular tribunals and the return of the old judiciary is denounced. A short announces the murder of Berneri and Barbieri. What is most notable is the announcement of the toll of the May days: 500 dead, 200 wounded, and numerous revolutionaries imprisoned.

The second issue, which came out on the 26th of May has a reproduction of a very fine engraving on the front page. It represents, in red and black, the taking of the Atarazanas barracks on July 19th 1936, alongside a portrait of Francisco Ascaso who died during the fighting. Under the engraving, surmounted by a banner castigating the censor's measures, there is a notice in black letters on a red background whose content is as follows:

"We are opposed to any armistice[*10]. The blood expended by Spanish workers is an insurmountable obstacle on which the schemes of the politicians of this country and of world-wide capitalist diplomacy will fail.

To conquer or die, no other outcome is possible."

The notice is flanked on either side by two short articles which clearly outline the danger of an armistice allowing the re-imposition of "caste-priveleges against which the Iberian proletariat arose during the memorable days of July". There would be something in it for the European powers, particularly France and Britain, while Hitler would obtain zones of influence and Italy's conquest of Abyssinia would be recognised. These powers see the

"clear danger that our desires will infect the pariahs of neighbouring countries and the slaves of overseas.

For these reasons the fascist states and democratic powers have a special interest in quenching the war that we are fighting, more properly called an armed revolution. We will not retreat in the battle"

Under the heading "The May days", page 2 describes how the PSUC had organised provocations with the agreement of the Catalan parties. On page 4 under the headline, "The counter-revolution continues to advance", there are several articles focusing on the replacement of Largo Caballero by Negrin at the head of the government. It is the editorial on this page which particularly grabs one's attention because events have since shown that the Friends of Durruti were right. Here are the principal passages of this editorial:

"The crisis which occurred in the Valencia government is the logical consequence of the premeditated plan which we have seen in action, all across Catalonia.

The press which applauded the 'cease-fire' has declared in loud voices that the authority of the Valencia government emerged reinforced from the May days. But it wouldn't have made sense if a government composed of trade-unions[*11] should be allowed to profit from the intervention of uniformed units.

Largo Caballero is in disgrace...

...The democratic powers who are interested in an end to the Spanish conflict want to prepare the ground for a difficult manoeuvre. The CNT is an obstacle to any compromise. Therefore the Valencia government must have the consistency of cotton wool.

The Spanish communist party was in the forefront of this profound change which Spanish politics has gone through. The Marxists, who are Marxist in name alone, have directed all the counter-revolutionary machinations which for a while now have been threatening to rise to the surface and leave their indelible marks.

(...)The most crucial aspect of the new situation is the training of a new army which, from now on, will have nothing in common with the men who went out into the during the first days of our revolution, ragged and with a sublime faith in the cause of the proletariat...

Another question which was debated with much vigour in the course of the crisis was the question of disarmament of the rear which clearly equals disarmament of the working class.

The CNT's exit from the governmental sphere doesn't displease us, anarchist and revolutionary workers. But the CNT representatives didn't abandon the government out of conviction, they were pushed out of it by circumstances."

The other articles on this page denounce the "resurrection of parliament" which had been disinterred by Negrin, Stalinist abuses, the sympathies shown by the entire press - subservient to the new government and finally the meeting in London between the Socialist minister Julian Besteiro and the British foreign affairs minister, Eden, at precisely the time of the change of government in Valencia.

It is almost superfluous to point out that all of the issues of Amigo del Pueblo, until the very end, continued to trace the deeds which marked the steps of the counter-revolution. We recall the most notable examples.

On the first page of issue 3, it is shown how, 24 hours before the order for the dissolution of the popular patrols, groups of assault guards had attacked comrades from the patrols. The names of the killed comrades is given and the circumstances of their deaths is specified. With regards to this, it should be noted that the names of assassinated activists are given in several issues.

The dissolution of the popular patrols was to be maintained whether or not the CNT representatives should resign from the Generalidad government, as the Friends of Durruti demanded. Their paper also protested against the continued imprisonment of anti-fascist activists while detained fascists had every amenity, some of whom were even released upon accepting the communist party (more precisely the PSUC). These almost unbelievable facts are related particularly in issue 6 of 12th August 1937, which describes the condition of antifascist prisoners in the model prison in Barcelona and in the Madrid prison, especially reserved for workers. All the lower half of the first page is given over to this issue, as well as a short on page 2 and a long article on page 3 , entitled: "After the events, the repression of last May". It is specified, in one of the shorts on page 2, that "in the model prison the fascists largely control the criminal records bureau, the infirmary... and almost all the postings. In the prison mass is said, the fascist hymn is sung, the fascist salute is made, fascist propaganda is spread with the complicity of the PSUC which recruits its members from fascist elements and many of these have been freed and enrolled in the party of Comorera and Ovseenko. And to relate that the director of the prison was proposed by the CNT!"

In the same issue, the question of the assassination of the POUM leader, Andre Nin, is posed on page 4. The trial of the POUM for espionage is denounced as being the work of Komintern. The Friends of Durruti predict that the sordid manoeuvre against the POUM will be soon repeated against the CNT and FAI activists.

At the end of page 4, the system in the infirmary of the model prison is reviewed and the page ends with the following highlighted piece:

"one year after the days of July, it is easier to fascist free than a worker. For one comrade freed, 50 fascists get out".

Issue 7 of Amigo del Pueblo is mostly devoted to casting light on the escalation of the counter-revolution. On the first page there is a long article on the repression in Aragon. The article gives the details of the attacks on the collectives by Lister's division[*12]. These attacks were accompanied by the closing of the offices of the Libertarian organisations and the arrest of the activists who were members of the council of Aragon, which was dissolved by Negrin's government. On page 2, the figure of 800 workers imprisoned in Barcelona is given and a very large highlighted piece recaps the various stages reached by the counter-revolution in little over a year. Here is the translation.

"Just 13 months"

1. Triumph of the proletariat in the July days.
2. Collaboration with the petite-bourgeois.
3. Dissolution of the antifascist committees.
4. Political intervention of the USSR in the Generalidad government.
5. Death of Buenaventura Durruti.
6. Advance of the counter-revolution.
7. Boycott of the confederal columns.
8. Handing over of the town of Malaga.
9. May days, cease fire!
10. Negrin's government in Valencia.
11. Presidential government in Catalonia.
12. Disappearance of the popular patrols and defence committees.
13. Public order and defence taken in hand by the counter-revolution.
14. Abandonment of Bilbao's metallurgy factory to fascism.
15. Assassination of activists from revolutionary organisations.
16. Violent repression against the proletariat.
17. Prisons stuffed with workers.
18. Government prisons.
19. Disappearance and death of Andre Nin.
20. Attacks on collectives, unions and cultural centres.
21. The revolutionary press enchained.
22. Dissolution of the council of Aragon.
23. Thousands of guards, furnished with abundant arms and supplies, remain in the rear receiving war pay.
24. Alarming rise in the price of basic goods.
25. Azana, Companys and all the great bureaucrats continue to be treated in the manner which they were accustomed to.
26. Scarcity of essentials. In the luxury restaurants the profiteers of the revolution continue to gorge themselves.
27. Searching for cushy jobs is the order of the day.
28. The militias eat badly and are paid very irregularly.
29. Recognition of religious prerogatives.
30. In Valencia, the first celebration of an official mass.

But it is not possible to wrap-up this question of the counter-revolution without having a particular look at the problem of the army. Along the way it has been shown that the government was doing everything possible to insidiously replace the militias with an army of the traditional type; a tool specially cut off from the popular forces. A long article published on page 4 of issue 5 (dated 20 July 1937), allows us to measure how far this process had gone one year after July the 19th 1936. The article is incisively titled "towards the creation of the army of the counter-revolution". Here are the important pieces:

"Indalecio Prieto (socialist) minister of national defence decrees:

Firstly: it remains rigorously forbidden for individuals of the army, navy or airforce to spread propaganda with a view to getting soldiers, line officers, chiefs or officers to enrol in a particular political party or workers organisation. In maintaining the most scrupulous respect for the freedom of thought of the fighters, to display one's loyalty it should be sufficient to be a member of any antifascist group or trade-union whatsoever.

Secondly: Propositions or mere suggestions of a superior to an inferior, to change political or union orientation will be considered as constituting dereliction of duty and will mean the "demotion" of he who commits such a dereliction without affecting the corresponding penal sentence.

(...)The only class incapable of learning from the bloody lessons of history is the bourgeois. Even after great experiences, including the French revolution with Carnot's example, they opted out of constructing an "apolitical" army.

We are not deceived by the myth of impartiality which is attempted to be enthroned by this decree. We know all about the execution shows put on by Lister and El Campesino in the central region, against elements belonging to our organisations. Due to this apoliticism, clandestine propaganda is again being produced in the military, like before the 19th of July. It is the bourgeois launching, in an accelerated way, the process of the counter-revolution. This is a brutal threat by the pseudo-democratic dictatorship which is turning against the revolutionary proletariat and is forbidding the free expression of our ideas...

And our movement, (the CNT-FAI. translator's note) does not oppose such decrees, worthy of social democratic reformism! And our fighters are blocked by these intruders who in July retreated meekly in the face of fascist provocation and who today, without any dignity nor collective feeling, openly throw themselves against the revolutionary fighters.

Our military leaders know it well. They can be demoted. And equally the elements which accepted militarisation as a means of co-ordinating energies for running the war, but not as an acceptance of whatever laws the bourgeois edicts in this domain.

(...)A revolutionary army in the service of the liberation of the proletariat!! That is our counsel. And also to work without letup and prevent the rebirth of militarism through our hesitations and lack of revolutionary vision. What happened to fascism must happen to social democratic centralism. It will not pass. We will wipe it out.

We here broach another fundamental question, the relationship between war and revolution, and the question of the armed defence of the revolutionary territory. This problem is evoked in every issue of Amigo del Pueblo.


1. The grouping formed in February according to James Balius who was at one stage in charge of editing Amigo del Pueblo (according to a report written in May 1978 by the Arles group of the OCL, ex-ORA, who were able to meet Jaime Balius for the paper Front Libertaire). According to a letter from Jaime Balius dated June 24th 1946 to Burnett Bolloten (see his book la RÈvolution espagnole ed. Ruedo Iberico p. 346), the grouping was created by militia men of the Aragon front who had come to Barcelona to protest against the militarisation decrees. It was to count between 4 and 5 thousand members by the start of May.Solidaridad Obrera, the CNT's paper in Catalonia published a statement on March 5th announcing the creation of "Friends of Durruti".

2. The following passages were taken from a leaflet quoted by a witness, L. Nicolas, in an article in the review La RÈvolution prolÈtarienne no. 246, May 1937.

3. However, well-known CNT activists gave personal support to the FOD. One finds the name Miguel Chueca, a member of the council of Aragon, among the published list of subscribers. Chueca, an anarcho-syndicalist activist who was very wary of the FAI, thus expressed his opposition to the CNT's bureaucratisation and the capitulations of its leadership.

4. Jaime Balius' arrest was cloaked in silence, even in the confederal press.

5. El Amigo del Pueblo, 'the people's friend' was a name chosen in memory of Marat's paper during the French revolution. The texts published by the Friends of Durruti (leaflets, theoretical pamphlets, papers) were reproduced in 1977 by 'EtcËtera y colectivo de documentacion historico-social' in Barcelona. This collective specifies that two issues of the paper were edited in prison and printed clandestinely by CNT activists on the paper and machines of that organisation. Issues 5 to 8 were printed in Perpignan. Between July and December 1961, a few 'survivors' of the FOD published 4 issues of AdP but these issues, adressing matters of the day, are fairly confused and without interest to our study.

6. Jose Peirats expresses this disposition extremely well (book cited above, tome 1, bottom of page 47 and top of page 48) with regard to the polemics which raged in the CNT in the 30's.

7. The word 'caudillo' is used many times in this article, it is difficult to find an English equivalent. It means inspired guide rather than leader.

8. Refer to the paragraph entitled 'the masses and the chiefs' in part one.

9. The dissolution of the commitee of militias in September 1936 in Catalonia and the public order decree, issused by the Madrid government on September 1936, should be recalled. They put all of the forces in the rear under state control.

10. This refers to an eventual armistice between the Republican government and Franco which the supposed 'democratic powers' were making a lot of noise about. Evidently any such armistice would have required that the Republican government could control the revolutionaries.

11. Juan Negrin, a member of the moderate wing of the Socialist party, had been the minister for finance. He became an ally of the stalinists with an aim of reestablishing the authority of the bourgeois republican state. It is surprising that they here talk of a government made up of unions. The author clearly wishes to contrast Caballero's government, containing CNT and UGT representatives, with the new government which only included representatives of the political parties, thus excluding the CNT.

12. Lister commanded a stalinist division