R.A. Forum

Accueil > Research on Anarchism > History : Anarchism and Anarchists Yesterday and Today > By Country > France > 1936-1939 : France and the Spanish Civil War and Revolution > French Anarchist Volunteers in Spain, 1936-39 :

French Anarchist Volunteers in Spain, 1936-39 :

Contribution to a Collective Biography of the French Anarchist Movement

David Berry

Research in progress

This paper and its appendices were presented to a conference organized by Professor Jean Batou at the University of Lausanne in December 1997 : ’Les Brigades Internationales. Entre solidarité révolutionnaire et politique du Komintern’.1 The paper represents a continuation of work begun several years ago and is a report on research in progress. The purpose of my work in this area has been twofold. Firstly, it has been largely traditional labour history, concerned with organizations and political ideologies ; it has aimed to help establish as much as possible about the engagement of French anarchist organizations with the Spanish revolution and civil war, thus illuminating the nature of anarchism at a crucial moment in its history, and the nature of its critique both of capitalism and of the dominant forces in the working-class movement. Secondly - and this will be the focus of the present paper - the aim has been to help rescue the memory of anarchist volunteers in Spain - ordinary working-class people in the vast majority of cases (as far as we are able to tell from the sources) - from the “enormous condescension of posterity” 2 by restoring the identity and personal history of the individuals involved. One can only be dismayed at the enormous disparity - and the irony of it - between the relative marginalization of the memory of those who fought against Franco, as compared with the importance attached in recent years to the commemoration of those who fought in the Second World War. From the viewpoint of someone doing research specifically on anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists, it is also frustrating how often the value or ‘importance’ of a working-class activist’s life and commitment seems often to be assessed in terms of the numerical and/or electoral strength of the organization to which they belonged.

Sources

The preliminary study which came out of my earlier research was based predominantly on an analysis of the French anarchist press, with further information from first-hand accounts, French police reports (Archives nationales, Paris) and some secondary literature.3 That study enabled us to provide the bones of an account of French libertarian involvement in Spain, and produced the names of 134 French libertarians who had been in Spain at some point during the war ; of these, it was known that 55 had been at the front (54 combatants and one nurse ).4

The present paper utilizes a database created from this 1989 study plus additional material from the FAI’s ‘Propaganda exterior’ archives (IISG, Amsterdam) ; some information has also been gleaned from the Spanish and Italian anarchist press.5 The most useful items have been two lists of French volunteers (though one of them is acknowledged explicitly by its authors to be incomplete and inaccurate), complemented by a report to the CNT National Committee on the activities of foreign anarchists in Spain, and by the correspondence from Barcelona’s Carcel Modelo of three French anarchists (notably that of Félix Danon). 6 In a minority of cases, it has been possible to confirm or complement the biographical data from these sources using the now completed Dictionnaire biographique du mouvement ouvrier français, though this was not unproblematical.7 If the DBMOF was useful for background information on the better established, better known activists - who tended to crop up on fact-finding missions, as members of delegations or as representatives of organizations, on morale-boosting propaganda tours or giving speeches on the CNT-FAI radio station in Barcelona - it was inevitably less useful when it came to the great number of evidently ‘unknown’ volunteers who bore arms and who, in many cases, never returned from Spain.

Many of the problems associated with this research were discussed in greater detail in Berry 1989 :

  • - the lack of a national recruitment organization and the consequent absence of records comparable to those of the AVER (“Those who left for Spain did so of their own free will, individually”, in the words of the Breton fisherman and anarchist, René Lochu 8 ; nor did the Anarchist Union wish to become “sergents recruteurs”, since they felt their primary duty was to organize solidarity at home in France ) ; 9
  • - the lack of detail contained in letters and newspaper reports ;
  • - the paucity of biographical or autobiographical material ;10
  • - the unreliability of police reports ;
  • - the marginalization of women activists. 11

To these must be added particular problems concerned with the use of the two lists in the FAI archive.

The undated ‘Liste des miliciens français’ is written in French and lists, in alphabetical order, the names of 254 militia members, along with the name of their unit (except in two cases). Oddly, given the title of the list, it indicates that 89 of these militiamen/women were not French : these included 40 Spaniards, 26 Germans, 5 Bulgarians, 5 Swiss, 4 Russians, 2 Czechs, 2 Portugese, 2 Italians, 1 Belgian, 1 Dutch and 1 ‘indéterminé’ (who was in fact a German).12 All the volunteers listed are described as belonging to either the Durruti Column (with no mention of a specific century or other unit - 157), the Sébastien Faure Column [sic]13 (37) , the Ortiz Column (21), the Italian Column (“Col. Italiene” [sic] : presumably the Italian Battalion of the Ascaso Column, the core of which had initially been Carlo Rosselli’s Guistizia e Libertá group) (19), the ‘Los Aguiluchos’ Column (10), the ‘Libertad Column’ (13th Century, 11th Group, Madrid - 5), the ‘Spanish Column’ (“Col. Españole” - 1), the Garcia Oliver Column (1), the Hilario Zamora Column (1) or an Aviators’ ‘Column’ (1). Of those not of French nationality, all are described simply as belonging to the Durruti Column except for 7 Spaniards and a German (Luis Pergamenter) who were with the Sébastien Faure Century ; 5 Spaniards, an Italian, a Czech and a Russian who were with the Ortiz Column ; and three Swiss with the ‘Los Aguiluchos’ Column (Fernand Chevallier, Albert Minnig and Louis Walter). 14

The list produced by the Sección Francesa de Propaganda CNT-FAI, dated 18 October 1938 and written in Spanish 15, is described by its authors as being “unavoidably incomplete”. The list indicates the rôle played by each individual in Spain, and also whether they belonged to a Spanish organization. However, the introduction points out that such membership is only indicated where the authors were absolutely sure. One can presumably deduce from this, therefore, that figures concerning membership of Spanish organizations among French libertarian volunteers probably indicate the minimum. The report points out that many volunteers did not join Spanish organizations either because they did not stay in Spain very long, or because they left for the front immediately on arriving in the country.

The authors also warn that they cannot vouch for the accuracy of the names, as they are based on others’ lists. As far as the names on the final database are concerned, uncertainty exists not just because of this lack of reliability in the source documents, but also because of the poor material quality of the documents consulted, and/or because of the existence of more than one occurrence of a name but with different spellings, even where other information enables us to be reasonably sure that the names apply to the same person.

The Sección Francesa de Propaganda list also provides a greater or lesser amount of information regarding the death of some of the volunteers, providing us with further, more personal evidence of the heavy losses sustained by the militias. After the nationalist offensive of October 1936 at Perdiguera, for instance, only 70 out of 240 members of the International Group - led by the French ex-Artillery Captain, Berthonnieux - returned. Indeed the authors comment - this is in October 1938 - that the majority of those on the list have either been killed or have returned to France.

It is interesting to note the authors’ final introductory comment, given the fact that the Republican government had decided on the withdrawal of all foreign volunteers just a month before the list was compiled : “It is understood that this list is given to the Organization in a confidential form and that it must in no way be used with the motivation of, for instance, withdrawing volunteers.”16 Does this suggest that in contrast to the orderly demobilization of the International Brigades, some foreign volunteers with the CNT-FAI militias remained at the front after November 1938 ?

Analysis of the database

The hope had originally been to produce a database on similar lines to those used by Claude Pennetier and Rémi Skoutelsky in studies of mayors in the ‘Banlieue rouge’ and of French volunteers in the International Brigades, including information on activists’ age, social position, family, trade union and other commitments, as well as details of their activities in Spain.17 Sadly, in the majority of cases it has been impossible to glean a statistically significant amount of data beyond the bare minimum : an activist’s presence in Spain, their rôle and, in the case of combatants, their unit.

The final database contains the names (or, in a few cases, just the intials) of 332 Frenchmen and women who were either clearly a part of the libertarian movement, or of whom we know only that they chose to join CNT-FAI militias. This is far more than the 134 whose presence in Spain I had earlier established, and more than the 169 French volunteers who are apparently listed in a document in the Spanish National Archives at Salamanca. 18

Criteria for inclusion

Where there has been any suggestion that the person concerned may have been an anarchist, or where their political affiliation seems uncertain or contradictory, or where they have become a member of a predominantly anarchist group or organization, then they have been included. Subsequent research may confirm or contradict such inclusions in specific cases, but such largesse seems justified at this stage of the research , firstly in order not to allow activists to disappear from sight if there is any doubt at all ; and secondly because, as it has often been pointed out from the late 19th century onwards, anarchists were to be found in all kinds of organizations, even political parties. Thus, the appendices include references to militants such as Georges Chéron (who left the PC in 1934 to join the Trotskyists, and who at first fought with a POUM unit before joining a CNT militia ; he was also a member of the anarchist-created and anarchist-dominated French Section in Barcelona, which will be discussed below) and Jean Trontin (a SFIO member and Pivertiste who fought with the International Group of the Durruti Column and who died at Perdiguera). In any case, the precise political affiliation of many of the activists on the database is unclear : in particular, all we know about many of those who figure on the lists of militia volunteers is just that they volunteered to fight in a CNT-FAI militia, with all that that implies.

Rôles

Of the 332 individuals on the database, then, 252 were at the front (whether combatant or non-combatant - we can not normally tell) ; 53 fulfilled some kind of support rôle in Spain (these are for the most part members of the French Sections in Barcelona and Puigcerdá) ; 10 were present in Spain as members of visiting delegations (on fact-finding or speaking tours, for instance) or as resident official representatives of French organizations (such as the Fédération anarchiste française or the Confédération générale du travail syndicaliste révolutionnaire) ; 22 fulfilled some kind of propaganda rôle (either through speaking tours in France after visiting Spain, or, as representatives of the CNT-FAI, speaking to French members of the International Brigades) ; 4 were involved with security ; 3 worked in factories ; and in 22 cases, we have no information as to their rôle in Spain.

Militias

Of the 252 militia volunteers, we know that 151 belonged to the Durruti Column ; of these, we know that 42 were members of the Centurie Sébastien Faure and that 13 were members of the International Group. Of these 151, Lacroisille also fought with the 124th Brigada Mixta ; and Georges Longuet with the 14th IB (though we do not know in which order). Apart from the Durruti Column, there were only two other significant groups of French libertarians (or French volunteers with the CNT-FAI militias) : 22 with the Italian Battalion of the Ascaso Column (a further 3 being described simply as belonging to the Ascaso Column) and 16 with the Ortiz Column. Apart from 7 with the Los Aguiluchos Column and 5 with the Libertad Column on the Madrid front, the rest were scattered around different units. A very small number - possibly only a handful - seem to have served with two different units, but we have no information as to why or when

The distribution of French libertarian volunteers amongst the militias & International Brigades

Hilario Zamora Column
1
G. Oliver Column
1
Del Rosal Column (Madrid)
1
“Col. Españole”
1
Iron Column
2
Aviators’ Column
2
Libertad Column (13th Century, 11th Group, Madrid)
5
International Brigades (11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 35th)
5
Los Aguiluchos Column
7
Ortiz Column
16
Ascaso Column
25
Durruti Column
151

This confirms what seemed quite clear already, namely that the great majority of French

libertarians - at least 60% - gravitated towards the Durruti Column - doubtless a function of Durruti’s high profile in France and of his huge personal popularity.

There is very little evidence that desertion was a problem. Only two militiamen are recorded in the sources as having deserted : Roger Coudry (pseudonym of Roger Boutefeu) and the Algerian activist, Mohamed Saïl. Neither charge seems serious. Coudry, a print worker from Paris, was 25 in 1936, and a well-known member of the Union anarchiste and of its youth organization, the Jeunesses anarchistes-communistes. He fought on the Huesca sector of the front in September 1936. If he left the front, it seems to have been for the right reasons : he chaired a public meeting on the Spanish revolution at the Mutualité on 20 October.

As for Saïl, a 42 year-old mechanic from Aulnay-sous-Bois and a member of the ‘anarcho-syndicalist’ Confédération générale du travail syndicaliste révolutionnaire, he was one of the first foreign volunteers to join the Durruti Column in July 1936, and became ‘general delegate’ of the International Group after Bethomieu was killed at Perdiguera in October.19 He was wounded in November 1936 and hospitalized in Barcelona before returning home to Aulnay by January 1937. He did become involved in a bitter dispute with certain members of the Fédération anarchiste française who allegedly passed on a rumour started by non-anarchists that he had wounded himself deliberately.

Non-combatant support

Under support rôles I have included members of the French Sections in Puigcerdá and Barcelona, and those who worked for support organizations set up and controlled by the French anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movements : the Comité Anarcho-Syndicaliste pour la Défense et la Libération du Prolétariat Espagnol, the Comité pour l’Espagne libre and Solidarité internationale antifasciste. This includes a team of eight lorry-drivers who worked as volunteers for these solidarity organizations, transporting supplies of all kinds from Paris to the Aragon front via Perpignan and Barcelona.20 It also includes Pauline Felstein and the primary-school teacher Renée Lamberet, who were responsible, with Pierre Odéon (a leading member of the Union anarchiste who was delegated by the organization to coordinate solidarity), for running the ‘Colonie Ascaso-Durruti’, an orphanage at Llansá funded by the Comité pour l’Espagne libre and SIA (Solidarité internationale antifasciste) : the orphanage was founded in February 1937, and Felstein remained there with the children until they had to be evacuated to France in January 1939.

"Ouvrier anonyme",

Drawing by Madeleine Lamberet

The Section française in Barcelona

The Barcelona French Section was created in July 1936 (i) to organize French-language propaganda for theCNT-FAI and to strengthen links between Spanish and French anarchist and syndicalist organizations ; and (ii) to act as a centre for French anarchists and syndicalists in Barcelona, welcoming, registering and guiding new volunteers and supporting the volunteers at the front (providing a library, delivering mail, organizing morale-boosting tours of the front and so on). From the spring of 1937, the Section would gain a new rôle : representing and supporting French anarchists in Spanish Republican gaols. The Section would collapse soon after the May Days of 1937 as a result of a combination of factors : (i) political differences and power struggles within the group which mirrored conflicts within the anarchist movement in France, the split being broadly between those who supported the CNT-FAI leadership and those (notably FAF and CGTSR members) who were more openly critical ; (ii) a lack of financial and moral support from the CNT Regional Committee (having been housed initially in the Casa CNT-FAI in the Via Layetana, the Section was moved out in November 1936 and had to find new premises for themselves in the Calle Consejo de Ciento ; at the same time, the CNT’s subsidy of 12 pesetas per day was discontinued), a rejection which was doubtless fuelled by criticisms of the behaviour and commitment of some French anarchists and by the increasingly vitriolic language used by critics of the CNT-FAI leadership’s tactics21 ; and (iii) the offensive against the revolutionary movement launched by the communists, with Republican support, from the Spring of 1937 onwards.

We are now able to identify 24 members of the Barcelona French Section. Of these, nine seem to have formed a core group which effectively ran the Section, and to whom can be added René, the Section’s driver :

The committee of the Barcelona French Section
Until March 1937
From March 1937
Secretary
Schlauder
Schlauder
Assistant Secretary
 ?
Lobel
Treasurer
Chatris & Pantais
Styr-Nhair
Barracks duty
François (until February)
Chauvet
Archivist/librarian
 ?
Danon
Propaganda
Fortin (until April)
 ?

Eight members of the Section, including Chauvet and perhaps Fortin, were militiamen, all with CNT-FAI militias on the Aragon front.22 Even the Trotskyist Chéron - whose presence in the group is surprising, given the lack of contact between the two movements in France - left a POUM militia to join the ranks of the CNT-FAI. It does not seem to be a case of militiamen on leave in Barcelona visiting the Section for a week or two ; rather these were volunteers who had served several months at the front and had now left the militias for good. Chéron, for instance, had left the front to work in the armaments industry in Barcelona.

Links to the CNT-FAI are, not surprisingly, strong. Danon, Defèche, Fortin and Lobel were members of the CNT ; Danon and Fortin were also members of the FAI (in what was apparently called the ‘Mimosa group’). At least four members of the Section seem to have been employed by the Seccion Francesa de Propaganda CNT-FAI : Bernard, Fortin, Marchal23 and Styr-Nhair.

The group also contained activists who were there as the officially delegated representatives of their organizations : Mirande was the representative in Spain of the CGTSR, and the representative of the AIT to the CNT ; Prince and Dupoux were the representatives in Barcelona of the FAF. Henry was also a member of the Commission administrative of the FAF.

The Section française in Puigcerdá

The Puigcerdá French Section - just over the border from Bourg-Madame, and one of the main border crossing points - was created in November 1936 with the agreement of the FAI in order to strengthen the liaison between Barcelona and French libertarian organizations. The group’s delegate was Albert Perrier/Périer, a 39 year-old labourer, secretary of the building workers’ union (CGT) in Périgueux and a member of the UA, who came to Puigcerdá in August 1936 and did not leave until 1939. He was assisted by three members of the Tricheux family from Toulouse : Alphonse, a 56 year-old metal worker and a member of the CGTSR ; his wife, Pauline, about whom - typically - we know little else ; and their daughter, Noëla. Pauline was in fact more active in two other groups : a Spanish women’s group, the Groupe d’action culturelle et d’éducation des femmes libertaires à Puigcerdá, in which she was responsible for propaganda ; and, later, the Comité Pro-Refugiados de Puigcerdá, in which she also played a leading rôle. After February 1937, the three groups worked together to care for refugee women and children from Malaga, but all anarchist or syndicalist organizations in and around Puigcerdá were suppressed by the government offensive against anarchist control of the border around April 1937. All three of the Tricheux would be arrested in June or July 1937, and held for some weeks before being allowed to return to France.

Propaganda and delegations

Other categories of French libertarians in Spain include leading activists such as Pierre Besnard of the CGTSR, who visited Spain in autumn 1936 as a member of a joint CGT-CGTSR delegation and made two speeches on the CNT-FAI radio in Barcelona. They also include those such as Achille Blicq who, after accompanying Sébastien Faure to Catalonia and the Aragon front in October 1936, wrote a series of articles for le Libertaire about the accomplishments of the Spanish revolution. They also include people like Lucien Huart who were introduced at public meetings on Spain (in Ivry in November 1936 in Huart’s case) as being “de retour d’Espagne” - a common phrase in publicity for public meetings at that time.

Eight people have been included on the database because they were the delegates or representatives of their organization. This includes people such as Louis Anderson (editor of le Libertaire, 1936-39) and Nicolas Faucier, who represented the UA, le Libertaire and the Comité pour l’Espagne libre at Durruti’s funeral. It also includes Lucien Haussard, representative of the Comité pour l’Espagne libre in Spain in the spring of 1937, as well as others already mentioned in the context of the French Section

"Réunion"

Drawing by Madeleine Lamberet

Finally, a brief mention must be made of the only three who volunteered to work : André Froment and Georges Chéron, both of whom worked in armaments production, and Pakschver [?], who is simply described as working in a factory. Whereas Chéron was at the front before returning to Barcelona to work, Froment and Pakschver seem to have only worked.

Gender

If we look at the personal biographical data available, the most striking thing is the predominance of men. We know the gender of 276 out of the 332 on the database. Of these, 259 were men and 17 women : ie. less than 7% of those whose gender we know. When we examine what these women did in France, it also striking how few of them were with the militias - seven : Thérèse Bardy, Juliette Baudard, Suzanne Girbe, Suzanne Hans, the nurse, Georgette Kokoczinski, Emilienne Morin and a 34 year-old textile worker, Hélène Patou, who were all members of the Durruti Column. Emilienne Morin (partner of Buenaventura Durruti) was responsible for coordinating the the Durruti Column’s technical services at the front. Baudard and Kokoczinski died at Perdiguera in October 1936. Hans, a 22 year-old from Paris, was killed during an attack at Farlete the previous month.

Of the other 10, Felstein and Lamberet have already been mentioned, as have Pauline and Noëla Tricheux, and Simone Weil’s exploits in Spain are well known. Eugénie Casteu, as far as we are aware, was not a volunteer of any kind, but died accidentally, as it were, caught in a bombardment whilst visiting her wounded brother at the front. Léa Meurant, a 53 year-old clothing worker from the Nord, was delegated with her husband Hoche by the Union Fédérative des Comités Anarcho-Syndicalistes Franco-Belges to visit Puigcerdá in February 1937. Montégud visited Spain between October and December 1936 as the delegate of the Fédération anarchiste provençale. Prince and Prudhommeaux are somewhat overshadowed by their partners : René Prince was one of the FAF delegates in Barcelona - we know very little about his wife ; Dori Prudhommeaux, 29 at the time, accompanied her husband André to Spain in September-October 1936 when he was launching l’Espagne Antifasciste 24, but she does not seem to have taken a public rôle herself.

Age

We know the age of only 62 of those on the database, which does not enable us to draw conclusions. For what an analysis of such a small corpus is worth, however, the results do conform to what one might have expected. 34 of the 62 were at the front. Their ages were spread very evenly between 21 and 43, with the youngest by a few years being Georges Jorat (pseudonym of Georges Sossenko), 16, and Jean Bégué, who died in combat at the age of 16 or 18, and the oldest by 13 or 14 years were Alphonse Tricheux and Alfred Lobel. The average was thus 32, or 31 if we disregard Tricheux and Lobel. 28 of the 61 fulfilled other rôles in Spain : support, propaganda, liaison, etc. They are noticeably older, being spread mostly between 33 and 53, with only three in their twenties and the oldest by far being Sébastien Faure at 78. The average was 40, or 38 if we disregard Faure.

Class

As far as social position is concerned, we also have very little information, and much of what we have is vague. We know the ‘socio-professional category’ of 48 individuals on the database. Of these an absolute majority, 28, were blue-collar workers ; 7 were private sector white-collar employees ; 5 were secondary-school teachers ; 3 were shopkeepers or market traders. The branches most represented were the metalworking industries (12), construction (6), education (6) and paper and printing (5). None of these results, except perhaps the number of teachers, is surprising.

It would have been interesting to study the trade union rôle of French anarchist volunteers, but unfortunately almost all of the information we have regarding union activities concerns the small minority who have the privilege of an entry in the DBMOF.

Geography

The geography of those who became involved in Spain is also difficult to be conclusive about, as we only have information in 74 cases (out of 332) as to the department where individuals were living at the time they left for Spain. That notwithstanding, one thing which is immediately obvious from the data is the predominance of Paris and the Paris region : 29 of the 74 had been living in Paris, and a further 12 in the Paris region with notable concentrations in the north and west. The only other noticeable concentration is in Gard and Haute-Garonne (4 and 8). If we limit our investigation to those at the front, we have data for 35 out of 252, just 14% of the group. On that basis, nevertheless, we see that the concentration in Paris and the northern and western banlieue remains true (16, 3 and 3 respectively), as does the showing of the south-west, the only other grouping being in Haute-Garonne (4). These results are what one might expect in terms of the social and geographical implantation of the French anarchist movement (though a proper study has yet to be done) and of the rôle of Spanish anarchist immigration in the south-west.

Towards a Dictionnaire des anarchistes ?

Clearly, much more research is needed before the corpus established here can be fully exploited, and it is to be hoped that other researchers and/or veterans of the movement will be able to provide additional biographical information. Only then - perhaps if René Bianco’s proposal of a Dictionnaire des anarchistes is taken up25 - will we be able to put life into many of the names.

1. The proceedings will be published in French in 2001, edited by J. Batou.

2. E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1980), p.12.

3. See ‘French Anarchists in Spain, 1936-1939’ in French History vol.3, no.4 (December 1989), pp.427-65.

4. Having made that distinction, it is also true that the nurse - Georgette Kokoczinski, who performed at anarchist movement galas under the name Mimosa - is described by Paz as having been a "sort of mascot of the column", and had taken part in many surprise attacks on the enemy rear-guard with the ‘Sons of the Night’ (Hijos de la Noche). Paz 1977, p.277.

5. I would like to thank Marianne Enckell for bringing to my attention information on French volunteers contained in the Spanish and Italian anarchist press : doubtless a more systematic study would unearth further data (the present author unfortunately having neither Spanish nor Italian).

Readers who would like a list of the names on the database should contact the author.
6. ‘Liste des miliciens français’ (n.d. - September/October 1936 ?), TS., 4pp. [Film 23] ; Félix Danon, ‘Rapport confidentiel sur tous les étrangers de langue française détenus à la première galerie de la Carcel Modelo’ (6 August 1937), MS., 2pp. [Film 25] ; Correspondence of Charles Crespin, Félix Danon, Fernand Fortin [Film 25] ; Anonymous report to Mariano Vasquez of the CNT National Committee on the activities of foreign anarchists in Spain (3 December 1937), TS., 5pp. [Film 73] ; Sección Francesa de Propaganda CNT-FAI, ‘Lista de Franceses Llegados a España Despues Del 19 de Julio 1936 (Entregada el 18 de octubre de 1938)’, TS., 9pp. [Film 106].

7. Jean Maitron & Claude Pennetier (eds.), Dictionnaire biographique du mouvement ouvrier français, vols.16-43 : 1914-1939 (Paris : Editions ouvrières, 1981-93). For a discussion of the usefulness of the DBMOF to historians of anarchism, see René Bianco, ‘Les anarchistes dans le Dictionnaire biographique du mouvement ouvrier français’ in Michel Dreyfus, Claude Pennetier & Nathalie Viet-Depaule (eds.), La Part des Militants : Biographie et mouvement ouvrier : Autour du ‘Maitron’ (Paris : Editions de l’Atelier/Editions ouvrières, 1996), pp.185-92.

8. Letter to the author, 4 December 1984.

9. Le Libertaire no.638 (26 January 1939).

10. A recent addition is Philippe Pascal’s work on Charles Ridel’s involvement in Spain for the colloquium ‘Autour de Louis Mercier’, Paris, 1997 (proceedings forthcoming, ed. Marianne Enckell).

11. On this last point, see Dominique Loiseau, ‘Les militantes de l’ombre : femmes de...’ in Dreyfus, Pennetier & Viet-Depaule 1996, pp.257-68.

12. It is unclear whether this was a function of the nature of the international community of exiled anarchists in France (notably in Paris, the south-west - Spaniards - and the south-east - Italians), or of personal friendships, or of French leadership within the international groups, or of a combination of these factors. These 89 have not been included in the database.

13. The French contingent in the International Group of the Durruti Column numbered about 25 in August 1936. By the end of August the French and Italians had united to form a single group which also contained other nationalities. By September, this group was named the Sébastien Faure Century (after the doyen of the French anarchist movement), and formed the 1st Century of the International Group. It had grown to about 50 members by October. By September, Durruti and the CNT-FAI were making it clear in the French anarchist press that arms, other forms of material solidarity and propaganda were of more use to them than any further volunteer militia fighters.

14. For an overview of the rôle played by foreign volunteers in the CNT-FAI militias, see Dieter Nelles’ contribution to this volume.

15. I am grateful to my Hispanist colleague at Loughborough, Paul Kennedy, for translations.

16. “Se entiende que esta lista es entregada a la Organización en forma confidencial y que en ningún caso hará uso de ella con mitvo [sic : motivo], por ejemplo, de la retirada de voluntarios.”

17. See Claude Pennetier, ‘Les maires de la banlieue rouge : une approche prosopographique’, pp.73-90, & Rémi Skoutelsky, ‘Combattants et militants. Prosopographie de 9 000 volontaires français des Brigades internationales : premiers résultats d’une enquête’, pp.91-104, in Dreyfus, Pennetier & Viet-Depaule 1996.

18. Rémi Skoutelsky has estimated that more than 280 Frenchmen and women were already fighting with the “Republican militias” by the end of August 1936. See his contribution to this volume.

19. A photo of Saïl and Métaut, standing beside the graves of fallen IG comrades at Farlete, appeared in L’Espagne Antifasciste (CNT-FAI-AIT), 4 November 1936.

20. Skoutelsky comments on the disproportionate number of drivers among IB volunteers, and on how useful drivers must have been to the Republican/antifascist forces.

21. It also explains the CNT’s refusal to allow the French Section to take part in security work, despite Schlauder’s request that they be allowed to do so.

22. Including Fortin, who, according to the DBMOF, was also a combatant, though I have found no evidence of this.

23. This is surprising, since Marchal was a member of the FAF, which was highly critical of the CNT-FAI leadership. It may explain, though, why - having apparently done propaganda work for the CNT-FAI previously - Marchal (and Bernard) refused to do so again later.

24. L’Espagne Antifasciste CNT-FAI-AIT was created by French anarchists in Barcelona in September 1936 at the request of the CNT’s external propaganda department, and was intended to be a French language version of Solidaridad Obrera.

25. Bianco in Dreyfus, Pennetier & Viet-Depaule (1996), p.192.


Mis en ligne par : CREAGH Ronald

Pour citer cet article :
French Anarchist Volunteers in Spain, 1936-39 :,
Dernières modifications : 27 octobre 2003. [En ligne].
http://raforum.info/spip.php?article239
[Consulté le 26 juin 2017]



BERRY, David
Articles du même auteur :


Pour en savoir plus :



[ telecharger pdf]


* aide à la recherche