Emma Goldman Political Persecution in Republican Spain

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Emma Goldman Political Persecution in Republican Spain
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  Emma Goldman Political Persecutionin Republican Spain 1937  2 O n my first visit to Spain in September 1936, nothing surprised me so much as the amount of political freedom I found everywhere. True it did not extend tofascists; but outside of these deliberate enemies of the revolution and the emanci-pation of the workers in Spain, everyone of the anti-fascist front enjoyed politicalfreedom which hardly existed in any of the so called European democracies. e one party that made the utmost use of this was the PSUC, the Stalinist partyin revolutionary Spain. eir radio and loudspeakers filled the air. eir dailymarches in military formation with their flags waving were flaunted in every-body’s face. ey seemed to take a special pleasure in marching past the house of the Regional Commiee as if they wanted to make the CNT-FAI aware of their de t e r m i na ti on t o s tri ke t he b l ow when t he y w ill a  a i n t o comp l e t e powe r. i s was obvious to anyone among the foreign delegates and comrades who had cometo help in the anti-fascist struggle. Not so our Spanish comrades. ey made light of the communistbrazenness. ey insistedthat this circus claptrap could not dec i de t he r e v o l u ti ona ry s tr ugg l e , and t ha t t he y t hemse lv es had mo r e i mpo rt an tthingsto dothan wastetheir timeinidle display. Itseemedto methat the Spanishcomrades had lile understanding of mass psychology which needs flagwagging, speeches, music and demonstrations — that while the CNT-F A I however, were concentrated on their constructive tasks, and fighting on the various fronts, their communist allies made hay while their sun shone. ey have since proved that they knew what they were about. During my stay of three months I visited many of the collectivised estates and f  ac t o ri es , ma t e r n iti es and hosp it a l s i n Ba r ce l ona , and l as t bu t no t l eas t, a l so t he ‘Modelo’prison. entheplacethathadharbouredsomeofthemostdistinguished revolutionaries and anarchists of Catalonia. O urown heroic comrades D urruti andAscaso,GarciaOliverandmanyothershadbeencellneighboursofCompanys,the new President of theGeneralitat. I visited this institution in the presence of a comrade, a physician who had made a special study of criminal psychology e directorgave mefree accessto everypartof the prison andtheright to speakto any of the fascists without the presence of guards. A mong the few hundred admirers of Franco were officers and priests. eyassured mein onevoice of thedecent and just treatment they were receiving from the management in charge of  the place, most of whom were CNT-FAI men. e possibility that fascists would soon be replaced by revolutionists and anar- chists was far removed from my mind. If anything, the high water mark of therevolution in the autumn of 1936 held out hopes that the stain of prison would be wiped out once Franco and his hordes were defeated. e report of the foul murder of the most gentle of anarchists, Camillo Berneri and his room mate, the anarchist Barbieri, was followed by wholesale arrests,mutilation and death. eyseemedtoof antastic, the changeintheinternal  3 politicalsituationtooincredibleto betrue. Idecidedto go backto Spainto seef ormyselfhowfarthenewfoundfreedomoftheSpanishmasseshadbeenannihilated by Stalin’s henchmen. OnceagainIarrivedonthe16 th Septemberthisyear. IwentstraighttoValencia and there discovered that 1,500 CNT members, comrades of the F A I and the Libertarian Youth hundreds of the POUM and even members of the International Brigade were filling the prisons of Valencia. D uring my short stay there I le no stone unturned to get permission to visit some of our comrades, among them G ustel D orster whom I had known in G ermany as most active in the anarcho- syndicalistmovementsbeforeHitlerascendedtopower. IwasassuredthatIwouldbe given permission; but at the last moment, before my return to Barcelona, I was informed that foreigners were not allowed to see the prison. I soon discoveredthe same situation repeated in every town and village I visited. ousands of comrades and othergenuinerevolutionaries werefillingthe prisons under the Negrin-Prieto and Stalinist regime. When I came back to Barcelona in the early part of  O ctober, I immediately sought to see our comrades in the Modelo prison. Aer many difficulties comradeAugustin Souchy succeeded in obtaining permission to have an interview with a f  ew o f t he Ge r man com r ades . Much t o m y su r p ri se I f  ound on m y a rriv a l t he r e that the same D irector was still in charge. He too recognised me and he again gave me full entry to the prison. I did not need to speak to the comrades throughthe hideous bars. I was in the hall where they foregather, surrounded by German,Italian,Bulgarian,Russian and Spanish comrades,all tryingto speak atonce and tell me of their conditions. I discovered no charge whatever that would stand in anyCourt,even undercapitalism,had been pref ered against them,except the idiotic charge of ‘Trotskyism’. ese men from every part of the globe had flocked to Spain, oen beggingtheir way across, to help the Spanish revolution, to join the ranks of the anti- fascistsandtolaydowntheirlivesinthestruggleagainstFrancowereheldcaptive.Others again had been picked up on the street and had vanished without leaving an y tr ace beh i nd . Among t he man y was Re i s , son o f t he i n t e r na ti ona lly known Russian Menshevik Abramovich. e most recent victim is Kurt Landau, a former member of the Executive Com- miee of theAustrian Communist Party, and before his arrest on the Executive Commiee of the POUM Everyeff ort tofind him has metwithf ailure. Inview of thedisappearanceofAndresNinofthePOUMandscoresofothersitisreasonable to conclude that Kurt Landau met with the same fate. But to return to the Modelo prison. It is impossible to give all the names, be- cause t he r e a r e so man y i nca r ce r a t ed t he r e .  e mos t ou t s t and i ng i s a com r ade  4 who , i n a h i gh r espons i b l e pos iti on be f  o r e t he Ma y e v en t s , had t u r ned o v e r m il-lions of pesetas to the G eneralitat found in Churches and Palaces. He is held under the ludicrous charge of having embezzled 100,000 pesetas. A nother one is comrade Helmut Klose, a member of the CNT-F A I. He was arrested onthe 2 nd  J uly.No charge has been made uptothis date,neitherwas he brought before a Judge. Comrade Klose was a member of the FAUD in Germany ( G erman anarcho-syndicalist organisation). A er having been arrested several times, he emigrated to Yugoslavia in the summer of 1933. Expelled from there in February 1937, because of anti-fascist activity. He came to Spain in March. He joinedthefrontierservice of the F A I, inthe‘ D ela Costa’baalion. A er the d i sso l u ti on o f t h i s ba  a li on , i n J  une he t ook h i s d i scha r ge , en t e r ed t he se rvi ce o f the agricultural collective in SanAnores. In compliance with the request from hisgroup he undertook the reorganisation of the Tailors’ Collective of the EmigrantsCommiee. e charge made by the Cheka of his having disarmed officers while in the Frontier Service at Figueras is entirely without foundation. Commanderde AlkertKille.He was arrested on September 7 th .Noreason was g iv en . I n Ge r man y he had be l onged s i nce 1 9 1 9 t o t he P r oduc tiv e Supp ly Un i on . Besides this he was a member of the Communist Party. In 1933 he emigrated to Austria. Aer the February events he fled to Prague: but later returned to Austriawhence he was expelled and le for France. Here he joined the German anarcho-syndicalist group. In August 1936 he went to Spain, where he at once proceededto the front. He was wounded once. He belonged to the Durruti column right up to the time of the militarisation. In June he took his discharge. I also visited the P O UM Sector. Many of these prisoners are Spaniards, but amongst them there are also a large number foreigners, Italian, French, Russianand German. Two members of the POUM approached me personally. ey said lile of their own suffering, but begged me to take a message to their own wivesin Paris. ey were Nicolas Sundelevich — the son of the famous Menshevik whohad spent the longest part of his life in Siberia. Nicolas Sundelevich certainly didnot give me the impression being guilty of the serious charges made against himof ‘having given the fascists information’ among the many other charges against him. It takes the perverted communist mind to hold a man in prison because in 1922 he had illegally le Russia. Richard Tietz was arrested as he came out of the A rgentine Consulate inBarcelona where he had gone on behalf of his wife, previously arrested. When he demanded to know the grounds his arrest the Commissar nonchalantly said “Iconsider it just”. at was evidently enough to keep Richard Tietz in the Modelo since July. As far as prison conditions can be humane the Modelo is certainly superior tothe Cheka prisons introduced in Spain by the Stalinists according to the best party
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