Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Three Generations of Spanish Anarchists

In 2013 the collection department of the IISH inventoried the papers of three Spaniards whose personal biographies, although belonging to different generations,  are connected to and colored by the Spanish Civil War and the decades of the Franco regime and political exile abroad.

Most important and largest of the three are the papers of Juan Manuel Molina (1901-1984). In the early 1920s Molina, later known as Juanel, was the leader of the anarcho-syndicalists in Murcia and a member of the national committee of the CNT.  In those years he also met his lifelong companion Lola Iturbe (1902-1990). He was involved in the clandestine production of grenades in 1926 and then expelled to Belgium, where he met Buenaventura Durruti and Francisco Ascaso. Back in Barcelona since 1930, during the Civil War Molina was CNT sub-secretary of defense. At the end of the civil war, he escaped to France, where he was one the leaders of the MLE, the Spanish Libertarian Movement. Molina returned clandestinely to Spain in February 1946, where he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released and settled in Toulouse in 1952. He published Noche sobre España. Siete años en las prisiones de Franco (1958), España libre (1966), El movimiento clandestino en España 1939-1949 (1976) and El communismo totalitario (1982).
Molina’s papers contain agreat deal of correspondence with and documents about other heads of the Spanish left movement during and after the Civil War. Prison letters from Molina to his wife and family are also included.  Finally, there are substantial files on the assistance organizations for Spanish refugees during the first  years of exile and on Molina’s activities for the libertarian movement during his stay in France.

It must be emphasized that the papers of Juan Manuel Molina are also the papers of his wife Lola Iturbe, also a CNT member. During the Spanish Civil War Iturbe was correspondent to the Aragon front for the syndicalist weekly newspaper Tierra y Libertad and guide to Emma Goldman during her visit to the cooperatives and the frontlines. She was an active supporter of the anarchist women’s organization Mujeres Libres, founded in 1936, and wrote articles in their magazine Mujeres Libres. During her exile in France she was active in the resistance and collaborator of España libre, the periodical of the CNT in exile and published in Toulouse. She published La Mujer en la Lucha social y la Guerra civil de España (Mexico, 1974). 

Manuel Buenacasa Tomeo (1886-1964) is from an older generation than Molina. Buenacasa too was an anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist. He met Lenin twice, in London and in Lausanne. He organized the general strike in Zaragoza as protest against the murder of Francesc Layret 1920 and in the 1920s lived alternately in France and Spain. He fought in the Spanish Civil War at the frontline in Aragón, where his son Antonio was killed in 1937. He too fled to France in 1939, where he was held in a detention camp from 1939 until 1943. Later he was active in the CNT in exile, and wrote a series of manuscripts on the Spanish labour movement, some of them published. The manuscripts were preserved in his collection, along with his correspondence with Juan Manuel Molina, Jaime Padros, and others.

Luis Andrés Edo (1925-2009) started working in the Barcelona workshop of the RENFE, the Spanish railways, and came in contact with CNT organized railroad workers 1939. Later he refused military service and was jailed in 1947. A series of escapes and imprisonments followed until he was arrested again in 1966. From then on he was imprisoned for years with only a short interruption until the Amnesty of 1976. His papers contain correspondence and various manuscripts written in prison. One of these was published under the title La Corriente (2002). (text: Bouwe Hijma)

10 March 2014