Or They Kill Us
October 25, 1936
Workers of Barcelona and Catalonia, anti-fascist men and women of Spain!
This is a historic act; the act which in fact and in law marks the beginning of a new era in Spain. From this memorable date, all of us, workers of the UGT, the CNT, the FAI and the PSU are united in an indisputable bond. The symbol of the linked flags is the expression of the religious and mystical feeling of the struggle, a feeling that is exalted and that in all must be manifested to the maximum, because this heroic tension is needed by the people in order to conquer and become invincible.
The reality is this: there is an enemy supported internationally by fascist powers. In the face of this enemy, a brave people, an enthusiastic people, a people which, in addition to fighting fascism, understands that the time has come for great social transformations to be built upon over time. Together with these people, two nations united in the struggle in favor of the Spanish proletariat. The enemy, armed and supported internationally by that farce of neutrality, has achieved some victories; and even if he had not achieved them, he has concentrated his maximum effort on the conquest of Madrid, which, to him, represents the legality of the factious insurrection and the legalization by the countries of his existence as a factious government.
It is necessary that all the people of Catalonia, it is necessary that all the people of Barcelona and that the whole of Spain, all of which have the certainty of victory because of their heroism and energy and, even more so, because of the support they receive from the entirety of anti-fascist world, unite in a maximum effort to defeat once and for all this suicidal attempt.
I will also deal resolutely with another aspect of the problem: until today, the revolution has been identified with a somewhat frivolous sense. After the heroic days of July 19th and 20th, after the moment in which Barcelona was able to conquer the strongholds in which the factious factions had entrenched themselves, a moment of calm has followed. It is necessary that all be reintegrated into the great revolutionary work, imposed by the circumstances. It is necessary that this frivolous moment comes to an end, moments like these are made the most of by living as well as possible and worrying as little as possible.
We are absolutely certain that there will be no fratricidal struggles among us that could spoil the revolutionary work tomorrow. We are gathered here UGT, CNT, FAI and PSU; representatives of all the republican parties are here listening to us, from the most extremist to the most moderate, united in the same sentiment that has raised the Spanish people against fascism, in the clear conviction that fascism represented the annulment of all the elementary rights conquered by the people. The militarist Spain, of clergymen, of well-to-do chickens, of aristocratic cocotas and bureaucrats, which has always dragged its rust, its lice and its vices . . . in front of this old and dead Spain rises the new Spain: the Spain of work and of the workers’ organizations conscious of their mission and full spirit of responsibility, to forge their destinies. Was this possible? Would this reconstruction, this self-creation of Spain, be possible without our being united in a logical way?
We have constantly aspired, UGT and CNT, to achieve this sacred unity, unity to which not only the victory against fascism goes together, but also the reconstruction of Spain. A revolution was needed, which was not made on April 14th, but we are making it now. This cannot be achieved through legal channels. The socialist comrades must have realized this and for this reason they took to the streets, to the struggle, and we anarchists have also been taught by experience that a transformation was not possible if we did not stand before the organs of power; this must have been recognized by all. We have always recognized it and maintained it. Today, in reality, the ideological differences that separated us have disappeared, inasmuch as we have accepted the consummated facts, which obliged us to take part in the leading of our country; of the facts that demonstrated that without the union of the mass’s socialism could not be insinuated in Spain.
I would like, comrades; I would like, workers; I would like, antifascist women, I would like all of you to realize what we are at this moment for the whole world. Individually considered, we are beings neither more nor less than the others; we are, in a word, men and women condemned to see their lives pass, as the lives of animals pass; but, collectively, do you know what we are as a people confronted not only against internal fascism, but also against external fascism? Do you know what Spain is with its heroic struggle, with its unceasing combat? If fascism were to triumph in Spain, soon France, which has given us so little solidarity, and which has offended Spain, soon France would also be a victim of fascism, and so would the Belgian people. It is therefore necessary to present this union to the eyes of the world as an example for the triumph of the working class.
If we see the feverish eyes of all the workers fixed on us; if we represent the hope of the democratic spiritual resurrection; if we represent this, our life individually considered is of no importance; of great importance is our existence collectivity and as a people, as a rebellious nation standing against international fascism, in defense of the rights of man, continuing the spirit of the Russian revolution. Collectivity, we are everything, and to this we submit our individual existence. If each one of you felt this feeling of responsibility disintegrate, grow within himself, I am sure that even if we lacked the weapons and the international solidarity integrated by Russia and Mexico, I am sure, I repeat, that even defenseless we would defeat fascism. Victory and triumph are always won by the peoples when they want it. Those of you who have read the French Revolution will know that in order to take the Bastille it was necessary to fill the pits with corpses; and when they were full, the people entered the Bastille like an avalanche, which could not resist their formidable impetus.
Do you know how the fascists have entered the towns? By using the Moors they brought to Spain and the soldiers of the Tercio, prisoners recruited from all of the penitentiaries of the world. Well, did you know that in Villafranca de Bidasoa the fascists only entered after a fight that lasted many hours? And do you know what they did to a fifteen-year-old girl? They took her, raped her, crucified her, and, not seeming to be enough to them, a mercenary stabbed her into pieces, opening her up to the chin. Do you know what the beasts of the requeté did with a comrade? They took him, tortured him, killed him, cut him to pieces and sent him in a box to the militiamen of Irun. Do you know what the fascists did to comrade Villaverde in La Coruña? Well, they prepared for him a death worthy of Vercingetorix; after having shot him, they tied him to the tail of a horse and dragged him through the streets of the town. Another example of the sadism of these scoundrels: there lived in Ceuta a naturist, Miguel Leon; many of you know him, an old man with a long beard; they caught him and shot him after having pulled out his beard hair by hair . . .
We have carried out firing squads, but no torment, no refinement of cruelty, and we have done it because either we kill or they kill us, but we have never disgraced the revolution or the militias with outrage or rape! On the contrary, out of an excess of generosity we have respected many women, whom we have then found on the fronts serving in espionage. Cruelty, sadism, barbarism, are in the reaction; the spirit of fascism, the spirit of Anido and Arlegui, revived in the figure of those trabucaires friars, in the person of those friars who did not hesitate to bring regular Moors, Germans and Italians to Spain, who did not hesitate to tear Spain apart, offering Germany, Italy and Portugal pieces of our soil in exchange for the most shameless support. As for the foreign journalists, eager to hunt news, it is necessary to tell them that the bishops are not of our people, not of the people, of the generous and remarkable people.
What is so strange about the fact that we have burned convents and churches in Spain? Are the masses overwhelmed by injustice and outrage controllable? In Spain they have not been destroyed; and if they have been killed, it has been out of the conviction that it was necessary and with full knowledge of the cause. In Russia, in the first days of the revolution, the people destroyed everything and it took two years to rebuild the machines and empty the mines of water, which the fury of the masses had flooded. This has not been done here, and let the foreign journalists who travel the fronts know it.
Workers of the factories, of the workshops, of the countryside, technicians and intellectuals, who feel in you the feeling of human dignity confronting those who prostitute freedom and justice, join our gigantic movement; help us fight on the front. We ask you for solidarity, for us, that you mobilize yourselves individually and collectively, and that you all feel solidarity, not only in defending Spain against fascism, but also in achieving the maximum welfare, the maximum justice among all. We ask those of you who represent Spain, where the authentic values of the Iberian race are exalted and manifested; we even ask it of you as Spaniards. Within each one of us, even if we are socialists, anarchists or republicans, there is the pride of a strong race, which has well-defined ethnic and regional characteristics, which forms the bravest conglomerate of races in the world. The people have been from the most remote times the realizers of unique and formidable works. We know of the pyramids of Egypt, but we do not know of the outcasts, of the pariahs who dragged the great blocks and died, crushed under them. The great works have been done by us, the starving multitudes of the whole world, carrying with us the hunger and thirst for justice that we have defend against fascism, which is tyranny and destruction of all the moral and spiritual values of man.
Translation by Hannah Abigail Foley.
Copyright 2021 by Hannah Abigail Foley. Used by permission. All rights reserved.