Leftist repression of the blue shirts

Gustavo Morales

The terrorist attacks by socialists, communists and anarchists against the Falangists followed a methodical approach throughout Spain aimed at exterminating the blue shirts.

The Spanish left, following Gramsci’s models of cultural mutation, projects a false and oversized image of the Falange, falsely identifying it as one of the main groups whose actions provoked the Civil War. The reality is that, says Stanley G. Payne, “the Falangists were the main targets of left-wing attacks”.

The rejection and repression that the National Socialists received from the Republican government was always far superior to their strength and social action. The left-wing gunmen and the prosecutors competed in anti-fascism.

Socialists, anarchists and communists bloodied the streets every time the blues went out to sell their publications FE and Arriba. Francisco Bravo recounts that “Marxism took advantage of the appearance of the weekly FE to show its hostility to the new entity. The professional vendors and newsagents refused to sell it, by order of the Casa del Pueblo. The Falange militants themselves had to take to the streets to offer it to the public. And these were enthusiastic and naïve boys, courageous but untrained for action, who went out to offer their lives in an act of service, with a courage that even renounced defence”.

No reprisals

The left censored freedom of expression with shots and knives, although most of the Falangists murdered by red hatred, writes Pío Moa, were not killed in clashes but in attacks: “The Spanish Falange had to witness the spectacle of seeing its militants murdered for several weeks, without being able to retaliate for two fundamental reasons: because José Antonio – who would later say that «action, when it is not governed by thought, is pure barbarism» – felt scruples of Christian conscience in the face of reprisals, and also because the Spanish Falange was not yet fit for armed struggle”. Some newspapers described Primo de Rivera as “Juan Simón, the undertaker” because of the frequency with which he had to attend the funerals of his followers. The acronym FE was humorously explained as “Funeraria Española” (Spanish Funeral Parlour) and the Falangists were labelled “Franciscanists” for their initial resistance to revenge.

Falange rally in Zaragoza, October 1936.

Falange rally in Zaragoza, October 1936.

The terrorist attacks by socialists, communists and anarchists against the Falangists followed a methodical approach throughout Spain aimed at exterminating the Blues.

The straw that broke the camel’s back

Before the founding of Falange Española, the police of the Republican regime shot dead a Valladolid militant of Ramiro Ledesma’s JONS in 1932. After him, four students of the Spanish University Union, three Falangist peasants and three National Unionist workers, among others, were murdered until 10 June 1934. The 20th victim was Juan Cuellar, a 17-year-old student. Assaulted by young socialists in El Pardo, his face was so deformed, his hair torn off and one ear hanging off that his father could not recognise him. He was shot and stabbed, and when he lay dying on the ground, he was kicked and the socialist Juanita Rico urinated on his body. This date marks the beginning of the first deadly Falangist reprisals. It was a question of physical survival.

As David Jato writes in La Rebelión de los estudiantes, in the Falange “death came before the regulations. When the Statutes of the nascent movement had not even been drawn up, and only the slightest mention had been made of the way in which the students were to be framed”.

As an example, here is a button. On Wednesday, 11 April 1935, in Salamanca, Carmen Pérez Almeida, a 12-year-old student, accompanied her brother Juan and his girlfriend to the Parque de la Alameda to pick up another sister who worked at a nearby school. They were followed by FAI terrorists who unloaded lead and hatred from their guns on the brothers. The girl Carmen was shot in the back of the head. Her brother Juan lay dying with his chest crushed, looking at the corpse of his twelve-year-old sister. In the “Presente” dedicated to them by the newspaper Arriba, it was written: “Juan Almeida fell, for Spain, treacherously killed with the little sister he loved so much, (…) in one of the most vile attacks the Falange has ever suffered. Keep this name and this pain in the depths of your souls and think that up there, with Juan Almeida and the twenty of us, there is a girl who has been killed by a family of good people, but who has also been killed by us”. Carmen, who because of her age could not be affiliated to the Women’s Section, was considered by the Blues to be the first of their fallen.

According to the figures of the French historian Arnaud Imatz, before 18 July 1936, almost ninety Blues were killed and the Falange executed seventy of these terrorists. Between February and July 1936, 160 churches were totally destroyed, 251 others were attacked, 269 people were killed in attacks and 1,287 wounded, 146 bombs exploded, seven anti-Popular Front party headquarters were closed, 69 destroyed and 312 assaulted, 33 opposition newspaper offices were attacked and the premises of 10 other newspapers were destroyed. The Popular Front was in power.

Sources

This post was translated from:

Morales, G. (2022) ‘La represión izquierdista contra los camisas azules’, El Debate, Madrid, 27 May. Available at: https://www.eldebate.com/historia/20220527/represion-izquierdista-contra-camisas-azules.html (Accessed: 11 June 2022).

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