My name is Robert Surroca Tallafero.
I was born in 1934 in Barcelona. My family, both my four grandparents and my mother, was original from la Cerdenya, the Pyrenees. My father was born in Barcelona.
I was a pork butcher. I quitted when I was 50 and, fortunately, my children didn’t want to continue with the job. Otherwise, I’d still be working there with them.
I devoted myself to sales and then, when I was 60, I retired.
Yes. The FNC was a group created on the exile in Paris in 1940 when the resistance fighters during the German occupation that had fought side to side with the Republic,
wanted to come back to fight the dictatorship. They had a great activity in France during the Second World War helping pilots of the Allies, jews and everyone that was persecuted.
Here, they would go to the British Embassy of Barcelona and then Portugal would send them back to England again. They have some downfalls here.
They did all kinds of clandestine propaganda. They would hang Catalan flags and blow up fascists monuments, the usual back then. There was an important downfall in 1946
and it was practically disbanded. Everybody though that with the winning of the Allies against the Nazis, Franco’s dictatorship would end.
They saw that it wouldn’t happen. That because the Cold War, the Allies pictured Franco as an anti-communist element. You need to keep in mind that the most important concern back then was to have a dish on the table.
It’s hard to believe nowadays, but it was this way. It wasn’t easy to have food and to give your kids a good life. All this people hibernated, and, from then on, there was a huge desert in the country and in the exile.
People go through the same thing. There were a lot of Catalans in exile in France in 1945. In any town, a group of 4 Catalans
would meet, create an association, put the main café’s address as the address, go to a copy shop and print a bulletin. Labor unions and parties were created again. From
1945 on, they realize that there is nothing to do, and moreover, the French State, threw itself over the communist and libertarian organizations. Ther ewas a huge disappointment and
People retired from many activities, they wanted to move forward and hold their life together. In the FNC, this lethargy, lasts until the 60s when we joined it. It was when I joined.
The new generations didn’t know the war because we were too young back then. We revitalized the party and took it forward based on a series of campaigns that we made throughout the dictatorship.
Here in the country, the important weight was mainly the libertarian, the anarchists who created the urban guerrillas and also a maquis in the mountain the sector of Berga, and those bands. They had mythical people like
Martí Massana, Cara Cremada as people said. Here in the country you could find Tasería, Kiko Sabater and so on. They had armed clashes with the police, there were deaths on both sides.
In the end, they all disappeared because they simply killed them. During armed confrontations, they were arrested and shot them in the Camp de la Bota. And when the libertarian resistance is dismembered, the communists, the PSUC, begin.
But the PSUC, outside the occupation of the Vall d’Aran, which invaded the Vall d’Aran, inside the interior when it realized that they thought that here was a popular uprising.
Something that didn’t happen, people were tired of three years of war. They didn’t want to suffer misery, and hunger, and repression again. Well, the PSUC was already devoted to the political fight.
More and more everytime to what they called mass struggle. That was to influence companies, factories and this type of places. The hard fight, strong. qlthough the last Catalan guerrilla, Ramon Vila Capdevila, Cara Cramada, that during the French resistance
was captain Raimon. He died in 1963 in a confrontation with the Guàrdia Civil of the Serra de Castell Tallat, near Berga. It must be said that when they killed Ramon Vila Capdevila, here the news in the newspaper they portrayed him as a bandit.
But in France the first pages of all the newspapers, rated him as he was, a hero of the French resistance against the Nazis.
This was very simple. The government increased the streetcar fee. I have the information and the pamphlet. People were angry because the price wasn’t increased in Madrid.
It was way cheaper there, and, moreover, here’s was increased. It was a response. Keep in mind that people were sick and tired due to the misery provoked by repression.
It’s not necessary to say so, but Catalunya’s repression was way different than Spain’s. In Spain, people lost their liberties, but not their language and their nation. Here,
you couldn’t speak Catalan in public and it was forbidden in schools, in the press, everywhere. It wasn’t until Franco died that a newspaper in Catalan didn’t talk about the
repression here, which very strong. This, of course, made people very angry, This was very easy,
you didn’t need to do anything heroic, just not getting on the streetcar. Listen, you saw tremendous queues of people waking everywhere while the streetcars were empty. Something curious happened.
Barça was playing in the old Corts one Sunday, and the streetcars went there so people could take them home. It was pouring with rain, but people didn’t care. They got soaked
on their way home. It was a big success. The price was reduced, and the civil governor, fired. He did his job as bad as he could.
This happened again in 1957. It wasn’t a strike but a boycott. The characteristics and the reasons were the same.
But the most important one was the one in 1951 because it was the first time that such a demonstration on the street took place.
Joan Cornodella from Perpinyà was a man that fought in the French resistance. He had French, American and British decorations due to this activity. He was a member of the FNC.
Joan Cornodella Barberà, his cousin, was the leader of the FNC in Spain. He was a man with a great political baggage and he had run Estat Català during the Civil War.
He went into exile in 1940, and returned to the country clandestinely. He took a big risk because back then, you weren’t imprisoned but killed. And with more motives if you were someone like him, a free-masonry.
He returned here with more people, and they got FNC off the ground during the times I have already told you, the hardest ones.
Antoni Turró Martinez was a man living in a French small town called Miramas. He worked in communications, and, from that place, he told the resistance fighters when the trains filled with war material were leaving.
They boycotted the German’s troops. He returned here during the sixties and he joined the FNC in clandestinity. He was an expert of Catalan paper money
made during the Civil War. He made two catalogs: one of Catalunya and one of Valencia. Nowadays, they still serve as a reference to people that devote themselves to numismatics.
Well, people that devoted themselves to such a clandestine task that could only get you into trouble. All of them… Not Turró because he was in France but Cornodelles spent quite some time in prison.
All these people were highly patriotic and generous. And, I believe that they had a great sense of justice.
What made me join the FNC was, overall, the sense of catalanity, and the fact that we were being laugh at. But another reason was the national Catholicism present that time. It was so outrageous and unfair.
You rose up even if you wanted to remain indifferent. I believe these people was moved by the same reasons. I knew them all, and a lot.
You have a picture with them over there. They were people great worth, extraordinary, extraordinary.
We need to bring it forward. In 1965, it was the 25th anniversary of the execution of the president Companys. The FNC were always devoted to the president Companys, for the sacrifice
he made, and for the dignity he showed towards the firing squad. So much so that the pamphlet made in 1945, and in the exile in France in 1950 by the FNC was called “Per Catalunya” [For Catalunya]. Companys’ last words.
We didn’t want to forego the 25th anniversary. That thing with milestone anniversaries: 25th, 50th, 75th and so on. We always did manifestos and paintings. There was a biography made in Paris. The representative of the FNC in Paris,
printed it offset. We entered it clandestinely through the mountain, and handed it out profusely. The same thing was done in 1968 with Francesc Macià. A biography, logically, made in France, and
entered here clandestinely, and handed out profusely. I have both of them here.
The cover of Company’s biography is amazing.
These are both publications. As I told you, this was made in Paris and entered here with photographies of them, clandestinely. From 1963,
I took charge of the organization’ clandestinity machine: the press, propaganda distribution and so on. I created the
clandestine border of frontiers. We started with papers and we ended up crossing everything. In 1965, the magazine was not finished,
but we made this cover with gummed paper. We stuck it up everywhere we could. Something curious happened. Franco once came to Barcelona
and taxis had his portrait on the back of the car. You’ll find this on the press. I’m not sure I have it. We came out, and with a few remaining posters, around 40 or 50,
we daubed the taxis that had Franco’s picture and were parked without the driver. The thing is that, the driver, saw that he had a picture of the back of his car
and so he started the vehicle without realizing what we had done. Someone told him at the end. He was terribly busy then, the glue was extraordinary.
The relationship started because we [the FNC] made a Sunday supplement called Històries de la clandestinitat [Histories of clandestinity]. Besides following my thematic script, I contribute
with almost all graphical documentation and explanations. Such a pity that just one of the two
Sundays supplement saw the light. El correo catalán closed down and the project didn’t go ahead.
Yes, this is it. They are these fascicles of El correo catalán. I have them here, if you want to take a look.
They are all fascicles. It was something huge at that time. This is the FNC. It was something huge because people didn’t know this histories. This is Kiko Sabater.
Lluita llibertària [libertarian fight], the flags that the FNC hanged during the forties in la Sagrada Familia, and in the ferries of Barcelona. This is something very curious. I will show you Barcelona’s ferries.
This is a book I wrote in 2014 owing to the 300th anniversary of Catalunya’s national day. It recalls/talks about Catalunya’s national day from the beginning until the important demonstrations. There’s a flag here
hanged by the FNC in the ferries of Barcelona’s harbor.
Here. This flag, as you can see, is a Estelada. This is rigged by a Falangist magazine. The FNC hanged a Senyera. They bought pieces of clothing and sewed them together
with the FNC acronym. The Falangists put the triangle and the star in such a messy way that it sticks out. They wanted to make the action made by the FNC, a criminal offense.
11th of September, along with Companys’ death day, was a significant day for us. It represented the Catalan national day.
Something was always done that day, whether it was a demonstration, vandalism, hanging [Catalan] flags, burn Spanish ones. The banks had the Spanish flag outside the door when
Franco came to visit. We would go out and burn them all. The 11th of September was a day commemorate just as the 15th of October because of Companys.
Until 1964, Company’s 25th anniversary was in 1965. Hence, in 1964, was the 250th anniversary of 1714 events.
It was the first time a political demonstration was called for in Barcelona. It was a huge success. Not to mention persecutions, detentions, beatings…
The usual back then. We caught the police by surprise. They didn’t expect such a crowd. It had a wide effect. From then on, 11s of September…
In 1971, we set some speakers in Hotel Duval. The voice was mine and it was recorded here, in my apartment. We also played Els Segadors.
It took us a lot of time to find the music of Els Segadors. I had a 10-inch shellac record but it didn’t sound right. In France they sold a record titled Chansons Révolutionnaires [Revolutionary songs of different countries].
Els Segadors was one of the tracks. I had to travel to Andorra, buy different records, throw some away and put the one we wanted in a different sleeve, so we could record it.
We rented a room in Hotel Duval with a fake ID. The guy, previously arrested. It had nothing to do, though. We set up the speakers, it was full of police. People
had been called for with pamphlets. And yes, the record sounded. The Segadors were sonorous and amazing. The voice of a girl and mine appeared doing an address a couple of times,
until police broke in. We had blocked the door with gums but it didn’t work. We had put some kind of device on the megaphone, but they didn’t buy it. They dismantled it.
It was a huge success. There’s a small detail you should keep in mind. We had left an envelope with money to pay for the room, and the damage made on the door, and on a plug we had to break.
The police kept it. We found out later because of the son of the Hotel Duval. This was a keynote. Every time the police searched someone’s place, money went missing.
The brigade, it went like that.
Lluis Companys has been a very controversial politician. Well, all politicians are controversial because of the period they live in. They have enemies and they are slagged off.
He was controversial back then because, during the Republic, he got a divorce and he moved in with a woman without being married. Her name was Carme Ballester.
And this, even if we find it normal today, as it should be, was a sin back then. It was very criticized.
Moreover, he was a left-wing Catalanist republican. He evolved and became the president of the Generalitat, a totally convinced Catalanist.
And his courage was because when the Civil War burst out, there was a revolutionary debauchery that provoked the fascists’ uprising.
That provoked that many people from the FAI went to find right-wing people, priests and all so that they killed each other. Some argue that he was the president of the Generalitat and he had to stop it.
But he couldn’t. When the military did the uprising?, the anarchists entered the barrack in Sant Andreu and seized all the armament. The street was theirs.
He did as much as he could, and he did a lot. There were two advisers in the Generalitat: the cultural one, Ventura Gassol; and the government one, Josep Maria España. They had to go in exile because they followed Companys’ orders. They gave safe-conduct to religous and right-wing people
so they could scape and avoid getting killed by the FAI. People talked about him, he was controversial. But the capacity he had to face his enemies, and the dignity he showed during the trials..
The ones that had rebelled, blamed him of militar rebellion. It’s a caricature of militar justice, and of what Franquism did. The courage, the boldness, and the dignity he showed in front of the firing squad, has made him one of the main characters of our time.
PCE. Well, PCE didn’t act in Catalunya. Here you could find the PSUC. It was made by some other parties during the Civil War.
It grew naturally thanks to the help that the USSR gave to the Republic. One of the few helps it received. It boosted it.
Let’s not forget about the events of May 1937. That’s what I told you, the revolutionary licentiousness that provoked the fascist uprising. It’s often said that churches were burned down, priests killed… And it’s true.
But this happened from 19th of July onwards, when the military made the coup against the legally stablished government. Before that, on 17th,16th and 18th of July, churches weren’t burned down and no one was killed nor persecuted.
It was the revolutionary licentiousness. And obviously, some kind of social revenge of the working class. They were the sons of the gun law from 1920. All this sectors went hand-to-hand to the constituent power.
Here’s when the PSUC was created. PSUC was totally independent from the PCE. It was represented within the international communism independently from Spain.
This caused them a lot of trouble. At the beginning, PSUC was a Catalan obedience party and Catalanist. Some leaders, like Joan Comorera i Soler, had to go in exile. He was persecuted because
he didn’t want to subordinate PSUC to PCE. He came here clandestinely. He was arrested, he went to court-martial and died in Burgo’s prison.
PSUC, both back then and during the anti-Franquism clandestinity was completely Catalan. In the Catalan assembly, one of the four points asked for the statute of autonomy as a way to self-determination. The PSUC did that.
Way different than what Iniciativa per Catalunya is doing today. Anyway, things change.
Well, the Olympics of 1936 took place in Berlin. It was seen as something advantageous for Hitler. He could preach his racists ideology and so on.
So, here in Barcelona, People’s Olympiad was conceived as a protest to Berlin. Some countries joined it. It was supposed to start on 19th of July 1936, the day the military took the streets.
The Olympiad fell through. Some athletes that came here to play, stayed to fight fascism next to the Republic and the Generalitat. But yes, the Olympiad never happened.
A year after the Olympics of 1992, we created a group to honor the process of president Companys. We held a campaign to name the stadium of Montjuïc, Olympic Stadium President Companys.
Among other things, because the People’s Olympiad was presided by Lluis Companys. He was as well executed in Montjuïc and buried in the cemetery of Montjuïc, which is next to the Olympic Stadium.
The plan didn’t work out. Back then, it didn’t come out. Years after the Olympic had ended, Maragall named the Olympic Stadium, President Companys.
With a ceremony the city council held in Barcelona. They named an assembly room, President Companys. They invited me to the commemoration. I have published several books about him.
I approached Maragall and told him that this was very nice, but that the right moment to name the Stadium after him, was during the Olympics.
Everybody would have known who Lluis Companys was. The only president chosen democratically, and executed by international fascism. Maragall told me that it wasn’t the right time, it didn’t interest at a political level.
The CNT wasa Spanish confederation of labour unionshomogeneous in Catalunya. It was the most importamt one before the Civil War and it brought together the working classes.
It was anarcho-syndicalist. They didn’t want to participate anywhere politically speaking. During the Civil War, they changed their minds and they had ?? within government. They were politically compromised.
As I’ve already told you, after the war, the libertarians did a huge urban guerrilla, but little by little. It grew once
the country was democratic. After the events of Casa Escala. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this. It was a provocation by a police informer to
attibute it to the CNT. It’s proved. It fell sharply. The actual presence of the CNT is limited. Moreover, there are two of them, the CNT and the CGT. The FAI
was a libertarian movement within the CNT. They acted on their own. The FAI, pro-armed struggle. They, not during the resistance but after the dictatorship,before the war,
held activities called “economic operations”. They would rob banks to finance the working-class movement, strikes, and this sort of stuff.
The POUM was one of the parties created during the Republic. There were different Trotskyist-like splits. For this reason, the PSUC,
the Communist Spanish Party, fought a lot. You already know how Stalin and Trotsky ended. Stalin ordered the execution of Trotsky when he was in the exile, and protected by Catalans.
POUM wasn’t powerful at all. During the Republic and after the events of May 1937, it was accused of fascist, which wasn’t. It was persecuted and had to go in exile.
Their activity was therefore, limited. One of their leaders, Nim, was arrested by officers of Stalin. He was tortured and killed. Where’s his corpse? That’s still a mystery.
There was a graffiti during the Republic that said: “Where’s Nin?”. It wanted to claim his figure because he was missing. The PSUC, wrote under it: “In Madrid or In Berlin”.
Wanting to say that he was either sold to Franco or to Hitler. It wasn’t true at all.
ERC was a conglomeration of different parties created after the elections of 1932, won by the Front Popular. That was created through Macià’s prestige on the one hand,
During the dictatorship, he had tried to enter with the armed forces of Mullor to fight Primo de Rivera and Lluis Companys’ prestige among social classes.
This two names brought together so many votes that it ended up being the hegemonic party in Catalunya during the Republic.
What I have told you from 1945, when France was freed. It had bulletins and publications with Mexico, in various places in Buenos Aires, in short, we don’t even need to mention France.
Later, Imbert Barreras was enrolled, their leader. These people came here in the sixties to set the party clandestinely, and was for example,one of the parties that
hadn’t yet been legalized when the first democratic elections were held. This was awful for them because they had to present a collision without their name with El Partit del Treball d’Espanya.
What did they have in common? Nothing. This happened to us, to the FNC. One of our slogans published on the newspaper when it was legalized was:
“FNC, the first to fight and the last to be legalized”
Well, they were kinda left-wing but no. POUM and PSUC were completely antagonistic. As I have told you, POUM didn’t pay any special role after clandestinity.
Not even in authoritarian agencies. Here in Catalunya there were several authoritarian agencies during clandestinely. The most important one, The assembly of Catalunya.
It was formed by ERC, PSUC, political forces and 6 other parties. There were also the left-wing parties such as PSUC, Unió Democràtica, FNC etc. Everybody met on the
authoritarian agencies. They were united to fight dictatorship.
Well, as I have previously told you it was something messy done during the revolutionary debauchery. It was a way to stop it and put some order.
There was the collective decree signed by the Minister of Economy, that used to be Tarradelles. He was a very well-known person. Companies
were ruled by workers, through a committee that took them. You have to keep in mind that many small companies of not many workers, the person who led the committee, was the former owner of the company.
The same workers put them on charge because their were the person most capable of taking it forward. It was a quite revolutionary proposal back then, and so pretty advanced.
In the times that have come later. Obviously, this has not had a significance because maybe cooperatives might seem alike. Collectivization within capitalism is unthinkable
Well, during the war it was because there were elements of the CNT. The committee was created. I don’t remember the name. I think it was anti-fascist activities.
Where indeed, as I have said before, the libertarians were opposed to all kinds of political activity. However, they entered here and even some general councilors in the Generalitat
were members of the CNT. During the war there was a parallel activity. Subsequently, each one already in exile, took a different path.
Well, it was a victory of the Franco regime. We already know that. The Civil War… [unfinished]
For example, important military populations were defeated. However, there’s one thing we should keep on our minds. The Republic found itself alone. I mean, many military assets fought on the other side. Many others remained faithful to the Republic.
Many of them were, later, shot by Franco. You find that the Republic might have been able to overcome Fascism
But we must not lose sight of the fact that because of agreements already made, if it is not historically proven, they had them with Mussolini’s Italy
With the Germany of Hitler and with the Portugal of Salazar. All three of them sent troops of important armies. The Italians sent a brigade of volunteers
And the Germans as well, especially the Legion Condor, an air force. It was very poor during the Republic. The Italians also sent a legion of air force volunteers here. This was it. And let’s not forget the mess
at the beginning within the Republican army. They were militias of very ideologically people who, would go there and risk their lives fighting with espadrilles against tanks, and things kind of things.
It was really a mess until the Popular Army was created. It put it into the hands of professional soldiers and they pushed it forward.
But the disproportion of means between them was extraordinary. Keep in mind that the French border had trains full of material ready to enter the Republic.
They were blocked there and could not enter the country. Trains of tanks, spare parts for airplanes and such things. The difference in strength was brutal. The Germans here proved
many techniques, and systems, and air forces that they later used in the Second World War. This was a test field for them. Of course, the Republic had very few and limited means.
They could not win. They could not win. Enduring three years? That was a miracle.
[Durruti] An anarchist leader for a long time. It was one of the ones that I told to you before. He was an member of the FAI that had robbed banks and had held activities against the sectors of the ruling classes,
and important businessmen who held activities against workers that did not seem right. He spent some time in Argentina where he also got in touch with the libertarians.
He also robbed baks there.He was an idol of the libertarian movement. He made the column of Durruti, went to the front of Aragon. After that he went to Madrid,
where it seems proven, because for a long time people talked about an assault, but it seems that he died because one of his guns fired.
His funeral in Barcelona was tremendous, extraordinary. I did not remember the same funeral since the death of Macià,
Similar to Durruti, a figure of the same characteristics. All of them were libertarian militants who fought this way. They left on July 19 to face the military.
They gave it everything, they gave it everything. Libertarians have to be recognized with this aspect. They were the tip of the spear of those who stopped the military. Els Mossos d’Esquadra, la Guàrdia de Asalto i la Guàrdi Civil
remained faithful to the Republic, and also militants of Estat Català and ERC. And all the political organizations faithful to the Generalitat.
Another one cut from the same cloth. They all were the same. Escaso died with the Sal in the barracks of the Drassanes. I mean, they were leaders who stood before their comrades and gave their life. They were not those who said: let’s stand up and go there! No, no.
They stood up and lead the group.
Of course. Many colleagues from the FNC. Imprisoned and tortured. Many. One day, the social political brigade came here looking for me as well. I was very lucky because
I was hiding a man the police looked for. We had a pretty solid alibi. When we went through Via Laietana, both of us stayed faithful to the alibi, they didn’t know what to do.
And I was lucky. He went to jail, because they were already looking for him. I didn’t. The only thing they did is that if that happened in 1973, up to 6 months after Franco died, they did not return my passport.
They threw the passport. Something curious, because one of my activities in the FNC was the clandestine crossing of borders. What I told to you before. We started with it at Companys, and of course I crossed the border as many times as needed
I was the leader of the frontier team. We didn’t cross the border through customs, of course.
Well, the memories I have of my youth. I told you before that if I signed up because of a matter of justice. The memories I have of my youth
make me angry. Here, the national Catholicism ruled the country. When you went to school the first thing you did was sing the Cara al Sol and pray. It was forbidden to speak in Catalan.
Everything was sinful. I, when I was growing up and I started dating the woman, who is currently my wife. Well, hear me up. Of course in a young relationship back then you’d kiss.
You were young, your blood was revolutionary, and you came home feeling bad at a moral level. Because everything was a sin. Everything. They fucked our youth up. Completely.
Life has evolved through all these years, it is not necessary to say so. Because of the misery of the postwar period, during the sixties, elements of the Opus Dei started going into politics.
And those development plans. It was growing, besides unemployment, which has always been at a high rate. People went to work to Europe, that made that the money that came from there
Here there was no unemployment, people could work in several places, because it was growing. The development was moving forward, the economic level rose and we achieved the standards. Not the European ones,
But they have been evolving towards a positive part. We are talking about 40 years of Francoism, You can’t say that in such a simple thing.
It is very different. There are several stages within this period. Now, at the beginning, it was outrageous because the repression affected you personally. Even people who did not have the same activity as I had
of resistance. The ordinary people.I mean, it seemed that everything had to be face the most archaic and most retrograde Catholicism. From then on, there have been theologies of the liberation, and later, I have met chaplains
who were amazing. Lluís Maria Xirinacs i Damians, Josep Dalmau, etc. But at that time, what predominated was a retrograde, closed, and sexist education.
And completely negative. From my point of view at least.
The teachers? This has nothing to do with it. I remember that the first one I had was one of a school in the town hall, a Spanish-speaking man, a beautiful person.
Then I went to an academy in this neighborhood that was ruled by three brothers and one sister. The sister ruled over the girls, and the three brothers over the boys. It’s not necessary to mention that we had to sing Cara el Sol. It was compulsory.
Everything was in Spanish. But when we went to the schoolyard, everything was in Catalan, even Spanish children of immigrants spoke Catalan, which has now changed. But everything was in Spanish, and the education; boring, dull.
The books were a brick. Full of letters, you had to memorize it all. But when you had to go talk to the teacher’s table, you went there and spoke Catalan, and he would anwer in Catalan as well.
But when you turned around and he had to speak aloud, everything was in Spanish. Education, of course, depended on the type of school you went to. At that time there were already some relatively advanced schools, private schools
or similars. I didn’t know them.