BERNERI AND BARBIERI

Murdered by counter-revolutionists in Spain

By Ray Randall

Yes, it is a grim reality. Camillo Berneri has been assassinated – not by Fascists, but by counter-revolutionists, by the agents of Moscow and officials of the U.G.T.*

On the morning of May 4th, during the recent uprising in Barcelona, where many of our comrades were killed, two men wearing red arm bands entered the apartment where Berneri and Barbieri resided. They were told not to shoot since the visitors were friends from whom they had nothing to fear. Our two comrades replied that since they, too, were anti-fascists and had come to Spain to do their bit for the Social Revolution, there was no reason why they should fire at anti-fascist workers. After this the two men left and were seen to enter the building wherein is located the syndicate of the U.G.T.

About three o’ clock on the same afternoon, five or six men wearing red arm bands and six more carrying arms, came to the same apartment and stated they were authorised to search the house. Thinking that these men might be looking for arms, another comrade who was present gave them three muskets, stating that they were entrusted to her by comrades who came from the Huesca front. After this, all but two of the men left. These remained and confiscated documents that were in the house. Seeing that Berneri’s room contained too much for them, they took some and stated they would return later with a car. Upon leaving, they warned our comrades not to leave the house and not to approach the window since they would be risking their lives. Our comrades questioned them as to what it was all about and the officers replied they had been informed that in the apartment resided Italian Anarchists who were armed.

In the afternoon the following day, twelve men wearing red arm bands and among them armed policemen again came to the apartment. His time they were accompanied by an individual in civilian clothes who ordered the arrest of Berneri and Barbieri. Whereupon, Barbieri demanded an explanation for this. The answer was that these two comrades were counter-revolutionists. To this Barbieri replied that never, in his twenty years of activity as a militant in the Anarchist movement, had he received a similar insult. The reply was that because he was an Anarchist he was a counter-revolutionist. One of the women present saw the officer’s badge number 1109.

The woman who had previously given them the arms stated that if an arrest was to be made, it was she who should be taken. But, no! The scoundrels were after Berneri who had recently put into writing the betrayals of the Communists and Socialists in Barcelona. Berneri and Barbieri were arrested!

On the morning of May 6th, at 9.30, two men wearing red arm bands returned to the house and assured the women there – one was the wife of Barbieri, the other comrade Tantini – that the two men would be freed at noon time.

In reality, the dead bodies of Berneri and Barbieri were found in the Clinical hospital. They were found, during the night, by the Red Cross. Barbieri’s body was lying in the streets of the Rambla; the body of Berneri was found in the square of the Generalita.

This is what the “comrades” who have been feigning to fight side by side with the Anarchists are doing in Spain. They are really fighting against the Anarchists because they know that it is we, not they, who are really fighting for freedom. They are out to crush every semblance of this freedom; they are counter-revolutionists.

The tragic death of Berneri and Barbieri is one example of the barbarism that the Communists and other counter-revolutionists revert to. How much of this they are doing we can well imagine.

Berneri is dead. They have killed one of our most valuable comrades. Today, on the biers of Berneri and Barbieri, on the biers of Durruti, Ascaso, of the innumerable comrades who are similarly assassinated, today we must vouch that their deaths will not go unavenged. Today, more than ever, we say down with the counter-revolutionists. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – nay, more than that.

Note: The facts of the death of these two comrades were obtained from a supplement of Number 15 of Guerra di Classe, a paper issued at Barcelona and of which Berneri was formely editor.

* U.G.T. – Union General de Trabajadores – socialist trade union (then under Communist leadership in Catalonia.)

Vol. 5 No. 4
June 1937

(From “MAN! An Anthology of Anarchist Ideas, Essays, Poetry and Commentaries”, edited by M. Graham. Cienfuegos Press, London 1974.)

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