ON Saturday 11 March 2017, 1pm at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield both Granville Williams and Bob Mitchell will be speaking about the Spanish Civil War at an event organised by Wakefield Socialist History Group. Admission is free and all are welcome. Below are some comments about the organisation POUM.
POUM was formed in 1935 by a fusion of the Trotskyist Communist Left of Spain (ICE) and the quasi-Trotskyist Workers and Peasants' Bloc (BOC). It was led by Andreu Nin and Joaquin Maurin.
It took an independent communist position (it was anti-Stalinist) and was critical of the Popular Front strategy. So much so that communists denounced it in the most vehement terms. Santiago Carrillo for instance went "down the road of linking POUM to the Francoists" (Preston 2014).
Despite this POUM did participated in the Popular Front government initiated by Manuel Azana, leader of Accion Republicana, in the hope of advancing some of its' own policies.
In 1937 however POUM was repressed during the Barcelona May Days. It was outlawed by central government and its' leaders arrested. Nin himself was detained, tortured and "disappeared" by NKVD agents.
Carrillo (1977) wrote that POUM and anarchists had launched a "putsch" which was "treason." But Nin's death was an "abominable and unjustifiable act."
POUM remained proscribed during the Franco years but was legalised in 1977. POUM then split but part of it stood as the Workers' Unity Front in elections, demanding the restoration of a republic.
It was finally wound up in 1980/81 although there is still an Andreu Nin Foundation.
Orwell famously joined the POUM militia and wrote of it in his book HOMAGE TO CATALONIA.
Alan Stewart (Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group)