Factions - The CNT

The Confederation Nacional del Trabajo (National COnfederation of Labour) was Spains largest labour union in 1936, and the main Anarchist organisation in the country. Formed in opposition to the socialist General Union of Workers (UGT), it was strongest in Catalonia where anarchism had a great deal of support from the people.

It was the CNT that warned the government of a military uprising months before it happened, even giving the exact date and time, thanks to the CNT's impressive espionage network. But the anarchists had always had a chequered past with the government, being opposed to the very idea of government, and so the government took no heed. When the uprising began, the CNT had to raid government arsenals for weapons, as even when the fighting had begun in most places the Republic refused to arm the anarchists. Despite the lack of assistance, the anarchists crushed the rising in all the areas where they had strong support.

Anarchist militias were remarkably libertarian themselves. They had no rank system, no hierarchy, no salutes, and those Commanders they did have were elected by the troops. Nevertheless some anarchist columns proved surprisingly effective in combat, most famously the Durruti Column, led by Buenaventura Durruti, an anarchist so popular that even the fascist Falange tried to make out that he was a fascist at heart, for propaganda reasons.

The CNT suffered from a distinct lack of allies all through the war, and the PCE hated them, with predictable consequences for the anarchists in the bitter end.

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