May Days Part 2

Luis Companys, president of the devolved Catalan government, was utterly demoralised by the events in Barcelona as he had been persuaded by the socialists and communists earlier in the year that he had no option but to surrender control of law and order to the central Republican government, and the resultant communist appointees had provoked the explosive situation. Talks with the major political parties in the Republic resulted in a compromise, a new Catalan government would be formed with the exception of the communist sympathising Ayguade. However, tensions remained high, as a large number of anti-communist corpses showed up when Republican troops arrived in force in Barcelona. The Italian anarchist philosopher Camillo Berneri was found shot in the back of the head, as was his colleague Barbieri. Domingo Ascaso, the brother of an anarchist hero killed in the rising, was also found with a bullet in the head. Presumably in reprisal for these killings, the communist sympathising UGT leader Antonio Sese was assassinated in his car by anarchists en route to the Catalan government buildings.

Largo Caballero was in a difficult position. He needed the CNT, but events in Barcelona were giving ammunition to the communists. Meanwhile in other parts of Catalonia the PCE was taking advantage of the opportunities presented to take over telephone buildings in many smaller towns in the name of the federal government. All these attempts were resisted, and street fighting was breaking out all over Catalonia. The reinforcements Caballero sent to Barcelona increased the governments presence there but they had no chance of taking the city. The anarchists had overwhelming numerical superiority and controlled 90 percent of the city, as well as all the heavy guns. These overwhelming advantages were not used because the CNT knew that further fighting would lead to a full blown civil war within the civil war, in which they would be cast as traitors, even if the Nationalists were unable to take advantage of the situation.

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