TÉLLEZ SOLÁ, Antonio (Tarragone, Spain, January 18, 1921- March 27, Perpignan, France, 26/03/2005)

Antonio Téllez Solà, the Herodotus of the anti-Franco maquis

Spain. 20th CenturyHistory. HistoriansWorld War II (1939-1945). The ResistancePONZÁN VIDAL, Francisco (Oviedo, Espagne 30/01/1911 - livré par la police française aux nazis et fusillé par eux à Buzet, France, le 17 août 1944)SABATÉ LLOPART, Francisco (1915-1960). Anarchiste espagnolTÉLLEZ SOLÀ, Antonio (Tarragone, Spain, 1921-Perpignan, France, 26/03/2005)FACERIAS, José Luis

Anarchist militant and historian.

Antonio Téllez Solà, who has died at his home in Perpignan aged 84, was

one of the last survivors of the anarchist resistance which fought to

overthrow the Franco dictatorship. He was also one of the first historians

of the post civil war urban and rural guerrilla resistance to the fascist

regime. In his actions and his writings, Tellez personified refusal to

surrender to tyranny.

The son of a railway worker, he was born in Tarragona and was radicalised

by the October 1934 insurrection in Asturias, which failed when the unions

outside the mining region failed to give their support. On 19 July 1936,

when the workers, this time united, held at bay the rebellion of most of

the Spanish officer class against the infant left-wing Republic, Téllez

was in Lérida where he joined the anarchist youth organisation, the

Juventudes Libertarias, immersing himself in the struggle to fight fascism

and preserve the social revolution with which the union rank and file had

answered the generals’ attempted coup.

Téllez joined the army aged 18, in the final stages of the Republic’s

collapse, and saw action on various fronts until February 1939 when, with

thousands of other anti-Francoist refugees, he was forced into exile in

France. There he spent a year in the Septfonds concentration camp and then

a further six months in the camp at Argeles sur Mer, two of many locations

in which the French government interned the people who had held fascism at

bay for almost three years. Escaping at the end of 1940, he joined a band

of Spanish guerrillas operating in the Aveyron department, serving as part

of the IX Brigade (French Forces of the Interior), resisting the

occupation until Liberation in 1944.

In October 1944 Téllez took part in the ill-advised 10-day invasion of

Francoist Spain by approximately 6,000 Spanish republican guerrillas of

the CP-led Unión Nacional Española (UNE) via the Arán and Ronçal valleys

in the Pyrenees, one of the first operations mounted by the maquis against

the Franco regime. With the defeat of the UNE at the battle of Salardú, he

moved to Toulouse where he set up clandestine arms dumps for the guerrilla

campaign.

For two years Téllez served on the second peninsular committee of the

Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth (FIJL), carrying out clandestine

liaison missions between the anarchist movement in France and Spain.

Resigning from organisational activity in April 1946, he travelled

undercover in Spain for three months establishing contacts with the

guerrillas and what remained of the illegal anarchist movement. Téllez

was unable to generate financial or organisational support for the

Resistance due to the hostility of the Toulouse-based National Committee

of the exiled anarcho-syndicalist union, the National Confederation of

Labour (CNT) to armed struggle. Frustrated by oligarchic tensions and

self-serving politicking, he moved to Paris where he worked as a reporter

for Agence France Presse from 1960 until retirement in 1986, when he

moved to Ceret in the Pyrenees and then to Perpignan.

In Paris Téllez continued to contribute to the anarchist press, but from

1954 onwards it was clear that his life’s work was to write the histories

of the legendary names of the anarcho-syndicalist action groups: Francisco

Sabaté Llopart, José Luis Facerias, Wenceslao Gimenez Orive, Francisco

Denis, Raul Carballeira, Marcelino Massana Bancells - and many more, from

the mountains and sierras of Catalonia, Aragón , Asturias and Galicia in

the north to the Levante and Extremadura in the west and east, to

Andalucia in the south.

I met Téllez for the first time in Paris in 1973. While I was on remand in

Brixton prison he had sent me a copy of his newly-published biography of

Francisco Sabaté, which I translated from Spanish into English. After my

acquittal I visited him to discuss the book, which he was constantly

updating and revising, as he did with all his work. We became firm

friends. His archives were enormous and his apartment overlooking the Pêre

Lachaise cemetery was stacked from floor to ceiling with boxes of files,

documents and photograph albums. His accomplishments in a particularly

difficult area of study were quite remarkable given that his subject

matter was clandestine groups and secretive and highly individualistic

militants who were activists rather than theorists, many of whom were

outcasts from their own organisations. I witnessed a good example of this

in Paris, when I introduced Téllez to Octavio Alberola, the coordinator of

Defensa Interior, the clandestine anarchist group responsible for

organising assassination attempts on Franco between 1962 and 1966. The two

men had never met and Alberola was taken aback when from on top of his

wardrobe, Téllez produced the original plans for the proposed 1963

assassination attempt on Franco at the Puente de los Franceses near the

Oriente Palace in Madrid. We never did discover where he acquired them.

Tellez’s published and unpublished output was phenomenal, covering the

period from Franco’s victory on 1 April 1939 to his death on 20 November

1975, and beyond. He had two main objectives: to record the lives of

selfless men who would not compromise their ideals nor treat with a system

they found villainous and vile, men who devoted their adult lives to

freeing Spain from the last of the Axis dictators. His work has been a

major contribution to the movement for the recovery of historical memory

which is now playing such an important part in contemporary Spanish

politics. Téllez’s other objective was to demonstrate that the individual

is never helpless; there is always the possibility of rebelling and

defending an idea one considers just, even in the most unfavourable and

adverse conditions.

Téllez was one of the founders of the publication Atalaya (1957-1958), and

contributed regularly to Ruta, Solidaridad Obrera (Paris), CNT, Bicicleta,

Cultura Libertaria, Polémica and Historia Libertaria, to which he brought

fresh evidence on the little-known anarchist maquis in Asturias

Unpublished works include:

1) Guerrilla Warfare in Galicia : Mario Rodríguez Losada (O Pinche, O

Langullo)

2) Atalaya.

3) Notas para una eventual ebozo biográfico de José García Tella

And many monographs on individuals, publications from 1944 to the Iberian

Liberation Council, Defensa Interior, the First of May Group, the MIL,

GARI and the collapse of the Suarez trial in Paris in 1979. When he died,

he was working on a number of projects including a history of the FIJL

from 1935, an incomplete manuscript on Action Direct, the French anarchist

action group, another incomplete manuscript on his personal relationships

with the guerrilla, and an index of the names and personal histories of

the urban and rural guerrillas. Harmonia, his partner, has indicated these

will probably be loaned to the International Institute of Social History

in Amsterdam as part of a proposed Antonio Téllez Foundation.

Kate Sharpley Library