Melchor Rodríguez García
Melchor Rodríguez García (also known as El Ángel Rojo - Red Angel; 1893, —February 14, 1972), was a Spanish politician and statesman, a notable anarcho-syndicalist, and the head of prison authorities in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War.
Born in Seville, he started his career as a worker. During the times of the Second Spanish Republic he joined the Agrupación Anarquista union and became the head of one of its trade unions. After the outbreak of the Civil War, on December 5, 1936, Juan García Oliver appointed Rodríguez García director of the prisons of Madrid, as one of the anarchists to be accepted into the government for their support of the republicans. At that post, he was responsible not only for the upkeep of the prisoners and prevention of escapes, but - more importantly - for prevention of lynching, proposed by numerous members of various militias. During the first months of the war, the problem of extra-legal execution of prisoners was serious and quite common.
The militias and other armed groups were driven by the desire to eliminate the enemies of the Republic at all cost, and the execution of political opponents was quite common. Also, the society of besieged Madrid often reacted with violence towards the imprisoned nationalists after particularly bloody bombardments or after the press reporting of the nationalist treatment of captured republicans. The fact that the Spanish government was weak during the opening stages of the civil war did not help either. The most notable of such accidents happened after the air raid on Alcalá de Henares air base. A group of protesters, some of whom were armed, arrived at one of Madrid's prisons, stormed the gates and demanded that the cells be opened and the nationalist prisoners be handed to the crowd. Rodríguez appeared in the prison, ordered the crowd to disperse and even announced that he would rather give arms to the prisoners than hand them over to the mob. Among the saved prisoners were rightist General Valentín Gallarza, notable football player Ricardo Zamora, politician Ramón Serrano Súñer, Rafael Sánchez Mazas and Raimundo Fernández-Cuesta.
During his term in office, Melchor Rodríguez García also revealed that José Cazorla, a counsellor of state security of the Council of Defence of Madrid organized a net of private, illegal prisons run by the Communist Party of Spain. Later in the war he became one of Madrid's counsellors himself, on behalf of the Iberian Anarchist Federation. After the fall of Madrid in 1939, he officially passed the office to the new Francoist authorities.
After the fall of the republic, Melchor Rodríguez was tried for his war-time past by the victorious nationalists. However, due to the favourable testimony of many former prisoners, he was only imprisoned, while the majority of his colleagues were either exiled or executed. He lived the rest of his life in Madrid.
Beevor, Antony (2006). The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-303765-X.