Andrés Nin Pérez
|Andrés Nin Pérez|
4 February 1892|
El Vendrell, Catalonia, Spain
|Died||20 June 1937
Alcalá de Henares, Spain
|Other names||Andreu Nin|
|Known for||founding the Communist Party of Spain|
Born in El Vendrell, Tarragona, to a poor family (his father was a shoemaker and his mother was a peasant), Nin moved to Barcelona shortly before World War I; he taught briefly in a secular anarchist school, but soon became a journalist and activist. In 1917, he joined the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE).
Nin became a leader of the Spanish workers' movement, and was among the founders of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE). He consequently worked for the Comintern and Red International of Labour Unions (RILU or Profintern) in the Soviet Union. While in Russia, he was won over to the Left Opposition which confronted Joseph Stalin's ascending faction within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He briefly worked as secretary to Leon Trotsky while in Russia.
Returning to Spain, Nin was instrumental in forming the Communist Left of Spain (ICE), the self-designated Troskyist group affiliated to the International Left Opposition (ILO). However, the ICE was a small group and largely isolated. Nin had a number of disagreements with Trotsky in this period, specifically when Trotsky advised the ICE leader that entry into the Socialist Youth of Spain would augment the forces at their disposal, while Nin advocated forming a united party with the Workers and Peasants Bloc (BOC), a group coming out of the communist movement but seen as being on its right wing.
Eventually Nin broke with Trotsky and the ILO on this question, and the merger went ahead. Together with Joaquín Maurín, he formed the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) in 1935, as a communist alternative to the Comintern-aligned PCE.
After the region of Catalonia saw its regional government, the Generalitat, reinstated by the Spanish Republic in the opening phase of the Spanish Civil War, Nin joined the devolved government headed by Lluís Companys, as regional minister of Justice. However, as Spain's communists gained sway in the Republican government, they moved to purge ex-communists and those independent of Moscow from the government, which would include POUM. Following a threat from Soviet consul Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko to withhold Soviet aid, Companys sacked Nin from his cabinet on 16 December 1936, concluding a controversial tenure.
Arrest and disappearance
Following the violent "May Days" of Barcelona, on 16 June 1937, the government, under PCE pressure, declared POUM illegal. On the orders of Alexander Orlov, Nin and most of the POUM leadership were arrested and sent to a camp at Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid. Nin was tortured for several days under the supervision of the NKVD. Jesus Hernández, a member of the Communist Party, and Minister of Education in the Popular Front government, later admitted: "Nin was not giving in. He was resisting until he fainted. His inquisitors were getting impatient. They decided to abandon the dry method to get results. Then the blood flowed, the skin peeled off, muscles torn, physical suffering pushed to the limits of human endurance. Nin was subjected to cruel pain of the most refined tortures. In a few days his face was a shapeless mass of flesh."
Another account suggests German members of the (PCE-run) International Brigades killed Nin in a fake Nazi "liberation," while others have suggested he was taken to the Soviet Union for execution. Regardless, Nin's fate was kept secret by those involved, resulting in a POUM campaign asking Juan Negrín's new government: Gobierno Negrín: ¿dónde está Nin? ("To the government of Negrín: where is Nin?"). One of the first to raise the issue in public was Federica Montseny, Minister for Health.
In reply, the PCE proclaimed: En Salamanca o en Berlín ("Either in Salamanca or Berlin"), elaborating the slander campaign alleging that Nin was a fascist. (Franco's headquarters were in Salamanca; Berlin was the capital of Nazi Germany).
- "Andres Nin". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
- Radosh, Ronald; Habeck, Mary. R; Nikolaevič Sevost'ânov, Grigorij (2001). Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War. Yale University Press. pp. 208–09. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- Alexander, Robert J. (1999). The Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War, Volume 2. Janus Publishing Company. p. 987. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
- Andrew Durgan, BOC 1930-1936: El Bloque Obrero y Campesino (BOC 1930-1936: The Workers' and Peasants' Bloc). Barcelona: Laertes S.A. de Ediciones, 1996.
- Andrew Durgan, Dissident Communism in Catalonia, 1930-36. PhD dissertation. University of London, 1989.
- Pelai Pagès, Andreu Nin: Su evolución política (1911-37) (Andreu Nin: His Political Evolution, 1911-37). Bilbao: Editorial Zero, 1975.
- Pelai Pagès, Andreu Nin: Una vida al servicio de la clase obrera (Andreu Nin: A Life in the Service of the Working Class). Barcelona: Laertes S.A. de Ediciones, 2011.
- Alan Sennett, Revolutionary Marxism in Spain, 1930-1937.  Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2015.
- Fundación Andreu Nin The Spanish-language site containing an extensive collection of documents, biographical notes, and links related to the POUM and to Nin himself.
- Andreu Nin at the Association of Catalan Language Writers, AELC. Webpage in Catalan with English and Spanish translations.
- (in Spanish) Andrés Nin: El crimen que remató la República.
- Struggle of the trade unions against fascism 1923 pamphlet
- La huelga general de enero y sus enseñanzas. 1930s pamphlet
- Documents on Nin from "Trabajadores: The Spanish Civil War through the eyes of organised labour", a digitised collection of more than 13,000 pages of documents from the archives of the British Trades Union Congress held in the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- New Perspectives on The Spanish Civil War, archival and related research on the historiography of the Spanish Civil War since the death of Franco by Stephen Schwartz