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Buenaventura Durruti

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Title: Buenaventura Durruti  
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Subject: Borscht, Anarchist communism, Anarchism, Anti-authoritarianism, Expropriative anarchism
Collection: 1896 Births, 1936 Deaths, Anarchist Assassins, Anarchist Communists, Anarchist Partisans, Anarcho-Syndicalists, Burials at Montjuïc Cemetery, Confederación Nacional Del Trabajo Members, Deaths by Firearm in Spain, Military Personnel Killed by Friendly Fire, Military Personnel Killed in the Spanish Civil War, People from León, Spain, Spanish Anarchists, Spanish Anti-Fascists, Spanish Atheists, Spanish Casualties of the Spanish Civil War, Spanish Military Personnel Killed in Action, Spanish Military Personnel of the Spanish Civil War (Republican Faction), Spanish Rebels, Spanish Revolutionaries
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Buenaventura Durruti

Buenaventura Durruti
Durruti during the Spanish Civil War
Born José Buenaventura Durruti Dumange
(1896-07-14)14 July 1896
León, Spain
Died 20 November 1936(1936-11-20) (aged 40)
Madrid, Spain
Occupation Mechanic

José Buenaventura Durruti Dumange (14 July 1896 – 20 November 1936) was an Spanish Civil War. Durruti played an influential role during the Spanish Revolution and is remembered as a hero in the Anarchist movement.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • In the Civil War 1.2
  • Death 2
  • Legacy 3
  • Gallery 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Early life

Durruti was born in León, Spain, son of Anastasia Dumangue and Santiago Durruti, a railway worker in the yard at Leon who described himself as a libertarian socialist. Buenaventura was the second of eight brothers (one was killed in the October 1934 uprising in the Asturias, another died fighting the Fascists on the Madrid front).

In 1910, aged 14, Durruti left school to become a trainee mechanic in the railway yard in Barcelona and on the border stations near France. These attacks were unsuccessful and quite a few anarchists were killed. Following these defeats, Durruti, Ascaso and Oliver fled to Latin America. They subsequently travelled widely, visiting Cuba and carrying out bank robberies in Chile and Argentina.[1]

Durruti and his companions returned to Spain and Barcelona, becoming an influential militant group within two of the largest anarchist organisations in Spain at the time, the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI), and of the anarcho-syndicalist trade union Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT). The influence Durruti's group gained inside the CNT caused a split, with a reformist faction under Ángel Pestaña leaving in 1931 and subsequently forming the Syndicalist Party.

In the Civil War

Working closely with his comrades in the FAI and CNT Durruti helped to co-ordinate armed resistance to the military rising of Francisco Franco, an effort which was to prove vital in preventing General Goded's attempt to seize control of Barcelona. During the battle for the Atarazanas Barracks, Durruti's long-time comrade and closest friend Ascaso was shot dead. Less than a week later, on 24 July 1936 Durruti led over 3,000 armed anarchists (later to become known as the Durruti Column) from Barcelona to Zaragoza. After a brief and bloody battle at Caspe (in Aragón), they halted at Pina de Ebro, on the advice of a regular army officer, postponing an assault on Zaragoza.


On 12 November, having been persuaded to leave Aragón by the anarchist leader Federica Montseny on behalf of the government, Durruti led his militia to Madrid to aid in the defense of the city. On 19 November, he was shot while leading a counterattack in the Casa de Campo area. (See also Battle of Madrid.) According to author Antony Beevor (The Spanish Civil War, 1982), Durruti was killed when a companion's machine pistol went off by mistake. He assessed that at the time, the anarchists lied and claimed he had been hit by an enemy sniper's bullet "for reasons of morale and propaganda".

Another account of Durruti's death, given in Durruti: The People Armed by Abel Paz, claims that rather than being shot by a fellow soldier he was killed by distant gunfire coming from the area around the Clinical Hospital in University City (Madrid), which had been taken over by Nationalist forces. After a fight to regain control and contact was re-established with troops cut off from communications, Durruti returned temporarily to the Miguel-Angel barracks to issue orders. A message from Liberto Roig arrived informing Durruti that the Clinical Hospital was in the process of being evacuated. Alarmed, he asked his chauffeur, Julio Grave, to get his car and leave immediately for the hospital. His chauffeur gives the following testimonial:

We passed a little group of hotels which are at the bottom of this avenue [Avenida de la Reina Victoria] and we turned towards the right. Arriving at the big street, we saw a group of militiamen coming towards us. Durruti thought it was some young men who were leaving the front. This area was completely destroyed by the bullets coming from the Clinical Hospital, which had been taken during these days by the Moors and which dominated all the environs. Durruti had me stop the car which I parked in the angle of one of those little hotels as a precaution. Durruti got out of the auto and went towards the militiamen. He asked them where they were going. As they didn't know what to say, he ordered them to return to the front. The militiamen obeyed and Durruti returned towards the car. The rain of bullets became stronger. From the vast red heap of the clinical hospital, the Moors and the Guardia Civil were shooting furiously. Reaching the door of the machine, Durruti collapsed, a bullet through his chest.

He died on 20 November 1936, at the age of 40, in a makeshift operating theatre set up in what was formerly the Ritz Hotel. The bullet was lodged in the heart; the diagnosis recorded was "death caused by pleural haemorrhage". The doctors wrote a report in which the path of the bullet and the character of the wound was recorded but not the calibre of the bullet, since no autopsy was performed to remove it.


It is we [the workers] who built these palaces and cities, here in Spain and in America and everywhere. We, the workers. We can build others to take their place. And better ones! We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts. [...] That world is growing in this minute.
— Buenaventura Durruti [2]

At first, Durruti's death was not made public, for morale reasons. Durruti's body was transported across the country to Barcelona for his funeral. Over a half million people filled the streets to accompany the cortege during its route to the Montjuïc cemetery. It was the last large-scale public demonstration of anarchist strength of numbers during the bitter and bloody civil war.

Hugh Thomas remark, "the death of Durruti marked the end of the classic age of Spanish anarchism. An anarchist poet proclaimed that Durruti’s nobility while living would cause ‘a legion of Durrutis’ to spring up behind him".[3]


See also


  1. ^ Paz, Abel (2007). Durruti in the Spanish Revolution. Oakland: AK.  
  2. ^ Van Paasen, Pierre (18 August 1936). "Durruti Dumange, José Buenaventura: 2 000 000 anarchists fight for revolution says Spanish leader". The Toronto Daily Star. pp. 1, 5.  (note: interview made on 5 August 1936).
  3. ^ Thomas, The Spanish Civil War 416


  • Hugh Thomas The Spanish Civil War. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1965.
  • Emma Goldman Durruti is Dead, Yet Living (1936).
  • Antony Beevor The Spanish Civil War (1982).
  • Abel Paz Durruti in the Spanish Revolution, Translated by Chuck W. Morse, AK Press, 2007. ISBN 1-904859-50-X.
  • Pedro de Paz The Man Who Killed Durruti Read and Noir (2005).
  • Hans Magnus Enzensberger The Short Summer of Anarchy: Life and Death of Buenaventura Durruti (1972) (originally: Der kurze Sommer der Anarchie: Buenaventura Durrutis Leben und Tod).
  • Collective work Buenaventura Durruti, a double CD [2] nato, (1996).

External links

  • Buenaventura Durruti in the Spanish Revolution. Biopic by Paco Rios based on the book by Abel Paz
  • Biography of Buenaventura Durruti at history.
  • Buenaventura Durruti at the Anarchist Encyclopedia.
  • The first days of the Spanish Revolution, Durruti & the Durruti column... (often misspelled as Durutti) at The Daily Bleed.
  • Website about Buenaventura Durruti
  • Buenaventura Durruti at Find a Grave
  • Return of the Durruti Column Situationist Cartoon strip
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