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Andreu Nin i Pérez : biography

February 4, 1892 - June 20, 1937

Andreu Nin i Pérez ( February 4, 1892, El Vendrell, Tarragona – June 20, 1937, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid was a Spanish Catalan Communist politician.

Early life

Born 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 to the Left Opposition which confronted Joseph Stalin's ascending faction within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

When he returned 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.


Plaque honoring Andrés Nin at the historical site of the POUM headquarters on [[La Rambla, Barcelona]]

Eventually Nin broke with Trotsky and the ILO on this question, and the merger went ahead. He (along with Joaquín Maurín) 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 reinstated by the Spanish Republic in the opening phase of the Spanish Civil War, Nin joined the devolved government, the Generalitat, headed by Lluís Companys, as Councillor of Justice. 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. Nin left office on December 16, 1936, concluding a controversial tenure.

Following the violent "May Days" of Barcelona, on June 16, 1937, the government, under PCE pressure, declared POUM illegal. Nin and most of the leadership of POUM were arrested and sent to a camp near Madrid. Nin was tortured (flayed) and murdered, under the supervision of the NKVD. Some claim the Republican Government's secret police killed Nin on June 20, with the involvement of "Comandante Contreras" Vittorio Vidali, and Iosif Grigulevich.

One 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 clandestine POUM campaign asking Juan Negrín's new government: Gobierno Negrín: ¿dónde está Nin? ("To the government of Negrín: where is Nin?").

As an answer, the propaganda launched by 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.

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