Last of the Durruti Column

It’s not the usual kind of character portrait you see on the BBC News website, but yesterday there was published an article on Antonio Garcia Baron, who is the sole surviving member of the Durruti Column. Baron and his anarchist comrades held Franco’s fascist forces at bay in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39.

Baron fled Spain following the defeat of the Republicans. In 1940 he landed in Dunkirk, and there was captured by the German army and imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz in Austria. After World War II, Baron, who was by now stateless, relocated to Bolivia. There he briefly did psychological battle with a local catholic priest before settling down and founding a libertarian community in a remote jungle location 60 kilometres from San Buenaventura.

During his interview for the BBC article, Baron told Alfonso Daniels about his time in Mauthausen, including an exchange with Heinrich Himmler. The SS chief agreed with Baron that the Roman Catholic Church was a fine ally of the Nazis:

“He replied that it was true, but that after the war I would see all the cardinals with the Pope marching there, pointing at the chimney of the crematorium.”

Read the rest of the story of this fascinating man.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the moral scale, Aribert Heim, the Nazi doctor who tortured and killed prisoners in Mauthausen, is reported to be holed up in Patagonia.