Andrés Nin

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Andreu Nin i Pérez
Born (1892-02-04)February 4, 1892
El Vendrell, Catalonia, Spain
Died June 20, 1937(1937-06-20) (aged 45)
near Madrid
Nationality Spanish
Known for founding the Communist Party of Spain

Andreu Nin i Pérez (Catalan pronunciation: [ənˈdɾe.u ˈnin i ˈpeɾes] (February 4, 1892 – June 20, 1937), also known as Andrés Nin, was a Spanish communist politician.

Early life

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

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. Nin left office on December 16, 1936, concluding a controversial tenure.

Arrest and disappearance

Following the violent "May Days" of Barcelona, on June 16, 1937, the government, under PCE pressure, declared POUM illegal. Nin and most of the POUM leadership were arrested and sent to a camp near Madrid. Accounts of his death vary, and some claim Nin was tortured and murdered under the supervision of the NKVD.[1] Other sources claim the Republican Government's secret police killed Nin with the involvement of "Comandante Contreras" (Vittorio Vidali), and Iosif Grigulevich.

Yet 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, the minister for Health.[2]

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).

Plaque to Nin on the public library on La Rambla, Barcelona


  1. Radosh, Ronald and Mary R. Habeck, Grigorij Nikolaevič Sevost'ânov (2001) Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War, pp. 208–9. Yale University Press Google Books. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  2. Alexander, Robert J. (1999) The Anarchists in the Spanish Civil War, Volume 2, p. 987. Janus Publishing Company. Google Books. Retrieved 4 October 2013.

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