Antoine Gimenez: An Italian anarchist’s memories of the Spanish Civil War

“In 1936 I was what is conventionally referred to nowadays as a ‘marginal’: someone living on the edge of society and of the penal code. I thought of myself as an anarchist. Actually, I was only a rebel. My militant activity was restricted to smuggling certain pamphlets printed in France and Belgium over the border without ever trying to find out how a new society could be built. My sole concern was living and tearing down the established structure. It was in Pina de Ebro and seeing the collective organized there and by listening to talks given by certain comrades, by chipping into my friends’ discussions, that my consciousness, hibernating since my departure from Italy, was reawakened.”

— Antoine Gimenez

Antoine Gimenez was born as Bruno Salvadori on December 14, 1910 in Chianni, Italy. Around the age of twelve he got into a fight with some fascist Blackshirts and was rescued by the Livorno anarchists. In fact, it was Errico Malatesta himself who visited young Antoine to make sure he was alright after having been knocked unconscious by the fascists. This was his first encounter with the anarchists whose libertarian ideas would continue to shape his thoughts and actions for the rest of his life.

His life as a chemineau-trimardeur (tramping artisan), as he would call himself, led him from Italy to Spain and France, where at one point, he was arrested and sentenced to jail for burglary and “carrying a prohibited weapon.” The next few years he spent in and out of jail, with the French authorities unsuccessfully trying to expel him from the country on several occasions.

In the mid-1930’s Gimenez ended up in Spain, where again he familiarized himself with the interior of the local prisons. In Barcelona’s Modelo Prison he started corresponding with Giuseppe Pasotti, a very active anarchist who would later take charge of the Political Investigations Service on behalf of the FAI. After his release from prison, Gimenez was deported to France, this time carrying a CNT membership card in the name of Antoine Gimenez — it was the definite goodbye to Bruno Salvadori.

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