The formation of the AGE
Some of the Spanish refugees joined French resistance groups, while others formed autonomous groups. In April 1942 a meeting of several Spanish combat groups decided to take the name of the XIV Cuerpo del Ejército de Guerrilleros Españoles, considering themselves the Corps' successors.
In May 1944 the XIV Corps re-formed as the Agrupación de Guerrilleros Españoles (AGE, roughly Group of Spanish Guerrillas), because they consisted for the most part of Spanish combatants on French soil. This conveyed the group's distancing from the Franc Tireurs Partisans (FTP), the armed branch of the French Communist Party, with whom they had previously worked closely. By this time, the Spanish resistors had participated in numerous armed actions against the German army, even liberating various populations in the south of France.
The numbers of Spanish combatants in the ranks of the Resistance vary quite a bit amongst sources, but in general they accept a number around 10,000. After the German army was driven from France, Spanish maquis returned their focus to Spain.
The invasion of the Val d'Aran
The most spectacular operation of the Spanish maquis was the invasion of Spain by between 4,000 and 7,000 guerrillas through the Valle de Arán and other parts of the Pyrenees, well equipped and with heavy armaments, on October 19, 1944, after the German army had been driven from the south of France. The invasion was named "Operation Reconquest of Spain".
Operation Reconquest of Spain was planned by the AGE staff. To carry out the invasion they created the 204th Division, made up of 12 brigades. The division was commanded by Vicente López Tovar.
The objective of the offensive was to retake the sector of Spanish territory comprising the land between the Cinca and Segre Rivers and the French border. Later, the zone was declared conquered by the Republican government in exile, with the intention of provoking a general uprising against Franco throughout Spain. It was hoped that it would force the Allies to "liberate" Spain the same way it was "liberating" the rest of Europe.
The main attack in the valley was accompanied by operations in other valleys of the Pyrenees during the previous weeks, with the objective of distracting Franco's forces. These other attacks were intended also to evaluate the situation in the interior of Spain, and make contact with other groups of exiles. The most important points of penetration in the long chain of mountains were Roncesvalles, Roncal, Hecho, Canfranc, the Arán, Andorra and Cerdaña, though there were also operations at smaller points.
The offensives were repelled by a great force that was moved into the area by Franco, made up of Guardia Civil, armed police, battalions of the Spanish Army, and 40,000 Moroccan troops.
The guerrilla army conquered various towns and villages, raising the Republican flag, carrying out anti-Franco meetings in the plazas, as well as controlling part of the French border for several days, through which they were able to bring in trucks, material and reinforcements from France. However, the invasion failed to take Vielha, its principal objective. Finally, overwhelmed by the Nationalists' numeric and material advantage, the guerrillas pulled back. The retreat ended October 28, when the last guerrillas re-crossed the border back into France, without the hoped-for uprising.
The Agrupaciones Guerrilleras
In spite of the setback of Arán in 1944, the morale of the exiled Spaniards remained high, given that all seemed still possible in an international context of general collapse of fascism. All throughout Spain, the level of guerrilla activity went up, precipitated by the incorporation of new contingents crossing the border and the reorganization of the groups with structures of a more military character.
The exiled PCE promoted the creation of the Agrupaciones Guerrilleras (Guerrilla Groups) in several geographic zones, coordinating the actions between them. It was modelled after the Federación de Guerrillas de León-Galicia, the first guerrilla organization of the post-war era. The most active group from the AG was the Agrupación Guerrillera de Levante y Aragón (AGLA), which was active in the area between the southern part of Teruel, the interior of Castellón and the north of Cuenca.
In 1948 the PCE changed its strategy, and at the behest of Stalin, renounced the guerrilla fight, preferring to try to change the state-sanctioned Spanish Trade Union Organisation from within. This began the decline of the agrupaciones, already quite beaten by government repression. The Agrupaciones Guerrilleras renamed itself Comités de Resistencia. The new orientation, however, was not effective, and ultimately a general evacuation was decreed in 1952.
Spanish Maquis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Edited by JCFalkenbergIII, 30 August 2008 - 04:38 PM.