Sunday, March 16, 2014

***As March 17th Approaches-The Face Of Old Irish Working-Class North Adamsville- In Honor Of Kenny, Class Of 1958

From The Pen Of Peter Paul Markin

Another Moment In History- A Guest Post, Of Sorts


Kenny Kelly, Class of 1958? comment:


A word. I, Kenneth Francis Xavier Kelly, at work they just call me Kenny, although my friends call me “FX”, am a map of Ireland, or at least I used to be when I was younger and had a full head of very wavy red hair, a mass of freckles instead of a whiskey and beer chaser-driven mass of very high-proof wrinkles, and my own, rather than store-bought, rattlers, teeth I mean. For work, yah, I’m still rolling the barrels uphill, I, well, let’s just say I do a little of this and a little of that for Jimmy the Mutt and leave it at that. I am also the map, the Irish map part anyway, of North Adamsville, from the Class of 1958 at the old high school, or at least I should have been, except for, well, let’s leave that as at a little of this and that, for now, as well. I’ll tell you that story another time, if you want to hear it. Or talk to that old bastard, Headmaster Kerrigan, Black-Jack Kerrigan, and he’ll give you his lying side of the story if he can still talk the bastard.


Let’s also put it that I grew up, rough and tumble, mostly rough, very rough, on the hard drinking-father-sometimes-working, and the plumbing-or-something-don’t-work- and-you-can’t- get- the-tight-fisted-landlord-to- fix-anything-for-love-nor- money walk up triple decker just barely working class, mean streets around Sagamore and Prospect Streets in one –horse Atlantic. At least my dear grandmother, and maybe yours too, called it that because there was nothing there, nothing you needed anyway. You know where I mean, those streets right over by the Welcome Young Field, by Harry the Bookie’s variety store (you knew Harry’s, with the always almost empty shelves except maybe a few dusty cans of soup, a couple of loaves of bread and a refrigerator empty except maybe a quart of milk or two, an also active pin-ball machine, and his “book” right on the counter for all the world, including his cop-customer world, to see), and the never empty, never empty as long as my father was alive, Red Feather (excuse me I forgot it changed names, Dublin Grille) bar room. Now I have your attention, right?


But first let me explain how I wound up as a “guest” here. Seems like Peter Paul Markin, that’s the half-assed, oops, half-baked,  wrote up some story, some weepy cock and bull story, about the Irish-ness of the old town,  A Moment In History… As March 17th Approaches to the North Adamsville Graduates Facebook page and my pride and joy daughter, Clara, North Adamsville Class of 1978 (and she actually graduated), saw it and recognized the names Riley, O’Brian and Welcome Young Field and asked me to read it. I did and sent Peter Paul an e-mail, christ, where does he get off using two names like he was a bloody heathen Boston Brahmin and him without a pot to piss in, as my dear grandmother used to say, growing up on streets on the wrong side of the tracks, over near the marshes for chrissakes, wronger even than the Sagamore streets. Or my baby Clara did, did sent the e-mail after I told her what to write. I’m not much of hand at writing or using this hi-tech stuff, if you want to know the truth.


I don’t know what he did with that e-mail, and to be truthful again, I don’t really care, but in that e-mail I told him something that he didn’t know, or rather two things. The first was that I “knew” him, or rather knew his grandmother (on his mother’s side) Anna Riley because her sister, Bernice, and my dear grandmother, Mary, also an O’Brien but with an “e”, who both lived in Southie (South Boston, in those days the Irish Mecca, for the heathens or Protestants, or both, both heathen and Protestant, that might read this) were as thick as thieves. When I was just a teenager myself I used to drive his grandmother over to her sister’s in Southie so that the three of them, and maybe some other ladies joined them for all I know, could go to one of the Broadway bars (don’t ask me to name which one, I don’t remember) that admitted unescorted ladies in those days and have themselves a drunk. And smoke cigarettes, unfiltered ones no less, Camels I think when I used cadge a few, which his stern grandfather, Dan Riley, refused to allow in the house over on Young Street.


I know, I know this is not the way that blue-grey haired Irish grandmothers are supposed to act, in public or private. And somebody, if I know my old North Adamsville gossips, wags and nose-butters, and my North Adamsville Irish branch of that same clan especially, is going say why am I airing that “dirty linen” in public. That’s a good point that Peter Paul talked in his story about Frank O’Brian and not airing the family business in public in that foolish essay, or whatever he wrote. So what am I doing taking potshots as the blessed memories of those sainted ladies? That is where my second thing comes in to set the record straight – Peter Paul, and I told him so in that e-mail (or Clara did) with no beating around the bush, is to me just another one of those misty-eyed, half-breed March 17th Irish that are our curse and who go on and on about the eight hundred years of English tyranny like they lived it, actually lived each day of it. (Yes half-breed, his father, a good guy from what my father told me when they used to drink together, so he must have had something going for him, was nothing but a Protestant hillbilly from down in the mountain mists hills and hollows Kentucky)


Now don’t get me wrong. I am as patriotic as the next Irishman in tipping my hat to our Fenian dead like old Pearse did back in 1913 or so, and the boys of ’16, and the lads on the right side in 1922, and the lads fighting in the North now but Peter Paul has got the North Adamsville Irish weepy, blessed “old sod” thing all wrong. No doubt about it. So, if you can believe this, he challenged me, to tell the real story. And I am here as his “guest” to straighten him out, and maybe you too. Sure, he is helping me write this thing. I already told you I’m a low-tech guy. Jesus, do you think I could write stuff like that half-assed, oops, half- baked son of an expletive with his silly, weepy half-Irish arse goings on? I will tell you this though right now if I read this thing and it doesn’t sound right fists are gonna be swinging, old as I am. But let’s get this thing moving for God’s sake.


Let me tell you about the shabeen, I mean, The Red Feather, I mean the Dublin Grille, bar room on Sagamore Street. That’s the one I know, and I am just using that as an example. There were plenty of others in old North Adamsville, maybe not as many as in Southie, but plenty. If you seriously wanted to talk about the “Irish-ness” of North Adamsville that was the place, the community cultural institution if you will, to start your journey. Many a boy, including this boy, got his first drink, legal or illegal, at that, or another like it, watering hole. Hell, the “real” reason they built that softball field at Welcome Young was so the guys, players and spectators alike, had an excuse to stop in for a few (well, maybe more than a few) after a tough battle on base paths. That’s the light-hearted part of the story, in a way. What went on when the “old man”, anybody’s “old man”, got home at the, sometimes, wee hours is not so light-hearted.


See, that is really where the straightening out job on our boy Peter Paul needs to be done. Sure, a lot of Irish fathers didn’t get drunk all the time. Although the deep dark secret was that in almost every family, every shanty family for certain and I know, and many “lace curtain” families they was at least one reprobate drunk. Hell, the local city councilor’s brother, Healy I think it was, was thrown in the drunk tank by the coppers more times than he was out. They could have given him a pass-key and saved time and money on dragging him to the caboose. But the king hell takes-the-cake was old Black-Jack’s Kerrigan’s brother, Boyo (sorry, I forget his real name). Yah, the North Adamsville High headmaster’s brother, the bastard that I had a run-in with and had to hightail it out of school, although it was not over his brother.


See Black-Jack’s family though they were the Mayfair swells since Black-Jack had gone to college, one of the first in the old neighborhood, and they had that big single-family house over on Beach Street. But more than one night I found Boyo lying face-down on Billings Road drunk as a skunk and had to carry him home to his wife and family. And then head back to the other side of the tracks, that wrong side I already told you about. Next day, or sometime later, Boyo would give me a dollar. Naturally when I went to school after that I went out of my way to flash the dollar bill at Black-Jack, saying “Look what Boyo gave me for helping him out.”

That’s all I had to say. Black-Jack always turned fuming red, maybe flaming red.


A lot of Irish fathers didn’t beat on their wives all the time either. And a lot of Irish fathers didn’t physically beat their kids for no reason. Plenty of kids go the “strap” though when the old man was “feeling his oats.” (I never heard of any sexual abuse, but that was a book sealed with seven seals then.) And more than one wife, more than one son’s mother didn’t show her face to the “shawlie” world due to the simple fact that a black eye, a swollen face, or some other wound disfigured her enough to lay low for a while. I had to stop, or try to stop, my own father one time when I was about twelve and he was on one of his three day Dublin Grille whiskey straight-up, no chaser toots and Ma just got in his way. He swatted me down like a fly and I never tried to go that route again. But he didn’t try to beat my mother again either, at least not when I was a around or I would have heard about it on the shawlie wire.


And a lot of Irish wives didn’t just let their husbands beat on them just because they were the meal ticket, the precious difference between a home and the county farm or, worse, the streets. And a lot of Irish wives didn’t make excuses (or pray) for dear old dad when the paycheck didn’t show up and the creditors were beating down the door. And a lot of Irish wives didn’t let those Irish fathers beat on their kids. And a lot of Irish mothers didn’t tell their kids not to “air the dirty linen in public.” But, don’t let anyone fool you, and maybe I am touching on things too close to home, my home or yours, but that formed part of the scene, the Irish scene.


Maybe, because down at the Atlantic dregs end of North Adamsville the whole place was so desperately lower working-class other ethnic groups, like the Italians, also had those same pathologies. (I am letting Peter Paul use that last word, although I still don’t really know what it means, but it seemed right when he told me what it meant). I don’t know. Figure it out though, plenty of fathers (and it was mainly fathers only in those days who worked, when they could) with not much education and dead-end jobs, plenty of triple deckers, no space, no air, no privacy rented housing and plenty of dead time. Yah, sure, I felt the “Irish-ness” of the place sometimes (mainly with the back of the hand), I won’t say I didn’t but when Peter Paul starts running on and on about the “old sod” just remember what I told you. I’ll tell you all the truth, won’t you take a word from me.

President Obama, Pardon Pvt. Manning

Because the public deserves the truth and whistle-blowers deserve protection.

We are military veterans, journalists, educators, homemakers, lawyers, students, and citizens.

We ask you to consider the facts and free US Army Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.

As an Intelligence Analyst stationed in Iraq, Pvt. Manning had access to some of America’s dirtiest secrets—crimes such as torture, illegal surveillance, and corruption—often committed in our name.

Manning acted on conscience alone, with selfless courage and conviction, and gave these secrets to us, the public.

“I believed that if the general public had access to the information contained within the[Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy,”

Manning explained to the military court. “I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan were targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare.”

Journalists used these documents to uncover many startling truths. We learned:

Donald Rumsfeld and General Petraeus helped support torture in Iraq.

Deliberate civilian killings by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan went unpunished.

Thousands of civilian casualties were never acknowledged publicly.

Most Guantanamo detainees were innocent.

For service on behalf of an informed democracy, Manning was sentenced by military judge Colonel Denise Lind to a devastating 35 years in prison.

Government secrecy has grown exponentially during the past decade, but more secrecy does not make us safer when it fosters unaccountability.

Pvt. Manning was convicted of Espionage Act charges for providing WikiLeaks with this information, but  the prosecutors noted that they would have done the same had the information been given to The New York Times. Prosecutors did not show that enemies used this information against the US, or that the releases resulted in any casualties.

Pvt. Manning has already been punished, even in violation of military law.

She has been:

Held in confinement since May 29, 2010.

• Subjected to illegal punishment amounting to torture for nearly nine months at Quantico Marine Base, Virginia, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Article 13—facts confirmed by both the United Nation’s lead investigator on torture and military judge Col. Lind.
Denied a speedy trial in violation of UCMJ, Article 10, having been imprisoned for over three years before trial.
• Denied anything resembling a fair trial when prosecutors were allowed to change the charge sheet to match evidence presented, and enter new evidence, after closing arguments.
Pvt. Manning believed you, Mr. President, when you came into office promising the most transparent administration in history, and that you would protect whistle-blowers. We urge you to start upholding those promises, beginning with this American prisoner of conscience.
We urge you to grant Pvt. Manning’s petition for a Presidential Pardon.
FIRST& LAST NAME _____________________________________________________________
STREET ADDRESS _____________________________________________________________

CITY, STATE & ZIP _____________________________________________________________
EMAIL& PHONE _____________________________________________________________
Please return to: For more information:
Private Manning Support Network, c/o Courage to Resist, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland CA 94610


Note that this image is PVT Manning's preferred photo.

Note that this image is PVT Manning’s preferred photo.

Send The Following Message (Or Write Your Own) To The President In Support Of A Pardon For Private Manning

To: President Barack Obama
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

The draconian 35 years sentence handed down by a military judge, Colonel Lind, on August 21, 2013 to Private Manning (Chelsea formerly known as Bradley) has outraged many citizens including me.

Under Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution the President of the United States had the authority to grant pardons to those who fall under federal jurisdiction.
Some of the reasons for my request include: 

*that Private Manning  was held for nearly a year in abusive solitary confinement at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia, which the UN rapporteur in his findings has called “cruel, inhuman, and degrading”

*that the media had been continually blocked from transcripts and documents related to the trial and that it has only been through the efforts of Private Manning’s supporters that any transcripts exist.

*that under the UCMJ a soldier has the right to a speedy trial and that it was unconscionable and unconstitutional to wait 3 years before starting the court martial.

*that absolutely no one was harmed by the release of documents that exposed war crimes, unnecessary secrecy and disturbing foreign policy.

*that Private Manning is a hero who did the right thing when she revealed truth about wars that had been based on lies.

I urge you to use your authority under the Constitution to right the wrongs done to Private Manning – Enough is enough!

Signature ___________________________________________________________

Print Name __________________________________________________________


City / Town/State/Zip Code_________________________________________

Note that this image is PVT Manning's preferred photo.

Note that this image is PVT Manning’s preferred photo.
From The Marxist Archives -The Revolutionary History Journal-Carlini in Spain-An Italian Trotskyist in the Spanish Civil War


I have been interested, as a pro-Republican partisan, in the Spanish Civil War since I was a teenager. What initially perked my interest, and remains of interest, is the passionate struggle of the Spanish working class to create its own political organization of society, its leadership of the struggle against Spanish fascism and the romance surrounding the entry of the International Brigades, particularly the American Abraham Lincoln Battalion of the 15th Brigade, into the struggle.

Underlying my interests has always been a nagging question of how that struggle could have been won by the working class. The Spanish proletariat certainly was capable of both heroic action and the ability to create organizations that reflected its own class interests i.e. the worker militias and factory committees. Of all modern working class revolutions after the Russian revolution Spain showed the most promise of success. Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky noted that the political class consciousness of the Spanish proletariat at that time was higher than that of the Russian proletariat in 1917. Yet it failed in Spain. Trotsky's writings on this period represent a provocative and thoughtful approach to an understanding of the causes of that failure. Moreover, with all proper historical proportions considered, his analysis has continuing value as the international working class struggles against the seemingly one-sided class war being waged by the international bourgeoisie today.

The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 has been the subject of innumerable works from every possible political and military perspective possible. A fair number of such treatises, especially from those responsible for the military and political policies on the Republican side, are merely alibis for the disastrous policies that led to defeat. Trotsky's complication of articles, letters, pamphlets, etc. which make up the volume reviewed here is an exception. Trotsky was actively trying to intervene in the unfolding events in order to present a program of socialist revolution that most of the active forces on the Republican side were fighting, or believed they were fighting for. Thus, Trotsky's analysis brings a breath of fresh air to the historical debate. That in the end Trotsky could not organize the necessary cadres to carry out his program or meaningfully impact the unfolding events in Spain is one of the ultimate tragedies of that revolution. Nevertheless, Trotsky had a damn good idea of what forces were acting as a roadblock to revolution. He also had a strategic conception of the road to victory. And that most definitely was not through the Popular Front.

The central question Trotsky addresses throughout the whole period under review here was the crisis of revolutionary leadership of the proletarian forces. That premise entailed, in short, a view that the objective conditions for the success of a socialist program for society had ripened. Nevertheless, until that time, despite several revolutionary upheavals elsewhere, the international working class had not been successful anywhere except in backward Russia. Trotsky thus argued that it was necessary to focus on the question of forging the missing element of revolutionary leadership that would assure victory or at least put up a fight to the finish.

This underlying premise was the continuation of an analysis that Trotsky developed in earnest in his struggle to fight the Stalinist degeneration of the Russian Revolution in the mid-1920's. The need to learn the lessons of the Russian Revolution and to extend that revolution internationally was thus not a merely a theoretical question for Trotsky. Spain, moreover, represented a struggle where the best of the various leftist forces were in confusion about how to move forward. Those forces could have profitably heeded Trotsky's advice. I further note that the question of the crisis of revolutionary leadership still remains to be resolved by the international working class.

Trotsky's polemics in this volume are highlighted by the article ‘The Lessons of Spain-Last Warning’, his definitive assessment of the Spanish situation in the wake of the defeat of the Barcelona uprising in May 1937. Those polemics center on the failure of the Party of Marxist Unification (hereafter, POUM) to provide revolutionary leadership. That party, partially created by cadre formerly associated with Trotsky in the Spanish Left Opposition, failed on virtually every count. Those conscious mistakes included, but were not limited to, the creation of an unprincipled bloc between the former Left Oppositionists and the former Right Oppositionists (Bukharinites) of Maurin to form the POUM in 1935; political support to the Popular Front including entry into the government coalition by its leader; creation of its own small trade union federation instead of entry in the anarchist led-CNT; creation of its own militia units reflecting a hands-off attitude toward political struggle with other parties; and, fatally, an at best equivocal role in the Barcelona uprising of 1937.

Trotsky had no illusions about the roadblock to revolution of the policies carried out by the old-time Anarchist, Socialist and Communist Parties. Unfortunately the POUM did. Moreover, despite being the most honest revolutionary party in Spain it failed to keep up an intransigent struggle to push the revolution forward. The Trotsky - Andreas Nin (key leader of the POUM and former Left Oppositionist) correspondence in the Appendix makes that problem painfully clear.

The most compelling example of this failure - As a result of the failure of the Communist Party of Germany to oppose the rise of Hitler in 1933 and the subsequent decapitation and the defeat of the Austrian working class in 1934 the European workers, especially the younger workers, of the traditional Socialist Parties started to move left. Trotsky observed this situation and told his supporters to intersect that development by an entry, called the ‘French turn’, into those parties. Nin and the Spanish Left Opposition, and later the POUM failed to do that. As a result the Socialist Party youth were recruited to the Communist Party en masse. This accretion formed the basic for its expansion as a party and the key cadre of its notorious security apparatus that would, after the Barcelona uprising, suppress the more left ward organizations. For more such examples of the results of the crisis of leadership in the Spanish Revolution read this book.

Revised-June 19, 2006

Click below to link to the Revolutionary History Journal index.

Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:

This is an excellent documentary source for today’s leftist militants to “discover” the work of our forebears, particularly the bewildering myriad of tendencies which have historically flown under the flag of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International, whether one agrees with their programs or not. But also other laborite, semi-anarchist, ant-Stalinist and just plain garden-variety old school social democrat groupings and individual pro-socialist proponents.

Some, maybe most of the material presented here, cast as weak-kneed programs for struggle in many cases tend to be anti-Leninist as screened through the Stalinist monstrosities and/or support groups and individuals who have no intention of making a revolution. Or in the case of examining past revolutionary efforts either declare that no revolutionary possibilities existed (most notably Germany in 1923) or alibi, there is no other word for it, those who failed to make a revolution when it was possible.

The Spanish Civil War can serve as something of litmus test for this latter proposition, most infamously around attitudes toward the Party Of Marxist Unification's (POUM) role in not keeping step with revolutionary developments there, especially the Barcelona days in 1937 and by acting as political lawyers for every non-revolutionary impulse of those forebears. While we all honor the memory of the POUM militants, according to even Trotsky the most honest band of militants in Spain then, and decry the murder of their leader, Andreas Nin, by the bloody Stalinists they were rudderless in the storm of revolution. But those present political disagreements do not negate the value of researching the POUM’s (and others) work, work moreover done under the pressure of revolutionary times. Hopefully we will do better when our time comes.

Finally, I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries from the Revolutionary History journal in which they have post hoc attempted to rehabilitate some pretty hoary politics and politicians, most notably August Thalheimer and Paul Levy of the early post Liebknecht-Luxemburg German Communist Party. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read, learn, and try to figure out the
wheat from the chaff. 


Domenico Sedran

Carlini in Spain-An Italian Trotskyist in the Spanish Civil War

This vivid first hand reminiscence is an extract from the memoirs of Domenico Sedran, which were published in full in Memorie di un proletario rivoluzionario, Critica Comunista, No.8-9, July-October 1980, pp.143-52. They were excerpted in French in Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no.29, March 1987, pp.80-97, but this version is taken from the full Italian text, as part of Sedran’s remarkable adventures in Spain are not contained in the French. We are greatly in the debt of Angela Giumelli, who translated the first draft, and our old friend Paolo Casciola, who produced the finished article.
Domenico Sedran was born into a poor family in Friuli in 1905, and left in 1922 to find work in France. Upon joining the Italian Communist Party in exile in 1925 he took the name of Adolfo Carlini, by which pseudonym he has always been known to the Trotskyist movement. He was deported from France to Belgium in 1928, and shortly afterwards was ejected from the PCI for his support of the positions of Trotsky. Returning to France, he eventually drifted south to Marseilles. When the Spanish Civil War broke out he set off for the frontier, and during that time he functioned as Munis’ right hand man in the leadership of the Bolshevik-Leninists. His adventures during this period are described in our extract.
Upon his return to France in 1939 he was interned and shifted about the country, but when France fell to Hitler in 1940 he escaped and made his way to Belgium. He returned to Italy in 1943, and was almost immediately arrested, but again escaped. As late as the 1970s it was not known that he had survived the war.
I left Marseilles in August 1936 with a small group of anti-Fascists for revolutionary Spain. In Perpignan, the last French town, we met other groups coming from elsewhere. We went on foot on the road through a long tunnel under the Pyrenees. We took the train for Barcelona at the first Spanish village, Port-Bou. The peasants who were working the land that had become their property saluted us, raising their clenched fists.
Upon our arrival in Barcelona, we Trotskyists, the Bordigists, and the Maximalists made for the Hotel Falcón, where there were already half a dozen Italian Trotskyists who had taken part in the revolutionary day of 19 July 1936, when the popular anti-Fascist movement had triumphed in three-quarters of Spain. The group of Italian Trotskyists who had participated on that day consisted of di Bartolomeo, a Neapolitan who was the POUM representative responsible for foreigners; Lionello Guido, from Chioggia; Placido Magreviti, a Sicilian; and Pino and Pietro, who were Milanese.
We were trained for a week at the Lenin Barracks whilst waiting for our gun and 50 bullets to go up to the front. Political discussions carried on in the Hotel Falcón over our membership of the POUM with the right to form a faction. Comrade di Bartolomeo gave us a reply stating that the POUM rejected the right of faction. It was during those days that we read in La Batalla, the organ of the POUM, a small item on the Moscow Trials, almost without any comment.
We then set off for the front, a column of 400 militiamen, Spaniards for the most part, even if the column was called ‘the POUM international column’. In addition to the many nationalities, many political tendencies were also represented. There were Pivertists, Brandlerites, Trotskyists, Maximalists and Sneevlietists [1] (whom their MP, the Dutchman Sneevliet, saluted at their time of departure for the front).
By dawn we were among about 200 militiamen who were to hold the road to Casetas de Quincena, between Huesca and Estrecho Quinto. Our actions afterwards consisted in gaining more territory.
It was during these actions that Pedrola, the Secretary of the POUM Communist Youth, along with Robert de Fauconnet, the Secretary of the Marseilles Trotskyist group, died bravely. We suffered deaths and injuries almost every day. One night I was on guard, and towards sunrise I saw someone at some distance waving something white. I also waved my handkerchief and shouted: “Adelante, venga.” [“Come on, go ahead.”] It was a soldier with a handkerchief on the bayonet of his gun, who was passing over onto our side.
One day the enemy concentrated crossfire from two opposite sides, Huesca and Estrecho Quinto. Happily for us, many of the 155mm shells did not explode. Comrade Piquier ordered the peasants to dig out a square ditch, in which, amongst others, I saw two French comrades who had just joined the front. One militiaman, Gaston, a French Algerian who had experienced the war of 1914-18, said that this bombardment was equal in violence to those during the war that had preceded an attack upon a position. And, in fact, at the end of the bombardment, the Falangists drew close to our position with a white flag at the head of their group. Given that they had weapons, comrade Enrico Russo, a dissident Bordigist from Naples who had led our group on the road to Huesca, gave the order to fire. The Falangists captured Berenguer, another French Algerian comrade, whilst a POUM journalist managed to get back after having realised the ruse of the Falangists.
I recall one day when we were holding a meeting of the Trotskyist group to find out why our correspondent in Barcelona had shown no sign of life since we had departed for the front. We were all sitting around a shell crater, and because of our inexperience of war and our lack of prudence, we were visible from Estrecho Quinto. Suddenly we heard the whistle of a shell, which, luckily for us, missed its target.
We held this position for a good month, and since their efforts to dislodge us had been in vain, one night the Fascist soldiers abandoned their position and fled the length of the Aragon mountain, leaving some 20 soldiers prisoner, and six guns and dozens of machine guns out of action.
When the Estrecho Quinto front had fallen, I returned to Barcelona with most of the Internationals for around 10 days. Our group once more asked by means of an open letter to join the POUM, with, as always, the right of discussion and faction. The POUM’s response to our request was not lengthy, in fact it was quite short. We were told that the condition for our joining was that we should repudiate publicly all calumnies spoken or written against the POUM by the Secretariat of the Fourth International. The letter of reply bore the signature of Andrés Nin. [2]
We delivered these four lines from the POUM to Lemens, a Belgian comrade of the Socialist Youth who had been wounded, so that on his journey via Paris he could deliver them to the Secretariat of the Fourth International. I do not know whether Trotsky or the Secretariat of the Fourth International replied to the POUM. It should have been asked exactly what these slanders were, when and where, and to indicate them clearly.
I think that the leaders of the POUM did not want to be mistaken for Trotskyists. In fact, they weren’t. If you go back a little over the history of the formation of the party, you will see very quickly why the POUM could not become the leading party of the Spanish Revolution. Maurín had been expelled in 1928 from the Third International along with Arquer and others as a rightist tendency. Upon their expulsion they founded a party called Obrero y Campesino [Workers and Peasants], mainly in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, and, maintaining their right wing, parliamentary and reformist ideology, they merged with the leftist groups of Nin and Andrade, assuming the name of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista.
Andrés Nin had been the Secretary of the Red International of Trade Unions in Moscow, and had been expelled as a Left Oppositionist in 1928. After the fusion congress between the two tendencies of the right and left, the POUM was almost always dominated by the right wing tendency. Even on the trade union question, the POUM associated with the Socialists, who were not a great deal more than our Saragat [3] supporters, in a small Catalan trade union federation amounting to 50,000 adherents, whereas the Anarcho-Syndicalist trade union with over half a million members dominated all the strikes, thus acquiring a revolutionary tradition of its own. Could not these POUMists open their eyes and enter the most important and most revolutionary trade union? But the POUM lacked the Marxist theory necessary for it to be able to engage in polemics with the Anarcho-Syndicalists over the need for a proletarian state during and indeed after the revolution. If the POUM was to have developed a clear idea on the question of the state, it would have been necessary for it to have understood the situation by formulating revolutionary and programmatic perspectives, and not by remaining confined to its own POUMist organisation waiting for the masses to come to it.
Towards the end of 1936 I was discussing with some Anarcho-Syndicalist militants who told me that although they had allowed Luis Companys, a Catalan Republican, to be a front man for the Catalan government in order to avoid frightening off democratic governments like those of France and Britain, effective power belonged to them, to the armed revolutionary masses who had smashed the Fascist military uprising. However, as a result of their compromise with the Republican bourgeoisie, the working class movement grew weaker, even in Catalonia.
Caballero, a Socialist who had been the head of the Madrid government, was replaced by the Stalinist Negrín, who subsequently gave the order to disarm the armed proletarian militias of Catalonia. The first attack of the Stalino-bourgeois Republican counter-revolution was launched in order to lay hold of the Barcelona Telephone Exchange that was controlled by the CNT. The attack was repelled, and the news was disseminated to all the factories by telephone. The workers downed tools, occupied their factories and went down into the central avenues.
But after this first day of protest demonstrations by the working masses, who were unarmed and without any slogans, on the second day, 4 May 1937, only a minority of the dissident Anarcho-Syndicalists led by Balius [4] continued the struggle, confronting on the barricades the Stalino-bourgeois counter-revolution. The POUM militants also put up resistance, and for three days barricades were erected almost everywhere in the city of Barcelona.
It was said that the central government in Valencia had allowed 7,000 well armed Assault Guards to land in Barcelona. Thus the central government disarmed and subjugated the Catalan working class. It was said that there were more than 1,000 dead.
Caballero was still formally the head of the government, but he knew nothing about what had gone on. When he protested, he was forced to resign. Four Anarchist leaders who were also in the government – Peiro, Montseny, García Oliver and López Sánchez [5] – put all their prestige at the service of those who were disarming the Catalan working class. Thus the Anarcho-Syndicalists, who are in principle opposed to the state and even to the formation of a workers’ state, accepted four ministerial posts in a government that was in the process of disarming the working class on the pretext that it was first necessary to win the war against Franco all together, and then only afterwards make the revolution. This was a theory dear to the Stalinist bureaucracy, which had already led the Chinese Revolution to defeat in 1926.
A little later on the Stalinists and bourgeoisie had no further need of the Anarchist ministers, and expelled them from the government. Nin and other POUM leaders had in the meantime been arrested under the accusation of links with the Fascists. Nin disappeared from the prison where the Stalinists were holding him, and the Spanish Communist Party declared in a pamphlet that he had crossed the front lines to go over to Franco. Nobody knows where he is buried.
After the suppression and disarming of the working class by the Kerenskyist government of Negrín, Trotsky immediately wrote an article entitled The victory of Franco is henceforth assured, it is only a question of time. [6] Trotsky concluded his article by saying that the international fighters would at least have acquired revolutionary experience. In fact a part of the top leaders of the Yugoslav Revolution were from among those who had fought in Spain, including Tito.
After May 1937 in Barcelona, La Voz Leninista, our monthly, went clandestine and was published whenever possible with the help of the comrades who were at the front. The two main contributors to the journal disappeared during the time when Negrín was in office in Catalonia. Erwin Wolf, who had been Trotsky’s secretary, was arrested at the end of July, and was later released. He told us that lamps had been shone into his face. The authorities told him to come back to get a visa for his return to France. When he returned he disappeared, and no more is known. His wife, one of the comrades, who was the daughter of a Norwegian Socialist MP, visited all the prisons of Barcelona, but in vain. [7]
Moulin, a student from Geneva University who had written a leaflet entitled Now or Never: Resist so that the Revolution may be Victorious, which we distributed on the Barcelona barricades, told us that somebody had photographed him at that time in the street. He went to work among the peasants in order to be able to eat, and never returned.
Comrade Manuel Fernández (‘Munis’), along with other Spanish comrades, continued to ensure that La Voz Leninista appeared up until our arrest in March 1938. We were arrested on the pretext of having killed a Russian captain, plus all the usual accusations of the Moscow Trials.
The arrest took place one Sunday in March 1938. I suddenly felt the cold of the barrels of two pistols pointed at my forehead, and a third in the stomach. Whilst pushing me the policeman demanded: “Who is Carlini?” I replied: “Yo mismo.” [“It’s me.”] Then they added: “The other one, who’s he?” He replied: “Åge Kjelsø, a Dane.” By midday that Sunday practically the entire Barcelona Trotskyist group was in the underground cells of the Calle Layetana, except of course the Stalinist agent provocateur Max Joan. [8] Comrade Luigi Zannon was also not with us, because he was being used by the police after the fashion of the Moscow Trials.
Along with comrade Manuel Fernández there was me, Carlini; Viktor Ondik, a Czech who had been wounded in the lung on the Huesca front; Åge Kjelsø, a Dane who had fought on the Madrid front; Jaime Fernández, the only soldier who had managed to flee courageously from the Alcazar of Toledo when it had been occupied by the forces of the Francoist generals; Teodoro Sanz, who had a hand half-paralysed from a wound on the Madrid front; Antonio Guerrero, from whom a leg had been amputated after a wound on the Madrid front; and a Trotskyist sympathiser, Palacio, who had lost his only son, aged 16, who fell during the assault upon the Montaña Barracks in Madrid. Even the director of the CNT printshop was arrested, as well as two sympathisers with whom we had left the running of the journal La Voz Leninista.
After spending two weeks in the isolation cells furnished with only a stone bench, whilst passing before Munis’ cell, I called out that he must expect a trial of the sort of those seen in Moscow. Munis was not wholly convinced that Max Joan was an agent of the Cheka.
I was then led into another small building for interrogation, still in the Calle Layetana. After having been locked up in a small enclosure for a couple of days, I was led into a more grand room where a white-haired man was sitting. Seeing my black and swollen hands, the policeman asked me if it was necessary to slacken my handcuffs. I replied that he should do what seemed best to him. The white-haired man told me: “If you sign what Zannon has signed, you will be freed and you can return to France.” A policeman showed me a photograph of a dead man in a military uniform, with blood spilled out all over the floor, and told me that it was Léon Narvitch, a Russian captain who had been killed by Munis. After that I was confined in an enclosure with an armed guard day and night. One day Commissar Mendez, a ‘Cenetista’ [a member of the CNT], told me that it was also necessary for me to explain my relations with the Anarchists. I replied that my relations with them were excellent.
Zannon was by my side when I was taken for the second interrogation, and he repeated everything that for 15 days the police had made him learn off by heart. Flanked by three policemen, I cried: “This is an infamy!” The policemen beat me, threw me onto the ground, twisted my feet, and then pulled me up again, and one of them read out the paper that they wanted me to sign. I replied that I would read the paper myself. When I read it, I found that the paper was longer, since there was a fold in it. I did not have the time to read what was written on the fold, because a policeman snatched the paper out of my hands, gave me a shove and said: “You will come to trial anyway, and it will go hard on you.”
We met POUM detainees and working class militants of the CNT during our confinement in the Carcel Modelo in Barcelona, and comrade Munis held some discussions in the prison corridor, during which the members of other organisations became acquainted with the political positions of the Trotskyists on the subject of the Spanish Revolution.
We were subsequently transferred to a convent that had been converted into a state prison. Some days before the arrival of Franco’s troops, the Fascist prisoners seized control of the prison with the complicity of the jailers. All the Fascists went free. In their dormitory we found chocolate, sausages, tins of sardines, and very comfortable beds, whilst the other prisoners were starving.
One of the Internationals, a Hungarian I think, saw a jailor by the window and told him that there were still around 30 of us Internationals imprisoned. The jailer replied that he would raise the matter with his officer. A few hours later the prison gates were also opened for us.
I was convinced that Barcelona was already surrounded by Franco’s troops, since for some days we had been able to hear bombing in the direction of France. I had visited the French consulate along with many others, and an employee there told me that if I did not have French papers by the time Franco’s troops arrived I would be arrested.
So it was that I walked through the deserted city watching soldiers constructing barricades and digging trenches with the help of the locals. For a few days after the Francoist occupation you could still hear the explosions of shells in Ferrer, the revolutionary quarter of Barcelona.
Along the Parallelo street I saw a motorised column towing large calibre cannon with prostitutes laying upon them, whilst barefoot colonial soldiers walked alongside in single file carrying their boots on their shoulders. The few people in the street ran off saying: “No quiero verles!” [“I don’t want to see this!”] Due to my back pains, which left me unable to walk and hence unable to get to France, I stayed in hiding for five months until August 1939 with a family I knew.
I was also welcomed by another family in the Calle Nueva, where I met a Milanese comrade from the International Brigades. Among other things, we talked of leaving together for France. His response was that France would never tolerate the Axis powers taking control of the Straits of Gibraltar, so France would soon return to Spain victorious. I replied that this was sheer illusion, a tale that was going around the International Brigades.
One day we heard the sound of boots going up and down the stairs. A woman’s voice called out to the companion of the Milanese. A second later the Milanese’s companion entered, warning us that the house was surrounded by the military, who were searching for men. She told me that it was best to go, so that two men should not be found in her apartment.
As I descended a few steps I saw the rear view of a soldier who was talking to a woman. He had a rifle in his hands. I hesitated briefly, then continued to descend the stairs silently in my rubber-soled shoes. The woman who was talking to the soldier managed to lead him away from the door, and I could still hear her talking to the soldier as I left. I think it was the companion of the Milanese comrade who helped me to escape. I heard no more from the Milanese comrade.
I left Barcelona accompanied by Signora Guinar, a young widowed comrade who held her young daughter by the hand. We crossed the gravel of the Badalona creek. A little way off I saw an armed guard on the bridge, who was stopping people and checking their papers. I stopped looking in that direction and wondered to myself whether we could manage to go another way. A few hours later Signora Guinar accompanied me to the outskirts of Barcelona.
We bade farewell. She was holding her handkerchief, wiping away the tears and singing in a low voice that faded as I walked away: “Dice que se va, dice que se va, y vuelve.” [“He says he’s going away, he says he’s going away, come back.”]
I set off for France in the latter half of August 1939. I had five pesetas in my pocket. I shall not describe everything of this journey, which involved crossing mountains and forests, for Catalonia is as mountainous as much of the rest of the Iberian peninsula. The bridges were also controlled by Franco’s troops. I stole and ate carrots, turnips and wheat.
I also received a lot of help from peasants. I owe my life to these people’s directions and their bread, polenta and minestrone soup. Spanish people are very hospitable and comradely towards others in the same position as themselves. One day I saw something in Barcelona that deserves telling. A hungry young lad stole and ate some pastries. The baker, however, saw him and grabbed him by the arm. One of the baker’s customers asked how much the pastries were worth, and offered to pay to let the boy go free.
I now needed to find my bearings. I looked at the map, studying the roads and villages. The areas near the sea would be closely controlled. I therefore chose to pass through the small town of Granollers. I walked through allotments and vineyards, and jumped walls like a burglar. One night I was in a courtyard and a farmer turned his light on me because his dog was barking. I explained that I was on my way to France for the grape picking. I walked alongside a gravel stream that was supposed to lead me to the Pyrenees, now and again looking back and seeing the lights of Barcelona over my shoulder.
By the afternoon of the next day I was at Granollers, about 25 kilometres from Barcelona. I enjoyed a beer there. Then I resumed my journey along the road to France. At night I stepped into a courtyard and asked the proprietor whether I could stay there and sleep on the straw. He showed me where I could stay, and I made a little niche out of the straw that was still damp from the rain. I had hoped that he might give me some pieces of polenta and some milk on the following day, but instead he told me to be on my way. Due to the wet straw my knees had become even more swollen with the rheumatism from which I suffered. I therefore had to walk with my legs straight until they had warned up sufficiently to walk normally.
After walking for some kilometres I saw a lorry carrying sand. I rolled up my trousers to show my swollen, dressed legs to the driver, and managed to hitch a ride. After about 10 kilometres the lorry stopped at a road block manned by the Civil Guard. I jumped out on the other side and mixed in with the holiday makers.
I began to walk over a bridge, but turned back as I saw an armed guard. I went down another road and asked a girl if there were any other roadblocks along the way. But she was unable to tell me anything in this respect. So I went on. I saw a group of young people, 12 or 13 years old, carrying rifles bigger than they were. Then I went towards the mountains.
That night I knocked on a door. It was opened by two delightful sisters. I asked them if I could stay there for the night. They made me welcome, and their father told me that he also had a son who worked in the village, and that he would soon be home. I asked him: “How long does it take to get to the nearest village?” He replied: “Two hours, along the mule track.”
The place was not unattractive as a mountain stream ran nearby to the house, with ducks and geese paddling in the water, and a pasture. The sisters’ brother arrived. I ate polenta and salad, and drank milk with them, in the same way with which I was accustomed in my native Friuli. The son talked about the Republican army, into which he had been conscripted. That night I slept in the dry hay-barn, which eased my rheumatic pains. I would have liked to have stayed at least a day to get rested, but the father asked me to leave the next morning.
I never revealed anything about myself, not even in the last Spanish village through which I passed. I used to say that I had children to support, and that I was unemployed and was therefore forced to try and find work in France during the wine harvest. The people certainly thought that I was a politico.
I found some other mountain house and asked for some bread or a piece of polenta, offering them my last two pesetas, which they wouldn’t accept. Walking along the base of a mountain I saw a bridge which I had to cross. However, the military who had been repairing it were still there. It was midday, and the soldiers – or their prisoners, it was difficult to tell which, for they were all dressed alike – were there with their officer, and were eating their sardines out of the tin. I wondered if they would challenge me when I passed them. As I crossed I saw for the first time the Falangist symbol engraved upon the parapet of the bridge which they had repaired – a bow superimposed upon a bunch of arrows.
The most difficult part of my journey was yet to come. I will never forget Camprodón, the last village on the Spanish border, or the downpours of rain which weakened my bones. I asked a farmer working in a field for the mountain route to France. He replied:
If you go along the lower mountains nearest the sea, te agarran [they’ll get you], as they are well guarded. Do you see that high mountain beneath the clouds? And do you see that white speck? Well, that is the last house on the mountain. Make sure that when you get there that they give you something to eat, because after that there are about 20 kilometres before you come to the next house. You can’t cross the bridge over the dam’s creek in the village because there is a military roadblock.”
He also told me: “When you get up into the mountains do not go near the village, because the guards will see you and shoot at you.” As I passed by plots and houses I saw a soldier, but he was talking to his young lady, or rather they were just looking at each other.
From then on I not only had to face military roadblocks manned by the Francoist guards, but I also had to confront the forces of nature itself, which are stronger than man. I had lost my knife. I broke off two small branches and made a couple of strong walking sticks from them to help support me. I came across a threatening creek, and chose the least dangerous part to cross. I removed my clothes and tied them to my back. I overcame my fear of being swept away, and I soon stepped out onto the opposite bank of the creek.
I arrived at the house upon the mountain, and the lady of the house saw how wet I was due to the creek and the rain. She lit a fire with faggots to dry me out, and gave me a bean salad and a slice of bread to eat. She told me that her husband was the manager of the power station, and that it would be dangerous for me to spend the night there, as the guards may turn up, as they sometimes did. I would have to leave soon if I was to reach the French Pyrenees by dawn. The woman, who was also a comrade, would not accept the last two pesetas I had left on me from when I had left Barcelona. She accompanied me to the mountain path, where we shook hands and bade farewell, telling me to carry on walking.
After a couple of hours of travelling along the mountain track I heard the sound of boots. I raised my head, and in the moonlight I saw two shapes coming down the mountain. I thought they were guards. I jumped quickly into a ditch and hid among some bushes. The farmer had warned me to watch out for the mountain guards.
When I had climbed high into the mountains I felt extremely thirsty. I found some icy rainwater in a hollow in a rock. This enabled me to continue my journey. By the light of the moon I saw another mountain in front of me, but when I went down into the ravine I could hear a stream flowing in the valley. And so I had to retrace my steps and go back up the mountain again. I wondered what would happen if I should have an accident among the rocks. Only the eagles would find me. I continued walking on that horseshoe shaped mountain until dawn, when I reached the French Pyrenees.
I waited until day to see by which path I could go downhill into France. I met a shepherd who asked me where I was from. “From Barcelona”, I replied. He asked: “How are things going there?” I told him that Franco’s war machine and the military courts were working unrelentingly. The son of the family that had given me hospitality had been conscripted into the Republican army, but because two Falangist signatures were missing, he was still in a concentration camp.
The French shepherd took me to his cave and gave me some ham, which I had not eaten for years, some bread and a wonderful cup of hot chocolate. He told me among other things that other refugees had passed that way, and that France was now at war. I told him that this was impossible. He said: “Go now, continue your journey, you can’t lose your way. At the first mountain village you will see the posters for the general mobilisation.”
I saw a power station at Villefranche, the second village that I reached. I approached one of the workers and explained my situation. He replied that he would talk to the village mayor. He returned in a little while and told me that the mayor had given orders to let me eat at the restaurant, that he would pay, and that the next day I should give myself up to the police.
I did not rise from bed on the following day, as I was so tired after my journey. Towards evening somebody came looking for me. I think it was the worker to whom I had spoken the previous evening. He asked the neighbours if they had seen me. A woman said she had not. I had locked the outside door. The man called out and kicked the door, saying that I must be a disreputable man.
In the still of the night, when you could hear the crickets chirping, I unlocked the door as the clock tower chimed midnight. Wearing my rubber-soled canvas shoes, I made my way quietly out of that mountain village. I walked through the night, coming across but few villages. At one point I rode in the back of a Jeep for some 10 kilometres.
In one village I spoke with a bicycle mechanic who told me that he was Spanish. He gave me all the change he had in his pocket – 15 francs. I walked to the station and bought myself a railway ticket for the city of Perpignan.


1. Henk Sneevliet (1883-1942) was the leader of the Dutch RSAP (Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party), which was affiliated to the international Trotskyist movement until 1937, when it broke from it over the opposition of the Trotskyists to the POUM in Spain. Cf. Fritjof Tichelman, Henk Sneevliet, Paris 1987.
2. Nin’s letter of refusal is to be found in P. Broué“s edition of Leon Trotsky, La Révolution Espagnole, Paris 1975, p.726. This was the reply of Nin to the first request of the Bolshevik-Leninists to join the POUM, not the second, as Sedran says here. The second request appeared as an open letter in La Voz Leninista in April 1937, five months later.
3. Giuseppi Saragat led a small right wing split from the Italian Socialist Party in 1947, taking a pro-Western stance in opposition to the PSI’s electoral alliance with the Communist Party. The leadership of the British Labour Party sided with Saragat, and reproached 37 Labour MPs who signed on 17 April 1948 a telegram of support to Pietro Nenni, the leader of the PSI.
4. Jaime Balius was the leader of the Friends of Durruti, cf. above p.215 n85.
5. Juan Peiro (1887-1942) and Juan López Sánchez (1896-1972) were Anarchist ministers for industry and commerce in Caballero’s Popular Front government. For García Oliver and Montseny, cf. above pp.210, 214 nn11, 73.
6. The reference here appears to be to L.D. Trotsky, The Lessons of Spain: The Last Warning, 17 December 1937, The Spanish Revolution 1931-39, New York 1973, pp.306-26, whose penultimate paragraph ends in this way, though no such statement as quoted appears in it.
7. The reference is to Hjordis Knudsen. Cf. Nils Dahl, With Trotsky in Norway, Revolutionary History, Volume 2 no.2, Summer 1989, p.39.
8. On Max Joan, cf. above p.221 n154. Later on in his account, Sedran adds some more information about this agent: “Towards the end of 1939 the non-Spaniards of the Saint Cyprien camps were transferred into huts for the Internationals at Pau Gurs, in the Western Pyrenees. During the journey along the length of the Pyrenees in the train we saw the small church of the so-called miracles of Lourdes upon a small mountain. In that camp I met many of the men I had already known, amongst whom was the Czech comrade Viktor Ondik, who had been in the same court case as me in Barcelona. Ondik told me that the agent-provocateur Max Joan was also in the camp. Joan was later to join the Foreign Legion, something that was entirely in line with his ideals.” (Critica Comunista, nos.8-9, July-October 1980, p.153)
The Struggle Continues...

Out In The 1950s Brit Noir Night- Bond Of Fear- A Film Review


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Bond of Fear, starring Dermot Walsh, Jane Barrett, John Colinos, directed by Henry Cass, 1956

No question, if only based on the work of the late Sir Alfred Hitchcock, that the British film industry had the thriller genre down pat. The more generic film noir scene though, as witnessed in the film under review, Henry Cass’s Bond of Fear, is more problematic. It is not that the film lacked merit but it certainly did not grip the way a noir should and the way that the plot-line could have been used to create a more successful effort.  
Like a lot of families in America in the 1950s, the rising middle class families anyway, the British up and coming middle class families sought vacation times out of the cities. Of course the 1950s were the golden age of dragging the family out on vacation on the cheap, relative cheap, via the trailer (called a caravan in Britain) and that travelling device is central to the action here.

A hard-working father (played by Dermot Walsh) and a stay at home Mom (played by Jane Barrett) decide to travel by caravan (remember that’s a trailer) to France with their young son and daughter to see the sights and bond as a family. Problem is that as fate would have it there was a stone- cold killer (played by Johns Colinos) on the loose in the neighborhood who sought refuge in that very caravan in order to escape to parts unknown. When the young son discovers the killer in the caravan all hell breaks loose as the son is taken hostage by the killer to insure that Pa does his bidding.         
After a series of almost comic antics concerning avoiding police dragnets, feigning child sickness, caravan break-down, etc. there is a final showdown between Pa and the killer for the life of his son at the Dover ship crossing. Naturally Pa bests the killer, the son gains new-found respect for Pa and the family will go off on their merry way-bonded against fear. And all of this good feeling stuff, the antics, the musical score backing up the action, and being hard-pressed to hate the villain who just seems to be one of those misunderstood boy popular in the 1950s in America and England is what does this one in as noir. Sorry