1289: Ugolino della Gherardesca, ravenous 1955: Gerald Albert Gallego, like father like son

1974: Salvador Puig Antich and Heinz Ches, the last garroted in Spain

March 2nd, 2010 Headsman

On this date in 1974, in the face of an international controversy, Spain executed anarchist Salvador Puig Antich — the very last execution by garrote.

Handsome young Salvador radicalized as a youth in the 1960s under the oppressive semi-fascist Franco dictatorship.

As was the style at the time, the Catalan nationalist’s philosophy soon migrated to anarchism, and he brought his army experience to the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación (MIL), whose direction-action credo entailed bank robberies branded as “expropriation.”

Puig Antich was caught in a police ambush that also claimed the life of a police officer — at least some of the bullets seemingly delivered by police friendly fire.

But his defense that his own gun discharged only as he was beaten senseless by the gendarmes never had a chance, since between arrest and trial, another set of proscribed leftists assassinated Prime Minister Luis Carrero Blanco.

Blanco’s successor went by the handle “Butcher of Malaga” for his depredations as a nationalist prosecutor during the Spanish Civil War.

So there was no quarter forthcoming from the Spanish regime, notwithstanding domestic general strikes and worldwide gnashing of teeth.

Salvador Puig Antich went on to a post-mortem existence as anarchist martyr. To help take the political edge off the scene, a non-political murderer, Heinz Ches (Spanish link), was garroted at almost the same time, in a different prison.

Spain soon did away with the discomfiting garrote; its very last executions were carried out by firing squad.

Salvador Puig Antich was the subject of a 2006 film, Salvador. (Here is a hostile anarchist review.)

The junior partner in the day’s twin killing, Heinz Ches, was himself the subject of a documentary, Nobody’s Death: The Enigma of Heinz Ches, exploring the weird near-total obscurity of the man who shared the headlines with Salvador Puig Antich. (A clip can be viewed here.)

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Arts and Literature,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Garrote,History,Martyrs,Milestones,Murder,Revolutionaries,Spain,Strangled

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23 thoughts on “1974: Salvador Puig Antich and Heinz Ches, the last garroted in Spain”

  1. Arturo says:

    “semi-fascist Franco dictatorship “??

    Is this a way of redefining history? What was ‘semi’ in fascist dictatorship of Franco? Would like to know.

    Could be ‘early alternative-fact’, perhaps.

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  3. Manel says:

    Puig Antich wasn’t spanish, he was Catalan.

    Freedom for Catalonia.

  4. Axel B says:

    This subject has been debated here; http://www.historum.com/european-history/21023-francisco-franco-fascist.html.

    Franco was not a fascist, ideologically speaking.

  5. John says:

    Visca Puig, Visca Catalunya

  6. Fiz says:

    What ignorant and insensitive rubbish!

  7. Jordan says:

    Franco was not a fascist in the common understanding of the word because he was not a leftest. He was a great defender of the innocent victims of Marxism. He was the liberator of Spain. If only the west had a hundred leaders like Franco today the world would be a happier place. Those executed by the Franco government suffered a JUST and well deserved death.

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  9. dogboy says:

    @lawguy, Frank, and Sean: This is a political science accounting of fascism, not the popularized use of the term “fascism” for any form of violently repressive government. The words “oppressive” and “dictatorship” clearly describe Francoism; “fascist” is not particularly helpful, but it’s hard not to think of him as at least “semi-fascist” due to his ostensible nationalism.

    Since it’s convenient, here’s Wikipedia’s commentary on Franco’s fascism:

    “Although Franco and Spain under his rule adopted some trappings of fascism, he, and Spain under his rule, are not generally considered to be fascist by scholars of fascism;among the distinctions, fascism entails a revolutionary aim to transform society, where Franco and Franco’s Spain did not seek to do so, and, to the contrary, although authoritarian, were conservative and traditional. Stanley Payne, the preeminent scholar on fascism and Spain notes: ‘scarcely any of the serious historians and analysts of Franco consider the generalissimo to be a core fascist.’ According to historian Walter Laqueur ‘during the civil war, Spanish fascists were forced to subordinate their activities to the nationalist cause. At the helm were military leaders such as General Francisco Franco, who were conservatives in all essential respects. When the civil war ended, Franco was so deeply entrenched that the Falange stood no chance; in this strongly authoritarian regime, there was no room for political opposition. The fascists became junior partners in the government and, as such, they had to accept responsibility for the regime’s policy without being able to shape it substantially.'”

  10. Frank says:

    SEMI-fascist is a little bit offensive for those millions of people who suffered Franco’s brutal represion. Can one be a semi-Nazi. Is this Nazi in the mornings and non Nazi in the afternoons??

  11. Sean says:

    Indeed-why would you call a murdering pig like Franco a semi facist, its like talking about a semi rapist or axe murderer.

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