Historical walks through the 20th century Barcelona  

Ribera & Barceloneta


The Nautical School building was occupied by the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias, a body set up on 21 July 1936 (two days after the military uprising against the Republic had been quashed in Barcelona) to mobilise forces to fight against the rebellion in Catalonia and at the war front.

On 20 July 1936, President Lluís Companys, aware that the important role played by the working class in defeating the military uprising was on the brink of setting off a proletarian revolution, convened a meeting with all the left-wing parties and with the major trade unions (CNT-FAI), to find a solution to the country’s ungovernabilty. At the meeting, Companys proposed creating a new governing body that would bring together all the anti-fascist forces and that would act as a real government overseeing the struggle in Catalonia, i.e., the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias (CCMA). On July 21, the CCMA was established under the direction of the Government of Catalonia. The Committee comprised representatives of the National Confederation of Labour (CNT), the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI), the General Union of Workers (UGT), the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), the Socialist Union of Catalonia (USC), Catalan Republican Action (ACR), the Union of Sharecroppers and Smallholders (UR) and the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM). Over the Committee’s existence, which lasted more than two months, this body organised working-class militias and columns that set out for the front, mainly in Aragon.

The organisation, whose centre of operations was the building that housed the Nautical School in Barcelona’s port, was divided into several departments: Barcelona Militias, County Militias, Propaganda, Safe-Conducts, Supplies, Control Patrols, Transport, Health and Grants. The creation of the CCMA meant the institutionalisation of a duality of powers. The real power was held by the CCMA, which acted as the real government, while the Government of Catalonia managed the spheres of power it was granted by the CCMA. The fact that the CCMA assumed powers beyond the defence of Catalonia, which affected all domains of political, economic and social life, led to problems within the anti-fascist bloc. The major tensions were due to acts of indiscriminate repression against citizens that sympathised with the military uprising: well-off classes, right-wing activists, members of religious orders, etc.

The Catalan political class, from the Government of Catalonia to most organisations and political parties, took action to put an end to the repression. Finally, on 27 September 1936, the CCMA was dissolved and the entry of the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSUC), the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) and the anarcho-syndicalists (CNT-FAI) to the Government of Catalonia was approved.

The building that served as the headquarters of the CCMA now houses the Barcelona School of Nautical Studies, considered the oldest nautical school in Spain, and part of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) since 1990.

Address: 18, Pla de Palau || Coordinates: (LAT, LONG): 41.382420404, 2.184416703

  • Periods:
  • Second Republic
  • Civil War
  • Francoism
  • Transition