Antonio Gómez & Antonio Resines’ “Celestino Alfonso”


They were twenty three when the fusils bloomed
Twenty three who prematurely gave their hearts
Twenty three foreigners and brothers of us therefore
Twenty three life lovers to die
Twenty three that cried France when they fell.

(L. Aragon, “L’affiche rouge”)

celestino alfonsoThe wonderful work of Gómez and Resines, La Cantata del Exilio –The Ballad of Exile- (1976, 1978) was a intese homage to the exiled Spanish after the lost of the Civil War: some of them knew the concentration camp of France (where the French government crowd them together); others, tortured and dead in the Nazi extermination camp; and a significative numbers of them, enlisted on the De Gaulle’s Foreign Legion or in the groups of guerrilleros of the French Resistance, with other people of the world. This is the story of Celestino Alfonso.

Affiche_rougeCelestino Alfonso (1916-1944) was natural of Salamanca, although most of his youth lived and worked in France as a carpenter nad member of the French Communist Youth, since 1930. In 1936 he get back to Spain as a volunteer to fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. He came to be Political Comissar of the 2nd International Brigade. In 1939, as he get back to France, was interned in the camp of Sinat-Cyprien, from where he ran away. After this, in 1942, he joined the Resistance; arrested and deported to Germany, he got to scape once again and, back in Paris, joined the FTP-MOI: French Shooters and Partisans – Foreigner Hand-Work, in a group leaded by Armenian poet Missak Manouchian. Both of them, along with other members of the group, appeared on the infamous affiche rouge, edited by Germans and French collaboracionists, as a try to discredit them. The rest of his story is told by Antonio Gómez, narrating his facts, and Antonio Resines, singing his thoughts, in one of the most beautiful songs of their great album:

Listen: http://www.goear.com/listen/0e0fac8/celestino-alfonso-antonio-resines

Celestino Alfonso

Ocho polacos, cinco italianos, tres franceses, dos rumanos, dos armenios, dos húngaros y un español componían el Destacamento Especial, comandado por el poeta armenio Missak Manouchian. El español se llamaba Celestino Alfonso, y su número era el 10.305.

Me gustaría contar las hojas de los pinos,
enumerar el agua de las fuentes,
sentarme a media tarde
cuando el sol se para en los cristales
y atraparle.
Me gustaría…

No hay más remedio,
nadie elige un futuro
de cementerio.

En dos años y medio de actuación en las zonas de Lyon y París, el grupo participó en más de 156 acciones contra el ejército nazi. Celestino Alfonso tomó parte en gran número de ellas, siendo el encargado de ejecutar personalmente, el 29 de Septiembre de 1942, al comandante alemán Julius Ritter, responsable del Servicio de Trabajo Obligatorio en Francia.

Me gustaría salir a la calle y en la noche
oír cantar los grillos en la Place Vendome,
jugar al mus o al tute
como si fuera una plaza de España
en cualquier parte.
Me gustaría…

No hay más remedio,
nadie elige un futuro
de cementerio.

En Noviembre de 1943, fueron detenidos 23 miembros del grupo, entre ellos el propio Manouchian y Celestino Alfonso, siendo fusilados, después de tres meses de torturas, el 21 de febrero de 1944.

Tantas banderas, tantos países,
tantos idiomas y un canto libre.
Tantos idiomas y un solo canto
que alza la sangre y une las manos.

Alfonso dejó escrito en una carta: "Soy extranjero, pero estimo que todo obrero consciente debe asumir, donde quiera que esté, la defensa de la clase obrera".

No hay más remedio,
nadie elige un futuro
de cementerio.

Celestino Alfonso

manouchiangrupoEight Poles, five Italians, three Frenchs, two Romanians, two Armenians, two Hungarians and one Spanish compossed the Special Detachment, comanded by the Armenian poet Missak Manouchian. Spanish man’s name was Celestino Alfonso, and his number was 10.305.// I’d like to count the leaves of the pine-trees,/ to enumerate the water of the springs,/ to sit down at afternoon/ when the sun stops by the crystals/ and catch it up./ I’d like to…// There’s no choice,/ nobody choose a future/ of cemetery.// In two years and a half of action on the zones of Lyon and Paris, the group took part in more than 156 actions against the Nazi army. Celestino Alfonso took part in many of those, being the responsible of executing in the person, in September 29, 1942, to German commander Julius Ritter, responsible of the Compulsory Work Service in France.// I’d like to go out to the street and at night/ to hear the crickets singing in Place Vendome,/ playing mus or tute*/ as if it were a square of Spain/ in wherever place./ I’d like to…// There’s no choice,/ nobody choose a future/ of cemetery.// In Novemeber, 1943, were arrested 23 members of the group, among them Manouchian himself and Celestino Alfonso, being shot both, after three months of tortures,/ at February 21, 1944.// So many flags, so many countries,/ so many idioms and one free singing./ So many idioms and one free singing/ that makes blood rise and join the hands.// Alfonso left wroten in a letter: “I am foreigner, but I consider that every conscious working man is bound to assume, wherever he may be, the defense of the working class”.// There’s no choice,/ nobody choose a future/ of cemetery.

Lyric and narration: Antonio Gómez

Music and singing: Antonio Resines

* Mus and tute: the most popular Spanish card games.

Translations to French, Italian and others: http://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=37955&lang=it

Download the album (it’s legal):

https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=61e9b08cebcbe7ee#cid=61E9B08CEBCBE7EE&id=61E9B08CEBCBE7EE!8840

2 responses to this post.

  1. ( “Soy extranjero, pero estimo que todo obrero consciente debe asumir, donde quiera que esté, la defensa de la clase obrera”.) Hayyy…..Que falta nos hacen unos cuantos Celestinos en estos tiempos que corren

  2. […] So you don’t understand Spanish? « Antonio Gómez & Antonio Resines’ “Celestino Alfonso” […]

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