Enrique Líster


Enrique Líster

Enrique Líster Forján (April 21 1907, Ameneiro, A Coruña—December 8 1995, Madrid) was a Spanish communist politician and military officer.

A stonemason, he lived his adolescence in Cuba, before returning in 1925 and joining the Communist Party of Spain (PCE). His involvement with the revolutionary movement forced his exile until 1931, when the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed. In 1931, he took part in the cuban uprising against dictator Machado. Between 1932 and 1935 Líster received training in the Frunze Military Academy, one of the most respected in the former Soviet Union, and as the Spanish Civil War started, he joined the Republican Army.

As a high-rank Republican Army official, commanding the 11th division of the republican army, Líster was instrumental in the defense of Madrid and other important military actions. As a divisional commander, he helped stall the Nationalist attack along the Jarama and played a significant role in the successful Republican counterattack in the Battle of Guadalajara.

Líster is widely regarded as a war hero for the Republican cause. However, his reputation as a competent military commander is largely based on the propaganda efforts of the PCE rather than his efforts in the field. While he was considered an effective commander when in charge of a small body of men, his lack of training and experience of commanding larger formations became apparent during the Brunete, Teruel and Ebro campaigns. Propaganda concerns meant that Lister often continued costly frontal assaults against strategically insignificant targets - to do otherwise would have been an indictment of the increasingly Communist controlled Republican administration. Lister also showed a lack of experience in his insistence on slowing any advance to mop up isolated enemy strongpoints rather than leaving them to second line troops. Lister shared these flaws along with fellow Communist commanders El Campesino and Juan Modesto, with whom he often failed to cooperate, leading to further operational problems.

After the end of the Civil War, Líster took refuge in Moscow, later fighting in World War II as a Red Army general; during the Second World War, he took part in the breaking of Leningrad's siege (January 1944). According to Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, in late 1959 Fidel Castro's intelligence chief Ramiro Valdés contacted the KGB in Mexico City, the Soviets sent over one hundred mostly Spanish-speaking advisors, including Enrique Líster Forján, to organize the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution in Cuba.

He was a general of the Yugoslav People's Army, making him the only person to have been a general in three different armies.

In 1973 he split from the PCE and founded the Spanish Communist Workers' Party (PCOE). A catalyst for the split was the condemnation by the PCE of the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Líster returned to Spain in 1977, after Francisco Franco's death, and rejoined the PCE during the Spanish transition to democracy. He died in 1995. Líster wrote two books about his personal experiences in the Spanish Civil War, "Nuestra guerra" (1966) and "Memorias de un luchador" (1977).

References

*Lister's stay in Cuba is mentioned in: cite book | author=Gordievsky, Oleg; Andrew, Christopher | title=KGB: The Inside Story | publisher=Hodder & Stoughton | year=1990 | id=ISBN 0-340-48561-2

*Lister's qualities as a military leader are discussed in: cite book | author=Beevor, Anthony | title=The Battle For Spain | publisher=Phoenix | year=2006 | id=ISBN 0-7538-2280-6


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