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During ten months in 1936 and 1937 some 3 million men, women and children were involved in one of the most radical revolutions in world history.

In the countryside surrounding Barcelona peasants formed communes on land confiscated from old ruling elite. Workers took over the factories. Police were replaced with civilian self-defence forces.

In Catalonia three-quarters of the economy was under anarchists control. Hotels, shops, barber shops and restaurants were collectivised and managed by their workers, often making them more efficient. In some communes money was entirely eliminated and replaced with vouchers and bartering schemes.

It was this setting that saw Ethel MacDonald play her part in the greatest ideological struggle of modern times.