Straperlo, The Roulette of Scandal

This must have come as a big surprise to Anthony Adama Zijstra, senior manager of the Dutch spa company Exploitie Matschapij Scheveningen, who gathered at the Hotel Carlton in The Hague in the summer of 1935. manual aza With German Daniel Strauss.

Adama, a character unrelated to Spanish politics, tells us in his memoirs (War Well Scheveningen!, AW Sijthof, Leiden, 1974) of this meeting between an entire former chairman of the Spanish Council of Ministers with an adventurer like Strauss, The ethics for whose presence Adama was well known as he presented in 1933 at his company’s legendary Hotel Kurhaus Strapperlow Model RouletteStrauss himself with his partner Jules Perel and which caused such a scandal in Holland when the fraudulent nature of that game was discovered.

The sport, patented by Strauss and Perel, was a modified classic roulette wheel incorporating an electric motor that provided a regular and continuous rotation.

From some of the references that I included, Roulette allows advantage to the gambler who carefully observes the development of the ball. And did some simple addition or subtraction calculations.

In short, it was a perfect game for exploitation in places where games of chance were prohibited. But a hidden device allowed Croupier to change the speed of the electric motor at certain times, so that calculations made by the unsuspecting gambler were no longer valid. Straperlo Roulette Was A Real Danger!,

Far from Aza’s confessed excuse that the reason for his European visit was to visit the General Exhibition being held in Brussels at the time, his appearances in Belgium and the Netherlands had an entirely determined purpose: to eliminate center-right Alejandro. The government, led by the Radical Republican Party of Leroux, is using the episode related to Strauss’s attempt to introduce roulette in some Spanish casinos.

manual aza
Manuel Aza, President of the Second Republic.

As an ally in that plot, Aza had Indelcio Prieto, who sailed through Europe from the sadness of his hasty flight from Spain after the revolutionary events of October 1934.

Let us go back to the antecedents of this convention. On June 30, 1935, Daniel Strauss, who had Mexican nationality acquired during his years in that North American country, writes a letter to Mexican Martin Luis Guzmán, better known by the nickname GeneralA character set in Spain as a journalist, who was lauded by Manuel Aza, with whom he was a confidant, direct collaborator and mentor.

The matter is of utmost importance, especially for Aza, Strauss wrote in his letter, in which he referred to his unsuccessful attempts to obtain authorization from the Radical Republican Party government for his roulette wheels in Spain. San Sebastian and Majorca, His writings reveal a certain wave of political corruption. There is great interest in the topic you propose to me and we will accept it, of course, on the condition that the choice of the appropriate time to use the information is left to our discretion, Guzman replied to Strauss Gave .

Auspicious time will come next September. Relying on the advice of French leftist lawyer Henri Torse, and following the instructions of Aza and Prieto, Strauss sent a complaint to Alcal-Zamora.

money for party members

The complainant stated that he had distributed various amounts during the previous year to prominent members of the Radical Republican Party, ministers, high officials and even a relative of Alejandro Leroux (Aurelio Leroux and Romo d’Oca) to obtain administrative authorization. did. To be able to take advantage of your game Strapperlo in Gran Casino de San Sebastian, on the first try, and Hotel Formentor de Mallorca, Later As both attempts were unsuccessful, Strauss considered the commitment that his Spanish contacts had contracted with him, so he requested financial compensation to settle the matter.

posters of
A little poster about the events taking place at Hotel Formentor.

The initiative that Aza and Prieto envisioned abroad was well calculated, as they assumed – as it were – that the ambition and animosity of the President of the Republic, Niceto Alcal-Zamora, Leroux’s staunch The enemy was a property, may play in your interest. Instead of following the due process and handing that allegation of corruption to the courts, Alkal-Zamora insisted on his politicization, And the new coalition government formed by Radical Party and CEDA will deal directly with this matter.

Without respecting the division of powers by not referring the judicial matter directly to the courts, the President of the Republic tried to turn a trivial matter into a parliamentary dispute, whereby the government and the courts act as a tribunal. Clearly, none of the legal rights of those condemned by Daniel Strauss as a clear abuse were recognized in that process.


When Alcal-Zamora sent a complaint to the government, the matter was dealt with in Cortés in the midst of a major scandal easily instigated by the leftist press, a parliamentary commission was set up to investigate the matter, and whose exemplary opinion has been recognized by many. People blamed the political figures who had been condemned by Strauss.

Once all the Straparlo documents were passed to Ildefonso Belón Gómez, a special judge appointed to the case, the latter, after completing the same summary, issued a indictments involving radical politicians charged by the commission, Among other characters, that would mean the destruction of Leroux’s party.

From that moment on, the term Straparlista was used by the press as an alternative to Radical, as it meant a member of the Radical Republican Party of Alejandro Leroux, and Strapperlistas were Radical. Very soon, the Hispanic term black market, accepted in theory as a synonym for scam, would acquire a new meaning, retained in the dictionary as illegal trade in goods subject to state interference or taxation. Smuggling.

test was never conducted

Despite the great scandal, Judge Belan held that the crimes alleged were of order and of little importance to social hygiene, and with very few sentences, was not able to specify the legal exemplary character of the case as a trial was ever held. had not been. for the start of the civil war.

In any case, that relation of some minor and very minor importance was well settled until it was converted into a scandalous political issue which reached national proportions, and had tremendous consequences. The blow was accurate, Gil-Robles would write in his memoirs as he remembered the episode.

The Streperlow scandal, along with the subsequent pay case, meant the collapse of the centre-right government and with it the last chance for the Second Republic to redirect itself through peaceful channels, at a time when the country’s economic situation was improving. . Minister of Finance and later Head of Government, Joaquín Chappreeta.

In the ensuing political crisis, Alcal-Zamora, far from entrusting Gil-Robles with the formation of a new government, without respecting the parliamentary majority, opted for Portela Valaderes, a centrist politician lacking support, leading some to will be led to call. new elections Which happened in February 1936 in a state of confrontation and irreconcilable situation. The Popular Front won elections that were plagued by irregularities, entering the Second Republic in a state of unstoppable decline that would lead to civil war.

Jose Carlos García Rodriguez is the author of the book Historia del Straperlo (Almujara, 2022).

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