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Anarchists Against Hitler: The Underground FAUD in the Rhineland

category netherlands / germany / austria | history of anarchism | opinion / analysis author Sunday July 19, 2009 06:48author by KS - KSL Report this post to the editors

Kate Sharpley Library Bulletin no.5 [1995]

On 5th November 1937, Julius Nolden, a car plant worker from Duisburg was sentenced by the “The People's Court” in Berlin to a ten year prison term for “preparing an act of high treason with aggravating circumstances.” Nolden had been at the head of the FAUD (anarcho-syndicalist Free Union of German Workers) in the Rhineland when that underground Organisation was dismantled by the Gestapo in January 1937. Arrested with him were 88 other male and female anarcho-syndicalists who stood trial in the Rhineland in early 1938.
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Anarchists Against Hitler: The Underground FAUD in the Rhineland

On 5th November 1937, Julius Nolden, a car plant worker from Duisburg was sentenced by the “The People's Court” in Berlin to a ten year prison term for “preparing an act of high treason with aggravating circumstances.” Nolden had been at the head of the FAUD (anarcho-syndicalist Free Union of German Workers) in the Rhineland when that underground Organisation was dismantled by the Gestapo in January 1937. Arrested with him were 88 other male and female anarcho-syndicalists who stood trial in the Rhineland in early 1938.

In 1921 the FAUD in Duisburg had around 5000 members. After then the numbers fell and by the time Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, only a few tiny groups remained. For example, there were about 25 militants active in the Duisburg area and the Rhineland regional union had around 180-200 dues-paying members.

At its last regional Congress, held in Erfurt in March 1932, the FAUD had decided that, in the event of the Nazis taking power, its federal bureau in Berlin would be shut down and replaced by an underground directorate (based in Erfurt) and that there would have to be a general strike by way of reply. The latter decision proved impracticable: for one thing, the FAUD right across Germany was decimated by a wave of arrests.

In April-May 1933, Dr. Gerhardt Wartenburg, before being obliged to flee the country, managed to find a replacement for himself as secretary of the FAUD in the person of Emil Zehner, an Erfurt blacksmith. Wartenburg fled to Holland, to Amsterdam, where he was welcomed along with other German émigrés, by the Dutch anarcho-syndicalist, Albert de Jong. Similarly, the IWA (the International Workers' Association embracing trade unions of a libertarian and revolutionary bent) secretariat was moved to the Netherlands but that did not prevent the organisation's archives from falling into the hands of the Nazis.

In autumn 1933, Emil Zehner was replaced by Ferdinand Gotze, a member of the Saxony Chamber of Labour, then run by Richard Thiede from Leipzig. Meanwhile in the autumn of 1934 Gotze, on the run from the Gestapo, turned up again in the west of Germany where support from the Dutch federation of the IWA (the NSV) had made it possible to establish an underground FAUD group. At the same time and in all haste an FAUD secretariat in exile had been set up in Amsterdam.

Duisberg, The Liaison And Agitation Centre For The West Of Germany

Up until the Nazis took power, labourer Franz Bunged had headed the Duisburg federation. He was interned in the Bogermoor concentration camp without any semblance of a trial in 1933. Bungert was released within a year but found it absolutely impossible to engage in even the least illegal activity because of the strict surveillance under which he was kept. His place was taken by Julius Nolden, a Steelworker unemployed at the time. Up to that point, Nolden had been treasurer of the Rhineland Chamber of Labour. Nolden too was arrested by the Gestapo who suspected that his job with an incineration plant was a cover for illegal contacts with other FAUD members.

In June 1933, a little after he was released, Nolden met Karolus Heber, a member of the underground Erfurt directorate, The object of their meeting was to organise the clandestine escape of compromised colleagues to Holland and to launch a resistance organisation in the Rhineland and Rhur districts, Nolden and his colleagues laid the groundwork for a network to smuggle people out to Amsterdam and distributed antifascist propaganda. It transpires from the court records that anti-Nazi pamphlets circulating at the time under cover of the title “Eat German fruit and stay healthy', were so popular among miners that they used to greet each other with: “Have you eaten German fruit as well?”

After 1935 and the improving economic position inside the country, it was increasingly difficult to keep an illegal anarcho-syndicalist organisation afloat.

Many comrades had found work again after years of unemployment and casual labour and were reluctant to involve themselves in active resistance. The Gestapo terror did the rest. Furthermore, the support from Amsterdam dried up in 1935.

The outbreak of the Spanish revolution in 1936 gave a boost to anarcho-syndicalist activity inside Germany. Nolden built up his contacts with Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Cologne, organised meetings and launched subscriptions to raise financial support for the Spanish comrades. At the same time, Simon Wehre, from Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen), used the Rhineland Chamber of Labour's network to recruit volunteer technicians prepared to go to Spain. In December 1936, the Gestapo, thanks to a spy planted within, managed to uncover the existence of groups in the cities of Munchengladbach, Dulken and Viersen. At the beginning of 1937, the political police rounded up 50 anarcho-syndicalists from Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Cologne. Nolden was among those arrested. A little later, further arrests were made and these brought the number of members of the outlawed FAUD in Gestapo clutches to 89. It took a year to build the case against them. These male and female comrades were charged with “preparing acts of high treason” and they were brought before the courts in January and February of 1938.

Only six were not convicted for lack of evidence. The rest were sentenced to terms ranging from several months to six years imprisonment. Julius Nolden was committed to the Luttringhausen prison and remained there until the arrival of the Allies on 19 April 1945. On Pentecost Sunday of 1947 he met in Darmstadt with other comrades to establish the Federation of Libertarian Socialists (anarcho-syndicalists),

Killing Of Militants

Several comrades were murdered in prison. The Duisburg lathe-operator, Emil Mahnert, according to the testimony of four other inmates, was hurled from two storeys up by a police torturer. The bricklayer, Wilhelm Schmitz died in prison on 29 January 1944 and the circumstances of his death have never been properly clarified. Ernst Holtznagel was dispatched to the notorious 999 punishment battalion, where he was killed. Michael Delissen from Munchengladbach was beaten to death by the Gestapo in December 1936. Anton Rosinke from Dusseldorf was murdered in February 1937.

In August 1946, the Dusseldorf anarcho-syndicalist Ernst Binder wrote: 'Since mass resistance was not feasible in 1933, the finest members of the movement had to squander their energy in a hopeless guerrilla campaign. But if workers will draw from that painful experiment the lesson that only a united defence at the proper time is effective in the struggle against fascism, their sacrifices will not have been in vain.”

[Trans: PS]


From A Peace Museum To A Hitler Barracks

Ernst Friedrich (1894-1967), an Anarchist, founded the first international anti-war museum In Berlin (1923) as a testament to the German anti-militarist movement. He was conscious of the fact that the world was still thinking of Germany as irreconcilably militarist, despite the discrediting of the old Prussian aristocratic military state, and wanted to show many German workers had struggled against the military state. He also wanted in turn to show other German workers how vital that struggle was, and to demolish nationalist lies. The horrors of the war, on the front and at home, were overwhelmingly portrayed in his International Anti-War Museum at No. 29 Parochialstrasse, Berlin,

When the Nazis took power, they seized the Museum, burned the exhibits and books and transformed the place into an SA-Heim (storm troopers' barracks) They could not wait for the necessary alterations to be made and overnight painted out the word “Anti” from the fascia and posted a guard on the door.

Translated by: Paul Sharkey.

Related Link: http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/hx3g6n
author by Joe - from the anarchist translations wikipublication date Sun Jul 19, 2009 16:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is being translated in Greek by a comrade.

author by ¿publication date Sun Jul 19, 2009 18:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Translated to Greek:

Related Link: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/13804
author by Waynepublication date Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

*Ernst Binder wrote: '. But if workers will draw from that painful experiment the lesson that only a united defence at the proper time is effective in the struggle against fascism, their sacrifices will not have been in vain.”*

Does anyone know what perspective the German anarcho-syndicalists raised before Hitler came to power, as the Nazi forces were growing and the threat was increasing? In Italy, we know, the Italian anarcho-syndicalists attempted to build a united front of syndicalists, Communists, and Socialists, and also left-wing republicans, to fight Musillini's fascistss. The CP, then led by Bordiga, opposed this as they then opposed any united fronts with other working class forces. In the early 1930s Germany, , I believe the council communists were against calling for united fronts with the larger social democratic party (and this was one reason they had originally split from Leninism). But I do not know what position was raised by the working class anarchists.

author by mitchpublication date Tue Jul 21, 2009 22:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Wayne, comrades, I'm waiting for a reply from a F.A.U. (German anarcho-syndicalists) on the question. Perhaps s/he'll be more enlightening.

author by José Antonio Gutiérrez D.publication date Tue Jul 21, 2009 23:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks Mitch for trying to get this information... it would be interesting to see this issue expanded as I think we need to understand better the actual politics of the anarchist and the anarcho-syndicalist movement in relation to the raise of fascism, beyond daring individual actions. The peculiarities of fascism aside, it could highlight an interesting and much needed debate on how to react to totalitarian ior authoritarian regimes in general (it is particularly necessary when simplistic responses to this actual problem have become common currency between anarchist circles that have made the ill-responses of left wing communism -Bordiga and Co.- and of the period 1927-1933 of the Third International -The "tercerismo" period- to the raise of fascism their own). Recently, the coup in Honduras has showed that we need better ways to understand our role or how we see the struggle than a predictable and useless "neither with the putschists, neither with the democracy movement" or than an equally useless "long live bourgeois democracy". Historical experience can clarify these issues... probably an article on this particular question would be relevant.

author by Wayne Pricepublication date Wed Jul 22, 2009 08:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Jose writes,"probably an article on this particular question would be relevant.."

Without prejudging any other attempts, I recommend my Anarkismo article on this topic,
Anarchist Responses When Elected Governments are Overturned
http://www.anarkismo.net/article/4281

author by mitchpublication date Thu Jul 23, 2009 23:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ok, here's an email I got from a well informed FAU comrade:

"About the general-line of anarcho-syndicalist strategie, look at:

H.W.Gerhard (Gehard Wartenberg): Über Hildburghausen ins dritte Reich! Nationalsozialismus und Arbeiterklasse, Berlin 1932, Reprint1981, AHDE-Verlag

and:

Freie Arbeiter-Union Deutschlands: Voran! Unser Weg. Prinzipienerklärung des Anarcho-Syndikalismus. Organisationsstatut der FAUD. (A.-S.), Reprint 1932, 12 S., Broschüre

Linse, Ulrich: Die „Schwarzen Scharen“ – eine antifaschistische Kampforganisation deutscher Anarchisten, in: AGWA, Nr. 9, Bochum 1989, Aufsatz

http://www.syndikalismusforschung.info/rockernazi.htm

The Syndicalists wanted to fight against Hitler with all workers together, but without Orders from Partys. The socialdemocratic and the communist Party were not interested in fighting together with anarcho-snydicalist groups. The FAUD got in the underground and built up illegal Groups, which personally based on the old FAUD-Sections. Because of the nazi-agents, they must be very careful and in the most regions they prefered to organise illegal in close FAUD-Groups without other Activists from out of FAUD. For example communist illegal groups were filled up by Nazi and Police agents bevor 1933 starts.

FAUD saw faschism and bolschewism as equally painful."

Related Link: http://www.syndikalismusforschung.info/rockernazi.htm
author by mitchpublication date Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:45author email wsany at hotmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Helge (FAU-Bremen) has provided me with the Resolution of the last FAUD-Kongress 1932 entitled the "Workers Front against Facism" ("Arbeiterfront gegen Faschismus") in German only. I'll forward the document to anyone who wants it. Email me.

Related Link: http://www.syndikalismusforschung.info/rockernazi.htm
author by KSL - Kate Sharpley Librarypublication date Sat Sep 26, 2009 18:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

two new articles just posted (and awaiting moderation) which might interest you:

Gerhard on National-Socialism (Dr. Gerhard Wartenberg AKA HW Gerhard, FAUD member, written in 1932)
http://www.anarkismo.net/article/14551

Giustizia e Libertá and the Anarchists prior to the Spanish Civil War by Santi Fedele
http://www.anarkismo.net/article/14552

Both have been put into the 'history of anarchism' slot, but of course feel free to visit our site for some more anarchist history!

Related Link: http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/
author by Winfried Sobottka - United Anarchists in Germanypublication date Thu Oct 15, 2009 22:56author email winfried-sobottka at freegermany dot deauthor address Karl-Haarmann-Str. 75, 44536 Luenen, Germanyauthor phone 00492319862720Report this post to the editors

Wonderful Women, dear Men!

At this time I am the speaker of United Anarchists in Germany and in Austria, and in both countries we are confronted with the same problem: The SS didn´t die in 1945 but took another mask only. They offered the supposely greatest maneuver of deception to the peoples in Germany as well as to foreign peoples.

The medias do not report about that - they are synchronized that way. The justice works according to the measures which Reinhard Heydrich had prefered, please look at that what a age-relatedly retired German Judge had written in a letter to the editor of one of the biggest German newspapers ("Süddeutsche Zeitung"/ "Sueddeutsche Zeitung"):

http://www.freegermany.de/international/frank-fahsel.html

But that is really not all. The police, the medics, the political parties, the economy - You can say all institutions of political, economical and social power are mainly on that line.

SS had not been Auschwitz and Waffen-SS only - SS had been a double network that contained all institutions and groups of society which had any power. The SS was the backbone of Nazi-dictatorship.

Over years there had nothing been able to work in Germany without the SS - but on 8th of May 1945 it had vanished as if it would never have existed........

It hasn´t vanished.

Please look at:

http://123anarchy.wordpress.com/2009/10/14/ss-rule-in-g...ttka/

Wonderful Women and dear Men in the United States of America: Patton was really great, but Your politicians haven´t finished what several hundred thousand brave US-soldiers had died for: To finish the Devil in Germany who is really a danger for the whole world.

Please help us to spread the information! The whole world has to know that!

With kindest regards by the name of United Anarchists

Your sincer

Winfried Sobottka, speaker of United Anarchists in Germany

Related Link: http://www.freegermany.de/us-english/omega.html
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