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Remembering the Anarchist Resistance to fascism

category international | anti-fascism | feature author Freitag März 04, 2005 00:09author by Andrew - WSM Report this post to the editors

The history of the anarchist resistance to fascism is something we are never told about in mainstream or even left histories. The victors over fascism wrote the 'history' of anti-fascism after W.W.II.

On February 3rd 1931, Italian police arrested Michael Schirru in a hotel room in Rome. He was Italian by birth but had become a US citizen. He had returned to Italy with one purpose, to kill Mussolini. Schirru was just one of many anarchists in the pre-war years who put their lives on the line in the fight against fascism.

Schirru's 'trial' took place on May 28th. The judge was Cristini, a young fascist cut-throat raised to the highest ranks in the hierarchy. No jury. A contemporary account of the trial in a US anarchist paper described how"Schirru conducted himself with great dignity during his trial - which, under the circumstances could hardly be called a trial. He repeated his former declaration of intention to kill Mussolini and gave his reasons". The Tribunal sentenced Schirru to be shot in the back.

"At 2:30 o'clock, the next morning, he was awakened from his sleep and told that his execution would take place at sunrise. He asked permission to write his last words to his dear ones; declined the assistance of the priest and then was taken to the Braschi fortress, on the outskirts of Rome, where he was executed - only eight and a half hours after sentence had been passed - by a firing squad of twenty-four fascist militiamen".

Individual acts like these were just the tip of anarchist organisation against fascism. In this period every western government saw fascism as a useful bulwark against 'communism'. From the early 1920's Italian anarchists had physically fought the fascists and even after World War II anarchists were being jailed for fighting the fascist Italian state in that period.

German resistance

In Germany the anarchist- syndicalist FAUD (Free Union of German Workers) had decided in 1932 to go underground once Hitler came to power and to work towards a general strike. This proved impossible, the FAUD was far too small to do so on its own and of course once Hitler came to power its numbers were further decimated as many members were either arrested or forced to flee into exile. However with the help of Dutch anarchists they did succeed in setting up a FAUD secretariat in exile in Amsterdam.

Inside Germany FAUD members like labourer Franz Bunget and unemployed steelworker Julius Nolden attempted to continue operating underground. Both were to be arrested by the Gestapo. However with others they succeeded in getting an underground network going that smuggled people out of Germany and smuggled anti-Nazi pamphlets in, often with strange titles to mislead the fascist authorities.

Court records show that one pamphlet went under the title of 'Eat German fruit and stay healthy' and became "so popular among miners that they used to greet each other with: 'Have you eaten German fruit as well?'" The outbreak of the Spanish Revolution in 1936 saw an underground network that raised money for the Spanish anarchists and their fight against fascism and recruited technicians to go to Spain and provide needed expertise.

In December of 1936 however the Gestapo managed to discover the first of these groups and in raids then and in 1937 arrested 89 male and female members of this anarchist underground. In early 1938 these comrades were charged with "preparing acts of high treason". All but six were convicted.

Julius Nolden was 'lucky' and spent the next 8 years in Luttringhausen prison until the arrival of the 'allies' in April of 1945. Others were not so 'lucky' and were murdered in prison. Lathe operator, Emil Mahnert was thrown out of a window, bricklayer, Wilhelm Schmitz, died in "unexplained circumstances", Ernst Holtznagel was sent to a military punishment battalion where he died, Michael Delissen was beaten to death by the Gestapo in December 1936 and Anton Rosinke was murdered in February 1937.

The history of the anarchist resistance to fascism is something we are never told about in mainstream or even left histories. The victors over fascism wrote the 'history' of anti-fascism after W.W.II. They gave prominent place to the aristocratic German officers who failed to kill Hitler late in the war but ignored the ordinary workers who struggled in the 1920's and 1930's when the western governments saw Hitler as an ally. The account here is but a snippet, based on the valuable work done by the 'Kate Sharpley Library' in recovering, translating and publishing this history.

After the war in August 1946, 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."

Andrew Flood


The Kate Sharpley Library can be contacted at BM Hurricane, London WC1N 3XX, England. They publish several pamphlets and a regular bulletin of 'recovered history', as well as maintaining an extensive anarchist archive.

author by @ndypublication date Sa Dez 31, 2005 17:59author email andy at xchange dot anarki dot netauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

An English translation of the following would be handy I reckon:

Title Anarchisten gegen Hitler : Anarchisten, Anarcho-Syndikalisten, Rätekommunisten in Widerstand und Exil / Andreas G. Graf (Hg.)
Published Berlin : Lukas, 2001.
Edition Erstausg., 1. Aufl.
Phys desc 317 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
Notes Rev. papers from a meeting of the Forschungsstelle Widerstandsgeschichte of the Freie Universität and the Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand held in May 1997 in Berlin.
Bibliog. Includes bibliographical references (p. 303-311) and index.

Verwandter Link: http://slackbastard.blogspot.com
 
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Olympia—Hundreds of Olympia residents confronted Nazis outside of the corporate newspaper building here today. Nine members of the Nazi group National Socialist Movement gathered to test Olympia for future recruiting drives and a possible larger rally in July. Many of the Nazis dressed in SS Storm Trooper brownshirt uniforms and displayed large Nazi and American flags. Olympia residents were given less than a day’s notice to spread the news and organize a response.

textNew pamphlet: Beating Fascism: Anarchist anti-fascism in theory and practice 02:48 Mo 24 Okt by KSL 1 comments

"Beating Fascism" is a new compilation dealing with the anarchist critique of fascist ideas and the practical ways their deadly authoritarian project has been challenged. It goes from the 'People's commandos' who fought against Mussolini's bootboys, through the Spanish Civil War, to the anti-fascist activists of the eighties, nineties and beyond who took up the challenge from a new crop of boneheads.

textReport from the antifascist march today in the center of Athens 07:58 Fr 20 Mai by ΟRA MIDEN 2 comments

More than 2.500 people today in the antifascist march in the center of Athens.
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imageWhat is authoritarian populism and why should it be combated? Jun 02 by Shawn Hattingh 0 comments

The rise of an authoritarian populist politics, which presents itself as against the “Establishment,”” for the “common” people and “anti-globalisation,” is happening worldwide — and there are dangerous signs in South Africa. The populist upsurge sees voters reject big, established parties that embraced neo-liberalism after the economic crisis of 2007, in the context of a retreating working class and left. The author argues that the solution is to build from below for a new society beyond the state, class rule and capitalism based on self-management and production for need.

imageFascism and its cure Sep 09 by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG) 0 comments

The growth of Fascism is ongoing. The massacres will continue and perhaps keep accelerating until we have a movement that can both confront it physically and address the political issues that give it life. This requires workers uniting across borders to win battles that cannot be won on the national terrain. Whether we are talking about cars, mining, garments or anything else, we confront global corporations and global supply chains. Our response must be global. And by building a truly global labour movement, we can not only defeat Fascism, but open the door to a workers’ revolution that will do away with capitalism forever.

imageA spectre is haunting us: it’s the past weighing like a nightmare on the present Jul 26 by Shawn Hattingh 0 comments

The context we now exist in is one that is defined by glaring contradictions everywhere, its fractured, changing, unstable and confrontational. It is a time of despair, but also pockets of hope. On the one hand, a spectre is haunting us, but it is not the one that Marx spoke of. Rather an authoritarian and extreme right wing form of capitalism, last seen on extensive scale in the 1930s, is rearing its hideous ghost-like head. This right wing extremism has become an ‘acceptable’ form of politics amongst some people in the context of the unresolved capitalist crisis. It is the ‘solution’ amongst sections of ruling classes in many countries to a crisis that is not going away. As part of this, many states are passing laws attacking basic rights that oppressed classes have won through decades and even centuries of struggle (including in South Africa); states are beginning to bare their teeth more often rather than being in a position to rule by consent; toxic nationalisms based on exclusionary racial, ethnic and religious identities (including within sections of the population in South Africa) have once again become acceptable and even embraced by sections of the population (giving rise to the likes of Trump, Le Pen and Duterte and xenophobia and other ills in South Africa); and bigotry and hate are back. Yet there is also hope. In many parts of the world, sections of the working class have fought back. This has seen movements of protests in some parts, attempts to revive unions in others and in some cases the re-emergence of left political parties and projects. But it is also a restructured working class, a working class that is fundamentally different from even the 1970s. New or different forms of organising happen next to the old. It is thus also a working class in which the past weighs like a nightmare on the present in organisational terms; experimenting with the new and different ways of organising, but also falling back into the old.

imageFascism on the march Mär 01 by Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group 0 comments

The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group believes the best immediate response to Fascism is an internationalist working class movement of resistance in the form of a united front. Within this, we can put forward a libertarian communist solution to the many crises of capitalism. We participate in the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism because, although it has severe flaws, it does some good work and is the only working class united front available to us at the moment. We hope to contribute to solving its problems, most importantly its isolation from the union movement, and fight for a world where Fascism is consigned permanently to the dustbin of history.

textA Conference of the "National Anarchists" Jul 13 by Wayne Price 6 comments

A libertarian Marxist friend sent me a reference to a report on an international gathering of “National Anarchists.” It appeared in Keith Preston’s site, “Attack the System,” at https://attackthesystem.com/2017/07/10/national-anarchi...47073

This is my response.

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textNew pamphlet: Beating Fascism: Anarchist anti-fascism in theory and practice Okt 24 Kate Sharpley Library 1 comments

"Beating Fascism" is a new compilation dealing with the anarchist critique of fascist ideas and the practical ways their deadly authoritarian project has been challenged. It goes from the 'People's commandos' who fought against Mussolini's bootboys, through the Spanish Civil War, to the anti-fascist activists of the eighties, nineties and beyond who took up the challenge from a new crop of boneheads.

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