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Rudolf Rocker
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RUDOLF ROCKER (1873-1958)

Anarcho-syndicalist.

Husband of Milly Witkop Rocker.

Father of the artist Fermin Rocker.

Daily Bleed Calendar Saint, September 13.



Clara Solomon

Clara Solomon
(Pianist, New York, USA)

"When I was a girl, it was at home that I heard discussions about unions & strikes & anarchist activities. Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, Emma Goldman, & Rudolf Rocker were household names. In the middle 1920's Rudolf & Millie Rocker stayed with us in our home when they came to lecture in Stelton, New Jersey. This made an enduring impression on my brothers Sigmund & David . . . & me, of course."


Short Chronology from the Daily Bleed:

  • 1873 -- Rudolf Rocker lives. A Gentile, he became involved in the Jewish anarchist movement. Learned Yiddish, lived in the Jewish community

  • 1877 -- Milly Witkop Rocker (1877-1955) lives, Ukraine. Exiled to London, she was an activist in the Jewish anarchist movement among the Lower Eastside sweatshop workers.

    There, in 1896, she met Rudolf Rocker who became her lifelong companion. In 1916 she was sentenced to two years in prison for antiwar activities, & in 1918 the Rockers went to Germany, where Milly organized women workers. In 1933, with the Nazi burning of the Reichstag they were forced to the US, where they continued to fight & organize, & were prominent supporters of the revolution in Spain (one of her lifelong intimates was Etta Federn, an educator who helped form "Mujeres Libres" in 1936, & wrote Mujeres de las revoluciones) In 1937, Milly & Rudolf Rocker settled in the anarchist community of Mohegan (NY).

  • 1895 -- England: Rudolf Rocker arrives in London. German anarchist who became deeply involved in the Jewish Federation of Jewish Anarchists, a movement larger than the native British anarchist movement.

    Mass meetings were held in the Great Assembly Hall in Mile End & in the Wonderland in Whitechapel, attended by thousands, sometimes five, six, seven thousand. Not Jewish & unable to read Yiddish, little did Rocker suspect that in a few short years he would be editor of Arbeter Fraint & immersed in the movement for the next 20 years.

  • 1899 -- Arthur Lehning lives. German anarchist. Founder, in December 1919, with Rudolf Rocker & Augustin Souchy, of the FAUD. Establishes & becomes curator of the monumental "Bakunin Files," with the International Institute of Social History of Amsterdam, in 1971.

  • 1903 -- England: Arbeter Fraint begins republishing under the administration of the Arbeter Fraint group & editorship of Rudolf Rocker, but now as the organ of the "Federation of Yiddish-Speaking Anarchist Groups in Great Britain & Paris".

    A conference of Jewish anarchists meeting in London during the Christmas week 1902, in London, had four items on the agenda: Restarting the Arbeter Fraint, opening a club, issuing pamphlets & books, & linking different groups in London & the provinces into a Jewish Anarchist Federation. Rocker ceased publishing his own paper Germinal, unable to do both papers at the same time. In January 1905, another group undertook responsibility for publishing it, & named him it's editor.


    "Radical ideas proved attractive to some in desperate times. A group of anarchists had widespread influence in the immigrant community. Their newspaper the Arbeter Fraint , (Workers Friend), published in Yiddish, was widely read in the East End.

    From premises first in Berners Street and later in Jubilee Street, the anarchists ran active programmes of lectures, concerts, plays and dances that attracted many immigrants seeking political education and social diversion. A leading figure among the anarchists was the German Catholic Rudolf Rocker (1873-1958), a charismatic character and superb public speaker who had learnt Yiddish and was widely admired by the East End Jews.

    From a display commemorating the Tottenham Outrage

    The fight to improve working conditions spurred many immigrants to become involved in political activity, through union membership and strike action. In London, the anarchists played a prominent role in organising Jewish workers. Rocker and others fought hard to strengthen Jewish trade unions, and in 1906 and 1912 helped organise two major strikes by the East End tailors, with some success.

    Not all immigrants, however, supported radical movements. The anti-religious activities of some extreme radicals, for instance in organising anarchist balls on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, were deeply offensive to many Jews.

    Others resented the damage the radicals did to the reputation of the Jews. These attitudes were reinforced by events such as the Tottenham Outrage in 1909, when a policeman was murdered by recently arrived immigrants, or the Sidney Street Siege in 1911, in which three policemen were killed after a bungled burglary."


  • 1909 -- Rudolf Rocker meets Francisco Ferrer for the first time (six months before Ferrer was executed by the Spanish), during a May Day demonstration in Hyde Park, London. They have tea afterwards with fellow anarchists Malatesta, Tarrida, Tcherkesov, Shapiro.

  • 1919 -- Germany: On the initiative of Rudolf Rocker, the founding Congress of F.A.U.D. (Freie Arbeiter Union Deutschland), free union of the German workers, is held in Berlin, from the 27th-30th. The union declares itself anarchist-syndicalist & opposed to the State & parliamentarism. It eventually counts 125,000 members.

  • 1922 -- Germany: Founding of the anarcho-syndicalist International Workers Association (AIT or IWA), Berlin, on the initiative of Rudolf Rocker.

    Rudolf Rocker was responsible for putting together the anti-authoritarian A.I.T.; it is an umbrella organization of various anarchist-syndicalist trade unionists from 12 countries (FORA, USI, SAC, FAUD, CNT, etc.) which numbered several million members over the years. The first secretaries are Rudolf Rocker, Augustin Souchy & Alexander Schapiro.

  • 1923 -- Emma Goldman delivers a speech in Berlin, "Rudog Rocker on the Occasion of his 50th Birthday" [exact day not given by source; presumably today on his birthday -- ed.].

  • 1934 -- Civil libertarian Roger Baldwin discusses Emma Goldman's application for a new U.S. visa -- & Rudolf Rocker's application for an extension of his stay -- with the authorities in Washington, who advise him they will deny Goldman's request; only Rocker's application is approved.

  • 1937 -- "Contemporary Nationalism," by Crane Brinton. The Saturday Review, September 4, 1937, p. 17. A book review of Nationalism & Culture.

  • 1937 -- The Dilemma of Anarchism. By Solomon F. Bloom. The New Republic, September 22, 1937, pages 192-193. A review of Nationalism & Culture.

  • 1938 -- The Criterion Magazine, London, July, 1938. A review by Herbert Read of Anarcho-Syndicalism & Nationalism & Culture.
    Detailed Wikipedia review, background, references, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationalism_and_Culture

  • 1939 -- US: Fortieth anniversary of the New York Yiddish anarchist weekly, "Freie Arbeiter Stimme" (Free Voice of Labor). Rocker was a contributor to this influential publication.

  • 1939 -- Bertrand Russell-Rudolf Rocker reception and banquet held December 10, 1939 in Los Angeles, Calif. See "Impressive Opinions by Important Persons About a Significant Book." This is a souvenir Los Angeles Rocker Publications Committee, 1939, 20 pages. Republished in 1947, 12 pages.

  • 1940 -- A memorial meeting for Emma Goldman is held at New York's Town Hall, presided over by Leonard Abbott; films of Goldman in Spain, Canada, & of her funeral are shown; speakers include Norman Thomas, Rudolf Rocker, Roger Baldwin, Harry Kelly, Carlo Tresca, Eliot White, Rose Pesotta of the ILGWU, Martin Gudell, Dorothy Rogers, & Harry Weinberger.

  • 1942 -- Pierre Ramus (aka Rudolf Grossman) (1882-1942) dies, fleeing from Nazi-occupied Europe. Austrian writer, pacifist & propagandist. Wrote for Johann Most's newspaper & organized the German FKAD (Federation of Anarchist Communists of Germany) parallel to Rudolf Rocker's FAUD.

  • 1943 -- Max Baginski dies, New York (born, 1864, in Eastern Prussia), a Social Democrat turned anarchist, condemned in 1891 to 2-1/2 years in prison for "violation of the press laws". Exiled to the US, Baginski collaborated on Johan Most's paper, "Freiheit," then as publicity agent for Emma Goldman's newspaper, "Mother Earth," as well as many other papers into the 30s. Rudolf Rocker calls him, "One of the most enlightened & perspicacious spirits of the German movement."

  • 1943 -- Seventy-fifth Birthday Anniversary Celebration of Rudolf Rocker. May 2, 1943. Amalgamated Center. Contributions from F.W. Roman, A.E. Briggs, W.E. Holloway. (Chicago, Rudolf Rocker 75th Jubilee Committee, 48 pages).

  • 1943 -- The Roman Forum. This was the official publication of the Associated Forums Ltd. of Los Angeles, Calif. Vol. 3, # 3 of the magazine, June, 1943, was turned over to the Rocker Publications Committee and contains much information on Rocker and his works.

  • 1944 -- Testimonial to Rudolf Rocker 1873 - 1943. With contributions by: Dr. Frederick W. Roman, Dr. Arthur E. Briggs, Walter E. Holloway, Ray E. Chase, Herbert Read, William Zuckerman, Harry Kelly, P. Gustave, John B. Hughes, Tom Eyges, Cassius V. Cook, F.H. Butler, Augustine Souchy & Joseph Ishill, ( & also H. Yaffe??). Los Angeles Rocker Publications Committee, 1944, 48 pages. A booklet comprised in large part of articles from the Roman Forum in honor of Rudolf Rocker's 70th birthday.

  • 1953 -- "Rudog Rocker at Eighty." By Joseph Leftwich. The Jewish Quarterly, Summer, 1953, Vol. 1, No. 2, London, pages 53-63.

  • 1956 -- Milly Witkop Rocker dies. Anarchist, labor organizer, lifelong companion of Rudolf Rocker.

  • 1958 -- American immigrant anarchist leader Rudolf Rocker dies, Mohegan, Maine.

    Obituary Notices appear in New York Times, September 11, 1958, page 34, col. 1.; Wilson Library Bulletin, Vol. 33, November, 1958, page 200; Reconstruir, 89, 1958; Suplemento literarro de Solidaridad Obrera, # 707-58; Previsioni, a. II n. 3-4; Voluntad, n. 27, 1958; Controcorrente, n. 8, October, 1958; Umanita Nova, December, 1958.
    "Remembering Rudog Rocker," by Valerio Isca. This article was written for "Controcurrente", an Italian magazine published in Boston, September-October, 1958. It is a fond remembrance of Rudolf Rocker by his long-time friend. It also appeared in the Italian publication, "Umanita Nova", in December, 1958. It was translated into English by Isca for the publisher.

  • Rudolf Rocker, sketch





  • Life, works, bibliography,
    http://www.anarchosyndicalism.net/rocker/
    & mirrored at http://flag.blackened.net/rocker/

  • Wikipedia,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Rocker

  • Anarchy Archives at Pitzer College,
    http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bright/rocker/rudolf.html

  • La ideologia del anarquismo, por Rudolf Rocker
    http://perso.wanadoo.es/blanroj/ideologia.html



    updated, 2003; links corrected Sept 2005; minor changes July 2006, March 2008

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