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(en) Germany, ruhr, die plattform: Commemoration of the March Revolution in Dortmund Eving (de)

Date Tue, 31 Mar 2020 10:23:00 +0300

As part of our campaign to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the March Revolution in the Ruhr area, we held a small commemoration at the Northern Cemetery in Dortmund Eving a few days ago. Originally, this event was supposed to take place on a larger scale, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was carried out by a small circle instead. Even though we had to cancel the greater part of the planned activities related to the March Revolution, it is important to us to continue to be active on the streets - taking into account the appropriate safety precautions. COVID-19 must not throw us into a state of shock and prevent the projects we plan from taking place altogether. This commemoration event should be an example of how we can continue to be active and reach people with our content via the internet.

These are the words of the speech given at the cemetery:

Dear Comrades,

We are standing here at one of the numerous memorials in the Ruhr area which commemorate the fallen of the March events. However, this is one of the very few memorials that does not commemorate the fascist Freikorps or police units or that was only installed later, but that originates from the time itself and was built by and for revolutionary workers. This memorial stone could only survive National Socialism because it was overgrown and forgotten, and was only rediscovered later by chance.

But this stone here is remarkable for several reasons. There is not a single member of the Communist Party buried here, mind you! You might be surprised now, after all, it says "KPD" (Communist Party of Germany) on it, and the DKP (German Communist Party, successor of the KPD since 1968) comes here for a commemoration every year. And wasn't the March Revolution entirely a matter of the Spartacists, the Bolshevists and the Communist Party anyway?

Far from it. The KPD had 30-50 members in Dortmund at the time of the March Revolution, and in the election after the suppression of the liberated areas, it won just one percent of the votes in Dortmund.

It is important for us to remember all the revolutionaries of that time, regardless of their organisational affiliations. But please let us at the same time be honest with each other and historically correct. While the KPD was a small, insignificant party with little influence on the events in Dortmund at that time, the anarchist movement there was a mass phenomenon. In the Free Workers Union of Germany, the anarcho-syndicalist trade union, about 20,000 people were organised in Dortmund alone in mid-1920.

For us it is sad - and yes - it also makes us angry, to see how the important part the anarchist movement played in the great social experiment in the Ruhr area in 1920 has continued to be downplayed by all sides.

So it is all the more important that we are standing here today, at this grave of revolutionary workers. And as we mention their names, we do so knowing that they were anarchists, social democrats and even liberals:

Tailor Wilhelm Kniese
Locksmith Friedrich Zürn
Roller Casper Humbert
Worker Heinrich Haase
Coal merchant Adolf Kuhr
Turner Wilhelm Wiechmann
Hairdresser Bernhard Hutzler
Iron worker Alex Grebba
Miner's apprentice Max Milke
Worker Hermann Utting
Hermann Altenscheid
and Ihring, of whom we do not know the first name.

At this point we would like to turn to our anarchist comrade Adolf Kuhr as an example.

Adolf Kuhr was a miner and was born on March 19th,1866 in Ruhrort. He was married and had several children. He lived with his family at Bornstraße 228 in Dortmund's Nordstadt.

In 1911 he was expelled from the SPD because of "anarcho-socialist tendencies" and "party-damaging behaviour" - what an honour and distinction!

He was one of the founding members of the USPD, which had split from the SPD in 1916 because they no longer wanted to accept the SPD's support of World War I. He was also secretary of the free association of miners.

As a radical worker he soon could no longer work as a miner and was thus kept afloat as a coal merchant by his comrades. After his death, Kuhr's widow was refused survivor's benefits by the city of Dortmund, because he had not been killed as a "harmless curious person" but as a "communist".

Adolf Kuhr's story is that of thousands of workers. They don't deserve our blind idealisation, but they damn well don't deserve to be forgotten. Their sacrifice for the liberation of our class is something we must never forget.

Because of this: A hundred years ago, the wage-earning class here, on our own doorstep, was once so strong that, isolated and without the support of other regions, it was able to drive out its oppressors for 17 days. With the help of a few favourable factors, a social revolution could have really taken place at that time. This shows us that radical social change is possible.

In this knowledge, we place ourselves in the tradition of our pioneers. Not just to look back and mourn our weakness, which is so striking in comparison. No, we look back to move forward! Who bravely defied the reaction, who betrayed the cause of freedom? What mistakes did the revolutionaries of that time make, and what worked well? How does the situation then differ from our situation today? How did anarchists and libertarian communists manage to organise tens of thousands of people?

With these questions we look ahead. We pay tribute to the our fallen comrades and call to them:

"We will continue your struggle! Our revolt is as old as time, and it will end only when our dream of a free humanity is fulfilled!"

Now, let's pause for a moment of silence.


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