Sample Short Biographies from:
Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years, 1890-1901
(University of California Press, April 2003)
Bauer, Henry (1861-1934), German-born anarchist. Bauer immigrated to the United States in 1880, and settled in Pittsburgh, where he took part in the movement for an eight-hour workday. Bauer was drawn to anarchism in response to the Haymarket trial and executions. Alexander Berkman stayed with Bauer and Carl Nold in Pittsburgh before his attempted assassination of Henry Clay Frick. With Nold, Bauer was sentenced to five years, and served four, in prison on two charges: incitement to riot (stemming from their distribution of a handbill addressed to striking Homestead workers on 8 July); and conspiracy (with Berkman) to commit murder. Bauer was also charged $50 and sixty days in county jail for contempt of court when he refused to name the other men involved in distributing the leaflets (one of whom was Max Metzkow). Bauer corresponded with AB through the journal Prison Blossoms, created withing the walls of the Western Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. After his release, Bauer served as secretary of the Berkman Defense Committee. Settling in Pittsburgh, he became western Pennsylvania's distributor of English- and German-language anarchist books, pamphlets and newspapers, including Firebrand, Free Society and Freiheit. He contributed to Freedom (in 1892 on the consequences of the Frick shooting) and to Free Society (25 December 1898) a re-print of an interview with him first published in thePittsburgh Leader, "Can Anarchism Be Killed?"
Berkman, Alexander (1870-1936), Lithuanian-born anarchist and early mentor, lover and lifelong comrade of EG. Berkman, whose legal name was Alexander Schmidt Bergmann, and nickname was "Sasha," was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Lithuania (then a part of Russia). Berkman's uncle, Mark Natanson, was a founder of the Chaikovsky Circle, and the Zemlya i Volya (Land and Liberty) society, the largest Russian populist group in the 1870's; Natanson would become an important figure in the Socialist Revolutionary Party and at various times in his life supported the strategy of terrorism. Berkman's interest in anarchism was first aroused upon reading an article on the hanging of the Haymarket anarchists in 1887. He immigrated to the United States just a few months later, at the age of 17 in February 1888, and frequented Jewish and German anarchist groups. Berkman joined and became an active member of Pionere der Frayhayt(Pioneers of Liberty). He worked as a cigar maker and tailor before learning typesetting, a skill he exercised in his work on Johann Most's paper Freiheit. Gradually Berkman distanced himself ideologically from Most and Freiheit, gravitating towards the anarchism of Josef Peukert and the Autonomy Group associated with the anarchist communist paper, Die Autonomie. Berkman and EG first met in August 1889, upon her moving to New York, and within a short time they began to live together communally with Modest Stein, and the sisters Anna and Helene Minkin. In 1890 the group moved to New Haven, Connecticut to open a dressmaking co-operative modeled after Chernyshevsky's novel What is to be Done(Boston: Benjamin Tucker, 1886). Then in 1891 Berkman, EG, and Stein moved to Worcester, Massachusetts where for a short time they operated an ice cream parlor. Upon hearing the news of the Homestead strike and lockout, however, they returned to New York in a effort to find a way to help the steel workers. Berkman, EG, and Stein planned AB's attentat in early July 1892. Berkman then traveled to Pittsburgh, arriving on 13 July and staying with Henry Bauer and Carl Nold. While in Pittsburgh he used the name Rachmetov, a central character from What is to be Done. On 23 July 1892, he made an unsuccessful attempt on the life of Henry Clay Frick, for which he was sentenced to 22 years in prison, although his act, under Pennsylvania law only called for seven years in prison. He edited the journal Prison Blossoms with Henry Bauer and Carl Nold from inside Western Penitentiary and sent correspondence to several anarchist papers includingFirebrand and Solidarity. In 1900 Berkman, with the help of Eric B. Morton and others, organized an escape; the plan was to tunnel into the prison and rescue Berkman. While EG was in Paris, the plot was discovered and thus abandoned. The Berkman Defense Association was formed shortly after Berkman's imprisonment to work for his release, a reduction in his sentence, and at one time as a cover to raise funds for his tunnel escape. Harry Gordon, Henry Bauer, Carl Nold, Ed Brady, Harry Kelly and EG were the driving forces behind these efforts. Although instinctively sympathetic to Leon Czolgosz, Berkman was critical of his act, believing the assassination would neither help the working people nor further the cause of anarchist propaganda.
Fischer, Adolph (b. Bremen, 1858; d. Chicago, Nov. 11, 1887). German American anarchist, co-editor with George Engel of Der Anarchist (Chicago); worked as a compositor on the Chicagoer Arbeiter-Zeitung; executed after the Haymarket affair. German American anarchist. Arrived in the United States in 1873, trained as a compositor, moved to Chicago in 1883 where he worked as a printer on the Chicagoer Arbeiter-Zeitung. He joined the IWPA the same year as well as the Lehr-und-Wehr Verein, an armed workers' defense group. With fellow Haymarket defendant George Engel, he was part of the autonomist favoring Chicago North-West Side group of the IWPA. He was also a member of Typographical Union, Branch Number 9. Influenced by the writings of Proudhon and was sympathetic to individualism, Fischer was not a public speaker but appears to have impressed many by the nature of his character. In January 1886, he co-edited with George Engel Der Anarchist, organ of the autonomist faction, which ran for four issues. It argued both for propaganda by deed (influenced by Most's Revolutionary Warfare) as the methodology to destroy capitalism and autonomy in workers organization. It was Fischer who arranged the printing of handbills and the obtaining of speakers for the Haymarket rally. Fischer was arrested on May 5, the day after the bombing. He continued to support the idea of armed struggle, refusing to petition for his life and reacting angrily to attempts by their supporters to water down the militancy of anarchist ideas.
Frick, Henry Clay (1849-1919) American industrialist. Coal mine owner, whose company Frick Coke Company was established in 1871 and controlled 80 percent of the coal output in Pennsylvania. Became partners with Andrew Carnegie, and in 1889, became chairman of the Carnegie Company, he in 1892 played a central role in organizing the Carnegie Steel Co. His decision to lower the piecework wage rate to increase profits, sparked the 1892 call to strike by the Amalgamated Iron and Steel Workers Union. His strong anti-union policies during the Homestead strike and his decision to employ 300 Pinkerton strikebreakers, which led to the death of nine workers, was the impetus for AB’s attentat.
Michel, Louise (1830-1905), prominent French anarchist, teacher, writer, Communard. After moving in 1856 to Paris, she combined teaching, literary work, and politics, becoming first a republican, then a socialist. A frontline fighter on the barricades during the Paris Commune, she was banished in 1873 to New Caledonia, where she taught, became a supporter of the colony's movement for independence from France, and converted to anarchism. Pardoned with her fellow Communards in 1880, she returned to France and joined the circle around the anarchist journal La Révolution Sociale (Paris, 1880-1881). In 1883 she was arrested with Emile Pouget after a Paris bread riot and imprisoned until January 1886. In 1890, to avoid another prison term, she fled to London, there founding and operating the libertarian International Sunday School. For the remainder of her life, she traveled frequently between England and France, propagandizing while evading arrest. In 1892, she joined Malatesta and Kropotkin, among others, in an informal group calling on anarchists to work more closely with trade unions. EG met Michel in London in 1895 and invited her to the US, but the projected trip never materialized. During the Dreyfus affair, Michel argued that anarchists should refrain from supporting Alfred Dreyfus, because of his identity as a bourgeois career officer. A contributor to both Les Temps Nouveaux and, at its founding, to Le Libertaire (Paris, 1895-1956), she wrote essays, novels, poetry, history, her memoirs, and an opera. Revered for her legendary kindness as well as for her devotion to anarchism, she died while on a lecture tour in France in 1905.
Mollock, Frank, (d. unknown), Austrian-born anarchist, baker. AB, EG, and Modest Stein met Mollock in Peukert's Autonomy Group and lived at the New York apartment he shared with Josephine Mollock in the weeks preceding AB's attack on Frick. Mollock was arrested on 26 July 1892 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and taken to Pittsburgh on suspicion of being AB's accomplice. Years later, EG remembered her indignation when, a few days after Mollock's arrest, Josephine locked her out of the apartment under pressure from the landlord. The Pennsylvania police failed to prove Mollock had any role in AB's action.
Most, Johann (1846-1906), Bavarian-born editor, actor; social democrat, then anarchist, and at this time a fierce advocate of propaganda by the deed. Most joined the labor movement in 1867 in Jura, then two years later, at a workers demonstration in Vienna, he was sentenced to a month in prison for delivering a speech criticizing the German republic. In July 1870 Most was sentenced to five years imprisonment (although he was released after only a few months) for high treason for his role in organizing a march in front of the House of Parliament demanding "manhood suffrage." Granted amnesty in February 1871, Most was expelled from Austria, left for Germany, where he edited the socialist paperChemnitzer Freie Presse (1871-1873), and initiated the first satirical paper of German social democracy, Nußknacker (1871-1872), a supplement of Chemnitzer Freie Presse, for which he was subject to several arrests. In his first year as editor of Chemnitzer Freie Presse, Most was summoned to court forty-three times. In February of 1873 he began a prison sentence in Zwickaue under the charges of lèse-majesté and insulting the army. Severe and continued police harassment prompted him to leave for Mainz, where he edited Süddeutschen Volksstimme (1873-1874). Despite his criticism of parliamentary politics, on January 1874 he was elected into the Reichstag, but in Berlin three months later while delivering a speech on the Paris Commune in Berlin he was arrested and sentenced to prison for two years. Most was re-elected to the Reichstag in January 1878, but the relentless harassment and the passing of the anti-socialist laws prompted him to leave Germany in December 1878 and never return. Most moved to London and became publisher of Freiheit, the organ of the German Communistic Workingmen’s Club, in January 1879. Freiheit's political stance gradually evolved from social democratic to social revolutionary, and, by the time Most was publishing the paper in London, anarchist. Most was eventually sentenced (March 1881), in a trial that virtually ended freedom of the press in England, to 18 months imprisonment (April 1881 to October 1882) for writing and publishing an article endorsing the assassination of Russian Czar Alexander II. Upon his release Most left for New York at the invitation of Justus Schwab, arriving on 18 December 1882 and resuming the publication of Freiheit. In 1883 Most took the lead in the writing of the Pittsburgh Manifesto, the first clearly defined statement of the anarchist movement in America, adopted by the newly founded International Working People’s Association. Most's Revolutionare Kriegswissenschaft (Revolutionary War Science), published in 1885 was essentially a manual for the attentater. On 12 November 1887, the day after the Haymarket anarchists were hung, Most delivered an incendiary speech in New York for which he was tried and condemned to a year in prison. He unsuccessfully appealed the conviction but served his sentence from June 1891-April 1892. Most became embroiled in a bitter controversy with Benjamin Tucker, who accused him of complicity with the violent and criminal methods of some of Most's followers. Tucker, in his parody of Most’s "Beast of Property," called, "The Beast of Communism," published inLiberty, (27 March 1886), accused Most’s followers of committing arson motivated by greed as part of an insurance fraud scheme. Each man attempted to excommunicate the other from the anarchist movement. Most forbid his adherents to subscribe to Liberty, and Justus Schwab broke away from Most over the incident. In 1887, a split which had been brewing for sometime, between Most’s anarchist collectivists and another wing of the German anarchist movement led by Joseph Peukert and proponents of Kropotkin’s anarchist communism, solidified with the arrest of Johann Neve, who was a close comrade of Most’s and well liked throughout the movement. Peukert was implicated in Neve’s arrest because of his friendship with Karl Theodore Reus, later revealed to be a member of the Berlin Political Police, and identified as "suspicious" at the time by Victor Dave an anarchist and Most supporter. Influential among the Jewish anarchists, Most contributed to the Varhayt (1889) in New York, and was a popular actor and songwriter. Initially a close acquaintance of both EG and AB, (he was for a time EG's lover, mentor, and organizer of her first lecture tour, when at the same time AB worked on the press of Freiheit), their move away from Freiheit and anarchist collectivism toward Peukert and anarchist communism in the early 1890s distanced them from Most. Most was highly critical of Berkman’s attempted attentat onHenry Clay Frick in 1892 and his criticism cemented the feud between EG and AB and Most, which was never resolved. In 1901, after President McKinley’s assassination, Most was imprisoned for printing "Murder by Murder" in Freiheit, an article advocating political assassinations. During his time in the US, his ideas on anarchism developed, first as a collectivist, then a communist, then by the 1890s back to the syndicalist ideas he had espoused in the 1870s. Most's varied political journey contributed to his growing ideological tolerance, although he remained a highly emotional and irascible man. Several of his works were translated into English during this period including, The Beast of Property (New Haven?: International Workingmen's Association, 1890), The Social Monster; a Paper on Communism and Anarchism (New York: Bernhard & Schenck, 1890), and The Free Society. Tract on Communism and Anarchy (New York: J. Müller, 1891).
Oerter, Friedrich Joseph "Sepp" (1870-1928), German anarchist, bookbinder. Oerter became an anarchist in 1890 and in 1892 edited Der Anarchist in New York, leaving in October for London, Holland, and finally Germany where he was arrested with his brother Joseph Friedrich "Fritz" Oerter (1869-1935) in December. Convicted in October 1893 for smuggling and distributing illegal literature and explosives, Oerter was sentenced to eight years forced labor in the Münster penitentiary. His brother served eighteen months, spending the following decade in poor health as a result. While his brother Fritz remained an anarchist all his life, Sepp became after 1912 a Social Democrat, during which time he was elected prime minister of Braunschweig (1920-1921), and ultimately became a National Socialist.
Schwab, Justus H. (1847-1900), German-born anarchist, immigrated to the United States in 1868. His Lower East Side saloon at 50 East First Street was a popular gathering place for radicals and writers. EG used it as her return address for many years; it was also the address of Sturmvogel. Arrested for unfurling a red flag during the Tompkins Square Riot, an unemployed demonstration interrupted by the police, on 13 January 1874, he evoked the Paris Commune and sang the "Marseillaise" as he was dragged away. Initially a socialist, (he was expelled from the Socialist Labor Party for his opposition to the Greenback alliance in the 1880 election) by the early 1880s Schwab embraced anarchism and became a founder of the New York Social Revolutionary Club. Played a leading role in the October 1881 Chicago Congress of Social Revolutionaries as the representative of the Social Revolutionary Club of New York. The Congress attended by anarchists and others, denounced wage slavery and private property, and endorsed the resolutions of the earlier July 1881 London Social Revolutionary Congress, including propaganda by the deed and other methods of armed insurrection. Instrumental in bringing Johann Most, through the Social Revolutionary Club, to New York in December 1882, when he formally introduced Most at his first appearance before an American audience. A member of the International Working People’s Association from its inception in 1883. Correspondent of Albert Parsons in Cook County Jail. One-time business manager of Freiheit. Schwab was for many years an agent of Benjamin Tucker’s Liberty. As reported in Liberty, Schwab broke away from Most in 1886, in a scandal which allegedly involved some anarchist communists setting house fires as part of an insurance fraud scheme. Not directly involved in the activities, Most refused to condemn them, after which Schwab distanced himself from Most and Freiheit, but did not speak out publically against Most. The affair prompted a Freiheit warning against Schwab to all anarchists, despite which Most still delivered a glowing eulogy for Schwab at his funeral. Schwab was also a leader of the German anarchist singing group the Arbeiter Liedertafel. Schwab was a close friend and supporter of EG, and she often used his saloon as her mailing address. In LML (320) she describes him as having a "surprising capacity for friendship, a veritable genius for responding generously and beautifully."
Timmermann, Claus (1866-1941), German-born anarchist, editor, immigrated to the United States around 1883. In St. Louis he edited and published Der Anarchist from 1889 to 1891. In the summer of 1891 he ceased publishing the paper and moved to New York. The following year, according to EG, she and AB confided in him about their Homestead plan, and he helped them write the manifesto to the striking steelworkers, "Labor Awakens." Timmermann was tried on 1 September 1893, and sentenced to six months on the charge of inciting to riot for his speech at the 21 August rally in Union Square, the political gathering that prompted EG's arrest, trial, and imprisonment. In New York, he edited the anarchist papers Brandfackel (1893-1894) and Sturmvogel (1897-1899).