Doster, Gustav aka Gustl 1904-1977

Gustav Doster standing on left at illegal FAUD meeting in 1933.

Gustav Doster was a leading light in the anarchist movement in the Rhineland. He organised underground anarchist networks under Nazism and experienced the Spanish Revolution.

Gustav Doster’s father was a boiler maker, and a union militant and member of the Social Democratic Party. From 1919 until 1923 he worked as a lathe operator and then worked as an instructor of metal workers until 1933.

In 1920 Gustav joined the International Antimilitarist Association, and the following year the FAUD. He was secretary of the Darmstadt branch of the FAUD and edited the paper of the local FAUD unemployed association Der Stempfelbreder. He distributed a leaflet outside the Darmstadt Labour Exchange in September 1929 calling for direct action by the unemployed and for a general strike and the mass expropriation of stores and warehouses. He was unsuccessfully prosecuted for this.

He was also active in the SAJD (German Anarchosyndicalist Youth). A group of the Schwarze Scharen was formed at Darmstadt and Gustav was probably the driving force behind it. In March 1933 he was arrested and imprisoned but managed to eascape in November of the same year from the Osthofen concentration camp using the underground FAUD networks to flee to Amsterdam. Without any passport he had to apply for provisional papers in October 1935 and to report to the police every two months.

With Fritz Schroeder and in conjunction with the Dutch syndicalist organisation NSV he established the FAUD group in exile the DAS (Deutsche Anarcho-Syndikalisten). He was editor of the magazine International Review. In February 1936 he was told he could no longer stay in Holland and on 6th April he was told that he had to leave the country and was to be deported to Belgium. He refused to sign a document that he would leave Holland voluntarily and he demanded political asylum. He was arrested on the 26th June at Amsterdam and then started a hunger strike. He was threatened with extradition to Germany. He escaped through Belgium and France to Spain. Here he worked on the German language broadcasting of Radio CNT-FAI.

He fought in the units organised by the DAS, the Erich Mühsam and Sacco-Vanzetti Centuries. After the May events in 1937, he and all other members of the DAS were arrested and accused of “spying”and he was detained at the Segorbe prison, with among others, Helmut Kirschey until April 1938. Although not tortured the DAS comrades had to suffer long hours of questioning by German and Russian Communists on both their activity in Spain and their underground work in Germany. The prison conditions were appalling with little food.In 1939 he fled to Sweden where he worked as a lathe operator in Stockholm until 1951 when be came a farmer. He was active within the Swedish syndicalist union the Sveriges Arbetarens Central (SAC). He died in Hallstavik in 1977.

Based on entries on Doster at Dictionnaire international des militants anarchistes militants-anarchistes.info/spip.php?article1314 and FAU Dusseldorf website at fau-duesseldorf.org/Members/faud1/bilder/faud-alt-neu/abb17.jpg/view?searchterm=doster