Glaser, Georg Katharina, 1910-1995

Georg Katharina Glaser

A short biography of worker, autodidact, writer, anarchist and anti-Nazi German Georg Katharina Glaser.

Georg Katharina Glaser
Born Georg Kreuz Glaser, 30 June 1910 – Germany, died 18 January 1995 - Paris

Georg was born on 30th June 1910, Guntersblum, Rheinhesse, Germany. Georg later changed his middle name which means Cross to that of Katharina in honour of his beloved mother.

Born into a family with 8 children, Georg was beaten savagely as child by his brutal father, a shoemaker who later became a post office official in nearby Dolgesheim. He attended elementary school in Worms. He began resisting his father’s violence, and ran away at 14. He ended up in a house of correction from which he escaped. This pattern was repeated several times with Georg going on the road. Naturally as a result of this he came in contact with gangs and the lumpenproletariat [very poor, unemployed class].

He toyed with joining the Anarchist Youth organization (SAJD) but then entered the Communist Party (KPD) at the end of the 20s. His attitude at first was almost religious and he saw himself as a ‘soldier of the world to come’. Georg soon discovered that the KPD rivaled the Nazis with its nationalism and demagogy and he was troubled by its Stalinist line.

As a Red Front militant, he was often involved in street battles with the Nazis. As a result of one escapade he found himself in prison in 1929 for a breach of the peace. There he began to write sketches, stories and narration, some of which appeared in the Frankfurt daily paper and in Link Curve, paper of the Federation of proletarian-revolutionary writers. He became court correspondent for the KPD. His first novel Sip of beer appeared in 1932 and was acclaimed by the likes of intellectuals like Walter Benjamin. Georg made the acquaintance of Arthur Koestler, and Kisch (see Leo Rothziegel).

Disillusioned by the complete capitulation of the KPD to the Nazi takeover, he went underground. He returned in 1934 to the Saarland for an anti-fascist campaign and shot dead an SA (Brownshirt) leader in 1935 in self defence. He fled back to France after Saarland reverted to Germany in 1935.

He became a metalworker in a railway workshop in Normandy until 1939 and married a French woman and became naturalised. He was conscripted at the outbreak of war and captured at Dunkirk in Normandy in 1940. Captivity in Germany followed, hard labour with fear of being exposed. In the stalags he discovered real fraternity with prisoners singing under the bombings, hoping their prisons would be pulverised. He went underground in 1943 after his true identity was traced and he managed to escape. He was hidden by former comrades of the KPD.

When the French Communist Party said ‘Kill the Boches’ [Boches is a derogatory word for Germans] Georg finally realised the bankruptcy of the Communist Parties.

He ended the war hiding in a cellar with the some of the last survivors of the German resistance.

He returned to France and joined the Federation Anarchiste and militated in the V-VIth arrondissements with Giliane Berneri, daughter of Camillo and sister of Marie-Louse, Andre Prudhommeaux and Gil Devillard, one of the leading lights of the big strike of Renault in 1947 (see Andre Nedelec).

He got a job in the Renault factory of Boulogne-Billancourt. The workforce was made up of North Africans who had been in the Free French forces, young French workers who had been in the Resistance, old workers who had experienced the Popular Front of 1936, Spanish and Bulgarian anarchists, Italian anti-fascists, a Romanian Trotskyist and ‘an arrogant multitude of Stalinist patriots’, according to Gil. One of these Stalinists called Georg a dirty Boche. Georg gave him a good hiding and then called the PCF hierarchy to demand apologies and got them. ‘Built like a blacksmith, when he hit, you knew it’, as Gil said.

He told stories to the FA comrades of the battles of KPD shock troops with the Nazis in the 1920s. When the V-VIth group changed its name to the Sacco–Vanzetti group a little fete was organised in the hall of the Mutualite. There Georg sang superb anti-Nazi songs of the 20s. ‘We didn’t understand the words, but these songs had a gob on them’, said Gil. Georges Fontenis refers to him as being one of the best orators of the FA.

At night after work he wrote his autobiographical novel in 1948 which was published in German and French in 1951 as Secret and Violence - chronicle of the red and brown years 1920-1945. This was hailed as a great literary work.

Later on he had a job in a sugar refinery. Later still he set up a workshop making copper objects. He was visited there by Albert Camus and other literati.

He died in Paris on the 18th January 1995.

Nick Heath