Karl Börder (c. 1868-1949)

A short biography of German anarchist Karl Börder who refused to give up

Karl Börder as a young man worked in the revolutionary movement as a delegate of the metal workers’ union in Hamborn. He became an anarchist in 1908 and started writing for the anarchist paper Freie Arbeiter (Free Worker) and was involved in the Anarchist Foederation setting up a group in Hamborn involving a number of miners. In 1919 he was sent to the concentration camp set up by the Social Democrat butcher Noske at Paderborn, charged with making syndicalist propaganda, and he was systematically starved there for 13 weeks ( the Nazi horrors had their roots in social democracy!)

In 1921 along with Carl Langer he set up the Hamburg anarchist paper Alarm! and founded anarchist groups in Hamburg and many other towns. He was arrested and imprisoned several times under the Weimar Republic. In 1933 with the coming to power of Hitler he was immediately arrested with his companion Rosa Hellman and they were both imprisoned at Brandenburg prison along with Erich Muehsam, Karl subsequently being sent to the concentration camp at Börgermoor . As a result his health was completely broken. He was released in 1934 only to be arrested and tortured twice more.

After the collapse of the Nazi regime he was one of the anarchists who attempted to rebuild the anarchist movement, despite his very poor health and advanced age. He helped set up an anarchist front group, the Kulturfoederation, in Hamburg, together with Carl Langer and he took an oppositional position to the reformist line now espoused by Rudolf Rocker. He was the first of the surviving German anarchists to establish a new anarchist group in West Germany at Dortmund, which attracted young people new to the movement. Unfortunately the group did not survive his death

He died on May 1st 1949 and was already over 80 at the time

Nick Heath

Sources: obituary In Freedom June 11th, 1949

Posted By

May 11 2012 21:34


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