Leuenroth, Edgard, 1881-1968

Edgard Leuenroth

A short biographer of Edgard Leuenroth German-Brazilian anarchist who was an indefatigable propagandist and activist for anarchism.

Edgard Leuenroth was born on October 31st 1881 in the city of Mogi Mirim, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil into a German immigrant family. His father died whilst he was young and he moved with his mother to city of São Paulo at the age of five.As a young man he worked in crafts, as a store clerk, typographer, journalist and an archivist. He became involved in the workers movement and became interested in socialist ideas. He then became an anarchist under the influence of the Portuguese anarchist Neno Vasco who had moved to Brazil in 1901, and remained one for the rest of his life. In 1904 he became part of the editorial group for O Trabalhador Gráfico (Graphic Worker). In the following year one he began working with Neno Vasco on the weekly A Terra Livre (Free Land), one of most important anarchist papers.

He had a very active involvement in both writing and publishing for the libertarian press over his life time. He wrote under his own name but also as Frederico Brito, Palmiro Leão, Len, Leão Vermelho, Routh and Siffleur. He was a founder of Folha do Povo (Leaf of the People) which later became a daily and shortly afterwards, in 1909, of A Lanterna. Other publications he was associated with were O Boi (The Ox) A Lucta Proletaria (The Proletarian Struggle) Ação Direta (Direct Action), "Spartacus," "A Guerra Social" (Social War), O Combate, (The Fight) the daily A Voz do Povo (Voice of the People) which he edited in 1920; two others he founded were A Plebe (Common People) and The Vanguard. He started publishing A Plebe in 1917 and it had a very strong impact on the working class of the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and further afield, becoming a daily in 1919 and continuing up into the 1950s.

In May 1912 in São Paulo, the Ecole Moderne opened, established on the principle of rationalist education recommended by the Spanish libertarian Francisco Ferrer. Edgard was one of its four founders, alongside Neno Vasco, Oreste Ristori and Gigi Damiani.

He took part in organising many of the first workers' and anarchist congresses, on a regional and national level. He was a founder of the Confederação Operária Brasileira (COB- Brazilian Labour Confederation) and the Communist Party of Rio De Janeiro, which was then like many early Communist Parties, a mixture of anarchists, syndicalists and left socialists. By 1913 at the second congress of the COB of which Edgard was secretary in Rio de Janeiro there were 117 delegates from eight states including two state federations, five local federations, fifty two unions and four libertarian publications.

In July 1917, a 3-day General Strike erupted in São Paulo following the killing of the anarchist shoemaker Antonio Martinez by the police during a demonstration in support of textile strikers. A Workers’ Defence Committee was formed, composed of six people, including the anarchists Leuenroth and Gigi Damiani. Barricades were built and street fighting broke out. Despite heavy repression, the strike spread to Rio and elsewhere and by the end of the month there was an almost hundred per cent stoppage in industry. For his part in organising the general strike Edgard received the longest prison sentence of his life. This did not deter him from his activity over the coming years, despite dictatorship and repression.

He was active in international defence campaigns for many anarchists, including Ferrer, Sacco and Vanzetti, Durruti and Makhno.

In December 1948, he was an organiser of the Brazilian Anarchist Congress, whose objective was the creation of an organization to pull together the various anarchist groups from around the country.
He died on September 28th 1968 in Sao Paolo.

After his death, Leuenroth's family donated his vast archive - newspaper cuttings, articles, photographs, etc. - to the State University of Campinas, which organized the Arquivo Edgard Leuenroth in 1974, one of the most important historical sources of the 20th century social and workers movements in Brazil. It quickly went underground until 1986, surviving dictatorship intact by being cemented inside a wall.

Nick Heath

Edgard Leuenroth and the 1917 strike; http://www.katesharpleylibrary.net/tqjr3g

Anarchist Encyclopaedia entry: http://recollectionbooks.com/bleed/Encyclopedia/LeuenrothEdgard.htm

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Dec 9 2009 15:01


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