Lewin, Arthur (1907-1976)

A short biography of the German anarchist Arthur Lewin, active in Spain and France.

Arthur Lewin was born into a Jewish family on 12th April 1907. He became active in the Anarcho-Syndicalist Youth(SAJD) in Leipzig. There he met his future wife Martha. He was a keen Esperantist and was a delegate to the World Esperantist Congress at Leningrad in 1925. Between November and December he was a member of the editorial board of the Esperantist , paper of the Global Anational Association (SAT) with another anarchist, Johanna Teichmann, and two Communists, two Social-Democrats, and two non-party socialists. However the manipulations within the committee caused the two anarchists to hand in their resignations.

In the mid-1920s he set up a printshop with another anarchist, Paul Helberg. In 1929 with the birth of the Lewins’ daughter Vera the year before, they moved to Düsseldorf.

Arthur Lewins left Germany just before the Nazis came to power where he was joined by his wife and daughter the following year. Thanks to his fluency in Esperanto he quickly made contact with the CNT and managed to obtain a work permit working as a graphic designer in advertising, then working for six months in Madrid as a salesman. He learnt Spanish quickly and both Arthur and Martha became heavily involved in the activities of the CNT and of the Libertarian Youth (FIJL) in the Las Corts neighbourhood in Barcelona, as well as taking part in the rural outings of the FIJL.

At the beginning of the Spanish Revolution he joined the German Anarcho-syndicalists (DAS) and took part in patrols charged with the surveillance and requisitioning of buildings, offices and businesses belonging to German Nazis. He was active in the CIDEA (see the biography of Izak Aufseher here) and replaced Elly Goetze as spokesperson of the DAS in April 1937.

After the May Days in Barcelona in 1937 he was arrested the following month by the Stalinists at the border with France on his return from Paris with money from the DAS to help its militants. He was arrested and accused of smuggling cash then expelled in autumn to France. The secretariat of the DAS in Stockholm put him forward as a delegate to the IWA-AIT congress at Paris at this time.
With the Nazi invasion of France Arthur was arrested and sent to the Auschwitz death camp. When the Red Army liberated the camp on January 27th 1945 he was on the point of death. He managed to recover, returning to France with the Liberation. There he was re-united with Martha and both were active in the Federation Anarchiste. Shortly after they separated.

Arthur Lewin died in Paris in 1976.

Nick Heath



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Oct 28 2013 18:49


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