Economics/Class Relations

German Seafarers, Anti-Fascism and the Anti-Stalinist Left: The ‘Antwerp Group’ and Edo Fimmen’s International Transportworkers Federation, 1933-1940

By Jonathan Hyslop

In the period from the mid-1930s to the beginning of the Second World War, a group of German seamen based in Antwerp combined with Amsterdam-based Edo Fimmen, Secretary of the International Transportworkers Federation, to wage a campaign against the Nazi government amongst the sailors of the German merchant fleet. They organized cells of supporters on German ships, encouraged informal resistance, circulated propaganda, and planned sabotage. The Antwerp Group was a breakaway from the International of Seamen and Harbour Workers (ISH), a Comintern-aligned organization. The Antwerp men reacted against the ineffectiveness of the German Communist l 
leadership’s response to Hitler’s takeover of power, and against the growing subordination of the ISH to Soviet interests. The article highlights the role of anti-Stalinist militants in the Anti-Fascism of the 1930s. It contributes to the recent scholarship on Anti-Fascism, which has emphasized Anti-Fascism’s transnationalism and ideological diversity, rather than seeing Anti-Fascism either in national terms or as a monolithic entity controlled by Moscow.

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