Krüschedt, Fritz (1910-1978)

A short biography of German anarchist Fritz Krüschedt

Fritz Kruschedt was born on 14th June 1910 in the Wuppertal region of the Rhineland in Germany. After the early death of his father, his mother had to raise Fritz and his brother Gustav ( born 31st March 1912) and their sister.
His mother was a Catholic but mixed in radical workers’ circles, sending her children to a secular free school. Fritz learnt a trade and worked in the building industry. Fritz and Gustav began to take part in the activities of the Gemeinschaft proletarischer Freidenker (GPF) -Association of Proletarian Freethinkers in which the anarcho-syndicalist FAUD had some influence. Fritz and Gustav subsequently joined the SAJD( Anarcho-Syndicalist Youth) the youth organisation of the FAUD. The SAJD in Wuppertal numbered about 15 members in 1930. Among its members were the seamstress Hedwig Felsch and her older brother Willi. Hedwig and Gustav later lived in free union. Fritz lost his job in the wave of unemployment at this time. He was then able to invest a lot of time in the SAJD .
The SAJD branch built a clubhouse in the garden of a comrade. They read much anarchist literature, including Kropotkin and Rocker. In 1931 they put on a play about Sacco and Vanzetti by Erich Muehsam in the Wuppertal town hall. In this year the Kirschey brothers, Hans and Helmut, and Hans Saure, who had left the Communist youth organisation, joined the SAJD branch.
As in other cities the SAJD were behind moves to set up a Schwarze Schare ( Black Band) intended to act as a defence unit against Nazi attacks on political meetings. As a result the Kruschedts came to the attention of the local SA. The brothers were forced to move home, their abandoned house looted of 500 marks and the black flag that flew outside by the Nazis.
The Wuppertal anarchists then engaged in underground activity which is described in the libcom biographies of Fritz Benner, of Helmut Kirschey, and of Hans Schmitz. In the crackdown on the anarchist movement Fritz was arrested on 7th April 1937. Gustav had already been arrested on 6th March. The investigations of the Dusseldorf Gestapo went on for over a year and in this period Fritz was tortured and severely beaten. One of the methods used to extract information was to make him stand for hours in the cold waters of the Wupper river. However Fritz refused to divulge any information. In June 1938 , with the mass trials of 88 anarchists, Fritz received a prison sentence of 2 years and 3 months.
After his release on 1st July 1939 he was immediately re-arrested and put in Dusseldorf prison. He was then transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp on 10th August. There he was horrifically mistreated. Again he was made to stand for hours in cold water up to his knees with other prisoners and was suspended with his arms tied behind his back from a stake.(Gustav was under Gestapo supervision after his release and then forcibly conscripted into the 999 battalion, first being located in southern France and then in Albania where he was captured in 1944. He had kept evidence of his condemnation and was able to show this to the Albanian resistance, which probably saved his life).
In autumn 1944 Fritz was forcibly conscripted with 770 other prisoners into the 999 punishment battalion of ill-repute. He managed to desert to the Russians with 500 others at the first instance. His treatment by the Russians was not what he had expected and he was immediately put under suspicion. He was fortunately released quite quickly in September 1945.
Despite this he joined the Communist Party (KPD) for a short period, apparently for tactical reasons, and then the Federation of Libertarian Socialists- Föderation Freiheitlicher Sozialisten (FFS) which united a few hundred anarchist survivors of the Nazi regime. The FFS was unable to develop and fell away and only decades later was there a revival in the anarchist movement. Both Fritz and Gustav tried to promote libertarian ideas via literary and cultural circles, in cooperatives, and with union work but their efforts were stillborn.
After the war Fritz worked as a repairer, roofer and as a council worker.In 1949, he married Erna Rutki and their daughter Marianne was born on 11th July 1950. After a motorcycle accident in 1959, he had a leg amputated and he then worked as a groundsman on a sports ground.
He died in 1978.
Nick Heath
Sources:
FAU article on Kruschedt http://www.fau.org/texte/biographien/art_080310-205918
Article on the Kruschedt family by Andreas Graf : http://www.iwk-online.de/2000-1_graf.html