Anarcho-syndicalism in the 20th Century - Vadim Damier

Logo of the International Workers Association (IWA)

The complete online text of Vadim Damier's superb critical study of anarcho-syndicalism in the last century which reveals a history of struggle which has often been neglected but holds many valuable lessons for the present.

In A4 PDF format, or formatted text version below. Published by Black Cat Press, we heartily recommend you buy a copy.

English translation © Black Cat Press. Republished with permission.You can make a donation to Black Cat Press to support future projects using the PayPal button below:

Damier-AS-A4.pdf1.02 MB


Joseph Kay
Mar 23 2011 10:48

Cheers for uploading this! It seems to be missing the bibliographic essay though, which will be of interest to anyone researching the topic... Any chance you could scan that too?

Edit: My mistake, the bibliographic essay is on page 13 of the chapter 17 pdf. good shit!

Mar 23 2011 17:32

2 thumbs up comrade(s)!

I'd almost suggest a chapter x chapter on-line reading group, but I'm afraid what that would turn into.

Joseph Kay
Mar 24 2011 21:15

Bump; Black Cat have kindly sent us an A4-formatted version of the latest print run, which corrects some errors. I've uploaded that and unpublished (not deleted) the separate pdfs.

Mar 24 2011 23:53

It's great that they have sent us that - but now I feel bad for the person who spent so much time scanning it! At least if they hadn't scanned we probably wouldn't be hosting the other PDF so it was not in vain!

Mar 25 2011 13:11
Joseph Kay wrote:
Bump; Black Cat have kindly sent us an A4-formatted version of the latest print run, which corrects some errors. I've uploaded that and unpublished (not deleted) the separate pdfs.

Would you happen to know which pages those corrections are on?

Joseph Kay
Mar 25 2011 15:44

Unfortunately not - they just emailed to say there were some errors in the earlier one and forwarded an A4 pdf of the latest print run.

Mar 30 2011 14:03

The book is great smile I'll learn Russian to read the real version since this book is just few champers from really big book in Russian grin

Mar 30 2011 14:50
Kontrrazvedka wrote:
The book is great smile I'll learn Russian to read the real version since this book is just few champers from really big book in Russian grin

It's my understanding that the original book will be translated into English. Black Cat Press will prolly publish the complete book in sveral smaller volumes.

Mar 31 2011 20:31

I don't know about that. Anyhow, since I'm from Croatia - Russian is a easy to learn smile

Boris Badenov
Apr 1 2011 11:57

Bloody slavs; always writing great big tomes that no one can translate in their entirety.
Glad to see Black Cat Press finally agreed to have this put up though.

Joseph Kay
May 13 2011 09:56

BUMP: i've added a PayPal donate button, so if anyone fancies chucking Black Cat Press a few pennies towards future projects that would be cool, and hopefully help more stuff appear online in future too!

Jun 8 2011 09:39

Bump, because I have formatted a bunch of this into a text version, and will do the rest as soon as I get a chance

Jun 20 2011 21:19


Mar 25 2012 16:41

I'm re-reading certain sections of this book again.There's one document which is mentioned, which I've not seen before. Wonding if someone can help me out in locating the FORA's "Memorandum" to the IWA founding Congress.

Vadim sites this Memorandum In Chapter 6, "From revolutionary Syndicalism to Anarcho-Syndicalism", Page 81-82, It is listed as Footnote #135 and taken from
" A. Lopez, La FORA, en el movimento obrero Vol. 1 (Buenos Aires 1987), pp 162-176 (Annexo # 208).

Jul 12 2012 22:16

@ syndicalist. I found that text in Spanish ages ago, and sent it to Barry at KSL to see if they would be interested in translating it (and other FORA articles). I'll check to see where they are at with it

Jul 12 2012 22:40

It's pretty interesting. Vladim sent me a copy (in Spanish). It'd be interesting if it gets translated.

Feb 19 2013 19:41

In "Chapter 6: From Revolutionary Syndicalism to Anarcho-syndicalism" it says: "During the 1920’s and 1930’s sections and groups of adherents of the IWA also appeared in Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Poland, and Rumania."

A similar passage can be found in the Wikipedia page about the IWA, which is slightly different but contains pretty much the same information and goes like this: "Following the first congress, other groups affiliated from France, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Poland and

I would like to know more about this Romanian section that is mentioned in these two places, but unfortunately in both the book and Wikipedia article there are no references. Does anybody know some information? or can get in contact with the author of the book and ask about some references? It would be great, and could help in shedding some light on individuals and organizations that were confiscated by Stalinist historiography.

Feb 19 2013 22:22

Hi! I sent you scans from 1930 IWA documents. There was something called Anarcho-syndicalist Propaganda Organization. Don't know how formalized it was. Lists about 200 members. What little information they have talks about a group of anarchists in Czernowitz. I have seen mention of it elsewhere, but cannot recall exactly where - I think in some old Polish article on anarchist movement in Galicia and area. Anyway, I think it is likely that this group could have been not Romanian, or only part Romanian members and the sources of information could be in old Yiddish documents, or Ukrainian or Polish.

I can ask the author of the book to contact you. Maybe he knows more.

Feb 19 2013 23:34

I suspect a person we could ask is Moshe Goncharok, who is a historian of Jewish anarchism and knows a lot about the anarchists of Galicia and Bukowina. Although maybe more about the earlier years.

By the way, not that it is related for sure, but you occassionally see mention of things going on in Czernowitz at that time. I have seem in a few places, can't remember where, but here this would have the author in the woods in 1931 reading Rocker.

Feb 20 2013 00:40

This is great news, also if you can ask the author of the book to contact us would be great, the lead through Moshe Goncharok could be followed as well. I didn't get the scanned documents, did you send them at my email or the IASR email?

About David Stetner, we found some good information, this is the best piece because it was written by him.

Feb 20 2013 05:29

Here is what Vadim Damier writes about Rumania in The Forgotten International (Moscow, 2007):

"In Rumania in 1930 several libertarian groups were active. One of them, in Czernowitz (Bukovina), was started by Naftali Schnapp and proselytized revolutionary syndicalism. In the absence of the possibility of creating real trade unions and facing conditions of severe repression, the Czernowitz group constituted itself as an IWA "Organization of Anarcho-syndicalist Propaganda". According to membership data of the International, the organization counted around 200 members in 1930. [Presse-Dienst herausgegeben vom Sekretariat der IAA 1.04.1931. No. 5 (132).]
The Forgotten International, Volume 1, pp. 471–472.

"In Rumania, the anarcho-syndicalist propaganda group operating in Czernowitz was destroyed in 1932. The police arrested 14 members of the organization, including the students K. Buverg and Donnenfeld, N. Schnapp, K. Gorowitz, M. Zetershau, Rozner, Royerstein, Samuel Vaysman, Morgenstein, Adolf Kiosh, Josif Kula, Veydenfeld, Donia and Geles. [Presse-Dienst... 2.06.1932. No. 7 (148).] News about the extreme tortures inflicted on Rumanian political prisoners was communicated by Polya Vascautianu, the student Jossy Feldman, and others. [Presse-Dienst... 6.01.1933. No. 1 (156).] The last members of the group were repressed or dispersed in the following years. Thus, in 1934 the 30-year-old David Stetner intended to leave for Spain, but was called up to the army at which point he fled to Poland. Handed over by the Polish authorities, he was convicted of desertion in Rumania and freed only in January 1937, after which he fled to Paris. [Breve nota autobiografica di David Stetner // Boletino Archivo G. Pinelli. No. 15. Speciale. Anarchici ed ebrei. P. 13–14; M. Goncharok. Ashes from Our Fires. Historical Survey of the Yiddish Anarchist Movement. Jerusalem, 2002. Pp. 152–153.]"
The Forgotten International, Volume 2, p. 195.

Feb 20 2013 16:20

OK, thanks for sending that in English. So when you look at what I sent you from the IWA documents, it is basically that what was written in Presse-Dienst, but in the French version.

Anyway, I think if there is more information to be had, it will be in Yiddish or some old Polish sources, but we have a problem here with those, after the nazis and the "communists". But such things turn up and there are lots of pieces of regional jewish anarchist history to be found in different archives.

Feb 20 2013 17:31
M. Goncharok. Ashes from Our Fires. Historical Survey of the Yiddish Anarchist Movement

I gather this is in Rusian only?

Feb 20 2013 18:46

Yes, syndicalist, "Ashes from Our Fires" is in Russian. Goncharok's books were apparently aimed at Russian-speaking inhabitants of Israel, especially those who grew up in the Soviet era and knew nothing of the history of Jewish anarchism.

Feb 22 2013 02:23
Yes, syndicalist, "Ashes from Our Fires" is in Russian. Goncharok's books were apparently aimed at Russian-speaking inhabitants of Israel, especially those who grew up in the Soviet era and knew nothing of the history of Jewish anarchism.

Understood. Any chance it might be translated into English? As with Vadim's work?

Feb 22 2013 11:29

Vadim's work is being translated, but it is a daunting task. Two huge volumes, small print. Maybe the first part will be out relatively soon, if we are lucky.

It's all interesting, but, ultimately, if you want to have more things translated into English, English-speaking activists have to make more efforts to learn foreign languages and get more people involved in such work.

Although I speak Russian and English, I am always more concerned to get stuff translated for local people to read than vice versa. English speaking people have hundreds of good anarchists to read and we have only a few and half of them are crap. So I have never prioritized that kind of work. But both books are quite good and it would be good if more people knew them.

Feb 23 2013 12:34

Thank you all for the information. That is wonderful, even if its a snippet, we could follow that and see where it leads us. Thanks again.

Feb 23 2013 16:27

Look at this:

Charles Fieber

Né dans une famille de petits propriétaires terriens, Charles Fieber avait commencé à travailler en 1930 à Czernowitz (Bukovine autrichienne) comme employé de commerce. C’est là qu’il fut contacté par le militant anarchiste Isidor Zigmund Lehr qui, chaque semaine, recevait d’Allemagne l’organe anarcho-syndicaliste Der Syndicalist. C’est à la lecture de ce journal et de textes de P. Ramus venant de Vienne que Charles Fieber devint anarchiste et intégra le groupe de Czernowitz dont faisaient notamment partie David Stettner, Schnapp et Shmuel Ringel. Fieber était également membre de la section sportive des jeunesses socialistes dont la majorité des adhérents étaient de jeunes militants juifs.

Born into a family of small landowners, Charles Fieber started working in 1930 in Czernowitz (Austrian Bukovina) as an employee of commerce. This is where he was contacted by the anarchist Isidor Zigmund Lehr, who every week, received the anarcho-syndicalist organ Der Syndicalist from Germany. It was by reading the newspaper and texts of P. Ramus from Vienna that Fieber Charles became an anarchist and joined the group of Czernowitz which included David Stettner, Schnapp and Shmuel Ringel. Fieber was also a member of the sports section of the Socialist Youth, the majority of whose participants were young Jewish activists.

Le groupe anarchiste de Czernowitz, dont le drapeau noir portait la mention A bas l’Etat et le capitalisme, était totalement illégal. Il se réunissait chaque semaine, l’hiver dans des appartements particuliers et l’été dans les Carpathes lors de sorties champêtres protégées par des guetteurs et où il était interdit de fumer et de boire de l’alcool et où la nourriture était entièrement végétarienne.

The anarchist group of Czernowitz,where the black flag was marked "down with the state and capitalism", was totally illegal. It met weekly in the winter and summer in private apartments in the Carpathian countryside protected by lookouts and where it was forbidden to smoke and drink alcohol and where the food was completely vegetarian.

After Hitler came to power in 1933 and the wave of anti-Semitism that followed, the young activists of the group decided to boycott German culture and began to use Yiddish in their propaganda.

Après l’avènement d’Hitler au pouvoir en 1933 et la vague d’antisémitisme qui s’en suivit, les jeunes militants du groupe décidèrent de boycotter la culture allemande et commencèrent à utiliser le yiddish dans leur propagande.

Après l’arrestation en 1933 du compagnon Karl Bukhver pour un collage d’affiches, puis l’année suivante de la saisie d’une caisse de propagande envoyée d’Allemagne et de plusieurs arrestations, dont celles de Schnapp et de Bukhver, il fut décidé à la libération de ces derniers fin 1934 ou début 1935, de dissoudre l’organisation où avait été détectée la présense de mouchard. Toutefois un groupe de sux compagnons - Charles Fieber, David Stettner, Vfeffer, les deux frères Zinreich et le tailleur Nagel - se reconstituait pour maintenir les contacts, ava,t que plusieurs d’entre eux n’émigrent vers la France.

After the arrest in 1933 of the comrade Karl Bukhver for a collage of posters, the following year a case of propaganda sent from Germany was seized and there were several arrests, including those of Schnapp and Bukhver. The latter were released in 1934 or early 1935, to dissolve the organization in which was detected the presense of a mole. However, a group of comrades - Charles Fieber, David Stettner, Vfeffer, the two Zinreich brothers and tailor Nagel - reconstructed to maintain contacts, many of them later emigrating to France.

Membre du groupe anarchiste juif de Paris, Charles Fieber a été l’un des rédacteurs du journal anarchiste yiddish Der freie Gedank (Paris, 1949-1963). Dans les années 1970 il participait toujours aux réunions du groupe qui se tenaient chez David et Golda Stettner.

Member of the Jewish anarchist group in Paris, Charles Fieber was one of the editors of the Yiddish anarchist journal  Der freie Gedank (Paris, 1949-1963). In the 1970s, he participated in all the meetings of the group which took place at David and Golda Stettner's house.

Feb 24 2013 01:08

Here is some information about the Israeli historian Moshe Goncharok, mentioned above, and his two books on Jewish anarchism:

Goncharok was born in 1962 in Leningrad, into a Jewish family which had suffered under both the tsars and Stalin. As an adolescent he came across an old book by Lev Chorny, A New Direction in Anarchism (1907). (Chorny was shot by the Bolsheviks in 1921.) This got him interested in anarchism, but he could find only three books on the subject published in the USSR which did not treat anarchism in a derogatory way: Kropotkin’s Memoirs of a Revolutionist (in an edition edited for children), and two rather slight biographies of Bakunin and Kropotkin by Natalya Pirumovaya, published during the Brezhnev era. On this basis he was able to start a small anarchist group at his school. In 1990, after mastering Hebrew and Yiddish, he emigrated to Israel where he has worked as an historian, publishing both scientific and popular works in several languages.

Table of contents of Ashes of Our Fires. Outline of the History of the Jewish Anarchism Movement (Yiddish-Anarchism) (Jerusalem, 2002).
Anarchism among the Jews. Origins of the movement.
From the history of Yiddish-Anarchism in England.
The Jewish Anarchist movement in the USA.
Anarchism and the national question. Anarcho-zionism.
Anarchism in Israel. “Problemot/Problemen”.
Towards a history of tne anarchist press in Yiddish.
The fate of the Jewish anarchists.
Select bibliography.

This work is notable for its mastery of rare sources in Yiddish. The chapter on the “fate of the Jewish anarchists” includes mini-biographies of many activists in the movement, including well known ones like Emma Goldman and Aba Gordin, but also many previously obscure figures. "Problemot/Problemen" was a bi-monthly anarchist review (1959–1989) published in Israel in Yiddish and Hebrew.

Table of contents of Century of will. Russian Anarchism and the Jews (19th – 20th centuries) (Jerusalem, 1996).
Ch. 1: Russian anarchism at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries: the attitude toward the national question.
Ch. 2: The spread of anarchist circles in Europe and America in the milieu of Jewish emigrants from the Russian empire.
Ch. 3: The participation of Jews in the anarchist movement of the Russian empire at the beginning of the 20th century. The connection with non-Jewish groups of the movement.
Ch. 4: The anarchist movement in Russia after 1917. General survey.
Ch. 5: The Makhnovshchina and Jews. Introduction to the theme.
Ch. 6: The Jewish question in the memoirs of N. Makhno.
Ch. 7: The Makhnovshchina and the struggle with antisemitism (according to the memoirs of participants of the movement).
Ch. 8: The fate of the Russian anarchists.
Ch. 9: Conclusion.
Basic bibliography.

This work is somewhat less interesting than Ashes simply because of the space devoted to defending Nestor Makhno from charges of being an antisemite and pogromchik (not to mention an alcoholic-degenerate). Fortunately no serious historian in Russia or Ukraine (of no matter what stripe) would be likely to make such charges today.

Feb 23 2013 23:00

Yes, this work is interesting. Although I think the only mention of this place in his work relates to either an earlier period (1905-ish) or to the fact that people emigrated from there. Maybe I am wrong and need to re-read. In Polish works, there is more reference to this area from the 1905-ish period as well, but even up to before WWI, there was strong activity in bordering Galicja, so people from Czernowitz were mentioned.

Anyway, I think the place to look is in archives like Yanovsky's or Mratchny's or in the old Yiddish press. Maybe Goncharok came across something and can suggest something.

I also suppose a more careful look here or in Yivo would bring results, but it is a lot of work. There is also a possibility that people took some material with them and they are somewhere in Paris or CIRA or somewhere.

IWA archives were seized by nazis at some point and some of the old stuff is lost or not complete.