Nolden, Julius (1895-1973)

A short biography of German anarchist Julius Nolden

Submitted by Battlescarred on May 9, 2018

Julius Nolden, a metal worker at a car plant, was one of the most active members in Duisburg of the German anarcho-syndicalist union the FAUD. The Duisburg FAUD had 5,000 members in 1921. In 1933 when the Nazis came to power he was unemployed and treasurer of the Rhineland Labour Exchange..By then membership of the Duisburg FAUD had fallen to 25 members with about 180-200 paid up members throughout the Rhineland. He was also active in a Society For The Right To Cremation. He used the Society as a cover to organise underground FAUD networks from summer 1933. This resulted in a first arrest by the Gestapo in April 1933.

Not long after his release he organised in June 1933, together with Karolus Heber, a network to get anarchist militants over the border into Holland, coordinating this with Dutch anarchist Albert De Jong (see his biography here at libcom). Julius used his flat to hide militants passing through on the way to the Dutch border.The network also smuggled anti-Nazi propaganda back into Germany, which included the Eat German Fruits brochure which disguised FAUD propaganda. This work continued up until 1935.

With the coming of the Spanish Revolution Julius organised meetings in Duisburg, Cologne and Duesseldorf to raise funds and organise the departure of volunteers to Spain. These often took place in parks and other public spaces. Julius went on long bike rides to towns and cities in the Rhineland to distribute literature to the FAUD underground.

Part of this network was arrested in December 1936 after the Gestapo infiltrated an agent into it. The Gestapo had another breakthrough when Julius was seriously injured in a traffic accident in early January 1937. When he was taken to hospital a slip of paper was found in his pocket referring to Barcelona. Julius was arrested along with 200 other anarchists and charged with “preparation for high treason”. The policeman in charge of the investigation wrote:” The arrested men are all convinced partisans of the anarcho-syndicalist movement, They are so convinced of the correctness of their ideas that 'they can hardly be re-educated to become useful members of the community of the German people'."

He was tried with 98 others, including Hans Saure, Ernst and Hermann Steinacker, Fritz Kruschedt and Hermann Hahn. On November 5th 1937 he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

Imprisoned at Luettringhausen penitentiary he was freed by American forces on 19th April 1945, thanks to the efforts of fellow anarchist Walter Tacken. In the meantime all of his family had died in an Allied bombing raid. In the immediate post war period Julius Nolden, together with Walter Tacken, advocated the creation of a syndicalist party. At Whitsun 1947 Julius, together with the surviving members of the Duisburg group, attended the founding conference of the Föderation Freiheitlicher Sozialisten- Libertarian Socialist Federation (FFS) in Darmstadt.

He died in 1973.

Nick Heath