The “Schwarzen Scharen”

Submitted by Juan Conatz on December 23, 2010

In the face of increasing political violence and the rising number of attacks on Anarcho-syndicalists at meetings and demonstrations by extremists of the right and left, an additional organization was formed as a response. At the end of the 1920s militant fighting organizations were formed, primarily by youths in Berlin and Upper Silesia, that generally carried the name “Schwarze Scharen” [Black Troop] and were several hundred in number nationwide.

These groups were to defend public events of the FAUD or allied organizations from disruption by Communists or Nazis. The Schwarzen Scharen can be viewed as the anarcho-syndicalist counterpart to the “Reichsbanner” of the SPD or the “Red Fighting Front” of the KPD. The members of the group wore all black clothing, some possessed firearms and were often involved in physical conflict.

The Schwarzen Scharen were not officially associated with the FAUD, due to protests within the union against the militarization of the organization. Since the FAUD was however not at its root a pacifistic movement these militant formations were tolerated and used as a defensive force in many areas.