Tensions and conflict within the FAUD

Submitted by Juan Conatz on December 23, 2010

The cultural sector of the organization was strengthened by tolerating views that deviated from the FAUD’s declared principals, and an attempt was made to restructure the organization in a way that would correspond to these changes. The FAUD’s center of gravity moved away from the industrial federations, which dated from the time of the FVDG, and rested now on the workers’ communities, which resulted in greater engagement in the cultural sphere. Since changes in economic and political conditions in Germany occurred at different rates and to differing degrees, tensions within the FAUD intensified, primarily around the question of how to regulate the national organization. One side of this conflict grasped the effects of the new conditions and socio-economic framework with which they were faced and sought reorganization in the form of “unity organizations,” which would take over the task of large-scale coordination. The other, affected more adversely by the conditions of the post-war period, wanted to maintain the older structure of strong and independent industrial federations. In the end it was the question of how to regulate and carry out the collection of strike funds that caused the tensions to boil over.

According to a decision at the FAUD’s congress the workers’ communities were to arrange and organize the collection of these funds. For the supporters of the industrial federations this was a decisive attack on the independence of the entire federal structure. This issue had to be resolved with all possible speed so that meaningful support could be extended to those members that were suffering most acutely from the marginalization of the FAUD. This sense of immediacy led to a hardening of feelings on both sides, which eventually resulted in a split in the construction workers’ federation, one of the organization’s bedrock unions.

By 1927 the FAUD had crossed over from being a union that claimed to be an anarchist organization to being an anarchist organization that claimed to be a union. The union no longer had at its disposal the agitational force necessary to stymie the decline in membership. Other council communist and anarchist organizations, like the German Federation of Anarchist Communists (FKAD), had failed before in this respect. In contrast, the trade unions recovered, partly as a result of the hyper-inflation of the early 1920’s, partly as a consequence of the French occupation of the Ruhr in 1923, which drove many workers to these influential and legally recognized organizations.