Augustin Souchy

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Augustin Souchy Bauer[1] (August 28, 1892 – January 1, 1984) was a German anarchist, antimilitarist, labor union official and journalist. He traveled widely and wrote extensively about the Spanish Civil War and intentional communities. He was born in Ratibor, Germany (now Racibórz, Poland).[2]

"My goal is the establishment of a social order free of force, to replace organized compulsion and violence."

— Augustin Souchy, Beware! Anarchist!: A Life for Freedom

First World War

At the outbreak of the First World War, Souchy was living in Vienna, where he was arrested and deported to Germany. Although the anarchist group he belong to was made up of followers of Peter Kropotkin and Leo Tolstoy, his arrest warrant read, "Beware! Anarchist!" which many years later became the title of his autobiography. In 1914, Souchy went to Sweden to escape conscription.[3] He was deported from Sweden for antiwar activism in 1917.[2] He traveled illegally to Denmark and Norway. In 1919 he returned to Germany and joined the anarcho-syndicalist Free Workers' Union of Germany and was editor of its paper "Der Syndikalist" from 1922 to 1933.[2] He was a delegate to the Red International of Trade Unions in 1921,[4] and met with Vladimir Lenin as a representative of the syndicalists. While in Russia he visited Peter Kropotkin, one of the most important anarchist theorists of the day. Kropotkin warned against using an authoritarian political party as an instrument to gain power.[3]

Weimar Republic

In 1921 he worked in France and fathered a child, Jean, with Therese Souchy but was again expelled from the country for being an anarchist. He returned to Germany and worked as an editor of the newspaper The Syndicalist (Der Syndikalist) until the early 30s. Together with Rudolf Rocker he organized within the International Workers Association, which in itself was an international organization to counter the Bolshevik Profintern. During this time he met a number of anarchists from different countries, who repeatedly found refuge in Berlin, including the Russian anarchists who fled the Bolsheviks or Spanish anarchists such as Durruti. After the overthrow of the Spanish monarchy in 1931 he undertook several trips to Spain under the behalf of the IWA. In a letter to Emma Goldman in 1936 he wrote:

"In the last five years I was here [Spain] five times. Every time there was a movement. April 1931; revolution. Uprising in December 1931. December 1932; general strike. April 1933, general strike again. In October 1934 Catalonia rises against Castilian hegemony. 1935 ferments it. February 1936 overthrow of Gil-Robles. New uprising... Today great meeting will be held in the monumental Kampwerth bull arena. Organized by anarchist youth, libertarian youth. I will come forth to this meeting to speak. The arena can hold 100,000 I have been assured."

Publicity for an anti-war meeting in the bull ring at Barcelona, with Souchy listed as one of the speakers. Among others named as speakers were José Brocca, Federica Montseny and Amparo Poch y Gascón. The event was scheduled for 18 July 1936.

The meeting was cancelled, as Franco and his military conspirators staged their coup d'état the night before the event was to be held.


A few days before the arrest of his friend, anarchist writer Erich Mühsam by the Nazis, Souchy fled to Paris and lived in Paris. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War he tried to send money and weapons to the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist union CNT-FAI. In Spain he served as the international information representative of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT), an anarcho-syndicalist organization that was the largest labor union in Spain.[4] Later, he wrote his most influential books on collectivization in Anarchist Catalonia. It was in Spain that he wrote his work The Tragic Week in May, one of the few firsthand accounts of the Barcelona May Days of 1937 available. After the defeat of the Spanish Revolution in 1939 Souchy attempted to return to France but was detained for two years in a prison camp.

In 1942 he escaped to Mexico, where he lived until 1948 and published numerous books about libertarian socialism and the Spanish collectives. In 1952 he traveled to Israel and studied kibbutzim. Following his experience there, Souchy traveled to Cuba and was briefly involved with the very lively Cuban anarchist movement. In the late 1950s, he undertook an unsponsored lecture tour of Latin America to try to advance trade unionism. In 1963 the International Labour Organization hired him as an educational expert. Until then, Souchy had worked exclusively in the anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movement. Smiling, Souchy said "to imagine, at 71 years old, when others had long since retired, I got my first job."

Return to Germany

In 1966 Souchy settled in Munich and was frequently interviewed by the German media in newspapers such as Der Spiegel among others and was featured in radio broadcasts. As early as 1950, Souchy had begun to publish his work in Germany and he continued to write for the next 20 years. In 1983, Souchy met with Clara Thalmann for the first time since 1937 and returned to Spain for six weeks with filmmakers to document where both had participated in the struggle against fascism. In 1984 the film was published under the title The Long Hope (Die lange Hoffnung).

On January 1, 1984, Augustin Souchy died of pneumonia at the age of 91 years in a Red Cross hospital in Munich. There was no funeral and no grave, his body was donated to science.


These are Souchy's works that have been translated into English:

  • The Tragic Week in May, CNT-FAI, 1937 (account of sectarian violence in Spain during the Spanish Revolution)
  • With the Peasants of Aragon, Cienfuegos Press, 1982 (Souchy's account of Spanish peasant cooperatives)
  • Beware! Anarchist!, Charles H. Kerr, Chicago, 1992 (Souchy's autobiography)

For a more complete listing, see the German Wikipedia article at de:Augustin Souchy


  1. "With the peasants of Aragon". National Library of Australia. Retrieved January 23, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Augustin Souchy Papers". Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis. Retrieved January 2, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Augustin Souchy (1992). Beware! Anarchist!: A Life for Freedom. Charles H. Kerr.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sam Dolgoff (1996). "The Cuban Revolution: A Critical Perspective". Black Rose Books. p. 79.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links