Letters to Berkman and Emmy Eckstein, by Milly Witkop-Rocker

[copied from the IISH Berkman papers https://socialhistory.org/en/collections/yiddish-letters/alexander-berkman%5D

 

Berlin 20/8/31

Dearest Sasha,

How are you? How the prospects to remain? How is your health and that of Emmie?
I have had a letter from my sister Rose just now in which she tells me that she has collected thirty signatures of mps which will be sent to the French consulate: with your permission of course. She handed them to Paris.
She also says that whenever you desire to go to England, she will gladly and happily do her very best to get you a permit as long as the present government is in power. She has the necessary connections and will use them to the best of her abilities.
Think it over and let us know.
From us there isn’t much to relate. The general situation is too bad for words, and is getting worse daily, it is a hell of a state.
My own health is better but far from good. Fermin is in the S. again, but quite fed up with it. He would come back if only he could have the faintest hope of getting work, but where get it?
Rudolf is working hard, is pulled to pieces and don’t get time to work at his book. Next week he has to go to Holland again for a few days, it is a rotten business. If only his book was finished.
This for the present, love to both of you from both of us and best wishes of success in your efforts
Milly

504 Grand St N.Y.C.
N.Y. 5/1935

Dearest Sasha,
Your letter of the 19th of Feb. just arrived, also your other two letters arrived, we di not answer them yet, for Rudolf is working hard to get the second part ready, and I don’t feel well lately. You will hear from Rudolf as soon as he gets a minute’s rest, meanwhile these short lines:
It will be very good of you Sashe dear to send one copy of the manuscript right to this address, it will save Goldman work and we will get it much sooner.
Rudolf will send you out three quarters of the second part next week, you shall not have to wait for him then.
Please get on with the preparations of the index, it is very good of you to do it, it will be a great help to Rudolf.
About the name of the translator we need not to bother yet. We shall consider the matter later on. It is very noble of you to insist that his name should not be yours.
We shall certainly wait until you can tell us how long it will take you to do the whole translation, that is understood.
We are happy to hear that you are getting on so fast with the revisions. It is very wonderful. We hope and trust that yours and Emmie’s health will keep in good condition and you will be able to work on.
But by no means you should work too hard, and thereby ruin your health. Your health is more important than any book in the world.
Well yes, you have the complete first part of the manuscript dear Sasha, Rudolf is working the second part you will have it all within two weeks says Rudolf, but he will send you the three parts which he has ready one of these days.
You are happy you write that we can stay here for a while, we don’t even know if we can dear. We have no definitive answer frm the authorities and are still hanging on. Needless to tell you how it feels.
Well dearest this in the hurry, you will hear more details from Rudolf.
You say that you have not heard from Goldman a long time, also we don’t hear from him lately, and we don’t know the reason, I hope there is nothing wrong.
The two other copies send to him as usual, for he actually handles the matter.
With much love and best wishes from us both also from Fermin to both of you, devotedly yours
Milly
Please forgive the terrible scribble, it is abominable to write as bad as that.

N.Y. 4/1935

Dearest Sasha,

Your letter and the manuscript arrived safely. R. is not at home, will return Monday the 5th and will answer you in detail, presumably.
He was in Chicago and had a talk with Goldman. They agreed that the book should be published next fall, and in one volume. They find that it will be best not to divide the book. He will write you all about it. You are right the biographical sketches it is not necessary, also R. agrees to that.
Love and best wishes to you both from Fermin and myself
Milly

N.Y. 30/1935

My dearest Sasha,
Your letter of the 15th of March and the 10 chapters of the manuscript arrived. We know and trust that you are in possession of Rudolf’s registered letters and the revised manuscript which was also sent registered by now.
All what you send in the future address to our place, it is the best and quickest way. I would also send these lines registered, since it seems to be best for you, but I cannot do it, as it is Sunday today.
Rudolf is working on the last few chapters, he hopes to get through with them by the end of the next week, it is quite certain that you will not have to wait for him.
As soon as he is finished with this work he will go out for a short trip, only as far as Chicago, as the time for lecturing will soon expire, on account of the warm weather. You probably know by now from Emma that we have got another 6 months stay. The winter season was spoiled for us any way, for while waiting for the extension Rudolf could not go out on a trip of course.
However we have to take things as they come, since we are not the masters over our own fate.
Yes dear Sasha I really think that you have done the revision quickly, considering the circumstances under which you poor dears are working lately. It breaks my heart to hear how terrible hard you have to struggle for your bare existence, it is cruel! The worst of it is that we are all so helpless. What good is it to dear friends if one feels with you and sympathise with you heart and soul? One cannot get fed on that. It is a cursed state of things. Just the best people in this rotten world have to suffer most, suffer constantly: indeed it is but time that the whole thing is smashed to pieces!
Now about the chief items of your letter dear: Rudolf agrees with your suggestion how the index sould be.
The same thing refers to Kant refers to Hegel: the “dialectical method”, his “conception of the state” etc.
The same way you will treat all the rest of the persons mentioned. Rudolf’s book is a scientific work to an extent, isn’t it?
It was suggested that short biographies should be given of the people mentioned but I am trying to convince Rudolf that it is not necessary: that is my opinion. What do you think of it?
Well my dearest ones keep well both of you and let us hope that better times will come, for us all.
With fondest love and best wishes from us three to both of you. Yours as ever
Molly

N.Y. 21/9 35
Dearest Sasha,
Your letter of July 30th and the copy of the one to Joe Goldman of August the 5th Rudolf received, we are both ever so happy that the matter is closed now, and that you have settled down to some creative work of your own: best of luck dear boy!
You will be glad to hear Sasha dear that also Rudolf has started to work, at last: he actually begun to write his memoirs, while we were in Tawanda at my sister’s place. You hardly realise what it means to me dearest. Rudolf felt so bad before we went to Tawanda, that I was quite worried.
Never before he was in such a state of spirit and how happy I am to see him in his present state. He is so absorbed by his work that I cannot get him away from the desk. A new spirit came over him, living through once more every phase of his youth. He has only done two chapters by now, but you can tell already that it is going to be a very interesting work, and I hope a valuable document.
Our old friend Nettlau will be very happy when he will get to know that Rudolf has at last taken up this work. He begged him ever so long that he should write his memoirs, assuring him the importance of it.
Another bit of ‘good news’ I have for you: we have got another extension, for six more months. The authorities were more decent this time, letting us know about it three weeks before the expiration of our extension. That way we have a better chance to make use of the time. Rudolf will undertake a tour, and meantime meet the people who are interested in the publication of his book, may be that something will turn out of it.
Why do you make special reference to the fact that you have made the proposition long before Emma to repay the money, if need be, Sasha dear? Indeed you have. It was a mistake of Rudolf not to mention it in his letter. That’s all. But would it not be wise old friend to drop the subject entirely? Since the problem is solved to everyone’s satisfaction.
I hope that you will forgive Rudolf for not writing you know old pal, he is working so intensively as I have mentioned already that he cannot tear himself away, it will not keep on in the same speed of course. He shall have to stop soon to attend to some of the correspondence which has accumulated, then you will hear from him of course. Meantime, take these lines as a substitute.
I have spoken quite a lot about ourselves, now how are you? How is your health? Why don’t we hear from dear Emma? It is quite unusual that she should not write as long as that. I hope though that she is well, and that there is no special cause for her silence. We have heard from Rose Pesotta that Emma is intending to come back to C(hicago) for the winter, that would be splendid. We would certainly go over to see her this time, under all circumstances. The comrades will be delighted with her return, they need her there very much.
Much love to you from the three of us and best wishes for successful work.
Love to dear Emma also from us three and let her write soon.
Affectionate as ever yours,
Milly
PS Emma back from Nice: we have had a very little letter from her.

N.Y. 28/9 35

Dearest Sasha,
I have written you last week and you may be in possession of my letters by now.
The purpose of these lines is to ask you to be so kind and send the revised copy of the manuscript to the enclosed address. The German copy of course. You will do us a great favour if you could send it off as soon as you will get these lines.
Comrade S. is very anxious to publish the book in Spanish, he is of the opinion that it will be a very good work of propaganda against Fascism and the national pest which is also growing fast in Spain and the other Spanish speaking countries.
How are you dear fellow in health and otherwise? How goes it with the work? Why don’t we hear from our Emma? I hope that there is nothing the matter with the dear friend.
We have had a lovely letter from Stella this morning, she wants us to come to her for a week or so, we have decided to go there next week, and spend with the dear family a couple of days. It will be a wonderful thing to see the dear folks again, in their summer house.
A pathetic letter I have had from London the other day, my sister Polly telling me about the remarkable incident which happened to Shapiro and his mother.
Sanya has arranged with his mother, Nastya Shapiro, who is 73 and has not seen him over 12 years, to meet in Boulogne and spend a day together. One day the old lady and my sister went to meet Sanya but to their greatest disappointment the mother was not permitted to Boulogne, as she only had her “Identity Card” and no regular passport. Polly could pass of course, as she is “British”. My sister describes what a pitiful situation it was, it is simply heart-breaking. The only thing they could do was that Polly stayed the day with Sonya and his girl and then went back at least with a personal message froom the son to the mother. Isn’t it a rotten world we live in?

N.Y. 9/11 35

Dearest Sasha,
Thank you very much for sending the manuscript to Spain. I should have answered you before, but I was so busy before Rudolf left that I could not manage, which I hope that you will forgive.
How do you and Emmie feel in health? Emma has told me in her letter that you look very fine Sasha dear, I hope that you also feel fine and Emmie the same.
My health is just like a barometer, it goes up and down, according to my worries. I try not to, I really do my very best not to worry, but I am not always successful.
My very worst worries are Rudolf’s tours, they are killing us both. If only we could get along without lecture-tours we would both be happy. But alas, how should we exist?
I don’t know how it was at your time here, now lecture tours are physical and mainly mental torture. Rudolf simply loaths it and he is the most miserable man in the world when he is on route. He never enjoyed speaking, but worst of all when he has to lecture in Yiddish or English.
The tour begun very miserably, his mood is simply terrible. He was happy at his work, he lived in it, got young once more, and it was a pleasue to see him at his desk. Now he had to put it aside and take up work which instead of being a pleasure is a physical and mental torture, so you can imagine how he must feel.
Yes, it must be terrible in Europe now. You speak about the League. Why, what can we expect from that quarters? As a matter of fact we never did. How can we expect anything worthwhile from a League, no matter what great phrases it may use, which is put together of people with quite different interests? It was never nothing more than a farce and it will never be otherwise: liars, thieves and rogues they are all. They all know it and therefore never trusted each other. The tragedy is that those who should know better and have a say in the matter after the lesson we could learn from the previous war, the workers, the socialists, they are ready to join their enemies as if it would be the most natural thing in the world to do.
German militarism they were going to do away with in the last war, fascism they are going to fight this time: and of course defend Soviet Russia.
And we poor souls are utterly helpless, this time more than ever before.
I read in a letter from S.F.(?) to Holms(?) that she is going to do her bit in England against war. Let us hope she will, but I am afraid not for very long. If it should actually come to a war the English authorities are making a very hard ….. They intern you “for your own safety”. That’s all. They do it very gracefully, without any fuss at all. Anyway we must do something against such pest at least as long as there is any chance at all.
Max and Milly Baginsky were at our place before Rudolf left. He doesn’t look quite as bad, but the poor soul is shrinking to nothing. You have never seen such dried up human being I am sure. Mentally, they feel very miserable, just pitiful.
Love to you both from Firmin and your devoted old friend
Molly

Tawanda 24/12 35
Dearest Sasha and Emmie,
You hardly realise how delighted I was with your letter. Indeed Sasha, you deserve a lot more than Rudolf said in his article. I can safely say it, for I know that you are not one of those who can easily get spoiled. You, Malatesta and also our dear Rudolf belong to those who are never to get spoiled, which is the finest part about you.
I liked the article, and all who have read it liked it ever so much. The best part in it is the genuineness, the heartfelt spirit with which it was written, but nothing too good for you dear pal.
From Emma I have not heard since she is in England, but my sister Polly writes me that she is in miserable spirit, and that her lectures were not much of a success, at least not at all financially.
When my sister wrote me, E. was in London, I am very much afraid that if London was so bad we cannot expect much of the province. What may be the reason for it? I suppose many of the English people are so occupied and worried about their “Empire” being in danger that they have no interest for anything else in this world. The English workers, who in normal times keep on telling to each other that their Empire consists of a flower-pot.
Yes dear friend, we have lived up to a most remarkable state of instability. I am afraid that we have put to much stress upon the wonderful part the masses play in history. When we thoroughly investigate the fact we must come to the conclusion that we have idealised them above their deserts.
The mass is a tremendous giant with a very loyal brain ad without initiative Sasha. Give that giant the possibility to stuff his stomach, no matter with what, and a roof over his head, and just leave him in peace and he will not bother at all. Yes he can also under given circumstances be lashed into doing things, but no matter what you can use him for good, you can for evil. You can have him for Czarism, for Bolsehvism, for Hitlerism and for Fascism.
That’s why war is inevitable Sasha. He will be ordered to fight his “enemy” and he will fight that fool.
Yes, he also makes revolutions, if he is driven to it, but just make and leave it to the others to rip the fruit. You may think that I am pessimistic dear friend, but I am not, I just see things as they are, and by realising the bitter reality, I assure myself how much there is to do in order to turn that lazy giant to an active individual, a thinking giant, instead of being always a means to an end, to all those who are determined to use that dynamic of force. I am convinced that we will succeed in our efforts one day, but there is a tremendous task indeed in front of us. We are the only group of people who keep on telling the lazy giant that he has to begin to think for himself using his brain or he will never achieve anything worthwhile, and therefore we have so few to follow us.
All the other parties or schools make it easy for him, by telling him: you just follow us and we the thinking part of humanity will do all there is to be done to bring you all the happiness you desire. They all try to make it easy for him but we.
Rudolf is in Los Angeles now, and will remain there about 4 weeks altogether. Then he will be about a week or ten days in San Francisco and will return to N.Y. for we shall find out what we are to do, whether they are going to grant us another extention or not.
His tour is a great moral success, but also financially better than we have expected. As a matter of fact, we have expected very little.
The most important thing for me is that he should come back in good health and spirit everything else is of minor importance. From his short tour last year he came back quite a wreck. I have sent your letters to Rudolf and if he has any time at all I am sure that you will hear from him.
Fermin and myself are here in this beautiful little place Tawanda, at my sister’s. She has a wonderful family, all real good people and most splendid personalities. There is no better place I can think of to spend Christmas. Rudolf would give anything to be with us. They all wished to be remembered to you.
Much love to you both, hearty greetings and best wishes for a healthy and happy new year from Fermin and myself. Ever yours affectionate,
Milly
N.Y. March 26

Dearest Sasha and Emmy,
How are you? We know of your operation Sasha dear. We have been told of it by our friends. Dan…(?) told us that he has seen you in the hospital and assured us that you looked very lovely, and were in good spirit. That was very good news. But soon afterwards our friends told us that the operation was not successful and that you may need another one. Is it true? I hope not. We are feeling very unhappy about this last news, and we would be very thankful if either of you would tell us the real state of your health dear fellow.
I am terrible (sic) ashamed of myself dearest mine, that I did not answer you till now and I do not dare to excuse myself at all. I assure you though dear friends that in our hearts and minds we were with you all the time, and I am sure that you know it.
Rudolf came home from his tour absolutely exhausted. He has overdone it this time, no doubt, but could not help it. However, it tolls on him badly, and to the very day he has not quite recuperated. The worst of it is that he …… take a real rest, but is banned to work an(?)
Also my health is not very excellent but I too have to do my share, we just have to.
The worst of it is this beastly business about our stay or go. We have another 6 months stay, and each time it gets more difficult to obtain one. We feel so sick of it that if only we knew where to go, we would not bother any more. But as it is we only have to try again and again and that wears one out mentally.
We have therefore decided to go to C.O. (?) for a short trip. Rudolf is invited to lecture and while we will be there we shall make an attempt to get an emigrants visa.
We doubt very much it will succeed, but we shall try anyway, as we have nothing to lose.
Angelica Balabanoff paid us a visit last week, and brought us personal greetings from Emma. The poor soul changed a lot since I have seen her in Berlin last: she looks so old! But not only physical (sic) she has changed, she seems to be so pessimistic and depressed.
Her lectures are not very successful we are told, and if not for the Italians it would be worse still. She is envying Emma that she can be active in England, just the country where she would love to be. And Emma enrages her that she is in the states: that how it is, nobody can have ones choice, even not in the most elementary and simplest things these days, it is a miserable state of things.
From Emme we have not herd quite a long time. It is true that ……. her a letter but she again owes one to Rudolf. In her last letter she bitterly complained about the coldness of the comrades, specially about the indifference of the Jewish comrades.
It hurts badly to her, what it became of people who were so active, so willing to do things, and made such sacrifices for the movement, some years ago. It must be terrible hard for the dear girl to work, under such circumstances, specially at her age. Yet I feel sure that she will succeed to gather around her a sufficient group of people, specially English-speaking, who will take the task upon them to create a movement. It will not be crowds to begin with, we have to learn to be modest, and never forget that we have more obstacles in our way to clear away than ever before.
Our worst enemy is not Fascism or even Hitlerism but the so called communism. It is not so terrible difficult to convince honest thinking people of the danger and the …. of other dictatorships but very different indeed to make people see any danger at all in the Russian despotism in Bolshevist dictatorship.
Communism became a fad also here and people are taking to it very much because it is getting more and more respectable and is going into fashion.
The petty middle class and the intellectuals are looking up to communism as their only salvation from their present plight and the workers most natural are hoping that all their troubles will be solved by communism.
I am not pessimistic in spite of all that, I am convinced that out time will and must come. Yet we must look facts in the face, and admit, whether we like it or not that, the dictatorship over, the masses will not vanish with the vanishing of Hitler and Mussolini. The so called dictatorship of the “proletariat” will keep the world in captivity for quite a long time after Hitler and Mussolini will vanish and be forgotten.
We shall therefore have to work, patiently and unceasingly, till people begin to see clear, and think and act for themselves:
This letter I started three days ago, have been constantly interrupted so I shall better close it now, else it may take many more days.
I have mentioned that we are going to make an effort to get a permanent visa, now we have found out that we shall need so many documents: which we cannot produce as you may realise that it took me two days already only to look up people and find out what there is to be done. But that is just a beginning of course. We may then have to drop the matter after all.
Fond love to you both from us all in hope that these lines will find you both in improved health and that we shall hear from you soon I am as ever devotedly yours,
Milly.

Louis Lecoin, by May Picqueray

My enthusiasm for anarchism went in all directions. I was at risk of becoming inefficient, spreading my energies too thin. Chance made me cross paths with Louis Lecoin. It was in 1921 that I first met him. From that moment on, I spent most of my time making war to war.

Louis Lecoin was just out from the prison of Albertville after an eight-year sentence for antimilitarism. What stroke me first were his blue eyes which glistened with intelligence, with a touch of mischievousness, but also his goodness, his energy, and his courage. He even courted me for a short while. But, at 20, I thought this great man was too small. This did not stop us from being good friends all our lives.

I was not disappointed, the legend about him seemed justified. I knew him well from what Sébastien Faure, Pierre Le Meillour and other people had told me, with such warmth, such love! I knew all the things for which he had been imprisoned: his refusal, as a young soldier, to march against train workers on strike, and to shoot at them, defying the military machine of which he was a part. His campaign against the war, in 1914, the thousand leaflets he had distributed, his long years in jail, punctuated with hunger strikes to demand the reestablishment of the status of political prisoners, and for it to be granted to the anarchist comrade Jeanne Morand, injustly suspected of intelligence with the enemy.

Louis Lecoin was to us, young libertarians, young syndicalists, an example to follow. He had proven us that we could be at the same time syndicalists, liertarians, and antimilitarists.

When he got out he became the administrator of Le Libertaire, the newspaper of the Union Anarchiste, which did not prevent him from being a militant in his union (the builders’ union) and to intervene energetically and efficiently at the Lille congress in 1921 and Saint Etienne in 1922.

Like most of us, he felt enthusiastic about the Russian revolution, from which we expected great things, and which only brought us disillusions, but he resisted being enrolled into the Communist Party, unlike some other comrades.

In 1921, he led a campaign to avoid the extradition of three Spanish men: Ascaso, Durruti, and Jover, sentenced in Argentina pretendingly for some robbery, but in fact for being anarchists. Their extradition was imminent: a cruiser was coming to get them. He reached out to the highest political and judiciary figures, and, finally, won their case.

He also worked to avoid the deportations of Camille Berneri and Nestor Makhno and managed to save them.

But his biggest case was the Sacco and Vanzetti affair.

L’Action Française, the Germaine Berton and Philippe Daudet affair, May Picqueray

L’Action Française, the Germaine Berton and Philippe Daudet affairs
May Picqueray

Here are now two stories in which I played almost no part, but to which I want to bear witness to, since I lived them from inside the libertarian movement.

First if all, the Germaine Berton case.

Germaine was brown-haired. She was younger than me (born in Puteaux in 1902). I have hardly spent any time with her. We met however at a meeting at the Wagram meeting hall organised by the Action Française.

You might be surprised that I attend an extreme right meeting. But I strongly wished to see with my own eyes someone like Léon Daudet. What I had read about him in L’Action Française semed so extraordinary that I wondered whether he actually existed.

War was his favourite subject. He talked about it with a truly hysterical violence. At some point, he started to scream:

“Never forget that, above love, there is hatred…”

Even before the clapping flared up, a young boy stood up:

“No, mister,” he said, “above hatred, there is love. At least, that is what I’ve always been told…”

Not only was he silenced, but the “King’s Comelots” in attendance threw him out, beating him with canes.

Leon Daudet resumed his speech. His language was warmongering, pushing his troops to war and the restoration of the monarchy. I was absolutely astonished.

L’Action Française, the Royalist newspaper that he directed had for its motto “Tomorrow on their graves… Wheat will grow more beautiful.”

What I found appalling was that the young people who drank his words seemed to be okay to be used as fertilizer.

When we left the meeting, I was frankly feeling sick. Germaine Berton was even more outraged than I was. She told me:

“What a bastard, he doesn’t deserve to live!”

She had not been around the anarchist milieu for long and already had a solid anti-militarist and pacifist training. She often took part in the discussions of her group and always to say something intelligent.

She lived with a bookshop delivery boy, Armand Gohary. I saw him a couple of times, he seemed nice. People said he had important documents on the Red Hat affair1.

He was found dead in his room, probably murdered.

Taupin, an Anarchist comrade, who was also his friend, “committed suicide”. That was the official version at least.

I hadn’t seen Germaine again, and I hadn’t taken seriously the words she had uttered in her outrage.

I was wrong.

On January 23rd, 1923, some time after the meeting, carrying a revolver in her handbag, she showed up at the Action Française headquarters and asked to see Léon Daudet. He said he was absent and had her meet Marius Plateau. She was introduced in a large room with magnificent blue armchairs, embroidered with fleur-de-lis motifs.

The fact he was a Monarchist did not prevent Marius Plateau from being a vulgar character. He bahaved with Germaine with a vulgarity, a baseness and an arrogance beyond description. He accused her of being paid by the police “like all the Anarchists, anyway”. He offered her money “for the information she no doubt had come to give him”, etc.

Angered by his words, she took out her weapon and shoot him down without a word. Then she shot a bullet towards herself, missed, and fell unconscious. The camelots on guard burst in at the sound of gunshots, they believed her dead, or they would have no doubt torn her to pieces.

Le Libertaire had to face the attacks and slander of L’Action Française, and they vigorously defended Germaine Berton, and instead of weekly, it was published daily, what they had planned to do for a while already. They asked Mr. Henri Torrès to represent Germaine Berton. He was starting his career as a lawyer, which did not prevent him to defend her brilliantly. Séverine, Louis Lecoin, and other famous people came to support Germaine Berton and she was discharged.

Léon Daudet and Maurras’s spite, their jingoism, did not attract the sympathy of the jury. On the contrary, and it was an important factor in Germaine Berton’s acquittal.

After her trial, Germaine Berton was no longer seen in the Anarchist movement. She had come back for a short time at the front of the scene during the Philippe Daudet affair. She had claimed that she had been her lover, having met him by chance in the Quartier Latin a few months before.

“Pure invention,” all our comrades who knew her better than I did said. She attempted suicide in the Belleville church then she disappeared from our milieu.

It was a very dark story around the death of Léon’s son. It was on the front page of newspapers during all the end of 1923 and L’Action Française made it into a daily episode serial.

Let’s recall the facts:

A young man of around 15, but who looked much older, showed up at Le Libertaire headquarters, 9 rue Louis Blanc. He asked with insistence to be given a revolver. He intended to “do a hit, kill someone important”. He said his name was Philippe, that he had run away from home, and that he had no money. His parents were members of the bourgeoisie, he did not want to go back to them.

The young anarchist poet Georges Vidal, who received him, talked to him at length, explaining him what anarchism was, that Anarchists did not kill for the pleasure of killing, and that his act should have real meaning for him to sacrifice his life. Then, he took him for dinner, and, to distract and entertain him, to the “Grenier Gringoire”, on the Butte, the cabaret owned by our friend Charles d’Avray. He spent the evening with a group of comrades who welcomed him like a brother. Charles gave him a bit of money to pay for accommodation, but one of the comrades in attendance and his partner took him home for the night. He was called Jean Gruffy.

How come the son of someone like Léon Daudet was attracted by anarchism?

After his death, some journalists deemed he had attempted to infiltrate the anarchist movement in order to avenge the death of Marius Plateau of whom he were one of the most fervent admirers…

Let’s try to keep to the facts:

Although he didn’t manage to obtain the weapon he was demanding, Philippe came back to Le Libertaire. Georges Vidal was not there this time, he met a certain F. who took him to the bookshop owner Le Flaouter, who might sell him a weapon. Indeed, Le Flaouter promised it for the next day.

The bookshop owner received him as planned in the basement of his shop. From this moment on, there is a complete black-out.

The official version was that Le Flaouter sold him a weapon, that Philippe took a taxi on th boulevard, near Bastille, and asked the driver to take him to the Medrano circus. When they reached Gare de l’Est, the driver would have heard a gunshot from his car, and, looking round, saw his client slumped across the seats in a pool of blood. According to the witnesses who arrived on the scene, the floor of the taxi were already well drenched in blood. The driver made the observations stop and took the “injured” to Lariboisière hospital. There, he was found to be dead and his corpse was taken to the morgue.

The other version, the Anarchists’ version, was that Philippe, believed to be a dangerous Anarchist, was shot down by a police officer, warned by Le Flaouter, in the basement, then loaded in a taxi paid for by the police, everything else being fabricated. Philippe having been dead when the driver made people witness it.

It has to be said that Le Flaouter was very close to a police officer, whom he probably fed information. They played cards together every evening.

The Daudet family, worried about Philippe missing, looked every day at the crime section of the newspapers; their attention was attracted to the suicide of a young an, whose description matched Philippe’s. Léon Daudet, accompanied by a friend, went to the hospital, where he could only identify the corpse.

He held the Anarchists responsible for his death, and launched an extremely violent campaign in L’Action Française, to which Le Libertaire answered blow for blow.

Léon Daudet especially attacked Georges Vidal, who had welcomed Philippe the first tim he came. Philippe had given him a letter to his mother, in case something happened to him. This letter, the contents of which Georges Vidal did not know, was opened and addressed to Mrs. Daudet. The name of his father was not mentioned.

Embarassed by what Le Libertaire revealed, all of L’Action Française launched romantic fantasies, in which a tiny bit of truth tried to cover gigantic lies…

Is it possible? by “a mother”

Is it possible?
A Mother
1908
L’Exploitée

I read in La Voix du Peuple that, In the French-speaking part of Switzerland, there are some working-class mothers who send their sons in cadet corps and let them get a murderer’s education!

Do you not know these cadet corps have been used by governments to repress proletarian demonstrations? Here, in Bern, it happened in October last year, and, since then, proletarian women did what they had to do so that their sons hate the cadets’ exercises.

If, in French-speaking Switzerland, they have not yet dared to abuse of your children against yourselves and your movements, think about us, women, have no interest to give our sons a military education, quite the contrary.

We all know full well that men are never as rude and violent towards us than when they come back from their military service; they are never more authoritarian and selfish. It is as if discipline took its revenge.

I ask you then: is it necessary to unleash in our sons, at their most tender age, all these evil instincts? In such a way that the son too would come back as the commander of his mother and sisters?

The “victorious” murderer, Henriette Marc

The “victorious” murderer
Henriette Marc
1922
La Revue Anarchiste

It is particularly interesting for women to know how war modified men’s characters. Did it send them back to their lives more violent or more weary? This is the issue that several books published since the end of the war tried to solve, among which, recently, The Pleasure Of Killing, by André Dax.

Put in such general terms, the question is badly phrased: most of the true warriors, violent males driven by their instincts, have died in the war – and that’s for the best – and as for the others, their ability to forget, without which we could not live, gave them back to their partners as they were, quite mediocre.
However, we cannot deny that war imprinted the minds – of those who think, at least – so deeply that many works reminds us of it.

The Pleasure Of Killing is still full, if not of facts of war, of its consequences, my colleague in charge of the book review section will forgive me if I tell I a few words what this book adds to the answer to the earlier question.

War, André Dax proves, wakes up in men its instincts for cruelty, the call to murder remains heard, and the gesture which was a habit during these long years can never be forgotten.

His main character, Michel, after having gotten a taste for women and sex in the tranches, gradually feels the taste for murder rise in him, and, cheated, kills his rival in an almost automatic gesture, as if to pierce the flesh and make the blood of the enemy flow was still something normal and sanctioned by the law.
However, once the crime is committed, he regains consciousness. Should he give himself up to the justice of men? Who is worthy of judging him? But he will expiate his crime by going to the Far East, far away from any civilisation, to live a harsh and difficult life which will redeem himself in his own eyes. Later, the woman he has never ceased to love, as a soldier and as a criminal, will meet him there, and, thanks to love, he will tame the evil beast we all carry within ourselves.

There are in this book many digressions, among other things about the survival of the souls, which, according to Michel, survive generation after generation, offering to men the violent or beneficial heredity of their ancestors.

This book, written in a pleasant if slightly monotonous language is worth to read. André Dax has observed and thought before he wrote. The pages in which he describes the miserable future of Europe, destined to unavoidable decadence, are deep and beautiful. His views on Christianity, which “in nineteen centuries failed its founding goal three times” are right. We can only wish a bit more rationalism from this probably young author, and that, in later works, he base his thesis on more solid scientific grounds.
His theory is right: war brought the old man back to life: these multitudes of heredities which the appearances of civilisation had pushed back deep into our unconscious during this upheaval, like in the aftermath of any exterior and interior turmoil. There is no need for the souls of our predecessors on this earth reincarnate in us to explain this. Soul is a meaningless word. The holdovers from brain and nervous system cells is largely enough, thanks to the heredity of acquired characteristics, to transmit throughout the centuries visions of murder and the aptitude to renew them. This is also accompanied with ancestral terrors which created gods, souls and all metaphysics. As for violent jealousy which André Dax tells us about, how could we be surprised to see it reborn in organisms unbalanced by war, and sent back by it into primitive barbarity?

Among the first men, war, or more precisely fights, between tribes or between animals were intimately linked to the sexual instinct. Carpentier proved this in a thorough study, “War and sexual instinct” – what François de Curel calls the “dance in front of a mirror” is nothing else than the need for the male to look stronger in front of the female he chose. In time of peace, this instinct changes, and it is moral or intellectual supremacy which men aspire to in order to win women over; but, with such violent tremors as those caused by a war of this magnitude, the varnish which Christianity, moralists and philosophers of all kinds tried to apply on the human machine peels off and the old instincts are uncovered.

It would be childish to be surprised or outraged against such obvious facts, we will only ever be poor beings, full of contradictions and doomed by our very nature to sudden returns to the quasi-animality which was our fate.

I know, among the people, women who complain about the unfortunate change that war brought to their partners’ characters. It is as late as it is useless to lament, it would have been much better to prevent and help the future soldier to be a deserter, logically revolted against the cruel and idiotic order which attempted to make him forget the dearly acquired notions of love and gentleness which made lecherous anthropoids into civilised and loving men.

Let’s hope the “next one” won’t find them in the same state.