Hamburg remembers seafarers who fought fascism

Post date: 16/11/2022

The IBMT received this report from Reinhardt Silbermann, of the IBMT’s German sister-organisation KSFR, about the unveiling of a new memorial in Hamburg in August 2022. The memorial plaque is dedicated to the efforts of seamen and transport workers in the Spanish Civil War.

Dear friends,

More than two years ago we already wanted to put up this commemorative plaque about the resistance of the seamen and transport workers in the Spanish Civil War on the grounds of the Duckdalben – International Seamen’s Club in Hamburg. But then came the Covid-19 lockdown. The hope for an early end to the restrictions has unfortunately not been fulfilled; the International Seamen’s Club is still closed to visitors and only seafarers and staff have access.

Since we had to assume that this state of affairs would continue for at least this year, we had decided with Jan Oltmanns, the manager of the Duckdalben, to erect this commemorative plaque without ceremony and guests. After all, it is about the message to the seafarers who visit this international meeting in their thousands every year and the text of the message is more relevant today than ever.

In this context, we would like to thank Jim Jump (IBMT Chair) for writing the very powerful text on the plaque:

Remember them today: The ITF and the fight against fascism

The heroic efforts of transport trade unionists who opposed fascism deserve to be remembered today.

The early decades of the last century saw the rise of modern fascism, a toxic creed that remains alive in the 21st century – though it tries to hide its true nature.

Fascist-inspired beliefs still have the power to divide workers, provoke racial and ethnic conflict, destroy trade unions, trample on human rights – and cause wars.

Trade unions around the world must always be vigilant in the face of such challenges. In doing so we can draw inspiration from the generation of brave transport trade unionists who, against the odds and often sacrificing their lives fighting Franco, Hitler and Mussolini in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, were the first anti-fascists to say, as their slogan declared; They shall not pass! ¡No pasarán!

Jump has previously written a booklet on the ITF’s resistance struggle which can be downloaded here.

My personal hope is that in the near future fellow trade unionists will carry the memory of this heroic struggle into the union and that a broader politics of remembrance will develop from this.

I would like to express my special thanks to the many friends and comrades who contributed to the realisation of this commemorative plaque with their donations at the ‘Anti-Fascist Harbour Event: Wolf Hoffmann’ in Hamburg.

Posted on 16 November 2022.

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