Free Association of German Trade Unions
The Free Association of German Trade Unions (FVdG) was a trade union federation in Imperial and early Weimar Germany. It was founded in 1897 in Halle as the national umbrella organization of the localist current of the German labor movement. The federation believed the mass strike was the last step before a socialist revolution. In December 1919, the federation merged with several minor left communist unions to become the Free Workers’ Union of Germany.
About Free Association of German Trade Unions in brief
The Free Association of German Trade Unions (FVdG) was a trade union federation in Imperial and early Weimar Germany. It was founded in 1897 in Halle under the name Representatives’ Centralization of Germany as the national umbrella organization of the localist current of the German labor movement. The federation believed the mass strike was the last step before a socialist revolution and became increasingly critical of parliamentary action. In December 1919, the federation merged with several minor left communist unions to become the Free Workers’ Union of Germany. According to Angela Vogel and Hartmut Rübner, Carl Hillmann, a typesetter and prominent trade unionist in the 1870s, was the “intellectual father’ of the localist and anarcho-syndicalist movement’s” position. The FVdg was expelled from the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1908 and the complete severing of relations between the two organizations was completed in 1919. The main stronghold was Berlin, although unions existed in the rest of the Empire as well as Masons, carpenters and some metal-working professions. By 1891 there were at least 20,000 metal workers in localist trade unions, many as many as gold workers. There were 37 delegates at a congress in 1897, but a lack of interest forced it to be postponed to be held a year later. The localists’ proposals were rejected at the Halberstadt congress, so they refused to join the centralized trade unions. They did not renounce social democracy, but rather considered themselves to be avant-garde within the social democratic movement in Germany.
They also advocated local trade unions being networked by delegates rather than ruled centrally, and were wary of bureaucratic structures. They wanted to retain many of the changes that had been adopted during the repressive period. For example, they opposed separate organizations for political and economic matters, such as the party and the trade union, They especially wanted to keep their grassroots democratic structures. In 1897, the localists, 31,000 of whom were represented at the congress, wanted to retaining many of their changes. In 1892, the Trade Union Congress ofHalberstadt was held to organize the many local unions under the committee. It was particularly attractive to miners from the Ruhr area opposed to the mainstream unions’ reformist policies. In 1894, there were 37,000 delegates at the conference, but they were forced to be forced to postpone it to a year earlier due to a shortage of delegates. In 1896, there was a meeting in Berlin to organize local unions, but there were just 37 delegates. This form of organization was easier to protect against state repression. Only small local organizations, which communicated via intermediaries such as stewards, who worked illegally or semi-legally, survived. In 1898, a congress was held in Hamburg to organize a new union, the Metal Workers’ Union, which became known as the Free Tradeunions.