‘In Memory of J. Louis Engdahl’ by the Central Committee, Communist Party U.S.A. from The Daily Worker. Vol. 9 No. 280. November 23, 1932.
COMRADE ENGDAHL is dead. He died of pneumonia. In Moscow. U.S.S.R., on November 21. Engdahl was in Moscow as a delegate of the International Labor Defense to the International Conference of the Red Aid, of which the I.L.D. is the American section
John Louis Engdahl was born on November 11, 1884 in Minneapolis, Minn. He took a course in journalism in the University of Minnesota in 1903-04. Before he joined the Socialist Party in 1907 Engdahl occupied the position of city editor of the Minneapolis Dally News. Later he became Editor of the Chicago Daily Socialist and its successor, the Chicago Daily World. When in 1917-1919, after the entrance of the United States into the World War and after the successful proletarian revolution in Russia, the conflict between the proletarian masses In the Socialist Party and the Morris Hillquit-Victor Berger petty-bourgeois leadership came to a head, Engdahl was editor of the American Socialist, the organ of the Socialist Party. Although a consistent adherent of the left wing, Comrade Engdahl could not rid himself at that time of the Illusion that the Socialist Party could yet be made serviceable to socialism which it professed in name.
After the split in 1919 which led to the formation of the Communist Party, Engdahl with others maintained a left, wing in the Socialist Party under the name of “Workers’ Council Group.” In 1921 this group definitely broke with the S. P. and joined with the Communists in the formation of the Workers’ Party. Engdahl became a member of the National Executive Committee of the Workers Party and has been ever since in leading committees of the Communist movement. After the merger of the Workers Party and the Communist Party, Comrade Engdahl became a member of the Executive Committee of the Communist Party and was for years a member of its Political Bureau. Since 1928, Comrade Engdahl occupied the position of National Secretary of the International Labor Defense. At the last national conference of the I.L.D., he was made the National Chairman of that organization. At the same time Comrade Engdahl was a member of the Central Control Commission of the Communist, Party.
COMRADE ENGDAHL’S loyalty and devotion to the task of organizing the working class and leading them in their struf gles toward the revolution was best exemplified in the last months of Comrade Engdahl’s life. These last months witnessed a high point in the campaign begun eighteen months ago with the arrest of the nine Scottsboro boys. When in April 1931 the judicial farce was perpetrated in Scottsboro, Ala., which ended in the sentence to execute nine innocent Negro boys, the I.L.D. with Comrade Engdahl as Secretary, immediately began to arouse the working masses throughout America, throughout the world to indignation and action as the only means of defeating the legal lynching of these intended victims of American capitalism. After mobilizing thru the I.L.D. broad American masses, Engdahl organized a tour for Ada Wright, the mother of two of the Scottsboro defendants, through Europe.
This tour was marked by demonstrations, of international solidarity, the more impressive because of the ever-present evidences of international capitalist class solidarity. Upon the expressed desires of American imperialism, the socialist, police chiefs of German cities prevented Scottsboro meetings; the Belgian and Czecho-Slovakian governments deported Engdahl and Mrs. Wright; the British government refused them visas. These actions born of the class solidarity of imperialism the world over, could not quench the expressions of the international solidarity of the workers. These ever-growing demonstrations of the European workers combined with the increasing mass protests of the American workers against the Scottsboro lynch verdict became the compelling force which secured the victims a new trial.
Rushing from meeting to meeting, from demonstration to demonstration, harassed by the capitalist and socialist police, driven by deportation warrants. Comrade Engdahl together with Mrs. Wright finally landed In Moscow for the Congress of the International Red Aid. Worn out by the rigors of the campaign. Comrade Engdahl was unable to withstand a severe attack of pneumonia which caused his death.
Comrade Engdahl died on the field of battle; he fell in the service of the defense of victims of capitalist justice. We must honor Engdahl by continuing his work, carrying the Scottsboro fight to victory as a fitting monument to his memory. We must increase our efforts to build the I L.D. into the powerful mass organization that is.
‘Eighteen Years of Work With J. Louis Engdahl’ by H.M. Wicks from The Daily Worker. Vol. 9. No. 297. December 13, 1932.
MY association with Comrade J. Louis Engdahl dates from the year pf the beginning of the World War. It was in the atmosphere of 1914 that I first met him on my first visit to the national headquarters of the Socialist Party. He was even then one of its leaders. I was a new member.
To this day I remember vividly a remark of Comrade Engdahl to Walter Lanferseik, then national secretary of the Socialist Party. Comrade Engdahl said he believed the whole leadership of the Socialist Party was wrong on war. He was talking in opposition to a series of articles being run in the Milwaukee Leader by Ernst Untermann, trying to justify the course of the German Social Democracy in supporting the Kaiser. Karl Leibknecht had just broken with the majority leadership in Germany and was being slandered as stark mad by the depraved traitors and renegades. Scheidemann and Sudekum. Hillquit was defending the vote of the Kaiser socialists for war credits. Berger was violently pro-German. They were members of the National Executive Committee. Against them stood A.M. Simons, John M. Work, John Spargo, and J. Stitt Wilson—to man pro-British. None of them was internationalist. That was why Comrade. Engdahl said all of them were wrong.
The next year Comrade Alexandra Kollontai visited the United States. The official Socialist Party refused to arrange a lecture tour for her. But the tour was arranged. She spoke in Chicago. She said “the first duty of any Socialist is to fight his own (bourgeois) government.” She praised Liebknecht, denounced the leadership of the Social-Democracy. The “official” bureaucracy called her an anarchist. Comrade Engdahl, as editor of the official weekly, was “called on the carpet” for praising Kollontai and publishing some of the things she said.
In 1918 Comrade Engdahl was sentenced to 20 years in prison for opposition to this country’s participation in the war. He told the notorious labor-hating Judge Landis that he stood on the same international platform as Leibknecht in Germany and that he did not fear anything the court might do to him.
After the war in 1919 we, who were active in organizing the Communist Party, were disappointed that Comrade, Engdahl did not at first go with us. He remained in the Socialist Party, striving to swing them toward the Third (Communist) International. In 1921 he recognized that it was not possible. even to expect any further results from such a course and came to the Communist ranks where he remained steadfastly the rest of his life.
Qualities of a Revolutionist
From 1922 onwards I worked closely with Comrade Engdahl, first on the Weekly Worker, then on the Daily Worker and on leading committees with him. There are impressed upon my mind three qualities that stamp him as an admirable comrade, traits to be emulated by all revolutionists. He was first of all thoroughly loyal, never hesitating for a moment to do his level best to carry out any task to which he was assigned by the judgment of his comrades. He was always calm, even in the most trying situations. And he was fearless in face of the enemy. These characteristics, and his ability as a speaker and writer made him beloved by masses of workers who now mourn his untimely death while still in the prime of life.
COMRADE ENGDAHL died at his post, fighting in behalf of the Scottsboro boys. His last task, which he had so effectively carried out in his European tour with the Scottsboro mother, Mrs. Ada Wright, was to expose to the masses of Europe the monstrous tyranny of American imperialism against a subject nation—the Negro masses in the Black Belt of the South. All his energy was thrown into this fight, so that it was not possible, for him to fight off the ravages of epidemic influenza. His death while fighting for twelve million oppressed Negroes of this country and in the interest of the whole working class testifies to the self-sacrificing devotion of the Communist Party in the struggle against capitalist despotism. It is a refutation of all the barrage of lies that emanated from the journalistic brothels to the effect that Communists use such cases for personal advancement. It testifies to the growing unbreakable unity of the Negro and white masses in the fight against capitalist terror.
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