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Obituary: Rudolf Frank

Obituary: Rudolf Frank

Our old comrade, Rudolf Frank of Vienna, passed away peacefully in his sleep on the 21 January. He was 88 years old and had been a fervent advocate of Socialism for over sixty years.

Rudolf Frank came to England before 1914. He attended economic classes at our Head Office and joined the Party. When the 1914 war broke out he was interned in Alexandra Palace as an "enemy alien". Whilst interned he ran classes on Socialism. On account of these activities he was deported to Germany when the war ended. He made several attempts to return to England without success. When the 1924 Labour government turned his application down he gave up and became reconciled to remaining in Austria, where he had moved from Germany.

Over the years he contributed regular articles to the Socialist Standard and the Western Socialist. He also tried to stir up interest in Socialism on the Continent, constantly writing letters of criticism to the Austrian national papers. At one time he made a tour of the continent in an effort to stimulate interest in Socialism. He made a reference to this in the following extract from an article he contributed to the fiftieth anniversary number of the Socialist Standard.

    "Upon returning to the Continent after World War I, efforts, however feeble, were not wanting to make the founding of a revolutionary Socialist Party in England known over here. Comrades of the writer started a group in Dortmund, Germany, which however seems to have eventually disintegrated after the death of the most active members. Before anything could be got under way here in Austria, even the Western pattern of democratic liberties was finally lost by the advent first of the Dolfuss-Schuschnigg dictatorship, then by Hitler and now by another occupation, so that for the last 20 years it has been virtually impossible to openly advocate the revolutionary socialist policy. I need hardly remind you of the fate awaiting anyone who exposes publicly in the Russian Zone the fraud and masquerade labelled communism."

In spite of the risks and the difficulties Comrade Frank found a way of getting over his ideas. He taught English to a class and used, as his examples of English, extracts from current copies of the Socialist Standard. Fortunately no member of his class ever gave him away.

Comrade Frank made a number of translations, including the translating of the following four pamphlets into German: "Socialism or Chaos" (Australia), "Russia 1917-1967" (S.P.G.B. London), "The Socialist Manifesto" (Canada), "History—Economics—Politics". He also wrote a sixteen page manifesto to the Austrian workers on the occasion of a General Election.

Until the formation of the Bund Demokratischer Sozialisten in Austria Comrade Frank had carried on his activities in isolation, though on rare occasions he had visits from English and American comrades in recent years. It is amazing that he could carry on alone with such enthusiasm during the years before the Austrian party was formed and without the assistance of anyone who shared his views. He also wrote a pamphlet explaining the socialist position which he spread widely. When he took a bus or train he would carry some with him and pass one over to anyone with whom he had got into conversation.

About ten years ago he attended our Easter Conference and addressed the delegates, giving them a description of the progress and the difficulties of pressing the socialist position on the continent.

Finally we must pay a tribute to the steadfastness of purpose with which our late comrade carried on his advocacy of the Socialist solution to the problems of capitalism. We are glad that he saw, before he died, the formation of a party in Austria, largely the result of his efforts, which will carry on the work he commenced. We would add that it was a great satisfaction to him when his son joined our Party — of which he has been an active member for over 30 years.

I would like to add a personal note. I first met Rudolf Frank in 1911 or 1912 when we both attended an economics class conducted by F. C. Watts in our old Head Office in Grays Inn Road. I kept in touch with him and had a great admiration for his solo efforts under difficulties over the years. I feel very sad that, like so many old friends, he has gone from us to the "tongueless silence of the dreamless dust".

Gilmac.

 

Further Reading:

Socialist Standard November 1964 - Reminiscences of an old member

Socialist Standard December 1964 - Reminiscences of an old member (part 2)