Paul Thalmann / Clara Thalmann Papers
Total size 0.9 m.
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Paul (Pavel) Thalmann: pseudonym Franz Heller; born in Basel, Switzerland 1901, died in Nice, France 1980; journalist; influenced by the Swiss libertarian Fritz Brupbacher; secretary of the Swiss communist youth movement 1921-1925; delegate to the congress of the Communist Youth International in Moscow in 1922, where he was influenced by the circle around Trotsky; attended a party school in Moscow from 1925 to 1928; became editor of the Basler Vorwärts in 1928, where he met Clara Ensner;
Clara Thalmann-Ensner: born in Basel 1908, died in Nice 1987; Thalmann and Ensner: were both expelled from the Kommunistische Partei der Schweiz in 1929; Thalmann became editor of the Arbeiter-Zeitung in Schaffhausen in 1932; active in the Kommunistische Partei Opposition and Trotskyist groups in Basel and Zurich; went to Spain in 1936; both joined the anarchosyndicalist Durruti Column; imprisoned by the communists in Barcelona and Valencia in 1937; during the Second World War they lived in Paris helping German refugees; after 1945 involved in agitation against the Soviet Union and for the liberation of Algeria; started the Serena guesthouse in Nice in 1953; in touch with new generations of student activists during the sixties and seventies; published their memoirs in the 1970s; in the documentary `Die lange Hoffnung' of 1983 Clara Thalmann and Augustin Souchy revisit sites of the Spanish Civil War.
Papers mainly from 1960 onwards. Notes and other personal documents 1920-1986; correspondence with Federico Bach 1968-1969, H. Benzion 1960-1977, Louis Bonnel 1981-1984, Jean-Jacques Cellier 1982-1986, Ante Ciliga 1979-1983, Arthur Cravan 1979-1985, Jean Daniel 1970-1981, Winand Ehls 1984-1986, Katia Landau 1968-1986, Gaston Rolland 1976-1984, Alfred Rosmer 1964 and n.d., Albert Utiger 1980-1986, Herbert and Greta Wehner 1984-1985 and others; manuscripts of, and files on their memoirs `Wo die Freiheit stirbt', `Revolution für die Freiheit' and `Combats pour la liberté' and on documentaries about their involvement in the Spanish Civil War 1964-1986.
List made by Bouwe Hijma in 1993
Paul (Pavel) Thalmann was born on 30 September 1901 in Basel into a Roman Catholic workers' family. Members of his family worked in the textile industry. Impressed by the Russian Revolution he joined the youth movement in Basel and he was secretary of the Swiss communist youth movement from 1921 to 1925. In 1922 he was a delegate to the congress of the Jugendinternationale in Moscow, where he was attracted by the circle around Trotsky In 1925 he was sent to a party school in Moscow for three years together with Hermann Erb from Schaffhausen and Ernst Illi from Zurich. Returning in 1928 he became editor of the Basler Vorwärts and met Clara Ensner his future lifelong comrade, who was born into a working class family in Basel in 1908. In 1929 he came in conflict with the communist party which excluded him together with some other members.
Afterwards he was active in the Kommunistische Partei Opposition and in Trotskyist groups in Basel and Zurich.
He also tried to continue his journalistic career and in 1932 became editor of the Arbeiter-Zeitung in Schaffhausen. In 1936 the Thalmanns became engaged in the Spanish Civil War. Clara left in July to participate in the Spartakiade in Barcelona which was called because of the outbreak of the Civil War.
Paul came to Spain as well and was correspondent for some Swiss papers. Later on they served in a battalion of the Partido Obrero de Unificatión Marxista ( POUM ) and afterwards they joined the German anarcho-syndicalists in the militia column ' Durruti '. Under the pseudonym Franz Heller Paul Thalmann had written the leaflet 'Für die Arbeiter-Revolution in Spanien'. He and Clara were kept in prison by the communists in Barcelona and Valencia in 1937. Finally they were able to leave Spain after intervention by the Sozialistische Arbeiter-Internationale. Protected by their Swiss identity papers the Thalmanns lived in Paris during the Second World War, where their house was a relative place for a lot of refugees.
After 1945 they engaged in agitation against the situation in the Soviet Union and in favor of the liberation of Algeria.
In 1953 they moved to Nice where they started the Serena guesthouse, a well-known place within their great circle of friends. Because of their involvement in the Spanish Civil War, Paul and Clara Thalmann were at the end of the sixties and in the seventies 'rediscovered' by a younger generation of the students and political activists. In 1974 they published their memoirs 'Wo die Freiheit stirbt'. Later on an enlarged version was published under the title 'Revolution für die Freiheit. Stationen eines politischen Kampfes' and translated in English and French. These memoirs concentrate on the years in Moscow, the engagement in the Spanish Civil War. On March 16th 1980 Paul Thalmann died in Nice. Clara remained very active and returned in 1983 together with her earlier comrade Augustin Souchy to Spain to visit sites of the Spanish Civil War. Of this trip, the Medienwerkstatt Freiburg made the documentary 'Die lange Hoffnung' which registered the emotions they experienced after all these decades. Clara Thalmann died on January 27th 1987 in Nice.
The papers of Paul and Clara Thalmann were given to the International Institute of Social History in 1992.
Books and periodicals have been transferred to the library and photographs, posters, tapes and two painted portraits to the audiovisual department of the Institute.
Diaries and memoirs
Letters received, and
copies of letters sent by Paul and Clara Thalmann. Alphabetically arranged by
1925-1986 and n.d.
Cravan, Arthur (ps.)
1979-1980, 1985, n.d.
N.B. With a note by Jean-Jacques Cellier on 'Arthur Cravan' , sent to Kees Rodenburg, IISH, 11.12.2011.
- Incoming letters received by Paul and Clara Thalmann. Alphabetically arranged on first names. 1961-1986. 2 folders.
- Testimonials for Paul Thalmann from Bachofen-Dennler & Sohn Baugesellschaft , Bell A.G. Groß-Schlächterei-Wurst-Fabrik and Vacuum Oil Company in Basel. 1920, 1923. 3 pieces.
- Passports and other identity documents of Paul and Clara Thalmann. 1926, 1928, 1931, 1937, 1940, 1945, 1948, 1952, 1962, 1964, 1969, 1978-1979. 1 folder.
Manuscripts and publications
On Paul and Clara Thalmann
- Correspondence and other documents relating to a biographical sketch of Paul Thalmann written by Louis Bonnel. 1981-1984. 1 folder.
- Manuscript of an interview of Clara Thalmann by Winand Ehls and Axel Wagner for Black Star Press. 1984. 1 cover.
By Paul and Clara Thalmann
- Correspondence with the Walter-Verlag AG in Olten, Switzerland relating to the publication of 'Wo die Freiheit stirbt'. 1971-1976. 1 folder.
- Articles about the life of Paul and Clara Thalmann and reviews of and other documents relating to 'Wo die Freiheit stirbt'/'Revolution für die Freiheit' and 'Combats pour la liberté'. 1974-1977, 1980-1981, 1983-1985. 2 folders.
- Manuscript 'Where freedom dies. Stages of a political struggle' (translated by Pym Underwood ) and other documents relating to the English translation. 1977. 1 folder.
- Manuscript of the "Lizentiatsarbeit" 'Die Arbeiter-Parteien in Schaffhausen' by Edi Joos. 1969. 1 folder.
- 'Karl Osner May 26, 1901-April 3, 1972', Memories of Osner , written shortly after his death. . 1 piece.
- 'Rede von Rosi Frölich (86 Jahre) anläßlich des 80. Geburtstages von Hans T. am 1.9.1974'. 1 piece.
- Manuscript of an interview with August Souchy for Black Star Press and other documents relating to Souchy. 1976, 1982-1984. 1 folder.
- Manuscript 'Thesen (Sätze) and die Türen der Universität Zürich genagelt' by Walter Nelz. 1977. 1 quire.
- Manuscript of the "Lizentiatsarbeit" 'Die internationale Brigaden im spanischen Bürgerkrieg 1936-1939' by Albert Utiger . Part1: Text, Part II: Anmerkungen, Abkürzungsverzeichnis, Bibliographie. 1980. 2 volumes.
- Alber Utinger , 'Krieg der Ideen, Vorgeschichte, 1936-1939: Der Bürgerkrieg, Das Gesicht der Revolution' & Alois Müller , 'Die Plakate: Bilder als Waffen'. 1986. 1 quire.
- Manuscript 'Les fous de Paris. Le drame de nos jours. (Texte d'un film surréaliste)' by Ante Ciliga. 1986. 1 cover.
- Manuscripts 'La structure de l'état sovietique', 'Structure et composition du parti comuniste de l'U.R.S.S. and biographical sketches of N.S. Khrouchtchev and G.M. Malenkov [by Nicolas Lazarewitch]'. n.d. 1 cover.
Documents on conferences
- Documents relating to the participation of Paul Thalmann in a conference of former students of communist party schools at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. With manuscripts 'Westuniversität in Moskou' and 'Bemerkungen zur Bildung der Kader in der kommunistischen Bewegung' by Paul Thalmann. 1969, n.d. 2 folders.
Documents on films and television programs
- Documents relating to the documentary 'Deutsche im spanischen Bürgerkrieg' made by Wanda Bronska-Pampuch for the Westdeutscher Rundfunk. 1964-1967 en 1972. 1 cover.
- Documents relating to the documentary 'Les deux mémories' on Spain planned by George Semprun for Productions Filmanthrope. 1972. 1 cover.
- Documents relating to the documentary 'Schweizer im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg' made by Richard Dindo , and other documents relating to the fortieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and the role of Swiss volunteers. 1973-1976, n.d. 1 folder.
- Manuscripts of the French translations of the records of the International Socialist 'Zimmerwald' Conference in 1916, n.d. 1 folder.
- Testimonial of the authorities in Omsk on practical activities done by Paul Thalmann during his stay in Moscow. 1926. 1 piece.
- Copy of a letter of the Kommunistische Internationale to the Swiss communist party on the publication of an article written by Thalmann. 1929. 1 piece.
- Document relating to the exclusion of Paul Thalmann an others out of the communist party. . 1 piece.
Copy of a
letter on the Spanish Civil War in particular the flights near Brunete in July
1937. 1 piece.
- Document relating to the communist c.q. Trotzkyst opinion of emigrants in Basel and Zurich and a copy of a part of an article on the sentence of supposed spionnes in 1939.  en z.j. 2 pieces.
- Copy of a letter to Ruth on the 'affaire Nicole', press clippings on Léon Nicole and the affaire Loew/Haug and leaflet 'Genosse Nicole, ich kann nicht mehr schweigen!' by Leo Loew. 1947, 1951-1953. 1 folder.
- Copy of a letter by Paul Thalmann to 'Lieber Max' on yhe book 'Mein Leben. Weg und Unweg eines schweizer Sozialdemokraten' by Walther Bringolf. 1965. 1 piece.
- Le Réveil Prolétarien. Organe du Groupe Révolutonnaire Prolétarien, later Le Réveil Prolétarien. Organe de l'Union Communiste Internationaliste (pour la Quatrième Internationale). 1944. 2 pieces.
- Press clippings on French politics out of German an Swiss newspapers and periodicals, sent by the Bureau International de Documentation in Parijs. 1947-1952. 1 cover.
- Newspaper article on Emil Arnold , editor of the Vorwärts, sentenced for insulting Paul Thalmann. . 1 piece.
- Press clippings because of the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. 1986. 1 cover.
- Article 'Krise und Perspektiven des Anarchosyndikalismus in Spanien' by Luis Andres Edo. n.d. 1 piece.