41 Documenting anarchists

The German-Austrian Max Nettlau (1865-1944) was known as the ‘Herodotus of Anarchy.’ In addition to amassing a gigantic historical collection on anarchism in all countries and periods, he wrote an extensive history of the movement and biographies of prominent individuals, such as Mikhail Bakunin, Elisée Reclus, and Errico Malatesta. He brought his collection to Amsterdam, where he died; his ashes were deposited at the IISH in the 1970s.

Metal urn containing Nettlau’s ashes

Metal urn containing Max Nettlau’s ashes
Object, 30 x 20



Herodotus of Anarchy

Rudolf Rocker (see item 207) writes in his biography Max Nettlau, Leben und Werk des Historikers vergessener sozialer Bewegungen (Berlin, 1978, p.16) [Engl.: Max Nettlau, life and work of the historian of forgotten social movements]: "Er war der grosse Historiker des freiheitlichen Sozialismus, der 'Herodot der Anarchie', wie er häufig in unseren Kreisen genannt wurde". [Engl.: "He was the great historian of libertarian socialism, the 'Herodotus of Anarchy', as he was often dubbed in our circles".] A Spanish-language translation of this biography appeared already in 1950 in Mexico City with the title Max Nettlau, el Herodoto de la anarquía.