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The Militant, 20 July 1946

Marguerite Baget

Martin Widelin – Our Martyr

A Heroic Trotskyist Leader in the German Underground

(21 June 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 29, 20 July 1946, p. 3.
Translated by John Garrow from the June 21 issue of La Verité, French Trotskyist weekly.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


PARIS – Almost two years after “liberation,” the trial of one of the most important bureaus of the French Gestapo, the SPAC (Anti-Communist Police Bureau), also called the SRMAN (Bureau for the Repression of Anti-National Plots), has finally been opened before the Seine Court of Justice.

Only 31 of the torturers appeared in the defendants’ dock. The others, less conspicuous, have been given positions in the various bureaus of the new “Republican Police.”

Thousands of men and women have fallen martyrs to the SPAC. I, myself, was tortured in the sinister cells located on the rue de Monceau. This was on July 13, 1944.

I was arrested together with another comrade, Martin Widelin (Paul), one of the outstanding revolutionary militants of the Fourth International. We were mercilessly tortured for eight days by a whole gang of executioners, none of whom is in the defendants’ dock.

On July 21 the SPAC handed us over to the German Gestapo. I was taken to Fort Romainville and then to the concentration camp at Ravensbruck. Widelin was not deported.

On the morning of the 22nd, he was picked up by two agents at the edge of the Vincennes woods, his head and chest pierced by two bullets, and was taken to the Pitie hospital. Our comrades, informed by a sympathizer, wished to organize his escape. But it was too late. Two hours after his arrival at the hospital, the Gestapo again seized him and finished him off this time for good.

Organized Youth

Born in Berlin, Comrade Widelin entered the workers’ movement at the age of 15.

For five years he was an organizer among the youth in Berlin. After Hitler’s assumption of power, under cover of sports organizations he continued indefatigably to propagate socialism. He laid the basis for an illegal organization. Hounded by the Gestapo, he was compelled to leave Germany illegally in November, 1938, and go to Belgium. Here he came into contact with the Belgian section of the Fourth International, to which he brought all his revolutionary devotion.

From August 1940, after the debacle, Widelin took part in the illegal reconstruction of our Belgian section. He won the esteem and confidence of all the comrades, who elected him to their Central Committee in June 1941.

He was placed in charge of the revolutionary propaganda among the German troops. About June 1941 he issued a manifesto in German lashing Hitler’s attack against the Soviet Union.

He traveled illegally through France and Belgium and succeeded in establishing a special group of militants trained for work among the soldiers. In February 1944 he organized a virtual liaison network among the various revolutionary cells spread across Germany and Austria.

Then Widelin launched our illegal newspaper, Arbeiter und Soldat (Worker and Soldier). From this time on the police did their utmost to capture him. Finally the SPAC arrested him.

Let those who have not understood the heavy sacrifices our party made for revolutionary communism ponder this example! What a symbol – the German Widelin tortured and killed by the French-German Gestapo.

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