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On “Shorty” Buehler and Cora Duff

(May 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 19, 12 May 1934, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Death has taken a heavy toll among the fighters for revolutionary internationalism in our growing outpost in Kansas City. The grim reaper has swept from the scene of battle without regard to age and service two of our staunchest warriors in that plucky band in the Middle West. Cora Duff – a symbol of the new generation that will hold high our banner – and Shorty Buehler – the steadfast old-guard devoted to our ideas and sacrificing in service – have been snatched from our midst, creating a chasm that will not easy or soon be filled. We salute them as they pass from the struggle and promise to carry on.

We cannot but pause a while to grieve for them, so true were they to our ideals, so dear to us as comrades.

August A. Buehler, better known to us as “Shorty” for his diminutive size, was a landmark for the revolutionary movement in the Middle West. For almost twenty-five years there has been no “Jimmie Higgins” east or west of Kansas City who carried on his work so splendidly and unstintingly as Shorty.

A Revolutionist Since 1913

Shorty joined the revolutionary movement during a “free speech” fight in Kansas City in 1913. From that time until his death the untiring efforts of Shorty have contributed heavily to the propagation and perpetuation of the ideas of Marxism in that Mid-Western American city.

Shorty was one of the active spirits in one of the first post-war left wing groups that helped lift the socialist movement out of the bog of reaction and which gathered around the Workers World, edited by Comrade James P. Cannon and the Workers Educational League which spread the message of the Russian revolution and Lenin to the workers of the Mid-West.

Together with others Shorty helped to swing the entire Kansas City branch of the Socialist Party over into the Communist Labor Party. From that time up till 1928, when he was expelled from the Communist Party for holding true to the ideas which had motivated his life-struggle, Shorty was an inspiring persevering member of the Communist Party. Moving Spirit of Kansas City Branch

It is to comrade Buehler more than any other single comrade that we owe our rapidly growing branch of the Communist League in Kansas City. Arranging meetings, distributing leaflets, visiting contacts, soliciting subs for the Militant – no task was too menial, or too big for Shorty.

Sometime in 1927 Shorty opened his bookstore in Kansas City as a means of earning a livelihood. Buehler’s book store was an oasis for revolutionists in the years when reaction and Stalinist persecution and slander held sway. Buehler’s Book Store was not only a place to purchase Marxian literature, it was a bee hive of revolutionary discussion and congregation. More than one young recruit received his first lesson in Communism in the Bookstore on West 12th Street.

The sudden, shocking death of Shorty Buehler is an irreparable loss to the Communist League and the revolutionary movement. The star of Buehler will take its place in the firmament of proletarian fighters, among the immortal Jimmie Higgins’ without whom the cause of Communism, the advance of the proletarian revolution would be impossible.

“Don’t Mourn But Organize”

With these inspiring words from a poem by Joe Hill, I.W.W. songster, Comrade Buehler concluded his letter to the writer on the death of Cora Duff who passed away but two short weeks before him.

Cora died young. Her life in the revolutionary movement was all too brief. But in the short space of time that was allotted her she earned a monument for her courage energy and devotion. It was under her guidance and leadership that the Young Spartacus Club of Kansas City was formed and took on flesh and blood as the only Communist youth movement in Kansas City.

The names of those women who have come to the fore as outstanding advocates of the cause of the working class are few. We must agree with Shorty who stated in his last letter that Comrade Duff had the stuff out of which leaders are made. Pretension, artificiality, petty-bourgeois caprices were all alien to her. For earnesty and sincerity Cora Duff took first place. She possessed that proletarian intelligence and insight, undeveloped though it was, which is so uncommon among the men and women in the ranks of labor’s vanguard.

Comrade Duff’s death has robbed us of another of our valiant soldiers in our young army. We salute her even as Shorty did and pass on to the order of the day.

“Don’t Mourn But Organize.”

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