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Witcop, Milly (1877-1955)

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Title

Witcop, Milly (1877-1955)

Description

Milly Witkop was a Jewish anarcho-syndicalist and feminist writer and activist. She was the common-law wife of Rudolf Rocker. Fermin Rocker, her son, was an artist.

Contributor

De Bel, Heather (created stub)

Person Item Type Metadata

Birth Date

March 3, 1877

Birthplace

Ukraine

Death Date

November 23, 1955

Occupation

Writer
Activist

Biographical Text

Milly Witkop was a Jewish anarcho-syndicalist and feminist writer and activist. She was the common-law wife of Rudolf Rocker. Fermin Rocker, her son, was an artist.

She was the oldest of four sisters. The youngest, Rose, also became a well-known anarchist. In 1894, Witkop left the Ukraine for London.

She eventually became influenced by the works of the anarchist theorist Peter Kropotkin. In 1895, she first met Rudolf Rocker in the course of her political work. Rocker invited her to accompany him to New York. The two were, however, not admitted to the country, because they refused to get married legally and were returned to the United Kingdom. The matter received some newspaper coverage in the United States, attacking the couple's love without marriage.

Rocker and Witkop co-edited the Arbeyter Fraynd and started publishing the newspaper Germinal, which was more focused on cultural topics. Rocker and Witkop were opposed to World War I after it broke out in 1914, unlike many other anarchists. To ease the poverty and deprivation caused by the joblessness that accompanied the war, Witkop and her husband opened a soup kitchen. In December 1914, however, Rocker like many Germans and Austrians in the UK, was interned as an enemy alien. Witkop continued her anti-war activities until she was also arrested in 1916. She remained imprisoned until the autumn of 1918. She then left the United Kingdom to join her husband and son in the Netherlands.

At first, the couple welcomed the February and October Revolutions in Russia, but after the Bolshevik coup they started criticizing the totalitarianism of what would become the Soviet Union. They moved to Berlin; Rocker had been invited by Free Association of German Trade Unions (FVdG) chairman Fritz Kater to join him in building up what would become the Free Workers' Union of Germany (FAUD).

Witkop was one of the leading founders of the Women's Union in Berlin in 1920. She also worked to fight racism and anti-Semitism. After the Reichstag fire in February 1933, Witkop and Rocker fled Germany for the United States.There, the couple continued to give lectures and write about anarchist topics. During the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939, they started an awareness campaign to educate Americans about the events in Spain.

Witkop died on November 23, 1955. She had been suffering from difficulties of breathing for months.