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A Polemic on Guerrilla Warfare

A Polemic on Guerrilla Warfare

A Polemic on Guerrilla Warfare by John Olday

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John Olday was a well known artist and caricaturist. He also took part in anarchist guerilla operations in post World War One Germany and, moreover, was a spy who passed on information to the anti-Nazi underground. Prior to the outbreak of World War Two he escaped Germany as the Gestapo were then on to him, and moved to Britain where he worked with the International Workers Association (IWA) and became an editor of ‘Freedom’. After the War he proved pivotal in the revival of revolutionary anarchist groups across Germany. In later years he helped edit the British-based anarchist paper, ‘Black Flag’, and produced material for the IWW. It was not until after his death that the extent of Olday’s revolutionary activities in Germany, Britain and other parts of Europe, was fully revealed.

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John Olday

John Arthur William Olday was born in 1905 in London and was the illegitimate son of a German woman and a Scotsman. He spent his early childhood in New York, where his mother had relocated after his birth and when she visited her native Germany in 1913 she left John there with her mother. John spent his childhood almost entirely in the environs of the Hamburg harbour. Very early on, he learned about the social revolutionary ideas which were widespread among the Hamburg sailors and dock workers.

At the age of eleven, Olday joined in the Hamburg hunger riots of 1916, in the middle of the First World War. Two years later, he participated in the sailors’ mutiny and the workers’ uprisings, acting as an ammunition hauler for a Sparticist machine gun emplacement. Following the crushing defeat of this year-long struggle, Olday had to make a last minute escape, barely avoiding capture and certain execution.

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