August Bebel

On this date in 1840, August Bebel, the co-founder of the German Social Democratic Party, was born in Cologne. As a young man Bebel settled in Leipzig, the hub of German political activity, and became politically active with the radical Gewerblicher Bildungsverein (Industrial Educational Association). He studied Marx and Engels and other prominent figures in economic and social history, which contributed to his growing socialist worldview. Bebel developed a reputation as a powerful speaker, and was elected to the North German Constituent Reichstag in 1867, representing the Saxon People's Party. He believed less in revolution to effect social change and more in reforming existing political and social structures. Bebel believed women were enslaved through social institutions, such as marriage, and his popular tract "Women and Socialism" (1897) advanced this idea. He co-founded the German Social Democratic Party in 1869, and by the time he died, his tract had been widely read (including at the Second International in Paris in 1889) and he was considered a "father" of the social democratic movement. D. 1913.

"Christianity is the enemy of liberty and civilization. It has kept mankind in slavery and oppression. The Church and the State have always fraternally united to exploit the people."

—August Bebel, quoted in The Common Cause, Vol. 1, edited by John R. Meader, 1912, p. 43

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

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