The Albert Memorial: The Anarchist life and times of Albert Meltzer (7 January 1920 - 7 May 1996) [Review]

Printworker, writer, troublemaker, but above all a tireless anarchist activist, Albert Meltzer is one of the most important figures in twentieth century anarchism. Scourge of Liberals and tyrants, he never stood aside from the struggle for a better world.

Written by Phil Ruff, a friend and collaborator of Albert’s since the 1970s, this is a tribute to the man described by the Special Branch as “The doyen of the anarchist movement”. Drawing from, and expanding on, Albert Meltzer’s autobiography I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels, this work runs from his introduction to the anarchist movement in the mid ‘thirties, right up to the 1990s.

On the way, it mentions all the historic events that Albert Meltzer took part in; his support for Spanish anarchists in the Civil War; the Cairo Mutiny; his involvement in the revival of Spanish resistance to Franco in the 1960s; the creation of the Anarchist Black Cross and the increase of revolutionary anarchist activity in the 1970s. The stories of some of the hundreds of comrades that Albert worked alongside are mentioned: Jack White, Leah Feldman, Tom Brown, John Olday, Octavio Alberola, Salvador Puig Antich, Stuart Christie, Miguel Garcia…

The Albert Memorial also contains Stuart Christie’s full obituary of Albert, and his funeral tribute, as well as tributes from the CNT and his close friend Simon McKeown. Acrata’s postscript deals with the feeble (and unsuccessful) attempt to malign Albert’s reputation, and is backed up by documents from Octavio Alberola, active in the struggles which his detractors can’t believe existed. This well produced, illustrated A4 booklet deserves a home with everyone interested in our revolutionary heritage, whether they were fortunate enough to know Albert Meltzer or not.

Phil Ruff, The Albert Memorial. The Meltzer Press. An appreciation by Phil Ruff, with a postscript by Acrata. Published by The Meltzer Press, October 1997. ISBN 1901172104