Walter Friday

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Walter Freitag (born August 14, 1889 in Remscheid ; † June 7, 1958 in Herdecke ) was a German politician ( USPD , SPD ) and union official.


Walter Freitag was the son of a locksmith and trained as a tool lathe operator. In 1907 he became a union member and in 1908 a member of the SPD.

Revolution and Weimar Republic

Influenced by his experience at the front during the First World War , Freitag joined the USPD in 1917 and was a member of the Remscheid workers 'and soldiers' council in 1918 . After the revolution he was trade union secretary in Remscheid and then from 1920 district manager of the German Metalworkers' Association in Hagen . He belonged to the part of the USPD that refused to unite with the KPD and rejoined the SPD in 1922. In 1931 he was elected chairman of the Hagen-Schwelm sub-district of the SPD. At the beginning of 1932 he moved into the Prussian state parliament .

National Socialism and Persecution

At the beginning of the National Socialist dictatorship, Friday organized a Social Democratic functionaries' meeting in April 1933, but this was forcibly dissolved by the SA . Despite his social democratic past, after the dissolution of the unions, he was forced to continue working for the “ German Labor Front ”. In August 1933, Freitag insisted on his release and was then deported to the Neusustrum concentration camp near Papenburg, later he was transferred to the Lichtenburg concentration camp . In 1935, Freitag was released from prison, but remained under police supervision, as is customary for union officials. The family managed to survive with a small vegetable shop run by Friday's wife. Apart from a few odd jobs, Friday was unemployed until 1941. He then found a job as a porter, security guard and fire fighter in the Hoerde plant of the Dortmund-Hoerder Hüttenverein .

post war period


Freitag was an honorary district administrator in the Ennepe-Ruhr district from 1946 to 1949 and a member of the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia from 1946 to 1950 . From 1949 to 1953 he was a member of the German Bundestag . He was directly elected in the Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis II constituency.

Union work

After the end of the Second World War, Freitag played a key role in rebuilding the social democratic party organization in the Ruhr area , especially in Herdecke . He was one of the founding members of the Metalworkers Union, which he was elected chairman in 1946. Around this time, Freitag was chairman of IG Metall in Siegerland. In 1947 he became chairman of IG Metall together with Wilhelm Petersen for the British zone and the state of Bremen and from 1948 in the bizone . Since 1950 he has shared the chairmanship of IG Metall in the German Trade Union Federation (DGB) with Hans Brümmer . In 1952 he was reassigned to this post. Until 1952, Freitag was also a member of the Advisory Committee of the European Coal and Steel Community .

The battle for rearmament and the failure of the DGB in the battle for the Works Constitution Act brought IG Metall, and thus Friday, into opposition to the then DGB Chairman Christian Fette . In 1952 the dispute between Fette and Friday came to a head at the Berlin DGB Congress. On Friday, October 17th, Fette fell with the backing of IG Metall and became the new chairman of the DGB. There was no radicalization of the trade union movement. Friday pursued a policy of union pragmatism. In particular in the collective bargaining disputes with employers and in the conflicts with the Christian trade union movement, he relied more on cooperative than on confrontational strategies. However, he did not succeed in giving the trade unions the public attention and presence that the first chairman Hans Böckler had given the umbrella organization.

Speculations about a resignation for health reasons already anticipated Friday's departure in June 1956. On October 6, 1956, Willi Richter was elected as his successor at the DGB Congress in Hamburg. This deselection was staged in the background by a “young generation” of functionaries around IG Metall chairman Otto Brenner . This set the course for a reorientation of trade union policy towards the classic field of collective bargaining policy and the fight for an active wage policy as well as extended vacation and working hours and continued wages in the event of illness had begun.

Freitag was Vice President of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions until 1956 . He died on June 7, 1958 of complications from a stroke .


  • Social Democratic Party of Germany (ed.): Committed to freedom. Memorial book of the German social democracy in the 20th century . Marburg, 2000. pp. 101f.
  • Bernd Haunfelder : North Rhine-Westphalia. Country and people. A biographical manual . Düsseldorf, 2006. pp. 156f.
  • Hermann Herberts: Walter Freitag - Away and want a German trade unionist , Berlin 1954 (arani Verlags-GmbH)
  • Willi Creutzenberg: Walter Freitag (1889–1958), in: Bernd Faulenbach u. a. (Ed.): From the outpost to the stronghold of social democracy, Essen 1993, p. 179f.
  • Wilfriede Otto , P. Rosenzweig :: Friday, Walter . In: History of the German labor movement. Biographical Lexicon . Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1970, pp. 139–140.

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