Willi Eichler

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Willi Eichler (born January 7, 1896 in Berlin , † October 17, 1971 in Bonn ) was a German journalist and politician ( SPD ).

Live and act

Eichler was a businessman by profession. From 1922 he was secretary of the socio-politically committed Göttingen philosopher Leonard Nelson , who founded the International Socialist Youth Association (ISJ / IJB) . From June 1922 to June 1923 he was involved in the preparations for the Walkemühle Landerziehungsheim , another Nelson's project in collaboration with Minna Specht . 1923 joined Eichler in the SPD, but remained followers Nelson and was established in November 1925 on decision of the SPD National Executive Committee, since membership in the International Youth Library (Nelson Confederation) was incompatible with membership of the Social Democratic Party , the SPD ruled out . He was one of the co-founders of the International Socialist Combat League (ISK) in January 1926, which was newly founded as the successor organization of the ISJ as a political and organizational platform. After Nelson’s death in 1927, he became chairman of the ISK. In 1932/33 he was editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Der Funke founded by the ISK specifically to fight against the National Socialists , the most spectacular action of which was an urgent appeal for the Reichstag election of July 1932 , in which - supported by well-known artists and scholars - to “merge the SPD and KPD for this election campaign ”was called.

Eichler was supposed to be arrested after the Reichstag fire at the end of February 1933. After his home had been searched in absentia on February 28, 1933 and a large part of his literature had been confiscated, Eichler went into hiding. In November 1933 he emigrated to France via the Saar area . In the Lutetia district (1935–36) he was involved in an attempt to establish a popular front against the Hitler dictatorship from exile . He headed the ISK's international headquarters in Paris and from there published the Reinhart letters and the ISK organ Sozialistische Warte . He primarily supported the illegal activities of the union resistance of the railway workers against the Nazi regime from abroad. The French authorities expelled him from the country in April. He emigrated to Luxembourg and initially stayed there. In January 1939 Eichler fled to England , where he turned back to the SPD. Towards the end of his time in exile in London, he worked intensively with Susanne Miller , his future wife. He belonged to the contact group of the Social Democratic Union to the OSS and was a board member of the "Union of German Socialist Organizations in England" and an employee of the BBC .

Willi Eichler maintained close contacts with the Walkemühle Landerziehungsheim and its successor institutions in Danish and British exile. He was in close contact with Gustav Heckmann , who worked there.

In 1946 he returned to Germany . Eichler founded the magazine Geist und Tat , which he published until 1971, and worked as editor-in-chief of the Rheinische Zeitung until 1951 . In addition, from 1945 to 1949 he was editor of the “Socialist Press Correspondence”.

Political party

Eichler, a member of the SPD as early as the 1920s, took part in its reconstruction after 1945, was chairman of the SPD district association Middle Rhine and was a member of the SPD party executive from 1946 to 1968, and since Schumacher's death the inner executive committee. He was one of the leading programmatic theorists of his party and, as chairman of the commission for the preparation of the Godesberg program , played a decisive role in its drafting and implementation. Later he was a full-time board member of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung .


Eichler was elected to the North Rhine-Westphalian state parliament in 1947 , to which he belonged until March 1948, he was also a member of the zone advisory council in 1947/48 and of the Frankfurt Economic Council in 1948/49 . In the first federal election in 1949 he entered parliament via the SPD's state list in North Rhine-Westphalia and since 1952 has been deputy chairman of the Bundestag committee for press, radio and film issues. He left the Bundestag in 1953. From 1950 to 1954 Eichler was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe .


  • Werner Link : The history of the International Youth Association (IJB) and the International Socialist Fighting Association (ISK). A contribution to the history of the labor movement in the Weimar Republic and in the Third Reich. Meisenheim am Glan 1964.
  • Sabine Lemke-Müller: Ethical socialism and social democracy. Willi Eichler's political path from ISK to SPD. Verlag Neue Gesellschaft, Bonn 1988, ISBN 3-87831-459-0 .
  • Thomas Meyer : Willi Eichler and the Ethical Revolution. In: The New Society. No. 1/2, 2012, pp. 24-27 (PDF) .
  • Martin Kloke : Between the cadre forge and the people's party. The Nelsonian Willi Eichler and the Social Democrats. In: The New Society. No. 3, 2014, pp. 49–53 with Eichler's photo on p. 50 (PDF) .
  • Siegfried Mielke , Stefan Heinz : Railway trade unionists in the Nazi state. Persecution - Resistance - Emigration (1933–1945) (= trade unionists under National Socialism. Persecution - Resistance - Emigration. Volume 7). Metropol, Berlin 2017, ISBN 978-3-86331-353-1 .


  • Parliament as a representative of the public on the radio. In: The freedom of broadcasting. Munich 1956.

small selection, from publications from 1934–1948 (pseudonyms used: Martin Hart, HM, Walter Buchholz, Walter Holz, Ernst Friesius, -t., EF, Hart, H.?, -S., Fr., -lz., s., MH, -z., W-er.)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Teachers and helpers of the fulling mill
  2. Werner Link: The history of the International Youth Association (IJB) and the International Socialist Struggle Association (ISK). P. 94 and in more detail in the archive of social democracy.
  3. ^ Klaus-Dietmar Henke: The American occupation of Germany. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 1996, ISBN 978-3-486-56175-3 , p. 641 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  4. Several references to this can be found in Birgit S. Nielsen: Education for self-confidence. A socialist school experiment in Danish exile 1933–1938. Peter Hammer Verlag, Wuppertal 1985, ISBN 3-87294-265-4 .
  5. 110 years ago ..., 7.1.1896 - Willi Eichler was born. in the archive of the social democracy of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung , seen November 16, 2009.
  6. Eichler was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from August 7, 1950 to May 20, 1954 .