Publication information
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Source: Free Society
Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “Leon F. Czolgosz”
Author(s): Behlen, Walter C.
Date of publication: 27 April 1902
Volume number: 9
Issue number: 17
Pagination: 2-3

Behlen, Walter C. “Leon F. Czolgosz.” Free Society 27 Apr. 1902 v9n17: pp. 2-3.
full text
Leon Czolgosz; Leon Czolgosz (as anarchist); Leon Czolgosz (as socialist); Leon Czolgosz (activities, whereabouts, etc.: Cleveland, OH); Leon Czolgosz (connection with anarchists); McKinley assassination (public response: criticism); McKinley assassination (public response: socialists).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; William McKinley; Emil Schilling [in notes].

The following information appears at the close of the article:



Leon F. Czolgosz

     Who was Leon Czolgosz? Was he a governmentalist or a free man? Was he a State Socialist or an Anarchist?
     Let us see. He was not allowed to make a public statement before electrocution, and since then we have had but the silence of the tomb. He has been put down as an Anarchist, but there is no evidence to prove that statement. If it were true it would stand to his credit, for it takes brains to be an Anarchist and understand the philosophy of Anarchism.
     Czolgosz was an American, the son of Polish parents who came to this country over forty years ago and lived for many years in Cleveland, Ohio; he worked as a wire drawer in the wire mills in Newburg from 1893 to 1897, during which time his father ran a saloon on Tod street [sic], over which there was a room where a Polish section of the Socialist Labor Party held its weekly meetings. Leon Czolgosz joined that section, and became an active member of the party. He agitated both in English and Polish; he distributed literature where he worked, and thru this made a number of enemies among his fellow workers.
     Several German workmen, partly owing to Leon’s radical views and partly on account of the difficulty of pronouncing his name, nicknamed him “Niemand,” a Ger- [2][3] man word which means NOBODY. This name he finally assumed, and soon became popularly known as Leon Niemand.
     Leon had a large heart and loved humanity. He keenly felt the injustice which the government in social and public life imposed upon him. He saw the cause of the unequal politico-economic struggle for a miserable existence, and eventually sacrificed his own life, taking with him as he thought the boldest servant of the capitalistic system.
     Leon Czolgosz belonged to the English section of the Socialist Labor Party before and after it split into the kangaroo and kickapoo factions.
     It was reported that he had attended a lecture delivered by Emma Goldman at Cleveland upon “Modern Phases of Anarchism.” The meeting was large and represented all shades of opinion, and a half dozen secret service detectives and regular police were present. The lecture was purely educational, heartily applauded, and in no instance appealed to force.
     May 19, 1901, Leon Czolgosz sought the acquaintance of several members of Liberty Association after its session, introducing himself as “Leon Niemand.”
     When asked about his political principles, he said that he was a Socialist, and that he had affiliated with the Socialist Labor Party up to a half a year ago; since then he had worked on his brother’s farm in Bedford. When asked why he did not remain with his party, he replied that it was due to the split of the party into two hostile political organizations, and also that as a student seeking information he had become tried of mud-slinging and personal abuse. As to whether he had ever read any Anarchist literature he answered “no.”
     He was then given a book to read containing the speeches of the eight Chicago martyrs, as delivered in open court during their trial in Chicago in 1886.
     Czolgosz then asked us whether Cleveland Anarchists were secretly organized or held any secret meetings. We told him no, and that all our meetings were public, because secrecy was no part of Anarchy. His question and actions created a suspicion in the minds of his new acquaintances.
     When he returned the book, he said he had not read it for lack of time; suspicion now grew stronger and he was finally looked upon as a spy. Several weeks after this, it was ascertained thru a former party friend of his that Niemand was not his real name.
     Several weeks before the assassination, Czolgosz went to Chicago; where thru similar behavior as here, he was also suspected as a spy. A week before the Buffalo tragedy, FREE SOCIETY published a pen picture concerning this man “Niemand,” cautioning all comrades against him.
     This is a true statement concerning Leon Czolgosz in his relation to the State Socialists on the one hand and the Anarchists on the other.
     It can be proven by quite a number in this city that he was a State Socialist, and not an Anarchist, which shows that the blow struck at Buffalo was the deed of a governmentalist. Why, then, was Czolgosz classed as an Anarchist?
     Czolgosz was a self-confessed State Socialist; but no party is responsible for the act of an individual.
     Even State Socialists can afford to stand by the truth, and let men fall where they may, for men may change or die, but principles never. Anarchists are not so unfair as to hold the Socialists collectively responsible for the act of Leon Czolgosz, which was the act of an individual. This article would not have been written but for the misrepresentation in speeches delivered immediately after McKinley’s assassination by prominent Socialist leaders, published in book form and distributed broadcast in order to prejudice the public mind against Anarchy. Truth may be crushed for a while, but it will prevail and chickens will come home to roost.
     Anarchists believe in dealing fairly with all progressive minds; they have no bone to pick with simon-pure Socialism, but we are sorry to say that the Socialist leaders in this city and the Socialist party press of this country, have proven themselves liars, cowards, and traitors to one of their own number; to one whom they sought to educate against a cruel system of economic slavery; to a man who fought and suffered side by side with them; a man who could no longer stand the strain of further exploitation, but with such a power of will in his struggle against the oppressors of the people, which have but few parallels in history.



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