Milly Witkop-Rocker — a tribute by Rudolf Rocker (KOBO eBook £1.00)

MillysmallMilly Witkop-Rocker (March 3, 1877 – November 23, 1955) by Rudolf Rocker. This 1956 tribute to his life-partner, Milly Witkop, by Rudolph Rocker was handset with the Kennerley and Hadriang types, designed by Frederick W. Goudy & printed on superfine text paper at the Oriole Press by Joseph Ishill, Berkley Heights, New Jersey.  The frontispiece illustration is a crayon drawing by her son, Fermin Rocker. Republished 1981 by Cienfuegos Press, Over the Water, Sanday, Orkney, UK, and Soil of Liberty, Minneapolis, Minnesota. KOBO eBook £1.00

Milly Witkop was born Vitkopski in the Ukrainian shtetl of Zlatopol to a Jewish Ukrainian-Russian family as the oldest of four sisters. The youngest of the four, Rose, was also a well-known anarchist. In 1894, Witkop left the Ukraine for London where she worked in a tailoring sweatshop saving enough money to finance her parents’ and sisters’ passage to England, and it was her involvement in a bakers’ strike that led her to become involved with the group around the Jewish anarchist newspaper Arbayter Fraynd. In 1895, she met Rudolf Rocker in the course of her political work and, in May 1898, Rocker invited her to accompany him to New York, where he hoped to find employment. The two were, however, not admitted to the country, because they refused to marry legally and were returned to the United Kingdom on the same ship that had taken them to the United States.

From October 1898, Rocker and Witkop co-edited the Arbeyter Fraynd, and in March 1900, they published the culturally- focused newspaper Germinal. In 1907, the couple’s son, Fermin, was born. Rocker and Witkop opposed World War I in 1914 — unlike some other anarchists such as Kropotkin, who supported the Allied cause. To ease the poverty and deprivation caused by the joblessness that accompanied the war, Witkop and her husband opened a soup kitchen. In December 1914, however, Rocker like many Germans and Austrians in the UK, was interned as an enemy alien. Witkop continued her anti-war activities until she too was arrested in 1916. She remained imprisoned until the autumn of 1918. She then left the United Kingdom to join her husband and son in the Netherlands.