Samuel Gompers: A Biography

By Bernard Mandel | Go to book overview

Chapter Twenty-Four
INTERNATIONALISM

1. THE I.F.T.U.

THE MEETING TO REORGANIZE THE INTERNATIONAL Federation of Trade Unions was finally called by Oudegeest to meet in Amsterdam on July 25, 1919. The A.F. of L. elected Gompers as its representative, along with Daniel Tobin and J. J. Hynes. They sailed from New York on July 11 and arrived in Amsterdam on the twenty-fourth. The following day, the old International met to wind up its affairs. Ninety-one delegates were in attendance, representing the trade union centers of fourteen countries with seventeen million members. The main business was the Belgian indictment of the German labor movement for failing to prevent the war, for supporting the German government in the war, and for failing to protest effectively against the violations of Belgian neutrality and the atrocities committed against the Belgians. They demanded that the German delegation admit Germany's war guilt, making this demand a condition for their further participation in the conference. Gompers seconded the demand and added to the Belgian indictment, accusing Legien of refusing to prevail upon the German government to stop the submarine warfare which forced the United States into the war, refusing to support the proposed naval holiday proposed by Great Britain, and failing to support the A.F. of L.'s call for an international labor conference at Paris during the peace congress. The German delegates submitted a statement in reply in which they asserted that the German trade unions had always recognized the wrong of Germany's actions with regard to the Belgians and that they had always condemned the atrocities committed against them. But they had supported the German government in the

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