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Ferdinand August Bebel (22 February 1840 – 13 August 1913) was a German socialist politician, writer, and orator. He is best remembered as one of the founders of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany (SDAP) in 1869, which in 1875 merged with the General German Workers' Association into the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAPD). During the repression under the terms of the Anti-Socialist Laws, Bebel became the leading figure of the social democratic movement in Germany and from 1892 until his death served as chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Bebel is also famed for his outrage at the news of German mistreatment of indigenous people in its South-West African colony, the Herero nation in particular. In 1904 following a revolt by the Herero people who were bein

Bebel is also famed for his outrage at the news of German mistreatment of indigenous people in its South-West African colony, the Herero nation in particular. In 1904 following a revolt by the Herero people who were being pushed off their land to make way for German settlers, the government launched the Herero and Namaqua Genocide to crush the revolt by waging a "war of extermination" against the Herero. He and the German Social Democratic Party thus became the only party in the Reichstag to oppose increased colonial expenditures,[14] and in a speech in March 1904 Bebel classified the policy in German West Africa as "not only barbaric, but bestial." This caused some sections of the contemporary German press to scathingly classify Bebel as "Der hereroische Bebel" (Coburger Zeitung, 17 January 1904).[14] Bebel was not deterred; he later followed this up with strongly worded warnings against the rising tide of theories of racial hierarchy and racial purity, causing the general election to the German Reichstag in 1907 to go over in history as the "Hottentot Election."[15]

Bebel's boo

Bebel's book, Women and Socialism was translated into English by Daniel De Leon of the Socialist Labor Party of America as Woman under Socialism.[16] It figured prominently in the Connolly-DeLeon controversy after James Connolly, then a member of the SLP, denounced it as a "quasi-prurient" book that would repel potential recruits to the socialist movement.[17] The book contained an attack on the institution of marriage which identified Bebel with the most extreme forms of socialism.[7] In the preface to DeLeon's translation, Woman Under Socialism, DeLeon distanced himself from Bebel on this point, holding that monogamy was the most desirable form of social organisation.[18]

In 1898 he voiced his support for the decriminalization of homosexuality in the Reichstag.[19]

Bebel held that religion is a "private matter", believing that the SPD should be neutral on the question of religion while advocating secularism.[20] Bebel considered himself both a patriot and an internationalist believing them to not be antagonistic but instead supplemental.[21]

August Bebel died on 13 August 1913 of a heart attack during a visit to a sanatorium in Passugg, Switzerland. He was 73 years old at the time of his death. His body was buried in Zürich.

At the time of his death Bebel was eulogized by Russian Marxist leader Vladimir Lenin as a "model workers' leader," who had proven himself able to "break his own road" from being an ordinary worker into becoming a political leader in the struggle for a "better social system."[22]

The well-known saying "Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools" ("Der Antisemitismus ist der Sozialismus der dummen Kerle") is frequently attributed to Bebel, but probably originated with the Austrian democrat Ferdinand Kronawetter; it was in general use among German Social Democrats by the 1890s.[23]

Along with Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Ferdinand Lassalle, Bebel was among the socialist icons included in

At the time of his death Bebel was eulogized by Russian Marxist leader Vladimir Lenin as a "model workers' leader," who had proven himself able to "break his own road" from being an ordinary worker into becoming a political leader in the struggle for a "better social system."[22]

The well-known saying "Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools" ("Der Antisemitismus ist der Sozialismus der dummen Kerle") is frequently attributed to Bebel, but probably originated with the Austrian democrat Ferdinand Kronawetter; it was in general use among German Social Democrats by the 1890s.[23]

Along with Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Ferdinand Lassalle, Bebel was among the socialist icons included in bas relief portraits on the facade of The Forward building, erected in 1912 as the headquarters of the New York Yiddish-language socialist newspaper.