Wilhelm Eichhoff 1869

The International Workingmen’s Association
Its Establishment, Organisation, Political and Social Activity, and Growth

Source: MECW, Volume 21, pp. 322-380;
Written: by Wilhelm Eichhoff in July 1868;
First published: as a pamphlet in August 1868 under the title, Die Internationale Arbeiterassociation. Ihre Grundung, Organisation, politisch-sociale Thätigheit und Ausbreitung.

Wilhelm Eichhoff wrote this pamphlet with Marx’s active assistance. This was the first work on the history of the International Working Men’s Association. Wilhelm Eichhoff conceived it in the summer of 1868, when his brother Albert, a publisher, planned to issue the Workers’ Calender (Arbeiterkalender) for 1869. Wilhelm Eichhoff proposed that the leading item should be devoted to the history of the establishment, spread and activity of the International Working Men’s Association. On June 6, 1868 Wilhelm Eichhoff informed Marx of his intention and asked the latter to send the necessary material and help him in writing the article. On June 27 Marx sent to Berlin many documents of the Association, newspaper cuttings and notes on the activity of the International. The day before Marx wrote to Engels: “...I am writing something for Eichhoff. Tomorrow I shall send it off”. In his reply of June 29, Eichhoff thanked Marx for the material and wrote that he was going to use Marx’s manuscript word for word and supplement and expand it as advised by Marx.

There is every reason to believe that Marx drew up the thesis and plan that determined the work’s structure, general tendency and basic conclusions.

Eichhoff’s work grew into a pamphlet because of the abundance of material sent by Marx. Eichhoff’s letters show that in the course of his work Marx answered his numerous questions, gave advice and made suggestions. Some sections of the pamphlet include documents of the General Council (the Inaugural Address, Rules and Instructions for the Delegates of the Provisional General Council) or give their contents. Eichhoff used the Minutes of the Geneva and Lausanne congresses of the International, addresses of the General Council and local sections, Becker’s pamphlet Die Internationale Arbeiterassociation und die Arbeitseinstellung in Genf im Frühjahr 1868, the pamphlet Procès de L'Association Internationale des Travailleurs. Bureau de Paris published in 1868, and extracts from English, German, French and Belgian newspapers on the activity of local sections of the International. A number of pages in the pamphlet contain Marx’s own material which he subsequently used elsewhere.

Thus, the description of the Charleroi events, the information about an incident with the Geneva Congress documents on the French frontier and talks of Minister Rouher with the delegate of the Paris Committee of the International Working Men’s Association were partially included by Marx in the Fourth Annual Report of the General Council.

Marx presumably wrote the section about the political activity of the General Council, the list of periodicals of the Association, etc. From July 12 to 22, 1868 Marx edited the pamphlet and read the proofs. On July 29 a specimen copy of the pamphlet was sent to Marx in London, and the entire edition was printed in August 1868. Copies were also sent to Engels, Liebknecht, Becker, Lessner, Kugelmann, to the General Council, the German Workers’ Educational Society in London, and others.


1. Foundation of the Association

2. Difficulties in the Initial Period of the Association

3. The Inaugural Address of Karl Marx

4. The Rules of the Association

5. The Preliminary Conference in London, September 1865

6. The Geneva Congress, 3rd to 8th September 1866

7. The Lausanne Congress, 2nd to 8th September, 1867

8. The International, The Trades Unions, and the Strikes

1. Closure of the Paris Bronze Workshops in February 1867
2. The Geneva Strike in the Spring of 1868
3. The Blood, Conflict Between the Belgian Government and the Miners of Charleroi

9. The Political Activity of the General Council of the International

10. Conflicts with Governments

1. Conflict with the French Government
2. Conflict with the Belgian Government

11. Growth of the Association