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Obituary: Charlie van Gelderen 1913-2001

International Socialist Group member and stalwart of the Fourth International, Charlie van Gelderen died peacefully at home in Cambridge on October 26 after a short illness at the age of 88. Charlie was the last survivor of those who attended the 1938 Founding Conference of the Fourth International in Paris. He attended as an observer on behalf of South African Trotskyists, though he was already living in Britain by that time.

Charlie was born in August 1913 in the small town of Wellington, 40 miles from Cape Town. He lived in various parts of the Cape until December 1935, when he came to London.

Charlie became politically active as a young man, initially joining the Fabian Society but then in 1931 became an enthusiastic supporter of the ideas of Leon Trotsky. Together with his twin brother Herman, he was instrumental in setting up the first Trotskyist organisation in South Africa; the International Marxist League.

Charlie is deeply missed by his wife Christine who he married in 1989, his daughters Leonora and Tessa (both revolutionary socialists), and the rest of his family, and by the many comrades in Britain and across the world that knew him.

Charlie never lost his deep hatred of the capitalist system and the brutal misery it brings in its wake.

His column for the newspaper of our British section, the ISG, which he kept up until illness struck in the summer, pulsated with his fury against the burden of debt, the scourge of HIV and the profits of the multinationals, the hypocrisy of new Labour.

The best way that we can celebrate his life is to continue the struggle to which he dedicated himself with such energy.



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