Beyond Coal: the SWCC and Its Concealed Seams
“SWCC” stands for the South Wales Coalfield Collection. This internationally significant collection is housed at two locations: the Richard Burtons Archives and the South Wales Miners’ Library. The Archive holdings include written documents, manuscripts and photographs. The Miners’ Library is custodian of printed material (books and pamphlets), posters, Lodge banners, oral history recordings and a variety of press cuttings.
The SWCC has its origins in two major research projects conducted by the departments of History and Economic History at Swansea University. Between 1971 and 1982 researchers went out into mining and former mining communities to gather and preserve the written, visual and oral histories of the industrial communities of South Wales. With the ever increasing threat from the contraction of the mining industry, this material was in great peril: much of it was on the verge of being lost. Since then, the collection and preservation process has continued, and has welcomed donations from unions, educational institutions, media companies and individuals, to mention but a few. The SWCC is now one of the largest, most notable and unique archives in the United Kingdom.
This series of articles is aimed at highlighting non-coal or coal mining related printed materials within the SWCC, and to demonstrate the diversity and research value of these holdings. Individual items of particular interest will be showcased, evidencing the wider scope and contents of the SWCC, investigating its profuse and unprecedented nature and focusing upon its importance to a greater understanding and respect for the history, culture, society and politics of the South Wales coalfield.
FOUR WEEKS in the Hands of HITLER’S Hell-Hounds: THE NAZI MURDER CAMP OF DACHAU. Hans Beimler, 1933
Location: The South Wales Miners’ Library. SWCC pamphlets, D.M. Jones Box 3
“To-day there is not a human being in the world – with the exception of the fanatical adherents of the murderers and incendiaries themselves – who still harbours a doubt about the statements and reports in regard to the bestial tortures and mass murders in the S.A. (storm troop) barracks, the union quarters and the concentration camps. And the truth is still much worse than what is already known.”
Hans Beimler (2 July 1895 – 1 December 1936) was a communist, a Reichstag deputy and a Spanish Civil War Volunteer. As an ardent and committed communist, Beimler was a strident anti-Nazi from the earliest days of the regime. The Nazi impetus to rout out potential “enemies” of the new Reich left leading critics, prominent politicians and activists in a highly dangerous situation. As a communist member of the Reichstag, Beimler was considered to be a highly dangerous individual. In April 1933 he was arrested and sent to the new Dachau concentration camp. Beimler was fortunate, as he managed to escape in May 1933.
“Four Weeks” is of particular importance as not only was it almost immediately translated into all major European languages, but it was one of the very first eye witness accounts of the fledgling Nazi concentration system.
Beimler fled to Spain, where he continued his anti-fascist activities, becoming Commisar of the Thaelman Battalion, one of the first International Brigade battalions who fought alongside the Spanish Republicans in the struggle against Franco’s fascist armies. Hans Beimler was killed on 1 December 1936, during the battle of Madrid. The XI International Brigade was renamed the Hans Beimler Brigade in his honour.
Joanne E Waller, South Wales Miners’ Library