Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Tributes to Arend van de Poel, Librarian at the International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE)

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I met Arend van de Poel on a small number of occasions. He was great company. He is pictured below with his IIRE colleague Alex de Jong. Colleagues and Comrades who knew Arend much better than me have written warm and interesting tributes – see below :

John Meehan, January 7 2023

Alex De Jong and Arend van de Poel, with books donated by the late Hungarian Marxist George (György) Hodos – at the International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE)

Maral Jefroudi :

We lost our dear comrade, librarian at IIRE, Arend van de Poel last Wednesday.
He was one of a kind (nevi şahsına münhasır in Turkish) person.
I am glad I could enjoy his friendship (Enjoy?! he would be surprised)- his reactions could be compared to the famous grumpy cat.
He hated vegetables, loved cats, and didn’t enjoy hospitals…
We would talk about a lot of random stuff besides politics, from jogging to playing piano and he would listen to my ventings periodically.
Also he was one of the few old white men who understood the current debates on race, gender, and sexuality and managed to be an anti-racist, anti-sexist socialist being at the right side of the debates.

I will miss him a lot…

Herman Pieterson, a comrade who knew him longer than I do, has written the obituary below for him.

Source :

Aug. 21, 1968. Warsaw Pact tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia to end an experiment in democratic reform. That same afternoon, twenty members of the Socialist Youth stood on Dam Square with protest signs, flags and a banner. That same evening on the front page of Het Parool a photo with, among others, Arend van de Poel.

On January 4, 2023, I received the news that Arend had died. I had been afraid of it; he had been in a coma in the hospital for some time. The last time I spoke to him was on December 15 at a book presentation at the IIRE. His foot had been ailing lately, but he was in good spirits; it was going a little again.

The first time I spoke to Arend was at a meeting of the SJ in late 1966. Like me, he had joined the SJ, the independent left-socialist youth organization of the time. After that we saw each other more and more often. He also lived in Amsterdam West, and together we joined the department committee. Arend came from a dissident communist nest, with ties to the Bridge Group, later the SWP. In the fall of 1968 an article by Arend appeared in Esjee, the magazine of the SJ, about the Scholieren Kern Groep. Many of those scholars coming from his high school would become members of Ward West. When the SJ board wanted to abandon its course toward a new revolutionary socialist party, an opposition arose, of which Arend was part. We were expelled from the SJ at a chaotic congress in September 1969. Together with others we formed Revolte, first as a federation, later with the title revolutionary communist youth organization. Arend was active in the Amsterdam chapter and in its daily leadership. The speed at which he cycled through Amsterdam was legendary.

Arend was also the one who read the most books of all of us and certainly on a wider range of subjects, from Nordic Sagas to Ben Traven, from classical Russians to modern English. And from Luxembourg to Mao. Not surprisingly, his party name in the 1970s was Wieland.

For some time Arend had also been a member of the PSP. When the action group Proletaries Links was formed, he joined it. Active both through Revolte and PL, he contributed to the formation of a new united section of the Fourth International in 1972, the RCB. The RCB merged with PL in the formation of the IKB in 1974. Thereafter, he wrote for the magazines and held various positions in the Amsterdam chapter.

Arend van de Poel was above all a rock solid and reliable party leader. Not one of hyperactivism, on the contrary. When things got too busy for him, he sometimes took a time out. Then he always came back. But if for understandable reasons there was some resistance to our fast pace, he didn’t think you had to make a different policy because of it.

In recent years I saw him less often. Arend remained a member of Boundless, I did not. He became the librarian of the IIRE. There we still spoke to each other regularly. Always in broad agreement when it came to the broader view of the world, Arend always equally sharp and erudite. He had an almost British kind of humor. We know we will always miss that now.

See also :

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