Meyer (Max) Zwalf (1901–1954) was born in Amsterdam and was involved in politics from an early age. He was an official of the Amsterdam social democratic youth organisation and later worked with the Marxist Rudolf Kuyper in a private institute for higher education. From 1923 to 1930 he was librarian and archivist of the Association of Social Democratic City and County Councillors. In 1931 he was recruited by Edo Fimmen, the secretary of the International Transport Workers Federation, to be the research and publications officer of the Federation. He held the position until his death. With other members of the secretariat, most of whom were Dutch or Belgian by birth, he left Amsterdam in 1939 and established an office in London. By the time of his death, he was one of the six surviving Amsterdamers who were still employed by the Federation.
In 1938 the International Transport Workers Federation had a library of 3800 volumes and was receiving 400 journals and newspapers in 20 languages. Zwalf was regarded as the intellectual in the organisation and its congress accepted his analyses in such works as:
Reparations and War Debts from the Labour Point of View (1932) [not held in the National Library]
European Transport: The Way to Unity (1946) [not held in the National Library]
He wrote a Dutch supplement to Max Beer’s History of Socialism (1929) and was the author of a number of political pamphlets and articles, seven of which are held in his collection.
The Zwalf Collection was purchased by the Library in 1961 from the London bookseller B. Weinreb.
The Zwalf Collection consists of 535 pamphlets on socialism and related subjects published in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, France and Britain between 1875 and 1950.
The writers include Max Adler, Edouard Bernstein, H.N. Brailsford, Alfred Braunthal, Nikolai Bukharin, G.D.H. Cole, Maurice Dobb, Friedrich Engels, Dmitri Furmanov, Rudolf Hilferding, Anatoli Kamensky, Karl Kautsky, Petr Alekseevich Kropotkin, Nadezhda Krupskaya, Ferdinand Lassalle, Vladimir Ilich Lenin, Wilhelm Liebknecht, Jack London, Karl Marx, William Morris, Friedrich Muckle, Walther Rathenau, Upton Sinclair, Werner Sombart, Georges Sorel, Leon Trotsky, J. van der Wijk, Sam de Wolff, Hekter Zoccoli and Max Zwalf. Some of the works are translations; for instance, works of Friedrich Engels, Karl Kautsky and William Morris in Dutch, and Jack London and Upton Sinclair in Russian.
The collection also includes two journals:
De Socialistische Gids (Amsterdam, 1916–24)
Neue Zeit (Stuttgart, 1897–1908).
The pamphlets in the Zwalf Collection are kept together as a formed collection at 335 ZWA. They are stored alphabetically by author in 55 pamphlet boxes. The boxes are labelled ‘Dutch Socialist Pamphlets’. A catalogue of the collection is held at Nq 016.335 AUS. The journals have been integrated in the general collection.
Lewis, Harold, The International Transport Workers Federation 1945–1965: an organisational and political anatomy, Ph.D. thesis, University of Warwick, 2003
Mulder, Bertus, Max Zwalf (1901–1954) and His Vision on Post-war European Transport, in Bob Reinalda (ed.), The International Transportworkers Federation 1914–1945: The Edo Fimmen Era, Stichting Beheer IISG, Amsterdam, 1997, pp. 241–2 (not held in the National Library of Australia).