Roger Seifert & Tom Sibley
Bert Ramelson (1910-1994) was a remarkable man who lived through remarkable times. Born into a Jewish ghetto in pre-1917 Ukraine, he went on to become Britain's foremost communist during the turbulent years of industrial strife in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. He lived through the first years of the Bolshevik revolution and the ensuing Civil War - during which members of his family were murdered in the anti-Semitic pogroms of the period. After a short spell in Palestine working on a Kibbutz, he fought in the Spanish Civil War as a member of the Canadian contingent of the International Brigade, and then as a tank commander with the British Army in the Second World War. Having been taken prisoner at Tobruk, Ramelson went on to lead a mass breakout from an Italian Prisoner of War Camp. From 1937 onwards, Ramelson lived as a professional revolutionary. After the war he spent nearly twenty years as a full-time Communist Party worker in Yorkshire, but it was his appointment as the Party's National Industrial Organiser in 1965 that brought him to national prominence. During this period he received the accolade of being named by prime minister Harold Wilson as the most dangerous man in Britain. As well as playing a leading role on the industrial scene, Ramelson was also centrally involved in the leadership of the Communist Party, where he played a key role in many a stormy debate - including taking the lead in confronting the Soviet authorities.