Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Marx-Engels Papers

The IISH now has a thousand inventories available online. The serial number 1000 has been reserved for the Institute's best known and most frequently researched archival collection, the Marx-Engels papers.

These papers were part of the historical archives of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD), which were bought May 19, 1938 after a very tense process of bargaining between the Moscow Marx-Engels Institute and the IISH. The German social democratic party, which was in exile in Paris and in sore need of funds, finally sold its archive for 72,000 Dutch guilders.

At that time the Marx-Engels papers had been stored in a safety deposit box in a bank in Copenhagen. The papers were smuggled out of Germany shortly after Hitler seized power. In September 1938 they were transferred to the IISH British office for the duration of the war. After the war, the Ford Foundation donated the respectable sum of 345,000 dollar towards conserving, completing and inventorying the Marx-Engels papers.

A first version of the present inventory came about at the end of the sixties. Next to the holdings of the IISH it described copied documents originating from other archival institutions, including those from the Moscow party archives. This inventory, corrected and augmented with a new introduction, is now presented on line.

A steady stream of Marx-Engels researchers is guaranteed by the IMES-project, initiated by the IISH. 114 volumes of this historical critical edition of the complete Marx-Engels works are planned.

To this day social movements take their inspiration from Marx. Expressions of this inspiration can be found in the IISH collections as companions of the Marx-Engels archive.

See also professor Arnold Heertje about the significance of Karl Marx and Das Kapital. A film made on the occasion of the IISH's 75th anniversary in 2010.