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The Nihilist Club ie. Berner Street

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  • #16
    Thanks for posting the link, Robert.

    This analysis of these socialist/anarchist clubs based on their architecture and the aesthetics of their interiors is intriguing, but one ponders if this 'aesthetic banality' was born more out of necessity than some symbolic meaning referencing a repudiation of opulence. That certain journalists and others make note of these conditions, they still appear to be offered disparagingly rather than a mere descriptive observation.


    Originally posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
    ...
    The décor may be scant but I was surprised to see how normal-looking the club appears, with members of the opposite sex and kiddies in fancy hats on hand for a show... So possibly not the vipers' nest of radicals as often implied!

    I have a feeling in any case that the club took on a more radical and anarchist bent after 1888, and particularly heading into the 20th century, and that the place might have been more milquetoast in the era of the Ripper crimes. Robert, do you or others perhaps have that impression, too?
    Indeed it did, and by 1892, when the building was apparently about to be condemned, attendance had fallen off sharply as a result of the riff.

    " The presence of Marx and Lasalle’s portraits alongside Proudhon’s at the Berner Street may have been a hangover of that club’s earlier days as a more ideologcally inclusive venue – a compromise between its socialist and anarchist adherents – whereas the emphasis on executed terrorists like Ravachol and O’Donnell at the Autonomie suggests less conciliatory motivations combining provocation with martyrology. Further explanation might be found in anarchism’s historical immaturity, which, in its anarcho-communist formulation had only recently emerged from the fallout of the Paris Commune a decade earlier (anarchism in general had a longer pedigree, but even this only dated, at least in Europe, to the 1840s)."
    Best Wishes,
    Hunter
    ____________________________________________

    When evidence is not to be had, theories abound. Even the most plausible of them do not carry conviction- London Times Nov. 10.1888

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    • #17
      Prospective Customer: Is this the Nihilist Club?

      Doorman: No.
      Kind regards, Sam Flynn

      "Suche Nullen" (Nietzsche, Götzendämmerung, 1888)

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Robert St Devil View Post
        Historical feng-shui took a knock, Debs; and, I can't have the staircase in the middle of the building as I had thought. The thesis mentions that a wall was knocked down to make one large hall. My thoughts, this reconstruction was done on the first-floor rooms; and, I believe it is illustrated in Renouard's rendition, with the man standing under the arch of the opening between rooms. The room aft appears to be utilized as the stage, with the piano; and, the room in the foreground must be the audience-hall (my suspicions put this room nearer to the front of the building, above Berner Street). To me, it looks like there is a door at the back of the stage-room, and possibly leads out onto the landing to the staircase at the back of the house.

        The three drawings of Renouard's that I saw were mostly subject-based, and don't fill-in many details on the inside of the building (ie. Chinese lanterns, photos of Marx). The inclusion of children in the illustrations does seem staged to present the club as orientated towards the family.
        Genius!

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        • #19
          Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post
          It was 'a regular hell', apparently, in 1887:

          [ATTACH]18419[/ATTACH]
          Wow! Does that really say that Louis D (if he was caretaker in 1887) had 5 kids living at the club?

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
            Wow! Does that really say that Louis D (if he was caretaker in 1887) had 5 kids living at the club?
            That's what it says. Charles Booth, the poverty map man, carried out an economic survey of St George in the East in 1887. The really irritating thing is that no names are mentioned. Whoever was the caretaker of the club in 1887 apparently had 5 children at the time.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
              Wow! Does that really say that Louis D (if he was caretaker in 1887) had 5 kids living at the club?
              Joshua,

              Perhaps not Louis D, who was the steward, but possibly this man, Israel Goldstein, in the residential part of the building:



              In 1887, Booth's researcher identified the caretaker of the IWMC, living at 40, Berner Street, as a married man with 4 children of school age and one under a year old. He was a Jew, 'supposedly a tailor' and carried out 1b work (I've no idea either). No name was provided.

              In 1888, Booth's researcher recorded a tailor named Goldstein at 40, BS. The grade 1B2 was recorded and he was described as a Gen(eral) T(ailor).

              The 1891 census shows a Polish-born tailor named Israel Goldstein living at 40, BS. He is married with 5 children, ages 17, 11, 8, 6 and 2. His mother and brother-in-law are also part of the household as are two boarders, one of whom is shown as occupying 3 rooms. The number of rooms occupied by the Goldsteins is not shown, which means it was at least 5. Quite a substantial household.

              The age of the youngest child doesn't match, but otherwise Izzy G looks promising as the club's 1888 caretaker.
              Last edited by MrBarnett; 11-17-2018, 03:41 PM.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by MrBarnett View Post
                Joshua,

                Perhaps not Louis D, who was the steward, but possibly this man, Israel Goldstein, in the residential part of the building:



                In 1887, Booth's researcher identified the caretaker of the IWMC, living at 40, Berner Street, as a married man with 4 children of school age and one under a year old. He was a Jew, 'supposedly a tailor' and carried out 1b work (I've no idea either). No name was provided.

                In 1888, Booth's researcher recorded a tailor named Goldstein at 40, BS. The grade 1B2 was recorded and he was described as a Gen(eral) T(ailor).

                The 1891 census shows a Polish-born tailor named Israel Goldstein living at 40, BS. He is married with 5 children, ages 17, 11, 8, 6 and 2. His mother and brother-in-law are also part of the household as are two boarders, one of whom is shown as occupying 3 rooms. The number of rooms occupied by the Goldsteins is not shown, which means it was at least 5. Quite a substantial household.

                The age of the youngest child doesn't match, but otherwise Izzy G looks promising as the club's 1888 caretaker.
                At 12:55am a Leon Goldstein passed by the open gates...is this possibly the same man?

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Robert St Devil View Post

                  Historical feng-shui took a knock, Debs; and, I can't have the staircase in the middle of the building as I had thought. The thesis mentions that a wall was knocked down to make one large hall. My thoughts, this reconstruction was done on the first-floor rooms; and, I believe it is illustrated in Renouard's rendition, with the man standing under the arch of the opening between rooms. The room aft appears to be utilized as the stage, with the piano; and, the room in the foreground must be the audience-hall (my suspicions put this room nearer to the front of the building, above Berner Street). To me, it looks like there is a door at the back of the stage-room, and possibly leads out onto the landing to the staircase at the back of the house.
                  Diemschitz spoke to an Echo reporter, on murder morning, and was taken into the club...

                  "Is this where the 'sing-song' took place," asked the reporter, glancing around the room in which the conversation took place.

                  The informant replied in the affirmative. It was a room on the second story of the house - all the houses, or nearly all, in this street are, by the way, two-storied houses. At the upper end of it was a platform, on which stood a table and a musical instrument. It was furnished with deal tables and chairs, and afforded accommodation for some hundred persons. The members were just about to break up when the steward burst in upon them and changed their mirth with startling suddenness. The last song was being sung. Instantly there was a dead silence, and a crowd of eager men were hurrying down the narrow stairs and out into the yard, where they gazed horror-stricken at the sadly-mutilated figure at their feet.


                  What looks like a door in the photo (post #2), is probably one of the two upstairs windows, that looked out onto Berner street.

                  Regarding the overall layout (Morning Advertiser)...

                  Baxter: Now how are the rooms in your club used?
                  Wess: The room on the ground floor is used for meals. In the middle of the passage there is a staircase leading to the first floor, and at the back of the meal-room is a kitchen. The passage leads from the front room to the yard.

                  Wess paraphrased in The Times: At the back of the dining-room was a kitchen. In this room there was a small window over the door which faced the one leading into the yard. The remainder of the passage lead into the yard. Over the door in the passage was a small window, through which daylight came. At the back of the kitchen, but in no way connected with it, was a printing office. This office consisted of two rooms. The one adjoining the kitchen was used as a composing-room and the other one was for the editor.

                  It seems the staircase was just offset from the kitchen door, which led - across the internal passage - to the door along the laneway of the yard. So those who hurried down the stairs, and out into the yard, must have taken a right, then immediate left turn, at the bottom of the staircase.

                  The upstairs area, was of course used for political lectures and discussions, as well as entertainment. Wess recalls the situation on returning to the club at about 10:30...

                  A discussion was proceeding in the lecture-room, which has three windows overlooking the courtyard. From ninety to 100 persons attended the discussion, which terminated soon after half-past eleven, when the bulk of the members left, using the street door, the most convenient exit. From twenty to thirty members remained, some staying in the lecture-room and the others going downstairs. Of those upstairs a few continued the discussion, while the rest were singing. The windows of the lecture-room were partly open.

                  If a wall had been knocked out so that the lecture room can accommodate 100 people, and the staircase is midway along the length of the building, then I would suppose it was actually two walls that had to be knocked out - one either side of the staircase. I wonder if it were structurally sound?
                  Last edited by NotBlamedForNothing; 01-24-2021, 06:12 AM.
                  Andrew's the man, that is not blamed for nothing

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