Anna Beyer (1909-1991)

Beyer was an active member of ISK who briefly lived in the UK before emigrating to the US in 1941.Little is known about Beyer’s time in the UK.1

Beyer actively supported the work of the ISK in one of its largest bases in Frankfurt where she lived. In 1933, she took part in ISK resistance actions, sold its paper, Der Funke and ran her ‘suitcase’ campaign. When the case was put down, it imprinted the slogan ’Nieder mit Hitler’ on the pavement as the attached sponges had been soaked in special ink.

Beyer opened a vegetarian restaurant in 1936 to finance the ISK : she – and the ISK – were committed to vegetarian food. They used the restaurant both to provide a gathering place, including for Jews and also for couriers: the table legs were hollowed out to hide material. Inevitably the Gestapo got wind of the enterprise within the year and the network was smashed.

Beyer fled to the UK in 1937 via Belgium, France and Switzerland. In Paris, she worked with the ISK group around Willi Eichler (see separate biography). A small publishing house financed by the vegetarian restaurants in Germany printed books, magazines and articles which were then smuggled into Germany. But in 1938, after the collapse of the Popular Front, political refugees were being ‘returned’ to Germany: Beyer fled to the UK via Switzerland.

In London, she received a work permit as a housekeeper for private households and later worked in the kitchen of a vegetarian restaurant. Beyer also became involved with a group of German trade-unionists and focused on educating young German union members. She became a member of the ‘Free German Movement in Great Britain’ which pledged support for Allied policy.

In September 1944, Anna Beyer, together with Hilde Meisel (see separate biography) became ‘agents’ of the OSS. Originally trained in Scotland, she was dropped as part of a special unit near Lake Geneva. Although ‘invited’ to ‘get into’ Germany, Beyer refused. After the war, Beyer returned to Germany and represented the SPD on different local and national committees.

1 There does not appear to be much written about Beyer: much of the information here comes from a detailed Wikipedia article.