Irish Republicanism has always been internationalist both in its origins and its world view. In the 1970s and 1980s Sinn Féin held an influential Foreign Affairs Department. The Department was an important voice to bring the Irish struggle to various international organisations.
In 2007 Republican Sinn Féin re-established the International Relations Bureau to organize international support for Irish freedom throughout Continental Europe. Due to the growth in quality and quantity, the International Relations Bureau was replaced by the formal structure of the “International Bureau” of Republican Sinn Féin in 2009. The International Bureau of Republican Sinn Féin is actively organising support for the cause of Irish Freedom in Continental Europe, Canada, Asia, and Australia.
In spring 2014, the European members of the International Bureau of Republican Sinn Féin formed the Republican Sinn Féin Anti Makapaltis/Fritz Langsdorf Cumann Republican Sinn Féin. The goal of the Makapaltis/Langsdorf Cumann is to organise support for Irish Freedom in Continental Europe, promote the views of the Irish Republican Movement and raise awareness of the situation in Ireland, British occupation and the plight of the Political Prisoners.
The members of the Cumann see themselves in line with revolutionaries from all over Europe who supported Irish Freedom since the early 20th Century. Therefore the names of Anti Makapaltis and Fritz Langsdorf were chosen for the Cumann.
One of the accounts in the 16 Lives book series says:
‘Liam Tannam took in two foreign seamen, a Swede and a Finn, who wanted to join the fight. He gave the Swede a rifle and the Finn, who had no English, a shotgun, but when he stepped off the barricade he hit the gun on the floor and it went off. Plunkett came running and shouted at the man not realising he had no English. Tannam explained that they wanted to fight the British as Russia oppressed their countries the same way. ‘Amazing!’ said Plunkett and, for safety, the two men were put filling tins with explosives. They stayed to the end and were captured with the rest.’
The name of the Finn is recorded as ‘Anti Makapaltis’. The Finn Makapaltis and Swedish man fought in the GPO in 1916. It is believed that both worked as sailors on a Russian merchant ship docking in Belfast the weeks before the Easter rising. The Swedish and the Finnish men were supporters of anti-imperialist movements in their own countries, notably Russian imperialism in Scandinavia. When they heard news of the outbreak of a revolt in Ireland, they travelled to Dublin to support Ireland in their fight against British imperialism.
Both men remained in the GPO until the surrender and were captured by British forces. The Swede was released almost immediately when the Swedish Consul intervened on his behalf. Makapaltis was detained in Kilmainham Jail and later transferred to Knutsford on May 3. He is recorded in the Irish Times Handbook of the Rising as being detained in Knutsford, England, as ‘Makapaltis Antli, Russian, Belfast Seaman’. His release date is recorded as June 2 as ‘Makapaltis Antle Zecks, Finland’.
Fritz Langsdorf was a German national who joined the IRA and became known as the ‘German IRA man’. Langsdorf moved to Ireland in the 1930s and instantly joined the IRA. In 1939, George Plant was arrested while cycling near Enniscorthy and brought before the Special Criminal Court. He was convicted with possession of incriminating documents, with membership of an illegal organisation and with having refused to account for their movements. Plant was tried alongside with Fritz Langsdorf, of 204 Lower Kimmage Road, Crumlin, who was charged with having assaulted and obstructed a Civic guard and refusing to account for his movements, and Patrick Woods, 16 Buckingham St, Dublin, who was also charged with having incriminating documents, with membership of an illegal organisation and with having refused to account for their movements. Langsdorf was interned in the Curragh Internment Camp from 1939 until 1945. Additionally, he served several sentences and had been interned for Republican activities also in Arbour Hill and Mountjoy.
In 1951 he married Margaret Doyle of Rathfarnham in Dublin. She came from an old Republican family with long roots in the area. They have one daughter. Margaret Langsdorf was a member of Cumann na mBan. She remained true to the ideals of Republican women’s organisation throughout her life. In 1969 she took the Republican side when reformists attempted to hijack the Republican Movement and became a founder member of the Martin Forsythe Cumann of Sinn Féin, Rathfarnham. She was for many years an officer of the Dublin Comhairle Ceantair of Sinn Féin. In 1985 she was honoured by the Republican Movement at that year’s CABHAIR Testimonial Dinner.
In 1986 when once again erstwhile Republicans took the road to respectability and the parliamentary woolsack, Maggie remained true to Republican principles and became active in Republican Sinn Féin, holding office in the Anne Devlin Cumann, Rathfarnham, and in the Dublin Comhairle Ceantair until her death.
The active support of the Finn Anti Makapaltis and the German Fritz Langsdorf are shining examples for the international impact the Irish Freedom struggle had on revolutionaries from abroad. The members Anti Makapaltis/Fritz Langsdorf Cumann see themselves in this international, revolutionary tradition, fighting against social injustice at home and supporting the cause of Irish Freedom.
Membership to the Anti Makapaltis/Fritz Langsdorf Cumann is open for everyone sharing the principles of Republican Sinn Féin and the Republican Movement. Everyone who wants to support the cause of Irish Freedom in Continental Europe should contact the Anti Makapaltis/Fritz Langsdorf Cumann Republican Sinn Féin Europe: email@example.com.
For confirmation: International PRO Republican Sinn Féin, Anti Makapaltis/Fritz Langsdorf Cumann, firstname.lastname@example.org