(Summary of Tape 134)
Henry Suss was brought up in a Jewish family, and worked in the clothing industry as a skilled machinist. He played a part at all levels in the Tailor and Garment Workers' Union - but keeping his feet firmly on the ground as a shop steward. He learnt politics the hard way during the 1930s when over thirty of his extended family lost their lives in concentration camps. Henry died in 2007.
Henry Suss was born on 6 November 1915. By 1936 Henry was active in his trade union and had joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. He joined the Theatre of Action, which was performing plays and doing agitational propaganda work in the Manchester area.
One example was Clifford Odet's Waiting for Lefty, which they took to such places as Bolton Co-operative Society and Hyde Socialist Church, and trade union branches.
Each year, on the anniversary of the Russian revolution, the Theatre of Action would join up with people like Ewan MacColl and organise important pageants, celebrating the anniversary of the revolution, which would be linked up with very large meetings at the Free Trade Hall, with well-known speakers.
Also the Theatre Union in Manchester, which was a grouping of the smaller dramatic societies, came together to stage a larger play, called Fuente Ovejuna or The Sheep-well, by Lope de Vega. It was very appropriate as it dealt with the struggle to fight for democracy in a little town in Spain, symbolising the fight of the Spanish people to defend their republic. This was performed in the Free Trade Hall for several days and was very popular.
They also took part, along with the Ramblers' Association, in the campaign for access to the mountains. They would go annually to a place called Winnats Pass in the Peak District, where there was a natural theatre, and do mass declamations (items of poetry and prose) about access to the mountains.
Resources about Henry Suss in the library collection
The library holds a number of taped interviews with Henry Suss, plus a collection of his election leaflets from the 1950s and 1960s. Click here to search the library catalogue