Around 100 people attended CND Vice President Walter Wolfgang’s funeral service in North London on 6 June, many of them London CND members. Known to many as the old gent evicted from 2005 Labour conference for heckling then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over the Iraq War and detained under the prevention of terrorism Act, Walter was a lifelong nuclear disarmer and anti-war activist, and a campaigner for Palestinian rights.
An organiser of the first Aldermaston March, Walter was active in London Region CND from its inception in the 1950s and was a committee member until he died. Walter was also a Labour Party member and a friend of Jeremy Corbyn for many years. Corbyn’s message was read at the funeral service:
‘I am sorry I cannot be with you today. I am attending the commemorations for D-Day in Normandy.
‘While I am there, I will be thinking about all those who suffered at the hands of Nazism and fascism, but especially Walter and his family, who were put through so much by that ideology of evil.
‘I first got to know Walter in the 1970s, through the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I remember chairing meetings of the CND council. Every single council member would speak at length, all on the same topic. When nobody could take any more, I would try and bring the meeting to a close. It was always at that point that Walter would raise his hand to make his contribution.
‘But you couldn’t say “no” to Walter. You knew that whatever he wanted to say, it would be important and interesting. We loved him for it.
‘I continued to work with Walter through CND, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, and the Campaign for Non-Alignment, in which Walter played a huge part. I will be eternally grateful for all the support he gave me, particularly at the 2005 General Election, where he spent hours on end fundraising, and telephone canvassing for our campaign in Islington North.
‘And I will never forget him turning up at my house with a present in hand, the very first visitor after my eldest son Ben was born.
‘I was so proud to be able to present him with a Labour Party Merit Award at our Annual Conference last year, where he delivered a televised video message to the conference, emphasising the importance of peace, justice and socialism. He was an inspiring comrade, a brilliant mentor, and a wonderful friend. He is a huge loss to the international labour movement and the peace movement.
My wife Laura and I were among the last people to visit Walter in hospital before he died. He said to me: “Jeremy, we are going to win aren’t we?” I said “yes”, and he smiled. And that is how I will remember him.’