Holly Stand

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Hannelore (Holly) Stand died on August 16 2009 after a lifetime of engagement in the struggle for peace, equality and socialism. She was the wife of Mille Stand and the mother of Kurt Stand[1].

Early life

Hannelore was born into a Ruhr coal-mining community in 1924;

her early life was marked by that community’s revolutionary aspirations – and by the defeat of those aspirations. She left Germany in 1933 having witnessed the barbarism of fascism in power: Book burnings, arrests, brutal beatings, killings. Those of her family members who remained in Germany paid a heavy price during the years that followed for remaining true to their Communist convictions.

US refuge

The United States was a refuge, but not a respite, from the harshness of the depression, the sacrifices of political struggle. Her parents were each deeply engaged in the anti-fascist and labor movements; her father as a miner then as a building maintenance worker, her mother as a domestic worker. As her parents organized, she was frequently uprooted; Hannelore attended 12 schools in 4 states over the course of 4 years. She was unable to complete high school when finally back in New York to stay in 1938; though that did not prevent her from becoming a well-read and well-educated person – nor from eventually getting her GED when Kurt and his brother were in college[2].


Hannelore became politically active early in her own right, joining the Young Communist League USA and the Nature Friends – a workers’ hiking group banned by the Nazis in Germany and listed as a subversive organization in the U.S. during the years of McCarthyism. It was within these groups that she built many of the friendships that would last a lifetime, and met my father Mille whom she married in 1943 just before he went overseas as a soldier during World War II. During the war, Holly stand worked in a garment factory, participated in Soviet War Relief efforts, and was involved in efforts to maintain an anti-fascist presence in the German-American community of Yorkville (in Manhattan).

Her activism continued after the war, especially in work on behalf of Vito Marcantonio and his American Labor Party Congressional campaigns, when redistricting designed to weaken him added portions of Yorkville to his East Harlem base. In the 1950s-60s, she and my Mille Stand dedicated time and energy to Camp Midvale in New Jersey, a left-wing community that survived the "height of Cold War anti-Communist hysteria". They also worked for many years as part of the editorial committee of the Communist Party USA -associated publication German-American, and for the (Social Democrat-inclined) Workmen’s Benefit Fund. Their work with the WBF in the 1970s-80s was especially concerned with building housing for elderly German-immigrant domestic workers who, when forced to retire, often found themselves with no home, and no family to turn to. And for all the years of its existence, they were actively engaged in building solidarity with the German Democratic Republic.

Holly Stand was at the 1963 March on Washington, supported school integration in her Bronx neighborhood. She walking “Ban the Bomb” picket lines in front of the United Nations with her when Kurt was a child. Later Kurt, with his own children, marched with her in protest of the first Gulf War in Washington DC. To the end of her days she was engaged; in the 1990s with the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, and these last years with the Unitarian Church in Westchester, NY[3].

Greetings to Committees of Correspondence conference

Holly Stand and Mille Stand sent greetings to the Second Committees of Correspondence National Conference, held July 12-14 1996, in New York.[4]

Obama's hope

According to Kurt Stand[5];

Living her values also meant that my mother always spoke her mind in the organizations to which she belonged, the socialist societies she supported. Her critical independence of thought meant that the pain she felt when the GDR and the Soviet Union collapsed – the pain of knowing how much so many sacrificed to build a better world – did not lead to disillusionment, did not lead to a sterile dogmatism, but rather to a search for what to learn, how to go forward. Nonetheless, the early years of the 21st century were difficult ones for my mother. The Bush Administration’s glorification of war, justification of torture, the demagoguery and lies, all brought back memories of fascism. Obama’s election brought back new hope, a confirmation of the humane values of the people in the U.S. Yet she had no illusion that further progress would come easily or quickly.