Brünn-Harris-Watts Collection

Biographical / Historical Note

Max Watts (1928-2010) was born as Thomas (Tomi) Schwaetzer into a secular middle-class Jewish family in Vienna, Austria. Tomi and his father Emil, a doctor, fled to London in the 1930s, his mother Gisela (Giza) Schwaetzer-Barinbaum (1895-1981), a journalist and later psychoanalyst, and sister to New York. His father committed suicide in London 1938 after getting a letter saying his application for an extension of their visas had been refused, and Tomi stayed in foster homes and became a member of the Young Communist League at the age of 12. He went to New York in 1944, studied there but left for Israel when he was drafted for the war in Korea. After a stay in Israel he went to Paris where he studied geophysics. As a geophysicist he worked in France, Algeria and Cuba. During the Vietnam War he helped GI deserters by getting them from Germany via Amsterdam to Paris, where deserted American soldiers were not prosecuted. Started with a group of deserters Resistance Inside The Army (RITA), with the purpose of building class consciousness among the US army's rank and file. Around this time he started using the alias Max Watts. In 1970 he was expelled from France to Corsica and later to Austria. Watts eventually settled in Dilsberg near Heidelberg, West Germany, where he did GI work as he did in Paris. He also started writing articles for various media as a journalist, mostly on military subjects. In 1981 Max Watts emigrated to Australia where he continued his journalistic and activist work, focusing on Australian politics, Aboriginals, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Bougainville, but also Israel and the GDR, calling himself a 'semi-retired journalist, writer and stirrer'. See the obituaries of Max Watts by Vivienne Porzsolt in The Sydney Morning Herald of December 29, 2010 and on Mygreennews.

Wolf Dieter Brünn (1951-2010) studied political sciences and was a squatter in the Görlitzer Strasse in Berlin-Kreuzberg. He was active in the draft resisters movement and the squatter movement in Berlin. He started the publishing house Harald Kater Verlag and published books about GI resistance and antimilitarism. In 1986 Dave Harris initiated the Archiv Soldatenrechte (Soldiers' Rights Archive) which incorporated his own collection and the materials Max Watts had left behind in Heidelberg in 1981. Dieter Brünn was the archivist and ran the Archiv Soldatenrechte in his Berlin apartment. In 1998 they acquired the archives of the Military Counseling Network, a network of GI counselors that operated from different German towns that was active during the Gulf War. See the obituaries of Wolf Dieter Brünn in Der Tagesspiegel of November 25, 2010 by Gregor Eisenhauer and on DadAWeb.

Dave (David) Harris (1938-2006) was active in the GI resistance as a contributing meber of the GI newspapers Where It's At, Up against The Wall and Forward. He also founded the GI Counseling Center in Berlin in 1974. He was active in film making, theater and youth work.

Custodial History

Most of the Brünn-Harris-Watts materials in the conglomerate, Collection, Library and Papers, were transferred from Berlin to Amsterdam in 2010. Later on, in 2012, an accrual was received from the heirs of Max Watts, covering his Australian and Pacific (Bougainville) years (1981-2010).


The materials included in this collection are categorized in various sections. At first come the about 650 GI Movement periodicals like newspapers, newsletters and press releases, published in various countries, in the period 1969-1978 (nos. 1-664). In the second section a large group of about 150 titles of periodicals relating to anti-war activity and conscription issues, published in various countries, is described (nos. 665-817). A third section contains periodicals in which articles on the Vietnam War, peace and antimilitarism are published (nos. 818-834). After these three sections follow the (sub)sections with audiovisual materials as audio cassettes and audiotapes, videos, DVD's and films, posters, textile and stickers and objects (nos. 835-879). After these audiovisual materials there is a rubric of ephemera on the GI Press (nos. 880-933) and a last one containing brochures and booklets (nos. 934-941).

In the list of periodicals below is mentioned which numbers of each periodical are available in the Brünn-Harris-Watts Collection. It is necessary to emphasize that some periodicals in the Brünn-Harris-Watts Collection are also present in the library of the IISH. In these cases is mentioned: 'see also IISH catalogue'. It can happen that numbers are available at two places. But the Brünn-Harris-Watts Collection contains unique numbers, the IISH catalogue also.

Although the core of the collection is the GI-movement, the collection contains also underground publications, documents concerning minorities in Australia and the Pacific, concerning environmentalism and publications from German social movements. These files and documents were left in the collection to give an impression of the interests of Brünn, Harris and Watts.

Periodicals and leaflets are described by James Lewes.

Photos and the 'RITA Notes' (RN's) are kept in the Brünn-Harris-Watts Papers.


Periodicals and leaflets: GI Movement newspapers, newsletters and press releases, issued in various countries 1969-1978. About 650 various titles as for instance ACT - The RITA’s [Resisters Inside the Army] Newsletter (Paris) 1968-1970, The Advocate (Washington, D.C.) 1969-1973; Amex-Canada 1970-1977; Barras (Köln) 1973-1983; The Bond (New York) 1967-1974, Camp News (Chicago) 1970-1973), For Immediate Release (New York) 1968-1974, Forward (Berlin) 1971-1978, Objection (Lyons) 1975-1979; The Omega Press (Okinawa) 1972-1975, Overseas weekly (Frankfurt am Main) 1969-1973, Recon (Philadelphia) 1973-1976 and Rührt Euch (Germany) 1970-1981; periodicals from various countries relating to anti-war activities/movements and conscription issues as conscientious objection but also military service and rights of conscripts 1967-2005; periodicals with articles on the Vietnam War, peace and antimilitarism 1962-2008.

Audiovisual material: audio cassettes with recorded telephone conversations, interviews and speeches by Max Watts and others 1973-1980; audio cassettes with spoken letters by Max Watts and David Cortright on RITA, soldiers movements and international trade unions for soldiers 1977-1980; audio cassettes related to the activities of Max Watts as a journalist in Bougainville 1990-1996 and Australia 1993-2003; video's and dvd's mostly self recorded by Max Watts a.o. on the Vietnam War, the Gulf war, desertion, the army, social injustice, ecology and refugees 1990-2005.

Other material such as gramophone records 1961-1974, stickers and objects 1965-1980, posters 1968-1999 and textile 1970-1991.

Processing Information

List made by Harriet Stroomberg and Mieke Stroo in 2015

Alternative Form of Material

The IISH provided the GI Press Project from the Wisconsin Historical Society with more than 90% of the pages digitized, which contribute nearly 60% of the titles. The bulk of the work was done by James Lewes.

Related Material

See also the Brünn-Harris-Watts Papers and the Brünn-Harris-Watts Library at the IISH.