Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm, a lifelong socialist who passed away last month was one among world’s most eminent historians.

Hobsbawm’s household, which was Jewish, was living in Egypt when Hobsbawm was born. They moved to Vienna, Austria, two years later, and from there to Berlin, Germany.He joined the German Communist Party at the age of 15, just an year before Adolf Hitler came to power. This was a reasonable thing for a Jewish schoolboy in Berlin to do. Hobsbawm  had a British passport and so was able to leave Germany for London when the Nazis took over.

He later recalled: “In Germany there wasn’t any alternative left. Liberalism was failing. If I’d been German and not a Jew, I could see I might have become a Nazi, a German nationalist. I could see how they’d become passionate about saving the nation. It was a time when you didn’t believe there was a future unless the world was fundamentally transformed.”

Hobsbawn did well in his English school and he won a scholarship to study history at King’s College, Cambridge. While a student joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. He also edited the student weekly, Granta.On the outbreak of the Second World War Hobsbawn joined the British Army. Despite speaking German, French, Spanish and Italian fluently he was turned down for intelligence work. He served with the Royal Engineers and later with the Educational Corps.

After the war Hobsbawm returned to Cambridge University where he completed a PhD on the Fabian Society. In 1947 he became a lecturer at Birkbeck College. Hobsbawn joined many eminent people in forming the Communist Party Historians’ Group. In 1952 members of the group founded the journal, Past and Present. Over the next few years the journal pioneered the study of working-class history.Hobsbawm’s first book,Primitive Rebels, was published in 1959. This was followed by The Age of Revolution(1962), Labouring Men (1964), Industry and Empire (1968), Bandits (1969).

Hobsbawm, unlike most of his friends, remained a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. However, he did protest against the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. In 1970 he became professor of history at Birkbeck College, a post he held for twelve years.

Other books by Hobsbawn include Revolutionaries (1973), The Age of Capital (1975), History of Marxism (1978), Workers (1984), The Age of Empire (1987), On Nations and Nationalism (1990), The Age of Extremes(1994),  History (1997), Uncommon People (1998), The New Century (1999), Interesting Times (2002) and Globalization, Democracy and Terrorism (2008).

Association of Indian Communists and Indian Workers Association (Great Britain) registered their deep condolences on Hobsbawm’s demise. IWA General Secretary , send a letter to Mrs.Hobsbwam, Marlene Schwarz which says :

Dear Marlene,

It is with heavy heart that we convey our heartfelt condolences at the departure of one of our great historians a beacon and inspiration  to progressive people the world over.

A physical light has been extinguished but the illumination of his work will continue to shine the path for generations to come, as we look forward to his works being published for years to come.

We believe that it was our great privilege to have met him and sat in his presence. We were fortunate enough to have accompanied the General Secretary Prakash Karat and  political bureau  member Sitaram Yechury MP of the Communist Party of India Marxist  during their visits to his warm welcoming home.We share the pain and loss of such a gifted human being able to move forward Marxist understanding from the point however is to change it to  “How to change the world”. We shall carry forward the thoughts and ideas that Professor Eric Hobsbalm has bequeathed to us.

Please convey our condolences to all family and friends of our beloved professor and  let us know of the memorial service, so that we can pay our sincere respects.

In sympathy

Harsev Bains, National General Secretary,IWA (GB)

Hobsbawm’s demise is a great loss and looking into him and his life will be a great opportunity to understand the left ideological turmoil and complexity of the 20th century.