In Günther Grass’s novel Der Butt, one of the key protagonists, the Danzig working-class woman Lena Stubbe meets the chairman and undisputed leader of the SPD, August Bebel, when he visits the city in 1896. Grass describes Bebel’s reception amongst the workers of Danzig:

When, surrounded by the Stubbe family, August Bebel left the workers’ house at Brabank 5, a large crowd was waiting outside; they cheered him and wished him well, for they believed in the good cause. Workers’ songs were sung. He had to shake many hands. Men and women had tears in their eyes. The May evening donated a sunset. A police lieutenant who with his men was keeping an eye on the crowd said, ‘They’re more excited than if it were the kaiser in person!’ And a workingwoman, Frau Lewandowski from next door, answered the lieutenant: ‘He is our kaiser.’ 1 When the news of Bebel’s death on 13 August 1913 reaches Lena Stubbe, she decides to sacrifice all her savings to attend the revered leader’s funeral in Zurich. Grass depicts the funeral thus: ‘Until Saturday the body had lain in state in the auditorium of the Volkshaus. From there the dead Bebel was transferred to the house of his widowed daughter on Schönbergstrasse. That was where the funeral procession formed. In the lead the Konkordia band. Then more than five hundred wreath bearers, among them Lena Stubbe, who had not wanted to delegate her wreath. Then came the hearse, followed by several carriage loads of flowers, the carriage bearing the bereaved family, and two more occupied by persons too frail to walk. The bearers of the traditional banners were followed by delegations from Germany (including the Reichstag fraction), France, England, Austria, Switzerland, and other groups. Then came the Harmony band, followed en masse by the 55political organisations of Zurich and environs. The trade unions brought up the rear. Even the Neue Züricher Zeitung, always ready to sneer at the labour movement, was amazed at the size of the crowd and wondered why. Bound for Sihlfeld, the procession made its way down Rämistrasse, across the Kai Bridge, down Thalstrasse and Badener Strasse. The churches remained silent except for the Jakobskirche, where the bell ringer was evidently a comrade.… Such was the press of the delegations that Lena could not get into the little Greek temple, which would have been hard to identify as a crematorium. She was barely able to hand over her wreath, and later to hear a word here and there of the speeches. The speakers included Hermann Greulich, a member of the Swiss Nationalrat, the Austrian Viktor Adler, the Belgian Vandervelde, the Reichstag deputy Legien, the Russian Plekhanov.… Clara Zetkin spoke in the name of the socialist women of all countries. She called Bebel the man who ‘awakened millions of women.’ She said, ‘No one has ever fought with a more sacred fury than you against all the injustices and prejudices that have plagued our sex.…’ His ashes were interred beside those of his wife, Julia. At the end, as August Bebel had requested in his will, the Grütli male choir sang Gottfried Keller’s song about Ulrich von Hutten: ‘Thou luminous shadow, we thank thee …’ 2