Buchpremiere/Book presentation on the occasion of the Leipzig Bookfare 2003
Hermann Weber, Bernhard H. Bayerlein (eds.):
Der Thälmann-Skandal. Geheime Korrespondenzen mit Stalin
[The Thälmann-Scandal. Secret correspondences with Stalin],
Berlin, Aufbau-Verlag, 2003. app. 365 p.
Series: Archive des Kommunismus – Pfade des XX. Jahrhunderts, vol. II
Reading and discussion with Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. Hermann Weber and
Dr. Bernhard H. Bayerlein. Moderation: Prof. Dr. Werner Bramke Saturday, 22.03.2003, 17.30 h
Zeitgeschichtliches Forum Leipzig,
Grimmaische Straße 6, 04109 Leipzig (near the marketplace)
In cooperation with Aufbau-Verlag and the Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation
Polemically, with pungent irony the social-democratic and left communist press of the Weimar Republic revealed that Ernst Thälmann, leader of the German Communist Party had hidden a major corruption case, which was perpetrated by his friend and political chairman of the Hamburg party organization, John Wittorf. As a consequence, in September 1928, Thälmann, the German workers' leader who was on the way to be a socialist hero, was discharged from his post by an unanimous vote of the Central Committee of the party. After Stalin's intervention he was rehabilitated within a few days paying the price of a still greater dependence of the great “householder“ and a highly disintegrated party which as an instrument of Soviet politics faced the danger of Hitler without any realistic conception.
The Thälmann-Scandal reveals itself as an oppressing parabel about Stalinism and Russian-German relations. 75 years after these events, thanks to the “Archival Revolution“ in Russia, Stalin's and Molotov's secret letters steering this original scandal, widely hushed up in the German Democratic Republic, are published for the first time. Through the reports of other time witnesses, the wide-ranging internal end external mechanisms of this scandal may now be fully understood. These documents, which were hidden in the German Democratic Republic, create a mosaic of Stalin's pathological system which could only work because of a network of secret relations on the personal level (among them also with “Teddy" Thälmann). A number of letters and declarations of Stalin, Thälmann, Molotov, Clara Zetkin, Ulbricht (who turned out to be an active informant towards the Soviet leadership), Bucharin, Manuil'skij, Humbert-Droz, Karl Volk, Gerhart Eisler, Jakob Walcher, published for the first time, together with some press reports about the scandal reveal the rituals of submissions as well as the entanglements and responsibilities of the KPD-leadership. Next to Thälmann, Heinz Neumann, Hermann Remmele and Walter Ulbricht were involved in this poker for influence and power. The published documents originating from Russian, German and Swiss archives reveal how Thälmann, in an attempt of “uncritical deception“ (Clara Zetkin) was progressively and willingly harnessed in the attempt to reorientate the KPD and the Komintern in the sense of Stalin's and Molotov's predictions. These hunting scenes which today seem grotesque – ten thousands of so called “leftists“, “rightists“ or “ conciliators“ were pulled to the party tribunals or simply excluded. When the Social Democratic Party (SPD) was designated as “social-fascist“, and Thälmann himself saw the left social democrats as the “worst enemy“, one could hear the grounding of the great terror. From this period on, the cult of Thälmann associated with the cult of Lenin.
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)