A public lecture sponsored by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences
Thursday, January 21 at 7:30pm
“From Hollywood to the Gallows: The Persecution and Assassination of Otto Katz”
Prof. Anson Rabinbach, Princeton University
Professor Rabinbach will present a lecture on Otto Katz (also known as Andre Simone), an enigmatic Czech-German communist hanged along with eleven other defendants in the notorious Slansky trial in 1952. Katz was what might be called a quintessentially Habsburg Jewish Communist: self-educated, worldly, and fluent in five languages, with no “national” identity apart from his German mother tongue and his Austrian and later, Czech citizenship. Katz spent much of the 1920s in Moscow, and when he returned to Paris in 1932 he was the experienced right-hand-man of Willi Münzenberg, the Comintern’s “cultural impresario of genius” in the Western European Communist movement. He was a key figure in orchestrating the international campaigns of the 1920s, including the International Worker’s Aid (IAH), the Sacco-Vanzetti case, and efforts to secure justice for the Scottsboro Boys, eight African-Americans convicted of rape in Alabama in 1931. In 1933, Katz was responsible for Münzenberg’s most ambitious campaign of the early Nazi years, centering on the Reichstag Fire and the ultimately successful effort to free the four Communists on trial in Germany for conspiracy to commit arson. With Fritz Lang and Dorothy Parker on the masthead, in 1936 Katz founded the Hollywood League Against Nazism, whose prominent members included Eddie Cantor, Charlie Chaplin, Oscar Hammerstein III, Edward G. Robinson, Donald Ogden Stewart, Boris Karloff, and Marlene Dietrich. In 1946, after almost six years in Mexican exile, Katz was called back to Prague to work as a journalist where he eventually became foreign affairs commentator for the Czech Communist Party daily. In June 1952, Katz was arrested and accused of high treason, espionage, sabotage and military treason, and was convicted and sentenced to death.
Anson Rabinbach is professor of modern European history and Director of the Program in European Cultural Studies at Princeton University. He is the author of The Crisis of Austrian Socialism (1983), The Human Motor (1990) and In the Shadow of Catastrophe: German Intellectuals Between Apocalypse and Enlightenment (1997). He is editor and co-founder of New German Critique: An Interdisciplinary Journal of German Studies.
The lecture will take place on Thursday, January 21 at 7:30pm at Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue, Manhattan, New York City.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information, please contact Dr. Eva Derman at email@example.com.
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