The Death of the KPD: Communism and Anti-Communism in West Germany, 1945-1956

The Death of the KPD: Communism and Anti-Communism in West Germany, 1945-1956

The Death of the KPD: Communism and Anti-Communism in West Germany, 1945-1956

The Death of the KPD: Communism and Anti-Communism in West Germany, 1945-1956

Synopsis

The West German Communist Party was banned only eleven years after it had emerged from Nazi persecution. Using material available only since the end of the Cold War, Patrick Major shows how the once-powerful KPD foundered on the unrealistic aims of its East German masters, as well as the anti-communism of the Anglo-American occupiers and the Adenauer government.

Excerpt

On a spring evening in East Berlin in March 1990, I emerged after a long day from a soundproofed cabin at the rear of one of the many readingrooms frequented in the making of this book. the establishment in question belonged to what had until recently been the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, but which some pieces of black sticky tape, artfully arranged over the old name-plate, now proclaimed to be the 'Institute for the History of the Labour Movement'. (The institute underwent a second metamorphosis in 1993 to become the 'Archive Foundation of the Parties and Mass Organizations of the gdr'.) the deathly silence and almost complete darkness, culminating in an immovable door, confirmed that I had been inadvertently locked in. Looking for a means of escape, I discovered a telephone directory marked 'For the use of the comrades only'. Dialling what I thought was the porter's number, I explained my plight and was relieved to hear that he was on his way up. After twenty minutes of agitated waiting, however, I telephoned again, repeating exactly where I was--on the fifth floor--to which I received the chilling reply: 'There is no fifth floor.' It transpired that I had been talking to a man in a building several miles away, in another part of Berlin entirely.

My first and foremost debt is to the staff of the above-mentioned foundation, not only for releasing me later that evening from my Kafkaesque predicament, but also for guiding me through the most important files needed in this study. in particular, Volker Lange and Ute Räuber deserve special mention. I must also thank the staffs of all the other archives consulted, especially the model service provided at the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz, and the Archiv der sozialen Demokratie in Bonn-Bad Godesberg. a special debt is also owed to Dr Ernst Schmidt for sharing his personal archive at the Ruhrland Museum in Essen, and to Dr Paul Müller for granting me early access to his recently deceased father's papers. I should also like to thank the Interior Ministry in North Rhine-Westphalia for being open-minded enough to declassify a large number of its documents and for being so generous with photocopying. Dr Horst Romeyk, of the Hauptstaatsarchiv in Düsseldorf, was also instrumental in making these files available.

The German Academic Exchange Service funded one year of research under Professor Hans Mommsen at the Ruhr University Bochum, who . . .

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