Prostest in the Surveillance State: The East German Jewish Dissident Stefan Heym
This talk traces strategies of civil disobedience in Cold War Eastern Germany through the case of the German Jewish dissident Stefan Heym. Born into a German-Jewish family in Chemnitz (now notorious for its recent outbreaks of Far Right violence) in 1913, Heym was an early sympathiser of the Communist Party. He fled from Nazi Germany in 1933 and spent his year’s of exile in Czechoslovakia and the US, serving during WWII as a US Army intelligence officer. He settled in East Germany in 1952, where he witnessed the unfolding of the antisemitic Stalinist show trials in Prague and East Berlin, and subsequently became disenchanted with state socialism (but never the communist idea itself). As well as being an internationally renowned writer, Heym was a life-long advocate of social justice and personal freedom and witness of the 20th struggle for these ideals.