Ulrike Breitsprecher: The Significance of Judaism and the Holocaust for the Construction of Identity by Jewish Communists in the Early GDR: Alexander Abusch, Helmut Eschwege, and Leo Zuckermann


In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2010. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, pp. 193–208

After the end of World War II most German Communists returned from western exile to the SBZ in order to actively participate in the construction of an antifascist state. Some of them had been doubly persecuted because of their Jewish origins, but their communist identities generally took precedence over their Jewish ones. Shortly after the founding of the GDR, the SED investigated its members to ferret out potential western spies. Although in other socialist countries these “Parteiüberprüfung” [Party screening"> were more openly anti-Semitic, in the GDR many of those who fell victim to repression had Jewish backgrounds. This article examines three victims` reactions to incidents testing their loyalty. The conclusion here is that there is a direct connection between one`s renunciation of Jewish identity at the start of their political career and belief in the SED`s infallibility.

Über die Autorin

Ulrike Breitsprecher, M. A. phil., geb. 1982, 2002–2008 Studium der Mittleren und Neueren Geschichte, der Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte und der Geschlechterforschung an der Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. Seit 2009 wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin am Global and European Studies Institute der Universität Leipzig und für die Stiftung »Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft«.