Ernst Wimmer

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Ernst Wimmer (born June 17, 1924 in Horn , Lower Austria ; † October 27, 1991 in Vienna ) was an Austrian political journalist , communist , Marxist theorist and politician and aphorist . In the 1970s and 1980s he played an important role in the development of the KPÖ and had a formative influence on sections of the intellectual and cultural left in Austria.

Childhood and family

Ernst Wimmer was born in 1924 as the second child of the former officer of the Austro-Hungarian Army and later director of the Creditanstalt-Bankverein Otto Wimmer (1895–1957) and his wife Hermine (1897–1990) in the small rural town of Horn in the Waldviertel , Lower Austria. At the end of 1925 the family moved to Vienna after his father was appointed there in 1924 within the Anglo-Österreichische Bank . Wimmer grew up in a middle-class family in Vienna-Meidling . The emphatically patriotic, monarchist-Catholic milieu of his parents' house contributed to his anti-fascist attitude. According to Ernst Wimmer's stories, his experiences of the Austrian Civil War in February 1934 had a decisive and lasting influence on the development of his political character.

First political activities during the time of National Socialism

After Austria was annexed to the German Reich in 1938, Wimmer was together with others, including his classmate and later writer Gerhard Fritsch , in the anti-fascist resistance group "Theiss" at his school, the Ignaz-Seipel-Gymnasium (today's GRG Vienna XII Rosasgasse), politically active. Like his sister Edith, Wimmer was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to the Gestapo headquarters in Vienna on Morzinplatz for questioning. While the then 14-year-old Wimmer was released after a brief detention, his sister remained in Gestapo detention for almost a year. Shortly before his Matura in 1942, Wimmer was expelled from his school by the Reich Court and excluded from all schools and universities in the German Reich. Subsequently, he was drafted into the German Wehrmacht and, after completing basic military training in Znaim, trained as a radio operator in Zistersdorf . According to his own statement, he was very fortunate that he was spared the deployment on the war front. In order to refuse the marching orders to “rescue” Berlin, Wimmer deserted together with other Austrian Wehrmacht soldiers during the last months of the war.

Political journalism, marriage and family

After the liberation of Austria by the Allies , Wimmer - he had an extraordinary knowledge of the English, Latin and ancient Greek languages ​​- became an interpreter for the English city commandant in Vienna. As a result, he came with many, partly well-known anti-fascists such as B. Graham Greene , in personal contact and met Austrian communists returning from exile in England , such as the philosopher and Freud student Walter Hollitscher . These contacts politicized him further.

His path led - after a short time as a full student at the University of World Trade in Vienna - to political journalism. He worked for the first Austrian and non-partisan (ÖVP, SPÖ, KPÖ) post-war newspaper Neues Österreich , Der Abend and the cultural-political newspaper Wiener Tagebuch . For political and ideological reasons, he then switched to the central organ of the KPÖ , the daily Volksstimme .

In 1947 Ernst Wimmer married his childhood friend, Eva Margareta Gans (* 1925, † 2005) , who came from a middle-class and respected Jewish family. Their marriage had three sons. From 1960 the family lived in Vienna-Döbling in the Helmut-Qualtinger-Hof . Convinced of the communist cause, especially through his deep friendship with Walter Hollitscher, he decided to live as a professional revolutionary and in 1947 became a member of the Communist Party of Austria together with his wife and political companion Eva.

Ernst Wimmer began his work in the editorial team of Volksstimme under the then editor-in-chief Erwin Zucker-Schilling as a journalist in the foreign policy department. In particular, the well-known editors Jakob Rosner , Fritz Glaubauf and Bruno Frei supported him on his way to political journalism. During these years, Wimmer also devoted himself extensively to his further training. In particular with regard to the classics and knowledge of Scientific Socialism as well as in the fields of literature and art and the Romance languages.

The XX. CPSU party convention in 1956 was a decisive experience for Ernst Wimmer. As a result, the Hungarian uprising in 1956 , Maoism in China and the Prague Spring preoccupied him . Ernst Wimmer continued with the cause of the revolution , communism . That did not prevent him from differentiating; he criticized a few things in his articles. Because of his criticism, the party leadership withdrew Wimmer's foreign policy portfolio from the Volksstimme in January 1964 . From then on he worked in the culture department. In line with his self-image as a professional revolutionary, he also understood this area of ​​work as a battlefield for a revolutionary party and acted in accordance with the political situation.

Theoretical and practical work for the KPÖ

As a result of the invasion of some of the Warsaw Pact states in Prague in August 1968 - as in the world movement - the ideological disputes in the KPÖ over the question of the political-ideological character of the communist parties came to a head. Revisionists and Marxist-Leninists wrestled with each other, particularly over the question of the attitude towards the Soviet Union .

In this dispute, the Marxist-Leninists in the KPÖ created a new organ for the party, the magazine Neue Politik . Ernst Wimmer, together with Walter Hollitscher, became the leading head of the editorial board. After the victory of the Marxist-Leninists within the KPÖ, the magazine Weg und Ziel was completely redesigned . Wimmer became a member of their five-person editorial board.

Between 1970 and 1974 the KPÖ repositioned itself on the basis of "scientific socialism". Wimmer contributed to this, as a Marxist theorist and political journalist in a large number of publications in the various organs of the KPÖ, as well as the organizer of a number of “theoretical conferences” and as a participant in discussion events. At the 21st party congress of the KPÖ in May 1970, Wimmer was elected to the party's central committee.

After the collapse of the real socialist states

The collapse of the real socialist states in 1989 broke the consensus within the communist parties in Western Europe, which had remained Marxist-Leninist until then, about their ideological foundations, including in the KPÖ. Marxism-Leninism as an ideology, with all its political and organizational implications, was now entirely up for grabs. In this situation Ernst Wimmer took the position of maintaining a party with the programmatic goal of overcoming capitalism . In order to be able to make practical use of the actually existing social contradictions, Wimmer placed the defense of scientific socialism and the analysis of capitalism at the center of the politics he pursued, both verbally and in writing.

The political-ideological dispute between the forces around the new chairman Walter Silbermayr , who wanted the KPÖ to be absorbed into a general left, and the orthodox-Marxist forces around Ernst Wimmer, especially at the 27th party congress of the KPÖ in January 1990 for the removal of Ernst Wimmer as ideologue of the KPÖ by the new party leadership.

At the 28th party congress in June 1991, Wimmer stated:

“There is no question for me that there will be a Marxism with new insights, methods and criteria as long as there will be capitalism and beyond. Unfortunately for me it is not so certain whether there will be a Marxist party, a communist type party in the next few years. Not at all because I would have become faint-hearted or insulted of the opinion that such a party no longer had any right to exist, on the contrary. But I have well-founded doubts that what constitutes the party today can pull itself together and pull itself together in order to fulfill functions that only result in a right to exist. "

A few weeks before his death, Wimmer inspired some comrades gathered around him to create a periodical pamphlet, the later "New People's Voice". This should attempt to gather the Marxist-Leninists in the KPÖ and serve as a political weapon in the political-ideological discussion of revisionism.

Aphorist and essayist

Ernst Wimmer left around 8000 aphorisms , which were written over a period of around 30 years. Wimmer chose aphorism to realize his need for literary expression under the conditions of his self-chosen primacy of political-journalistic and political-ideological work as a communist. Almost without exception, he devoted at least an hour a day to rethinking and criticizing what seemed important to him.

  • "Mole cricket - the tendency of the Austrian to be sloppy corresponds to his pride in individuality: In order to assert this, he needs loopholes that allow them."
  • "The sum of the exceptions that someone makes results in the rule that suits them."
  • "Even the most devout don't pray to their God as often as they try to outsmart him."
  • "We behave towards our experiences as we do to subordinates: we tell them what they have to tell us."
  • "If we were unable to endure what we call unbearable, we would have a different story."
  • "No tendency to idealize can be so gentle that you don't slip."
  • "Each of us would be a big enough theater for the other if we weren't usually played with the curtains almost closed."

Only a few of his aphorisms and essays have so far been published in book form. Contrary to the promises made by the party leadership of the KPÖ several times during Wimmer's lifetime and despite a corresponding party congress resolution to publish various works by Ernst Wimmer, this was subsequently omitted. The extremely extensive estate of Ernst Wimmer, including the aphorisms and essays, is owned by his sons.

Ernst Wimmer died of leukemia in the evening hours of October 27, 1991 in Vienna . He was buried on November 7, 1991 as part of a party funeral and with several hundred people in attendance at the Döblinger Friedhof in Vienna. The funeral speech was given by Wimmer's personal friends, the Austrian poet Arthur West and the Austrian sculptor Alfred Hrdlicka .


  • On the situation of the working class in Austria Stern Verlag, Vienna 1973
  • Anti-monopoly democracy and socialism. Globus Verlag, Vienna 1974, ISBN 3-85364-013-3
  • Eurocommunism - A collection of statements (with Franz Muhri, Erwin Scharf)
  • Social partnership from a Marxist perspective Globus Verlag, Vienna 1979
  • State and Democracy - Third Way or Revolution? Globus Verlag, Vienna 1982, ISBN 3-85364-091-5
  • Socialism in Austria's Colors - Program of the Communist Party of Austria , 1982
  • Antonio Gramsci and the Revolution Globus Verlag, Vienna 1984
  • 100 years Hainfeld , 70 years KPÖ - Review & Outlook Globus Verlag, Vienna 1988, ISBN 3853642055
as editor