Hans Marchwitza

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Hans Marchwitza in conversation with young people (1959)
Marchwitza as a Spanish fighter (GDR postage stamp)
"Hans Marchwitza" cultural center in Oelsnitz in the Ore Mountains
Memorial plaque on the house, Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 27, in Babelsberg
Grave of Hilde and Hans Marchwitza in the Friedrichsfelde central cemetery in Berlin

Hans Marchwitza (born June 25, 1890 in Scharley near Beuthen, Upper Silesia , † January 17, 1965 in Potsdam-Babelsberg ) was a German worker poet, writer and communist.


Hans Marchwitza was the son of the miner Thomas Marchwitza and his wife Thekla Maxisch. Marchwitza was already working underground in 1904 at the age of 14. In 1910 he was recruited as a miner in the Ruhr area .

But just two years later he was unemployed because of participating in a strike . Until he was drafted into the military in 1915, Marchwitza earned his living as an unskilled worker. Until 1918 he served as a soldier on the Western Front . After returning from the war, he became a member of the soldiers' council that same year. Marchwitza joined the USPD in 1919 . In the following year he fought as platoon leader of the Red Ruhr Army against the Kapp Putsch , Freikorps and the Reichswehr . In 1920 he also joined the KPD . When France occupied the Ruhr area , Marchwitza also offered bitter resistance.

He had since become unemployed again as a participant on the strike. His first attempts at writing also fall during this time. Alexander Abusch , an editor at Ruhr-Echo , supported and promoted Marchwitza and published his first works. From 1924 Marchwitza was also able to publish the Red Flag and Red Front in the communist newspapers . In 1929 he was invited to the Soviet Union along with several journalists and writers . In 1930 Marchwitza made his debut with his first book Sturm auf Essen (report on the fighting in the Ruhr area in 1920). Immediately after the National Socialists came to power, he fled to Zurich , where he sought asylum as a political refugee in April 1933. He joined the Swiss Communist Party under an alias . The camouflage was discovered and Marchwitza was expelled again in autumn 1934. Until 1935 he was for the KPD in the French-occupied Saarland and fought as an officer in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 .

In 1938 he returned from Spain and was immediately arrested and interned when crossing the border into France . In 1941 he managed to flee to the USA . There he was also interned in New York City , but was able to work as a construction and unskilled worker. In 1942 he met Hilde Schottlaender there, whom he married in 1945. In 1946 the couple returned to Germany, first to Stuttgart , then in 1947 to Babelsberg , in the Soviet Zone . In 1950 he became a founding member of the GDR Academy of the Arts . In 1950, the GDR national prize was awarded for this task . This award was given to him again in 1955 and 1964. In the same year he was appointed cultural attaché in Prague , which he held until 1951. On the occasion of his 70th birthday he was awarded the Karl Marx Order and the honorary title of Dr. phil. hc from Humboldt University.

Hans Marchwitza died on January 17, 1965 in Potsdam at the age of 74. His urn was buried in the "Pergolenweg" grave complex at the Socialist Memorial at the Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery in Berlin-Lichtenberg .


The city of Potsdam built the “Hans Marchwitza” cultural center with the renovation and expansion of its old town hall at the town hall in 1966. In 1995 the house was de-designed by removing the poet's writing on the facade. With the clubhouse of the miners in Oelsnitz / Erzgeb. Another building was named after him during the GDR era as the “Hans Marchwitza” cultural center. Since 1979 the 1st Polytechnic High School in the East Berlin district of Marzahn and the adjacent street through the residential area have been called Marchwitzas.


His autobiographical trilogy “The Kumiaks” (1934, 1952, 1959) and his autobiography “Meine Jugend” (1947) provide sketches from the life of German working-class families in Silesia and the Ruhr area.

  • Storming of Essen (report, 1930)
  • Rolling mill (novel, 1932)
  • The Kumiaks (novel, 1934)
  • My youth (1947)
  • In France (1949)
  • Between Us (Stories, 1950)
  • My beginning (stories, 1950) Verlag Rütten & Loening, Potsdam
  • The homecoming of the Kumiaks (novel, 1952)
  • Pig iron (novel, 1955)
  • The Kumiaks and their Children (novel, 1959)
  • In America (novel, 1961)
  • Poems (1965)
  • In France / In America (1971) (The autobiographies of 1949 and 1961 in one volume)
  • Hanku. A Childhood (1974)
  • Works in separate editions. 8 volumes. Grandstand, Berlin 1960 ff.


Web links

Commons : Hans Marchwitza  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Erich Günthart, Romy Günthart: Spanish opening 1936. Red Zurich, German emigrants and the fight against Franco . Chronos-Verlag, Zurich 2017, ISBN 978-3-0340-1375-8 , p. 49-57 .
  2. Helga Klug: The “Marchwitza” is turning fifty . In: Horst Jäkel (Ed.): Heimat DDR. Experiences, considerations, findings, documents . 1st edition. GNN Verlag, Schkeuditz 2015, ISBN 978-3-89819-416-7 , pp. 215 f .
  3. Freiepresse.de