Helmut Damerius

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Helmut Damerius (born December 16, 1905 in Berlin-Wedding , † September 29, 1985 in East Berlin ) was a member of the KPD and founder and head of the agitprop group Kolonne Links , director and actor. As a political emigrant in the Soviet Union , he was innocent in Soviet custody for many years from 1938. After his rehabilitation in the 1950s, he headed the concert and guest performance management in the GDR .

Life path

Damerius was born in Berlin in 1905 as the son of a gardener and a flower maker and spent his youth in “red Wedding”. In the 1910s he did an apprenticeship as a flower maker, worked among other things as an errand boy in an upholstery workshop and later as a house painter. He gathered his first political impressions in the circle of the Lankwitzfriends of nature ”. In 1922 Damerius joined the " Anarchist-Syndicalist Youth of Germany " (SAJD) and in 1923 the KPD. He was a member of the “Proletarian Speaking Choir Berlin-Steglitz ” and the “Proletarian Stage Berlin-Mitte ”. In 1927/28 Damerius founded the agitprop group "Kolonne Links", which he also led for many years. For his successful advertising work, Damerius was awarded a four-week trip to the USSR by the party in the spring of 1931 . Damerius took this as an opportunity to emigrate permanently to the Soviet Union with the "Column Links". Here he performed especially in front of foreign workers. He studied at the State Institute for Theatrical Arts and acquired Soviet citizenship .

On March 17, 1938, in the course of the so-called " German Operation ", he was arrested under false accusations by the secret police NKVD , of which he had been a secret employee since 1936, and taken to the Lubyanka prison . Damerius was later charged in a private trial with " suspicion of espionage " and sentenced in Moscow in October 1938 to seven years in a labor camp in the Gulag . This was followed by seven years imprisonment under humiliating conditions in the so-called “reform camp” Solikamsk (Northern Urals , Perm region ), where Damerius had to work hard in the forest. Immediately thereafter, he was imprisoned for two more years. In 1947 Damerius was released from camp imprisonment on condition that he lived in Kazakhstan in what is known as "free settlement". He had to endure another eleven years in Kazakhstan without any possibility of escape.

In May 1955 the unjust judgment from the time of the Great Terror was overturned and Damerius was rehabilitated, whereby the overturning decision stated:

“According to the decision of the Moscow Military District War Tribunal on September 22, 1955, the 1938 judgment has been overturned and Helmut Damerius has been reinstated in all rights. Wanda Bronskaja's statement at the time that Helmut Damerius wanted to advertise her for the Hitler Youth is fictitious. "

- Decision of the Moscow Military District War Tribunal, September 22, 1955

In 1956 he was allowed to travel to the GDR, but was given the "strict and punitive requirement" not to report in writing or in writing about his past in the Soviet Union. From 1960 to 1961 Damerius was director of the GDR artist agency .

In the last years of his life, Damerius worked on his past in writing. At the beginning of the 1980s he began to secretly write about his terrible experiences and the "years of his senseless arrest, the loss of his mid-life". In 1982 he secretly handed over the finished manuscript to Werner Mittenzwei . Damerius died in East Berlin in September 1985. In 1990 his memoirs were published posthumously under the title Under False Accusation - 18 Years in Taiga and Steppe .


  • Across ten seas to the center of the world: memories of the "Column Links" . Henschel, Berlin 1977.
  • Under false accusation: 18 years in taiga and steppe . Structure, Berlin and Weimar 1990, ISBN 3-351-01776-6 .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Werner Mittenzwei: curriculum vitae and history. Sketch for a portrait of a man against the background of the century , in: Helmut Damerius: Under false accusation: 18 years in the taiga and steppe . Construction, Berlin and Weimar 1990, pp. 331–365, here: pp. 335f.
  2. Werner Mittenzwei: Curriculum Vitae and History , in: Helmut Damerius: Under false accusations . Construction, Berlin and Weimar 1990, pp. 331–365, here: p. 335
  3. Helmut Damerius: Under false accusation . Structure, Berlin and Weimar 1990, pp. 236, 249
  4. Helmut Damerius: Under false accusation . Structure, Berlin and Weimar 1990, p. 315f.
  5. Helmut Damerius: Under false accusation . Structure, Berlin and Weimar 1990. Blurb
  6. First edition published in 1990 by Aufbau-Verlag , Berlin and Weimar, ISBN 3-351-01776-6 .