Ruth Fischer

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Ruth Fischer (1924)

Ruth Elfriede Fischer (born December 11, 1895 in Leipzig , † March 13, 1961 in Paris ) was a German-Austrian politician (including KPD ) and journalist.


Ruth Fischer's parents were the Austrian philosopher and private scholar Rudolf Eisler and the Leipzig butcher's daughter Ida Maria Fischer, who married a year after Ruth Fischer was born. Younger siblings were the composer Hanns Eisler and the journalist and communist Gerhart Eisler .

Due to the father's academic career, the Eisler family moved from Leipzig to Vienna in 1901 . Ruth Fischer grew up in an educated middle class environment in which music and literature were part of everyday life. As a high school student, she was already politically active and joined the bourgeois Jewish organization Freideutsche Jugendbewegung , which represented national communist ideas. From 1914 she studied philosophy , economics , education , psychology and politics at the University of Vienna ; after the outbreak of war in 1914 she helped found a left-wing radical student group.

On July 10, 1915, she married the journalist Paul Friedländer , with whom she had their son Friedrich Gerhart on December 24, 1917, later as F. G. Friedlander (1917–2001) mathematics professor in Great Britain. This remained their only child.

Political career


Fischer joined the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Austria (SDAPÖ) led by Victor Adler in 1914 . Three years later she became a member of the Free Association of Austrian Students. In the spring of 1918 she and her husband initiated the magazine Weckruf , of which she became the editor in charge. This newspaper should appear for the first time on May 1st. However, the magazine was banned before it was first published and the first edition, which had already been printed, was confiscated.

The KPDÖ (Communist Party of German-Austria), later the KPÖ, was founded in Vienna on November 3, 1918, with Ruth Fischer in the lead . Ruth Fischer had the membership book with the number 1. Because of her participation in the armed occupation of the editorial staff of the Wiener Neue Freie Presse , she spent three weeks in prison a short time later.

On February 9, 1919, she gave the main speech to 42 delegates at the first party congress of the KPDÖ, which at that time already had 3,000 members. During this time she was also the editor of the KPDÖ organ Der Weckruf / Die Rote Fahne and editor of the magazine Die revolutionäre Proletarianin .

In August 1919, the Friedländer family went to Berlin at the invitation of Willi Munzenberg and after differences of opinion within the party between war returnees and workers on the one hand and the young bourgeois intellectuals on the other . From September on Ruth Eisler called herself "Ruth Fischer" after her maiden name.

Left wing of the KPD

From 1920 Ruth Fischer worked on the theoretical KPD organ Die Internationale . In 1921 Ruth Fischer, who was divorced from Friedländer that year, and the Ukrainian communist Arkadi Maslow joined the central committee of the KPD and took over the leadership of the Berlin KPD. In the following years Ruth Fischer developed into one of the most important figures of the left wing of the party, who criticized the party leadership around August Thalheimer , Heinrich Brandler and Ernst Meyer , especially after the failed attempt at uprising in Hamburg in 1923.

In order to obtain German citizenship , she formally married the communist and Comintern employee Gustav Golke in 1923 , which was divorced in 1929; however, she lived with Maslow until 1941.

As early as March 1923 she showed herself to be a particularly radical representative of the left wing. At the district party convention Rhineland-North (Essen), she introduced a resolution according to which “the workers” in the Rhine-Ruhr area should take advantage of the Franco-German conflict and found a workers' republic; this republic should then send an army to central Germany and seize power there. The resolution was rejected by 68 votes to 55. At that time, Fischer said: "The day will come when all comrades will stand behind us and throw out those who are on the basis of democracy and who are toying with the Weimar Constitution."

According to a report by the councilor communist Franz Pfemfert in the magazine Die Aktion , Ruth Fischer gave a speech in the summer of 1923 that was based on anti-Semitic stereotypes and presented the National Socialist slogans against Jewish capitalists as an unconscious class struggle against non-Jewish capitalists must follow. The performance was part of the so-called “ Schlageter course”, in which the KPD tried to “expose” their ideology in the nationalistically charged climate of the Ruhrkampf through discussions with nationalist National Socialist forces - hence the reference to the non-Jewish capitalists. This risky course was heavily criticized by the party left, initially even by Fischer himself. It soon proved to be a failure and was abandoned after a few weeks.

In 1924 Ruth Fischer was elected to the top management of the party. As chairman of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the KPD, she headed the party and determined the ultra-left course of the time; the main opponent was the SPD. At that time Ruth Fischer became a candidate for the Executive Committee of the Communist International (EKKI). From mid-1924 she was a member of the Reichstag (3rd place on the list) and a member of the Prussian Landtag (1st list) for the Communist Party of Germany.

As spokeswoman for the parliamentary group in the Reichstag, she commented on Gustav Stresemann's Locarno policy as follows: “Mr. Stresemann, you cannot deceive anyone that you offered England and France the price of concession to surrender German soil and German workers for a future war against Russia. German foreign policy wants to turn Germany into a vassal community, which seeks connection to the English robbers in order to rob in its shadow. " In the same speech Fischer called the League of Nations a" consortium of robbers, with the task of idealistically sugarcoating the wars. "

Exclusion from the KPD in 1926

As early as August 1924, the Maslow-Fischer group came under criticism from the Moscow party leadership under Stalin and the Comintern under Nikolay Bukharin for “ultra-left deviations” . In this context, Ruth Fischer met in September 1925 in Moscow with Stalin together, and were prevented in the following ten months from returning to Germany. During this time she was accommodated in the Moscow Hotel Lux . At the same time, Arkadi Maslow was held in custody in Berlin for high treason. On September 1st, Ernst Thälmann took over the leadership of the KPD.

In June 1926 Ruth Fischer escaped from Moscow and returned to Germany, in the same year Maslow was released from prison. In August 1926, Ruth Fischer and Maslow were expelled from the party. As members of the Reichstag group of Left Communists , they tried together v. a. with Grigory Zinoviev, the left opposition to the Comintern course under Stalin and Bukharin to rally around. For a short time in 1928 they were members of the KPD's left-wing split-off Leninbund , but left it again because they believed that an anti-KPD would be wrong and, after Zinoviev and Kamenev surrendered to Stalin, they hoped to be re-accepted into the KPD . When they were denied resumption in 1929, she initially withdrew from politics and worked as a pedagogue and social welfare worker in the Berlin district of Wedding until 1933 .

National Socialism and Exile

After the takeover of the Nazi Party , she fled on 9 March 1933, together with Maslow from Germany. In August 1933 she was on the first expatriation list of the German Reich under the name Elfriede Gohlke . They went into exile via Prague to France , where, together with a few other comrades, they founded the Gruppe Internationale and worked with Trotsky until 1936 .

In the turmoil of the war, simultaneously persecuted by Nazis and Stalinists, Ruth Fischer reached New York via southern France, Spain and Portugal in the spring of 1941. Maslow, who had accompanied Fischer on his flight from Paris to Lisbon , did not get an American visa and from Lisbon, separated from his wife, came to Havana , Cuba , in May 1941 . On November 21, 1941, Maslow was found unconscious on the street near his hotel in Havana and died shortly afterwards.

Ruth Fischer assumed Maslow had been murdered by the Soviet secret service and now began her campaign against the Stalinists . From 1944 she published the news bulletin The Network , in which she reported on various kinds of Stalinist activities. In 1945 she received a research assignment on the history of communism at Cambridge University . In 1948 her book Stalin and German Communism was published . Under the alias Alice Miller she was one of the key figures of the secret service organization "The Pond".

Grave in the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris

From 1947 the US government took rigorous action against alleged and actual communists. Before the Committee for Un-American Activities (HUAC), Ruth Fischer confirmed her brother Gerhart's work for the KPD, Comintern and GPU and described him as complicit in the deaths of Hugo Eberlein and Nikolai Bukharin . She described her brother Hanns as a “communist in the philosophical sense”. At the trial against Gerhart she was the main witness for the prosecution. As a result, Gerhart Eisler was arrested and Hanns Eisler was expelled.

In 1948 she made it possible for Franz Jung to immigrate to the USA and not only supported him financially. She remained closely connected with him during her time in Paris.

After 1955, she lived as a political journalist in Paris and published her works Von Lenin zu Mao and Die Umformung der Sowjetgesellschaft and published in various magazines such as the Frankfurter Hefte .

Ruth Fischer died in Paris in 1961 and was buried in the Montparnasse cemetery.

Ruth Fischer's name

  • Born as Ruth Elfriede Fischer
  • Elfriede Eisler after the marriage of the parents and the declaration of marital status for both daughters
  • Elfriede Friedländer by marrying the publicist Paul Friedländer (1891–1943)
  • Ruth Fischer; nickname introduced when moving to Berlin in 1919
  • Elfriede Golke after a mock marriage with Gustav Golke in 1923 in order to obtain German citizenship and the right to stand for election
  • Liane Boßhardt using a forged passport
  • Elfriede Eisler-Pleuchot, in New York after the war


  • Communist Sex Ethics . Vienna 1920 (published under the name Elfriede Friedländer).
  • German children's primer . Rowohlt, Berlin 1933 (together with Franz Weimann).
  • Stalin and German communism. The transition to counterrevolution . Frankfurter Hefte publishing house, Frankfurt am Main 1948.
  • Stalin and German Communism . Cambridge / MA, 1948.
  • From Lenin to Mao. Communism in the Bandung Era . Diederichs, Cologne, Düsseldorf 1956.
  • The transformation of Soviet society. Chronicle of the reforms 1953–1958 . Diederichs, Düsseldorf 1958.
  • Stalin and German communism. With a preliminary remark by Klaus Kinner . Vol. I: From the emergence of German communism to 1924 . Vol. II: The Bolshevikization of German Communism from 1925 . 2 vol. [1948], Berlin 1991, ISBN 3-320-01635-0 .


  • Mario Keßler : Ruth Fischer (1895–1961). A life with and against communists. Böhlau Verlag, Cologne 2013. ISBN 978-3-412-21014-4 .
  • Ruth Fischer, Arkadij Maslow : renegade against will. From letters and manuscripts of exile. Edited by Peter Lübbe. Oldenbourg, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-486-55331-3 .
  • Sabine Hering , Kurt Schilde : fighting name Ruth Fischer. Changes of a German communist. dipa-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-7638-0358-0 .
  • Mario Keßler: Anti-Stalinism or Anti-Communism? Ruth Fischer as a "key witness" against the "Communist conspiracy" in the USA. In: Yearbook for Historical Research on Communism. 2011, pp. 205-222, ISSN  0944-629X .
  • Fischer, Ruth . In: Hermann Weber , Andreas Herbst : German Communists. Biographisches Handbuch 1918 to 1945. 2nd, revised and greatly expanded edition. Dietz, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-320-02130-6 .
  • Annelie Schalm: Ruth Fischer - a woman in the upheaval of international communism 1920–1927. In: Biographical Handbook on the History of the Communist International: A German-Russian Research Project. Berlin 2007 (editors: Klaus Meschkat , Michael Buckmiller ), pages 129–147.
  • Felix Pankonin: Profile of a renegade. Ruth Fischer's exemplary biography. In: Dan Diner (Ed.): Yearbook of the Simon Dubnow Institute, XIII. 2014, pp. 491-521, ISBN 978-3-525-36943-2 .

to the family:

  • Jürgen Schebera: Hanns Eisler. A biography in texts, pictures and documents. = Eisler. Schott, Mainz a. a. 1998, ISBN 3-7957-2383-3 (biography about Hanns Eisler).
  • Ronald Friedmann: Ulbricht's broadcaster. A Gerhart Eisler biography. 2007, ISBN 3-360-01083-3 (biography of Gerhart Eisler).

on the political environment:

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A memory of the communist Ruth Fischer . In: Wiener Zeitung , May 25, 2001; Retrieved November 18, 2013
  2. ^ Hermann Weber: The change of German communism. The Stalinization of the KPD in the Weimar Republic . Volume 1. European Publishing House, Frankfurt am Main 1968, p. 47 f.
  3. "Hang the Jewish capitalists." Ruth Fischer as an anti-Semite. In: Vorwärts , August 22, 1923, evening edition, p. 2 f., Accessed on July 21, 2019.
  4. Olaf Kistenmacher: From “Judas” to “Jewish Capital” ( Memento of the original from September 10, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , in German: Olaf Kistenmacher: From "Judas" to "Jewish capital". Anti-Semitic ways of thinking in the KPD of the Weimar Republic, 1918–1933, in: Matthias Brosch u. a. (Ed.): Exclusive solidarity. Left anti-Semitism in Germany. From idealism to anti-globalization movement, Berlin: Metropol 2007, pp. 69–86, see also Mario Keßler: The KPD and anti-Semitism in the Weimar Republic (PDF; 94 kB), p. 4 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. Ralf Hoffrogge : The Summer of National Bolshevism? The position of the KPD left on the Ruhrkampf and its criticism of the “Schlageter course” of 1923 . In: Sozial.Geschichte Online, No. 20/2017.
  6. Erich Eyck : History of the Weimar Republic . Volume 2. P. 26 f.
  7. Michael Hepp (Ed.): The expatriation of German citizens 1933-45 according to the lists published in the Reichsanzeiger . tape 1 : Lists in chronological order. De Gruyter Saur, Munich 1985, ISBN 978-3-11-095062-5 , pp. 3 (reprinted 2010).
  8. Peter Lübbe (ed.): Ruth Fischer / Arkadij Maslow: Abtrnig against Will. From letters and manuscripts of exile. R. Oldenbourg, Munich 1990, pp. 16-20 (“Introduction” by the editor).
  10. Mario Keßler: Ruth Fischer. A life with and against communists (1895–1961) Böhlau, Cologne Weimar Vienna 2013, pp. 630–648, ISBN 978-3-412-21014-4 .
  11. Ruth Fischer; Short biography