This talk reconstructs the political and intellectual biography of one of Germany’s most ostracized public intellectuals of the twentieth century: Hermann Budzislawski (1901-1978), a German-born Jewish journalist, publicist, and later professor of Journalism and politician in the GDR.
During the 1930s, he became highly influential as the editor-in-chief of the legendary left-wing weekly ‘Die Weltbühne’, published in exile as ‘Die neue Weltbühne’, first in Prague and later in Paris. Like many intellectuals of his generation, Budzislawski lived through four political regimes in Europe and the United States. Challenged to position himself in these changing political contexts, Budzislawski fashioned himself as a socialist democrat, a western liberal and – ultimately – a hard-boiled communist.
His life story allows for rare insights into the complexities and continuities of political and intellectual engagement in the twentieth century. It is also a lesson about the price of political adaptation and resistance. Furthermore, it provides a striking example of the limits of German memory culture after 1990, which confined Budzislawski’s life-long anti-Fascism to the ash heap of history.