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GERMAN BRIEF: BOOKS Hertha Gordon-Walcher: Her dream of a just revolution unfulfilled

Hertha Gordon-Walcher

May 2023: The daring biography of Hertha Gordon-Walcher, by author Regina Scheer, was awarded the 2023 Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair. The author describes a woman who lived during the most part of the 20th century believing in an uprising of the poor, exploited and abused. While her dream remained unfulfilled her life continues to inspire those who strive for a more equitable world. In the words of the biography’s publishers: (Translated from German and lightly edited) An alternative to capitalism is possible, a world without war, poverty and exploitation. So believes the young Jewish woman Hertha Gordon, later Walcher. She convinced of this when she joins the Socialists in the 1910s and commences her struggle. She experiences the great dream of revolution at first hand, but also the failure and painful end of the illusions. The story of her life mirrors the momentous events of the 20th century. Regina Scheer, author of Bittere Brunnen (Bitter Fountains), tells the story of an extraordinary woman in turbulent times, marked by existential conflicts among like-minded people during the Weimar democracy, while the Nazis were gaining threatening strength, by resistance, flight and exile, as well as the hope of building a different Germany after the war. Regina Scheer knew Hertha Walcher (1894-1990) since her childhood and had conversations with her over many years. She offers an extraordinary, very private view of an impressive woman who travelled clandestinely to Moscow to deliver documents and met Lenin and Stalin there; whose companions were Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, Wilhelm Pieck, Bertolt Brecht, Willy Brandt. Full of empathy, Scheer tells of a life full of privation in the service of a great idea, of indestructible hope, of solidarity and consideration, but also of bitter quarrels among people who pursued the same goals. In the words of the Leipzig prize jury (Translated from German and lightly edited) Bittere Brunnen (Bitter Fountains) by Regina Scheer traces the extraordinary as well as exemplary life of Hertha Gordon-Walcher, and in doing so simultaneously chronicles the socialist and feminist movements of the 20th century. The book goes far beyond an ordinary biography: the author masterfully and transparently interweaves historical research with personal memories. She was helped in this by her masterful memory, which she used to create a collection piece by piece. This narrative nonfiction book stands for great openness in dealing with inconsistencies, and blanks in our knowledge of the course of life - and is a precise documentation of political contexts whose traces shape the present. In the words of Alexander Cammann from Die Zeit (Translated from German and lightly edited) This monumental biography has quite rightly won the non-fiction prize of the Leipzig Book Fair. This book is a real historical page-turner, and moreover, it is dedicated to one of the little appreciated figures from the second row of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Hertha Gordon-Walcher certainly had her difficulties with the Communist Party, was expelled from the party in 1928 after the Stalinist take over, was smart enough to emigrate to the US, and stupid enough to return to East Germany (German Democratic Republic), to which she remained loyal throughout her life despite her permanently marginal position in the state’s ruling party (SED). On other pages: Books | Opera | Cinema

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