Eisler, Gerhart

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EISLER, GERHART (1897–1968), East German Communist. Born in Leipzig, he was the son of Rudolf *Eisler and became a convinced Communist after serving with the Austrian army in World War i. In 1930 he served as political secretary in the Far East bureau of the Communist Trade Union International in Shanghai. Eisler went to Spain in 1936 and later to France, where he was interned in 1940. On his release he left for the United States where he became a leading Communist agitator. In 1949 he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for contempt of Congress when he refused to be sworn as a witness before the House of Representatives' Un-American Activities Committee. While free on bail pending an appeal, he escaped to England on a Polish liner, after paying 25 cents to tour it as a visitor. On arrival in England he was arrested on the application of the United States Embassy, and a political storm arose when it was suggested that there was collusion between the British and American secret services. Eventually Eisler was released and flew to Prague, where he engaged in Communist propaganda activities for four years. Later he was minister of information in East Germany (until 1952) and became chairman of the East German radio authority. He died while on a mission to the Soviet Union.


The Times (London, April 21, 1968). add. bibliography: C. Epstein, The Last RevolutionariesGerman Communists in their Centuries (2003).