Scholem, Werner

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SCHOLEM, WERNER (1895–1940), communist politician and lawyer. Scholem was the third son of the Berlin printer Arthur Scholem and his wife, Betty, and the elder brother of Gerhard (Gershom) *Scholem. After a short involvement with Zionism, Scholem became a member of the Socialist Party at the age of 18. Being attached to the leftist and pacifistic wing of the spd, he refused to volunteer for service in World War i. In 1915 he was drafted and was wounded a year later. In 1917, while taking part in an anti-war demonstration in uniform, he was arrested and accused of high treason, yet was released after a few months. Scholem moved to Hannover and married a comrade from the workers' movement, Emmy Wiechelt. After the foundation of the uspd (Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany) he became editor of the Party's paper, Volksblatt, in Halle/Saale. In 1921 he became the youngest member of the Preussischer Landtag and was appointed to the editorial board of the Rote Fahne. He was elected to the Reichstag in 1924 and became a leading figure of the kpd (Communist Party of Germany). In 1926 he was expelled from the Communist Party as a prominent protagonist of the so-called "ultra-left" anti-Stalinist opposition. Scholem turned away from politics and resumed his law studies, which he finished in 1931. After the Nazis came to power, Werner and Emmy Scholem were immediately imprisoned, but soon released. In April they were arrested again, this time by the Gestapo, and accused of high treason. With the help of a friend, Emmy was released and managed to escape with the couple's two daughters to London in 1934. In 1935 Scholem was interned in the concentration camp Torgau, and was transferred to Dachau in 1937. On July 17, 1940, Werner Scholem was murdered in the Buchenwald concentration camp.


I. Shedletzky (ed.), Mutter und Sohn im Brief-wechsel 19171946 (1989); M. Buckmiller and P. Nafe, in: M. Buckmiller, D. Heimann, and J. Perels (eds.), Judentum und politische Existenz (2000), 61–81. M.Triendl and N. Zadoff, in: Freitag 26 (June 18, 2004), 18.

[Mirjam Triendl (2nd ed.)]