Apr 12, 2022
In 1952, a 24-year old American soldier defected to the Eastern Bloc in order to avoid a US Army disciplinary hearing and what he feared would be draconian punishment for his involvement in socialist and communist politics in the United States. This decision put his life on an entirely new trajectory, one that left him with a new name, Victor Grossman, and left him in the then young German Democratic Republic, a country that became his home for the remaining 37+ years of his existence. A committed socialist, Grossman identified closely with the aims of the East German state, but always maintained a critical perspectives on his new home.
Over two discussions with Radio GDR host John Paul Kleiner, Grossman takes stock of “the workers and peasants state.” In the first of these, Grossman focuses on the achievements of what the GDR labeled “real-existing socialism,” laying out the ways in which East Germany broke with German history and contrasting it with the Federal Republic to the west. He discusses how the country’s priorities were reflected in the everyday lives of its citizens and openly addresses some of the contradictions which were evident in GDR society and economy as its leaders sought to consolidate a socialist state on German soil.
John Paul would like to give special thanks to his friend Marcus Funck in Berlin for assistance with this interview. Without this help, it wouldn’t have happened, so thank you, Marcus!
For more resources on Victor Grossman, including information on his book, please visit https://www.eastgermanypodcast.com/s3e3
Our ability to bring you stories from behind the Berlin Wall is dependent on monthly donors like you. Visit us at https://www.eastgermanypodcast.com/p/support-the-podcast/ to contribute. For the price of a Berliner Pilsner, you can feel good you are contributing to preserve one of the most important pieces of Cold War history.
If you feel more comfortable leaving us a review to help us get more listeners, we appreciate it very much and encourage you to do so wherever you get your podcasts or at https://www.eastgermanypodcast.com/reviews/new/.
For discussions about podcast episodes and GDR history, please do join our Facebook discussion group. Just search Radio GDR in Facebook.
Vielen dank for being a listener!