Deutsche Zentral-Zeitung

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Deutsche Zentral Zeitung
Deutsche Zentral Zeitung article from 1926.jpg
Clipping of a DZZ article from September 22, 1926
Type German-language newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Publisher German section of the Communist International
Editor Julia Annenkova (1934–1937),
Karl Hoffmann,
Karl Filippovich Kurshner
Staff writers political exiles from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France
Founded 1925
Political alignment Communist
Ceased publication 1939
Headquarters Moscow, Soviet Union

The Deutsche Zentral Zeitung (German Central Newspaper) was the German-language newspaper published in Moscow by the German-speaking section of the Communist International. The newspaper's type was set in Fraktur (see image) and contained translations of Russian articles and speeches, reviews, articles from and about other countries, and it publicized pronouncements and information from the Communist Party. Published for little over a decade, the newspaper ceased publication in 1939 after Soviet secret police (NKVD) arrested so many of the staff that it no longer had enough people to continue operation. The newspaper remained without a successor until 1957.


The large number of Germans living in the Soviet Union supported many publications in the German language in the 1930s. With the growing pressures of a growing police state, a number of German-language publications closed, leaving fewer than two dozen.[1] The Deutsche Zentral Zeitung (DZZ) was founded in 1925. It was published in Moscow from 1926[1] to mid-1939[2] and was the Communist Party organ, "equivalent to Pravda".[3] It published speeches by Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov and other top Soviet officials, government pronouncements and German translations of important articles from Pravda,[3] the newspaper of the Soviet Communist Party. Articles detailed the accomplishments of the Soviet Union in agriculture and industry, advancements in technology and aviation.[3] There were also early reports about Nazi concentration camps, such as the articles written by Willi Bredel on September 10, 1934 and October 27, 1934 about his own experiences as a prisoner in Fuhlsbüttel and by Werner Hirsch, also in October 1934, of his confinement at several camps.[4] In December 1935, the DZZ published reports from the Rote Hilfe about Sachsenburg concentration camp, with specific information about names and numbers, including how many prisoners there were in different categories.[4]

The staff was composed of political exiles from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France.[1] Many German political exiles wrote articles for the DZZ, including Herbert Wehner, who wrote under his cadre name of "Kurt Funk"; and Hans Knodt, the temporary editor of the Rote Fahne, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Germany.[note 1] Journalist Gustav Regler wrote articles as a special correspondent from Spain.[5] Other writers included German workers who emigrated to the Soviet Union for work, rather than political reasons and non-Germans, such as William L. Patterson, who wrote an article about Paul Robeson in 1936.[6] There were also reviews, such as the one by Hugo Huppert of a Bertolt Brecht novel on June 29, 1936.[7]

The purges[edit]

As the Great Purge heated up, on August 9, 1936, the DZZ followed the Soviet press in its drumbeat against "enemy infiltrators".[8] While the show trials were taking place, the DZZ published pages of transcripts of the proceedings, however there were no reports of the outcomes of the trials[3] though many hundreds of German-speakers were arrested, imprisoned and executed.[note 2] The DZZ itself, because of its non-Russian and international staff, largely intellectual, artistic and often politically active, became a particular target of the Great Purge, although other German-language publications and the press in general were targets.[1] The NKVD arrested a number of the editorial staff in February 1938, returning several times to arrest others, finally having more than 40 members of the staff in custody, leaving an insufficient number of people—seven—who could write and translate into German.[1] There was a new editor-in-chief, Karl Hoffmann, who, as a defensive measure, made the editorial staff live at the DZZ offices and were not allowed to leave. Hoffmann himself nonetheless came under threat from the NKVD. At that point, the DZZ and other publications were printed by Izvestia, but the system was precarious. Censors oversaw publication, but sometimes refused to meet their deadline, putting the editor and staff at risk of arrest in the event of publication, or causing the newspaper to miss its printing schedule and be issued late.[1] More staff were hired, but they were inadequate to the task, possessing only moderate German skills, unable to write and unschooled in journalism. The DZZ ceased publication in summer 1939.[1]

Julia Annenkova, who was close to Stalin, was editor in chief from 1934 to June 1937. Annenkova was arrested in connection with the anti-Comintern bloc.[11] Others connected with the DZZ who were arrested in the Great Purge include Wehner,[12] Maria Osten, Mikhail Koltsov, Ernst Ottwalt,[13] Hermann, Richter, Stürmann,[1] Franz Falk, an editor and Karl Filippovich Kurshner, an editor-in-chief,[14] and Knodt, who was arrested in December 1940, and perished in a gulag.[15]

After the DZZ stopped publishing, nothing replaced it until 1957, when Neues Leben (New Life) appeared.[3] Many German libraries have microfilm copies of the DZZ, either in part or in whole.

Sample article[edit]

A clipping from September 22, 1926 (see image) gives an example of the nature and tone of DZZ articles. The article is titled, "Lecache in Kiev". It reads, "The French journalist Lecache, who, as is known, has come to the Soviet Union to gather material to defend Schwartzbard, the murderer of Petliura, is currently traveling in the Ukraine and visiting the locales in which Petliura once "kept house". In Kiev, he obtained the best possibility to convince himself of the boundless brutality of the Petliurian bandits: in a dining hall for the poorest Jewish populace, he was surrounded by orphans, whose parents were slain by the bandits. Thus, Lecache was finally able to ascertain that Petliura actually had organized pogroms."[16]


  1. ^ Knodt wrote under his cadre name "Ander".
  2. ^ In 1936, there were 1,116 people sentenced to death; in 1937, there were 353,680. Between 1937 and 1938, the purges were so massive, that at one point, in the space of a few days, over a thousand people were shot in Moscow alone.[1] Paul Jäkel, a KPD functionary, estimated that in April 1938 alone, more than 70 percent of the KPD members exiled in the Soviet Union were arrested.[9] In his book Bloodlands, Timothy Snyder gives the figure of 681,692 executions carried out for political crimes in 1937 and 1938 in the Soviet Union, in what he terms the Great Terror.[10]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sabrina Dorlin (2003), "De 1937 à 1945" Retrieved December 15, 2011 (French)
  2. ^ "Document 20: Cadres Department memorandum on "Trotskyists and other hostile elements in the emigre community of the German CP" (See footnote xv) Yale University. (Translated from the original Russian.) Memo labeled "Top Secret" sent to Georgi Dimitrov, Dmitry Manuilsky and Mikhail Trilisser-Moskvin from Moisei Borisovich Chernomordik, Cadres Department (1936). Retrieved December 7, 2011
  3. ^ a b c d e Peter Letkemann, "Mennonite Heritage Centre news" Canadian Conference of MB Churches. Menonite Historian (March 1999). Retrieved December 8, 2011
  4. ^ a b Klaus Drobisch, Günther Wieland, System der NS-Konzentrationslager: 1933-1939 Akademie Verlag (1993), p. 244. ISBN 3-05-000823-7. Retrieved December 21, 2011 (German)
  5. ^ Dieter Schiller, Der Traum von Hitlers Sturz: Studien zur deutschen Exilliteratur 1933-1945 Peter Lang GmbH (2010), p. 592. ISBN 978-3-631-58755-3. Retrieved December 7, 2011 (German)
  6. ^ Sheila Tully Boyle, Andrew Bunie, Paul Robeson: The Years of Promise and Achievement Sheridan Books (2001), p. 485, see footnote 23. Retrieved December 6, 2011
  7. ^ David Pike, Lukács and Brecht University of North Carolina Press (1985), p. 309, footnote 68. ISBN 0-8078-1640-X. Retrieved December 8, 2011
  8. ^ Jean Michel Palmier, Weimar in Exile: The Antifascist Emigration in Europe and America Editions Payot (1987), Translated by David Fernbach. Verso (2006). ISBN 1-84467-068-6. Retrieved December 15, 2011
  9. ^ Brigitte Studer, Berthold Unfried, Der stalinistische Parteikader: Identitätsstiftende Praktiken und Diskurse in der Sowjetunion der dreißiger Jahre Böhlau Verlag (2001), p. 110. ISBN 3-412-09101-4. Retrieved December 6, 2011 (German)
  10. ^ Snyder, 2010, Bloodlands, p. 107. ISBN 978-0-224-08141-2.
  11. ^ Reinhard Müller, "Der Antikomintern-Block – Prozeßstruktur und Opferperspektive" (PDF) UTOPIE kreativ, H. 81/82 (July/August 1997), p. 85. Retrieved December 6, 2011 (German)
  12. ^ „Emigranten: Hotel Lux“ Geo Epoche, No. 38 (August 2009). Retrieved November 12, 2011 (German)
  13. ^ Petra Stuber, Spielräume und Grenzen Christoph Links Verlag (November 1998), pp. 84–85. Retrieved December 15, 2011 (German)
  14. ^ Document 59: Letter and supporting materials from Dimitrov to Merkulov requesting a review of the cases of E. O. Valter, A. L. Khigerovich (Razumova) and seventeen arrested political emigres Yale University. (Translated from the original Russian.) Labeled "Secret Information". (February 28, 1941). Retrieved December 15, 2011
  15. ^ Reinhard Müller, "Der Antikomintern-Block – Prozeßstruktur und Opferperspektive" (PDF) UTOPIE kreativ, H. 81/82 (July/August 1997), p. 95. Retrieved December 6, 2011 (German)
  16. ^ "Lecache in Kiew (Deutsche Zentral-Zeitung, 1926-09-22)" German National Library of Economics. Retrieved December 8, 2011 (German)

External links[edit]

  • Scan of DZZ article Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. "Maxim Gorki in Moskau" (June 3, 1928). Retrieved December 7, 2011 (German)
  • Scan of short DZZ article Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. "Das Maxim Gorki-Archiv" (October 6, 1926). Retrieved December 7, 2011 (German)