Gottfried Lessing

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Gottfried Lessing
Born Го́тфрид А́нтон Никола́й Ле́ссинг
(Gottfried Anton Nicolai Lessing)

14 December 1914
Petrograd, Russia
Died 11 April 1979 (aged 64)
Kampala, Uganda
Nationality Germany
Occupation Lawyer
Political party SED
Spouse(s) Doris Tayler/Lessing (1943-1949)

Gottfried Anton Nicolai Lessing (14 December 1914 – 11 April 1979) was a German lawyer, political activist, and diplomat.

Life and career[edit]

Lessing was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He fled Germany in 1938 (one of his grandfathers was Jewish, and therefore he was considered a Jew under the Nuremberg laws).[1] First he sought refuge in the UK, and later he moved to Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He worked as a lawyer in Salisbury from 1941 to 1946 and took part in the founding of the small Southern Rhodesia Communist Party, becoming a leading member.[2][3] He was married to author Doris Lessing from 1943 to 1949 (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007).[4] They had one son together.

In 1949 he returned to the UK, where he worked for the Communist Party of Great Britain. In 1950 he settled in East Berlin, and in 1951 he became a member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany.[2]

From 1952 to 1957 he was the president of the Chamber of Foreign Trade. Then, in 1959–1960, he led East Germany's trade representation in Indonesia. In 1961 he was sent to Mali. From 1962 to 1965 he was back in East Germany, working as the head of the Africa section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Between 1965 and 1969, Lessing served as East Germany's Consul General in Tanzania. He again returned to East Germany, and worked in the Planning Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[2]

Lessing went on to serve as the East German Ambassador to Uganda. He and his third wife were killed during the riots against Idi Amin's rule in 1979, in Kampala, Uganda.[3][5][6]

Lessing was the maternal uncle of politician Gregor Gysi.[4]


  1. ^ UPHEAVAL IN THE EAST; East German Asks Help of U.S. In Keeping His Country Separate - New York Times
  2. ^ a b c Hoff, Henning. Grossbritannien und die DDR 1955–1973 : Diplomatie auf Umwegen. Munich: Oldenbourg, 2003. p. 65
  3. ^ a b Liukkonen, Petri. "Doris Lessing". Books and Writers ( Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 8 June 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Portrait: Doris Lessing Feministin wider Willen – Kultur –
  5. ^ / Literaturnobelpreis an Doris Lessing
  6. ^ Doris Lessing: 'Ich mag keine Utopien' – Unterhaltung –