Victor Grossman

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Victor Grossman
Grossman visiting Buchenwald, 2013
Grossman visiting Buchenwald, 2013
BornStephen Wechsler
(1928-03-11) March 11, 1928 (age 92)
New York City
OccupationAuthor
EducationHarvard University, Karl Marx University
SubjectLife under socialism

Victor Grossman (born March 11, 1928) is an American publicist and author who defected to the Soviet Union in 1952. He studied journalism in East Germany and remained there working as a journalist and writer. He now lives in Germany.

Early life[edit]

When I was eight [I was asked who was the best candidate in the upcoming 1936 Presidential election]. Maybe Roosevelt, I answered. [The adults at Free Acres retorted:] "You mean back a man who helped big business weather the Depression and who pushed through the AAA, so hogs are slaughtered, wheat burned, and milk poured into the river to raise prices high while people go hungry?" "But wouldn't Landon be worse?" "If people always choose the lesser of two evils, evil will always be with us"

Victor Grossman. Crossing the River, p.14

Born Stephen Wechsler in New York City, he reluctantly changed his name to Victor Grossman after defection to East Germany in order to shield his family members in the United States. As a youth, his family often summered in Free Acres, New Jersey, a community using economic philosopher Henry George's concept of single taxation.[1] While studying at Harvard University as a member of the class of 1949, Grossman joined the Communist Party USA, whose platform claimed unequivocal opposition to racism, exploitation, and most importantly — Nazi Germany.[2] After receiving his degree in economics, he worked in a factory. However, in 1950, Grossman was drafted into the United States Army and stationed in Germany.[3]

Defection[edit]

In 1952, while serving in Austria, Grossman swam the Danube and became one of a handful of soldiers from the NATO nations who defected to the Eastern Bloc. Grossman later stated he defected because he feared prosecution by U.S. authorities for not declaring his membership in left-wing political organizations prior to his entering the army.[4]

Following assessment by Soviet authorities, Grossman was sent to East Germany, where he continued his studies in journalism at Karl Marx University.[5]

While in East Germany, Grossman was a good friend of his fellow US exile, the singer and actor Dean Reed. He earned his living as a journalist and as a translator.

In 1954, Grossman was recruited as an informant by the East German Ministry of State Security (MfS, or "Stasi"), codename TAUCHER ("Diver").[6]

In 1994, the U.S. Army dropped charges of desertion against him. He reclaimed his U.S. passport and traveled to America several times, including a book tour to promote his memoir Crossing the River: A Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War, and Life in East Germany, published in 2003.[7] Grossman is a frequent contributor to the Marxist magazine Monthly Review.[8]

Selected works[edit]

  • Nilpferd und Storch. Kinderbuchverlag Berlin, Berlin, 1965
  • Von Manhattan bis Kalifornien. Aus der Geschichte der USA. Kinderbuchverlag, Berlin 1974
  • Per Anhalter durch die USA. Berlin 1976
  • Der Weg über die Grenze. Verlag Neues Leben, Berlin, 1985
  • If I Had a Song – Lieder und Sänger der USA. Lied der Zeit, Berlin, 1988, ISBN 3-7332-0023-3
  • Crossing the River: A Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War, and Life in East Germany. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, Boston, 2003, ISBN 1-55849-385-9
  • Madrid, du Wunderbare. Ein Amerikaner blättert in der Geschichte des Spanienkrieges. GNN-Verlag, Schkeuditz, 2006, ISBN 978-3-89819-235-4
  • Ein Ami blickt auf die DDR zurück, Spotless, Berlin, 2011, ISBN 978-3-360-02039-0
  • Rebel Girls: 34 amerikanische Frauen im Porträt, Papyrossa, 2012, ISBN 978-3-89438-501-9
  • A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee, Monthly Review Press, 2019, ISBN 978-1-58367-738-4

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gould, Rebecca Kneale. At Home In Nature: Modern Homesteading and Spiritual Practice in America, University of California Press, 2006 (pp. 173–6)
  2. ^ "Jewish Communist expats in East Germany recall heady 1950s". timesofisrael.com.
  3. ^ "Crossing the Danube". vice.com. 13 May 2013.
  4. ^ "The lonely American: speaking with a US defector to East Germany". The Local. Nov 3, 2009.
  5. ^ Thanksgiving for Odd Sort of Harvard Expatriate; www.nytimes.com; November 29, 1996 article;
  6. ^ BStU, MfS, BV Leipzig, AIM 321/56
  7. ^ Wolff, Richard. "Economic Update: Living in a Socialist Economy". Democracy at Work (d@w). Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  8. ^ "Monthly Review | Victor Grossman". Monthly Review. Retrieved 2019-05-21.