Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Red Julia

I seem to be getting a huge amount of visitors because of my post way back about Julia Bonk - BobFromBrockley: Julia Bonk: Better living without Nazis (or, Another political babe) - but I made a factual error in that post, calling her a Social Democrat. In fact, (Red Julia was elected initially for the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), which emerged from the Communist Party - officially the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, the ruling party in the old Stalinist GDR. But the PDS was a de-Stalinized "Euro-Communist" party. Here's wikipedia:
"The grassroots democracy movement that forced the dismissal of East German head of state Erich Honecker in 1989 also empowered a younger generation of reform politicians in the East Germany's ruling Socialist Unity Party who looked to Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union as their model for political change. Reformers like authors Stefan Heym and Christa Wolf and human rights attorney Gregor Gysi soon began to re-invent a party infamous for its rigid Marxist orthodoxy and police-state methods. By the end of 1989 the last hardline members of the party's Central Committee had resigned, followed in 1990 by 95% of the SED's 2.3 million members. A new name, "Party of Democratic Socialism," was adopted to distance the reformed party from its communist past (after a brief transitional period as the SED/PDS). By early 1990, the PDS was no longer a Marxist-Leninist party, though neo-marxist and [C]ommunist minority factions continue to exist."
The PDS has subsequently become the main part the Left Party, joining with the Labor and Social Justice Party (WASG), a left group formed by dissident Social Democrats and trade unionists. Two more interesting facts from Wikipedia: (1) Two of the Left Party's leaders, Gregor Gysi and Lothar Bisky, are Jewish. (2) A Left Party Member of the European Parliament, Feleknas Uca, was the world's only elected Yezidi politician until three were elected to the Iraqi legislature in 2005. The Left Party has done OK in the latest elections, outdoing the Greens. Julia, incidentally, was not standing - she is in Saxony's regional assembley.


By the way, the Left's Sevim Dagdelen should probably join Julia Bonk in political hotties category. // German-speaking readers should check out Red Julia and Pizza-Socialism. Maybe pizza socialism should join muscular liberalism as one of the watchwords of this blog? // Blog link: Blue in a Red State, Andy Lang's Blog: Left Party gains votes across political spectrum // At Daniels Counter Blog: Schroeder = Hitler?, Election Campaigning German Style.


Andy Lang said...

There's also Katja Kipping, the Left Party's spitzenkandidat for Saxony and thus one of the new members of the Left's Bundestag fraction. She'll be one of the youngest, if not the youngest, MdB. Her pic and bio are on the Left fraction website.

It's a generally telegenic party, don't you think? Left politics must be good for the skin. And my crowd happens to like Stefan Liebich, the 30-something head of the Left for the city-state of Berlin. But I know your note is about the women of the Left. :)

Sahra Wagenknecht, also known as "Red Sahra," is one of the party's representatives in the European Parliament. She's on the left of the Left--spokesperson for the "Kommunistische Plattform" which is where the true socialists--over against the reformist social-democrats who are really the party's center of gravity--are still gathered. She's rather stunning, too.

Andre Brie, another member of the European Parliament and one of the Left's true intellectuals, complained recently about a "cult of youth" in the party. I'm not complaining.

Daniel said...

I added another thing on the election in case you are interested

bob said...

Pizza socialism? What on earth was I talking about? I've googled it, and come up with nisht. Any ideas?

pittikroh said...

Gregor Gysi and Oskar Lafontaine are not jewish. In the party "Die Linke" the confession of people is absolutely not important. The most members of this party are atheistic.
There are such a lot young members in this party due to the fact that most of the other parties do not care about the interests of the youth.

bob said...

I have no doubt that the majority of Die Linke are atheists. But I am talking about "Jewish" as something other than "confession" ("glauben"); I am talking about Jewish as ethnicity.

Wikipedia reported that Gregor Gysi is Jewish. A recent Jerusalem Post article by Benjamin Weinthal, posted at Engage http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=1868, spke of Gysi's sensible anti-anti-Zionism, and noted in passing that his father Klaus was Jewish. (see also http://blog.z-word.com/2008/04/german-leftists-declare-solidarity-with-israel/ )

Way back in 1989, when Gregor became leader of the de-Stalinizing East German Communist Party, the New York Times reported that:
His father, Claus Gysi, was the son of a Jewish physician who became a Communist before the war and fled when the Nazis came to power. His mother was not Jewish. A.D.N., the official East German press agency, desacribed him today as ''of Jewish ancestry.''

Irene Runge, described as a spokeswoman for East German Jews, said Mr. Gysi was not a member of the Jewish community there, as such, but had shown an interest in its activities.

Klaus' Independent obit says that he was the son of a Berlin doctor and his Jewish wife. The doctor, non-Jewish, was Hermann Gysi. Hermann seperated from his wife Erna in 1938, according to Dan Diner and Jonathan Frankel's fantastic book Dark Times, Dire Decisions: Jews and Communism, noting that she survived the war in France, as also stated by the Indy obit:
With the growing persecution of the Jews by the Hitler regime, Gysi's parents divorced and his mother fled to France. Klaus and his fiancee, the Russian-born Irene Lessing (they had met while at university in Berlin, but Nazi racial laws made marriage impossible), visited her in 1939 - she pleaded with them not to return to Germany. They resolved to go back but the German invasion intervened and the young couple were briefly interned in Toulouse before escaping. Despite the dangers - Gysi was doubly under threat as a Jew and as a Communist - they moved back to Nazi Germany in 1940 (the party believed he would not be arrested as he did not "look Jewish"). He worked underground throughout the rest of the Nazi regime from a base in his fiancee's mansion on Berlin's Schlachtensee. It was only after the end of the war that he could at last marry Irene (sister-in-law of the novelist Doris Lessing).http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19990401/ai_n14223526

Klaus was a lifelong Stalinist apparatchik, although removed from his posts in 1953, during the antisemitic turn in the Communist Party, later rehabilitated, purged again, and rehabilitated again. This story is also told in A Hole in the Heart of the World: Being Jewish in Eastern Europe by Jonathan Kaufman. Gregor Gysi, although a Party member, was very much a dissident, and sharply critical of his father's politics.

Klaus' wife, Irene Gysi, ne Lessing, was the sister of Gottfried Lessing. Gottfried, as a Jew and Communist, also fled Germany in 1938, for Southern Africa, where he met Doris Taylor, better known as Doris Lessing (not Jewish). I don't know exactly how Jewish Irene was, but let's say at least a bit, and therefore Gregor has Jewish heritage on both sides.

According to Antisemitism and Xenophobia in Germany After Unification by Hermann Kurthen et al, Gysi Jr was very supportive of East Germany's Jewish community as it emerged from the shadows of Stalinism, and played a role in opening Germany to Soviet Jewry.

Gysi has certainly been the victim of antisemitism. According to Time magazine in 1990: GYSI IS NOT A GERMAN! and OUT WITH THE JEW GYSI! read some banners at one rally.http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,970552-3,00.html

Incidentally, I never said Oskar LaFontaine was Jewish. He is described as "römisch-katholisch" on the German parliamentary website. LaFontaine also leans a lot closer to the virulently anti-Zionist current within the Left Party.

Enough already.