Fischer, Ruth

born Elfriede Eisler (1895-1961)
   politician and journal-ist; principal member of the KPD ultraleft wing, she led the Party in 1924-1925. Born to a middle-class Jewish family in Leipzig, she was raised in Aus-tria.* At Vienna, where her father was a professor of philosophy, she studied philosophy and economics, joined Austria s Socialist Party, and married a fellow socialist named Friedlaïnder. After the collapse of her marriage and the Habsburg monarchy, she helped found the Austrian Communist Party. But events in Ger-many drew her to Berlin* and the KPD. From 1919 she adopted the maiden name of her mother, Ida Fischer, and changed her first name to Ruth. To acquire German citizenship, she married the Party s treasurer, Herr Golke, but retained her adopted name.
   Fischer soon led the KPD s ultraleft wing. After her 1921 appointment as Berlin s district chairman, she championed—with Arkadi Maslow and Ernst Reuter*—further revolutionary activity. Moscow disapproved. Use of her "of-fensive theory led to bloody encounters with the police and army in the 1921 Marz Aktion (March uprisings) in Prussian Saxony* and Hamburg. In 1923 she opposed the United Front* policy of Party leader Heinrich Brandler and de-manded a rigorous campaign to convert workers to communism without feigning cooperation with the SPD. Along with Maslow, Ernst Thaïlmann,* and various Comintern delegates, she induced the "Red October" of 1923—the KPD's abysmal failure at staging revolution in Saxony and Thuringia.* Yet because of her opposition to Trotsky, she was elected to the Zentrale in 1923, was raised to the Party s Politburo in 1924, and at the ninth Party Day (April 1924) dis-placed Brandler as Party leader. Elected one month later to the Reichstag,* she served in the chamber until 1928.
   Although Fischer was added to the Comintern s executive in 1924, her star was attached to Grigori Zinoviev. She erred in refusing to embrace Stalin; indeed, she argued that Russia was sinking under Stalin into an antiproletarian dictatorship. In 1925 Stalin, after arranging Zinoviev s removal, contrived the ouster of Fischer and Maslow from their positions in the KPD; he then expelled them from the Comintern.
   Fischer s expulsion from the KPD followed in 1926. Her later endeavors to create a more radical party miscarried. Renouncing political activity in 1929, she spent her last years in Germany performing social work. In 1933 she fled to Paris and then moved to the United States in 1940. A strident anti-Communist by the 1940s, she denounced her two brothers, Gerhardt and Hanns Eisler, before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in 1947.
   The influence wielded by rote Ruth in Weimar's Communist movement should not be underestimated. Die Weltbuhne* characterized her as "this vol-cano of radicalism ...a will free of all reflection and considered thought." While her history of German Communism is not devoid of error and polemics, it is a rich source on the Weimar years.
   REFERENCES:Angress, Stillborn Revolution; Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Deak, Weimar Germany's Left-Wing Intellectuals; Ruth Fischer, Stalin and German Communism; Heilbut, Exiled in Paradise.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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