Book Talk + Author Appearance Journalism, Propaganda, and a Man Between Two Systems

© Victor Grossman © Victor Grossman

Fri, 05/17/2019


Goethe-Institut Washington

How Stephen Wechsler, Harvard Graduate, Became Victor Grossman, Defector to East Germany

The Goethe-Institut Washington welcomes journalist Victor Grossman for a discussion of his new memoir, A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee. The book tells the story in rare, personal detail, of an activist and writer who grew up in the U.S. free-market economy; spent thirty-eight years in the GDR’s nationally owned, centrally administered economy; and continues to survive, in today’s united Germany. His work as a journalist, trained in East Germany, gives him a unique perspective on the role of propaganda and the press. The book talk will be followed by a discussion moderated by journalist Marc Fisher of The Washington Post.

Victor Grossman, born Stephen Wechsler, a New York red-diaper baby of the 1930s, joined the Communist Party as a Harvard student. Fleeing the US Army during the McCarthy Era, he swam the Danube River to the Soviet Zone of Austria and was sent to East Germany. There, he studied journalism and became a freelance writer and popular speaker. He is the only person in the world to hold diplomas from both Harvard and the Karl Marx University. He was pardoned by the US Army in 1994 and, in 2003, published an autobiography, Crossing the River: A Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War, and Life in East Germany.

Marc Fisher is a senior editor at The Washington Post and reports on a wide range of topics. He has been the enterprise editor, local columnist and Berlin bureau chief from 1989 to 1993, among other positions, over 30 years at the paper. Fisher wrote several Post articles that won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2016 and the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2014.
Zur Reservierung Grossman will be visiting Washington, DC, from May 15 to May 18, on a national book tour.

On Wednesday, May 15, he will be speaking on "Lessons from East Germany for Building Socialism in the US, Europe and around the World" at 6:30-8 PM at Busboys and Poets at 14th & V Streets. 

On Friday, May 17, he will address "Journalism, Propaganda and A Man Between Two Systems: How Stephen Wechsler, Harvard Graduate, Became Victor Grossman, Defector to East Germany" at 6:30-8:30 PM at the Goethe-Institut.

On Saturday, May 18, Victor will speak about "What the East German Government Could Have Done Differently to Appeal to Their Citizens without Imposing Authoritarian State Control and Why Did 'De-Nazification' Occur Differently in East Germany Compared to West Germany" at 2:30-5 PM at the Nation Magazine Discussion Group in DC at the Cleveland Park Public Library (3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW). 

All events are free, and all are welcome.