* 1908 IN STRASSBURG †1976 IN OST-BERLIN
PERSECUTION UNDER NATIONAL SOCIALISM, ESCAPE FROM WEST GERMANY
As a member of the Communist party (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, or KPD), Rudi Goguel, a business clerk, spends most of his time between 1933 and 1945 in penitentiaries and concentration camps. Goguel, who had originally wanted to study music, composes the world famous Lied von den Moorsoldaten (Song of the Peat Bog Soldiers) while he is imprisoned in the Börgermoor camp in 1933. Shortly before the war’s end, he survives the bombing of the Cap Arcona – the Allies mistake the ship, which is carrying thousands of concentration camp inmates, for a troop transporter.
After his liberation, Rudi Goguel goes to Constance and marries his fiancé, Lydia Bleicher. He gets involved in the KPD of South Baden, participates in the denazification of Baden’s economy and works as an editor for the Südkurier, a regional daily newspaper. After the parliamentary elections of 1949, for which he runs as a KPD candidate, his party fraction internally approves a critical election analysis. This places them in clear contradiction with the party line, which is a serious provocation in the early years of the Cold War. The party leadership does not tolerate protest. They make an example of Goguel; he is relieved of his party posts and is only able to maintain his position in the KPD by agreeing to publicly criticise his own actions.
According to a medical appraisal, Comrade Goguel (...) would probably not survive a longer period of imprisonment – and the period of imprisonment is expected to be long.
Still, he becomes deputy director of the party publishing house “Freies Volk” (Free People) in 1950. In the run-up to the ban on the KPD, preparing to commit high treason becomes a criminal offence in West Germany. On that basis, the director of the publishing house, Erich Loch, is arrested. Rudi Goguel is also threatened with imprisonment. In poor health, he initially hides with friends before the KPD sends him to the GDR in 1952 to recuperate.
CONTRARIAN AND PARTY LOYALIST
Now in the GDR, Rudi Goguel receives medical care for almost a year to treat the physical results of his wartime imprisonment. He is wanted in West Germany for high treason throughout this time. It is not certain until September 1953 that he will be allowed to remain in the GDR. Lydia and the children move east as well. The family receives an apartment in East Berlin, and Goguel is given a job at the German Institute for Contemporary History (Deutsches Institut für Zeitgeschichte, or DIZ).
However, he continues to offend in the GDR as well. Goguel heads the journalism department at the DIZ until 1959. His predecessor accuses him of being an agent – a charge that can lead to the death penalty. Additional colleagues denounce Goguel; they accuse him of “objectivistic tendencies” – deviating from the party line. In 1957, after he strays once again from official SED viewpoints at the DIZ in internal discussions, Goguel is obligated to distance himself from his “party-damaging” behaviour in the form of public self-criticism. Nevertheless, he is entrusted with the development of the “History of Imperialist Research of the East” department at Humboldt University in Berlin in 1960.
In 1960, Rudi Goguel signs up to be a secret informer (Geheimer Informator, or GI). His collaboration with the Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, or MfS) is a balancing act. Eager not to do personal harm to anyone, he utilises the structures of the MfS for his research. He reports on his work at the institute and is in charge of several informants in West Germany, who create bibliographies and procure books for him. He receives financial support from the MfS for various research trips. However, Rudi Goguel is also monitored himself by the MfS. In 1968, he is forced to retire against his will.