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Heinz Neumann (6 July 1902 – 26 November 1937) was a German politician from the Communist Party (KPD) and a journalist. He was a member of the Comintern, editor in chief of the party newspaper Die Rote Fahne and a member of the Reichstag.
Born in Berlin into a middle-class family, Neumann studied philology and came into contact with Marxist ideas. In 1920, he was admitted into the Communist Party by Ernst Reuter, then General Secretary. August Thalheimer took him under his wing. Neumann began writing editorials for various KPD newspapers in 1921. He dropped out of university in 1922 and became editor of the Rote Fahne (Red Flag). He was arrested and spent six months in prison, during which he took up Russian, learning it so well, he could speak to Soviet party officials without an interpreter. In 1922, he met Joseph Stalin on a trip, speaking to him in Russian. From that point until 1932, he was a strong supporter of Stalin.
He first belonged to the left wing of the KPD, led by Ruth Fischer. In 1923, he aligned himself with Arthur Ewert and Gerhart Eisler and became the political leader of the party’s Mecklenburg district. He participated in the Hamburg Uprising and in 1924, had to flee to Vienna, from where he was expelled to the Soviet Union in 1925. There, he succeeded Ivan Katz as Communist Party representative to the Comintern. From July to December 1927, he represented the Comintern in China. Working with Georgian communist Vissarion Lominadze, he organized the uprising in Guangzhou on 11 December 1927, where 25,000 communists died.
Neumann went back to Germany in 1928 and after the Wittorf Affair, became one of the most important politicians of the KPD. He was considered the major theoretician of the party and became editor in chief of the Rote Fahne. As the chief ideologist, he was responsible for the ultra-left policies, the Revolutionäre Gewerkschafts Opposition and the social fascism policy. At the same time, he encouraged fighting the Nazis and coined the slogan “Schlagt die Faschisten, wo ihr sie trefft!” (Beat the Fascists wherever you meet them!), valid until 1932.
Along with fellow member of the Reichstag Hans Kippenberger, Neumann was the leader of the KPD’s paramilitary wing, the Party Self Defense Unit (German: Parteiselbstschutz). As such, Neumann had a major role in the 1931 assassination of Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck, both of whom were SPD members and Precinct Captains in the Berlin Police].
Elected to the Reichstag in 1930, in 1931, Neumann developed differences with Stalin and Ernst Thälmann, feeling that they were underestimating the danger of a takeover by the Nazis. He was defeated in October 1932, relieved of his party functions in November 1932, and lost his seat in the Reichstag.
He was sent to Spain to represent the Comintern, then lived illegally in Switzerland. In January 1934, accused of having tried to split the party, he was forced to write a “self criticism”. In late 1934, he was arrested in Zurich by the Swiss immigration authorities and was imprisoned there for six months, after which, he was expelled. He was sent to the Soviet Union, where he fell victim to the Great Purge and was arrested on 27 April 1937 by the NKVD. He was sentenced to death on 26 November 1937 by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union and shot the same day.
Heinz Neumann began dating Margarete Buber-Neumann in 1929 and later lived in unmarried union with her. After he disappeared in the Great Purge, she was also arrested and was turned over to Nazi Germany 1940 by the Soviet authorities.
- Die vaterländischen Mörder Deutschlands. Bayern in der kleinen Entente. Das Ergebnis des Münchener Hochverratsprozesses. Berlin 1923 (with Karl Frank)
- Maslows Offensive gegen den Leninismus. Kritische Bemerkungen zur Parteidiskussion. Hamburg 1925
- Was ist Bolschewisierung? Hamburg 1925
- Der ultralinke Menschewismus. Berlin 1926
- J. W. Stalin. Hamburg 1930
- Durch rote Einheit zur Macht. Heinz Neumanns Abrechnung mit der Politik des sozialdemokratischen Parteivorstandes. Berlin 1931
- Prestes, der Freiheitsheld von Brasilien. Moskau 1936.