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Ruth Fischer: A Life For and Against Communism, 1895-1961 ________________________________ March 24 2011 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. 5th floor conference room Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars ________________________________ Ruth Fischer (1895-1961), once ranking among Germany's and Europe's most prominent women, is today largely forgotten in the English-speaking world. Right after the end of WWI, she was the co-founder of the Communist Party of Austria, became famous as the chair of the Communist Party of Germany in the Weimar Republic and, after 1945, was associated with the anti-communist crusade in the United States where she authored the best-selling book Stalin and German Communism. At the end of her life, she vainly hoped that the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev would move towards a democratic variant of communism. To complete these paradoxes, Ruth Fischer should also be mentioned as the sister of two other prominent Austrian-German communists: the composer Hanns Eisler (1898-1962), a disciple and friend of Arnold Schönberg, and the journalist Gerhart Eisler (1897-1968), whom his sister would denounce as Moscow's wire-puller and most dangerous communist agent in the United States. Mario Kessler, associate professor at the University of Potsdam, Germany will discuss Ruth Fischer's political itinerary and attempt to explain why it went to such extremes - astonishing even in the 'Age of Extremes.' Joining the discussion as a commentator will be Jeffrey Herf, professor of modern European history at the University of Maryland, College Park.