Go back

Harich Wolfgang

Wolfgang Harich


  • Harich, W.: Kommunismus ohne Wachstum? (1975)
  • Harich, W.: Keine Schwierigkeiten mit der Wahrheit (1993)
  • Harich, Wolfgang: Ahnenpass. Versuch einer Autobiographie. Herausgegeben von Thomas Grimm. (1999)

Born in 1923 in Königsberg, Harich spent his school years in Neuruppin and Berlin. He escaped military service by desertion in 1944. At the same time, he joined an underground resistance group in Berlin. After the end of World War II, he became a member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), which in 1946 became the Socialist Unity Party (SED). He studied at the Berlin University, graduating with a doctorate in philosophy in 1951. He then worked as a professor and lecturer for Aufbau Publishing House. He also directed, co-founded, and edited the German Journal of Philosophy.

His first confrontation with the SED party leadership came about in 1952 due to philosophical questioning. After the uprising on June 17th, 1953, Harich openly criticized the dogmatic culture and media policy of the SED. In the brief "thaw" after the Twentieth Congress of the Communist party of Soviet Union (February 1956), he developed together with other like-minded individuals approaches to reform the socialist system. He conceptualized a "platform for a special German path to socialism," which advocated for the democratization of the GDR and a "peaceful reunification" in the autumn of 1956.

After he had made contact with the SPD and its East Bureau, Harich was arrested in the end of November 1956 after the crushing of the Hungarian uprising and was taken to the underground prison at Berlin-Hohenschönhausen. Because of his willingness to cooperate, he was able to continue his literary and philosophical studies. Although he openly showed remorse, he was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment by the Supreme Court of the GDR in March 1957 for "forming a counterrevolutionary group.” In 1964, he was pardoned and permitted to leave the special prison Bautzen II. In the years following, he turned primarily to environmental issues. In 1979, he was permitted to move to the Federal Republic, where he was active in the Green Party, but disappointedly, he returned to the GDR in 1981. In 1992, he chaired and founded the "Alternative Study Commission on German Contemporary History." In 1994, he joined the Democratic Socialist Party (PDS), disassociating himself with the left side of the party. Harich died in Berlin in 1995.