Find more information about

at the Center for Jewish History:

NOTE: you will be redirected
to the Web site for the

Goldstücker, Eduard

(1913–2000), scholar and critic. Born in Podbiel in northern Slovakia, in his teens Eduard Goldstücker was a member of the Zionist youth group Ha-Shomer ha-Tsa‘ir, then joining the Communist Party in 1933. He studied German literature at Charles University in Prague. After the German invasion in 1939, he and his wife Marta escaped to Britain, where he wrote a B.Litt. thesis on German literature at Oxford and worked for the Czechoslovak government in exile. His mother and other family members died in the Holocaust.

Returning to Czechoslovakia, Goldstücker was appointed ambassador to Israel in 1948, but on his return in December 1951 he was arrested in connection with a “conspiracy” ascribed to the former general secretary of the Czech Communist Party, Rudolf Slánský. These arrests, affecting mainly persons of Jewish origin, were an instrument of Stalinist terror, further motivated by antisemitism. Goldstücker spent 18 months in solitary confinement, undergoing brutal interrogation before his show trial, where, charged with high treason, he was sentenced to hard labor in a uranium mine.

Released in December 1955, Goldstücker became a professor of German literature at Charles University. Having supported communism since 1933, he was shocked by its totalitarian turn and resolved to work to democratize it. He was elected to the Czech parliament and in 1968 became president of the Czechoslovak Writers Union. As a leading supporter of the reformist Prague Spring, he was again forced into exile in Britain after the Soviet invasion in August 1968. Goldstücker became professor of comparative literature at Sussex University. He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1991, but was skeptical about the headlong introduction of capitalism.

Goldstücker’s contribution to literary scholarship centered on Kafka. He organized a pathbreaking international conference on Kafka held at Liblice near Prague on 27–28 May 1963, which aimed to show that Kafka was not a decadent prophet of despair but an incisive critic of the contradictions of capitalism. Kafka’s relevance to the alienation generated by communism was an unspoken subtext. The proceedings, which Goldstücker edited with František Kautman and Paul Reimann, appeared as Franz Kafka aus Prager Sicht (Franz Kafka from the Prague Perspective, 1966).

Goldstücker’s many scholarly writings included The Czech National Revival, the Germans and the Jews, the first James B. Duke lecture given at the Russian and East European Studies Center, UCLA, in 1972. He also wrote an important and entertaining essay, drawing on local knowledge, exposing the unreliability of Gustav Janouch’s purported Conversations with Kafka (published in Franz Kafka: Themen und Probleme, ed. Claude David, 1980).

Suggested Reading

Eduard Goldstücker, Prozesse: Erfahrungen eines Mitteleuropäers, trans. Friedrich Uttitz (Munich, 1989).