By looking at the reception of the congresses of 1948–49 in the press of the Western and Soviet Zones of Germany, the following question will be asked: How did writers and audiences come to accept that, even though enforced, exclusion did not contradict freedom of expression?

"From Anti-Fascism to Anti-Totalitarianism"
From Anti-Fascism to Anti-Totalitarianism: Congresses of Intellectuals from 1948 to 1950

On Monday, November 14, 6:30 p.m., Deutsches Haus at NYU (42 Washington Mews, at University Pl., New York, N.Y.) will present: "From Anti-Fascism to Anti-Totalitarianism: Congresses of Intellectuals from 1948 to 1950," a talk by Professor Helmut Peitsch of the University of Potsdam.

     Taking as point of departure Alfred Andersch’s 1949 anthology European Avant-garde in which Stephen Spender was the only English writer, outnumbered by six French authors, this talk relates international congresses of intellectuals which were held from 1948 to 1950 in Wroclaw, New York, Paris and Berlin to the two symposiums of the International PEN in London, 1941 ("Writers in Freedom") and 1944 ("Freedom of Expression"). In his reprinted report on the first "European Conversation" in Geneva in 1946, Spender stated for future conferences that "Americans have to take part, the views of the Russians must be heard and, probably, too, the standpoint of the colonial peoples." By looking at the reception of the congresses of 1948–49 in the press of the Western and Soviet Zones of Germany the following question will be asked: How did writers and audiences come to accept that, even though enforced, exclusion did not contradict freedom of expression? Or, as the CIA’s historian Michael Warner, in 1995, wrote on the Berlin Congress for Cultural Freedom, 'that debate in the West is truly free, with room for all shades of anti-totalitarian opinion.'

     Robert Cohen, Professor Emeritus of German Studies at NYU, will introduce the event.

     Helmut Peitsch (Dr. phil., habil., FU Berlin) is Professor of German at the University of Potsdam, holding the chair of German Literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. Before coming to Potsdam, he was Professor of European Studies at Cardiff University (1994–2001) and Visiting Full Professor in the Department of German of New York University (1992–94). He was Lecturer at the universities of Berlin, Leeds, and Swansea. He has published mainly on German literature of the late 18th and the 20th centuries. His last books include: Georg Forster. A History of His Critical Reception (New York 2001), (with Charles Burdett and Claire Gorrara) European Memories of the Second World War (New York, Oxford 2006), No Politics? Die Geschichte des deutschen PEN-Zentrums in London 1933–2002 (Göttingen 2006), Nachkriegsliteratur 1945–1989 (Göttingen 2009), (with Helen Thein), Walter Boehlich – Kritiker (Berlin 2011).

     Events at Deutsches Haus are free and open to the public. If you would like to attend this event, please send an email to deutscheshaus.rsvp@nyu.edu. As space at Deutsches Haus is limited, please arrive ten minutes prior to the event to ensure you get a good seat. Thank you!

     From Anti-Fascism to Anti-Totalitarianism: Congresses of Intellectuals from 1948 to 1950 is a DAAD supported event.

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