am Institut für Germanistik der Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

Konrad Heiden Biography

Konrad Heiden –  Biography

Konrad Heiden (1901-1966) was one of the most successful journalists opposing to National Socialism during the 1930s and 1940s. His books on the history of National Socialism, the beginning of the Nazi dictatorship, Adolf Hitler, and the so-called ‘Night of the broken glass’ have been published repeatedly and were translated into numerous languages.

Heiden, who first lived in Frankfurt and later in Munich, observed the rise of the NSDAP in Munich from the beginning. During his studies, he devoted himself to the young democracy and fought against anti-republican forces. As a journalist for the “Frankfurter Zeitung” and for the “Vossische Zeitung”, he continued to fight back by writing. Even during his time in exile, which began with Hitler’s rise to power, Heiden wrote against the regime, initially in the Saar territory and later in Paris.

During his exile in Paris, Heiden worked for the “Pariser Tageszeitung” and “Das Neue Tage-Buch” and campaigned for the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to Carl von Ossietzky. Furthermore, he struggled to gather and concentrate oppositional forces against the Nazi regime. After the beginning of the Second World War, Heiden was interned by the French authorities, but released after the military attack on France. He successfully escaped owing to the help of his publisher in Zurich, Emil Oprecht, and the International Rescue Committee who helped him flee across Portugal to the United States, where he resumed his work against Hitler and the Nazis. Here he also published the book, “Der Fuehrer  –  Hitler’s Rise to Power” in 1944, which instantly became a bestseller and made Heiden famous in the USA overnight.

Additional book projects after the war remained unfinished. During that time, Heiden worked mainly for the German radio, where he delivered weekly reports on the political, social, and cultural life in the United States. Heiden died in 1966 in New York after suffering from a long illness.

On the basis of Heiden’s estate, including letters and documents from numerous domestic and foreign archives, the biography of one of the most outstanding intellectuals and journalists of the 20th century is told.


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