Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Egon Kisch: Supplementing and Correcting the Biographical Record

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2016), 110, (1), 161–171.


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1.Marcus G. Patka, Egon Erwin Kisch: Stationen im Leben eines streitbaren Autors(:Böhlau Verlag, 1997), 460–64, 471–74. Patka tallies 214 articles inThe Argus, Australian Worker, The Bulletin, Sydney Morning Herald, andThe Telegraph(Sydney) over four months. Google Scholar

2. Ibid., 410–12. By the end of 1935, various of 16 books by Kisch had been translated into 12 European languages. For Kisch’s pre-1935 articles available in English translation, see theUNZ.orgwebsite, accessed April 2016, Google Scholar

3.Ken Slater, “Egon Kisch: A Biographical Outline,” Labour History, no. 36(March1979):94–103. Google Scholar

4.E. E. Kisch, Soldat im Prager Korps(:Verlag der K. Andréschen Buchhand-lung, 1922). A revised and expanded version of the 1922 war diaries, Schreib das auf, Kisch! (Write It Down, Kisch!) was published in 1930. See also:Harold B. Segel, Egon Erwin Kisch: The Raging Reporter: A Bio-Anthology(:Purdue University Press, 1997), 143–57, for“Episodes from the Serbian Front, 1914,”the only entry from Kisch’s World War I diaries translated into English. Google Scholar

5.E. E. Kisch, Prager Pitaval(:Erich Reiss Verlag, 1931). A “Pitaval,” named after an eighteenth-century French author, is a collection of pieces about sensational crimes and trials.Geschichten aus sieben Ghettos, published in 1934 in Amsterdam, was translated into English in 1948; seeE. E. Kisch, Tales from Seven Ghettos, trans.Edith Bone(:Robert Anscombe & Co., 1948). See alsoPatka, Egon Erwin Kisch, 79–91, for Kisch as playwright, and 80–81 for a list of his plays. Google Scholar

6.E. E. Kisch, Sensation Fair, trans.Guy Endore(:Modern Age Books, 1941). This is the translation ofE. E. Kisch, Marktplatz der Sensationen(:El Libro Libre, 1942). Google Scholar

7.For descriptions of Kisch’s Red Guard experience in Vienna, see:Patka, Egon Erwin Kisch, 43–58;Segel, Egon Erwin Kisch, 20–27. Google Scholar

8.For Kisch as a member of the Austrian and German Communist Parties (1919 and1925), seePatka, Egon Erwin Kisch, 56, 101. For his Czechoslovakian Communist Party membership (1922), seeJan Richter, “Egon Erwin Kisch: The Raging Reporter,” Radio Prague, accessed April 2016, For his 1946 KSČ card, signed by none other than Klement Gottwald and Rudolf Slánsky, seeMarcus G. Patka, ed., Der rasende Reporter: Egon Erwin Kisch: eine Biographie in Bildern(:Aufbau-Verlag, 1998), 256. Google Scholar

9.Prague Information Service (PIS), “Biographical Notes on Egon Kisch Prepared by the Prague Information Service,”inSlater, “Egon Kisch,” 100–103. Slater initially inquired of the Czechs if Kisch had held a post-World War II government position in Czechoslovakia. He had not. Some confusion about this may stem from the fact that during 1938 Kisch received an appointment to Prague’s city council, which was probably honorific. SeeVera Schneider, Wachposten und Grenzgänger: Deutschsprachige Autoren in Prag und die öffentliche Herstellung nationaler Identität(:Verlag Königshausen & Neumann GmbH, 2009), 246. Google Scholar

10.On the Stalinist view that Kisch’s worldwide contacts connoted “cosmopolitanism,” seeJonathan Miles, The Dangerous Otto Katz: The Many Lives of a Soviet Spy(:Bloomsbury, 2010), 271. Kisch was denounced posthumously during the 1952 Slánsky show trial, with its charged anti-Semitic atmosphere. On “odd interpretations,” seePIS, “Biographical Notes,” 102, where the PIS writes that Kisch’s 1926 book about the USSR “was the objective testimony of an initiated Marxist.” The book was never translated into Russian. Segel thought that Kisch’s candour about negative aspects of life in the Soviet Union was probably responsible for the Russian Party’s ignoring the book; seeSegel, Egon Erwin Kisch, 35–36. Kisch showed little interest in Marxist theory in his writing. Google Scholar

11.Slater, “Egon Kisch,” 97. Google Scholar

12.E. E. Kisch, Australian Landfall, trans.John Fisher,Irene Fitzgerald andKevin Fitzgerald(:Australasian Book Society, 1969), 29. Kisch gave a journalist a rhetorically clever but totally evasive answer about his Communism. The 1969 book is a verbatim reprint of the banned 1937 edition, with a foreword byA. T. Yarwood. Regarding false affidavits and Kisch’s open deceit about his whereabouts in 1932 and his membership of the Communist Party, seeHeidi Zogbaum, Kisch in Australia: The Untold Story(:Scribe Publications, 2004), 47–49. Google Scholar

13.Zogbaum, Kisch in Australia, 11–12, 25, 35. Google Scholar

14.Sean McMeekin, The Red Millionaire: A Political Biography of Willi Münzenberg, Moscow’s Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West(:Yale University Press, 2003), 270–80. Google Scholar

15.Julian Smith, On the Pacific Front: The Adventures of Egon Kisch in Australia(:Australian Book Services, 1936), 146–53. Google Scholar

16.E. E. Kisch, Australian Landfall, trans.John Fisher,Irene Fitzgerald andKevin Fitzgerald(:Martin Secker and Warburg, 1937). This is the translation ofE. E. Kisch, Landung in Australien(:Verlag Allert de Lange, 1937). Google Scholar

17.Regarding Kisch being fed tall-tales about the racehorse, Phar Lap, and “body-line-bowling,” seeSlater, “Egon Kisch,” 97. Google Scholar

18.Seeibid., regarding Kisch and “payback” to his Australian foes. It could be argued that the government’s ban of the 1937 book was “payback” for the difficulties and embarrassment Kisch had caused it. Google Scholar

19.Peter Monteath, “The Kisch Visit Revisited,” Journal of Australian Studies 16(1992):69–81.Julie Wells, “Writers and Fascism: The Kisch Case,”inWorkers and Intellectuals: Essays on Twentieth Century Australia from Ten Urban Hunters and Gatherers, ed.Richard Niles andBarry York(:Edward Blackwood, 1992), 67–83. Google Scholar

20.Julian Smith, Newspaper Reporting and Modern Reportage: A Lecture to the Writer’s League(:Australian Writers’ League, 1935), available online via Digital Collections, National Library of Australia, accessed April 2016, This publication includes a tribute to Kisch along with the minutes of the inaugural meeting of the Australian Writers’ League. Google Scholar

21.For Kisch’s long-lasting influence on Chinese journalists after his 1932 trip to China, seeRudolf G. Wagner, Inside a Service Trade: Studies in Contemporary Chinese Prose(:Harvard University Press, 1992), 325–57. Google Scholar

22.Patka, Egon Erwin Kisch, 419–40. This lists more than 700 newspaper and periodical articles by Kisch (1913–48). Google Scholar

23.E. E. Kisch, Der rasende Reporter(:Erich Reiss Verlag, 1925). The book’s first printing ran to 10,000 copies, and, by 1926, it was in its fifteenth printing. Google Scholar

24.Keith Williams, “The Will to Objectivity: Egon Erwin Kisch’s ‘Der rasende Reporter,’” The Modern Language Review 85, no. 1(1990):92–106. Google Scholar

25.Patka, Egon Erwin Kisch, 15–30, 91–111. Google Scholar

26.Smith, Newspaper Reporting, 2–14, which canvasses Kisch as the exemplary writer of reportage. See alsoTheodor Balk, “Egon Erwin Kisch and His Reportage: On the 50th Year of a Noted Revolutionary Reporter,” International Literature, no. 4(1935):57–70. This issue of a Comintern-sponsored magazine was mostly a birthday tribute to Kisch, with effusive praise inserted in “editorial boxes” and admiring articles written by Communist and other leftist writers. See alsoSegel, Egon Erwin Kisch, 69–80. Google Scholar

27.Four exemplary reportage collections over five decades, all silent on Kisch:George Orwell, The Orwell Reader: Fiction, Essays, and Reportage(:Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1956);John Carey, ed., The Faber Book of Reportage(:Faber and Faber, 1987);Ian Jack, ed., The Granta Book of Reportage(:Granta Publications, 2006);Robert B. Silvers, ed., The New York Review Abroad: Fifty Years of International Reportage(:New York Review of Books, 2013). Google Scholar

28.Patka in Zogbaum, Kisch in Australia, 139. Google Scholar

29.Patka, Egon Erwin Kisch, 409–533. Google Scholar

30.In the order of original publication dates:Die Abenteuer in Prag(1920), Kriminalistisches Reisebuch(1927), Wagnisse in aller Welt(1927), Die Reise um Europa in 365 Tagen(1930), Schreib das auf, Kisch!(1930), Prager Pitaval(1931), Abenteuer in fünf Kontinenten(1936), Die drei Kühe(1938), Soldaten am Meerestrand(1938), andUnter Spaniens Himmel(1961). Full publication for each of these works can be found inPatka, Egon Erwin Kisch, 411–17. Google Scholar

31.E. E. Kisch, Der Fall des Generalstabschefs Redl(:Verlag Die Schmiede, 1924). See alsoKisch, inSegel, Egon Erwin Kisch, 162–203. The latter is a translation of Kisch’s 1924 book. Google Scholar

32.Four works challenging details of Kisch’s and Asprey’s version of the Redl case:Patka, Egon Erwin Kisch, 32–40;Georg Markus, Der Fall Redl: Mit unveröffentlichten Geheimdokumenten zur folgenschwersten Spionage-Affäre des Jahrhunderts(:Amalthea Verlag, 1984);John R. Schindler, “Redl: Spy of the Century?” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 18(2005):483–507;Verena Moritz andHannes Leidinger, Oberst Redl: Der Spionagefall, Die Skandal, Die Fakten(:Residenz Verlag, 2012).Robert Asprey’s book, The Panther’s Feast(,Putnam’s Sons, 1959) is the best source of biographical information on Redl, while his “fatal day” description mainly follows Kisch. Google Scholar

33.E. E. Kisch, Hetzjagd durch die Zeit(:Eric Reiss Verlag, 1926), 33–76. Google Scholar

34.Karl Anton directed this 1931 film with sound, using two separate casts for its German and Czech releases:Der Fall des Generalstabschefs RedlandAféra plukovnika Rédla. Google Scholar

35.Kisch, Sensation Fair, 299–320, 323. Google Scholar

36.For example, the PIS sketch omitsThe Journey around Europe in 365 Days, a play co-written with Jaroslav Hašek, one of the great Czech literary names of the interwar era. But Hašek was questionable in the minds of Czech officialdom – both interwar and Communist – due to his mocking anti-authoritarian attitude; as a carouser he was also a poor “role model.” Google Scholar

37.Klaus Haupt, Egon Erwin Kisch (1885–1948): Der rasende Reporter aus dem Prager “Haus zu den goldenen Bären”(:Hentrich & Hentrich, 2008). Google Scholar

38.Patka, Der rasende Reporter, 273–87. Google Scholar

39.Patka in Zogbaum, Kisch in Australia, 139–57, especially 144–49, for“Judaism and Communism.” Google Scholar

40.Smith, On the Pacific Front, 167–74. Google Scholar

41.Patka, Der rasende Reporter, 258–63. Google Scholar

42.Kisch, Sensation Fair, 31–33, 75–82. See alsoGary B. Cohen, The Politics of Ethnic Survival: Germans in Prague, 1861–1914 2nd ed.(,Purdue University Press, 2006), 58–64, 75–80, on the difficult position of Czech Jews, predominantly German-speakers who were caught between rival nationalisms. On the Czech-German nationalist rivalry on the “literary front,” seeSchneider, Wachposten und Grenzgänger. Google Scholar

43.Michael Horowitz, Ein Leben für die Zeitung: Der rasende Reporter Egon Erwin Kisch(:Verlag ORAC, 1985), 10–11. Horowitz comments that in 1985 a “deathly silence” about Kisch and Kafka prevailed in Prague, where the government was hostile to both writers because they were Jews who wrote in German (ie not “real Czechs”). Google Scholar

44.E. E. Kisch, “Unmasking Gustav Regler,” New Masses(March1942):12–13. In addition to attacking Regler, Kisch made preposterous statements about how Stalin’s show trials and purges of military men in 1937–38 had contributed to the strength and success of the Red Army. See alsoPatka, Egon Erwin Kisch, 364–79, noting the harsh responses of liberal and (non-Communist) leftists to the article. Google Scholar

45.Zogbaum, Kisch in Australia, 129–37. Also, Zogbaum on Kisch’s personal motive for attacking Regler, ie “payback” for Regler’s revelation that Kisch’s friend Otto Katz was a Communist agent, thereby jeopardizing Katz’s exile in Mexico. Also seePatka, Der rasende Reporter, 217, which provides a quote suggesting that Kisch was obviously disturbed by Trotsky’s assassination, but could not bring himself to openly criticise its author, Stalin. Google Scholar

46.Kisch, Tales from Seven Ghettos. Edith Bone translated 11 of the 12 stories from Kisch’s 1934 book and added seven more, written between 1935 and1948. Google Scholar

47.The editors of Kisch’s collected works added five chapters to his 1942 memoirs; seeE. E. Kisch, Gesammelkte Werke in Einzelausgaben, vol. 7(:Aufbau-Verlag, 1974), 340–77. Google Scholar

48.Kisch, Sensation Fair, 43–47, 54–55, 64–66. Google Scholar

49.For the success ofThe Pimpand its adaptation into German and Czech films, seeSegel, Egon Erwin Kisch, 15–16. Google Scholar

50.The text of the popular cabaret play, using the protagonist’s Czech nickname, Tonka Sibenice, is inKisch, Hetzjagd durch die Zeit, 200–234. Irreverent and amusing, it displays Kisch’s empathy for members of the underclass who are viewed with disdain by worldly and heavenly authorities.Tonka Sibenice, directed byKarl Anton, was released as a silent film in 1930, with sound added back in within a year. Google Scholar

51.Segel, Egon Erwin Kisch, 27–29. Google Scholar

52.I have listed many of Kisch’s works in their original editions. More accessible versions in German can be found in theCollected Workspublished by Aufbau-Verlag in the 1960s-80s and re-released in the 1990s. This includes four volumes that gathered together reportages and essays that had never been published in book form. SeeE. E. Kisch, Gesammelte Werke in Einzelausgaben, 12 vols(:Aufbau-Verlag, 1995). Google Scholar

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Author details

O’Keeffe, Terrence