Interest in the theoretical work of Karl Korsch has grown as part of the wider expansion of interest in Marxist theory that has occurred in the past decade. Often assimilated to Lukács, with whom he has definite theoretical affinities, Korsch in many important ways differs from the Hungarian theorist. The most profound difference is the divergent political choice that the two made in the mid-1920s: Lukács remained in general loyal to the Comintern while Korsch broke with the Communist Party. This difference has also affected the later ‘rediscovery’ of these two theorists’ writings. Lukács continued to write and act as a prominent if controversial member of the Hungarian Party and expressed himself on a variety of theoretical and political issues until his death in 1971. Korsch’s later theoretical and political positions are less available and less direct and it is often hard to chart the course that his thinking took, especially after his emigration to the USA in 1936. This relative obscurity of his later work and his death in 1961 before the revived interest in Korsch have also meant that the intellectual and biographical background to his earlier work has been little explored.
The interview that we publish here with Dr Hedda Korsch illuminates the personal background to Korsch’s political and theoretical career, vividly evoking the German cultural context from which he came. She and Korsch were married before the First World War and joined the KPD in 1920. During the Weimar Republic she worked as a teacher in experimental schools and was employed in the Soviet Trade Mission in Berlin until the KPD leaders had her dismissed because of her relationship to Korsch. In the late 1920s and early 1930s she taught in the Karl-Marx-Schule in Berlin and left Germany in 1933 after the Nazi seizure of power. She now lives at Fort Lee, New Jersey, where the following interview was recorded in September 1972.