The authors would like to thank Henning Hoff for his helpful comments on a draft version of this text. The research for this article was made possible by a major research grant from the British Academy.
John Peet (1915–1988): An Englishman in the GDR
Version of Record online: 21 JAN 2004
Volume 89, Issue 293, pages 49–69, January 2004
How to Cite
Berger, S. and Laporte, N. (2004), John Peet (1915–1988): An Englishman in the GDR. History, 89: 49–69. doi: 10.1111/j.0018-2648.2004.00287.x
- Issue online: 21 JAN 2004
- Version of Record online: 21 JAN 2004
John Peet was the most important interlocutor between Britain and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Through his journal, Democratic German Report (DGR), which he edited between 1952 and 1975, Peet had considerable influence among left-of-centre public opinion in Britain. His positive portrayal of the GDR was among the GDR's most believable and powerful propaganda in Britain. This articles reassesses Peet's decision to live and work in the GDR and his subsequent disillusionment with ‘really existing socialism’ in eastern Europe. Making use of Peet's personal papers and the archival holdings about Peet located in various German archives, the article presents Peet as a ‘liberal communist’ who was deeply influenced in his political choices by his experiences in inter-war Britain and by his fight against fascism in Spain. Although he came to dislike many things about the GDR, his loyalty to the ideals of communism always remained stronger than his desire to criticize the eastern European dictatorships.