Leading Kafka scholar, Eduard Goldstucker, dies aged 87

Eduard Goldstucker, a renowned scholar of 20th-century German literature and Czechoslovakia's leading authority on Franz Kafka, died on Monday at the age of eighty-seven. During his life he was forced into exile twice. First in 1939 after the German occupation--as a German Jew he fled for his life--and again in 1968 after the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia. Despite being forced to leave by the Communist Party, he remained an ardent communist throughout his life. Nick Carey has this report:

Eduard Goldstucker was born near the village of Dolni Kobin in northern Slovakia on May 30th, 1913. Intelligent and well read, he studied German and German literature at Charles University in Prague, where he graduated in 1935 and worked for a short time as a high school teacher. It was during his studies at Charles University that Eduard Goldstucker joined the Communist Party's student organisation and later the Communist Party itself. I spoke to Mr. Goldstucker shortly before his death, and I asked him why he joined: Eduard Goldstucker was to remain loyal to the principles of Communist ideology for the rest of his life.

After the Nazi occupation in 1939, he was forced to leave Czechoslovakia because of his Jewish origins. He worked in the Czechoslovak government-in-exile in London, and after the war he was recognised for his services to the country by being appointed ambassador to Israel in 1948. In 1951, however, Eduard Goldstucker fell victim to the Czechoslovak Communist Party's Stalinist show trials, and he spent three and a half years in prison. He was rehabilitated in 1955, and obtained a post at Charles University lecturing in German studies. He became professor of the department in 1964. Eduard Goldstucker translated and studied German works and specialised in the works of German Jewish authors of the twentieth century, especially Franz Kafka.

In fact Goldstucker was instrumental in the rehabilitation of Kafka's work, and largely thanks to him his books were made accessible in the former Soviet Bloc. During the 1960s, Eduard Goldstucker was also elected the head of the Czechoslovak Writers' Association and he became an MP in the National Assembly

After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, of which he was highly critical, Goldstucker became the target of a media campaign, and was forced to emigrate, again to England, where he taught German literature until 1990, when he returned home. After his return, he participated actively in political debates, and in particular condemned the free market economies of the West. The reason he gave for remaining an ardent communist was that the principles were all sound, and that these principles had merely been wrongly applied.

Eduard Goldstucker's funeral will be held on October 30th, and he will be sadly missed in literary circles.