Bitter Wells

Hertha Gordon-Walcher: living for the revolution

The life of an extraordinary woman – and the dream of a just world

The young socialists whom Hertha Walcher (1894–1990) joined in the 1910s believed that there was an alternative to capitalism, and that the world didn’t have to be full of war, poverty and exploitation. Like them, Hertha dreamed of revolution – but instead experienced the terrible death of all illusion. This is the story of her long life, as well as a unique portrait of an epoch: Walcher takes part in the preparations for a German workers’ revolution, and witnesses the brutal infighting in the Weimar Republic’s socialist parties; after the Nazis take power, she goes underground, before dramatically escaping to New York. After years in exile, she returns to Germany to help build up the GDR – working with Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, Bertolt Brecht, Willy Brandt and Wilhelm Pieck, and even meeting Lenin.

Regina Scheer has known Hertha Walcher from childhood, and has talked to her countless times over many years. In this book, she offers us a rare and intimate glimpse into the life of an amazing woman. Compelling and full of empathy, «Bitter Wells» is the story of an age of utopias and revolutionary ideas, as well of the death of illusion and of bitter infighting between people who shared the same goals.