Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals


A history of Soviet propaganda in the West under Stalin. It aims to show how three men - Willi Muzenberg, Otto Katz and Louis Gibarti - manipulated the lives and deeds of some of the most prominent and idealistic public figures.

‘An extremely clever book, entertaining, despite its often hideous subject matter, on the Soviet ‘apparatus’ and its dirty work in the west. Stephen Koch's huge cast of remarkable characters is headed by Willi Münzenberg, German comrade of Lenin from pre-Revolutionary days, found hanged in a remote forest after the Nazi conquest of France in 1940. Münzenberg's skill was organisational. He was a Bolshevik Hearst or Murdoch. Newspapers, magazines, books, plays, films appeared in the west at his instigation… the fellow-travelling innocents who joined the front organisations he controlled included some of the major names in 20th-century culture – Mann and Gide, Hemingway and Eluard. Bad-tempered Sinclair Lewis and wise-cracking Dorothy Parker. His lieutenant Otto Katz was the friend of Kafka and Marlene Dietrich, Brecht and Fritz Lang, and mobilised Hollywood for Stalin.’
ANGUS CALDER, 'Scotland on Sunday '

‘An excellent history of soviet propaganda in the west under Stalin… Koch, to his credit, has not taken a single rumour for granted. This is an excellent example of both scholarship and detective work, sourced from newly-opened archives in Germany and Russia’
ANNE McELVOY, ' The Times'

‘Riveting – As a classic example of conspiracy theory, Stephen Koch's account of Willi Münzenberg and the Soviet propaganda machine of the 1920s and 30s is hard to beat.’
AC GRAYLING, 'Financial Times'

‘This story is a compelling one … It is unlikely that a more compelling account of the subject will be written than this, and Koch writes well, and with gusto.’