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The Red MillionaireA Political Biography of Willy Munzenberg, Moscow's Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West$
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Sean McMeekin

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300098471

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300098471.001.0001

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Introduction: Who in the World Is Willi Münzenberg?

Introduction: Who in the World Is Willi Münzenberg?

(p.1) Introduction: Who in the World Is Willi Münzenberg?
The Red Millionaire

Sean McMeekin

Yale University Press

This book focuses on the life of Willi Munzenberg, who—although being relatively unknown today—demonstrated formidable talents in the black arts of propaganda. At the height of his influence, he controlled from his Berlin headquarters a seemingly invincible network of Communist organizations using fronts such as charities, publishers, newspapers, magazines, theaters, film studios, and cinema houses. On paper, these organizations stretched from Buenos Aires to Tokyo, employing many of the interwar period's most famous intellectuals, including Upton Sinclair, Henri Barbusse, Albert Einstein, Bertolt Brecht, and John Dos Passos. To his admirers, Munzenberg was a beacon of hope for a Europe ravaged by war, a hero whose fund-raising campaigns built bridges between the ever-fragile Soviet experiment in “proletarian” government and Western socialists. To his critics, on the other hand, he was a dangerous media demagogue who preyed on naive fellow traveling sympathizers to reap a personal fortune—a “Red Millionaire.”

Keywords:   propaganda, Willi Munzenberg, Communist organizations, interwar period, proletarian government, Western socialists, media demagogue, Red Millionaire

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