“[…] abnormal circumstances caused by Germany’s division […]”
In 1950, East Berlin suspicion of artists who have spent time in democracies is intense. East German officials are especially suspicious of émigrés who return “late” from exile in the West. John Heartfield spent too many years enjoying English freedom. He wrote letters pleading to remain in London for his “health and work.”
This East German Government’s attitude complicates the famous anti-fascist artist’s return to East Berlin.
Heartfield immediately draws the attention of the Stasi, the East German secret police. He must endure a detailed interrogation. The Stasi collect evidence against Heartfield. His dentist is under East Berlin suspicion of activity against the state.
On August 31, 1950, John Heartfield and his third wife, the former Gertrud Fietz, a German émigré, return to Leipzig.
Heartfield will not be admitted to the East German Akademie der Künste for six years. This severely limits his ability to work as an artist. Because he is neither a party member of a member of the Akademie, he’s denied health benefits when he suffers multiple heart attacks.
Heartfield and his brother, Wieland, are able to work together on some GDR theatre productions. Heartfield also finds work for publishing in Werkstatt: H & H.