<< HEARTFIELD CHRONOLOGY – ALL YEARS1940 1941 1942 1945 1946 1947

“Re: Johnny Heartfield

The above-named is well known as a 
staunch anti-fascist. As a result of his 
artistic achievements in photomontage, 
as well as to culture and politics, he has 
made a name for himself well beyond the 
borders of Germany. He has greatly 
developed the art of photomontage. 
Due to persecution by the Nazis, 
he was forced to leave Germany and 
emigrated first to Czechoslovakia and 
later to England, where he still lives. 
He has continued his work in exile. 
Since the end of the war, exhibitions 
of his photomontages have been 
staged in America, France, Switzerland, 
Czechoslovakia, and in the Soviet Union. 
His work has been generally well received 
by the press, especially by the French Poet 
Louis Aragon. Heartfield is still sprightly 
and artistically active. He wishes to 
return to Germany. We can support this 
wish most sincerely.”

1947 Letter From 
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany, 
Personnel Policy, Müller 
<p>Paul Wandel, President, 
Central Administration for 
Nation Education, Berlin
1947 Letter From 
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany, 
Personnel Policy, Müller 

Paul Wandel, President, 
Central Administration for 
Nation Education, Berlin

East German Refugee. Political Collage Artist John Heartfield Pleads To Stay In England, 1947

At the Potsdam Conference (17 July to 2 August 1945), after Germany’s unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945, the Allies divided “Occupation Zone Germany” into four military occupation zones. There is now and “East” and a “West” Germany. East Germany will evolved into one of the most repressive communist state in Europe. The Stasi (East German Secret Police) are the government’s enforcers. They bring institutional terror to the residents of East Berlin.

John Heartfield is forced to leave the England. All his pleas to remain in London for his “health and work” have been refused. His financial situation is so bad this great artist applies for a position in the welding trade. His wife, Gertrud, had been a house servant. Heartfield receives some money from his son, Tom George Heartfield, but he’s barely getting along.

In 1947, John Heartfield is offered an appointment as professor of satirical graphics in the department of applied arts of Humboldt University, East Berlin. His brother, Wieland Herzfelde, wants him to return to Berlin. Wieland has a good position and is doing well in East Berlin. But he is not the same man without his brother. He plans to have John take the apartment next to him at 129A Friedrichstrasse.

Heartfield clearly does not want to return to East Germany. He cites an injury to his spine, caused by an accident, as a reason to remain in England.

In public, he asks the question, “Do I have to become a professor?”


Jonny and Gertrud

Gertrud Fietz and John Heartfield, England
Gertrud "Tutti" Fietz will become John Heartfield's third wife.
Heartfield and Gertrud Fietz in England

L-R: Gertrud Fietz, John Heartfield, England

Professor John J Heartfield is John Heartfield’s paternal grandson. Professor Heartfield presented Art & Politics, Politics & Art at the DADA WORLD FAIR in San Francisco. Please write to him about his live presentation regarding the relevance of his grandfather’s life and work to current events.

Dada Political Artist John Heartfield grandson, John Heartfield, Curator Official John Heartfield Exhibition