Stefan Heym: Papers

Scope and Content

The collection is large, containing, in addition to printed editions and translations of Heym's books, approximately 300 boxes and volumes of manuscripts, including plot outlines and source studies, and some unpublished literary works. There are also 75 boxes of correspondence (access restricted); some 40 boxes and volumes of press cuttings; 400 audio and 70 video cassettes; and miscellaneous material, such as photographs and wartime pamphlets. The collection is divided into classes as follows:

Class A: Literary manuscripts

These comprise background material pertaining to works by Heym, as well as the works themselves. From the outset Heym typed most of his manuscripts, limiting his handwriting to correction, tables and the rewriting of single paragraphs. The papers include files of sources, either on file cards or photocopied material. There are also contributions from Heym's first wife, Gertrude, including long analyses of his work.

Class B: Texts of interviews

There are sound recordings and texts of interviews. Some of the transcripts were generated by Heym, while others were sent to him by journalists, and were often corrected subsequently by Heym.

Class C: Correspondence

Class D: Press clippings

The initial group of articles concern Heym's literary work, and include some on cultural politics, his political involvement and disputes. From 1989 the emphasis of the articles shifts to Heym's involvement in politics, his literary work from the time of German unification onwards having received comparatively little press attention. Most of the items are cuttings from newspapers and magazines, but there is also publicity material. Certain items are publications of short stories or articles by Heym. Newspaper serialisations of, or excerpts from, various novels are also included. Most of the cuttings are in English or German, but other languages are also used. There is a considerable amount of repetition, with the same article being supplied by more than one source.

Class E: Secret Police files

Class F: Audio material

Audio tapes predominate, mostly private recordings by Heym to ensure that he would be quoted correctly. The quality of recording is poor and frequently incomplete. Most are in German, with some in English and occasionally other languages. The majority are of question and answer sessions following readings or interviews. There are also video cassettes, mostly in German, dating from 1981 onwards.

Class H: Miscellanea

Pamphlets, photographic negatives, slides, photographs, official documents, dust jackets for various works, notebooks, appointment diaries and material concerning Heym's candidacy for election to the German Bundestag in 1994.

Administrative / Biographical History

Stefan Heym (1913-2001) was an East German/American Jewish writer. He was born in Chemnitz, and in 1933 became Germany's youngest literary exile, spending the next two years subsisting from his writing in Prague. In 1935 he settled in America, where his activities included editing a German-language, anti-Fascist newspaper in New York, 1937-1939, and writing his first bestseller, Hostages. As an American soldier during World War II, he was at the spearhead of the Normandy invasion, and wrote broadcasts for Radio Luxembourg and newspapers in 1945 for the German civilian population. During the McCarthy purges Heym returned to Europe, and lived in East Berlin from 1953 until his death. In Germany his writings were influential, but at a cost: his open criticism of 'real existing socialism' brought him into conflict with the authorities, and he had the largest secret police file in East Germany. Heym received wide media coverage as a literary and political figure, and today his books are constantly in print in Germany.


The paper material in the collection was ordered by Heym, chiefly chronologically, with some division by subject. His overall order has been retained, although material has been rearranged within files, and in some cases moved from one file to another.

Access Information

Most of the collection is open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room. However, there is restricted access to material that is particularly fragile, in which case a copy is available, and to material which is of a particularly personal nature. The latter is subject to embargo until thirty years after the death of Stefan Heym, and includes Class C, Correspondence, and Class E, Secret Police Files.

Acquisition Information

Deposited 1992.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue to the collection is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room. A card catalogue of many audio and video cassettes, prepared by one of Heym's secretaries, is also available. The printed books, newspapers and periodicals which constitute a significant part of the collection are described in the Library's on-line catalogue and in a hand-written shelflist.


cze dan dut eng ger gre heb hun ita rum rus swe

Geographical Names