Ruth Fischer (11 December 1895 – 13 March 1961) was an Austrian and German Communist and a co-founder of the Austrian Communist Party in 1918. She later became a staunch anti-Stalinist activist and, according to secret information declassified in 2010, was a key agent of the American intelligence service known as "The Pond".
Fischer was born Elfriede Eisler in Leipzig in 1895, the daughter of Marie Edith Fischer and Rudolf Eisler, a professor of philosophy at Leipzig but of Austrian nationality. Her father was Jewish and her mother was Lutheran.
She was the elder sister to noted film and concert composer Hanns Eisler and fellow communist activist Gerhart Eisler. She studied philosophy, economics and politics at University of Vienna, where her father was working.
At an undisclosed time, before March 1921, she adopted her mother's maiden name as part of her writer's name, "Ruth Fischer." According to later records of the British Security Service (MI5), she spelled the name Fisher, and also used the names Maslow and Pleuchot.
Fischer moved to Berlin in 1919. In 1921, she became leader of the Berlin branch of the Communist Party of Germany. The German authorities tried to forcibly repatriate her to Austria. Thus she married the fellow communist Gustav Golke (1889–1937, executed in the Soviet Great Purge), in order to be naturalised as a German. Heinrich Brandler was the national leader of the Communist Party of Germany. In the early months of 1923, Ruth Fischer and Arkadi Maslow urged Brandler to organize an uprising on the model provided by the Bolsheviks in 1917. Together they developed the "theory of the offensive". Fischer denounced the leadership for "making concessions to social democracy", for "opportunism" and for "ideological liquidationism and theoretical revisionism". Chris Harman, author of The Lost Revolution (1982) has pointed out: "Articulate and energetic, they were able to gather around them many of the new workers who had joined the party." 
In 1923, Fischer appealed to a group of Nazi students, proclaiming that "Those who call for a struggle against Jewish capital are already, gentlemen, class strugglers, even if they don’t know it. You are against Jewish capital and want to fight the speculators. Very good. Throw down the Jewish capitalists, hang them from the lamp-post, stamp on them."
Ruth Fischer argued that the Communist Party of Germany leaders were saying: "In no circumstances must we proclaim the general strike. The bourgeoisie will discover our plans and destroy us before we have moved. On the contrary, we must calm the masses, hold back our people in the factories and the unemployed committees until the government thinks the moment of danger has passed."  In April 1924, the 9th party convention elected her and Maslow co-chairpersons of the Communist Party of Germany. Both criticised by Joseph Stalin, Fischer, intending to defend Maslow (meanwhile arrested for participation in preparing an uprising in Germany planned for 1923), travelled to Moscow arriving there in September 1925 and was held for the following ten months in the Hotel Lux. Meanwhile Ernst Thälmann replaced Fischer and Maslow. Joseph Stalin arranged for them to be expelled from the party in August 1926.
Espousing left-wing positions, she was a member of the Reichstag from 1924 to 1928 under her then legal name Elfriede Golke. She was a member of the Prussian House of Representatives between 1924 and 1928 too. She fled to Paris in 1933, in August the same year the Nazi government annulled her naturalisation of 1923.
In 1941, Fischer left France for the United States.
In 1947, she testified before HUAC against her brothers Gerhart and Hanns. Her testimony against Hanns resulted in his blacklisting and deportation. She testified that Gerhart was an important Comintern agent.
Communist press denounced her as a "German Trotskyite". She propounded critical views of Stalinism and called for a rebirth of Communism after Stalin's death. Before this period of anti-Stalinism, she had supported the rise to power of the Triumvirs (Stalin, Grigory Zinoviev, and Lev Kamenev), denouncing Trotsky at the fifth congress of the Communist International.
Isaac Deutscher, a biographer of Trotsky and Stalin, described her as a "young, trumpet-tongued woman, without any revolutionary experience or merit, yet idolized by the Communists of Berlin."
In 1955, Fischer returned to Paris and published her books Stalin and German Communism and Die Umformung der Sowjetgesellschaft.
For eight years after the second World War, Fischer, code-named "Alice Miller", was a key agent for "The Pond".
Fischer died in Paris in 1961, aged 65, from undisclosed causes.
She had one child, Friedrich Gerhart Friedländer (F.G. Friedlander), born in Vienna 1917, later a mathematician, who died in the United Kingdom in 2001.
The International Institute of Social History has an archive of her papers.
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