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Pic: Tarver in about 1975-6
Born in 1930 into a middle-class family, Tarver joined the Communist Party on his 18th birthday in 1948. He had felt that the Soviet Union had made the most effective resistance to fascism and this influenced his decision. He served in the army during national service and then became a student at Oxford University, which he left in 1952, although he stayed in the area. His first marriage took place in 1951.
By 1958 became a full-time organiser for the Communist Party in Oxford, rising to become the District Secretary of the South Midlands District of the Communist Party. By the time of 1968, Tarver was strongly identified with those who supported the Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia that year. He was increasingly seen as being marked by a sharp stance on matters concerning the then socialist countries.
In 1970, he was invited to attend a summer course in the German Democratic Republic, which sought to aid improvement of English language teaching there. He made several trips to the GDR where, as he has put it, he "met a number of interesting women". Over the next few years, he was increasingly immersed in this project, to the extent that he eventually left his marriage and Britainaltogether to divorce and remarry a GDR citizen. In February 1976, he finally went to eastern Germanyfor good. Although, he was an overseas founder member of the pro-Soviet breakaway New Communist Party in 1977.
Tarver obtained work at Potsdam University as head of the final year of studies in the English language. His British passport allowed him to travel regularly to West Berlin, thus, as well as keeping tabs on other Westerners in the GDR, Tarver was asked by the Stasi to glean information from the British authorities. But a GDR secretary working at the British embassy in East Berlin discovered that Tarver’s Communist past had caused him to be classified as a “dangerous and devious operator", so this work came to naught.
Although remaining loyal to the GDR to the end, and to some extent defending its record, Tarver now regrets supporting Communism with the zeal which he held: "It's a scar on my mind," he has said and has now admitted returning to his Catholic roots.