Acclaimed Author Christa Wolf Dies at 82

she was East Germany’s Most Famous Writer – Published on Spiegel Online International, by dsl, December 1, 2011.

Christa Wolf was one of Germany’s most significant postwar writers, one who chronicled life in the the communist East. She passed away Thursday at 82 and leaves behind a controversial legacy. She will be remembered as a great writer, but also for collaborating briefly with the East German secret police … //   

… No Alternatives, No Place:

Wolf first found literary success with her book “Divided Heaven,” the story of a love affair shortly before the construction of the Berlin Wall. She established her reputation in literary circles after visiting West Germany and the Auschwitz Trial in Frankfurt and writing “The Quest for Christa T.,” (1968) which explored the tension between the demands of society and the desire of the protagonist in the novel for individual development. Her 1983 tome “Cassandra,” which explored the threat to peace and used the Homerian figure Cassandra to depict gender conflicts, became mandatory reading for the peace and feminist movements in both East and West Germany.

With works like the semi-autobiographical novel “Patterns of Childhood,” (1976), the story “No Place on Earth” (1979), about an imagined encounter with Heinrich von Kleist, she also established herself as a contemporary historical figure.

“‘No Place on Earth’ is the expression of how I felt about life at the time. For me there were no alternatives, no place. I was no longer playing along in the GDR,” Wolf later told SPIEGEL in an interview, describing her conflicted feelings about the East German regime. Of course people asked themselves “Shouldn’t we leave,” she said. But Wolf said she ultimately got to experience “one of the few revolutions in German history,” and that it had been worth staying for.

If Christa Wolf’s literature was deeply rooted in her experience living in East Germany, so too was the public’s perception of her, particularly following the 1993 revelations of her connections to the Stasi. It was Wolf herself who made her Stasi past public, admitting to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper that she had served as a sporadic informant to the Stasi between 1959 and 1962 under the codename “Margarete.” She then went on to make her entire Stasi file available in order to end any further speculation about its contents. The revelations had been particularly damaging because Wolf had previously written critically about having been under surveillance herself.

Carefully Monitored by the Secret Police: … //

… Not Much Time Left:

Wolf herself had left the SED in June 1989 and became active in her desire to “create change from within the country” together with the people in the movement that would ultimately lead to the fall of the Wall that autumn. Afterwards, on Nov. 28, 1989, she advocated together with writer Stefan Heym and theologian Friedrich Schorlemmer and others for the continued existence of East Germany, saying it should not simply be taken over by West Germany. She advised people who wanted to leave East Germany to stay on in order to “create a truly democratic society.” After numerous statements, speeches, open letters, readings and interviews, Wolf, who was attacked as an “advocate of socialism” and a “domesticated opponent” of the SED, retreated from daily political life.

In 2010, Wolf published her final novel, “Stadt der Engel oder The Overcoat of Dr. Freud,” a book that also centered on the legacy of East Germany. The book primarily takes place in California, where the author lived as a guest at the Getty Foundation between September 1992 and July 1993. It was also during this time that her files were uncovered by the agency responsible for administering access to the Stasi’s massive archive.

Prior to her death, Wolf lived in Berlin and also in the town of Woserin in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Speaking of death in an interview with SPIEGEL in June 2010, Wolf said: “I think a lot about death, and I am conscious almost every day that I do not have that much time left. As I write, I sometimes thought: So, perhaps you’ll let me still write this one until it is complete.” (full text).

Links:

Christa Wolf on en.wikipedia; and on de.wikipedia (* 18. März 1929 in Landsberg an der Warthe als Christa Ihlenfeld; † 1. Dezember 2011 in Berlin);

Institut Solidarische Moderne ISM [6], auf de.wikipedia; auf der eigenen webseite,

Campact.de, Demokratie in Action: Nimm Einfluss auf aktuelle politische Entscheidungen, Homepage und Aktionen; Blog;

Stefan Heym on en.wikipedia;

Friedrich Schorlemmer on en.wikipedia (er ist Gründungsmitglieder des ISM); und auf de.wikipedia: (* 16. Mai 1944 in Wittenberge) ist ein deutscher evangelischer Theologe, Bürgerrechtler und Mitglied der SPD. Er war ein prominenter Protagonist der Opposition in der DDR und ist weiterhin politisch aktiv;

The Getty Foundation;

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania;

The STASI (East German secret police);


S21-Abstimmung: Rück- und Ausblick
, im CAMPACT.de-Blog, von Fritz Mielert, am 30. November 2011.

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