an area of the map for world news.
February 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 2)
In the early 1970s,
East and West Germany achieved a wary truce, all but recognizing
each others legitimacy. Wolf Biermann was among the victims
of the backlash that followed in the East.
The singer-songwriter was already under scrutiny because of
his noncomformist politics. While on a tour of West Germany
in 1976, he was stripped of his East German citizenship. His
banishment launched an exodus of East German intellectuals,
who bridled at the constraints imposed by the policy of ideological
Biermanns fall was especially dramatic because of his
leftist pedigree. The son of a communist killed by the Nazis,
he moved from Hamburg to East Germany in 1953, enjoying a privileged
place from which to express himself.
In one song, he inveighed his communist critics: You want
me to sing about the happiness of the new era, but you have
become deaf / Create more happiness in reality, then you wont
need the substitute of my songs.
Already in the 1960s, authorities were considering how to silence
Biermann. According to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ),
a communist party report recommended that he be banned from
Berlin or given a job.
Erich Honecker, then in charge of security, scrawled on the
document: Not possible. Not expedient! EH. Some
10 years passed before authorities deemed Biermanns exile
expedient. Yet they underestimated his popularity. Jochen Staadt,
writing in FAZ, noted that many ordinary citizens, risking imprisonment,
protested the singers banishment. Their display of courage
was a wonderful event in the land of poets and thinkers.
In November 2001, Biermann marked the 25th anniversary of his
excommunication with a concert at the Berliner Ensemble theatera
venue founded by his mentor, Bertolt Brecht.