Sunday, August 19, 2007


drawing by marguerita (section from Neuro Series)

"It had to come out,finally"...

Die Zeit 16.08.2007

"What actually happened in a person who has checked his conscience as if it were a coat at the cloakroom?"
wonders author Fritz J. Raddatz in a major self-critique in which he admits his own "failure as a GDR citizen." Clearly aware of the existence of Bautzen prison and the Vorkuta camp, he voluntarily lived in the GDR from 1950 to 1959. "I can't use the 'I knew nothing' with which millions of Germans exculpated themselves after 1945. I knew – of plays dropped from theatre programmes, withdrawn films, banned books (often enough 'my own' published by Volk und Welt). All the while I stretched the tip of my foot beyond the chalk circle, rejoiced over a subversive poem in an anthology, a book by Heinrich Böll listed in a publisher's catalogue, even my own small impertinences. One example, the communist party secretary was also head of sales, and often asked me in a humming and hawing tone for more 'licences from the West', because these books sold so well. I told him: You always talk about 'the party' I'm supposed to join – which party do you mean? A puny protest."Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 17.08.2007

In this week's edition of Die Zeit (see "In Today's Feuilletons" of yesterday), the well-known publicist Fritz J. Raddatz admitted to having kept silent about much that he knew in the GDR, and having gone along with much that he shouldn't have. Hubert Spiegel comments on his "self-accusation," comparing it with
Gunter Grass' recent admission that he had been in the Waffen SS (more here). "When Grass acknowledged having been a member of the SS, Raddatz came out passionately in his defence. 'Grass renders his account with the probing, red-hot iron called memory', Raddatz wrote empathetically in his review of Grass' 'Peeling the Onion,' quoting one of the book's key sentences: 'I let myself be misled.' Now Raddatz ends his own account with an even stronger formulation: 'I wasn't abused, I abused myself.' Grass painted himself as a dumb, ignorant youth, Raddatz presents himself as the prototype of the exalted opportunist and fellow-traveller, ennobled to the status of latent dissident through his intellectualism and the odd protest."

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