20. Decision Not to Include Wolf Biermann

It is interesting that the report above indicates with certainty that I would be interviewing Biermann and including him in my book, even though I had not actually decided to do that. Ultimately, I decided not to include Biermann and explained my decision in the introduction to DDR-Literatur im Tauwetter: Wandel – Wunsch – Wirklichkeit (GDR Literature During the Thaw: Change – Desire – Reality), 1985.

Many readers will wonder why Wolf Biermann’s name does not appear in the table of contents. The explanation is quite simple. It would have been impossible to carry out a project of this kind without at least the unofficial approval of the GDR Writers’ Union. The Writers’ Union would undoubtedly have rejected any proposal for a book that included SED regime critic Biermann. When I met with functionaries of the Writers’ Union in the fall of 1975, I was asked on various occasions: “You are surely not intending to visit Biermann?” or “Biermann will not be represented in your book, isn’t that so?” A number of the authors I visited later on asked me similar questions. In this way and in other ways I was given to understand clearly that the Writers’ Union would block my project if I were to visit Biermann. In the final analysis it came down to Biermann or the book. I opted for the book. Later on, when all the interviews were in my possession and Biermann was living in West Germany, I could of course easily have included him. But since I had agreed to do the book without Biermann, it would have been—for the reasons I have cited—a questionable move to incorporate him ex post facto. (Vol. I, 11-12)