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Cultural Repression by the SED Central Committee (December 1965)

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The tendency to aggregate faults, deficiencies, and weaknesses is fuelled by circles that are interested in sparking doubts about the policies of the GDR and in spreading the ideology of skepticism. These circles include, for example, Wolf Biermann. In a volume of poetry published by Wagenbach Publishing House in West Berlin, Biermann reveals his true colors. In the name of a poorly disguised petty bourgeois-anarchistic socialism, he directs sharp criticism at our social order and our party. With cynical verses written from antagonistic points of view, Biermann betrays not only the state that gave him a high level of education, but also the life and death of his father, who was murdered by the Fascists.

The enemy is systematically turning Biermann into the poster child of a so-called literary opposition in the GDR, the voice of the “rebellious youth.” This is confirmed by West German radio broadcasts, reports in the West German press, and reviews of the poems he published in West Berlin. There, Biermann is celebrated as an “extremely candid and daring critic of the Central German regime.” Biermann’s so-called poems reveal his petty bourgeois, anarchistic behavior, his arrogance, his skepticism and cynicism. With his songs and poems, Biermann is committing treason against fundamental socialist positions. In this, he enjoys the benevolent support and patronage of certain writers, artists, and other intellectuals. It is high time to counter the dissemination of alien and damaging theories and un-artistic concoctions that also exhibit strong pornographic tendencies. Failing to take on these concoctions does not strengthen the authority of the German Writers’ Association or other organizations such as the German Cultural League. [ . . . ]

Source: Erich Honecker, Report to the Central Committee of the SED, in Neues Deutschland, December 16, 1965; reprinted in E. Schubbe, ed., Dokumente zur Kunst-, Literatur- und Kulturpolitik der DDR [Documents on the Artistic, Literary, and Cultural Policies of the GDR]. Stuttgart: Verlag Busse und Seewald GmbH, 1972, vol. 1, p. 1076ff

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

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