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Petition for an Exit Visa (April 20, 1977)

Manfred Krug’s career in East Germany came to an abrupt end in 1976 when he signed a petition protesting the expulsion of songwriter Wolf Biermann. After being harassed by the authorities, he filed a petition for an exit visa to West Germany, which was approved surprisingly quickly. In June 1977, Krug moved to the West with his family and resumed his career with great success.

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April 20, 1977, Wednesday

A friend and neighbor is trimming my little fringe of hair with a comb and scissors; a tear sometimes falls onto my bald head. Up until today she still didn’t believe I would do it. She wants me to read the petition to her aloud:

Petition for an exit visa from the GDR to enter the FRG

My name is Manfred Krug. I am an actor and singer. As a result of my parents’ divorce I left West Germany as a thirteen-year-old and moved to the GDR, where I have lived ever since. I am married and have three children.

In 1956 I met Wolf Biermann, who became – and still is – a friend. In 1965 the first article attacking Biermann was published in Neues Deutschland, and I inveighed against it. This brought me reprimands and the usual disadvantages. I was never part of the “travel cadre” and was never permitted to participate in one of the many DEFA* delegations traveling to foreign countries. At the time, however, I did not suffer any more far-reaching consequences.

This time it is different. As is known, after Biermann was expelled from the country, twelve writers wrote a letter of protest, which I also signed. After I refused to withdraw my signature, my life changed abruptly.

– GDR Television excluded me from any type of collaboration. That was harsh, because as a result two roles in first filmings were irrevocably lost to me: the original Götz and Michael Kohlhaas.
Die grossen Erfolge [The Great Successes], a LP [album] that is already finished, will not come out.
– The DEFA film Feuer unter Deck [Fire below Deck] was not included in the 1977 Summer Film Days festival on the grounds that I supposedly beat up a comrade in Erfurt.
– Two days before Biermann was expelled, the Committee for the Entertainment Arts [Kommitee für Unterhaltungskunst der DDR] of the GDR offered me a tour through West Germany. This tour did not take place.
– The publicly owned record company VEB Deutsche Schallplatten had offered me the production of a Mark Twain record for the first quarter of 1977. This production will not take place.
– Last fall, I abstained from taking a pre-approved trip to West Germany to attend my brother’s wedding because the Committee for the Entertainment Arts requested instead that I participate in the Days of the Entertainment Arts of the GDR in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic [Tagen der Unterhaltungskunst der DDR in der ČSSR] festival, which I did successfully. The Ministry of Culture did not keep its promise that I would be permitted to take the cancelled trip at a later date; my application was not even answered.
– Although all my jazz concerts of the past years were sold out, I have received no new offers. Of the fifteen concerts that were authorized last year, nine were cancelled without an alternative date or any explanation.

This is an incomplete selection of reprisals, of which it had been announced that there would not be any.

* Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (German Film Corporation)

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