Christa Wolf has published a story with the title ‘What Remains’  – an unpleasant story from long-forgotten times – and I have been asked to take issue with the beastly criticisms made by Frank Schirrmacher in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Ulrich Greiner in Die Zeit. Christa Wolf is accused of cowardice before an enemy, who, however, was never her enemy and under whose regime the critics never had to live. Tricky!

The critics accuse Christa Wolf of only now pulling out of the drawer an anti-Stasi story that she wrote more than ten years ago – now, that is, when it won’t cost her anything to publish it. True! True, even though it was only yesterday that the author was a holy cow. Why do these knights of the intellect only now assault the flattered author, when it likewise doesn’t cost them anything to do so? However hesitant, timid and torn Christa Wolf was, she never played the hero, and that’s why she was allowed to be torn, timid and hesitant. Apart from that one should judge the apple tree by its fruits and not by whether it’s good for making cudgels or firewood for a burning at the stake.

The cowardlybrave intellectuals of the GDR are certainly in a corner. Not only Christa Wolf, but also such shrunken dragon-slayers as my false friend Stefan Heym, my false foe Stephan Hermlin, or Volker Braun whose talent I admire, or Fritz Cremer whom I feel sorry for, or Scheumann whom I don’t know, or Hermann Kant whom I fear and Peter Hacks whom I despise, Rainer Kirsch whom I couldn’t care less about, Erik Neutsch who will always remain dim, and Willi Sitte who also once wanted to do something better for himself and the world.

A Mid-life Crisis
The Ramada Inn at Shiloh