Interview: Herta Müller - On Growing Up In Ceausescu's Romania

On Growing Up In Ceaușescu's Romania

Romanian-born author Herta Müller on October 8 won the 2009 Nobel prize for literature. In 1999, Müller, whose parents were members of the German-speaking minority in Romania, spoke to Mircea Iorgulescu from RFE/RL's Romania-Moldova Service about growing up under dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, her encounters with the secret police, and how her background has shaped her work.

RFE/RL: Your novels all have something in common. They're all set in Romania. This is a paradox or a detail that has been noticed also by the German press. Do you have an explanation for this split between two worlds?

Herta Mueller: No, this looks very natural to me. I was born in Romania, I grew up there, and I lived there until I was 32. I left Romania in a rather complicated state of mind. I wrote my first books in Romania. My first book was "Niederungen" ["Lowlands"], which is about a child's view of the German Banat [a region in Western Romania]. In that book and in others the central topic is the dictatorship. I knew nothing else. I'd seen nothing else. And I continued with that topic. And I believe there is a kind of literature across the world, the literature of certain biographies, that runs in parallel with extreme events, in parallel with the times of the authors' lives. For example in the 1950s, the gulag was present in Eastern Europe in certain forms. [Or] for instance, the labor camps. And then we have the national-socialist era, Hitler's time, the destruction of the Jews, a topic which many authors have described in parallel with their own biographies.... I believe this type of literature exists everywhere, from Cuba to China."

RFE/RL: So it's not the geographical matter that's the most important to the reader?

Mueller: No. I don't think the geographic landscape is important. That landscape or environment is necessary -- and I have no other landscape other than the one I know, the one I came from. [My] literary characters reflect what happens to the human being in a totalitarian society or system. And I believe this is not a topic that I chose, but rather one that my life has chosen for me. I don't have that freedom of choice. I cannot say: 'I want to write about that thing, or about that other thing.' I am bound to write about what concerns me and about the things that won't leave me in peace.

RFE/RL: You were born in the early 1950s in the region of Banat in southwestern Romania.

Mueller: In 1953, the year Stalin died.... Or rather when his body died and was put to rest, because his ideas lived a little bit longer, didn't they?

RFE/RL: Are they still alive today?

Mueller: Well, yes, I think they're still alive. In many people. Or at least remains of those ideas. Maybe not his whole theory in such a visible form as it was back then, but parts of it.... A lot of stones from that mosaic are still around, I'm sure.

RFE/RL: You have published recently, even this week, I think, in "Der Spiegel," an article about Slobodan Milosevic and Serbia.

Mueller: It wasn't an article, really, I was questioned among many others.... I was asked what I thought about this war [in Kosovo]. I had spoken about that before, about the previous wars in Bosnia or Croatia, and even back then I was in favor of [Western] military intervention, believing back then that Milosevic would not step back, that he had to be forced to step down by some external power. And this is what I think now too [about Kosovo]. I am outraged by the fact that this person has the chance to wage a third war -- or maybe a fourth, if we count Slovenia -- a person that leaves new cemeteries behind wherever he goes and who has made his country go in a different direction after 1989 [when compared to] the rest of Eastern Europe. I think he has reached a point of no return. He's lost three wars, now he wants to win the fourth, in Kosovo. He probably has Montenegro on his list after that, that must be his next action unless someone stops him. I believe this person, who I believe to be a Stalinist.

Ethnic Mosaic

RFE/RL: Through my question I was trying to take you back to the Banat region, where you were born. It used to be a very diverse place in terms of ethnicity. It used to have German communities, Serbian communities, Romanian communities, Hungarians. It used to be a mosaic which was free of ethnic conflict, if I remember correctly.

Mueller: I think there was conflict in Banat, but at a "normal" level, so to speak. But then there is conflict between all kinds of people in every society. We all need conflict, deep down. With our neighbors, with our colleagues, with our spouses, which I believe is normal. I think the national minorities you mentioned didn't live together with the Romanians. They lived in the same space with them. This takes me back to the theory of multiculturalism, which was very popular in Germany a decade ago, maybe it still is.... It claims we should all melt into one, become one, but this doesn't work.

RFE/RL: And you were coming to Germany from Ceausescu's Romania, where the password was "homogeneity."

Mueller: Exactly. I knew what that could mean. So my idea was that the natural way to go is for every community to live peacefully next to the other communities. There is no way you can melt all old cultures into a new one. It simply doesn't work. In Timisoara [the main city in Banat] one can hear on the street all kinds of languages: Romanian, German, Hungarian, Serbian, Romany -- that's how it used to be and that's how it should be. Nobody should hide their culture. When I spoke Romanian on a train, let's say, anyone would know that I was German or Hungarian, because I had an accent. I didn't used to make grammar mistakes in Romanian back then, now they're more frequent, because I lack the practice.

RFE/RL: When you were a child, what did the German community in Banat look like, after the deportations, the purges, and everything?

Mueller: I was born in 1952. What I remember from my family is that my grandfather was considered a "boier" [landlord]. This is what I had to put down in my papers when I applied for university. He also traded in cereals. So he was pretty wealthy. He had no less than 10 siblings and he remembered his parents worrying about more. "What shall we do if we have more children? How will we feed them?" So my grandfather wasn't born into wealth. He simply worked hard. He was born a peasant and remained a peasant. My grandparents never changed their style, they never took holidays or traveled. If there was money spare, it was used to buy more land.

Labor Camp

RFE/RL: Peasants don't often go on holiday, do they?

Mueller: Exactly. My grandmother would work from dawn till dusk until she couldn't stand up anymore.... And then there would be maybe more money and more land. They did what they had to do. And then, after 1945, everything was gone. The land was taken by the collective farm. My mother was deported to the USSR. She spent five years in a labor camp, paying for the "collective guilt" of Hitler's deeds. They called that internment "Aufbauarbeit," "reconstruction work". My grandfather never got used to those changes. He was a poor man now. He couldn't go to the barber's three times a week to get shaved, like he used to. And that was no small thing, mind you. That was his social life. He used to go there to meet the community, his peers. It was a ritual which he was forced to give up. What happened to him was socially degrading. And my grandfather, and that whole generation of grandfathers turned outcasts by the new regime, have never ever accepted socialism. Then my mother returned from the USSR in 1950, after five years in the labor camp, after she'd witnessed death and famine..

RFE/RL: Do you know to what region they sent her?

Mueller: I think it was the Yekaterinburg region. She was on a construction site, there were coal mines nearby. It was a military-style camp, they were under total control, they were harassed. And they were hungry. Chronically hungry. Most of the prisoners died of hunger.

RFE/RL: How old was your mother back then?

Mueller: She was 17 when they took her away. First she went into hiding. But in a village like hers everyone knew everyone, so the officials, too, knew there was someone hiding, someone they wanted to take away. So they threatened my grandparents that if they didn't turn my mother in, they would take the grandparents instead. My mother found out and she decided to come out and turned herself in.

RFE/RL: So between the ages of 17 and 22 she was in that labor camp?

Mueller: Yes. And all those events penetrated my childhood. And not only mine, those kinds of things happened to many families, in the whole village, and in the whole German community in Romania. When you're a child you do not think politically. You don't have the notions, and you don't have the words for what happens around you. But there are ways of recording other than words. Our behavior is more complex, it goes beyond words. So I absorbed a lot and I felt that pressure. I felt that something -- although I didn't know what -- was terribly wrong and hostile.

RFE/RL: Where did you go to school?

Mueller: In Timisoara. In the Iosefin quarter.

RFE/RL: Was the city a big shock, after your village?

Mueller: Yes, it was a different world. Also because when I came to the city I couldn't speak Romanian properly. I had learnt Romanian at school since the age of seven, but because we had a German school, the Romanian language was a foreign language, or a foreign subject, like geography, or physical science. We had classes of Romanian three times a week: grammar, literature, spelling, and God knows what, but my village was purely German, so I never had an opportunity to use Romanian on a daily basis. Only in school, never outside the school.
So at 15, when I moved to Timisoara, I couldn't really speak the language. But I learned it really fast, in the city, because I had to, I had moved to another language, so to speak. On the other hand, as I said before, every national minority, including the Germans, lived in a kind of "ethno-centricity," which I found natural. Back in the village a German thought he knew exactly what was wrong or negative in a Romanian, a Hungarian, a Serbian, or Gypsy, and the other way around. Then in the city I made friends among the Romanians and I realized that what I knew about Romanians from my family wasn't accurate.

RFE/RL: It didn't match the mythology.

Mueller: Exactly. And somehow I discovered that all of my previous education, which had been so insulating, didn't serve me anymore, it didn't help me live my life. I found out that if you travel 30 kilometers, what went without saying in your village simply doesn't stand anymore. So I had to start educating myself in a completely new direction.

RFE/RL: But wasn't there a German "island" in Timisoara too?

Mueller: Yes, but it was not rural. I think city people, all over the world, are different from the people in the village. In Timisoara I had friends from a literary group called "Aktionsgruppe Banat," which I met at university. I met them by accident, reading books and going to literary events. Thank God, at that point I wasn't interested in who's a German, who's a Romanian or a Hungarian. I think all the members of the group were like that. We were interested in opinions, not nationalities. A community of views, or moral and political values, that's what I was seeking out. I hated opportunists. I had a neighbor who was an actress and every year she would recite poems in honor of comrade Ceausescu. She was a German. But that didn't excuse her a bit in my eyes, that was not fundamental. That wasn't essential to me; the mindset was essential.

Writers' Group

RFE/RL: But still, "Aktionsgruppe Banat" was made exclusively of German writers.

Mueller: Yes, but that's easy to explain. It was a group dealing with literature, and the language of that literature was German. By the way, I wasn't a member of the group, I hadn't started writing when it was established, but I was a friend of many of its members. Later on, when the group published its manifesto, which said literature should not yield to politics, that it should be "critical," based on personal experiences and opinions, not ideology -- then the communist secret police stepped in and presented their own opinion.

RFE/RL: Which was?

Mueller: That we were enemies, enemies of the state. That's when the trouble started for us. William Totok was sent to jail and kicked out of school, Richard Wagner too. Then there were a number of people who spent some days in custody.... They fired me from the company where I had worked after graduating. Then they started house searches and so on. They saw us as a group. And every one of us was held responsible for the deeds of the others, because that's how they saw us. But going back to the all-German thing, I want to say that many times, when we were planning something, we did contact Romanian writers. For instance when we were collecting signatures for a petition. But there weren't many Romanians who were ready to sign. And sometimes they withdrew their signatures. And that's bad for the organizer of a petition. It's better to have less signatures than have a lot and then be forced to delete them. That weakens your position. It's not always in the numbers, you know, but in staying the course. That happened quite a few times. There was an explanation for that. The Romanian writer would say: "you people are Germans, if anything happens you'll end up in West Germany, but what about us?" That was true to a certain extent, but it wasn't always a good excuse. Anyway, Paul Goma, the Romanian dissident writer, wasn't a German, and he ended up in the West too, after the communists couldn't shut him up. But it's also true that there were others who didn't go abroad. And some of them died in prison.

RFE/RL: There were two German literary groups in Romania, yours in Timisoara, and another one in Cluj. They were less political, right?

Mueller: Yes, they were. That was the difference. And back then such a difference meant a lot. For us in Timisoara what they were doing in Cluj wasn't enough. We felt we had to be directly political, and they didn't. They were careful to phrase their language so the Securitate, the secret police, couldn't find obvious faults. But we were also in a different situation. We in Timisoara were unemployed, they had kicked us out of our jobs. They had fired me from "Tehnometal," a company making tools and machines. I had worked as a translator of technical terms, about tractors and wires. They would import tractors from East Germany or Austria, sometimes even from West Germany, and I was supposed to translate the user's manual. I never truly understood those matters. I had a huge dictionary, which always gave me some 20 options for the same word. But I used to ask the workers in the factory, they spoke German and Romanian and more importantly they were familiar with the machines. I spent three years in the factory. The first two years in the translation department, then in a different one, a PR department, if you wish.

Secret Police

RFE/RL: Which was probably "designed" by the secret police.

Mueller: Yes, I realized that later. The Securitate people came in and told me that if we had guests, from Germany for example, after meeting the guests I would have to write down for the Securitate "my impressions." Also, they wanted me to write down what my Romanian colleagues, the specialists, had told the Germans. And they didn't mind if I went out with the foreign guests -- at which I had to tell them I was not a prostitute. Also, I told them that I was bad observer of people, that I had been wrong a thousand times about people. But the Securitate guy said he wasn't interested in that -- he wanted my opinion as it was, an honest, personal opinion. Then he wanted me to write down that I would collaborate and I told him I would not do it.

RFE/RL: And?

Mueller: He slammed the door and said, "I'll get you into trouble" or "I'll throw you into the water," in Romanian slang. He didn't literally throw me into the water, but there was no peace for me after that. For several weeks I was called every day at 7.30 to the office of my boss to discuss the matter with him and with the Communist Party secretary and the Communist Youth secretary. Every time they told me to resign and look for another job, but I told them I loved working in the factory so much that I couldn't even think of looking for another place. I told them they had to fire me if they wanted to get rid of me, and asked them to also specify in writing the reason why they were firing me. That is, my refusal to collaborate with the secret police, the Securitate. Then I went to talk to the labor union people, to complain, but the union leader didn't even want to listen to me.

What happened was a whole circus of disaster. I can laugh at it now. But then I was close to a nervous breakdown, until they fired me. First they offered me a low-skilled worker's job, but I refused. Then they fired me. I was left without a source of income. My then-husband Richard Wagner had also been fired from his newspaper. And on top of that I was summoned almost daily to the Securitate. And there they didn't even accuse me of the things I was aware of, such as my incident at the factory or my literary activity. They told me I was a prostitute, that I slept for money with Arab students. I had never met an Arab student, but they warned me that they could set up a nice trial, with witnesses and all. They also said I was a dealer in goods that could not be found on the Romanian market.... They said I used to sell things on the Popa Sapca street in Timisoara, which is where the prison was. Maybe they were trying to tell me where I would end up.

RFE/RL: One of your books, "I Don't Want a Meeting Today," is about those kinds of experiences.

Mueller: Yes, it is about someone who's been summoned to be interrogated but never gets there.

RFE/RL: What is the impact of such books and experiences in West Germany, which didn't experience communism?

Mueller: Well, I think people are curious in different ways. Some are interested in Romania, others in dictatorship as such. In the mechanics of dictatorship. In the individual who is destroyed by the totalitarian system, by dictatorship. In the former East Germany, I guess the perception is slightly different, they're more informed, so to speak. Today's Germany is still made of two different nations, with different lives. In eastern Germany they are used to a social behavior which is closer to Eastern Europe than to western Germany. There are people in eastern Germany who do not invite me to read from my books because they don't want to talk about communism in a critical way. That's a strong feature of eastern Germany, where they have the postcommunist party, which has a lot of supporters, including people in places of cultural influence.

But then there are also a lot of people in eastern Germany who do invite me. On the whole, I would say eastern Germans have a different kind of reaction to my literature. In western Germany most people have a purely theoretical or documentary interest in my books, so to speak, whereas the easterners are facing in my stories their own past and their own lives. And some people are uncomfortable with that. A lot of times, after reading from my books in eastern Germany, the first thing I hear from an audience is: "But things in Romania were of course much worse than here." And then I tell them: "It depends on how you look at things." The Stasi type, the East German secret police officer, with his Prussian attitude and toughness, scares me just as much as his Balkans colleague, the Romanian Securitate officer. And I also tell them that on the whole the difference between Romanian and German communism isn't as big as some Germans want to believe. I need to say that, and some in the audience don't like that.

RFE/RL: The young writers in your Timisoara group were anticommunist, but also leftist. Is that correct? What's left of that orientation now?

Mueller: Yes, we were leftists and that enraged the communists even more. Had we proclaimed a rightist platform, it would have been easy for them to call us fascists. But our view was that the kind of socialism we had in Romania was not leftist at all, it was something totally different. We sympathized with the Prague Spring, the Czechoslovak reforms in the late 1960s. And it should not be forgotten that as young Germans we had parents fighting for Hitler. My own father had been with the SS, so we were naturally attracted to the leftist views of the type promoted by the West German social-democrats. We too were preoccupied by the Schuldfrage [the question of guilt], about individual responsibility during the war. To me such questions were important and personal, because they stood between myself and my father, who never talked about his SS experience.

And then I knew that Romania too, as a state, had started the war on Hitler's side, that it had had its own fascism. And it was irritating to me that Romania in the 1950s and 1960s pointed the finger at its minorities for helping Hitler [the Hungarians too], when I knew the whole Romanian state had helped Hitler. The official line became: Germans-fascists, Hungarians-fascists, Romanians-liberators alongside the Red Army, on the side of the good. So things were really messed up.

But to go back to our leftist beliefs under communism, I want to say that unlike some leftists in the West we never believed in China's Cultural Revolution, we didn't take to the streets chanting "Ho Chi Min." Because we had plenty of that in our own lives, at home. Such slogans couldn't fool us. But I do admit that back then I believed in a reformed type of socialism, with a human face. Now I can look back and say: "God I was stupid." Now I know that one cannot reform socialism, that is must be removed. You can see that even now in Cuba or in China, or in Serbia, not to mention North Korea. Socialism cannot be reformed. If you reform it to make it democratic, it's not socialism anymore. And minor changes and adjustments, that's all stupid.

RFE/RL: Many of the young German-Romanian writers from the days of your youth are now well-known in Germany.

Mueller: Yes, there's quite a few of us.... And it is generally admitted now in Germany that there is a part of German literature that comes from Romania and from the East. Nothing more, nothing less. Our books are neither worse nor better than those of the writers who've lived all their lives in Germany. We are what we are, and that's how it should be.

Translated from Romanian by Mircea Ticudean

RFE, 17.04.99 - Herta Müller: "Scriu despre ceea ce mă preocupă și nu-mi dă pace." -

Destinul unei scriitoare bănățene intervievată de Mircea Iorgulescu, 1999

(Textul integral al interviului a fost publicat în volumul Mircea Iorgulescu, Convorbiri la sfîrșit de secol, Editura Fundației Culturale Române, București, 2006, pp. 471-487).

Audio - emisiunea: „Oameni, destine, istorie” (Realizator: Mircea Iorgulescu).

RFE, 17. 4. 1999


Herta Müller über frühe Verfolgung durch die Securitate

Ein Gespräch mit Herta Müller über frühe Verfolgung und späten Ruhm

"Die Securitate war verhasst, und wenn man jemandem schaden wollte, hat man ihn als ihren Mitarbeiter denunziert. Das hat die Securitate mit mir gemacht, weil ich keine Spitzeldienste leisten wollte, und der BND hat es geglaubt. Er muss die Fehlinformation vom Büro der Landsmannschaft bezogen haben, die saßen ja im selben Haus, im Übergangslager Langwasser, meiner ersten Station nach der Ausreise. Ich kriegte, schon bevor ich nach Deutschland kam, Briefe von sogenannten Landsleuten, ich sei unerwünscht. Es gab Kampagnen gegen mich in landsmannschaftlichen Zeitungen, wo ich als Spitzel gebrandmarkt wurde. Man hat sogar behauptet, ich hätte mein erstes Buch, die Niederungen, im Auftrag des Geheimdienstes geschrieben. Und der BND hat mich so empfangen, als wäre ich ein Spitzel. Ich sollte dann sagen, mit welchen Geheimdienstlern ich zu tun gehabt hätte, und ich erklärte: Die hatten mit mir zu tun, nicht ich mit ihnen, das ist ein Unterschied. Da sagte der Beamte: Lassen Sie die Unterscheidung meine Sache sein, dafür werde ich bezahlt. Das hat mir fast das Herz gebrochen. Ich wäre am liebsten sofort weitergereist, aber wohin? Und als ich dann nach Berlin kam, das war nur einige Wochen später, tauchte der Verfassungsschutz auf und erzählte mir, dass ich gefährdet sei durch die Securitate-Leute, dass sie zu meinem Schutz Streife fahren würden. Ich solle mir eine Schreckschusspistole kaufen, keine Geschenke annehmen, nicht in fremde Wohnungen gehen. Der letzte Satz, als ich das Büro des BND endlich verlassen durfte, war: Wenn Sie einen Auftrag haben, können Sie es immer noch sagen. Das alles passte überhaupt nicht zusammen."

Das vollständige Interview ist erschienen in: Die Zeit, Nr. 43, 15.10.2009

Lesen Sie auch:

Herta Müller în atenţia secuforumiştilor, RFE, 14.10.2009

Offener Brief an Harald Schmidt, AdG, 17.10. 2009

Herta Müller, "brisée" mais résistante, in: LE MONDE DES LIVRES,



[13 aprilie 1984. „Dan” informează despre o scrisoare anonimă, sosită la ziarul „Neue Banater Zeitung” în care sunt atacaţi cu diferite invective şi ameninţări unii dintre cei care frecventau cenaclul „Adam Müller-Guttenbrunn”; Securitatea încearcă imediat să afle identitatea autorului anonim pentru a-l folosi în „demascarea activităţii” „elementelor” urmărite]

- Nr. 29084/ 1/A/P.N./005/13 IV-984
- Primeşte lt. col. PĂDURARIU NICOLAE
- Informator: DAN


Sursa informează că cam pe la sfîrşitul lunii octombrie şi începutul lunii noiembrie 1983, sursa a fost chemată, rugată, de HORST SAMSON, prin intermediul prietenei lui WILLIAM TOTOK-CHRISTINE BALZER, studentă în anul II la Facultatea de Filologie, să vină la redacţie, spre a discuta nişte poezii cu dînsul, poezii ce urmau să fie publicate. Ajungînd la redacţie, sursa a avut discuţii cu TOTOK WILLIAM şi HORST SAMSON care i-au prezentat o anonimă, adresată redacţiei şi scrisă cu litere de tipar cu cerneală pe o hîrtie dublă, format caiet şi în care se adresa cu ameninţări ptr. HORST SAMSON, WILLIAM TOTOK, EDUARD SCHNEIDER, JOHANN LIPPET, HERTA MÜLLER, RICHARD WAGNER şi NIKOLAUS BERWANGER, fiindcă poeziile pe care ei le publică în NBZ şi în alte publicaţii, n-ar fi poezii, ci curată bătaie de joc pentru cititori. Se făceau referiri: s-a pus întreabarea dacă bunicul lui TOTOK ar fi coborît şi el din copac precum TOTOK, din cauza înfăţişării lui şi dacă nu, dacă nu s-ar răsuci sărmanul bătrîn în mormînt, dacă l-ar vedea pe nepotul lui cum arată.
Despre HERTA MÜLLER se zicea că ar fi ajuns o ordinară, care nu-şi dă seama ce scrie şi care nu se mai poate arăta în satul ei natal, Niţchidorf, ptr. că oamenii ar da-o afară din sat cu cartofi putrezi.
S-a pus şi întrebarea dacă fiicei de doi ani a lui EDUARD SCHNEIDER, i-ar plăcea, dacă ar şti să citească, pornografiile aşternute pe hîrtie, de tatăl ei.
JOHANN LIPPET a fost atacat iarăşi ptr. înfăţişarea lui şi ptr. „idioţeniile” pe care le scrie.
Despre RICHARD WAGNER s-a spus – în direct – că ar fi un escroc şi un porc – şi că cercul de literatură n-ar fi avut vreodată un preşedinte mai prost ca el, care şi-ar bate joc de toţi şi chiar de propia lui persoană.
Se amintea şi de fiica lui Berwanger, dar nu reţin ce fel de referiri s-au făcut.
În finalul scrisorii se menţiona, că dacă scrisoarea nu va fi publicată în decursul a două săptămîni, atunci toţi aceştia, care au fost menţionaţi, îşi vor pierde slujba şi vor fi daţi afară într-un mod ruşinos. Dar primul care va fi „şutit”va fi BERWANGER, care admite ca să se publice astfel de „porcării”. Dealtfel se menţiona că cei care au scris această scrisoare sunt finanţaţi de străinătate, ptr. că şi acolo ar fi oameni cărora nu le plac lucrurile care se petrec. La sfîrşit erau vreo 3 sau 4 semnături, scrise în alfabet arab.
Scrisoarea anonimă era scrisă în limba germană.

13.04.1984 (ss) DAN

- Este cunoscut faptul că mai multe persoane din rîndul naţionalităţii germane îşi manifestă nemulţumirile faţă de conţinutul scrierilor lui BERWANGER NICOLAE şi al celorlalte persoane menţionate în notă, însă nu avem date cu privire la posibilul autor al anonimei şi nu avem cunoştinţă despre aceasta.
- Despre scrierile acestor persoane s-au făcut mai multe informări la organele P.C.R.

Informativ vom lua măsuri de a identifica autorul pentru a fi folosit de noi în demascarea activităţii acestor elemente.

(ss) lt. col. Pădurariu

ACNSAS, I 210845, vol. 2, ff. 325-326


Nobelpreisträgerin Müller: Im Visier der Securitate

Mit gezielten Einschüchterungen und Denunzierungen wollte der rumänische Geheimdienst die Nobelpreisträgerin Herta Müller vom Schreiben abbringen. Ihr Weggefährte und Schriftstellerkollege William Totok erinnert sich an die gemeinsam erlittene Zeit der Schreckensherrschaft.

Weiter in: spiegel-online, 9.10. 2009

Operation "BĂNĂŢENII" (Die Banater)

Maßnahmeplan der Securitate vom 22.10.1988 zur Einschüchterung, "positiven Beeinflussung" und Diskreditierung von Herta Müller, William Totok, Richard Wagner und Helmuth Frauendorfer.
An der Operation waren folgende Securitateoffiziere beteiligt:
Major Radu Tinu, Oberstleutnant Petru Pele, Oberstleutnant Petru Moţ, Oberstleutnant Ioan Indrei, Major Dorel Gorun, Hauptmann Romul Dragomir, Hauptmann Tudor Ciocanea und Leutnant Valerică Fulga. Verantwortlich seitens der Hauptabteilung 1 der Securitate (Direcţia 1) war Oberstleutnant Costică Tănase.
(Blatt 1, Auszug)

Das Dokument ist auch im operativen Vorgang enthalten, der am 16. Juni 1989 gegen Christa Balzer eröffnet wurde (D.U.I. "Camelia"). Vgl. ACNSAS, I 235544, Bl. 89-91.

Zu den Operativen Vorgängen und den Überschneidungen der Decknamen "Cristina" und die spätere Umbenennung in "Camelia", siehe: Securitate-Offiziere im OV "Muzicologul"

Aktualisierung - actualizare, 1. 11. 2014


Erste Begegnung mit der Securitate

Rückblende 1970

In meinem Buch „Die Zwänge der Erinnerung. Aufzeichnungen aus Rumänien", Junius Verlag, Hamburg 1988, versuchte ich aus der Perspektive eigener Erfahrungen mit dem Securitateapparat die mich betreffenden Ereignisse aus der Zeit von 1970 bis 1987 zu beschreiben. Teils stützte ich mich auf eigene Erinnerungen, teils auf Dokumente, die sich in meinem Besitz befanden.
Kurz nach meiner Entlassung aus der Haft, machte ich bereits 1976-77 erste Notizen, dann folgten Gedächtnisprotokolle und schließlich der Entwurf zu einer Schrift, der ich den Arbeitstitel "Projekt für eine intellektuelle Extermination. Dokumente der Strafsache 321/B/1975" gab. Einen Durchschlag hatte ich in einem sicheren Versteck untergebracht, das Original, das ich 1982 bearbeiten und fertigstellen wollte, fiel in die Hände der Securitate. Dies nach einer gut durchdachten Aktion, in der "Voicu" als Lockvogel die Hauptrolle spielte. Ahnungslos tappte ich damals in eine Falle. (Siehe das 2. Dokument, vom 25.12.1981, http://halbjahresschrift.blogspot.com/2009/08/operationen-der-securitate-1974-1981_10..html)
Eine ergänzte Fassung des Buches mit neuen Dokumenten und einigen Interviews (mit einem Mitglied der literarischen Expertenkommission, dem zuständigen Militärstaatsanwalt http://www.halbjahresschrift.homepage.t-online.de/radu1.htm#Burca und einem hochrangigen Securitateoffizier) ist in rumänischer Sprache unter dem Titel „Constrângerea memoriei. Însemnări, documente, amintiri", (Gedächtnisnötigung. Aufzeichnungen, Dokumente, Erinnerungen) Polirom Verlag, Iaşi 2001, erschienen.
Was in den beiden erwähnten Büchern steht, kann jetzt anhand der Securitateakten vervollständigt werden. Einige Namen von Securitateoffizieren, die ich seinerzeit nicht richtig verstanden habe, können jetzt korrigiert werden. Auch der Name des Securitateoffiziers, dem ich zum ersten Mal in meinem Leben 1970 leibhaftig begegnet bin. Als er sich vorstellte, glaubte ich, den Namen Topliceanu gehört zu haben. In Wirklichkeit hieß er jedoch Dobriceanu.
In meinen beiden oben erwähnten Büchern beschreibe ich die Umstände dieser Begegnung folgendermaßen:

„Wegen eines Briefes, den ich an einen ausländischen Radiosender geschrieben hatte, wurde ich während der Reifeprüfung zum ersten Mal zum Sicherheitsdienst zitiert. Ein gewisser Topliceanu [sic!] sagte während der Vernehmung kein einziges Wort über den wahren Grund meiner Vorladung. Da der Brief anonym abgeschickt worden war, aber vom Sicherheitsdienst auf der Post beschlagnahmt wurde (unter Verletzung der Bestimmungen der rumänischen Verfassung, die das Briefgeheimnis garantiert), musste der Täter anhand der Schriftproben identifiziert werden. Mir war klar, worum es eigentlich ging (...).
Im Herbst 1970 wurde ich erneut zum Sicherheitsdienst bestellt. Diesmal in die Zentrale nach Temeswar, offiziell als Kreisinspektorat Temesch des Innenministeriums bezeichnet, wo mich ein Hauptmann namens Dumitrescu etwa acht Stunden im Zusammenhang mit dem anonymen Brief verhörte. Erst nachdem ich ein schriftliches Geständnis abgelegt hatte, durfte ich wieder gehen. (...)
Am 22. Oktober bekam ich den Einberufungsbefehl. Nachdem ich meinen Militärdienst angetreten hatte, erschien Dumitrescu im Hause meiner Familie und beschlagnahmte meine Gedichte. Erst sechs Monate später gab er sie mir wieder zurück. [Um welche Gedichte es sich handelte, kann ich nicht sagen, weil ich zu jenem Zeitpunkt beim Militär war. Vielleicht befanden sich darunter auch jene ersten Versuche aus meiner Gymnasialzeit, die „Gruia" begutachtete und die in dem operativen Vorgang „Muzicologul" analysiert werden. - Anm. W.T.]
Während meiner Soldatenzeit in einer Artillerieeinheit in Baia Mare (in der Maramuresch) verhörte mich im Zusammenhang mit dem Brief mehrere Male ein als Artillerist verkleideter Securitate-Offizier. Ich musste mehrere schriftliche Geständnisse ablegen. Im Februar 1971 [eigentlich am 16. März 1971, wie ich jetzt den Akten entnehme - Anm. W.T.] kam es dann zu einer öffentlichen Verhandlung, zu der das ganze Regiment erscheinen musste. Nach einem vom Sicherheitsdienst ausgetüftelten Szenarium wurde ich als Staatsfeind 'entlarvt' und aus dem Verband der Kommunistischen Jugend (VKJ), dem ich seit 1965 angehörte, als politisch unzuverlässig ausgeschlossen."

(Vgl. Die Zwänge der Erinnerung, S. 61-62)

Wie umfassend die von der Securitate 1970 eingeleiteten Maßnahmen zur Identifizierung des Briefschreibers waren, konnte ich mir eigentlich gar nicht vorstellen. Nachdem die Securitate die Briefe - es waren nämlich zwei, vielleicht sogar auch mehrere - abgefangen hatte, wurde eine regelrechte Rasterfahndung eingeleitet, um den Autor zu entdecken. Die Fahndung schloss auch Verdächtige aus anderen Kreisen ein, die jeweiligen Securitatebezirksabteilungen wurden in Marsch gesetzt, es wurden Schriftproben eingesammelt und mit meinen Briefen verglichen. Als potentielle Urheber des Briefes, der an Radio Free Europe gerichtet war, verdächtigte man zuerst Studenten und Lehrkräfte meines Gymnasiums; es wurden Listen angefertigt und Mitglieder einer Rockgruppe unter die Lupe genommen.
Weitere Schriftproben wurden von zahlreichen Mitschülern gesammelt. Von mir hatte man zusätzlich zwei Hefte mit Klausurarbeiten aus der Schule mitgenommen, die sich in meiner Akte (dem ersten operativen Vorgang „Muzicologul") befinden.
Später dehnten sich die nachrichtendienstlichen Ermittlungen auch auf die damaligen Redaktionsmitglieder einer Studentenbeilage aus, die zusammen mit der „Neuen Banater Zeitung" vertrieben wurde.
Unter den Mitarbeitern dieser Studentenbeilage taucht auch zum ersten Mal „Voicu" auf, allerdings mit seinem Klarnamen.
Ursprünglich sollte alles mit einem Strafverfahren enden. Dazu kam es jedoch nicht. Im Rahmen einer nach stalinistischem Vorbild organisierten öffentlichen Entlarvungssitzung wurde ich aus dem kommunistischen Jugendverband ausgeschlossen. Während der vorangegangenen Verhöre wurde ich fotografiert, denn in einer Militärzeitung sollte als abschreckendes Beispiel eine Reportage über meinen Fall erscheinen.
Meines Wissens hat man letztlich auf eine publizistische Darstellung des Vorgangs verzichtet.
Der Fotograf des Regiments war ein Soldat, mit dem ich befreundet war. Er steckte mir damals zwei Fotos zu, die er entwickelt und ausgearbeitet hatte und die für das Blatt bestimmt waren. Auf diese Weise kam ich zu dem Foto, das in meinen oben erwähnten Büchern veröffentlicht ist. Darauf bin ich an einem Schreibtisch sitzend, zusammen mit dem Offizier zu sehen, der mich damals verhörte.
William Totok

ACNSAS, I 210845, vol. 1, ff. 8-10