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Romania-Born German Writer Speaks Up Against Lack Of Soul Searching Among Romanian Intellectuals

24 Iul 2008 - 00:00

Romania-born German language writers Herta Mueller and Richard Wagner had recently protested against the presence at the Summer Academy in Berlin, organized by the Romanian Cultural Institute, or ICR, of proven Securitate snitches Sorin Antohi and Andrei Corbea-Hoisie.

Romania-born German language writers Herta Mueller and Richard Wagner had recently protested against the presence at the Summer Academy in Berlin, organized by the Romanian Cultural Institute, or ICR, of proven Securitate snitches Sorin Antohi and Andrei Corbea-Hoisie.

Both former communist-time intelligence services collaborators were invited by the ICR, headed by Horia Roman Patapievici, to lecture at the Summer Academy in Berlin.

Antohi's credentials as an intellectual also took a blow when he was exposed for using the title of “university professor” while not having the academic qualifications – namely a PhD. - to his name.

Mueller wrote a protest letter to Patapievici, citing as an example the case of Germany, where both Mueller and Wagner took refuge before the demise of communism in Eastern Europe. She told Patapievici that Germany had plucked out of positions “in universities, newsrooms and cultural institutions” the people collaborating with the former intelligence services. “Does the ICR believe it lives on an alien planet where no concepts of personal dignity and moral scientific integrity apply?”, asked Mueller rhetorically, in her letter to Patapievici.

Jurnalul National provides its readers with an exclusive interview on the topic, with writer Herta Mueller – who was also proposed to a Nobel Prize for literature.

JN: Mrs. Mueller, would you please answer our questions, following your public stance?

Herta Mueller: I said all there was to be said. The rest is up to you, those living in Romania. I am not your guru to tell you what you should do. If you have the laws, enforce them. If you do not have the laws, draft them. What else is there for me to say?

JN: Did you attend the events at the ICR Summer Academy in Berlin?

HM: I have no idea what went on there. I would have attended to listen to the lectures or to sjazz musicianţ Johnny Raducanu. Other than that, what could my interest have been?! – start a riot?!

JN: Which is the reaction in the German cultural world to your stance?

HM: They had been amply reported in the newspapers – you must be aware of them. They were normal reactions in a country like Germany.

JN: Had Romanian journalists contact you?

HM: Yes. I did what I could from my standpoint, here, in Berlin. It is debatable, however, if things will get sort it out, changed at all. For Romania, this twisted reality makes the normalcy of the past 20 years. Romania is now part of the European Union which is also shares common values. I have nothing to explain; it is up to you to find your own explanations there, in Romania. You know your own realities better than I do: you have former Securitate people all over the place; you have a society tailored on the Russian  model, almost. People keep asking me: what should we do? Well, I do not know. Do as you think fit. This is not an issue of Romania's external image, but an issue of everyday life, of corruption at all levels of society, in the economy, in the cultural life. It is the life you live in the country you inhabit, in the country your children go to school, to university, in which you go to the doctor, seek a lawyer, a notary, travel, or check in a hotel ...

JN: How do you comment on the explanations provided by Patapievici in an article published in yesterday's issue of Evenimentul zilei?

HM: I have nothing to comment on Patapievici. I pointed out what was going on at the Institute in Berlin. The rest is up to you. Do as you want. However, in Germany, such things never occurred: former members or collaborators of the intelligence services where plucked out from the public office they held.

JN: It seems like you had enough of the ICR ..

HM: I had enough of the stupid questions that I am continuously asked. And the kind of questions asked is also telling for the situation in Romania. I spoke up because I love the country I was born in. I would have still lived there had it not been for the ferocious dictatorship we lived in. What was accomplished after the demise of that dictatorship?! Almost nothing, it seems. Why did people die when the dictatorship was toppled?! For nothing, it seems. What are doing the intellectuals in Romania to take a stance? Ask them ... Ask Cartarescu, Nora Iuga, tens of people who have a name in the public life. The problem is that I keep explaining why I took the stance that I did, while no one asks the intellectuals accompanying Antohi and Corbea at the Summer Academy why they did not refuse to do that. Ask them. Ask Ion Caramitru – who did a poetry recital – or Johnny Raducanu – who played his wonderful music. The problem is that Romanians regard this situation as normal. They do not even understand how things should be. They are re-accustomed to take cover. It will not take long before they will start living again in fear.

Because these Securitate guys know their way around, and will find ways to stay ahead and at the top.
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