Show me one place where a whole government is concerned with a book of a writer and is concerned enough to suppress it.
People in the East looked toward the West with longing. They would have liked to have the same comforts, the same goods, the same chances. They saw a system that demanded of them sacrifices with nothing but promises for the future.
If you live in a system that is suppressive, you don't walk upright, you always go with your head down.
The Wall was the actual symbol of a defeat, of inferiority.
I was in psychological warfare in World War II, so I know psychological warfare when I see it.
Today, when we live in a what is called Western democracy here... you're not taken seriously all the time. You can write what you want because nobody cares about it. But at that time, they cared very much about what you wrote, so that's an entirely different feeling.
These were the things that the government supplied you with - in turn, of course, demanding obedience. But you must not imagine that it was a constant feeling of outrage that was in the minds of people and the hearts of people.
If we had had time and the occasion to develop a new socialism in the GDR, socialism with a human face, with democracy, this might have been an example also to West Germany. The development would have run the other way.
And of course, in West Germany, they made every effort that people who came from the East would get jobs and would get a comfortable existence. That was part of the Cold War - and part of the winning side of the Cold War.
And also, of course, I knew that the German people, they're one, and would tend to consider themselves as one; and therefore they would consider the Wall as an enforced imprisonment. And I was right in thinking that way.
A foreman in the East wouldn't know how many workers he would have the next day, because part of his working force had left the system to go to West Germany.
You had censorship. If you brought a manuscript to the publisher, you knew he would suggest changes. If you wanted to write and speak what you thought had to be written and spoken, you had to act against all these suppressive rules.
We certainly hoped perestroika would win out and that there would be changes. We knew all along that socialism could flourish only with a certain amount of freedom and democracy.
A great number of people in the East German parts had been Nazis, so the change of mind was not altogether there.
A Western writer came up to me and said, how come nobody at this demonstration spoke of German unity? I told him, because it isn't on the agenda. People were interested in having another, better GDR, another, better socialism.
And one of the worst effects was that by suppressing critical thought, it also suppressed critical thought in the field of economics and hampered the development of economics - and the country would fall back further and further in the economic competition with the West.
People who were not active in the intellectual life of the country could go on without feeling restricted, except they could not go where they wanted. They could not cross the border to the West whenever they liked.
I not only saw the possibility of nuclear war, I feared it very much. If they started a military conflagration, it would automatically lead to nuclear warfare.
You must have, if socialism was to succeed, a socialism with lots of democratic elements in it.
I defended myself at the first opportunity I had, which was a meeting of writers in which I proved that Honecker had based his whole attack.
I did not oppose unification, I knew unification would have to come, but not in the form in which it did come. There were two ways of doing it and they took it the radical way, the forceful way.
I disapproved of the fact that the government here refused to adopt the few reforms that Gorbachev put over in the field of media and the field of culture.
Even in West Germany in the beginning, people wanted a kind of socialism.
The idea of a socialism with a human face was something that I absolutely could support, because it was my idea from the very first.
I certainly hoped that in the Eastern part of Germany, what was just beginning to be called the German Democratic Republic, you would develop a system of socialism with freedom and democracy.
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