Reiner Kunze poetry

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Date: 1960s - 1970s

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature


Kunze.jpg

Artist: Reiner Kunze (b. 1933)

Confronting Bodies: German Democratic Republic (GDR) authorities

Dates of Action: Throughout the 1960's and 70's

Location: German Democratic Republic (East Germany)

Description of Artwork: Kunze wrote poetry and essays about life on the East of the Iron curtain. They often directly addressed politics and censorship issues (such as sending mail).

The Incident: In the 1960's Kunze began to reject compromises from the GDR to change his work. Kunze insisted that these changes would destroy the artistic integrity of his poetry and make him into a tool for some government cause. As a result, the only place his volumes of poetry appeared was in the West. Official GDR critics in the East who had access to them assured the public that his writing was a "malicious distortion of the image of the GDR" and criticized it for its "naked individualism." They used this as an excuse to ban all of his work, politically offensive or not. They even stopped him from publishing a book of children's stories he'd written.

In addition, the GDR sent agents to drive Kunze to insanity. They put personal pressures on his family and friends, invaded his privacy, started whispering campaigns against him, and made official threats.

Results of Incident: After the collapse of the GDR, Kunze published a documentation of the GDR's attack on his psyche.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.