German author in row over Stasi ties

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The Independent Online
THE book is called Frustration with Unity, and is a sustained and contemptuous attack on the author's east German compatriots, who are collectively labelled 'fellow-travellers' of the Communist ancien regime. Just one problem: it has emerged the author himself was an informer for the East German secret police, the Stasi.

In Frustration with Unity, Mathias Wedel coins the phrase 'OM', for ostdeutscher Mitlaufer ('east German fellow-traveller') - a pun on the notorious IM, abbreviation for 'unofficial collaborator' with the Stasi. But the 'sarcastic pamphlet', as one review described the book, contained no hint that Mr Wedel was himself an IM.

Frustration with Unity caused immediate controversy in east Germany, not least because it appeared to give respectability to the view, widely heard in the west, that east Germans should stop complaining so much, and have only themselves to thank for their woes. As one west German columnist noted: 'The reason why Mathias Wedel's polemic has had a considerable effect is that it is a local (east German) who thus berates the provinces of the east.'

Mr Wedel summed up the essence of his book in an interview with Stern magazine: 'The arse- creepers of yesterday have turned into the resistance fighters of today.' The phrase may live to be his epitaph.

A radio technician who worked with Mr Wedel in Leipzig in the 1980s has revealed that he apparently informed on her, under the code-name Milan. When Barbara Grosse applied to leave for the West, the Stasi put her under observation. Milan was one of four IMs who was later praised by the Stasi for having helped to keep her 'under constant control'.

Milan submitted a report, included in Ms Grosse's Stasi file, which criticised her attitude to the Communist Party as 'unambiguously negative'. Ms Grosse was subsequently jailed, for 'betrayal of the fatherland'.

Mr Wedel told the weekly Super- Illu magazine that the name Milan 'means nothing to me'. 'Milan' has, however, been identified by the authority responsible for unravelling the Stasi legacy as the code- name for Mathias Wedel, born Erfurt 10.8.1953.

According to Super-Illu, Mr Wedel said a writer does not himself need to be a 'moral model'. 'Goethe was a swine, so was Brecht. Why not me?' He later distanced himself from that remark. The book has gone into a second printing, and is said to be selling well.