Glossen 26

Sex and Socialism: the antifascist hero in the life and works of Elfriede Brüning
Sara Jones

In his analysis of antifascism and antifascist resistance as part of the foundational mythology of the GDR, Herfried Münkler argues that the role of Communist cells in the first years of resistance against fascism was overemphasised to suggest a continuous movement encompassing wide sections of the population.[1] Münkler considers that this led to the image of the antifascist resister and victim of fascism becoming part of the cultural memory of the GDR. Indeed, Münkler contends, the emphasis on this experience of the Nazi era, which did not correspond to the memories of the majority, meant that the GDR had to rely heavily on the medium of cultural memory to disseminate this "political myth."[2] Annette Simon, the daughter of Christa and Gerhard Wolf, describes the effect of this overemphasis as a "Loyalitätsfalle." For Simon, antifascism was not only the founding legend of the state, but also a type of meta-ideology, designed to ensure loyalty to the SED: the antifascists returning to rule the GDR after World War II, with their images of persecution, torture and death, created an "Über-Ich," which demanded recompense and loyalty for their sacrifice.[3]

In her psychoanalytical study of GDR literature, Julia Hell argues that the discourse of antifascism and the leading role of Communists in the resistance to Hitler "legitimated the power of a single party and its state."[4] Following Claude Lefort, Hell develops a model of totalitarianism as "an ideological project [...] concerning the realm of symbolic and cultural politics" (H 7), in which the social is made to cohere around the figure of the leader: in the case of the GDR, around the sublime body of the Communist hero of antifascism (H 19). Hell states that, in the early years of the GDR, the Party under Walther Ulbricht aimed to gain the support of the population for the society's new "central zone," that is, the centre of the system of symbols, values and beliefs, which forms society's structures of authority. This central zone was, according to Hell, constructed by "deploying a symbolic politics of paternity, a cultural discourse revolving around the antifascist father" (H 25). For Hell, the "specificity of GDR literature" lies in its contribution to this dominant discourse of antifascism (H 17). She argues that an understanding of the "conscious and unconscious fantasies" developed in GDR literature's engagement with antifascism can help explain why GDR authors felt bound to the system and to socialism, even beyond 1989 (H 15-17). In her analysis of the foundational narratives of the GDR (works by Anna Seghers, Willi Bredel and Otto Gotsche), Hell notes a focus on the figure of the antifascist father and a projection of an "unbroken male lineage of Communist fathers and sons," that is, a continuity between the current leadership and the antifascist past, and considers that they, therefore, "represent an integral part of the Communists' symbolic politics of power"(H 18).

Thus Münkler, Simon and Hell all associate antifascism with representatives of power in the GDR and argue that the Communist hero is constructed to inspire loyalty to the state. In this respect, analysis of the presentation of the antifascist hero in the works of GDR authors can be useful as part of a wider analysis of the individual author's attitude towards these representatives of power, which can feed into broader questions about the success of this "totalising project." This article aims to examine the applicability of this approach taking the example of the GDR author, Elfriede Brüning. The analysis will compare the presentation of the antifascist in Brüning's autobiography, unpublished correspondence and two of her literary works, Septemberreise (1974) and Wie andere Leute auch (1983). In Hell's model, the sublime body of the Communist hero is disciplined and ascetic (H 33) and is represented by the Communist father or mentor. In Brüning's texts, however, the antifascist hero is neither father nor mentor, but rather youthful lover and returning exile. These antifascists do not represent the sublime Communist body described in Hell's model, but rather the sons who are expected to identify with the sublime father and continue the unbroken chain of Communist ideals. This article aims to analyse the extent to which these Communist lovers succeed in fulfilling this expectation. This, in turn, can point towards ambivalences in Brüning's response to this foundational mythology and to the antifascists returning to occupy leading positions in the GDR.

Born in 1910, Elfriede Brüning joined the Communist Party in 1930 and the Bund proletarisch-revolutionärer Schriftsteller (BPRS)[5] in 1932. She remained in Germany throughout the 12 years of Nazi rule and, before the war, took part in illegal activities on behalf of the BPRS, including smuggling documents to Prague for publication in the emigrant press. Brüning is thus a particularly interesting writer to examine within the framework of the foundational mythology of the antifascist hero, as, although she is not a representative of those antifascists returning from exile or concentration camps, she was involved in the Communist resistance to the NSDAP.

Her writing career began with short pieces of prose in the feuilletons of various magazines and newspapers of the Weimar Republic and the publication of Und außerdem war es Sommer in 1934 and Junges Herz muß wandern in 1938. In the 40 years of the GDR, Brüning produced several novels and novellas, collections of short prose, reportage and works for children and young adults. Brüning's subjects in the GDR were women's issues, young people and antifascist resistance, particularly female antifascists. Since the Wende, she has produced mostly non-fictional works, including her autobiography, Und außerdem war es mein Leben [6] and collections of short prose focusing on post-Wende issues or post-Wende reflections on the GDR. Although Brüning has been largely neglected by academic criticism,[7] the large volume of Leserbriefe in the Brüning collection in the Fritz-Hüser-Institut in Dortmund attests to a wide readership and, in the course of the GDR, she enjoyed regular reprints of many of her works.[8]

1. Septemberreise
Elfriede Brüning's novella Septemberreise was first serialised in Neue Deutsche Literatur in 1967, but not published in book form until 1974. The narrative is constructed in the form of a letter from the narrator to her dead lover, only referred to as "Du." The narrator reflects on her relationship with this man from the early days of revolutionary politics in the Weimar Republic, through his emigration and her marriage to a member of the bourgeoisie in the Third Reich and finally to his death in the GDR in the 1960s. Throughout their relationship, her lover remained married to another woman, Marietta, and, at the end of the work, Marietta and the narrator finally come to an understanding as both acknowledge that he had "immer nur sich selbst geliebt."[9]

Early in the text the reader learns that this Communist hero, the "Du" to whom the narrator's letter is addressed, is not, in fact, a member of the working class, but rather a bourgeois intellectual who sympathised with the workers' movement. He envies the narrator, Vera, for her working-class credentials and natural class instinct (SR 10). In the course of the work, Vera begins to question if her lover ever truly escaped this bourgeois background, with its emphasis on appearances, comfort and its restrictive sexual values. In this respect, two key episodes in the work are Vera's pregnancy and subsequent abortion during the 1930s and her belief that she is pregnant again in the early years of the GDR. In the first instance, Vera complies with her lover's insistence that she abort their child and is convinced by his argument that they first had to win the revolution (SR 29). After all, thinking about love in such a time was "spießig" and "kleinbürgerlich" (SR 44). She even forgives him for his neglect when she nearly bleeds to death; she attributes his short and infrequent visits to her sick bed to the constant danger under which he lives (SR 30).

However, Vera radically reviews this position when she falsely believes she is pregnant again after the war. Her lover once again insists that she abort their child, but this time Vera refuses. She questions his previous arguments, "als ob Revolutionäre niemals Kinder hätten!" and calls herself "dumm" for going along with them. She even calls into question his Communist credentials; surely this is not the behaviour of a Communist, but of someone who is merely concerned with their own comfortable life and career (SR 121). Although he has not changed, her perception of him has: his bourgeois attitudes to appearance and the family do not match his purported principles. Although willing to subjugate herself to him in their early years together, she begins to question his moral authority in the post-war era. It is noteworthy that this "bourgeois" attitude towards marriage and sexual relations was characteristic of SED policy in this period: functionaries could be disciplined for extra-marital affairs.

In her analysis of works of Willi Bredel, Hell states that the Communist male protagonists are "characterized by their youth, strength, and radical politics, overdetermined by traditional attributes of masculinity" -- virility in these texts is inextricably linked to "its imperative of seizing state power through armed struggle" (H 43). In Septemberreise, the sexual potency of the male protagonists is similarly linked to their political activities. Vera's bourgeois husband, who is seen to be too frightened to stand up to his family, let alone resist fascism, is too drunk on their wedding night to consummate their marriage (SR 67) and, although she does eventually become pregnant, this is presented as taking an abnormally long time, something which Vera also blames on his constant drinking (SR 85). In contrast, on his return from exile, when her lover is staying in the house she shares with her husband and his family, she describes how she was drawn from her husband and to her lover "wie magnetisch von etwas angezogen" (SR 105) -- the lover's sexual potency is never questioned.

Vera does, however, begin to question her lover's political potency. As she looks back on his funeral, she reflects that in his youth she had seen in her lover the ideal image of the Communist hero, describing him as "unbestechlich," "konsequent," "entschlossen," an individual who never held back his opinion even it meant being beaten half to death (SR 127-128). This is an image that corresponds closely to the Communist of Hell's model, characterized by youth, strength and radical politics. However, Vera reflects that later in his life her lover refused to make decisions, compromised, and had nothing in common with the "Feuergeist jener Jahre" (SR 128) and, in turn, nothing in common with the Communist hero in Hell's model. Hell argues that, in Bredel's works, the continuity between Communist fathers and sons is only assured by death -- the Communist son can only truly become the Communist father through identification unto death (H 48). In Septemberreise, it is the lover's failure to die, to become crystallised in the narrator's memory as the firebrand of his younger years, which leads to his failure to become the ideal.

The lover's refusal to make a decision, to stick to his principles and leave his wife, stands in contrast to Vera's decision to turn her back on her husband and daughter as they fled to the West and, without a second's doubt, choose her lover and her belief in the socialist state. When she is forced to choose, she chooses "Dich und unser Land" (SR 40). Indeed, Vera is prepared to take significant risks for their relationship; she repeatedly visits him in exile in Prague, despite the knowledge that she could be arrested and imprisoned for associating with émigrés (SR 41). Where he is seen to only think of himself, not even considering that she might want to go into exile with him and turning her out of their home after the war when Marietta returns (SR 47 and 69), she is required to risk her life and sacrifice her child for him and for socialism. She desperately wants to go into exile with him, but he insists that she stay in Germany, stating that it is unprincipled to leave without urgent political necessity (SR 42). He criticises her for marrying the bourgeois Olaf, but Vera reflects that he took the easy route; he left because of his convictions and after the war expects to pick up where he left off, with no consideration for how she was forced to survive the preceding twelve years of National Socialist rule (SR 60). In Septemberreise, Brüning thus portrays a division between a returning émigré and a Communist who stayed in Germany during the Third Reich and, ultimately, it is Vera, who did not go into exile, who is presented as having made the greater sacrifices. As will be seen, this point is particularly interesting in respect to Brüning's presentation of a similar conflict in her own life, as portrayed in unpublished correspondence and post-Wende autobiography.

2. Wie andere Leute auch
The theme of disappointment with the antifascist heroes returning from exile or imprisonment is continued in Brüning's later novel, Wie andere Leute auch.[10] Published in 1983, the novel is set in the GDR of the 1970s and focuses on the struggles of the writer Elisabeth, her mother and her daughter to cope with the everyday problems of a single woman juggling a career, childcare and relationship. The focalisation of the text shifts between Elisabeth, her daughter, her mother and even her young granddaughter. However, the narration is consistently in the third person, except for those sections told from the point of view of Elisabeth, when the narration switches to the first person.

Particularly interesting for the analysis of the antifascist hero in Wie andere Leute auch, is the narrator's description of her former lover, Herbert. In a similar manner to Vera's love for the "Du" of Septemberreise, Elisabeth fell in love with Herbert's idealism, passion and radical politics in the 1930s (WA 23-24); however, on his return from Nazi imprisonment after the war, she notes a change in him. His very manner of dress "atmete bürgerliche Behäbigkeit" (WA 25) and he has given up writing in favour of a secure job as an editor. His concern is now with the material comforts of life (WA 26). The narrator perceives a "seltsame moralische Entwicklung" in the behaviour of those who were prepared to risk their lives in the fight against fascism. In the new order, they seem to feel that they have sacrificed enough for society and appear to be trying to make up for all that they have missed out on in terms of the comforts of life; they abandon their former lovers and fellow sufferers in favour of a bourgeois existence (WA 276). Elisabeth also reflects on her relationship with another man, Egon, a Communist Jew. Elisabeth became pregnant with Egon's child in the Weimar Republic, but, like Vera, decided on an abortion. There is, however, no sense that Egon forced her to make this decision, neither is there any criticism levelled at him for fleeing the Third Reich to exile in Prague (WA 29-30). She later considers what her relationship with Egon might have been like if he had returned, and it is this that causes her to reflect on the strange moral development outlined above (WA 276-277). It is not clear if Egon died or remained in exile, but he does not return to the GDR and did not undergo this moral development. In her memory, he is crystallised as the Communist hero of his youth.

A development in this later novel is the inclusion of contemporary Communist heroes, that is, Latin American freedom fighters. These characters are introduced through their relationship with the narrator's daughter, Juliane, who works as a Spanish interpreter. A similar dichotomy can be seen between youthful commitment to the revolutionary cause and the attractions of the comfortable bourgeois existence. The novel opens with the birth of Juliane's first child, Carmensita. The father of her child is the Chilean Communist, Pedro, whom she met in a refugee hospital in the GDR, after he had lost both his hands in an attempt to force the Americans to lift the blockade against Cuba (WA 44). Using the same terms as the "Du" of Septemberreise, when Juliane becomes pregnant, Pedro informs her that he must start a revolution in his country before he can afford to start a family (WA 9). However, unlike Vera, Juliane feels able to have the child alone: in the new socialist order, being a single mother is no longer impossible and, although Pedro does not feel able to bring up the child himself, there is no sense that it is restrictive bourgeois values that lead him to this decision.

As the "Du" of Septemberreise abandons Vera in Nazi Germany, Pedro abandons Juliane and their child to pursue his revolutionary ambitions in Chile. However, the attitude of Juliane and her mother to this abandonment is ambivalent. On the one hand, he is criticised for failing to even contact Juliane or Elisabeth to find out if his child has been born (WA 41), for putting the revolution above everything (WA 306) and the narrative voice questions if Juliane's life should consist of waiting for Pedro (WA 307). On the other hand, there is a repeated insistence that he is truly needed in Chile, and he suffers when he is forced to remain in the GDR, far away from his comrades (WA 368). Furthermore, although Juliane dreams of an idyllic German family life (WA 132), she ultimately respects him for his commitment: "Pedro hatte von den Segnungen des Sozialismus nicht länger profitieren wollen, hatte einem bequemen Dasein den politischen Kampf vorgezogen" (WA 198-199). Unlike the representatives of the antifascists returning to the GDR after the war, Pedro does not settle for a comfortable existence, even though it is offered to him, but chooses to continue the fight against the enemies of socialism, to imitate the Communist father of Hell's model. His imprisonment in Pinochet's Chile at the end of the novel, his failure to return by the end of the narrative, allows him to remain in this image, that is, metaphorically identify with the Communist fathers unto death.

As in the earlier work, there is a strong link in Wie andere Leute auch between sexual and political potency. In Pedro's absence, Juliane begins a relationship with a young Venezuelan socialist, José. José has been sent to the GDR by his comrades with the purpose of gaining qualifications to help him in his work on his return home. However, in the GDR José begins to lose his political idealism, to enjoy the comfortable lifestyle and to boast of the modern apartment they will be able to afford when they return to Venezuela; he even suggests that she might work for the capitalist oil refineries (WA 196-197). He states that unlike Pedro he would never leave her, he cannot live without her (WA 199), but Juliane cannot respect his lack of commitment to Communism and ultimately leaves him when news of Pedro reaches her (WA 206). This is not only another example of the disappointment felt when Communist heroes fall for the temptations of a comfortable existence, it also indicates the sexual prowess of those who do not succumb to these temptations. The narrative voice tells of Juliane's boredom with José's sexual technique, whereas the reader learns that Pedro had "das Liebesspiel vollendet beherrscht, immer neue Liebkosungen erfunden, sie zur Ekstase geführt" (WA 195). The reader is never moved to pity Pedro, despite his disability, but rather to admire him for his commitment. In contrast, José is reduced to "der arme Junge" when he expresses his love for Juliane (WA 199). In Hell's model, the figure of the antifascist hero inspires not only identification, but also subjugation and willing subordination (H 46). For Juliane, this is seen to be not only a subordination of her needs and desire for an idyllic family life, but also sexual subordination. The first time she and Pedro have intercourse, she is described as "fest entschlossen und willig [...], sich ihm hinzugeben" (WA 40), that is willingly, but passively succumbing to this figure of "overdetermined masculinity."

3. Autobiography and archive material
Brüning comments in 1984 that in her literature she always drew from reality and that in Septemberreise her intention was to criticise the cowardly "Spießer," who came to the fore in the private lives of many comrades who had otherwise proved themselves in class warfare.[11] In an unpublished letter to Dieter Fechner (a reviewer of Brüning's works), dated 14 September 1980, in reference to Wie andere Leute auch, Brüning states that this work originally bore the title "Meine Tochter und ich: Fast eine Autobiographie," but that she is now working with the title "Mütter und Töchter" in an attempt to distance herself from her own life.[12] However, due to the age and history of the main and secondary protagonists and the use of a first person narrator in the sections devoted to Elisabeth, the original autobiographical intent is clear. In this respect, it is interesting to compare the depiction of the antifascist hero in both novels with the same motif in the work that Brüning does positively identify as autobiographical and which was written after the Wende, Und außerdem war es mein Leben, first published in 1994.

In terms of comparison with Septemberreise and Wie andere Leute auch, one particularly interesting figure in Brüning's autobiography is Heinz Pol. Pol was the editor of the Neue Montagszeitung, for which Brüning wrote articles and reportages in 1932. A committed Communist, married and with a middle-class background, he spent the weekends distributing flyers and taking part in demonstrations. He advised Brüning: "Wir können uns Romantik heute noch nicht leisten" (UA 73). These are all characteristics that allow parallels to be drawn with the "Du" of Septemberreise. Further parallels can be seen in the insensitivity with which he suggests that she abort their child, "meinte er nur seufzend, daß sich der Urlaub eben um weitere Scheinchen verteuern würde," and with his neglect after she has had the abortion; he visits her sick bed, but not often enough to raise suspicions (UA 78-79). Furthermore, like the "Du" of Septemberreise, Pol also fled Nazi Germany to exile in Prague.
However, in Septemberreise, Vera is portrayed as passive, subjugating herself to the will of her lover, putting herself in danger at his request. In her autobiography, although Brüning stays with Pol, this is incidental to the main purpose of her visits to Prague -- active resistance on her own part against the Nazi regime, that is, smuggling illegal documents for publication in the emigrant press (UA 94). Furthermore, she states that she did not stay in Germany, because he insists that she stay, but because she felt it was more principled for her, unknown to the Nazis, to take part in the underground resistance (UA 83). Although Brüning presents sexual and political subjugation to the Communist hero in her fiction, in her presentation of her own life, she suggests a greater independence of will. Furthermore, none of the criticisms levelled at the "Du" of Septemberreise are levelled at Pol in Brüning's autobiography. His emigration is seen as necessary and inevitable; he fled when he knew that he was wanted by the Nazis. There is also no suggestion that he lost his idealism after the war. In a parallel with Egon in Wie andere Leute auch, he does not return to the GDR, but remains in America. One might assume that he would be the subject of criticism for this, but Brüning merely comments that his tendency towards Trotskyism meant that he did not want to come to a country ruled by people, "die er nicht sonderlich schätzte" (UA 97).

Brüning's criticism in her autobiography is reserved for those émigrés who did eventually return to the GDR and take on leading roles in the new state. At the same time as she is meeting Heinz Pol in Prague, she is also conducting an affair with Hans Schwalm, who later became the writer Jan Petersen. In terms of sexual potency, Petersen does not compare favourably to Pol, but is described as prosaic, "selbst in der Leidenschaft noch pedantisch," insisting that they always use a condom to prevent unwanted pregnancy (UA 96). Petersen also escapes Nazi Germany, fleeing to Paris, where, as the "man in the mask," he informed the audience of International Writers' Congress for the Defence of Culture about the BPRS. Petersen eventually emigrated from Paris to London where he spent the remainder of the war before returning to the GDR in 1946. Her portrayal of Jan Petersen on his return to the GDR is of a self-obsessed and slightly arrogant individual, who promotes himself at the expense of others. She describes how, at a Writers' Congress, Petersen took the stage to describe his heroic appearance in Paris and his book that he wrote in Nazi Berlin, but fails to mention, until prompted by Berta Waterstradt, that while he was celebrating in Paris, several of his colleagues, including Brüning, were being arrested by the Gestapo (UA 364).

Another Communist émigré, Heinz Willmann, who spent the war in the Soviet Union and returned to occupy a leading position in the Kulturbund, is criticised for using the "Sie" form with Brüning, a fellow comrade. Before the war, Brüning notes, it had always been their dream that everyone would use the familiar "Du." She comments: "Auch Heinz Willmann schien mir auf einmal um vieles fremder geworden," a linguistic parallel to her statement in Wie andere Leute auch of former lover Herbert: "Wir waren uns fremd geworden" (WA 26). This criticism is further extended to include other members of the ruling elite. She suggests that those in charge have forgotten their egalitarian values when they effectively create a new class system with the introduction of different ration cards and separate canteens for workers and functionaries -- this was not how they had envisioned socialism (UA 345-346).

Furthermore, in her autobiography Brüning sets up a distinction between those members of the Communist Party and the BPRS who emigrated and those who stayed in Germany.[13] She states that, while writers were able to perfect their skills in exile, those who remained in Germany were cut off from world literature and unable to develop (UA 109-110). These issues are also addressed in unpublished pre-Wende correspondence. In a letter to Anna Seghers dated 19 October 1968, she complains that her illegal work for the BPRS and her arrest by the Nazis are evidently not valued at all by cultural functionaries in the GDR. She is ignored by literary criticism and not included in an anthology of BPRS writers, nor in anthologies published to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the GDR.[14] Brüning also sends a copy of this letter, with a few minor changes, to Gerhard Henniger (First Secretary of the Writers' Union). Interestingly, one of these changes includes accusing Henniger, a leading functionary, directly of ignoring the risks she put herself at in the Third Reich: "anscheinend gilt das alles nicht viel" becomes "daß es auch in Euren Augen nicht viel gilt."[15] However, in these letters Brüning does not suggest that the sacrifices of those who remained in Germany were greater than the sacrifices of those who were forced into exile, imprisoned or sent to concentration camps. It seems that is only after the Wende that she feels able to express in non-fictional form this sense of having given more to the cause, which is only hinted at in the risks taken by her female protagonists and criticism of the returning Communist heroes in her pre-Wende fiction.

This distinction between the returning exiles and those who remained in Germany during the war in Brüning's texts can also be seen to be an issue of gender. The communists who remained in Germany during the Third Reich in the works discussed are exclusively female, whereas criticism is directed solely against male antifascists returning from exile. In this respect, Brüning can be seen to be putting forward a veiled critique of the imagery of the antifascist as the male émigré. As Hell argues, the works of Bredel, Marchwitza and Gotsche "focus unfailingly on male characters, while female characters and their stories remain peripheral." (H 36) Female characters either conflict with the male protagonist's political mission or support it; they are not active participants in class struggle. However, in both her pre-Wende correspondence and post-Wende autobiography, Brüning presents the image of a more active role in resistance to fascism on the part of a female Communist, who remained in Germany throughout Nazi rule. This veiled criticism of the gendered nature of the foundational mythology of the GDR is seen even more clearly in Brüning's 2004 publication Gefährtinnen: Porträts vergessener Frauen.[16] All of these eight women, whom, as the subtitle of the work suggests, Brüning considers did not receive the recognition they deserve in their lifetime, were active Communists and all but one (Anni Sauer) stayed in Germany during the war.

4. Conclusion
Although elements of Hell's sublime Communist hero and Simon's Über-Ich can be seen in Brüning's pre-Wende fiction, in Brüning's work the totalising project of this "unconscious fantasy" is seen to be ultimately unsuccessful, due to the criticism levelled at those who returned from exile, imprisonment or the concentration camps to lead a comfortable existence in the fledgling GDR. Criticism of the antifascists who came to rule the GDR in these terms was a common theme in GDR literature. In reference to Heiner Müller's Der Bau and Erik Neutsch's Spur der Steine, Wolfgang Engler identifies a typology of "Funktionäre" on the one side and "Partisanen" on the other. The partisan trusts his own judgement above the interference of others, action and readiness to take risks above pathos and ritual; the functionary, in contrast, is compliant and disciplined.[17] In Hell's terms, those Communist heroes who returned home, who did not identify with the Communist father unto death, failed to fulfil the ideal, which, in turn, leads to disappointment. These men, unlike the dead, do not stay young; they do not remain the passionate revolutionaries of their youth. In Wie andere Leute auch, Brüning extends this criticism beyond the period of the Third Reich to demonstrate a similar pattern of behaviour in more recent opponents of imperialism and capitalism. Her presentation of these conflicts in her post-Wende autobiography and, significantly, in pre-Wende correspondence, indicates that parallels can be drawn between the presentation of antifascist heroes in her fiction and her perception of the returning antifascist heroes in her own life, including those who came to occupy leading positions in the GDR. This, in turn, suggests an ambivalent attitude towards these functionaries and towards the legitimacy of the ruling elite in the GDR. Indeed, Brüning's age and her involvement with the Communist resistance make her less prone to the feeling of guilt that characterized the generation of Christa Wolf and induced them to accept the moral authority of Communist leaders. This ambivalence points towards the need for a more nuanced analysis of the life and works of this author than is given in any simple division between Party hack and dissident. Brüning has always been counted among the former, but close analysis of her fiction, autobiography and archival material indicates that her position was more ambiguous.

1 Herfried Münkler, "Antifaschismus und antifaschistischer Widerstand als politischer Gründungsmythos der DDR," Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte. Beilage zur Wochenzeitung Das Parlament 45 (1998): 17.

2 Münkler 21.

3 Annette Simon, "Antifaschismus als Loyalitätsfalle," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 1 February 1993.

4 Julia Hell, Post-Fascist Fantasies: Psychoanalysis, History, and the Literature of East Germany (London: Duke UP, 1997). Subsequent references refer to this edition and will be given after the abbreviation H in parenthesis in the text.

5 The BPRS, founded in 1928, was an organisation of writers, including Johannes R. Becher, Anna Seghers and Jan Petersen, who believed that art could be used as a weapon in class warfare and that literature should reflect the present of the proletariat. The BPRS was banned in 1933, but existed underground until 1935 when its members were arrested by the Gestapo. See Christoph Hein, Der Bund proletarisch-revolutionärer Schriftsteller Deutschlands: Biographie eines kulturpolitischen Experiments in der Weimarer Republik (Münster: Lit, 1991) for a comprehensive history of this organisation.

6 First published as Elfriede Brüning, Und außerdem war es mein Leben: Aufzeichnungen einer Schriftstellerin (Berlin: Elefanten, 1994). The most recent edition has been heavily revised by the author, who has removed several chapters, and published as Elfriede Brüning, Und außerdem war es mein Leben: Erinnerungen (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch, 2004). Subsequent references refer to the 2004 edition and will be given after the abbreviation UA in parenthesis in the text.

7 A review of Germanistik from 1971 to 2006 and a search of the online catalogue of the Bibliographie der deutschen Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft produced only four pieces of scholarship under the search term "Elfriede Brüning." Brüning is mentioned only once in Wolfang Emmerich's Kleine Literaturgeschichte der DDR, 2nd edn (Berlin: Aufbau, 2000) 90.

8 For example: ...damit du weiterlebst was first published in 1949 by Neues Leben and subsequently by Mitteldeutscher and reached its 15th edition in 1985; Regine Haberkorn was first published by Tribüne in 1955 and reached its 10th edition in 1961. The novel was published again in 1966, 1970 and 1974 by Mitteldeutscher Verlag; Partnerinnen was first published by Mitteldeutscher Verlag in 1978 and reached its 6th edition in 1981.

9 Elfriede Brüning, Septemberreise (Halle: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1974) 149. Subsequent references refer to this edition and are given after the abbreviation SR in parenthesis in the text.

10 Elfriede Brüning, Wie andere Leute auch (Halle: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1983). Subsequent references refer to this edition and are given after the abbreviation WA in parenthesis in the text.

11 Elfriede Brüning, statement on Ruth Eberlein's thesis, October 1984, Fritz-Hüser-Institut Dortmund (FHI), Bestand Brüning (BRÜ), Ablieferungsliste 13.

12 Elfriede Brüning, letter to Dieter Fechner, 14 September 1980, FHI, BRÜ, Ablieferungsliste 9.

13 Cf. Joanne Sayner, Women without a past: German Autobiographical Writings and Fascism (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007).

14 Elfriede Brüning, letter to Anna Seghers, 19 October 1968, FHI, BRÜ 21.

15 Elfriede Brüning, letter to Gerhard Henniger, 19 October 1968, FHI, BRÜ 261. Cf. Elfriede Brüning, letter to Eduard Claudius, 31 January 1970, FHI, BRÜ 41 and Elfriede Brüning, letter to Harry Matter, 21 January 1988, FHI, BRÜ 1702.

16 Elfriede Brüning, Gefährtinnen: Porträts vergessener Frauen (Berlin: Karl Dietz, 2004).

17 Wolfgang Engler, Die Ostdeutschen: Kunde von einem verlorenen Land (Berlin: Aufbau, 1999) 118-119.