Glossen 26

"Lost in Transition: 'Unfinished Women,' Insanity, and Deviant Bodies as Locus of Memory in the No Man's Land of Thomas Brussig's Wie es leuchtet"
Sonja Ellen Klocke

Thomas Brussig's 2004 novel Wie es leuchtet received reactions in German Feuilletons which ranged from disappointment, since it did not represent the great anticipated Wenderoman, to praise for the author's portrayal of the intoxicating aspects and embarrassing charades associated with the days of the Wende of 1989/1990.[1] While Daniel Sich bemoans the lack of literary quality which leads him to conclude that the book cannot be rightfully termed a "novel," Sandra Pfister considers it the "lang erhoffte, große Wenderoman."[2] All reviewers and scholars do, however, agree on the discrepancy between Wie es leuchtet and Brussig's earlier oeuvre, particularly Helden wie wir (1995) and Sonnenallee (1999) in which the author ridicules the perished GDR and celebrates the country's bizarre and comic aspects.[3] In Susanne Ledanff's words, the 2004 novel and "Brussig's Verulkung des Mauerfalls in Helden wie wir als absurdes Ergebnis einer zufallshaften Verkettung der Umstände" are worlds apart.[4] Ledanff recognizes the new novel's significance in Brussig's departure from the phenomenon of "Ostalgie," or nostalgia for the GDR, and in its metafictional reflection of the modus of remembrance itself (190).

Indeed, Brussig's earlier credo as he voiced it for example in "Wir sind nostalgisch, weil wir Menschen sind"[5] or in Sonnenallee, which stressed the inadequacy of memories for the preservation of what really happened, seems to have undergone some modification. In Sonnenallee, he insisted that "Erinnerung ... vollbringt beharrlich das Wunder, einen Frieden mit der Vergangenheit zu schließen, in dem sich ... der weiche Schleier der Nostalgie über alles legt, was mal scharf und schneidend empfunden wurde" (157). This notion of memory is altered in Wie es leuchtet since a collage of various individual biographies, also of people who represent subject positions which are often marginalized due to gender, sexuality, or class and excluded from historiography contributes to a different approach to the historical events of 1989/90. Brussig's 2004 novel emphasizes its claim to function as a representative account of what "really" happened during this year both on the aesthetic level in the mode of writing he assumes and on the level of content: the narrative evidently wants to be understood as a contemporary history that fills a perceived gap since there is "kein Buch, in dem die Erfahrungen jener Zeit für alle gleichermaßen gültig aufbewahrt sind, so wie Im Westen nichts Neues die Erfahrungen der Frontsoldaten des Ersten Weltkrieges versammelte" (Wie es leuchtet 13). Brussig evokes a notion of historiography as genealogy reminiscent of Nietzsche or Foucault, who defines genealogy as "wirkliche Historie" that refuses to assume a "suprahistorical perspective" and "claims to base its judgments on an apocalyptic objectivity."[6]

Here, I focus on some of the physical images the author employs in his attempt to write a monumental epos comparable to Remarque's. Reminiscent of Foucault's notion of history as genealogy which is inscribed in the flesh, since it is "situated within the articulation of the body and history,"[7] Wie es leuchtet conveys the loss of innocence linked to the fall of the Wall by perspicuously inscribing the historical events into the characters' physical bodies. Thus, I argue that particularly in the poetical use of bodies that deviate from hegemonic norms with regard to gender, sexuality, and health, the author accentuates the manifold dilemmas associated with the Wende. The depicted bodies underline the degree to which the process of so-called German "re-unification" functioned as an unsuccessful emergency operation that left the personnel of Brussig's novel torn in the no man's land between East and West.[8]

The narrative of Wie es leuchtet highlights aspects of diverse biographies which serve to illustrate the deceptive solidarity between the intellectuals and the people, who after all were most interested in acquiring the DM, the consequent failure of the civil-rights movement in the summer of 1990, the topic of GDR literature after censorship, and biographies of various opportunists in 607 pages. Some of the addressed biographies are modeled on historical figures such as Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski, Volker Braun, and Gregor Gysi. The title Wie es leuchtet already refers to the buzzword of the fading glow of the GDR, the -- in Stephen Brockmann's words -- "euphoric depression" of the intellectuals and civil-rights activists marking the fall of 1989.[9] All depicted East Germans distinguish themselves by their great naivety which is not limited to various young and at least partially political characters such as the "Jeanne d'Arc der Karl-Marx-Stadt" (Wie es leuchtet 89), nurse Lena or her brother, a photographer who works for Spiegel-reporter Leo Lattke, but also extends to people like Alfred Bunzuweit, the overweight director of the East-Berlin "Palasthotel" or Dr. Helfried Schreiter, the king of the "Sachsenring" in Zwickau.

Their astonishing naivety is contrasted to the only West German character present throughout large parts of the novel, the pale and ugly seventeen-year-old Albino Werner Schniedel. An unscrupulous fraud, he acts as the representative of Volkswagen in the GDR and pretends to be the son of Volkswagen's CEO in Wolfsburg. The East Germans who believe that in the capitalist West, even a teenager is able to wield power, accept Werner Schniedel's behavior as exemplary of Western standards. While this markedly ugly impostor lacks the congeniality of his implicit prototype Felix Krull, Werner Schniedel shares traits with him: Like Krull, Schniedel possesses the ability to utilize his limited knowledge and to act swiftly in precarious situations, and he is convinced that the world wants to be betrayed. Despite his conspicuousness as a teenager and his distinctive features as an extremely ugly Albino who wears sunglasses at all times, Werner Schniedel fits perfectly into this society which appears out of control after the fall of the Wall. It is precisely his arrogance and his mastery of manipulating East Germans in believing in the alleged West German conventions and their superiority which allow him to demonstrate the irrationality of the East German's feelings of inferiority as well as the absurdity and the chaos of the days of the Wende.[10]

Representative for an entire country which appears to have gone mad, individual bodies are inscribed in various ways both by their suffering in and from the GDR and by the events unleashed in 1989. These bodies become the locus of memory or a "Körpergedächtnis," which does not allow the characters to swiftly leave behind the GDR. Their "symptom bodies," understood with Sigrid Weigel "als Matrix für die Erinnerungssymbole des Verdrängten,"[11] underscore the maladies associated with the GDR. Alfred Bunzuweit's flatulence, for example, correlates with his bloated sense of self. The director of the "Palasthotel," a former GDR luxury hotel for party functionaries and Western visitors, literally blows himself up and out of proportion in his attempt to hide his past as a gas station attendant.  However, he gradually "deflates," losing his flatulence together with his power in the crumbling GDR.

Other characters in the novel suffer from paralysis and bodily tensions evoked by fear, crouching under the system, and dealing with violence (Wie es leuchtet 85). The novel moreover offers individual histories that are inscribed even more violently as loss of body parts that surface as an effect of torture by the Soviet army and in GDR prisons, or cancer suffered due to exposure to radiation by the secret service.[12] Particularly these individuals whose bodies are marked fiercely by the policing mechanisms dominated by the representatives of the most influential state institution, the Staatssicherheit, physically exhibit the cruel effects of the inexorable apparatus of ideological control.

This depiction of the GDR's secret service is intensely different from Brussig's earlier portrayals especially in Helden wie wir. As Brad Prager appropriately stresses, in the 1995 novel, "Brussig never suggests that he or any of the novel's characters would be seriously harmed by the GDR's secret police."[13] In Wie es leuchtet, however, the various physical symptoms the characters display can be read as manifestations of suppressed trauma and socio-political crisis. As the West German Thilo explains to his East German girlfriend's family, they all appear to be somehow damaged, "beschädigt" (Wie es leuchtet 339) -- an observation the East German Schreiters in fact assert.

In all of the described cases, the individual's personal history assumes political significance, rendering it impossible to distinguish between public and private. (GDR) history and culture have violently been inscribed into the flesh -- a process that seems to intensify with time: The longer these bodies were subject to GDR discipline, the more deformed they emerge. While the younger East Germans are described as glowing and relaxed after the fall of the Wall, the older generation seems worn out: "Die Älteren wirkten oft abgearbeitet, müde, keiner über fünfzig schien noch zu strotzen vor Kraft und Gesundheit" (Wie es leuchtet 294). Subject to the multitude of memories accumulated in their bodies, these characters bear the weight of their Körpergedächtnis which signifies the product of the individual and collective memory bestowed onto them.

The disrespect for human dignity from which all of these characters suffer, particularly the ones who were tortured by the Staatssicherheit or representatives of the Soviet Army, is similarly evoked in the scandal of the human experiments performed under the supervision of a Professor Hense at the local hospital in Karl-Marx-Stadt where Lena works as a physiotherapist (152-158). In fact, the circumstance that at least one doctor was testing medication not yet approved on patients without them being aware of their role as guinea pigs for West German pharmaceutical companies, uncannily links the medical institutions in the GDR to Nazi Germany. Particularly since these trials were backed up by the GDR's secret service, thus accentuating the link between medical institutions and state power, these tests are reminiscent of the human experiments conducted by representatives of the medical profession in fascist concentration camps. The procedures prescribed by Professor Hense highlight the extent to which the representatives of the medical institution were entangled in policing mechanisms which served to regulate individual bodies.[14] The atrocity which the Professor's conduct represents is further accentuated by the position of self-righteousness he feels justified to assume due to his power position in the hospital. His specialization allows him to assume a kind of sovereign power in the GDR, not unlike that of an omnipotent God or an absolute monarch. He can decide on his patients' life or death, or on the kind of restricted life they are forced to lead which depends on kidney dialysis after they undergo the treatment.

While the GDR is linked to sick and mutilated bodies as the effects of power relations, the days of the Wende between November 1989 and unification of 1990 are largely associated with madness and insanity. "Wahnsinn" appears to be the most significant word of these days (Wie es leuchtet 98, 109) which leads the "wild Willi" to demand the renaming of Germany into "Irrland" (Wie es leuchtet 127). In hindsight, this request reads as an uncanny foreshadowing of his death attributable to precisely this insanity which culminates in the celebrations on New Year's Eve of 1989/90 (Wie es leuchtet 351-355). Lena's brother recalls the pictures he took at the Brandenburg Gate on that day: "Von der Silvesterfeier am Brandenburger Tor knipste [] drei Filme. Er knipste den Horror. Er knipste ein Volk, das außer Rand und Band geraten war, in einer Feier, die zu einer Orgie der Selbstüberschätzung wurde. ... Er knipste ein Volk, das irre geworden war" (Wie es leuchtet 351). The most insane action, however, is not captured on Lena's brother's film: One of the revelers throws a champagne bottle off the Brandenburg Gate. It hits the "wild Willi," who suffers excruciating pain in his entire body, and in his final moments realizes that he is not only a victim of this newly united country "Irrland," but also the last victim of the inner-German no man's land:

        Jetzt Geschoß am Kopf im Todesstreifen verrecken
        Ich der letzte
        Tod in Irrland.
        Irrland werden.
        Wieso Irrland (Wie es leuchtet 354).

Willi's last thoughts reveal the overlapping personal and political insights he grasps precisely at the moment when he is seriously injured. Shortly before his death, he becomes aware of the interconnections between personal and national history: Whether he dies as the last victim of the inner-German border after this border had finally lost its significance or as the first victim of German unification remains unclear; but the inability of the medical institutions to effectively deal with the uncontrollable situation emblematically underlines the extent to which this German "Irrland" is out of control and ungovernable.

Similarly, the seven unfinished transsexuals who literally experience the end of the socialist system on their bodies since their male-to-female sex changes are suspended mid-process, turn out to be victims of the country in transition. After years of psychological and psychiatric counseling, tests, and unhappiness they had finally been approved for sex changes in the GDR. Wie es leuchtet portrays the GDR as a country in which the state institutions are at first discontented when confronted with bodies that refuse categorization within the hegemony of the male/female gender dichotomy, but where the change of sexual identity is eventually tolerated as long as it remains within the established binary. The transsexual's real predicament, however, begins when the only team of doctors qualified for the procedure leaves for the West, abandoning the seven "unfinished women" in the GDR and in what the reporter Leo Lattke terms "sexuelles Niemandsland" (Wie es leuchtet 314). Reminiscent of the "wild Willi" who died in the former no man's land at the Brandenburg gate, these transsexuals get stranded in their sexual no man's land. In fact, what turns out to be worse than the existence as hermaphrodites is the reversal of the progress towards the desired female body. Since they no longer receive hormones, they gradually regain their male bodies and turn into beings considered abject by society. For Lena's big brother, they demonstrate the degree to which "die Ordnung aus den Fugen geraten war. Die Zustände wurden leibhaftig" (Wie es leuchtet 198).15 His assessment, which links the individual fate of these male-to-female transsexuals with the historical processes, implies that the order established in the GDR, flawed as it might have been, allowed for stability -- a state which in retrospect appears superior to the days associated with the liberation of the people from the GDR regime.

Heidi, formerly Rainer, employs political terms to elucidate her/his sexual dilemma: "Es ist wie Krieg, den der Körper gegen die Seele führt, und die Bomben sind Hormone... Als der Nachschub für die femininen Bataillone ausblieb, begann ihr Körper die Konterrevolution: Die Brüste verkleinerten sich, und ihre Ausdünstungen waren ihr männlich" (Wie es leuchtet 320). The socialism of the orderly GDR is associated with revolution, progress, and femininity, while the time from summer 1989 to 1990 is linked to chaos, setback, counterrevolution, capitalism, and masculinity. This underlying East-West dichotomy also figures in the social positioning of the transsexuals. While Heidi/Rainer first experiences the lack of a transsexual scene in the GDR as deficiency, the West German scene accessible to him/her after the fall of the Wall is not liberating, but rather enhances the deep East-West binary opposition: In  GDR society, Heidi/Rainer's sexuality in transition is largely accepted; s/he refuses to settle in the West to continue the hormone therapy since this would imply being perceived as "schriller Vogel, und sie würde in einer Szene landen, die sich für nichts interessiert als sexuelles Raffinement" (Wie es leuchtet 321). The narrative thus imagines a socialist society that proves to be more tolerant pertaining to identities that exceed hegemonic notions of "natural" sex and gender roles than its capitalist counterpart.

When Heidi/Rainer eventually succeeds in completing the long-awaited sex change, she does not end up in a transsexual scene but rather prostitutes herself on the street. This might allow for a reading of her body as a mere commodity in capitalism. However, Heidi's plot seems to be more intricate: She enjoys playing with her sexual identity and with men's confusion which arises from the fact that she troubles their assumptions about what determines femininity:

"[I]n Heidis Nähe ahnten manche Männer, wie trügerisch ihr aus der Erfahrung gewonnenes Bild von Mann und Frau ist. Heidi war eine Frau mit unabweisbar männlichen Stücken. Zwar reichten die Phantasien der Männer nicht aus, um Heidis unweibliche Herkunft zu erkennen -- manchmal aber für eine Erschütterung dessen, was unter weiblich zu verstehen sei."(Wie es leuchtet 500-501).

Despite the fact that she cannot entirely overcome the male/female binary, she poses a remarkable challenge to hegemonic notions of normative sexual bodies. And while the novel does not envision a world in which, to quote Judith Butler, "individuals with mixed genital attributes might be accepted and loved without having to transform them into a more socially coherent or normative version of gender," it does emphasize the "continuum ... between male and female that suggests the arbitrariness and falsity of the gender dimorphism as a prerequisite of human development."[16] In Brussig's depiction of Germany during the days of the Wende, a world emerges that at least hints at the horizon imagined by Butler -- Brussig's is a world in chaotic flux, in which masculinity and femininity become fluid to some degree, and in which an identity residing in the interstices of an artificial binary relation is possible, thus demonstrating that this binary is not exhaustive.

Another body transformed by an operation after the fall of the Wall is that of the blind Sabine Busse, who was perfectly capable of living independently in the GDR. Despite her apparent artificiality, due to which she comes across as "remote-controlled" (Wie es leuchtet 389), the woman seems self-confident and does not consider her challenge an impediment for the longest time. In fact, the ostensible obstacle turns out to have been a privilege in the GDR, since Sabine Busse was allowed to travel to the West. She assumes a positionality which allows her to define her own degree of normality within the social body of GDR society and insists on her identity as a blind woman who "sees" with senses other than the visual. The lack of sight only registers as a disability after the Wall collapses, "seit dem 10. November ist [Blindheit] eine Krankheit" (Wie es leuchtet 527). Sabine links this diagnosis to her inability to relate to other East Germans who perceive of the West in exclusively visual terms. The West is staged as a world that is accessible in only one particular way, and which excludes everyone who lacks this means of access from participation in social life. At the same time, Sabine's re-evaluation of her blindness -- from privilege before November 10, 1989 to impediment afterwards -- underlines the extent to which she is caught up in new hidden disciplinary mechanisms after the fall of the Wall. Unlike the power structures in the GDR, which were evident not least because of the presence of the secret service and its large machinery exercising control over the country's citizens' public and private life, the new structures derive their complexity from the fact that they are perceptible, yet invisible. 

Desperate to partake in this new world after the fall of the Wall, Sabine Busse consents to subjection to the new power structures and to an operation which should enable her to see and make it possible for her to join in the hegemonic view of the new country. She physically gains her eyesight in March 1990 after Dr. Sternhagen from West Germany has operated on her. Sabine Busse experiences this gift from West German medicine as her personal "fall of the Wall," a wall between her and the outer world, and expresses her feelings by echoing precisely the words she recalls from November 1989: "Wahnsinn! ... So ein Tag, so wunderschön wie heute" (Wie es leuchtet 530). However, her eyes turn out to be malfunctioning in the Germany about to be unified: "Ihre Augen wollen nicht arbeiten. Etwas geboten bekommen wollen sie ... [Aber] ihre Augen machen ihn nicht mit, den zweckmäßigen Blick. Sabine Busses Augen sehen alles. Aber sie erkennen nichts" (Wie es leuchtet 532). Sabine Busse's eyes resist change and the acquisition of hegemonic cultural and historical knowledge. They refuse to be disciplined for the West, and underline her repudiation of any subjection to a system of power which produces, regulates, and disciplines both her individual body and the body politic.

Due to Dr. Sternhagen's interference from the West, however, Sabine cannot return to her former state of innocence. Forced to see with eyes unequipped for a world characterized by overly visual stimulation, the young woman refuses performance: "Drei Wochen nach der Operation bleibt die Welt noch immer kopfstehend" (Wie es leuchtet 533). The failed operation leaves Sabine in a universe that is turned upside-down. Her body, well-equipped to function in the GDR and even exceptional since it provided the means to escape the exercise of power over the subject by enabling Sabine to leave the country, cannot be transformed for life under capitalism and appears unfit for social life. Violated within the historical process, it serves as a bearer of cultural memory and emerges as medium and effect of the historical operations that produced it. It thus most ostensibly demonstrates how the radical changes associated with 1989/90 and the interference of the West left East Germans disoriented and on the verge of collapse.

The various examples of bodies into which the historical processes of the Wende are (often violently) inscribed accentuate the impossibility of separating individual from collective memory. The reactions Brussig's characters display towards the historical circumstances they experience make changes visible as their flesh becomes a surface for the inscription of historical events. They thus embody a kind of Körpergedächtnis, a product of the individual and collective memory conferred onto them during the experience of the events of 1989/90. This memory of the body highlights the intricate ways in which the biological and historical are related. Due to the underlying complexity of the various experiences, a notion of a "historical truth" is, however, negated. By insisting on the personal biographies which counter any attempt at a totalizing hegemony pertaining to notions of the East and the Wende, the narrative rather attempts to present a version of history that functions as an approximation to historical truth due to the variety of the subject positions assumed.



1 Thomas Brussig, Wie es leuchtet (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2004).
For examples of harsh Feuilleton-critique see Maike Albath, "Th. Brussig Wie es leuchtet. Rezension," Frankfurter Rundschau 6. Oktober 2004; Kristina Maidt, "Ein Mauerspecht wird seriös. Gestreckter Cocktail: Thomas Brussig's Wende-Wälzer Wie es leuchtet, Süddeutsche Zeitung 23. Oktober 2004. Martin Halter in "Zonenkasper macht Ernst," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 30. Oktober 2004, is similarly disappointed since he regards Wie es leuchtet a failed attempt of a great German Wenderoman and concludes: "Daß der Dichter sich beim Sprung ins Bodenlose offenbar den Hals bricht, ist ausnahmsweise mehr als nur eine überlebensgroße Metapher." Martin Lüdke in "Die Prototypen der deutschen Wende," Die Zeit 30. Dezember 2004 acknowledges that Wie es leuchtet is an entertaining read, but concludes: "Es bleibt: Oberfläche. Es fehlt: Geschichte." Other critics emphasize the novel's qualities. See for example Peter Richter, "Nobelpreis, ich komme!" Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 26. September 2004; Sabine Langer, "Groß und Klein - Wie es leuchtet," 

2 Daniel Sich, "Thomas Brussig. Wie es leuchtet. [Rezension]," Deutsche Bücher 35:2 (2005): 126-129.
Sandra Pfister, "Thomas Brussig. Wie es leuchtet,"
Similar to Sandra Pfister, Peter Wien considers Wie es leuchtet "d e [n] Roman der Wende" and compares it to Günter Grass' Blechtrommel.
Comparisons of Helden wie wir (1995) to Günter Grass' novels can be found in Christine Cosentino, "Scherz, Satire und Ironie in der ostdeutschen Literatur der neunziger Jahre," The Journal of English and Germanic Philology. 97:4 (October 1998): 467-487, and in Brad Prager, "The Erection of the Berlin Wall: Thomas Brussig's Helden wie wir and the End of East Germany," The Modern Language Review. 99:4 (2004): 983-998.

3 Brussig, Thomas. Helden wie wir (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1995).
Brussig, Thomas. Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1999).
Scholarly work has extensively commented on the comical and satirical aspects of East German literature after the fall of the Wall and particularly of Helden wie wir. For some of the most illuminating work see Cosentino as well as Holger M. Briel, "Humor im Angesicht der Absurdität. Gesellschaftskritik in Thomas Brussigs Helden wie wir und Ingo Schulzes Simple Storys," Schreiben nach der Wende, ed. Gerhard Fischer and David Roberts (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2001): 263-273; Kristie Foell and Jill Twark, "Bekenntnisse des Stasi-Hochstaplers Klaus Uhltzscht. Thomas Brussig's comical and controversial Helden wie wir," German Writers and the Politics of Culture, ed. Paul Cooke (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003): 173-194; Mirjam Gebauer, Wendekrisen. Der Pikaro im deutschen Roman der 1990er Jahre (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2006); Julia Kormann, "Satire und Ironie in der Literatur nach 1989. Texte nach der Wende von Thomas Brussig, Thomas Rosenlöcher und Jens Sparschuh," Mentalitätswandel in der deutschen Literatur zur Einheit (1990-2000), ed. Volker Wehdeking (Berlin: E. Schmidt, 2000): 165-176.

4 Susanne Ledanff, "Neue Formen der 'Ostalgie' -- Abschied von der 'Ostalgie'? Erinnerungen an Kindheit und Jugend in der DDR und an die Geschichtsjahre 1989/90." Seminar 43:2 (May 2007): 185-192. 187.

5 Thomas Brussig, "Wir sind nostalgisch, weil wir Menschen sind." First published in "Sehnsucht nach dem Kommunismus" (2001).

6 Michel Foucault, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History" (1971), The Essential Foucault. Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, eds. Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose (New York and London: The New Press, 1994): 351-369. 359.

7 Foucault 356-357.

8 Brussig voiced his view on German "re-unification" for example in "Wir sind nostalgisch, weil wir Menschen sind:" "Als die Volkskammer im Sommer 1990 über den Beitritt nach Artikel 23 diskutierte (Beitritt ist nicht Vereinigung -- wieso spricht überhaupt jemand von 'Wiedervereinigung'? Ein Wort, zwei Lügen: Was ist das 'Wieder'? was die 'Vereinigung'?), überschlugen sich die neuen, gewählten Machthaber im Abriß der DDR."

9 Stephen Brockmann, "The Reunification Debate," New German Critique 52 (1991): 3-29. 7.

10 The depiction of the Albino Werner Schniedel's behavior evokes notions of colonialization of the East as Paul Cooke has conceptualized it in Representing East Germany since Unification: from Colonialization to Nostalgia, (Oxford: Berg, 2005). The East Germans' reaction to Schniedel manifest Friedrich Dieckmann's claim that with regard to life in the GDR and during the process of the Wende, the West dominates the interpretation of the historical processes and possesses the "Deutungshoheit" (15). See Friedrich Dieckmann, Das wahre Leben im falschen. Geschichten von ostdeutscher Identität (Berlin: Links, 2000).

11 Sigrid Weigel, Bilder des kulturellen Gedächtnisses. Beiträge zur Gegenwartsliteratur (Dülmen-Hiddingsel: tende, 1994). 16.

12 Fritz Bode, suffering both from fascism and communism, for example loses an eye in a GDR prison (Wie es leuchtet 206). Jürgen Warthe eventually passes away due to the earlier radioactive contamination by the Staatssicherheit. He chooses to live his last days with his wife in Thailand, mentally and spatially distanced from Germany, and playing with children (Wie es leuchtet 600-607).

13 Prager 991. Wolf Biermann for example criticizes Brussig for his depiction of the Staatssicherheit as too harmless in "Wenig Wahrheit und viel Witz," Der Spiegel 29. Januar 1996: 186-187.
Also see Cosentino as well as Roberto Simanowski, "Die DDR als Dauerwitz," NDL: Zeitschrift für deutschsprachige Literatur und Kritik 2 (1996): 156-163.

14 This link between the Staatssicherheit and the representatives of the medical institutions also surfaces in Helden wie wir, since Klaus Uhltzscht's parents serve as representatives of both institutions which share the effort of their son's surveillance: the father is a member of the secret service, while the mother is the hygienist at her son's school. Both state institutions and their discourses are thus linked both in the private and the public realm, which become indistinguishable.

15 The italics emphasizing the word "leibhaftig" allow for reading this sentence as a reference to Christa Wolf's novel of the same name. Unlike Helden wie wir, in which Brussig relentlessly attacks the famous East German writer, Wie es bleibt refrains from vilifying Christa Wolf. Instead, the topic of overcoming the legacy of GDR writing is explicitly laid out in Waldemar's success story which is contrasted with the GDR writers, the "kampferprobte Zensurpartisanen" (Wie es leuchtet 228), whose main qualification is their ability to deal with censorship. This story surrounding Waldemar and the editor Dr. Erler echoes Brussig's desire to break with the literary traditions rooted in the GDR. However, Prager (994-995) has successfully demonstrated to which extent Thomas Brussig's writing is in fact embedded in the very traditions he attacks.

16 Judith Butler, Undoing Gender (New York and London: Routledge, 2004). 64-65.