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Belinda Cooper

Without help from the west, the small East German opposition,

such as it was, never would have achieved as much as it did. The

money, moral support, media attention, and protection provided by

western supporters may have made as much of a difference to the

opposition as West German financial support made to the East German

state. Yet this help was often resented and rarely acknowledged

by eastern activists. Between 1988 and 1990, I worked with

Arche, an environmental network created in 1988 by East German

dissidents. During that time, the assistance provided by West Germans,

émigré East Germans, and foreigners met with a level of distrust

that cannot entirely be blamed on secret police intrigue.

Outsiders who tried to help faced a barrage of allegations and criticism

of their work and motives. Dissidents who elected to remain in

East Germany distrusted those who emigrated, and vice versa,

reflecting an unfortunate tendency, even among dissidents, to internalize

elements of East German propaganda. Yet neither the help

and support the East German opposition received from outside nor

the mentalities that stood in its way have been much discussed. This

essay offers a description and analysis of the relationship between

the opposition and its outside supporters, based largely on one person’s

first-hand experience.

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Belinda Cooper

Public debate in Germany, particularly in the western German

media, grew heated in 1991 and 1992 over the role of intellectuals in

East German society and their collaboration with or resistance to the

Stasi. Sparks flew with particular intensity when Wolf Biermann,

former East German dissident musician and poet, accused Sascha

Anderson, erstwhile East German dissident poet, of being a Stasi

informant and an “asshole” (while there was some disagreement

over the latter charge, the former, at least, turned out to be accurate).

As the debate raged, some observers commented that it seemed

more a clash of male egos than a serious attempt to analyze the past.

In a 1993 book on the dissident literary community, a West German

commentator suggested the Stasi debate was a conflict among “three

egomaniacs … [Wolf] Biermann, [writer Lutz] Rathenow, [Sascha]

Anderson.” East German author Gabriele Stötzer-Kachold had

made a similar suggestion in 1992.