Oskar Pastior as Securitate Informant?
On a number of occasions NOMADICS has spoken in praise of the poet Oscar Pastior, such as on the occasion of him receiving the Büchner Prize posthumously (click here). Pastior was indeed a splendid poet (check out, for example, the translations of his work published by Burning Deck). But now the following disturbing bit of information has just come in via signandsight, which refers back to the original article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of 17 September 2010:
As a member of the minority ethnic German community, the poet Oskar Pastior spent 5 years in a Soviet labour camp after WWII. It is his life there that Nobel laureate Herta Müller describes in her last novel “Everything I Own I Carry With Me” (excerpt in English). Now a German historian has just uncovered a declaration of commitment to the Romanian Securitate signed by Oskar Pastior in 1961, as Lother Müller and Christopher Schmidt report. Stefan Sienerth, the director of the Institute for German Culture and History of Southern East Europe at Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilian University, who discovered the document will present his findings at a talk on Sunday. “Admittedly the historian has only found a single report implicating Pastior. But ‘in all these years there is not a single record of an attempt by Pastior to terminate his work for the Romanian secret police or to undertake any steps to free himself from this psychological burden,’ Sienerth writes in the manuscript.” Muller and Schmidt add that Pastior’s homosexuality and labour-camp experience would have made him particularly vulnerable to blackmail.
Of course, he is innocent until proven guilty, and that can only happen if any proof that Pastior did harm to someone comes to light, which has not been the case so far. The young Pastior may indeed have found himself caught in a situation of blackmail he couldn’t wriggle out of until later in his life. Today Herta Müller has reacted to the news — if you have German you can read her reaction here. Here is some of what she said in my quick translation:
My first reaction was surprise, and anger. It was a slap in the face. The more details Stefan Sienerth and now Ernest Wichner dtold me, tye more horrified I became. The dossiers show the Romania of the fifties and sixties like a very dark painting. The jails were full. Pastior, just returned from 5 years in the camps, worked as a box-assembler and construction worker, now could finally study in Bucharest. He wanted back to normality, he tried and take his own life into his own hands with a tired, stubborn obstinacy. But they confiscated it once again. The documents show him surrounded on all sides. Several university professors also spy on him. The main fink goes all the way to denunciation. His reports are so vile that one shudders. He was homosexual, like Pastior. One asks oneself if he was taking revenge on personal grounds. After surviving the work camps, Pastior became an enemy of the State, because the five years of torture made him write some seven poems about it, poems that he was in deep need of. These poems were twisted into a noose: “anti-soviet” was enough. In order to protect himself against arrest, Pastior signed an Securitate-declaration. Returned from camp he now totally free, rather than just freed. My second reaction on Pastior as Securitate agent was sympathy. And the more I contemplate the details of the affair, the more it becomes grief .