Christa Wolf died yesterday.  You can find links to obituaries in both English and German on the Christa Wolf page on my website. She came in for a lot of criticism, firstly because it was discovered that she had worked as a Stasi informer and secondly because she had opposed German reunification. However, it is too easy to sit comfortably in the West (and, yes I do mean both the general political sense of the West, as well as West Germany) and criticise her. Let us not forget, as a teenager, her family fled the advancing Soviet army (she was born in what was then Germany but is now Poland). Moreover, though she did work for the Stasi, she soon withdrew. According to this article (in German), she prepared just three reports, all of them generally positive. The Stasi, not unsurprisingly, criticised her reporting for Zurückhaltung und überbetonte Vorsicht (restraint and excessive caution). Thereafter, she herself was under surveillance. As for her opposition to reunification, shared by other writers, she (and the others) felt that there should be a true social democracy in Germany and West Germany certainly was not it (nor, of course, was East Germany). She hoped, probably very naively, that East Germany, after the fall of Communism, could become a true social democracy. It is highly doubtful whether this could ever have happened but there is no doubt that her fear of capitalism and its consequences seem to have been borne out in recent months.

There continues to be criticism of Wolf and, as she is reassessed after her death, there will undoubtedly be more. I would argue that it is not really justified and that she should be remembered for writing three first-class novels – Der geteilte Himmel (Divided Heaven), Nachdenken über Christa T. (The Quest for Christa T)and Kassandra (Cassandra), all of which have been translated into English.