Within the diverse post-reunification literature produced in Eastern Germany, one trend stands out: the large number of satirical texts that view the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the Wende, and its aftermath with a critical eye. The most well-known representatives of this group are Volker Braun with Der Wendehals and Die vier Werkzeugmacher, Thomas Brussig with Helden wie wir, and Erich Loest with Katerfrühstück and Gute Genossen, but there are others as well who have been virtually ignored in the West and yet deserve closer examination. In this essay, I will focus on two authors, Mathias Wedel and Matthias Biskupek, who were both active in the GDR composing cabaret texts, journalistic critiques and theoretical works on satire, and who have continued in this vein after reunification. Wedel, born in 1953 in Erfurt, studied at the elite "Akademie für Gesellschaftswissenschaften beim Zentralkomitee der SED." There he received his doctorate in 1986 for a dissertation entitled "Zu den Funktionen von Satire im Sozialismus," which explores the possibilities for satirical expression in the GDR based upon analyses of the satirical magazine Eulenspiegel and cabaret texts. Biskupek, born in 1950 in Chemnitz, studied cybernetics and wrote many of his texts in his office while working as a systems analyst in a synthetic fiber factory. Shortly before reunification, Wedel and Biskupek collaborated to produce the self-reflective polemic satire Streitfall Satire, published in 1988, in which they put forth their satire theories. In doing so, they exposed the (in their eyes) ridiculous orders from the GDR government for authors to create texts which would make GDR citizens laugh. Befreiendes Lachen the government called it; but this laughter was intended to serve the interests of the GDR state.
Wedel and Biskupek have by no means remained silent since reunification. Alongside his journalistic and cabaret activities, Wedel produced a novel length polemic essay condemning Eastern German opportunists, appropriately titled Einheitsfrust, in 1994. Two years later, Biskupek completed his first novel, Der Quotensachse, poking fun at the Saxon regional pride which welled up in the wake of reunification. After examining these two texts in order to explore how Wedel and Biskupek use polemic and satire to illuminate problems produced by reunification and to come to terms with the GDR past, I shall also provide possible reasons why satire has been used so frequently as a literary mode in post-reunification literature and point out a few differences in the authors pre- and post-reunification writings.
In his polemic Einheitsfrust, Wedel claims his goal is to warn Western Germans against a particular type of Eastern German whom he calls the "Ostdeutscher Mitläufer," "OM" for short, intentionally connecting this much larger group with former Stasi "Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter," or "IMs." Einheitsfrust exposes Eastern Germans who went along with the socialist GDR government in order to reap the advantages of conformism to the dictatorship, then loudly proclaimed their support for the Federal Republic during reunification, finally wallowing in nostalgia for the GDR when their economic and/or social situation worsened. Wedel agrees with Henryk Broders arguments in the latters political treatise Erbarmen mit den Deutschen, where Broder asserts the GDR nation was based upon "simulated" behavior and ideology on all levels.  Broder blames this simulation for Eastern German discontent after reunification: "Es ist leicht einzusehen, daß ein Mensch, der seine ganze Existenz auf Simulation aufgebaut hat, einen schweren Schock erlebt, wenn er plötzlich mit der 'wirklichen Wirklichkeit' konfrontiert wird." Wedel purports that this simulation continues into the present, despite altered societal conditions ( 52), thus posing a threat to the Federal Republic. In exposing "OM"s, however, Wedel also points out the deficiencies in West Germany and Western Germans attitudes and behavior toward Eastern Germany, constituting his "warning" as an ironic one.
In typical polemical style, Wedel employs multiple literary modes, rhetorical devices and tropes to present his case: irony, satire, accumulation, repetition, exaggeration, metaphors and similes. In order to reveal and to describe their despicable nature, Wedel labels Eastern German "OMs" "Jammerossis" (58), "Anschlußdeutsche" (76), and "Denunzianten aller Couleur[s]" (63). Their home, the GDR, is a "Kleingartenkolonie" (52). Not only are they cutthroat, xenophobic and "weinerlich" (11), "[i]hr Lebensraum ist die Anonymität der Masse. Ihr Kraftquell ist die diffuse Solidarität der Zukurzgekommenen, ihr Mythos die Geborgenheit, das heißt die gegenseitige politische und soziale Sicherung" (11). On top of this, these Eastern German opportunists want to conquer Western Germany, taking "bittere Rache am Westler" (109). Wedel contends they pose a real threat in acting collectively as "effizient wie eine Sekte" (111), practicing nepotism, and adapting themselves like chameleons to Western German behavior, often making them indetectible. Wedel paints a conspiracy theory of their activities.
Much has been said about the "Mauer in den Köpfen" which still separates Eastern from Western Germans, despite the fact that they have been politically unified. Wedel explores this wall, providing reasons for its existence and persistence. From his perspective, both Eastern and Western Germans on all societal levels were responsible for reunification's errors. Applying the accusatory simile "fast wie eine Dolchstoßlegende" (57), Wedel likens the GDR government's sell-out to the Federal Republic to the German army leaders' supposedly premature surrender to the allies in World War I. In illustrating the extent of East German gullibility, Wedel resorts to fantasy: "Wenn Kohl prophezeit hätte, es würde hinfort Vanillezucker schneien, wäre das auch gegangen" (52). Wedel offers possible solutions to the East-West conflict, but even these he disparages. One such solution, he suggests, would have been for Eastern and Western Germans to share their biographies with each other. Wedel supplies three reasons why this could never happen, however. The first is laden with irony:
Trotz krampfartigen Nachdenkens konnten sich die Westler nicht erinnern, eine Biographie gehabt zu haben. Sie konnten zwar rekapitulieren, wann sie sich ihren ersten Opel gekauft hatten und warum sie irgendwann auf einen Japaner umgestiegen sind; sie konnten sich erinnern, daß sie im Sommer 1970 in Spanien schrecklich übers Ohr gehauen worden waren; sie wußten noch, warum es finanziell viel günstiger gewesen war, die Oma zu Hause und nicht im Seniorenheim sterben zu lassen. Das wars dann aber auch schon. Nichts wissen sie von dem trickreichen Spiel zwischen oben und unten. Keine blasse Ahnung haben sie, auf welch raffinierte Weise man eine Wahrheit sagen kann, ohne sie auszusprechen, und wie man aus einer Zeitung herausliest, was absichtlich nicht drinsteht. [. . .] Sie werden nicht verstehen, welche unzertrennlichen Bande zwischen Leuten entstehen, die nächtelang auf der Suche nach Weltverbesserungsideen zusammenhockten (99).
Here, Wedel evokes humor through the absurdity of his claim, the hyperbolized adjective "krampfartig," and by supplying particularly mundane examples of Western German recollections of their past experiences. Viewed from this perspective, Wedel ironically implies that not all aspects of life in the GDR were bad.
The second problem the Germans have in sharing their biographies is the fact that West Germans do not want to learn what life was really like in the GDR. Instead, Western Germans assume Eastern Germans are looking for sympathy and financial compensation, so biography-sharing turns into a question of who can make the biggest profit. For the opportunist, however, this does not matter, Wedel says, because "[e]inheitliche Löhne gelten ihnen als das entscheidende Kriterium einheitlicher nationaler Identität" (86). Toward the end of the text, Wedel satirically scoffs at people who have concluded that Eastern Germans suffer from a loss of identity. He believes it is harder for a West German to determine his or her identity, now that the communist threat is gone, than for an East German, who defines him- or herself by negation: as anything but a West German (129).
Finally, when Eastern Germans begin to talk about life in the GDR, they do not stop talking: "Der ewige Minderwertigkeitskomplex wird im Erzählen überwunden" (100). Wedel mocks this Eastern German talkativeness by magnifying it to "eine schreckliche Wessifolter" (100).
In holding both German states up to scorn, Wedel draws surprising comparisons between West and East, demonstrating that despite all the differences, there are perhaps more similarities between the two than one might have noticed. Both Western and Eastern Germans are, in general, "politikverdrossen" (111),"kleinbürgerlich," racist, opportunistic, greedy, lazy, and insensitive (128). In satirically attacking both German groups, Wedel exposes stereotypes and prejudices on both sides as superfluous and hypocritical.
Concentrating on the political situation in Eastern and Western Germany from 1989 to 1994, Wedel chronicles events and people's attitudes immediately following reunification from an insider's perspective. He worked as a socialist party journalist in the GDR, and now publishes satirical denunciations of his fellow Eastern Germans. To bolster his arguments, he supplies endless anecdotes and often undocumented facts and quotes. Unfortunately, the book is very disorganized and repetitive, and reads like a tirade. His satire and cynical humor are of the negative, destructive type.
In Biskupek's Der Quotensachse, with the subtitle Vom unaufhaltsamen Aufstieg eines Staatsbürgers sächsischer Nationalität, connecting it with Bertolt Brecht's play Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui, Biskupek has turned Wedel's essayistic description of the Eastern German opportunist into an entertaining fictional autobiography. Biskupek's protagonist Mario Claudius Zwintzscher, as proud of his exotic-sounding name as of his Saxon dialect, tells the story of his life before and after reunification. Born just two weeks after the GDR's founding, Mario's life parallels GDR history, taking on exemplary significance. As his life twists and turns with the political climate, he comments upon events from the perspective of the average citizen trying to get along under complicated circumstances. Being a "typical" figure, it is easy for his fellow citizens to identify with his experiences. Due to Biskupek's thorough and intentionally humorous descriptions of Mario's life, it is not difficult for an outsider to understand culturally-determined aspects of the GDR.
One source of Biskupek's humor is his use of language. He takes full advantage of the German language's word-building and rhyming capabilities. Throughout the text, he also incorporates Saxon dialect expressions, displayed in italics to attract the reader's attention. These dialect references are so frequent that the book could serve as a linguistic dialect record. In an appendix, Biskupek even includes a "Liste fremdsprachiger Ausdrücke," including not only Saxon ones, but also a few Russian terms GDR citizens were encouraged to learn.
With his satire and irony, Biskupek counters the nostalgic GDR memories and plaintive reunification criticisms contained in many post-Wende texts. Instead of complaining about how difficult his life has been, Biskupek's protagonist Mario takes the opposite approach. On the first page Mario claims:
Es geht mir verdammt gut, und das ist nicht gut so. Normalerweise ist das Leben wie eine Verkehrsampel. Es leuchtet sehr lange rot und lange gelb und ziemlich kurz grün. Bei mir aber dauert die Grünphase schon viel zu lange, und das kann, das darf eigentlich nicht gutgehen. [. . . ] Ich komme aus einem gruseligen Staat und lebe in einem angesehenen Land. Ich wundere mich nur, warum das Programm des Niedergangs bei mir versagt.
A classical opportunist, Mario does whatever is necessary to achieve success in the GDR and in the Federal Republic after reunification. That includes giving a pro-GDR speech in 1965 after the "11. Plenum" denouncing critical authors such as Wolf Biermann and Manfred Bieler, and later appearing on West German talk shows as a "Quoten-Sachse" in the '90's. When he was growing up, he was forced to do such things as learning how to cut and file metal plates in a GDR factory during his secondary school vocational training and, during an official visit to Walter Ulbricht's house during the "Weltfestspiele" in 1973, he witnesses Walter Ulbricht's grotesque death after this former First Party Secretary had been kept alive for days by robotics, but despite these trials, he always manages to achieve success or at least come out looking good. Mario's exaggerated optimism, eternal success stories, and desire to be the best citizen possible in a reunified Germany are not to be taken literally, however, but rather as ironic masks this character uses to conceal the wounds he has suffered in the GDR and during reunification.
A further example of Mario's optimistic attitude can be seen in his way of dealing with history. He refuses to wallow in feelings of ressentiment toward Germany's pre-1945 and GDR past. Instead, he wipes himself clean from German collective feelings of failure and guilt about World Wars I and II, as well as from any inferiority complex regarding the GDR by viewing and describing the Saxons as a separate political and racial group than the Germans: "Im Ersten und im Zweiten Weltkrieg waren es dann die Deutschen, denen wir unser nationales Unglück zuzuschreiben hatten" (6). In distancing his Saxon protagonist from the "other" Germans, Biskupek also counters the negative stereotypes these Germans have conferred upon Saxons and displays this exaggerated Saxon patriotism as an ironic jab at those who would put the Saxons down.
Taking Mario's opportunism to the extreme, Biskupek has his character create a new secret police organization after reunification called the "Ausschuß zur Bekämpfung Unsolidarischen Verhaltens" to root out Eastern Germans who do not display patriotic behavior in the Federal Republic. The idea is ridiculous because of its contradictory nature: Mario wants to display his own patriotism and loyalty to his new country, the Federal Republic, and force other Eastern Germans to do the same, by resorting to GDR tactics. Mario does not only direct his activities toward others, however. Throughout the novel, he perpetually excuses himself to the reader for his conformist behavior in the GDR. Referring to his story as a "Gedächtnisprotokoll," Mario emphasizes his desire to confess the "truth" of this now unacceptable behavior. Calling his memoir a "Protokoll" also connects the text to Stasi protocols. This time Mario confesses his own guilt, however, to clear his conscience and assure the outside world of his loyalty to the Federal Republic of Germany.
Because of Mario's exaggerated opportunism and optimism, he lends himself to comparison with Klaus Uhltzscht from Thomas Brussig's Helden wie wir (1995), but with major differences. Whereas Uhlzscht is a character the reader laughs at and enjoys despising, the reader can also laugh along with Zwintzscher. While Brussig's satire condemns selfish, conformist East Germans who joined the Stasi, Biskupek supplies his character who resembles Wedels "OM" more than Brussigs "IM" with a naive, likeable side, and an intelligence and perceptiveness which the reader can respect. He is "nearly always both victim and perpetrator in one." Biskupeks satire is, therefore, of a more conciliatory nature.
I would like to provide a few possible reasons why satire has been used so frequently in post-reunification texts. Not only did the aforementioned authors write post-Wende satires, but others who did not publish satirical prose texts before the wall fell have since expressed themselves through this medium. Thomas Rosenlöcher's Die Wiederentdeckung des Gehens beim Wandern. Harzreise (1991), Bernd Schirmer's Schlehweins Giraffe (1992), and Jens Sparschuh's Der Zimmerspringbrunnen (1995) all deal with the Wendes effects satirically. Why did so many authors respond to reunification in this way? I would argue that satire is the ideal literary device to attack societal problems and to let off steam without appearing plaintive. In absorbing the GDR into the larger Federal Republic, the latter turned GDR citizens into a denigrated and disadvantaged Other. Being the economically and politically smaller and weaker of the two Germanies, the GDR was not able to assert itself during the reunification process. A person who uses humor or satire distances him/herself from the object of this humor. In difficult circumstances, humor also aids in bolstering morale.
Laughter can also be an act of liberation. Having lived under a repressive dictatorship all their lives, the fall of the wall provided GDR citizens the opportunity to release their pent-up emotions of anger, frustration, disappointment, and so forth, without fear of censorship. Wolfgang Ertl's 1993 discussion of Thomas Rosenlöcher's Harzreise supports this thesis. He refers to it as "ein trotz alledem befreiendes Lachen in schwerer Zeit." Satire theorist and literary historian Helmut Arntzens observation that satire is often used as a literary form in transitional times to weed out antiquated institutions and behaviors while ushering in the new also points in this direction. In releasing their emotions and criticizing society, artists and their public can speed up the process of coming to terms with past and present conditions.
A further reason is socio-historical. When two distinct cultures interact, their members are forced to become aware of cultural differences, some of which are bound to appear odd or comical. The stereotypes and cultural differences embedded in Eastern and Western German society, developed over the course of forty years, could not and would not dissolve instantaneously. These conspicuous contrasts lend themselves to humorous or satirical treatment.
Finally, literary historian Wolfgang Preisendanz describes a trend in post-WWII German literature to deal with the past using humorous means ("das Komische"). He argues that literary versions of historical events often appear humorous simply because they provide details of everyday life not normally included in official historical records. In striving to write objective chronicles of the past, historians focus upon broad socio-political movements, creating an abstract, one-sided view. Literary texts can fill in the gaps left by scholarly historical accounts by depicting details historians have rejected. One can thus conclude that any detailed literary presentation of an historical event may appear "komisch" in the eyes of readers used to learning about history from history books and the media.
Wedels and Biskupeks post-1989 texts stand at the end of a long line of satirical texts created in the GDR, but they also demonstrate a major break with this tradition. Since reunification, the authors topics and, to some degree, their writing styles have changed. Before 1989, Wedels prose texts focused on satire theory and analyses of GDR texts and cabaret productions. After reunification, he has turned toward open political criticism in his prose satires, not restricting these political criticisms to cabaret. Since 1989, he has written three prose satires and a kitschy short story series to accompany an ostalgic picture-book of GDR identification cards called Ihre Dokumente, bitte! Geschichten von tausendundeinem Ausweis (1997). Since Der Quotensachse, Biskupek has published numerous works, including a crime story spoof which takes place at a castle reserved for artists and writers entitled Schloß Zockendorf (1999) and a collection of satirical essays called Die geborene Heimat (1999). In their works, both Wedel and Biskupek now openly name all the politicians and public figures whom they wish to hold up to scrutiny. They also directly criticize and mock the GDR state, the socialist system, and the Socialist Unity Party (SED). This directness represents a radical change from GDR times where authors were generally forced to use abstract means of criticism such as parables or symbolic characters. Scatological elements and, in Wedels case, profanities, also appear more frequently. In my opinion, the quality of Wedels books has diminished since reunification, while Biskupeks has improved. Compared with his earlier short stories, Der Quotensachse shows more character development, more depth, and a freer style.
In the interview I conducted with Matthias Biskupek last June, I asked him what the differences are between writing satire in the GDR and after reunification, and he said that in the GDR authors were supposed to say as little as possible and still change everything in society, whereas now they can say anything they want, but they will not change a thing. I also asked him if he saw his work as an alternative to the media, and he replied:
Mir scheint es, daß es immer mehr zu einer Alternative wird. Nach 1989 schien mir die Betrachtung oft gerechter. Inzwischen [. . .] wird versucht, alles was in der DDR gemacht wurde, von einem ganz besonderen politischen, dogmatischen Winkel zu sehen. Da sage ich mir plötzlich, die DDR war größer, dieses Land war weiter und interessanter, als wie es jetzt dargestellt wird. Das habe ich früher nicht so gesehen. Erst in den letzten zwei, drei Jahren scheint es mir so, daß der Zweite Weltkrieg, oder was auch immer, immer einengender und, wenn Du so willst, restaurativer gesehen wird. Vorher hätte ich meine Werke nicht als so eine Alternative gesehen, höchstens eine humoristische Variante, aber nie als eine Alternative. Aber jetzt scheint es mir immer mehr so. Nicht nur meine Arbeit aber, sondern auch die meiner anderen Kollegen . . .
In sum, Biskupek's and Wedel's satires both contribute to a deeper understanding of circumstances in Eastern Germany before and in the ten years since reunification.
 This paper was excerpted from the author's dissertation-in-progress entitled Humor and Satire in Post-Reunification Eastern German Prose.
 Although I discovered this trend independently, it has been documented by Walfried Hartinger ("Texte nach der Wende: Versuch eines Überblicks," Berliner LeseZeichen 6+7(1995): 55-65) and Christine Cosentino ("Scherz, Satire und Ironie in der ostdeutschen Literatur der neunziger Jahre," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 10(1998): 467-487).
 Although literary critics consider Gute Genossen to be a satirical novel, Loest himself says he did not intend it to be satire, but rather a naturalistic description (Erich Loest, "Lesung Gute Genossen . . . und andere Geschichten aus dem 50jährigen Gesamtdeutschland," Haus der Geschichte, Bonn, October 22, 1999).
 Matthias Biskupek and Mathias Wedel, Streitfall Satire (Halle and Leipzig: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1988).
 Both authors continue to write cabaret texts for several cabaret theaters throughout the new federal states. Wedel collected his post revolution satirical essays in Nicht mit Kohl auf eine Zelle! Pamphlete aus jüngerer deutscher Gegenwart (Berlin: Dietz, 1993). Biskupek published a collection of his post-reunification articles in Das Fremdgehverkehrsamt und andere satirische Feuilletons (Greiz: Verlag Weisser Stein, 1992).
 Random House Webster's College Dictionary defines polemic as "a controversial argument, as one against some opinion, doctrine, etc." (New York: Random House, 1991).
 Metzler's Literatur Lexikon defines satire as "eine Kunstform, in der sich der an einer Norm orientierte Spott über Erscheinungen der Wirklichkeit nicht direkt, sondern indirekt, durch die ästhetische Nachahmung ebendieser Wirklichkeit ausdrückt" (Günther and Irmgard Schweikle, eds., 2nd revised edition, Stuttgart: J. B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1990). Satire can be used as a literary mode within a text or constitute a distinct genre. Biskupek's Der Quotensachse is a satirical novel, i.e. it belongs to the satirical genre, whereas Wedel's Einheitsfrust is a polemic essay which uses satire as one of its many modes of argument.
 Henryk M. Broder, Erbarmen mit den Deutschen (Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1993).
 Broder 52.
 Here I mean the literary type which Metzler's Literatur Lexikon defines as a "Gestalt ohne individuelle Prägung, vielmehr Verabsolutierung einer für bestimmte Stände, Berufe oder Altersstufen charakteristische Eigenschaft; in karikierender Überzeichnung (mit feststehenden Funktionen) konstituierend für die Typenkomödie" (Ibid.).
 This simile comparing life to a traffic light demonstrates Mario's distorted view of reality. Most traffic lights do not function this way.
 In the "11. Plenum," the "Zentralkomitee der Sozialistischen Einheitspartei" harshly chastised authors and artists who deviated from the Socialist Realist path which had been dictated to them by the government in the early 1950's, i.e. those who had begun experimenting with new art forms or who had openly criticized the GDR system. All artworks were supposed to serve a concrete function in helping to build up socialism by educating and enlightening GDR citizens as to their societal roles.
 Hans Robert Jauss discusses the different types of laughter directed toward the comic hero, distinguishing between "lachen mit" and "lachen über" in his contribution "Über den Grund des Vergnügens am komischen Helden," in Das Komische, ed. Wolfgang Preisendanz and Rainer Warning (München: Wilhelm Fink, 1976) 109.
 Frank Quilitzsch, Wie im Westen so auf Erden: Gespräche mit Schriftstellern und Liedermachern, Dichtern und Theaterleuten, Rocksängern und Pastoren 1991-1997 (München: P. Kirchheim, 1998) 191.
 My arguments here, and the following theoretical arguments for the proliferation of satirical texts following German reunification, will be appearing in slightly altered form in an article entitled "Ko . . .Ko . . . Konolialismus," said the giraffe: Humorous and Satirical Responses to German Reunification" in an anthology entitled Textual Responses to German Unification, edited by Kristie Foell, Rachel J. Halverson, and Carol Anne Constabile-Heming.
 Wolfgang Ertl, "'Denn die Mühen der Ebene lagen hinter uns und vor uns die Mühen der Berge': Thomas Rosenlöchers diaristische Prosa zum Ende der DDR," Literatur und politische Aktualität, ed. Elrud Ibsch and Ferdinand von Ingen (Amsterdam und Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1993) 37.
 Arntzen, Helmut, Satire in der deutschen Literatur:Geschichte und Theorie (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1989) 44-45.
 Wolfgang Preisendanz, "Zum Vorrang des Komischen bei der Darstellung von Geschichtserfahrung in deutschen Romanen unserer Zeit," Das Komische, ed. Wolfgang Preisendanz and Rainer Warning (München: Wilhelm Fink, 1976) 153-164.
 Jill Twark, "Ein Gespräch mit Matthias Biskupek über Satireschreiben vor und nach der Wende," GDR Bulletin 1 (2000) : 50.
 GDR Bulletin 1 (2000): 52.
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