Erich Loest Archive
The archive contains the literary estate of GDR writer Erich Loest. In 1957 he was sentenced to seven years for "counter-revolutionary group formation". After his release, he wrote crime novels and light fiction under a pseudonym. Soon after he was classified as a "negative and hostile" author by the State Security. Loest was completely politically rehabilitated only in 1990. The estate is managed by the Leipziger Land Cultural and Environmental Foundation. The archive contains personal items, manuscripts, notes, the writer's correspondence and Stasi files.
Leipzig Menckestraße 27, Germany 04155
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Provenance and cultural activities
At first, the writer Erich Loest saw the GDR in a positive light and was also a member of the SED. However, the suppression of the revolt in June 17, 1953, disillusioned him and he started criticizing the regime. This led to conviction and imprisonment from 1957 to 1964, after which he was only able to publish under pseudonyms.
Between 1965 and 1975, a prolific publishing period ensued in which Loest published many novels and short stories under different pseudonyms, (see the list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Loest).
Eric Loest's situation improved in the 1970s, but when he protested the forced expatriation of songwriter Wolf Biermann in 1976, he again suffered reprisal. For example, the second printing of one of his novels was stopped. Eventually, Loest applied to emigrate, and was granted the right in 1981. He continued fighting East German cultural policies and censorship from West Germany.
Erich Loest was a representative of German realist literature of the second half of the twentieth century. His novels and short stories draw upon legends of his Saxon homeland. From the 1980s his central topics were the German division and reunification as well as the history of the city of Leipzig.
His depiction of the autumn of 1989 in his novel "Nikolai Church", also adapted into a film, heavily influenced today’s image of the peaceful revolution in the GDR. From 1994 to 1997, Loest was president of the German writers' union. In 1998, he again returned to Leipzig and became a member of the Saxon Academy of Arts, a member of the German PEN Club, and a member of the Else Lasker Schüler Society.
Loest received countless awards including the Grand Cross of Merit of Germany (1999) and the German National Prize (2009). He committed suicide in 2013.
The archive documents Loest's experience with imprisonment, censorship, and increasing personal isolation in GDR cultural politics. In his political stance, Loest could be described as an "Old School Social Democrat", the opinion of Stephan Seeger, director of the foundations of Sparkasse Leipzig. Seeger’s personal acquaintance with Loest was the reason why the author gifted his legacy to the Leipziger Land Cultural and Environmental Foundation. He handed them over in several batches, in boxes, once he had finished looking through the contents. They would have certainly also fit in the Marbach Literary Archive or the Berlin Academy of Arts, but Loest wanted "the things to stay in Leipzig". He saw himself as a Leipzig writer: "If someone will look after me as a writer it should be here."
Description of content
Erich Loest's literary estate is an integrated collection. It holds manuscripts of his novels, personal notes, private letters, his official correspondence with publishers and ministers, and copies of his Stasi files as well as newspaper articles, letters to the editor, and invitations. Moreover, it contains much of the material for his novels. His work library with his autograph collection and furniture from his flat can also be viewed. The archive also incorporates countless objects including scarves from football clubs Loest supported. Among the curios is a stamp collection that was started by Loest's father and is considered to be one of the biggest in Saxony.
- graphics: 10-99
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- paintings: 10-99
- photos: 500-999
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 500-999
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
- visits by appointments
Author(s) of this page
- Sonnenberg, Uwe
Trillhaase, Gabriele , interview by Sonnenberg, Uwe, October 27, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Seeger, Stephan , interview by Sonnenberg, Uwe, October 27, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Last edited on: 2020-02-26 14:06:02