5 days in June - 5 Tage im Juni

5 days in June is a novel by the German writer Stefan Heym . It is one of his most famous works, since Heym deals with the workers' uprising of 1953 in the German Democratic Republic . This event was the first and decisive in his conflict with the situation in the GDR. [1] The novel was first published in 1974 in the West German Bertelsmann publishing house . It was not until 15 years later, in the "Wende" year 1989 , that the book publisher Der Morgen published it in the GDR .

The novel belongs to the genre of the contemporary novel , since Stefan Heym reconstructs the workers' uprising of 1953 using actual documents and quotations and embeds it in a fictional plot. With this work he wants to provide a look at the contradictions in the socialist system of the GDR, from his point of view.

The focus of the action is the protagonist Martin Witte and his work place the Volkseigene Betrieb (VEB) Merkur. Witte works as chairman of the company union management (BGL) in VEB Merkur and sets a chain of events in motion with his doubts about the standard increases planned by the government. These lead to the resignation and strike of the workers in the VEB Merkur. But the dissatisfaction of other companies with the new increases in standards also influences what is happening around Witte and his fellow men.

content

Martin Witte and the party secretary Banggartz are discussing the increase in the standard of 10 percent, which was decided by the GDR Council of Ministers. Witte expresses his concerns about these measures and is reprimanded by Banggartz. At the summer festival of VEB Merkur, the first consequences of Witte's doubts become apparent - instead of him, Banggartz gives the speech for the workers. There are initial doubts and rejection of the announced increase in standards among the workers. Later that night, the drunken comrade Kallmann, a worker from VEB Merkur, visits Witte in his room, where he sublet with Frau Hofer and her daughter-in-law Anna. He accuses him of the fact that the workers are being exploited by the measure and wants to know from him which side he, the unionist, is on.

The next day, Witte meets Anna, whose husband has returned from the west. Since she wants to run away and cannot find a place to sleep, he places her with Greta Dahlewitz, a friend of Witte and a worker in his company. A little later, Witte was suspended from his work or on leave of absence because of his attitude towards increasing standards, as he posed a potential danger to the company. Meanwhile, the situation in the company is getting worse. There is a beating attack on party secretary Banggartz in the canteen, which can be interrupted by the worker Kallmann.

After his leave of absence, Witte is interrogated by the State Security, among others, because he wanted to warn the management of the impending strike and now his role in this event should be clarified.

In the company, the mood among the workforce is becoming increasingly negative and first thoughts on organizing a strike are making their way. As the leader of this uprising and the later delegation that is sent to the leadership, Kallmann is chosen because he is non-party and thus neutral or impartial.

The following day, Witte goes back to the company and arranges a meeting for all departmental union leaders to talk about the escalating situation in the company. Witte believes that the union must prevent the break between workers and the party. This meeting is interrupted by a delegation of workers who demand the withdrawal of the increase in standards and threatens to strike. Witte promises to go to the ministry, since only there the withdrawal of the measures can be arranged. In return, as a vote of confidence, he demands that the workers go back to their work.

On the way to the ministry, Witte is stopped by a demonstration by construction workers who are also calling for the increase in standards to be abolished. Due to this demonstration, the government is forced to withdraw the increase in standards. However, shortly beforehand, VEB Merkur insisted on the necessity of this measure. In order to avoid riots, Witte and his colleagues decide to leave an on-call service in the company and go to the party active conference (PAT) to talk about the situation in East Berlin. On this, the seriousness of the situation is misunderstood and Witte and his colleagues have to take care of this matter themselves in the company. The workers can now no longer be stopped and express their dissatisfaction with the entire GDR regime. The withdrawal of the increase in norms cannot calm the minds either. The workers stop working and pour out of the factory onto the streets. The demonstrators, which other companies have now joined, are attacked and stopped by the Russian military. A year later, Witte, who is now married to Anna and has a son with her, is asked by the new party secretary to approve a party resolution. Otherwise he would have to give up his job and go back to the party school. In order to avoid party proceedings, Witte finally gives in. A year later, Witte, who is now married to Anna and has a son with her, is asked by the new party secretary to approve a party resolution. Otherwise he would have to give up his job and go back to the party school. In order to avoid party proceedings, Witte finally gives in. A year later, Witte, who is now married to Anna and has a son with her, is asked by the new party secretary to approve a party resolution. Otherwise he would have to give up his job and go back to the party school. In order to avoid party proceedings, Witte finally gives in.

Form

5 days in June is a novel consisting of a chronological sequence of events and contemporary documents. The plot is divided into three chapters - foreplay, events and aftermath. In addition to the discussion between BGL chairman Witte and party secretary Banggartz on June 13 at 2 p.m., the prelude contains the resolution of the GDR Council of Ministers on the increase in standards on May 28 and two communiqués on the motives for this measure (June 9 and June 11th). In this way, the reader is attuned to the upcoming main story and receives initial information that is relevant. The main part of the plot ('Events') spans the period June 13-17, 1953.

In addition to the date, the individual action segments are always provided with the time and are therefore similar to hourly minutes. These are interrupted by contemporary documents on the planned increase in standards or by resolutions relating to the excesses that occur as a result of this measure. In addition to political documents, excerpts from radio broadcasts that reported on the workers' uprising or newspaper articles are inserted in support of the action. This work is based on a three-thousand-page collection of material and "[...] is one of the most thoroughly researched novels by the author." [2]

Because of this, the work resembles a factual novel , as Stefan Heym refers to a real event in the past. However, since the plot around Witte and the VEB Merkur is fictional, these facts are only used as a basis and for support. He embeds the historical sequence in the fictional plot. [3] The sequel is about a conversation between Witte and the new party secretary, Sonneberg, exactly one year after the workers' uprising of 1953.

Due to the mixture of contemporary documents and fictional events, the language is different depending on the text. The date and time of each protocol is also the beginning of the first sentence. In this way, the narrator appears as an authoritative narrator who himself is not involved in the action. He describes the event as an outsider, who is, however, omniscient and can therefore offer the reader an overview of the thoughts and feelings of the individual characters. The narrator, who is also the author of this work, in this case Stefan Heym, addresses the reader neither directly nor indirectly, but only describes what happened.

Stefan Heym added a special feature to his narrative style. When Gudrun Kasischke, alias Goodie Cass, who works as a stripper in West Germany and is Fred Gadebusch's lover, appears, Stefan Heym's writing style changes. Your thoughts, which are presented as an inner monologue that starts over and over again , are divided into individual phases, which always refer to an object, a person or a situation. These monologues are written in continuous text that contains neither periods nor commas, thus showing the reader Gudrun K.'s rapid flow of thoughts. [4]

reception

Reception upon arrival

Stefan Heym moved to East Berlin in 1952 and shortly afterwards witnessed the workers' uprising of 1953. At first he stood up against the workers himself and stood up for the government. This gave rise to the idea of ​​writing a manuscript. This had the working title 'Der Tag X' and was rejected by all publishers in the GDR, although this first version was based on a predominantly negative attitude towards the West. In the revised version, which was finally published under the title 5 days in June, Heym criticizes the contradictions in the system of the GDR. [5]The protagonist Martin Witte is also contradictory in his actions: he is against the increase in standards, but still wants to protect the interests of the company and ensure that work continues. Reinhard Zachau wrote about Stefan Heym and his works in 1982 in his author's book, clearly expressing that this book is a lack of analysis and concise answers and does not provide any overview for the West reader. Furthermore, the content "[...] offers neither a documentary representation nor an honest discussion of the events." [6]

Finally, the novel was published 5 days in June by Stefan Heym 20 years after the workers' uprising of 1953 in West Germany by Bertelsmann-Verlag in Munich. The media agreed: regardless of whether this book was good or bad, you had to read this book just because of the subject and Heym's past (born in the East and fleeing Germany). In this case, the history of its origins and publication was more interesting for all readers than the book itself. [7]

Due to the overpriced hardcover edition and the great demand, a pirated copy was even published in 1975. Since publication in the GDR was prevented by a ban, media interest increased even further. [8] In order to further promote his book, Stefan Heym undertook a reading tour through the FRG and was considered the best writer in the GDR, although he was not recognized in his homeland. [9]

The publication of his works in the GDR, also for 5 days in June , was always associated with political struggle. After he settled in East Berlin in 1952, he had to defend himself against censorship and fight for contract licenses and visas for lecture tours. In addition to his work 5 days in June , Schwarzenberg and Colin were withheld from the readers of the GDR and only published by the East German government towards the end of the GDR. [10]

Impact history

Stefan Heym's work 5 Days in June is an important part of the history process alongside his other works. He himself says: “Literature is nothing more than a designed history of the time in which the author was born, the experiences he had during this time, the experiences he made, the conditions he saw [...]. " [11]

The fact that the book was first published 13 years apart in the FRG and then in the GDR makes it an interesting milestone in the history of a divided Germany. All the receptions that arose as a result show the relationship between East and West Germany that existed at the time and the partially prevailing conditions in the socialist system of the GDR. Due to the great demand it was translated into English and published as early as 1976/77, even before it could be published and read in the eastern part of Germany. [12]

literature

Text output

  • Stefan Heym: 5 days in June. Bertelsmann Verlag, Munich 1974, 1st edition, ISBN 3-442-72355-8 .
  • Stefan Heym: 5 days in June. Buchverlag der Morgen, Berlin (GDR) 1989, 1st edition, ISBN 978-3-371-00244-6 .
  • Stefan Heym: 5 days in June. Bertelsmann Verlag, Munich 1974, 2nd edition from September 2005, ISBN 978-3-442-733-56-9 .

Secondary literature

  • Wolfgang Emmerich, Bernd Leistner (ed.): Literary Chemnitz. Authors - works - tendencies. Verlag Heimatland Sachsen, Chemnitz 2008, ISBN 978-3-910186-68-2 , pp. 71-76.
  • Herbert Krämer: A Thirty Years War Against a Book. On the publication and reception history of Stefan Heym's novel on June 17, 1953. Stauffenberg Verlag, Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-86057-069-2 .
  • Reinhard K. Zachau: Stefan Heym. Author books. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-406-08420-6 , pp. 81-90.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Reinhard K. Zachau: Stefan Heym. Author books. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-406-08420-6 , p. 81.
  2. ^ Reinhard K. Zachau: Stefan Heym. Author books. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-406-08420-6 , p. 83.
  3. ^ Reinhard K. Zachau: Stefan Heym. Author books. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-406-08420-6 , p. 84.
  4. Stefan Heym: 5 days in June. C. Bertelsmann Verlag, Munich 1974, ISBN 3-442-72355-8 , p. 43 ff.
  5. ^ Reinhard K. Zachau: Stefan Heym. Author books. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-406-08420-6 , p. 87.
  6. ^ Reinhard K. Zachau: Stefan Heym. Author books. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-406-08420-6 , p. 89 f.
  7. Herbert Krämer: A Thirty Years War Against a Book. On the publication and reception history of Stefan Heym's novel on June 17, 1953. Stauffenberg Verlag, Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-86057-069-2 , p. 161 f.
  8. Herbert Krämer: A Thirty Years War Against a Book. On the publication and reception history of Stefan Heym's novel on June 17, 1953. Stauffenberg Verlag, Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-86057-069-2 , p. 162.
  9. Herbert Krämer: A Thirty Years War Against a Book. On the publication and reception history of Stefan Heym's novel on June 17, 1953. Stauffenberg Verlag, Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-86057-069-2 , p. 164.
  10. ^ Wolfgang Emmerich, Bernd Leistner: Literary Chemnitz. Authors - works - tendencies. Verlag Heimatland Sachsen, Chemnitz 2008, ISBN 978-3-910186-68-2 , p. 74.
  11. ^ Wolfgang Emmerich, Bernd Leistner: Literary Chemnitz. Authors - works - tendencies. Verlag Heimatland Sachsen, Chemnitz 2008, ISBN 978-3-910186-68-2 , p. 75.
  12. ^ Wolfgang Emmerich, Bernd Leistner: Literary Chemnitz. Authors - works - tendencies. Verlag Heimatland Sachsen, Chemnitz 2008, ISBN 978-3-910186-68-2 , p. 167.