The subject Myth and Socialism is so enormous that it would be sufficient to occupy several universities. So what can you expect from me? No more and no less than the experience of forty-six years under existing socialism, an experience embodied by the German Democratic Republic as the second German state in the years 1949-1989.
I was born in the Erzgebirge mountain region in 1944. My grandfather was a coal miner, my father a fitter and my mother a shop assistant, later a housewife. I received my general education at the ten-year school down the road. I went on to learn the trade of a turner, and I was still an apprentice when my instructor convinced me that, as a youngster from a working-class background, my place was in the Party of the fledgling workers' and peasants' state. So I became a candidate member and later a fully fledged member of the SED. After completing my apprenticeship I studied German and history at the teacher-training college in Leipzig. Having worked for two years as a teacher, I applied for a job with GDR television, where I was taken on as a freelance production and drama assistant. This led to my studies at the College of Film in Potsdam-Babelsberg, from which I graduated with a degree in directing and dramatic art.
Between 1972 and 1990 I worked as an editor, journalist and screen- play writer in what was then the GDR, and since January 1, 1991, I have been a freelance writer in the new larger Germany extending from the Rhine to the Oder.
Socialism as practiced at least in Europe has apparently come to an end. But a more profound inquiry into the reasons for its inability to reform and its sudden collapse seems to be only just beginning. We are, after all, living in the midst of the greatest upheaval in German and European history since 1945 and world history since 1917. Millions of people throughout the world believed in existing, and not just theoretical, socialism. They were guided by the idea that it would endure eternally