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Catherine Karen Roy

University of British Columbia

Self-Censorship in File-Based Autobiographies of the Wende


  • Ph.D. candidate in Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies at the University of British Columbia since 2006.
  • M.A at the University of Toronto
  • B.A. at McGill University
  • Areas of specialization: surveillance societies, files, autobiography theory, file-based autobiographies, GDR literature



Both Vera Wollenberger’s Virus der Heuchler: Innenansicht aus Stasi-Akten and Vera Lengsfeld’s Von nun an ging’s bergauf… Mein Weg zur Freiheit are actually penned by the same autobiographer. Although they are presented as two distinct autobiographies and not as subsequent editions of the same life story, I argue that her more recent autobiography offers an edited version of her initial file-based autobiography. In fact, several passages are identical in both versions. Through self-editing Lengsfeld has become a writing subject as opposed to a written subject. This reversal of titles forms part of her Vergangenheitsbewältigung, her working through the past. However, the file-based autobiographical writing alone was not sufficient to overcome her past. Evidence of self-censorship in her second autobiography show that it is only in this second version that she successfully worked through her past. In this study, I analyze the differences in her opening and closing passages and I establish a relation between these proofs of self-censorship and her successful working through the past.

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Central, Eastern, and Northern European Studies
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