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16.11.1976: Wolf Biermann expatriated
The small moustached man with his guitar was on stage for the first time in twelve years. In 1965, Biermann, a critical communist poet and singer-songwriter, has been banned from performing, publishing and traveling outside of East Germany. But the ban had not silenced him; rather it had turned Biermann into a symbol of non-conformity for all Germans.

The host of Biermann’s six-city tour in the Federal Republic, IG Metall, had mixed feelings about the concerts. The GDR authorities had surprisingly issued him with an exit visa, which prompted IG Metall to ask whether they would ever let him back in. Two years previously Ulbricht had offered Biermann a one-way visa out of the GDR.

Biermann had refused the offer. He had denounced western capitalism but did not want to leave the GDR. He wanted to stay there and change it.

But the SED had other plans and on 16th November the state news agency announced that “the relevant GDR authorities have withdrawn the right for Wolf Biermann, who moved from Hamburg to the GDR in 1953, to further residence in the German Democratic Republic. The decision was taken based on the citizenship laws of the 20 February 1967 in which citizen can be denied residency because of the ‘gross violation of the citizens loyalties’. With his hostile stance against the German Democratic Republic he has effectively pulled the rug from under his feet as far as granting him further GDR citizenship is concerned.”

The SED had reckoned with protests at Biermann’s expatriation, although they had not expected twelve of the GDR’s most famous writers including Stefan Hermlin, Guenter Kunert, Christa Wolf, Stefan Heym and Heiner Mueller to demand that the GDR leadership revoke their decision.

Despite the protests Biermann was forced to remain in exile, only able to return 13 years later when the Berlin Wall fell.
   
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