Difficulties with the truth

Walter Janka

Difficulties with the truth

Albrecht Goette reads Walter Janka
17:00 - 20:30


Albrecht Goette reads: Difficulties with the Truth


In 1989, shortly before the fall of the Wall, Walter Janka's memoirs "Schwierigkeiten mit der Wahrheit" (Difficulties with the Truth) about his time in a GDR prison were published. Published by Rowohlt-Verlag in West Germany, they quickly spread throughout the GDR and were also published by Aufbau-Verlag a year later. What happens when the authorities deliberately do not want to understand the subject and, what's more, muzzle him, is what the communist Janka wrote down in this essay that has become famous. Actor Albrecht Goette remembers this time well and reads from the work.

Walter Janka, born in Chemnitz in 1914, was a trained typesetter. In 1936 he went to Spain to fight against Franco. In 1939 he fled via France to Mexico, where he managed the publishing house "El Libro Libre", founded in 1942, for which Anna Seghers also worked. He returned to Germany in 1947, became deputy managing director of Aufbau Verlag in East Berlin in 195O, and later became its director. In 1957, Walter Janka was sentenced in a show trial to five years in prison for alleged counterrevolutionary activities, which he served in Berlin-Lichtenberg, then in Bautzen, where he had already been imprisoned during the Nazi era. International protests led to his early release in 1960. Walter Janka died in Kleinmachnow in 1994.

Following the reading, the film "Give up or start again - Walter Janka" by Karlheinz Mund & Klaus Wischnewski will be shown.

In the film, which is both emotional and researched in detail, Walter Janka and his wife Charlotte talk about Janka's time in prison. The communist was imprisoned several times, twice in Bautzen in the GDR and once under Nazi rule. Janka, who had risked his life as a commander in the Spanish Interbrigades for the fight against fascism, remained a communist despite Stalinist persecution. He knew Thomas Mann and Lion Feuchtwanger well because he had already been their publisher in Mexico during the war. For the Aufbau-Verlag in East Berlin, which he managed after the war, he again negotiated with the greats of the literary world. After his imprisonment through no fault of his own, he nevertheless put his connections at the service of DEFA; among other things, Konrad Wolf owes Janka the rights to the material for "Goya". On 28 October 1989, Janka's book "Schwierigkeiten mit der Wahrheit" (Difficulties with the Truth) became a sensation.

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