Transnational Dimensions of a ‘German Case’: The Expatriation of Wolf Biermann and the Politics of Solidarity in the 1970s

Author: Daniel Laqua
This is the abstract of an article published in Labour History Review (2021), 86, (3), 369-396. Find out more.

In November 1976, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) announced the expatriation of the dissident singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann, preventing his return from a concert tour in West Germany. This step attracted widespread press coverage and sparked a substantial expression of solidarity by East German intellectuals. This article proposes an alternative perspective on this well-known episode in German history by highlighting its transnational dimensions and its international contexts. Biermann’s work interacted with broader cultural currents of the period, while his political engagement with events in Chile and Spain testified to the importance of transnational solidarity for left-wing mobilizations. Moreover, the article points to two important international factors that are crucial for understanding the events of 1976: the role of Eurocommunism within left-wing debate on the one hand, and the resonance of human rights discourse during the 1970s on the other.

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