Arnold A. Schölzel
* 1947 IN BREMEN
THE GDR AS POLITICAL IDEAL
After finishing his A levels, Arnold Schölzel, by now a member of the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, or Social Democratic Party of Germany), wants to go to university and become a journalist. However, for financial reasons he joins the German Armed Forces, the Bundeswehr. He is displeased by what he perceives to be the increasing militarisation of West Germany and the raw and nationalistic tone in the Bundeswehr. The formation of the so-called “grand coalition” between the two big political parties, the SPD and the CDU (Christlich-Demokratische Union, or Christian Democratic Union) is the last straw: Schölzel deserts from the army and migrates to the GDR in 1967, on the anniversary of the building of the wall.
After two months in reception centres in Pritzier and Berlin-Blankenfelde, Schölzel receives GDR citizenship. Initially he finds employment as an unskilled worker in Leipzig. Because his West German qualification for university entrance isn’t accepted, he repeats his A levels in the GDR. Schölzel is prohibited from becoming a journalist but is admitted as a philosophy student at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He graduates in 1974 with the equivalent of a Masters degree and completes his doctorate in 1982. He works at the university as an academic researcher and lecturer in the field of History of Philosophy until 1994, when he is dismissed as a result of his activity as an unofficial collaborator (Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter, or IM) for the Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, also known as the Stasi).
My solidarity with the GDR was very strong, very pronounced, very large. (...) My relationship to the Stasi was based on my firm support of the GDR.
From the moment of his recruitment in 1971 until the end of the GDR, Schölzel reports to the Stasi on his friends and colleagues. He does this diligently and with complete political conviction. He becomes features editor of the Berlin daily newspaper Junge Welt in 1997 and is appointed editor-in-chief three years later. He retires in August 2016.
A CONVINCED IM TO THIS DAY
In May 1975, philosophy students at Humboldt University in Berlin form a clandestine group. Their goal is to reform so-called real socialism from scratch in order to democratise the GDR. In addition to Klaus Wolfram, the head of the group, membership includes Sebastian Kleinschmidt, Dieter Krause, Jan Lautenbach, Wolfgang Nitsche and Wolfgang Templin. The Stasi assigns Arnold Schölzel to infiltrate and monitor the group. As IM “André Holzer,” he writes over 1,000 meticulous reports for “Operation Circle.” The group is dismantled in 1977 because the Stasi fear that their plans will become known in West Germany. Several group members lose their jobs or are banned from working in their professions. In 2006, the filmmaker Inga Wolfram, who was married to Klaus Wolfram in the 70s, interviews Schölzel. “Arnold,” she asks him, “why did you betray us?” His answer: “You all have betrayed 17 million people!”