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Parallel Paths, Opposite Destinies

Mueller (second from left) with literary colleagues in 1985. Her informer moved in the same circles.
Mueller (second from left) with literary colleagues in 1985. Her informer moved in the same circles.
Shortly after Romanian-born German writer Herta Mueller was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in October, documents came to light showing she had been closely monitored by Romania’s infamous political police -- the Securitate. The documents from the Securitate archives also revealed the code name of her most avid informer -- Voicu -- and the real name of his Securitate handler -- Lt. Col. Paduraru.

At the time, I found it quite ironic that the informer’s code name was Voicu -- an ancient grassroots Romanian name -- while his style and spelling mistakes betrayed him as being an ethnic German like Herta Mueller. However, the informer’s identity was not known at the time.

But my initial assumption has proved correct. In a program broadcast on January 12, German public television ARD revealed the informer’s identity as Franz Schleich, an ethnic German writer and journalist who belonged to the same circles as Mueller in Communist-era Timisoara. German TV cited a graphology test that established that the handwriting on Voicu’s notes to the Securitate is identical with Schleich’s handwritten dedications on some of his books of poetry.

Ironically, Mueller and Schleich, both ethnic German writers from Romania, had nearly identical trajectories for a while. Both emigrated to West Germany -- Schleich in 1983 (his fast-track emigration might have been connected with services he rendered to the Securitate) and Mueller in 1987. Once in Germany, both continued to write about communist-era Romania.

But while their paths were similar, their destinies were not. Once in Germany, Mueller remained true to her moral stance and never made compromises in revealing the true nature of communism.

Schleich claimed to be a victim of communism, and returned to Timisoara as a visitor in 1985 and 1986. According to documents, he again met with his Securitate handler, Lt. Col. Paduraru, and was given new tasks. Paduraru later said Schleich completed those assignments with the same zeal as when he was living in Romania.

In light of these revelations, Schleich’s claim that he had been a victim of communism seems profoundly disingenuous. However, he was indeed a victim of communism, without even realizing it.

His mind had been so spoilt by the regime’s poisoned ways that he never found redemption. Although he moved to the coveted West, he had to sell his soul for a German passport. And his soul stayed back at the Securitate headquarters in Timisoara.

-- Eugen Tomiuc

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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