In the late GDR he was active in the opposition, later he was involved in coming to terms with the SED dictatorship. Now Lutz Rathenow is appearing again as an author – with a new book.

After his time as SED processing officer in Saxony, the former civil rights activist Lutz Rathenow has returned to his true calling: he is writing and preparing for the publication of his new book in the fall.

“A year after the end of my state commissioner, this should be my exit from the complex of mere political processing,” explained the 69-year-old to the German Press Agency. “Only art, film and literature are capable of bringing impulses from the past into society as illumination of the present.”

The writer, who was born in Jena, was active in the opposition in the GDR and was arrested several times. During the peaceful revolution in autumn 1989 he was part of the protest movement. From 2011 to 2021 he worked as the Saxon state commissioner for dealing with the SED dictatorship. His book “Smiling defiantly and caressing the universe – My life in stories” will be published in autumn on September 22nd for his 70th birthday. It contains stories, reports and fragments, including the story of a screenwriter who ponders a contract killing in Dresden.

Rathenow calls the book the “beginning of a lengthy literary verification process based on diaries and finds in his own archive”. It is about “play and seriousness, cheeky children’s stories and very adult prose, fantasy and detailed sobriety, love stories and grotesques of selected lovelessness”. The book is thus also an “ironically self-critical balance sheet after 10 years in Dresden”.