Rainer Schedlinski

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Rainer Schedlinski (Berlin, 1989)

Rainer Schedlinski (* 11 November 1956 in Magdeburg; † 6 September 2019 in Berlin) was a German poet and essayist. In the GDR in the 1980s he was one of the leading authors of the oppositional literary scene and was an unofficial collaborator in the Ministry of State Security during this time.


Schedlinski grew up in Schleibnitz near Magdeburg as the son of a LPG chairman. His mother worked as a financial accountant. He completed an apprenticeship as a business administrator from 1974 to 1976 and began a technical college course in plant breeding, which he dropped out of in 1977.

Schedlinski worked, among other things, as a stoker, janitor, and finally, at the end of the 1970s, as an instructor and cultural-political employee of the Magdeburg district film directorate. At the same time, he came into contact with Magdeburg’s alternative literary scene, especially Dietrich Bahß, and began publishing poetry in illegal underground papers. In 1981/82 he completed his military service, but was discharged early for health reasons.

In April 1983 Schedlinski moved to Berlin, where there was a well-organized group within the alternative GDR artist scene in Prenzlauer Berg. After some of its protagonists had left the GDR, the “remaining ones” increasingly rallied around the literary figure Sascha Anderson as their spiritus rector. These included authors and visual artists such as Stefan Döring, Egmont Hesse, Uwe Kolbe, Leonhard Lorek, Bert Papenfuß-Gorek, Michael Rom and Cornelia Schleime. Schedlinski rose to become one of the catalysts of this avant-garde group. “They all wanted to break forms with their texts, to write in a new and different way. They reacted in a disorderly, partly chaotic way to the strictly organized conditions of the state.”[1]

What was striking in this group was the strong theoretical interest. In particular, the French deconstructivists and post-structuralists were read, whose books were only accessible in the GDR as illegal imports. From 1986 onwards, Schedlinski and Andreas Koziol edited the underground magazine Ariadnefabrik, which developed into the most important theoretical mouthpiece of the non-official literary scene and appeared about four times a year until 1989, each time with a circulation of about 60 copies. “We took the title from a poem by Sascha Anderson… What we were looking for in our magazine were theoretical texts which, like poetry, generate their inner movement through the stubbornness of formal processes; which do not freeze factually in thoughts about things, but rather LIVE the facts within themselves in order to create facts themselves, and to move language to action.”[2] It was not until 1988 that the established writer Gerhard Wolf succeeded in establishing the publication platform other than the series at Aufbau-Verlag, thus also giving these non-conformist young authors a public forum. The series was discontinued after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In 1990, together with Sascha Anderson, Henryk Gericke, Egmont Hesse, Andreas Koziol, Klaus Michael and Joerg Waehner, he was one of the founders of the poetry and author publishing house Druckhaus Galrev, which was to serve as a centre for the former East German literary avant-garde and of which he was a partner until the publishing house ceased production.

Schedlinski passed away after a serious illness on September 6, 2019 in Berlin.[3]

Activity as an IM

At the beginning of 1992, the ARD political magazine Kontraste published research results that proved that Schedlinski had been working as an IM for the state security since 1979 at the latest. Up to this point, he had claimed to have resisted all attempts at recruitment and merely to have signed “interrogation protocols”. Schedlinski had, Der Spiegel assessed the findings, “delivered denunciatory reports about people, and in language taken from the dictionary of the unhuman.”[4] Schedlinski was – just like Anderson and Ibrahim Böhme – an “IM of a new type” established by the MfS in the 1980s: this person was specifically “recruited, built up and infiltrated” and was no longer supposed to smash “anti-Republic” groups, but to control them, “reprofile” them and thus “paralyze” them from within.[5] In his function, Schedlinski not only spied on fellow artists, but also wrote reports on organizations and employees of the Protestant and Catholic churches. Financial interests also played a role in his activities: He received a fixed monthly agent’s fee from winter 1985/86.[6]

Regarding his IM activities, Schedlinski stated that he had been under psychiatric treatment for years and had even attempted suicide in 1981 during his military service with the NVA. “I could not withstand the pressure to say more and more”.[7] According to an investigation by the linguist and literary scholar Alison Lewis, this explanatory model is contradicted by the fact that Schedlinski had already been deconspirated during his military service and openly accused of being an IM in Magdeburg’s literary circles at the time, as well as by the fact that a few months later, he independently reestablished contact with the MfS.[8] Schedlinski also justified himself at length in a long essay in the magazine neue deutsche literatur in June 1992. In it, he described the MfS as the “antechamber lady of power”, “with whom it was no longer even honourable to fiddle, and for some it was even amusing”.[9] Lutz Rathenow, on the other hand, who had been spied on by him, stated that authors like Schedlinski had “ultimately delayed the collapse of this ailing system through their disinformation”.[10]


  • 1989 Promotional Prize of the Darmstadt Leonce and Lena Award.


  • Ariadnefabrik (1986-1989) (ed. and author, together with Andreas Koziol)
  • The Rations of Yes and No. Poems (1988)
  • Interior Views of the GDR. Last pictures from a country as it was (1990)
  • Demolition of the Ariadne Factory (1990) (together with Andreas Koziol)
  • The Arrogance of Powerlessness. Essays and Newspaper Contributions 1989 and 1990 (1991)
  • Women’s Men (1991)


  • Peter Böthig, Klaus Michael: MachtSpiele. Literature and State Security in the Focus Prenzlauer Berg. Reclam, Leipzig 1993 ISBN 3-379-01460-5
  • Alison Lewis: The Art of Betrayal. Prenzlauer Berg and the State Security. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2003. ISBN 3-8260-2487-7
  • Joachim Walther: Sicherungsbereich Literatur. Writers and State Security in the German Democratic Republic. Ullstein, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-548-26553-7
  • Klaus Michael:Schedlinski, Rainer. In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Vol. 2. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4.

Web links

Individual references

  1. Cornelia Geissler: A scene free of self-doubt. In: Berliner Zeitung, 15 October 1997, p. 22
  2. Andreas Koziol, Rainer Schedlinski: Demolition of the Ariadne Factory. 1990 (Editorial)
  3. Berliner Zeitung, 13 September 2019, p. 21, available at
  4. Mathias Schreiber: Poet as Stasi servant. In: Der Spiegel. No. 5, 1992, p. 185 (online ).
  5. Alison Lewis: The Art of Betrayal. Prenzlauer Berg and the State Security. Würzburg 2003, p. 50. Joachim Walther: Sicherungsbereich Literatur. Writers and State Security in the German Democratic Republic. Berlin 1999, p. 760ff.
  6. Joachim Walther: Sicherungsbereich Literatur. Writers and State Security in the German Democratic Republic. Berlin 1999, pp. 600 A663, 766ff. Alison Lewis: The Art of Betrayal. Prenzlauer Berg and the State Security. Würzburg 2003, p. 85.
  7. Rainer Schedlinski: I could not withstand the pressure to say more and more. In: FAZ, 14 January 1992, p. 25
  8. Alison Lewis: The Art of Betrayal. Prenzlauer Berg and the State Security. Würzburg 2003, pp. 75ff, 93ff.
  9. Rainer Schedlinski: Die Unzuständigkeit der Macht. In: New German Literature, 40, 1992, pp. 75-105
  10. Lutz Rathenow: ‘The friends as Stasi spies’ – The opening of the Gauck Authority. In: Kontraste, first broadcast: ARD 6 January 1992 (broadcast manuscript)