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The history of Romanian dissidence during the Cold War often seems rather barren. Yet, as this article demonstrates, the legacy of Romanian opposition to Cold War communism is vexed with conflicts over ownership in a fragmented circle of late Cold War era oppositional voices and actors. A daring attempt to cross the Danube by a young Romanian German student in 1970 and an earthquake in the year 1977 provide the historical backdrop to these post-communist internecine battles over opposition and conformity. The prominence of the German-speaking community in these conflicts is not accidental but is itself a commentary on the structural problems related to dissidence in Romania. This article’s focus on specific individuals – Anton Sterbling, Paul Goma, Carl Gibson, Herta Müller – reveals differing interpretations of dissidence and opposition, a diverse social fabric of Romanian dissidence, and a long tail of psychological battles over the memory and the ownership of opposition to Romanian communism after 1989.

Open Access
In: East Central Europe