Friday, February 26, 2010

Former Romanian-German spy fired from festival directorship

Mainz,Germany - German author Peter Grosz was fired on Thursday from his role as theatre festival director, following revelations that he had spied on fellow authors for Romania's Securitate Communist secret police during the 1970s. The town council of Oppenheim, where Grosz headed the annual theatre festival, reached the unanimous decision that the author was no longer appropriate for the role."Grosz was no longer tenable," Oppenheim's mayor Marcus Held told German Press Agency dpa.

Grosz, an ethnic German born in Romania, admitted last week to having spied on, amongst others, fellow writer Richard Wagner, the ex-husband of Nobel literature prize winner Herta Mueller - both of whom are also of German-Romanian origin.He had only been in the role at the head of the Oppenheim theatre and culture festival since October 2009."I am personally very disappointed, he could have pointed out his history before finalizing the contract," Held said, adding that the events placed a question mark over this year's festival.The Oppenheim festival, in operation since 1989, attracted several thousand people annually, according to Held.Grosz said Securitate had put pressure on him to monitor ethnic German authors from 1974 until he left the country in 1977.Since coming to Germany, the author has helped promote young authors and theatric talent. He works as a teacher in the city of Mainz.The mayor of Oppenheim said the town had not evaluated Grosz' work for Securitate, but said they were disappointed at the way he had handled his past."He kept it secret for a long time, and that makes him impossible for the role of the festival director," Held said.

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