Resignation of the entire PEN Presidency

Nfter Deniz Yücel’s resignation, the entire executive committee of the German PEN Club resigned on Saturday morning. “My very special thanks go to Deniz Yücel,” said Ralf Nestermeyer, Vice-President of PEN, to the assembled members. “It was an honor for me to have worked with him.” The writer Ursula Krechel announced that her honorary presidency would be suspended. At the moment she really doesn’t know what she should represent and what that has to do with “honor”, says Krechel. As a result, Yücel’s bitter opponents, Secretary General Heinrich Peuckmann and Vice President Astrid Vehstedt, also announced their resignation. With a large majority, the association elected the writer Josef Haslinger as interim president. Haslinger said he wanted to prepare a “restart” and accepted the election.

Julia Enke

Responsible editor for the feuilleton of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper in Berlin.

The “debate” item was moved to Saturday morning after members of the Writers’ Union accused each other of bullying, slander and dishonesty in a tumultuous 10-hour meeting in a toxic atmosphere on Friday. There had been an application to confirm Deniz Yücel and two other board members in office as well as one to dismiss him.

The writer Daniel Kehlmann was appalled by the discussion, which was characterized by hatred. There are “thank God other organizations that can help persecuted writers,” he said on Saturday morning. Julia Franck also stated that she would consider leaving the German Writers’ Union and moving to the Exil-Pen.

The dispute in the German PEN has various dimensions: On the one hand, it was sparked off by Yücel’s public statements such as his demand for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which five of his predecessors saw as incompatible with the PEN charter. But in Gotha it was mainly about internal processes that were then made public, about reports and tasks, as well as the question of whether the association should focus its commitment more on the political or the literary. Yücel himself attested to a great increase in the attention paid to PEN, which in turn was scornfully commented on.

“Today we had to realize that our attempts to turn the German PEN into a modern NGO and give it back its old relevance as an intellectual association in a contemporary form are not wanted by a majority,” Yücel commented on Twitter on Friday evening. “Today’s PEN has nothing to do with the ancestral gallery and little to do with the well-known list of members. It is dominated by philistines and busybodies over 70 who need their membership as proof that they belong to the journalistic or literary elite.”

Deniz Yücel had survived the motion against him to be voted out of office with a narrow majority on Friday – but then resigned. The journalist, born in Flörsheim am Main in 1973, who was in Turkish custody for about a year because of alleged terrorist propaganda, was only elected in October 2021 in Frankfurt’s Paulskirche – and declared his in Gotha, when the clashes did not stop even after the vote Resignation: “I don’t want to be president of this bratwurst stand,” Yücel shouted into the microphone. “I step back!”

The article is in German

Tags: Resignation entire PEN Presidency

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