Ödön from Horváth

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Ödön of Horváth (1919) Horvath Signature.svg

Edmund (Ödön) Josef von Horváth (* 9. December 1901 in Sušak , Austria-Hungary , † 1. June 1938 in Paris ) was a in German writing writer of Hungarian citizenship: "My mother tongue is German." He became famous among others through his plays, Stories from the Vienna Woods , Faith, Love, Hope, and Casimir and Karoline, as well as through his time-critical novels The Eternal Spitcher , Youth Without God and A Child of Our Time .


Ödön von Horváth was born as the first son of the Austro-Hungarian diplomat Ödön Josef von Horváth (1874–1950) and Maria Lulu Hermine nee Prehnal (1882–1959) in Fiume (then Kingdom of Hungary ; now Rijeka , Croatia). The father came from Slavonia , then part of Hungary, and belonged to the minor nobility. The mother came from a Hungarian-German imperial and royal military doctor family.

In 1902 the family moved to Belgrade, where his brother Lajos († 1968) was born in 1903, and in 1908 again to Budapest, where Ödön was taught the Hungarian language for the first time by a private tutor. When his father was transferred to Munich in 1909, Ödön initially stayed in Budapest and attended the archiepiscopal boarding school, the “ Rákóczianum ”. In 1913 he moved to Munich to live with his parents, where he went to high school for two years. In 1916 he moved with the family to Pressburg near Vienna, which was then Hungarian , in 1918 to Budapest and finally, when his parents moved back to Munich in 1919, he moved to Vienna under the care of his uncle Josef Prehnal. There he passed the Matura at a private high school in the summer of 1919 and enrolled in the same year at the University of Munich , where he attended seminars on psychology , literature , theater and art until the winter semester of 1921/22 .

Establishment as a playwright

Program leaflet for the first performance in Berlin in 1931

Horváth began to write in 1920. Horváth's first literary text, Das Buch der Tänze , was written at Siegfried Kallenberg's suggestion , and was performed in concert in Munich in 1922 and staged in Osnabrück in 1926 . From 1923 Horváth lived mainly in Berlin, Salzburg and with his parents in Murnau am Staffelsee in Upper Bavaria . He devoted himself more and more to writing, but destroyed many texts from this period. His stage text Nobody , completed in 1924, was not published until 2016 because the original publisher soon went bankrupt. He warned in his plays, e.g. B. in Sladek, the black Reichswehrmann (1929), before the dangers of fascism . In 1929 he resigned from the Catholic Church .

In March 1931 his play Italian Night was premiered in Berlin. Horváth's fame as a poet reached its first climax in the autumn of 1931, when, at the suggestion of Carl Zuckmayer, he was awarded the Kleist Prize together with Erik Reger and his play Tales from the Vienna Woods , today his most successful, premiered on November 2, 1931 .

When the SA searched his parents' villa in Murnau after Adolf Hitler's " seizure of power " in 1933, Horváth left Germany and lived for the following years in Vienna and in Henndorf am Wallersee near Salzburg as one of the most important members of the Henndorfer circle around Carl Zuckmayer. In 1933 he married the Jewish singer Maria Elsner . A week before, Horváth had surprised his long-time friend Hertha Pauli with his wedding plan at a meeting in the Viennese Café Museum , to which she responded with a suicide attempt. The marriage itself ended in divorce a year later. In 1934 Horváth returned to Germany. Despite his opposition to National Socialism, he tried to join the Reich Association of German Writers and became a member of the Union of National Writers . After he was expelled from Germany in July 1936, he was struck off the list of members of the Reichsschrifttumskammer in February 1937 .

Persecution, emigration and death

Commemorative plaque on Horváth's place of death in Paris
Tomb in the Heiligenstadt cemetery

Because his pieces were no longer performed in Germany, Horváth's financial situation worsened. It was not until 1937, when his novel Jugend ohne Gott was published in Amsterdam , that he achieved greater success again; The novel was translated into several languages, but was included in the " List of harmful and undesirable literature " as early as 1938 and drafted into the Reich.

After the " Anschluss of Austria " in March 1938, Horváth went to Budapest and Fiume (Rijeka), toured several other cities and came to Paris at the end of May. On June 1, he met the director Robert Siodmak in the Café Marignan to talk to him about the film adaptation of the novel Jugend ohne Gott . But that same evening Horváth was killed by a falling branch during a thunderstorm on the Champs-Élysées (opposite the Théâtre Marigny). His funeral took place in the presence of many exiled authors on June 7, 1938 in the Paris cemetery of Saint-Ouen .

A fortune teller is said to have prophesied to Horváth that in the first days of June 1938 he would be on a journey with "the most important event of his life". Thereupon the superstitious Horváth allegedly used inter alia. no more elevators. On the day he died in an accident, he declined the Siodmak's offer to drive him back to the hotel on the grounds that it was too dangerous. Instead, he set off on foot.

The remains of his bones, insofar as they could still be found, have been resting since 1988 in an honorary grave in the Heiligenstadt cemetery (part A, group M, number 4) in Vienna, where his parents and his brother were previously buried. In 1959, Horvathgasse in Vienna- Ottakring (16th district) was named after him.

Horváth's estate has been kept in the archive of the Academy of Arts in Berlin since 1962 , and in the literary archive of the Austrian National Library and the Vienna Library in the City Hall since 1990/1994 . In 2015, the latter bought the text Nobody at an auction after being made aware of this by a media report.

Literary meaning

Sociopolitical subjects form the core of Horváth's complete dramatic oeuvre. He calls the "unmasking of consciousness" the goal of his work. Using the individual fates of impoverished petty bourgeoisie with no prospects, as well as female figures in drastic patriarchal dependency, he draws images of an alienated and socially deprived society. In later works, religious questions in the sense of responsibility and guilt as a category of human action are added. In his folk piece, Italian Night , he analyzed not only the social but also the psychological component in the behavior of the fascists. This analysis shows that behavior is determined by a brutal as well as masochistic-sentimental feeling of inferiority. In his late prose work (novels Youth Without God and A Child of Our Time ) Horváth also deals with fascism , albeit more directly and bitterly: “The individual becomes part of society where he wants to rebel, and that is now the fascist state, crushed if it does not give up. "

Horváth is considered to be the innovator of the folk piece . In his understanding, the problems should be treated and designed as popularly as possible. In his dramatic works he criticizes the artificial “ educational jargon ”, which he seeks to expose by means of an artificial and communicationless “dialogue language”: “The petty bourgeoisie has now broken down the actual dialects, namely through educational jargon. In order to be able to portray a modern person realistically, I have to let the educational jargon do the talking. The educational jargon (and its causes) naturally provoke criticism - and this is how the dialogue of the new folk play emerges, and with it the person and thus the dramatic plot - a synthesis of seriousness and irony. "


Horváth introduced himself to the German theater with his socially critical debut work Revolte auf Côte 3018 , which deals with the construction of the Tyrolean Zugspitzbahn and was premiered on November 4, 1927 at the Hamburger Kammerspiele . Two years later, the Volksbühne Berlin performed a revised version of this piece for the first time under the title Die Bergbahn . On January 4, 1929, director Viktor Schwanneke set up the play especially for the “special departments” to which the Volksbühnenverein wanted to offer primarily plays with socio-political content. The Berlin critic Alfred Kerr certified Schwanneke's production at the Volksbühne as a "hurricane of - not only external - success".

Also in 1929 the heavily controversial follow-up play Sladek the black Reichswehrmann premiered in Berlin, which Kerr criticized as still too sketchy: Horváth "initially gives a political worldview in round figures - afterwards only worldview in documents." with his piece Italian Night , which Kerr considered a "successful time fun" and which Horváth won the renowned Kleist Prize. From 1933 Horváth's works were sold on German and soon also on Austrian theaters.

A Horváth renaissance began in the late 1960s . Since then, Horváth's dramas have been performed regularly on German-speaking theaters. His novels were in the canon of school reading recorded. Today, Horváth is regarded as a socially critical “ classic of the modern age ”.

Since the 1950s, Horváth's works have been filmed many times, most often Stories from the Vienna Woods , The Youngest Day and Youth Without God . The author himself became a cinematic figure in the BBC television film Tales from Hollywood ( Tales from Hollywood ), a British-American co-production from 1993, in which Jeremy Irons portrayed a fictional Ödön von Horváth in the United States after 1938 .

The arrangements of Horváth's texts also include musical adaptations. In 2008 the German singers Udo Lindenberg and Jan Delay made a sentence from Horváth's folk piece Zur Schöne Aussicht as the basis for the song Ganz Anders , which reached number 28 in the German charts (“I'm actually very different, but I rarely get to it.”) . In January 2003, an Ödön von Horváth Society was founded in Murnau am Staffelsee, dedicated to promoting Horváth's work. From 2003 to 2007 the society published a Horváth journal, which is still available on the Internet. The Ödön von Horváth Society also organizes the Murnau Horváth Days, which take place every three years and which keep the memory of the author alive with theater productions, readings, symposia and exhibitions.

In addition, the foundation has been awarding the Ödön von Horváth Prize since 2013. The first prize winner was the Austrian playwright Felix Mitterer . Filmmaker Ben von Grafenstein received the Horváth Award 2013 for his theatrical version of Kasimir and Karoline . Since March 2010 the Murnau Castle Museum has dedicated a new permanent exhibition to Ödön von Horváth. The Franz Nabl Institute for Literary Research at the University of Graz is working on a historical-critical edition of Ödön von Horváth's works, which for the first time reveals all of the writer's available drafts and work steps. It has been published by Verlag de Gruyter Berlin since 2009 and serves as the basis for new productions of Horváth's plays.

On September 1, 2016, the play Nobody , rediscovered in the same year, was premiered under the direction of Herbert Föttinger at the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna.



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Perner Island, Hallein
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Other prose

  • Sports Tales , 1924-1926
  • Interview , 1932
  • Instructions for use , 1932
  • Hour of Love , 1929
  • The Bitterwasser poster , 19 ??, published in The Storytellers. New and unknown from Allende to Zafón . suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-518-46000-9 .
  • The silent revolution. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1980, ISBN 3518067540 .

Work and collective editions

  • Ödön from Horváth. Collected works (four volumes). Edited by Dieter Hildebrandt , Walter Huder and Traugott Krischke. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1970/1971.
  • Ödön von Horvath. Collected works in eight volumes . Edited by Traugott Krischke and Dieter Hildebrandt. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1978 (Edition Suhrkamp).
  • Ödön from Horváth. Selected works (two volumes). Edited by Hansjörg Schneider . Volk und Welt, Berlin 1981 (GDR licensed edition based on the Suhrkamp edition in four volumes, 1970/1971).
  • Ödön from Horváth. Collected Works. Annotated work edition in individual volumes (15 volumes). Edited by Traugott Krischke and Susanna Foral-Krischke. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1983 ff.
  • Ödön from Horváth. Collected works (four volumes). Edited by Traugott Krischke with the collaboration of Susanna Foral-Krischke. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1988.
  • Ödön from Horváth. Collected works in 14 volumes. Annotated work edition in individual volumes . Edited by Traugott Krischke and Susanna Foral-Krischke. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2001.
  • Ödön from Horváth. Viennese edition of all works. Historical-critical edition. At the literary archive of the Austrian National Library and at the Franz Nabl Institute for Literary Research at the Karl Franzens University in Graz . 19 volumes. Edited by Klaus Kastberger . de Gruyter, Berlin 2009 ff.


Film adaptations

  • To the beautiful view , 1926 (A 1970; D 1972, directed by Hans Hollmann)
  • Sladek the black Reichswehrmann , 1929 (D 1976, director: Oswald Döpke )
  • Stories from the Vienna Woods (theater recording, D 1978)
  • Italian Night , 1931 (D 1966, directed by Michael Kehlmann)
  • Stories from the Vienna Woods , 1931 (A 1961, director: Erich Neuberg; D 1964, director: Michael Kehlmann; D / A 1979, director: Maximilian Schell; Légend de la forêt viennoise , F 1993, director: André Engel; D 1999 , Director: Martin Kusej)
  • Faith Love Hope , 1932 ( Geloof, hoop en lende , BEL 1977, directed by Jean-Pierre De Decker, Dré Poppe; D 1980, directed by Michael Kehlmann)
  • Kasimir und Karoline , 1932 (D 1959, directed by Michael Kehlmann; Août , F 1992, directed by Henri Herré; D 2010, directed by Ben von Grafenstein; Mary & Johnny , CH 2012, directed by Samuel Schwarz, Julian M. Grünthal)
  • Back and forth , 1934 (FIN 1948, directed by Theo Lingen ; D 1954, directed by Erich Geiger)
  • A village without men , 1937 (A 1969, directed by Michael Kehlmann)
  • The Youngest Day , 1937 ( … and don't lead us in temptation , D 1957, director: Rolf Hansen ; A 1960, director: Erich Neuberg; D 1961, director: Michael Kehlmann; De Jongste dag , BEL 1970, director: Dré Poppe; Acquitted , A 2007, directed by Peter Payer)
  • Youth without God , 1937 ( Only our life belongs to freedom , D 1969, directed by Herbert Knopp; Wie ich ein Neger became a Neger , D 1971, directed by Roland Gall; Youth without God , D 1991, directed by Michael Knof; Jeunesse sans Dieu , F / BEL 1996, director: Catherine Corsini; Jugend ohne Gott , D 2017, director: Alain Gsponer)
  • A child of our time , 1938 ( Un fils de notre temps , F 2003, directed by Fabrice Cazeneuve)
  • A village without men , 1937 (A 1969, directed by Michael Kehlmann)

Audio books

Radio plays


Biographies and general presentations

  • Kurt Bartsch: Ödön von Horváth. Metzler Collection. Volume 326. Metzler, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-476-10326-9 .
  • “I don't think anything, I'm just saying it”. Ödön von Horváth, Erotica, Economy and Politics , ed. v. Nicole Streitler-Kastberger and Martin Vejvar. Jung und Jung, Salzburg 2018, ISBN 978-3-99027-220-6 .
  • Dieter Hildebrandt : Horváth (biography of Ödön von Horváth with self-testimonies and picture documents, bibliography by Petra Seidel). Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1975, ISBN 978-3-499-50231-6 (= Rowohlt's monographs , volume 231).
  • Ute Karlavaris-Bremer (Ed.): Born in Fiume, Ödön von Horváth 1901–1938. Life pictures of a humanist. Löker, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-85409-356-X .
  • Siegfried Kienzle: Ödön von Horváth. 2nd edition, Colloquium, Berlin 1984, ISBN 3-7678-0633-9 (= heads of the 20th century , volume 87).
  • Traugott Krischke: Ödön von Horváth. Child of his time. Ullstein, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-548-26525-1 (= Ullstein book , volume 26525).
  • Piero Oellers: The world and human image in Ödön von Horvath's work. Lang, Bern 1987, ISBN 3-261-03894-2 .
  • Christian Schnitzler: The political Horváth. Studies of life and work. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1990, ISBN 3-631-42614-3 .

To individual works

  • Julian Tietz: Politics and Artificiality. The cold motif in Ödön von Horváth's “A Child of Our Time”. In: exile. Research. Findings. Results. Edited by Edita Koch and Frithjof Trapp, No. 2/2007, ISSN  0721-6742 .
  • Peter Baumann: Ödön von Horváth “Youth without God” - Author with God? Analysis of religious issues based on selected works. Lang, Bern 2003, ISBN 3-906770-82-6 .
  • Johanna Bossinade: From petty bourgeois to people. The late dramas Ödön von Horváths. Bouvier, Bonn 1988, ISBN 3-416-01982-2 .
  • Herbert Gamper: Horváth's complex texture. Shown on early pieces. Ammann, Zurich 1987, ISBN 3-250-10048-X .
  • Ansgar Hillach: Ödön von Horváth's dramatic beginnings. On the substantive basis of his dramaturgy . Epilogue to Horváth's early plays Murder in Mohrengasse and Revolte auf Côte 3018 . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-518-01768-3 . Pp. 91-137.

Further individual aspects

  • Karsten Brandt: The dissociation of a writer in the years 1934–1936: Ödön von Horváth and HW Becker . Humboldt University , Berlin 2004 ( Dissertation edoc.hu-berlin.de Online (PDF; 5.9 MB)).
  • Janusz Golec: Everyday life and happiness in Ödön von Horváth's work. Uniw. Marii Curie-Sklodowskiej. Wydawn, Lublin 2002, ISBN 83-227-2018-1 .
  • Michael Sailer : Lost Presence. Horváth - Kafka - Valentin. Series Schatten, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-1091696921 .
  • Peter Gros: Plebeians, slaves and Caesars. Antiquity in the work of Ödön von Horváth. Lang, Bern 1996, ISBN 3-906755-65-7 .
  • Ingrid Haag: Ödön von Horváth, facade dramaturgy. Description of a theatrical form. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-631-48390-2 .
  • Klaus Kastberger, Nicole Streitler (ed.): Vampire and angel. On the genesis and significance of the Miss figure in Ödön von Horváth's work. Praesens, Vienna 2006, ISBN 978-3-7069-0357-8 .
  • Traugott Krischke: Horváth on stage. 1926-1938. Documentation. Verlag der Österreichische Staatsdruckerei, Vienna 1991, ISBN 3-7046-0172-1 .
  • Angelika-Ditha Mildenberger: Motif circles in Ödön von Horváth's dramatic work Edition Leu, Zurich 1988, ISBN 3-85667-020-3 .
  • Angelika Steets: The prose works Ödön von Horvaths. Attempt to analyze the meaning. Heinz, Stuttgart 1975, ISBN 3-88099-010-7 .
  • Klaus Kastberger : Writing yourself into exile: Ödön von Horváth's youth without God online at Academia.edu
  • Klaus Kastberger : Women in boxes and ribbons online at Academia.edu

Web links

Commons : Ödön von Horváth  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Horváth in an interview with Willi Cronauer (–1974), Bayerischer Rundfunk , April 5, 1932, printed in: Ödön von Horváth: Gesammelte Werke I, Volksstücke; Work edition Edition Suhrkamp, ​​Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1970, ²1978, p. 5 ff.
  2. Interview, p. 8
  3. a b Evelyne Polt-Heinzl, Christine Schmidjell: “Wouldn't that be a film?” ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), Die Presse from December 1, 2001 (web archive).
  4. Ernst Klee : The culture lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 268.
  5. The nature of a branch. Retrieved January 16, 2017 .
  6. Tragic deaths of writers. Retrieved January 16, 2017 .
  7. Ödön von Horvath's funny sister-in-law. Retrieved January 16, 2017 .
  8. God's mills grind slowly but terribly small. Retrieved January 16, 2017 .
  9. Other tragic writers' deaths. Retrieved January 16, 2017 .
  10. The Inner Voice - Labor Journal 1990: Thoughts, Memories, Notes. Retrieved January 16, 2017 .
  11. Ronald Pohl: Ödön von Horváths "Nobody". A tenement full of fools in an abandoned world. The August 19, 2016 standard.
  12. tagesspiegel.de: Unknown Horváth auctioned for 11,000 euros
  13. a b c Gertraude Wilhelm:  Horváth, Ödön von. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 9, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1972, ISBN 3-428-00190-7 , pp. 647 f. ( Digitized version ).
  14. Axel Fritz: Ödön von Horváth as a critic of his time: Studies on the work in its relationship to political, social and cultural events. List Verlag, Munich 1973, ISBN 978-3-471-61446-4 , p. 137.
  15. Klaus Kastberger, Evelyne Polt-Heinzl and Christine Schmidjell: Ödön von Horváth: Infinite stupidity, stupid infinity . Zsolnay, Vienna 2001, ISBN 978-3-552-04994-9 , p. 59.
  16. Henk J. Koning: Nestroy and Horváth: An Unequal Brotherhood? In: Orbis Linguarum. Volume 21, 2002 online ( Memento from September 7, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  17. ^ Ödön von Horváth: Instructions for use (1932), online
  18. ^ Alfred Kerr: Ödön von Hörvath: The mountain railway. In: Berliner Tageblatt , January 5, 1929. Quoted from: Alfred Kerr. "That is the case". Theater reviews 1919–1933 and in exile . Edited by Günther Rühle . S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2001 (Alfred Kerr. Works in individual volumes. Vol. 7.2). P. 467.
  19. ^ Alfred Kerr: Ödön von Hörvath: Sladek, the black Reichswehrmann. In: Berliner Tageblatt, October 14, 1929. Quoted from: Alfred Kerr. "That is the case". Edited by Günther Rühle. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2001. p. 515.
  20. ^ Alfred Kerr: Again in the evening and at midnight. In: Berliner Tageblatt, April 10, 1931. Quoted from: Alfred Kerr. "That is the case". Edited by Günther Rühle. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2001. p. 596.
  21. http://www.horvath-gesellschaft.de/uebersicht.php
  22. 95 pages that no one read in FAZ of March 24, 2015, page 9
  23. Klaus Kastberger: The violence of the context, or: An early race to the moon , text for the premiere in 2016
  24. Thomas Miessgang: The message in a bottle. In: weekly newspaper Die Zeit , Hamburg, No. 37, September 1, 2016, p. 12
  25. Martin Pesl: From gray-yellow nebulae. In: Falter weekly newspaper , No. 35/16, August 31, 2016, p. 36 f.
  26. ^ Project website of the Karl Franzens University Graz , publisher website
  27. ^ BR radio play Pool - Horváth, The eternal philistine