Detlev von Liliencron

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Detlev von Liliencron , actually Friedrich Adolf Axel Freiherr von Liliencron , (born June 3, 1844 in Kiel , † July 22, 1909 in Alt-Rahlstedt ) was a German poet , prose writer and playwright .

Detlev von Liliencron 1871 Liliencron Signature.gif
Detlev von Liliencron around 1883
Detlev von Liliencron 1905
Detlev von Liliencron


After a short military career and a few years in administration, Detlev von Liliencron turned to his passion and became a freelance writer. In 1883 his first volume of poetry was published Adjutantenritt und other poems . This was followed by a summer battle (1887), under fluttering flags (1888) and The Heath goers (1893). His poetry is an important milestone in the emerging naturalism of the late 19th century.


Youth (1844–1875)

Detlev von Liliencron was a son of the Danish customs officer Louis Freiherr von Liliencron (1802-1892) and his wife Adeline von Harten (1808-1872). He was a nephew of Rochus Freiherr von Liliencron , the editor of the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie .

His father Louis was a son of the Danish war commissioner and captain Andreas von Liliencron (1774-1823) and a serf. Because of this "improper" marriage, the grandfather Andreas was disinherited from his family.

His mother Adeline was the daughter of the American captain Frederick von Harten and a Portuguese woman.

After he broke off his training at the humanistic grammar school (the Kieler scholars' school ) a year before graduating from high school, Liliencron graduated from secondary school in Erfurt and entered the Berlin cadet school in 1863 . His wish to become a cavalry officer failed due to a lack of financial resources. As a Prussian infantry officer he took part in the German War (1866) and Franco-German War (1870/71), where he received several awards, although he lost his youthful enthusiasm for war. Because of gambling and the resulting debts (from which he never got rid of later) he was forced to quit active military service, first in 1871 and then finally in 1875, with the rank of first lieutenant (first lieutenant ).

Administrative service (1875–1885)

The following emigration to America , where he made his living as a piano and language teacher from 1875, did not last long. In 1877 he returned to Germany. On the initiative of his father largely rehabilitated (receiving a small military pension and allowance for the wounded), he found a job in the Prussian administration in 1878 and married Helene von Bodenhausen . However, the marriage was not a lucky star.

Beginning in 1882 Liliencron became a magistrate - a kind of deputy district administrator on the North Frisian island - local Pellworm appointed to become one of Prussia belonged. This is where his most famous poem, Trutz, blanke Hans , was written, as well as experimental, innovative verses such as Drunken . Also in that year he was promoted to captain of the Landwehr as a formerly active officer who was then assigned to the reserve . In October 1883 he was appointed parish bailiff in Kellinghusen ( Holstein ).

The bon vivant and gambler Liliencron was chronically in debt and therefore had to resign from the civil service in 1885 after his salaries were seized. In the same year his marriage to Helene von Bodenhausen was divorced.

Freelance writer (1885–1901)

From now on Liliencron lived as a freelance writer . He got to know the innkeeper daughter Augusta Brandt, whom he married in 1887. The publication Arbeit ennobles fell in this year . In the following year he made first contacts with the poets of the Friedrichshagener poet circle . Liliencron was also an external member of the Breslau poetry school; his friend Paul Barsch , editor of the club magazine, collected donations to buy the poet a desk. With financial support from the Schiller Foundation , Liliencron spent some time in Munich in 1890/91 , where some of his poems were published in the journal Die Gesellschaft . There he used to associate with Otto Julius Bierbaum, among other things .

In 1891 Liliencron moved to Altona-Ottensen and, after divorcing Augusta Brandt in 1892, to Palmaille , in another quarter of the then still Holstein city of Altona . He got to know Gustav Falke and soon counted him among his friends. Here, among other things, he wrote his main work Poggfred and got to know Richard Dehmel , with whom he was in lively contact.

His debts haunted him, and in 1898 he tried to make some money by doing lecture tours. Finally, in 1899, Liliencron married the farmer's daughter Anna Micheel, his third and final marriage. Due to acute financial difficulties, he joined the literary cabaret " Überbrettl " a year later .

The last years (1901–1909)

In 1901 there was finally some calm in Liliencron's eventful life. With the help of his friends, he managed to find an apartment in Alt-Rahlstedt, and he received an annual honorary salary of 2,000 gold marks from Kaiser Wilhelm II . At the same time his fame as a poet reached a climax. On his 60th birthday in 1904 he was honored with a German and Austrian festschrift , in which the most famous writers of the time participated and which was designed by the painter and illustrator Heinrich Lefler .

Obituary from Die Fackel 285–286, July 27, 1909

In 1908 he wrote the autobiographical novel Life and Lies . In the last year of his life, 1909, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Kiel on his 65th birthday . His last trip took him to the battlefields of the Franco-German War . Liliencron died shortly afterwards of pneumonia . His grave is in the Rahlstedt cemetery .

The figure of Richard Luksch on the Liliencron grave

writing style

Liliencron was one of the most important poets of his time. His work is extremely varied and difficult to assign to a specific literary epoch. His poems are shaped by the tension between naturalism and neo-romanticism . The works show similarities with the "pessimistic cultural criticism " propagated by Friedrich Nietzsche . While Liliencron was insignificant as a prose author, his poetry influenced the young Rainer Maria Rilke as well as Hugo von Hofmannsthal . Although Liliencron became known to a wider audience primarily through ballads such as Trutz, blanke Hans or Pidder Lüng , those poems in particular that dealt with modern life had a significant effect on the early days of Expressionism . Liliencron's big city poems such as Broadway in New York already take up many topics that are dealt with by later expressionists. Experimental poetry in particular that as stream of consciousness designed Drunk (written in 1883, published 1893) play with the dissolution of form and already point forward to the literary modernism.

The volume of poems Adjutantenritt , published in 1883 , which also contains lyrical prose , was hailed as a new lyrical art by the naturalists who saw Liliencron as one of their own. Even with his first publications, Liliencron showed that he was a master of poetry. He uses the difficult forms and guidelines of high lyric poetry without problems. For example, he experiments with Rondeau and Ghazel . But even the first collection shows Liliencron's idiosyncratic style, which sets him apart from the classicists as well as the naturalists. Liliencron reacts more sensitively than many naturalists to modern lifestyles. He mixes the different sensory perceptions into a synesthesia and translates it into literature. Through these subjective perceptions and reflection of his inner being, he develops his personal writing style. He himself explicitly distanced himself from the naturalists with the poem The Naturalists . He demanded that poetry should include "humor and the finest artistic hand".

His debts and the problems associated with them are evident in Liliencron's work. Like the aesthetes , he had an aversion to the lifestyle of the bourgeoisie. Not least because of this inconvenience he experienced personally , he joined Nietzsche's cultural pessimism . Liliencron did not think much of most modern achievements, rather the escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city into a romanticized landscape plays a central role in many of his poems.


Ballads (selection)


  • Knut, the Lord , 1885
  • The Rantzow and the Pogwisch , 1886
  • Work ennobles , 1887
  • Who knows where , 1880


  • Under fluttering flags (short stories), 1888
  • The Mäcen ( short stories), 1889
  • War and Peace (short stories), 1891
  • War and Peace , 1895 Bielefeld University Library


  • Poggfred , 1896

Poems (selection)

  • Adjudantenritt , 1883 digitized and full text in the German text archive
  • The music is coming , 1883
  • Longing , 1883
  • The Haidegänger , 1890
  • New poems , 1893
  • Fog and Sun , 1900
  • Colorful Booty , 1903
  • Good night , 1909
  • The devil in need , in: Der Deutschen Spielmann , Munich 1925
  • One dead
  • Lucky enough
  • Emilie's grave
  • The lantern
  • My daily walk
  • March day
  • autumn
  • For a summer
  • Heather pictures
  • In a big city
  • Village church in summer
  • On the beach
  • The heather fire (Mr. Hardesvogt, away from the whist table, a lot of people are in danger)
  • The old stone cross on the Neuer Markt (Berlin-Cölln was called the city)
  • Going home in the morning (In the twilight at Glock two, Glock three)


  • War novellas , 1885
  • A summer battle , 1886
  • In the churchyard , 1898
  • Kings and Peasants , 1900
  • Rye and Wheat , 1900
  • From Marsch and Geest , 1901
  • The Adventures of Major Bell , 1904
  • The battle of Stellau in 1201 , 1906
  • Last harvest , 1909 posthumously


  • Breide Hummelsbüttel , 1887
  • With the left elbow , 1899


  • The Trifels and Palermo , 1886
  • The Merovingians , 1888



Memorial stone at the nature reserve
  • The former Liliencron barracks of the Bundeswehr in Kellinghusen was named after him.
  • A group of former teachers successfully defended themselves against the renaming of the Rahlstedt high school in Hamburg to "Detlev-von-Liliencron-Gymnasium", which was proposed by its headmaster Volker Wolter in 2007 by using the author as a militarist , Anti-Semites and misogynists , in which the schoolchildren were not interested anyway.
  • In the novel Die Höllenmühle by Hermann Krieger , Liliencron is the model for the "verse, hunting and cavalry master Baron von Lautenschlager".
  • Regardless of this, there is a Liliencronstrasse in Hamburg. Furthermore, there used to be a Liliencronweg, which is now called Hemmingstedter Weg.
  • In 1920, Liliencronstrasse in Kiel-Pries was named after him.
  • There is a boulder in his memory in the Störkathener Heide nature reserve .
  • In the Cologne district of Lindenthal , Liliencron's work was also honored by naming a street.
  • In 1910, Liliencronstrasse in Berlin-Steglitz was named after him.


  • Elisabeth Assmann: The development of the lyrical style in Detlev von Liliencron. Königsberg 1936, DNB 571771661 (Philosophical dissertation University of Königsberg 1936, XVI, 145 pages).
  • Anna B. Blau: Style and deviations: some syntactic-stylistic features in the poems Detlev von Liliencrons, Georg Trakls and Ingeborg Bachmanns (= Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Germanistica, Volume 19). Uppsala University / Almqvist och Wiksell [on commission], Stockholm 1978, ISBN 91-554-0812-5 , OCLC 31057157 , (Dissertation Uppsala, University, 1978, 223 pages).
  • Volker Griese : Detlev von Liliencron. Chronicle of a poet's life. MV-Verlag, Münster 2008, ISBN 978-3-86582-785-2 .
  • Detlev von Liliencron (author), Rimbert Spielvogel (narrator): I am a life artist. Schwanenverlag, Berkenthin 2001, ISBN 3-9807105-2-1 . (1 CD)
  • Kay Dohnke: The three lives of Detlev von Liliencron. The Kellinghusen Years. Edition Plotz, Vaale 1994, ISBN 3-924416-05-2 .
  • Günter HäntzschelLiliencron, Detlev Freiherr von. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 14, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1985, ISBN 3-428-00195-8 , pp. 552 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Kornelia Küchmeister (ed.): Detlev von Liliencron in his time. Schleswig-Holstein State Library , Kiel 1984. (Catalog for the exhibition of the same name).
  • Hans Leip : Liliencron (= The Poets of the Germans, Part 2 [No. 3]), Cotta'sche Buchhandlung, Stuttgart 1938.
  • Mathias Mainholz, Rüdiger Schütt, Sabine Walter u. a .: artist, royalist, anarchist. The adventurous life of Baron Detlev Freiherr von Liliencron. Bautz Verlag, Herzberg 1994, ISBN 3-88309-049-2 . (Catalog for the exhibition of the same name)
  • Jean Royer (ed.): Detlev von Liliencron and Theobald Nöthig . tape 1 : Correspondence 1884–1909 , volume 2 : Notes . Bautz, Herzberg 1986, ISBN 3-88309-022-0 .
  • Heinz Stolte: Detlev von Liliencron . Husumer Druck- und Verlagsgesellschaft, Husum 1980, ISBN 3-88042-102-1 .
  • Walter Hettche (Ed.): Selected works . Wachholtz, Neumünster 2009, ISBN 978-3-529-06135-6 .
  • Erich Maletzke: Detlev von Liliencron: Poet and debt baron. Wachholtz, Neumünster 2011, ISBN 978-3-529-06114-1 .
  • Friedrich Ernst Peters : Detlev von Liliencron . In: In the service of form. Deuerlichsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Göttingen 1947, pp. 28–48. Potsdam University Library
  • Jan Schlürmann : "Helene, how much am I a soldier with body and soul ...". Detlev von Liliencron as a soldier. In: Detlev von Liliencron (1844–1909). Facets of a moving poet's life. Edited by the Schleswig-Holstein State Library. Kiel 2009, pp. 41–53.
  • Emma-Amoene Schmid: Nature in a poem by Detlev von Liliencron. In: Yearbook of the Philosophical Faculty Leipzig. 1921, o. O. O. J. DNB 365072753 (Philosophical dissertation University of Leipzig 1921, pp. 32-33).
  • Detlev von Liliencron. In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Hrsg.): Kindlers Literatur Lexikon . 3rd, completely revised edition. 18 vols. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2009, ISBN 978-3-476-04000-8 , vol. 10, pp. 153-155. [Biogram, article on "Das lyrische Werk" by Hansgeorg Schmidt-Bergmann ]
  • Günter Häntzschel: Criticism of the poetry of his time and search for new possibilities. Detlev von Liliencron: To my friend the poet. In: Günter Häntzschel (Ed.): Poems and interpretations. From Biedermeier to bourgeois realism. Volume 4. Reclam, Stuttgart 1983 (first edition 1983), ISBN 3-15-007893-8 , pp. 419-432.
  • Joachim Kersten, Friedrich Pfäfflin: Detlev von Liliencron. Discovered, celebrated and read by Karl Kraus (= Janowitz Library , Volume 23). Wallstein, Göttingen 2016, ISBN 978-3-8353-1782-6 .

Web links

Wikisource: Detlev von Liliencron  - sources and full texts
Commons : Detlev von Liliencron  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Letter to Paul Barsch, February 16, 1889. Quoted in Karl Kraus : Memories of Liliencron. In: Die Fackel , No. 657–667, August 1924, p. 64.
  3. ↑ The novels left behind: A soldier's fantasy, The Blanke Hans, The Birthmark, Before Dawn, The Yellow Box, The Quint couple, The old Wachtmeister from the Anspach-Bayreuth Dragoon Regiment published posthumously by Schuster & Löffler, Berlin 1909, preliminary remarks by the estate administrator: The last six Liliencron made novellas ready for printing herself. Only the first, from his earliest days as a poet, has been adapted by me to his customary method of punctuation and orthography. R. Dehmel.
  4. Frank Keil: We can safely forget Detlev von Liliencron . Welt Online , January 22, 2010
  5. Torben, Dannhauer: "Out here the nights are celebrations!" - Life and work of Hermann Kriegers. In: Edition Literatur im Strom. 1st edition. Volume 1. Zeitkartell Verlag, Hamburg 2019, ISBN 978-3-9819059-0-8 , p. 439.
  6. Hans-G. Hilscher, Dietrich Bleihöfer: Liliencronstrasse. In: Kiel Street Lexicon. Continued since 2005 by the Office for Building Regulations, Surveying and Geoinformation of the State Capital Kiel, as of February 2017 ( ).
  7. ^ Konrad Adenauer, Volker Gröbe: Streets and squares in Lindenthal . JP Bachem, Cologne 1992, ISBN 3-7616-1018-1 , p. 100 f.
  8. ^ Liliencronstrasse. In: Street name lexicon of the Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein (near  Kaupert )