Edlef Köppen

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Edlef Köppen

Joachim Edlef Köppen (born March 1, 1893 in Genthin , † February 21, 1939 in Gießen ) was a German writer and radio editor .


Edlef Köppen was born in Genthin in 1893 as the son of the general practitioner Robert Köppen (1863–1922) and his wife Emma, ​​née Hosmann (1868–1937). He first attended the Progymnasium in Genthin, after which it closed in 1907, the Viktoria-Gymnasium in Potsdam . There, in a literary reading group that Köppen had founded, he met his somewhat younger classmate, Hermann Kasack , also a doctor's son, with whom he had a close friendship over the next few decades.

After graduating from high school in 1913, Köppen studied German literature, philosophy and art history for three semesters, first at the University of Kiel and then at the University of Munich ; there were among his academic teachers Heinrich Wölfflin , Fritz Strich and Arthur Kutscher . When the First World War broke out , he joined the Prussian army as a volunteer and took part in the First World War as an artilleryman from October 1914 to October 1918 . At the end of the war he was a lieutenant in the reserve . Köppen was wounded several times, including burns from poison gas and a squeezed lung as a result of being buried, which impaired his health for life. In the course of the war, Köppen developed into a staunch pacifist and finally refused to continue fighting in September 1918, which resulted in his forced internment in a psychiatric clinic in Mainz.

After the war, Köppen continued his studies and wrote a dissertation on “Magazines of Romanticism”, but broke off the doctorate he had started due to financial need. At the suggestion of Kasack, he was hired to succeed Ludwig Rubiner in 1921 as a lecturer at Gustav Kiepenheuer Verlag in Potsdam. Here he was responsible for the subsidiary Verlag der Dichtung , which included the magazine of the same name published by Wolf Przygode , for which Köppen had designed a program as early as 1920. He married Hedwig (Hete) Witt in 1921; the couple had a daughter Gabriele. An illness as a result of his war injury forced him to give up his position at Kiepenheuer and to go to a sanatorium in Naurod . He then tried to set up his own publishing house in Potsdam in 1923, in which he also published his first novel, but was unsuccessful in founding the publishing house.

From 1925 onwards Köppen worked as a freelance literary collaborator at Funk-Hour Berlin , the first German radio station , through the agency of Kasacks . Since 1926 he has been employed as an assistant in the literary department and has made a name for himself among other things as the director of the radio plays of his school friend. In October 1929 Köppen became head of the literary department of the Funk-hour. The importance of his work in this position under radio director Hans Flesch , who was replaced in August 1932, is considered to be of great importance for the literature of the time and was discussed in part with publicity.

After the " seizure of power " by the National Socialists , Köppen was dismissed without notice on June 30, 1933 as head of literature at the Funk-hour. In 1934 Köppen processed his house in Wilhelmshorst at Friedensplatz 6-9 in a humorous way in the book Four Walls and a Roof . Köppen's world war novel Heeresbericht , published in 1930, fell victim to the book burning in 1933 and was banned in 1935. At the same time, Köppen was banned from publication. The contact with Kasack, which had been somewhat clouded by repeated upsets since 1930, broke off in the last years of his life. In the period that followed, Köppen made his way through reviews and short stories, which he published under the pseudonym Joachim Felde . He managed to get a job with a film company that went bankrupt shortly afterwards and was taken over by Tobis Europa-Film AG , a subsidiary of Tobis-Klangfilm . There Köppen rose to the position of chief dramaturge, but came under renewed political pressure when Tobis was gradually taken over by the Propaganda Ministry from 1937 to 1939 . Köppen refused to join the NSDAP and to get involved in an anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi film program. The fact that Köppen was able to work as a leading film dramaturge between 1934 and 1939, despite his well-known opposition to the regime, is what Hans-Michael Bock considers to be a calculation of the rulers: “The rulers wanted to make use of his skills; since his name did not appear in the film productions, it was possible without patronizing him externally. "

Edlef Köppen died in 1939 in a lung sanatorium in Gießen from the long-term effects of his war injury. His grave can be found in the Waldfriedhof in Wilhelmshorst. In 2003, the Köppen archive was donated to the Jerichower Land District Museum in Genthin. Parts of his estate are now in the collection of the Potsdam Museum - Forum for Art and History.

Honors and appreciation

A plaque commemorates Köppen's birthplace in Genthin. The Genthin City and District Library has been named after him since 1996. In Gießen a street at the former artillery barracks (until 1945 "Bleidorn-Kaserne", until 1991 "Pendleton Barracks") was named after Köppen. In his hometown, Köppen, long almost forgotten by literary studies, is honored today as an important writer and filmmaker who is seen in a row with Erich Maria Remarque , Arnold Zweig and Alfred Döblin .


  • The history of a dry boat trip in it, three students sampt their dearest fine and funny tales . Hadern Verlag, Potsdam 1924
  • The report. Hamburg 1925
  • Welcome and Farewell. 1925
  • Army report . 1930
  • Andrew the mute. 1933
  • Four walls and a roof. 1934

Work editions

  • Edlef Köppen: Army report. List Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 978-3-548-60577-7
  • Jutta Vinzent (ed.): Edlef Köppen: records. A reader, appendix on life and work. Märkischer Verlag, Wilhelmshorst 2006, ISBN 3-931329-03-8

Radio plays (director)


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Albrecht Franke: Edlef Köppen. A search. In: Albrecht Franke (ed.): The war really broke out. Conversation with and about Edlef Köppen. Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle 2013
  2. ^ A b c d Wilhelm Ziehr: Hermann Kasack and Edlef Köppen. Similarities and divisions in their beginnings (PDF, 119 KB). Lecture on the Köppen year, June 6, 2013.
  3. a b Michael Gollbach: Data about the life and work Edlef Koppen. In: Edlef Köppen: Army report . Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Hamburg 1979, pp. 290-293.
  4. a b Birgit Herkula: Edlef Köppen. A biographical note. In: Albrecht Franke (ed.): The war really broke out. Conversation with and about Edlef Köppen. Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle 2013
  5. ^ Stiftung Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv : Organigrams of the Funk Hour Berlin 1924–1933 .
  6. Mike Fleske: Students visiting Köppen. In: Genthiner Volksstimme , June 5, 2018, accessed on November 30, 2019.
  7. ^ Herbert Altenburg: Edlef Köppen's estate. In: "Ossietzky" , 16/2003, from August 9, 2003.
  8. a b Potsdam Museum digitizes part of Edlef Köppen's estate. Information on the Potsdam Museum website, accessed on November 4, 2017.
  9. Simone Pötschke: Flicker lesson with depth in Genthin. In: Genthiner Volksstimme , March 7, 2018, accessed on November 30, 2019.