Elke Heidenreich

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Elke Heidenreich at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2012

Elke Helene Heidenreich b. Riegert (born February 15, 1943 in Korbach ) is a German writer , literary critic , cabaret artist , presenter , journalist and opera librettist . Heidenreich became known for moderating numerous television and radio broadcasts. Since 1975 she has appeared in the role of the comedy character Else Stratmann . In 1992 she made her debut as a writer and since then has mainly published collections of short stories . In the ZDF - literary program reading! She presented new publications on the book market from 2003 to 2008 and became an influential literary critic during this time. Since 2012 she has been part of the criticism team of the Swiss Literature Club , which she moderated from 1993 to 1994.


Elke Heidenreich was born in the province of Hessen-Nassau and grew up in Essen as the daughter of a car mechanic and petrol station owner; her mother was a seamstress for cinema curtains. In 1958, at the age of 15, she left her parents' home and moved to the pastor who had confirmed her in Essen at the age of 14 and who had no children himself. When the pastor changed pastor in the same year, she moved with him and his wife to Bonn . In 1963 she passed the Abitur at the Clara-Schumann-Gymnasium in Bonn . From 1963 to 1969 she studied German , journalism and theater history in Munich , Hamburg and Berlin without a degree; as well as religious studies , which, according to her own statement, she completed with a thesis on the veneration of Mary in Protestantism . In 1965 she married Gert Heidenreich , later separated from him and in 1972 married Bernd Schroeder , from whom she has also been separated since 1995. She works with both Gert Heidenreich and Bernd Schroeder to this day. Since 2005 she has lived with the Hamburg pianist and composer Marc-Aurel Floros. Today Elke Heidenreich lives in Cologne .


Moderation, cabaret, the character "Else Stratmann"

Heidenreich has worked as a freelance writer and literary critic for the press, radio and television since 1970. She started her career in the media as a freelancer for the radio station SWF3 . Jürgen Lodemann , who brought her in 1972 as a presenter for the literary magazine of Südwestfunk , described her first TV appearance in his memoir: “timid, quiet, very precise, very well prepared. A conversation between two shy people. "

In 1975 she invented the character of Else Stratmann . Elke Heidenreich presented the "brash butcher's wife from Wanne-Eickel ", who gossiped about contemporary topics from the petty bourgeoisie point of view, especially husband Willi and daughter Inge, in over 4000 contributions for the radio on WDR 2 and SWF 3, but also on cabarets , speech plates and on television at the current sports studio on ZDF and at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles and Seoul . Aunt Else also speaks the transitions on the VHS video 3 chords for a hallelujah by the band Die Toten Hosen from 1989.

Elke Heidenreich moderated numerous television and radio programs, she also wrote radio plays , television plays and radio features . In 1981 she drew attention to herself as the successor to Alfred Biolek at the Cologne Treff . From 1984 to 1987 she hosted the talk show People at Sender Free Berlin . From 1990, the ZDF panel was co-moderated live alongside Vice-Artistic Director Rudolf Radke . In 1984 she helped Konrad Beikircher achieve his breakthrough in the radio show Entertainment on the weekend of the WDR . From 1983 to 1999 Heidenreich wrote the column “Also…” for Brigitte magazine for 17 years .


Elke Heidenreich at a reading in 1992

In 1992 Heidenreich's literary debut, the narrative collection Colonies of Love , was published according to the publisher: “Nine ironic, tender or melancholy stories about love in our time.” The Killy literary lexicon describes the question of the possibility of a fulfilled life for petty-bourgeois figures as a central theme of Heidenreich's stories against the background of failing marriages, weak, cheating fathers and frustrated, dominant mothers. There are seldom fulfilled relationships, the gap between men and women remains insurmountable. Hubert Spiegel summed up in the taz that Heidenreich was presenting a typology of love ex negativo , “various manifestations of its absence. It is not about dealing with love that is told here, but about different ways of dealing with its lack. In these love stories the love affliction has lost all residual sweetness. The colonies of love that the title speaks of must be penal colonies. Solitary confinement is compulsory here. ”The book became a bestseller , reached fourth place in the Spiegel bestseller list in 1992 and ninth place the following year. The 250,000 copies sold in the first year alone enabled Heidenreich to give up their talk shows and concentrate on other literary works.

Heidenreich's cat story Nero Corleone , published in 1995, also became a bestseller and reached 6th place in the 1996 annual bestseller list of the Spiegel . She herself said of the book illustrated by Quint Buchholz that it was “a cat story of a tomcat who comes to Germany from Italy, becomes a big, strong and feared macho and goes back to his old farm when he is old. For adults, it's the love story between a somewhat sentimental woman and an Italian macho. And it's a mafia story too ... He extorts protection money, he protects an old cat, he impregnates whoever he wants, he oppresses, he robs. Somehow I felt like writing a story that could be read on one level at the age of eight and on the other at thirty. ”The book, which has been translated into 23 languages, received various international awards, such as the Prix ​​de la lecture à deux voix and the Vlag en pennants . What is remarkable for the Killy literary lexicon is that the cat is a “balancing act between a filled bowl and a bowl. individual freedom succeeds ”, which Heidenreich's human protagonists are mostly denied. In Heidenreich's children's books like Am Südpol, one thinks, it's hot (1998) or Anything else (1999), animals or the relationship between people and animals are often the focus. Together with her husband Bernd Schroeder, the story volume Rowing Dogs was created in 2002 , which combines stories about animals with stories about people. The Frankfurter Rundschau commented on the partially autobiographical collection of short stories Der Welt den zurück , published in 2001, that Elke Heidenreich narrated “multifaceted moods, from profoundly sad, funny, defiant to bitterly ironic. The language is clear, strong and without pathos, but full of warmth and sometimes cold and direct ”.

Literary mediator

Elke Heidenreich 2007

In 1993 and 1994 Heidenreich moderated the Literature Club , a literary program on Swiss television , in which changing literary critics discussed new literary publications. Editor-in-chief Ueli Heiniger described: “We wanted someone with a lot of temperament, a flair for dramaturgy and tension.” In August 2000 Heidenreich took part as a guest critic in the Literary Quartet . It was the first broadcast after Sigrid Löffler left . Five years later she returned to the quartet for a special about Friedrich Schiller .

At the time slot of the literary quartet led Heidenreich from April 2003 to October 2008 by the ZDF telecast reading! , in which she presented new publications and recommended books six to eight times a year . According to Oliver Pfohlmann, the program was strongly geared towards Elke Heidenreich, who with her eloquence appeared less as a literary critic than as a "passionate reader". With a celebrity at her side, she gave reading tips and expressed “lay criticism” that seemed authentic . Heidenreich himself described that she did not want to present literary criticism, but rather conveyed passion and enthusiasm for reading to the audience. Tilman Spreckelsen admired "the chutzpah of thinking one's own taste is so interesting that it can be used as the central theme of an entire program."

With their concept, Heidenreich soon achieved higher ratings than the previous format and the proposed books often became bestsellers. Marcel Reich-Ranicki stated that although critical analysis is not one of his successor's strengths, it does make recommendations that are highly suggestive and that viewers are happy to follow. Frank Schirrmacher emphasized: "Before Elke Heidenreich, there was never such a powerful literary critic, not even in the 20th century." In 2008 the magazine Cicero voted Heidenreich as Germany's most influential intellectual . Their very subjective evaluations caused a stir in the public. In April 2007 she described the late works of Günter Grass and Martin Walser as “disgusting old man's literature”: “Grass, Walser - those vain, old men who can't keep their mouths shut!” The reaction of the two authors was just as sharp. In an interview with Die Zeit , Walser criticized that the critic no longer even had to read what she was condemning. Grass added that this “stupidity and insolence cannot be surpassed […] The question of age cannot be a question of quality.” Walser's Goethe novel A loving man , however, praised Heidenreich again the following year.

To cancel the program read! it came after Heidenreich had supported Marcel Reich-Ranicki in an article in the FAZ , who had previously rejected the German TV Prize because of the poor quality of the program on public television . In doing so, she expressed shame at “working in such a station at all” and allegedly offered to quit. In a second FAZ article, she expressed her willingness to stay, but asked for a better slot. On October 23, ZDF director Markus Schächter and program director Thomas Bellut jointly terminated Heidenreich's employment contract. An open letter from 15 well-known publishers could no longer change Schächter and Bellut's mind. They interpreted Heidenreich's criticism as a purely labor law conflict and avoided commenting on the quality debate. Heidenreich then continued her literary program on the Internet and published 35 episodes on the literary portal litCOLONY , an offshoot of the Cologne literary festival lit.Cologne , before the Internet broadcast was discontinued at the end of 2009. Under the title Read more! a literary column also appeared in Stern magazine in 2009 .

From 2005 to 2006 Heidenreich published an edition with 26 literary recommendations on behalf of the Brigitte magazine. The books together reached a total circulation of almost 2 million copies. From 2009 to 2013 she was the editor of Edition Elke Heidenreich at C. Bertelsmann , in which around 40 novels and non-fiction books on musical topics were published. She gave up the previously accepted position as publishing director in the Random House publishing group due to lack of time.

Since September 2012 Elke Heidenreich returns to the broadcast Literature Club of Swiss Television SRF part that at this time until April 2014. Stefan Zweifel was moderated. After a controversy over a passage from Martin Heidegger's Black Hefts that Elke Heidenreich misquoted in the literature club on April 22, 2014, moderator Stefan Zweifel was removed. Both the broadcaster and Heidenreich made it clear in retrospect that there was no connection with the false quote.

Opera and drama

Another creative profession that Heidenreich discovered late is the poetry of opera libretti . She has been fond of opera since she first saw Mozart's Magic Flute at the age of 13 . From 1998 onwards she wrote the libretti for opera pieces that will be performed at the Cologne Children's Opera . She modernized the texts of old operas for children in a moderate form. “I would have preferred to have done something with music than with books,” Heidenreich once said about her preferred activity. Her first opera Das Opernschiff or Am Südpol, if you think it's hot, premiered on April 26, 2005 in the children's opera of the Cologne Opera. The music for this was written by the Berlin composer Marius Felix Lange . Her second opera Adrianas Fall was to be premiered on December 6th, 2008 at the Cologne Opera. Marc-Aurel Floros composed the music. However, the premiere had to be canceled due to a serious illness of Floros, who could not finish the score. (see also chapter Films)

In the 2012/2013 season Elke Heidenreich wrote as a columnist for the "Semper! -Magazin" of the Semperoper Dresden and presented her view of various opera themes under the title "semper secco".

Furthermore, she played in the movie Raumpatrouille Orion - Falling back into the cinema as intelligence officer Helma Krap. Every now and then she worked as a voice actress . She is also the German voice of the commentator "Rita Raupe" in the Belgian cartoon series Zoo Olympics (1990–1992).

In July 2012 and December 2013 Heidenreich made a guest appearance in the ARD series Verbotene Liebe .

Civil society engagement

Heidenreich was one of the authors who proclaimed March 20, 2006, on the occasion of the 3rd anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, to be the “day of political lies” worldwide. In a statement by the Berlin Peter Weiss Foundation , authors announced public readings in forty cities in Europe, America, Asia and Australia.

Elke Heidenreich has been one of its greatest sponsors since the foundation of the Cologne Children's Opera . For her literary program read first, produced by ZDF . she chose their stage as a backdrop.

Among other things, she is a member of the Citizens Committee Alternative Honorary Citizenship, which awards alternative Cologne honorary citizenship in Cologne .



Radio plays, audio books and scripts
  • with Bernd Schroeder: The birthdays of Gaby Hambacher (1971).
  • Nest Warmth (1972).
  • Sunday Stories with Anna (1974).
  • The Challenge (1975).
  • with Bernd Schroeder: Found Fressen (1976)
  • Seductions (1979).
  • with Irene Rodrian : Freundinnen (1980).
  • Tour de Ruhr (1981).
  • Under German Roofs (1983).
  • Lucky Mushrooms (1984).
  • No beautiful country (1984).
  • Triple Rittberger (1987)
  • Nero Corleone (1995).
  • "So ..." The best columns from Brigitte. Read by Elke Heidenreich (2004).
  • Nureyev's dog (2005) (awarded the Hörkules 2006)
  • Macbeth - Sleep's Killer (2006).
  • New York Stories by Dorothy Parker (2007)
  • At the South Pole, one thinks, it's hot. Read by Elke Heidenreich (2009).
  • Nero Corleone returns. Read by Elke Heidenreich (2011).
Opera literature
  • Elke Heidenreich, Christian Schuller, Klaus Lefebvre: The secret kingdom. Opera for children. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-462-03959-7 .
  • Elke Heidenreich, Christian Schuller: Opera! A declaration of love. 2 CDs, Random House Audio, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-89830-583-X .
Audio book


  • A dream of music. 46 declarations of love , Bertelsmann, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-570-58014-1 (= Edition Elke Heidenreich at C. Bertelsmann - btb 74402); as audio book, abridged reading, 3 CDs, 210 minutes, Random House Audio, Cologne 2010, ISBN 978-3-8371-0419-6 .
  • Cat music and hangover mood. Animal-musical stories , illustrated by Rudi Hurzlmeier , Bertelsmann, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-442-74680-4 (= Edition Elke Heidenreich at C. Bertelsmann - btb 74680); as audio book: 3CDs, 175 minutes, Random House Audio, Cologne 2012, ISBN 978-3-8371-1562-8 .
  • "Since today, but forever", the most beautiful love poems , selected and provided with an afterword by Elke Heidenreich and André Heller , Insel, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-458-36001-8 (= Insel-Taschenbuch , volume 4301)


  • Tour de Ruhr (TV series)
  • The package tour. TV film by Dieter Ehlers. 56 min. First broadcast: January 1, 1987, Südwestfunk 3.
  • Spaceballs . Science fiction comedy film, USA, 1987, 96 min., Written and directed by Mel Brooks , voice actor Dotty Matrix .
  • Raumpatrol Orion - fall back to the cinema . Feature film, Germany, 2003, 96 min.
  • Elke Heidenreich: It doesn't have to be that easy. Documentation, Germany, 58 min., 2004, script and direction: Claudia Müller, production: SWR .
  • Elke Heidenreich at Beckmann . Talk, broadcast: September 26, 2005, summary ( memento from April 20, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) of the ARD with online video , 24:19 min.
  • Elke Heidenreich - in person! TV report, 2008, 30 min., First broadcast: February 16, 2008, director: Claudia Müller, production: Radio Bremen , summary.
  • Tinkering for Adriana's case. TV report, 2008, director: Christian David, production: WDR , first broadcast: September 4th, 2008.
  • The best in the west - Elke Heidenreich. Documentation, Germany, 2008, 45 min., Production: WDR television, first broadcast: November 7, 2008, announcement.
  • Dylan Thomas - poet with fuel alcohol. Documentary, Germany, 2009, 52 min., Book: Elke Heidenreich, director: Tom Krausz, production: number 31, WDR , arte , first broadcast: January 31, 2010, summary by arte, text and speaker: Elke Heidenreich.
  • My verdi . Presented by Elke Heidenreich. Kultur-Reportage, Deutschland, 2013, 49:30 min., Book: Elke Heidenreich, director: Tom Krausz, production: dmfilm, Servus TV , first broadcast: August 16, 2014 on Servus TV, summary by dmfilm .
  • Radio home . Movie, Germany 2016, role of Aunt Henni, director: Matthias Kutschmann.
  • Elke Helene Heidenreich née Riegert - Almost a self-portrait . A film / feature by Klaus Michael Heinz , 2018, 60/55 min., First broadcast: February 16, 2018, WDR television / February 18, 2018, WDR 5 - reading lounge.

Web links

Commons : Elke Heidenreich  - Collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. cdn-storage.br.de ( Memento from April 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  2. cdn-storage.br.de ( Memento from April 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  3. cdn-storage.br.de ( Memento from April 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Elke Heidenreich in the ORF show Menschenkinder on December 16, 2015; interviewed by André Heller
  5. wn.de: Interview with Elke Heidenreich "Please read the whole year" from November 25, 2014
  6. ^ "The best in the west - Elke Heidenreich" ( Memento from May 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) WDR , November 4, 2008; “Heidenreich loves young men”, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger , August 3, 2009.
  7. ^ Jürgen Lodemann : My media memoirs. Baden-Baden as a workplace . Isele, Eggingen 1996, ISBN 3-86142-071-6 , pp. 21-22.
  8. Ms. Stratmann on literary tip ( Memento from December 7, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  9. When she was fifteen, she was fed up. In: Stuttgarter Zeitung. October 24, 1992.
  10. a b c Elke Heidenreich in the Munzinger archive , accessed on May 29, 2014 ( beginning of the article freely accessible).
  11. Konrad Beikircher : Sarens, Mrs. Walterscheidt ( Memento from May 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) , beikircher.de, accessed on July 19, 2012.
  12. Elke Heidenreich in Who's Who .
  13. Elke Heidenreich: Colonies of love at Rowohlt Verlag .
  14. a b Elke Kasper: Elke Heidenreich. In: Killy Literature Lexicon . Volume 5: Har-Hug. De Gruyter, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-11-021391-1 , pp. 153-154.
  15. Hubert Spiegel: Without residual sugar. Elke Heidenreich's bitter love stories. In: taz. June 13, 1993, p. 15.
  16. ↑ Best seller of the year . In: Der Spiegel from January 4, 1993.
  17. 1993 bestseller . In: Der Spiegel of December 27, 1993.
  18. ^ René Ammann: Vocabulary. In: Das Magazin , No. 6/93, February 3, 1993 ( PDF file ( Memento from May 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive )).
  19. ^ A b Antje Weber: I can live without television - not without books. Elke Heidenreich has largely withdrawn from public life - and written a children's book. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. October 25, 1995, p. 15 (interview).
  20. Best seller 1996 . In: Der Spiegel of December 23, 1996.
  21. "I became strong through books" . In: Cicero of May 18, 2008.
  22. Detlef Sundermann: The butcher's wife has become a thoughtful author. At the weekend in Gelnhausen, Elke Heidenreich read from her latest book: "Der Welt den zurück". In: Frankfurter Rundschau. May 14, 2001, p. 6.
  23. Rasante Schweizer ( memento from April 18, 2013 in the web archive archive.today ) on Swiss television from July 11, 2006, archived on Archive.today .
  24. “Literary Quartet”: Iris Radisch replaces Sigrid Löffler . In: Spiegel-Online from August 1, 2000.
  25. "Literary Quartet" back . In: Focus of March 10, 2005.
  26. ^ Oliver Pfohlmann: literary criticism in the Federal Republic. In: Thomas Anz , Rainer Baasner : literary criticism, history, theory, practice . Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-51095-7 , p. 184.
  27. a b Gerrit Bartels: The Proposer . In: Der Tagesspiegel from February 15, 2008.
  28. ^ Tilman Spreckelsen: Elke's world . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of May 2, 2003.
  29. Marcel Reich-Ranicki : She rarely gives reasons . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung from July 15, 2007.
  30. Germany's thinkers . In: Cicero of May 18, 2008.
  31. "Never again disgusting old-man literature!" Cicero , April 2007.
  32. Iris Radisch : “Anyone who is a year younger has no idea” . In: Die Zeit , June 14, 2007.
  33. "This book comes so close to love that you want to cry." According to: Nothing for men - Elke Heidenreich on Martin Walser's "A loving man" . On lesekreis.org, March 11, 2008.
  34. Elke Heidenreich: "Reich-Ranicki's just anger", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , October 12, 2008.
  35. Elke Heidenreich: "I'll stay in there before I'm not thrown out for bad work." In: "Heidenreich against ZDF. The fight is only just beginning! ” FAZ, October 19, 2008.
  36. “Open letter to ZDF. For Elke Heidenreich ", Süddeutsche Zeitung, October 23, 2008.
    Heidenreich had " the discussion about books and authors in this country through the program 'Read!' fired ”, and “ brought literature to a wide audience in a unique way ” .
  37. “ZDF director stays tough”, Kölnische Rundschau , October 24, 2008.
  38. "Elke Heidenreich publishes 'Reading!' into the Internet ”, Heise online , November 28, 2008.
  39. “Read more!” Elke Heidenreich's literary column ( memento from August 21, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) at Stern .
  40. BRIGITTE Edition now completely available in stores . Brigitte magazine press release on October 5, 2006.
  41. "I would get into a conflict of interest" . In: Börsenblatt from January 16, 2013.
  42. "Random House. Elke Heidenreich becomes publisher ”, Börsenblatt, June 9, 2008.
  43. ^ Heidenreich, Heidegger, Holocaust . Basler newspaper. May 24, 2014.
  44. Scandal about Heidenreich's Heidegger forgery . Southgerman newspaper. May 23, 2014.
  45. Clarification on the departure of Stefan Zweifel from the “Literature Club” ( Memento from May 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). SRF press release. May 25, 2014. Retrieved May 25, 2014
  46. Elke Heidenreich: How the Heidegger quote came about in the “Literature Club” . In: Tages-Anzeiger of May 27, 2014.
  47. Uwe Wittstock: "We want to seduce children to the opera", Die Welt , September 29, 2007, interview.
  48. “Operas comfort me”, Die Welt, May 23, 2004, interview.
  49. sikorski.de
  50. ^ "First performance 'Adrianas Fall' canceled in Cologne", ( Memento from December 2, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) ZDFtheaterkanal , October 28, 2008.
  51. ^ Website of the movie Raumpatrouille Orion - Fall back into the cinema with information about Heidenreich's appearance
  52. Axel Hill: Hedwig Neven DuMont becomes alternative honorary citizen. In: Express , July 19, 2011.