Erwin Strittmatter

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Erwin Strittmatter, 1992

Erwin Strittmatter (born August 14, 1912 in Spremberg ; † January 31, 1994 in Schulzenhof ) was a Sorbian-German writer in the GDR who wrote in German .


Bakery and colonial goods store Matt, Bohsdorf

Erwin Strittmatter was one of five children of the baker Heinrich Strittmatter and his wife Pauline Helene, nee. Kulka. Strittmatter spent his childhood from 1914 in Graustein and from 1919 in Bohsdorf near Spremberg in Niederlausitz , where his parents had moved to run a grocery store and bakery. From 1924 to 1930 Erwin attended the Reform Realgymnasium in Spremberg , but left it without a degree. In the novel trilogy Der Laden , he portrayed his home village and Spremberg under its Sorbian name Grodk as places of action.

After an apprenticeship as a baker in his parents' business and in Pretzsch (1930–1932), Strittmatter worked as a journeyman baker (1932), waiter, unskilled laborer and animal keeper. Here he received mostly good certificates, especially in the field of animal breeding.

Shaped by his family and social environment, Strittmatter joined the SPD even before the Nazi era .

Strittmatter married in 1937 and his first son was born in 1938. Strittmatter found work in the Thuringian cell wool AG in Rudolstadt-Schwarza . In September 1939, shortly after the start of World War II , Strittmatter was due to his age excavated and the Wehrmacht patterned . As Annette Leo reports in the Strittmatter biography 2012, he signed up for the police in October 1939 as an alternative to military service (advertising campaign in autumn 1939 “Do you want to join the police”). However, he was not called up in a police barracks as expected in March 1940, but continued to work in the war-essential rayon factory. From December 1, 1939, the newly created central supplementary office of the Waffen-SS was responsible for the protection police registrations , which subjected him to a "racial" test in April 1940 - as an index card discovered in archives shows. In February 1941 Strittmatter was drafted, after six months of training in Eilenburg, he served in the 325 Police Battalion ( Slovenia , Krakow ). In the early summer of 1942, this unit was combined with two others ( Police Battalion 302 and 312) to form a Police Mountain Infantry Regiment and, after a brief deployment in Slovenia, came first to Finland (behind the Kiestanki Front) and then to Greece (Greek Islands , Central Greece), Strittmatter processed the last two stations in the novel The Wonderworker . In 1943, Himmler awarded all police regiments the SS addition “in recognition of their particularly brave and successful mission” (Tessin / 1957), but they remained units of the regulatory police. In the summer of 1944, Strittmatter, who had also been one of the battalion's clerks since 1942, was transferred to the film and image department of the main office of the Ordnungspolizei in Berlin . Shortly before the end of the war, he " retired " from his office.

The literary scholar Werner Liersch criticized Strittmatter for hiding his proximity to the Waffen SS from the public throughout his life.

After the Second World War, Strittmatter worked again as a baker and later as a local editor for the Märkische Volksstimme in Senftenberg . After 1947 he was also head of office for seven small communities in Niederlausitz .

From 1954 he lived in Schulzenhof in the Ruppiner Land , where he worked as a writer and horse breeder until his death. From 1959 to 1961 he was first secretary of the German Writers' Association .

The relationship between Erwin Strittmatter and the Ministry for State Security has been extensively analyzed and documented. From 1958 to 1964 he worked as a secret informator for the State Security.

In 2011 it became known that in August 1961, shortly after the Wall was built, Strittmatter prevented Günter Grass from being arrested by the state security during a short stay in the GDR. It has not yet been clarified whether Strittmatter's behavior should deliberately delay intervention by the authorities or whether he only inadvertently passed on information in a roundabout way.

According to the Stasi files of the writer Reiner Kunze, Strittmatter advocated his expulsion from the GDR in the 1970s .

Grave in Schulzenhof

Erwin Strittmatter was married to the poet Eva Strittmatter (1930–2011) for the third time since 1956 . She lived with him in Schulzenhof since 1957. They raised four children, three of whom were sons. Four other sons from his first two marriages did not grow up with him. The author and actor Erwin Berner (* 1953) is his first son from his marriage to Eva Strittmatter. The journalist Judka Strittmatter (born January 3, 1966) is his granddaughter, daughter of his second son from his first marriage.

The friends of the Strittmatters included Halldór Laxness , Lew Kopelew , the perennial grower Karl Foerster and the painter Hubertus Giebe .

Strittmatter was buried in the Schulzenhof district of the Stechlin community. Eva Strittmatter was buried at his side in 2011. Her grave is opposite the grave of her son Matti, who had previously died.


In 1950 his first work Ochsenkutscher appeared . Until 1953 Strittmatter worked as an assistant to Bertolt Brecht at the Berliner Ensemble . In 1963 Ole Bienkopp appeared; this novel became one of the most widely read books in the GDR. In some cases he was sharply attacked by the official GDR literary criticism, but was awarded the national prize in 1964.

From 1963 Strittmatter occupied himself with short prose for nine years. This phase, which ended in 1972 with How I met my grandfather , is sometimes referred to as his novelistic decade.

Strittmatter continued to write intensively even after the political changes in 1989/1990. The last part of the novel trilogy Der Laden was created in 1992, along with other works . With this autobiographical novel, he is commemorating the cultural symbiosis between Germans and Sorbs . He describes the discrediting of the Sorbs by the Germans very vividly. With Der Laden , he left a historical picture of the city ​​of Spremberg and the village of Bohsdorf from the 1920s to the post-war period. As in his other works, he dealt with the development of rural life in eastern Germany and the Sorbian problem in Lower Lusatia. The trilogy was filmed in 1998 . Strittmatter had even inspired the director Jo Baier to make a film.

Strittmatter's works, written in German, have been translated into around 40 languages.


Erwin Strittmatter at the 1st Bitterfeld Conference , April 24, 1959

Honors and resistances

In 1994 the Ministry for Rural Development, Environment and Consumer Protection of the State of Brandenburg donated the "Erwin Strittmatter Prize". Because of Strittmatter's lifelong affiliation with the National Socialist Ordnungspolizei , the Brandenburg government renounced the name Strittmatters for the prize and has been awarding it since 2008 as the Brandenburg Environmental Literature Prize .

On January 23, 1996, the Spremberger Gymnasium was renamed Erwin-Strittmatter-Gymnasium by Dieter Friese, District Administrator of the Spree-Neisse district . The renaming was controversial because Strittmatter had left the school full of hatred for it. Eva Strittmatter supported the name change. Furthermore, on May 30, 2005, the Gransee grammar school was renamed Strittmatter grammar school after him and his wife .

On January 23, 2012, the city council of Spremberg, whose honorary citizen Erwin Strittmatter has been an honorary citizen since 1988, decided not to make an official honor or appreciation on the occasion of his 100th birthday in August 2012. The reason for this was again his membership in the Ordnungspolizei, which was later incorporated into the SS . Another reason given was his work for the Ministry of State Security .


  • Ox driver (1950)
  • A wall falls (1953)
  • Katzgraben (1953), (staged by Brecht , filmed in 1957 )
  • Tinko (1954)
  • Paul and the Lady Daniel (1956)
  • Katzgraben - Scenes from peasant life. With an aftermath (1958)
  • The miracle worker (trilogy 1957, 1973, 1980)
  • The Dutch Bride (1959)
  • Pony Pedro (1959)
  • Ole Bienkopp (1963)
  • Schulzenhofer Kramkalender (1966)
  • The Dutch bride - drama in five acts (1967)
  • A Tuesday in December (1969)
  • A Tuesday in September (16 shorthand novels, 1970)
  • 3/4 Hundred Little Stories (1971)
  • The Blue Nightingale (or The Beginning of Something ) (1976)
  • Sulamith Mingedö, the Doctor and the Louse (1977)
  • My Girlfriend Tina Babe (1977)
  • The Nightingale Tales (1972, 1977, 1985)
  • The Old Yard Pump (1979)
  • Encouragement (1981)
  • True Stories of All Ard (t) (1982)
  • The store (trilogy 1983, 1987, 1992)
  • Pony Christmas (1984)
  • Green June (1985)
  • Lifetime (1987)
  • The Situation in the Air (1990)
  • Santa Claus in a rag box (2003)
  • Flikka (1992)
  • How I met my grandfather
  • Before the Metamorphosis (Ed. By Eva Strittmatter, 1995)
  • Stories Without a Home (2002)
  • How the Rain Talks to the Lake (2002)
  • Calendar without beginning and end - Notes from Piestany (Ed. By Eva Strittmatter, 2003)
  • Lifetime - A Breviary (Selected by Helga Pankoke, with 85 private photos)
  • Fear of Death - One Night (Selected by Helga Pankoke, 2005)
  • News from my life - From the diaries 1954–1973 (Ed. By Almut Giesecke, 2012)
  • The state of my world - From the diaries 1974–1994 (Ed. By Almut Giesecke, 2014)

Sound carrier (selection)

  • Erwin Strittmatter reads excerpts from his novel Ole Bienkopp. Editing: Rudi Böhm, director: Renate Thormelen, long-playing record. Litera / VEB Deutsche Schallplatten, Berlin GDR 1965, No. 8 60 069.
  • Erwin Strittmatter: Pony Pedro. Read by Erwin Geschonneck , long-playing record. Litera / VEB Deutsche Schallplatten, Berlin GDR 1966, No. 8 60 061, new edition 1977.
  • Erwin Strittmatter reads: How I met my grandfather. LP. Litera / VEB Deutsche Schallplatten, Berlin GDR 1976, no .: 8 60 229.
  • Erwin Strittmatter reads out: The store. LP. Litera / VEB Deutsche Schallplatten, Berlin GDR 1987, no .: 8 60 394.
  • Erwin Strittmatter: Before the transformation. Read by Manfred Steffen , 3 CDs. MDR 2002 / Der Audio Verlag 2002, ISBN 3-89813-197-1 .
  • Erwin Strittmatter reads out: The store. 6 CDs. Broadcasting of the GDR 1979, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989; 6 CDs. The Audio Verlag 2009, ISBN 978-3-89813-867-3 .
  • Erwin Strittmatter: Pony Pedro. Read by Erwin Geschonneck, CD. New edition. Broadcasting of the GDR 1966 / Der Audio Verlag 2009, ISBN 978-3-89813-867-3 .


  • Bernd-Rainer BarthStrittmatter, Erwin . In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 2. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4 .
  • Hermann Precht : The socialist realism in Erwin Strittmatter's work. Marburg / Lahn 1975.
  • Nadja M. Karoussa: Expressive linguistic means and their aesthetic function in Erwin Strittmatter's short prose. Cairo 1976.
  • Angela Hoffmann: The conception of the individual in Erwin Strittmatter's epic oeuvre, examined using female characters from selected novels. Leipzig 1987.
  • Jürgen Mannke: The valuation of Erwin Strittmatter's novel by literary criticism as a paradigm of changing standards of value in GDR literary history from 1950–1988. Leipzig 1998.
  • Günther Drommer: Erwin Strittmatter - the game of life. 2000.
  • Eva Strittmatter, Günther Drommer (ed.): Erwin Strittmatter. A biography in pictures. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-351-02541-6 .
  • Henning Gloege: The Unknown Strittmatter. August-von-Goethe-Literaturverlag, Frankfurt a. M. 2007, ISBN 978-3-86548-850-3 .
  • Günther Drommer: Erwin Strittmatter and our fathers' war. Das Neue Berlin, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-360-01988-2 .
  • Joachim Jahns: Erwin Strittmatter and the bad war. Biographical supplements. Dingsda-Verlag, Querfurt / Leipzig 2011, ISBN 978-3-928498-88-3 .
  • Annette Leo : Erwin Strittmatter. The biography. Construction Verlag, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-351-03395-8 .
  • Joachim Jahns: Erwin Strittmatter and the SS, Günter Grass and the Waffen-SS. Dingsda-Verlag Querfurt, Leipzig 2012, ISBN 978-3-928498-98-2 .
  • Carsten Gansel , Matthias Braun (eds.): It's about Erwin Strittmatter or the dispute about memory (= German-language contemporary literature and media. Volume 11). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-89971-997-0 .
  • Judka Strittmatter: The sisters: Roman. Construction Verlag, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-351-03382-8 .
  • Ulrich Schacht: Uncovering the secret of credibility. Encounters with Erwin Strittmatter. In: Sinn und Form , 2/2014, pp. 170–181.
  • Erwin Berner: Memories of Schulzenhof . Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-351-03615-7
  • Renate Brucke, Matthias Stark (eds.): From Bohsdorf to Schulzenhof - In the footsteps of Eva and Erwin Strittmatter. SEW-Verlag, Dresden 2016, ISBN 978-3-936203-28-8 .

Web links

Commons : Erwin Strittmatter  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Erwin Strittmatter - Biography and Biblography. In: ; accessed on June 14, 2019.
  2. Werner Liersch : SS past. Erwin Strittmatter's Unknown War. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung . June 8, 2008, accessed August 10, 2017.
  3. Joachim Walther: Security area literature. Writer and State Security in the German Democratic Republic. Chr. Links Verlag, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-86153-121-6 .
  4. Joachim Walther: Petzen and chat. The Stasi contacts of the successful East German author Erwin Strittmatter . In: Der Spiegel . No. 39 , 1996, pp. 226-227 ( online - 23 September 1996 ).
  5. Markus Decker: Strittmatter "prevented" the arrest of Grass in 1961. In: Mitteldeutsche Zeitung . October 5, 2011, accessed April 29, 2019 .
  6. Reiner Kunze: Code name "Lyrik" (= Fischer non-fiction book. Volume 10854). Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt am Main 1990, ISBN 3-596-10854-3 , p. 72.
  7. Karim Saab: Literary accusations: Judka Strittmatters ugly GDR childhood ( memento from October 5, 2015 in the web archive ). In: Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung . March 10, 2012, accessed August 10, 2017.
  8. -wn-: Forest cemetery in Schulzendorf. In:, June 3, 2014, accessed on April 29, 2019.
  9. Country leaves the name "Erwin Strittmatter" out of the award ceremony. ( Memento from January 9, 2011 in the web archive ) In: Ad Hoc News. January 31, 2009, accessed August 10, 2017.
  10. ^ Website of the Erwin-Strittmatter-Gymnasium Spremberg, accessed on April 29, 2019.
  11. ^ René Wappler: New attacks in the Strittmatter dispute. In: Lausitzer Rundschau . January 25, 2012, accessed August 10, 2017.