Caring siege

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Caring Siege is a 1979 novel by Heinrich Böll . It is a literary attempt to come to terms with German history in the post-war period. The story plays in the "German Autumn 1977" with the aftermath of the RAF and as a memorial against violence and the dark side of capitalism , clan liability and social rehabilitation .


The novel is about Fritz Tolm, his wife Käthe, their children Rolf, Herbert and Sabine, whose lives are told in fate. Tolm should have wanted to be museum director, but an inheritance made him a publisher overnight and, due to his self-sacrificing humanity, the president of a powerful advocacy group. Today he is right at the top in a society shaped by capitalism , where there is no rest, no relaxation and no more privacy. In this environment he should be protected by the "police state" and "protected to death". A network of security measures is put in place not only for his own protection, but also to monitor himself and his family. The shelter granted by the state has the features of a prison. Fritz Tolm's children, however, place little value on this special protection of the state. You belong to the social opposition and sympathize with alternative social models. When Tolm found out about his daughter Sabine's pregnancy from the newspaper, he was initially disappointed because he was obviously one of the last to find out about it. In the meantime, Sabine decides to separate from her unfaithful husband Erwin Fischer because of her bodyguard Hubert, who is also the father of her future child. However, she sees no future for her great love with Hubert and moves with her four-year-old daughter Kit to her brother Rolf, whom her husband Erwin deeply detests. Rolf is known in the family as a "black sheep" because he used to come into conflict with the law, had contacts with terrorists and was imprisoned for arson. He suffers from isolation from family. Rolf's first wife Veronika, a friend from earlier times, Bewerloh, and his son Holger (an allusion to Holger Meins ) have joined the terrorists and went into hiding; they are wanted by the police. However, Rolf's son Holger returns after four years. His grandfather Tolm unintentionally helps Bewerloh, whom Holger has taken to his heart, to be tracked down by the police. During the arrest, Bewerloh kills himself. Thereupon Veronika surrenders to the police and warns Rolf of the danger that Holger poses; but too late: Holger has already set his grandparents' house on fire. Sabine decides on a future together with Hubert after all, and they leave the city together.


Heinrich Böll tells individual episode stories that are all interconnected. Each chapter is described by individual people from their specific point of view, this leads to an exciting presentation of the different life stories. Each individual chapter is to be read in the context of the entire novel. As in 1972, the Nobel Prize year, a year after the publication of his novel Group Picture with Lady , when it caused a domestic political scandal, when he wrote an essay for Der Spiegel entitled Will Ulrike Grace or Free Guidance? pleaded for a humane treatment of the terrorists of the RAF and in particular dealt with the person around the career of Ulrike Meinhof and brought the idea of ​​rehabilitation to a number of discussions. In conservative circles, he has since been considered a “spiritual sympathizer” of terrorism, which Heinrich Böll suffered from. With the story Die Lost Ehre der Katharina Blum and the novel Fürsorgliche Siege , both of which represent a contribution to the violence debate of the 1970s, he deals extremely critically with the reporting .



  • Rudolf Augstein: Rumbling in the confessional . In: Der Spiegel . No. 31, July 30, 1979.
  • Fritz J. Raddatz: From the surveillance state. Böll has written a thriller. Böll has written a political novel. An image or a caricature of our society? In: The time . No. 32, August 3, 1979.
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki: Nice capitalists and nice terrorists . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . No. 179, August 4, 1979.
  • Wolfram Schütte: Lots of nice people . In: Frankfurter Rundschau . No. 179, August 4, 1979.
  • Günter Zehm: When someone is guarded too well. Is that supposed to be the Federal Republic of Germany at the end of the 1970s? In: The world . No. 186, August 11, 1979.
  • [Anonymous]: Catastrophically unsuccessful . In: Der Spiegel . No. 33, August 13, 1979.
  • Hermann Burger: A clear word about Böll . In: Die Weltwoche . No. 33, August 15, 1979.
  • Joachim Kaiser: Heinrich Böll's delicate inner and outer world . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung . No. 195, August 25, 1979.

Research literature

  • Stephen Smith: Schizos Vernissage and the loyalty of love. On the moral of language in Heinrich Böll's novel “Fürsorgliche Siege”. In: Hanno Beth (Ed.): Heinrich Böll. An introduction to the complete works in individual interpretations. Königstein / Ts., 2nd, revised. and supplemented edition 1980, pp. 97-128.
  • Bernd Balzer: Failure to be carefree? Heinrich Böll's “Caring Siege” . In: Materials for the interpretation of Heinrich Böll's "Pflesorgliche Siege" . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1981, pp. 37-95.
  • Marinello Marianelli: “Caring Siege”. Heinrich Böll's "heavenly bitterness". In: Anna Maria Dell'Agli (Ed.): To Heinrich Böll . Ernst Klett, Stuttgart 1984, pp. 106-116.
  • Beate Schnepp: Birds Flight - Expulsions - Caring Siege. Studies on Heinrich Böll's novel “Caring siege”. Scientific publishing house Trier, Trier 1997.

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