Women in front of a river landscape

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Women in front of a river landscape. A novel in dialogues and self-talk is the last novel by Heinrich Böll . After the Nobel laureate in literature had worked on the manuscript for three years, the novel was published in the summer of 1985, one month after his death, by the Cologne publisher Kiepenheuer & Witsch . Previously, on July 29, 1985, an excerpt under the title Monologue of an Election Helper was printed in the news magazine Der Spiegel .

The river landscape is a residential area on the Rhine between Bonn and Bad Godesberg . The women are the wives and partners in life of politicians in Bonn and their backers, the bankers. While the politicians only rule, the bankers rule. Even more - the ministers are ruled.

Böll chose these women "to be carriers of a message of hope". The dramatic thing in this prose: Those women would rather die than endure the sight of the “ old Nazis ” around their husbands any longer.


Numbers in the headings indicate chapters.

The novel takes place on two days in 1984.

1, 2

Hermann Wubler is a lawyer and partner at the major banker Kapspeter and secretary to Paul Chundt. Wubler's father had been a little postman. Hermann Wubler's wife Erika used to work as a shoe seller in a "village junk shop". At the end of the war, Erika had hidden the deserter Hermann Wubler from the chain dogs . After the marriage, during Wubler's career, Chundt had been after Erika, but she had been able to turn him away. Blaukrämer, on the other hand, had given the great Chundt his wife Elisabeth, a formerly Protestant Prussian noblewoman, “always freely available”.

The Wublers hired the trained waitress Katharina Richter as a girl for everything. Katharina also works as a waiter in other villas in the neighborhood. The young unemployed economist graduated from high school, studied successfully and earned her doctorate on the side.

Erika Wubler, born in 1920, loves Karl von Kreyl, born in 1946, like a son. Hermann Wubler loves Eva Plint, who is 30 years his junior.


Worry drives Count Heinrich von Kreyl, "Catholic nobility from the Lower Rhine and not a Nazi", into his son Karl's shabby caravan. The old man wants Karl to move back into the manorial villa. But Karl, the unemployed lawyer, does not participate. Karl was responsible for his unemployment. In diplomatic service in South America he had committed a “private folly”, that is, embezzled a sum of money “from the diplomatic fund”. After all, he had paid a friend for a plane ticket to Cuba, slipped a little bit of cash and thus saved her "from torture and death". But back to the old count's latest concern: For the third time, a precious grand piano, on which Beethoven was probably already performing, was dismantled and stacked like firewood - this time at Kapspeter's. The father suspects that the son is the culprit. After all, Karl had chopped up his wing with an ax seven years ago on the day when his old friend Konrad Fluh was accidentally shot during a police check. Then his wife, who had loved him, left him, Karl had been deported to Rio de Janeiro and Plukanski had made Karl's career back home in Germany.

The son can reassure the father. He is just a wing chopper and not an accomplished wing chopper. Incidentally, he no longer assaults someone else's property. Still, the old count is not so easy to calm down. Because Karl is making a little cart for his four-year-old son Heinrich, using the wheels of a grand piano. Although Karl is still married to Eva Plint - that is Eva Maria Countess von Kreyl - he loves Katharina Richter and has the child with the waitress. Little Heinrich is the old Count's problem child, because Kreyl's name has to be passed on from generation to generation. And Karl, who is averse to the “aristocracy”, is not inclined to change his name. Count Karl also carries a heavy burden. When he was five years old, his mother Martha von Kreyl drowned herself in the Rhine.

Father and son discuss daily politics. Plukanski can no longer be retained as a minister. The Poles dug in its past. Blaukrämer is the new man.

4, 5

Eva Plint loves Ernst Grobsch, the proletarian with the sociologist face. Grobsch, the Nazi hunter, is after a Plonius, the bloodhound. The old Nazi converted quite legally to democrats. Ernst Grobsch's grandfather, a communist worker, was killed in Auschwitz .

Eva has something like a conspiratorial meeting with Wubler. Because it's about the GDR, about informers, about a certain Bingerle, about diplomats, oil and weapons, about the Cubans. The fog thickens. People are designated with numbers. Eavesdropping is feared. And the summit, there is talk of people whose names must not be put in their mouths. Eva does not want to be used by Wubler, but lets herself be invited to a beer. The two conspirators walk past the property of the young New Yorker Jeremias Innocent. Oil sheikhs want to acquire the neglected property. But the innocent, who lives with relatives in the United States, inherited it from ancestors who perished in Treblinka and will never give up the memory.


Ernst Grobsch, member of the German Bundestag, is the speechwriter for Apfelwange, alias Minister Hans Günter Plukanski. The apple cheek grossly hates this unskilled man. But the minister is a master at trumpeting foreign ideas and is popular with the electorate. So Grobsch has to make a good face to the bad game. He hides his superiority from the apple cheek and is allowed to remain an assistant to the Minister.


The established historiography of literature apostrophizes the work as a "coping book". The history of Elisabeth Blaukrämer's suicide alone justifies this categorization. The woman was locked away by her husband in the "elegant nut mill" Kurhotel Kuhlbollen. Only wives of wealthy gentlemen who have become troublesome stay there. The female guests in Kuhlbollen lack nothing. Everything is taken care of. If the hotel management once again deems it appropriate, the lady in question can even be satisfied in the room.

The reason for Elisabeth's briefing was: the woman had screamed incessantly when, after forty years in the middle of Germany, she saw the bloodhound Plonius, formerly General of the Wehrmacht Plietsch. The dashing young general had ordered Elisabeth's father - the baron - in Bleibnitz to shoot himself in front of the approaching Russians. The father had obeyed and had even dragged innocent German children with him to their death. The young baroness Elisabeth von Bleibnitz had always managed to escape westwards into the interior of the empire. After a stopover in the Soviet occupation zone and temporary work in DSF , Elisabeth reluctantly came to West Germany at her mother's instigation . There in Huhlsbolzenheim she was on the bourgeois politician Dr. Blaukrämer, a bad career maker and Nazi, fell for it. They had never made love. Elisabeth also hadn't wanted a child from him because he only used her - e.g. B. as a test person when answering the question: Will the bloodhound still be recognized after forty years? Elisabeth had only loved one person in her life - the Russian Dimitri. She couldn't get it. Now your "memories" should be corrected in the spa hotel. When the manager of the “hotel” sends a “ fucker ” to the room on the day that Blaukramer becomes minister, all of that taken together is too much for Elisabeth. She compliments the potent gentleman and hangs herself in her comfortable apartment.

8, 9

Paul Chundt is angry because Fritz Blaukrämer did not call off his ostentatious party on the occasion of his appointment as minister. After all, Blaukrämer was married to Elisabeth for years, and after all, Chundt loved Elisabeth. Blaukrämer weighs it down. Chundt does not give up and criticizes the church wedding of Blaukrämer with the second wife Trude. Blaukrämer protests against it. Chundt confronts Blaukrämer with the Nazi past. Blaukrämer weighs it down - he was very young and had been given a command. Then the next problem arises. Sponge, the grand prince of the money nobility, appears. Even people who reprimand the newly appointed Minister Blaukrämer tremble at the sponge. As always at such festivals, Sponge demands a decent mature woman whom he wants to "make indecent" on the spot. The problem: All women who were once decent had been fed to the sponge earlier and Katharina, who is a waiter at the party, has already slapped the libertine. The solution: Blaukrämer brings his Trude to Sponge.

At the party there is another gentleman with another problem: the big banker Krengel. His only daughter Hilde does not want to follow in his footsteps: “Papa, no, I'd rather die in Nicaragua than live here.” Krengel thinks he has the solution to his problem: He asks Karl v. Who is also present at the party. Kreyl to dismantle his precious wing in the presence of Hilde. The banker had not yet been visited by the piano dismantler. Karl has to refuse the request. He's just a piano chopper. Nevertheless, Karl is inclined - for an appropriate fee - to take on an advisory role in the campaign.

Because of the "Tachtel" Katharina lost her job and thus future tips.


The Wubler couple mentioned the death of Minister Plukanski, but had other worries. At Blaukrämer's party, the sponge was not only assaulted by Katharina, but also by Karl. An act of revenge on the part of Sponge is to be feared. Paul Chundt therefore calls on the Wublers to distance themselves from the young people. The Wublers refuse, although they owe a lot to Chundt.


Heinrich v. Kreyl is said to succeed Heulbuck - a man who is always mentioned but does not appear - to rule. The "democratic count" calls together the likeable part of the novel's staff and organizes a small referendum. Opinions are divided. Heinrich agrees with his son's opinion: No.

Bingerle, arriving from the Swiss border, has a meaningless brief appearance.


Kapspeter has swallowed Krengel's bank. Krengel has become Kapspeter's employee, wants to follow Hilde to Nicaragua, but remains in the country. Heinrich v. Kreyl brings a travel bag full of "lead lumps". Like his wife, he wants to "go into the Rhine" and drown more quickly with the help of the lumps. Karl persuades his father to commit suicide. Katharina, who always wanted to go to Cuba, stays in Germany. Your Cuba is here. Katharina's dissertation was accepted.

Who turned the precious wings into kindling is not disclosed. Karl, the system critic, had only hacked up his own piano.


  • "Politics is tough, dirty, necessary - and sucks."
  • "Every piece of bread I eat, I eat someone away."
  • "This is the only state we have."
  • "Money has no heart, it is invulnerable."


Böll raises important questions related to the Nazi past , and the reader has to find answers. An example is provided by the question:

  • Why does Martha v. Kreyl in the Rhine in 1951 when Erftler-Blum and his cronies show up at her place?

Answer: It seems that the title of the novel is not exactly accurate. Because in three of the twelve chapters, which make up almost a quarter of the volume of the novel, only men appear. But exactly in such a chapter, chapter 3, in which only Heinrich and Karl v. Kreyl arise, the question listed above arises. In the 10th chapter it is answered neither by Erika Wubler nor by Heinrich v. Kreyl. The question is simply asked again. And immediately more question marks arise. Who is Erftler-Blum? What has he done? Erftler-Blum belongs to the "Roman staff" who - like Heulbuck (see above) - are always mentioned, but never appear. But if Elisabeth Blaukrämer can't stand the sight of the Wehrmacht General Plietsch and if Anna Krengel thinks of the "tooth gold of the murdered" while putting on gold jewelry and is afraid of the shower because she then sees the pictures of the gas chambers , then it becomes conceivable why Martha v. Kreyl went into the Rhine. So the title of the novel applies exactly. Because in chapter 3 there is a woman present. The spirit of the dead Martha v. Kreyl hovers over the scene, as it were.


In the novel, Böll consistently chooses the stage form (dialogue, monologue, stage direction) in order to "switch himself off as ... narrator." The genres of epic and drama are negated. Logically, Volker Schlöndorff brought the “Roman” to the stage in 1988 ( Münchner Kammerspiele ).

Flashbacks from the West German present in the 80s of the 20th century to the Nazi era tell about the origins of the men of the eponymous women.

"The external reality becomes a shadow play:" The many people who are talked about again and again and about whom the reader learns nothing or very little cause displeasure. There is talk of a Bingerle in the novel. The reader asks himself what it is all about.

The structure of the novel is jagged: facts about the plot , which the reader struggles to follow, are surprisingly presented in a completely disordered order. However, this results in a harrowing mosaic of our recent history.


Erika Wubler claims that she was 24 years old when Karl was born. Then the reader is persuaded that Erika was born in 1920 and Karl in 1946.


Böll wanted to present "Bonn as an overall phenomenon in intellectual and political terms".


  • The title "women from riverside" did Annemarie Böll invented.
  • "It's a sad, bitter book."
  • There would be no plot in the work: “Nothing is made vivid, everything is talked about casually…” “It is a speech in memory” and “there is no report in this novel.”
  • While reading, the reader repeatedly encounters the phrase "sucks".
  • Barner succinctly assigns the book to the literary mainstream .
  • "It is the shadow of the Adenauer era, the shadow of Globke or Kiesinger or at best Filbinger that falls over Böll's river landscape."
  • The novel is a "picture of grief, anger and colportage in which all of his [Heinrich Böll's] favorite characters and gestures appear again."
  • Falkenstein highlights the two sides of the novel's reception. Some reviewers condemned the book, dismissing it as the work of an author with broken creativity. But since the “basic mood” in the novel is “resignation”, conventional narration has actually become superfluous and only the dialogue or even the monologue remains.
  • In autumn 1985 Fritz J. Raddatz “cannot get over so much dilettantism of a great narrator”, but Marcel Reich-Ranicki does not want to tear the work that fall : “It would be absurd to want to judge Böll's last work with critical literary rigor.”
  • All his life Böll was unable to cope with the internal processing of the trauma of the Second World War . Friedrichsmeyer attests that the author has a “firm heart”, but observes “a noticeable softness in this late work ... more precisely ... a new openness” when he discusses Grobsch's monologue (Chapter 6): The sentiment of that “loyal-cynical” Grobsch, the man more proletarian Origin with the sociologist's face is more than a mere stylistic device. Böll, close to death, speaks in a way that we have never heard before.


Sources Heinrich Böll: Women in front of a river landscape. Novel in dialogues and self-talk. Insel-Verlag Anton Kippenberg, Leipzig 1986 (1st edition, licensed edition).

First edition Heinrich Böll: Women in front of a river landscape. Novel in dialogues and self-talk. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1985. 256 pages, ISBN 978-3-462-01715-1 . (At number 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list for 13 weeks in 1985 )


  • Women in front of a river landscape. Blind printing . German Blind Printing Institute, Marburg 1986, DNB  551679492 .
  • Women in front of a river landscape. Novel in dialogues and self-talk . dtv, Munich 1990, ISBN 978-3-423-11196-6 (3 editions until 1995).
  • Women in front of a river landscape. Radio play editing . Der Hör-Verlag, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-89584-275-3 (2 stereo audio cassettes; recorded 1973/74, 1983 and 1986).
  • Women in front of a river landscape. Novel . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-462-03911-5 .


  • Reinhard Baumgart: Twilight of the idols with Norns . In: Der Spiegel . Volume 39, No. 36 of September 2, 1985. pp. 188-192.
  • Joachim Kaiser: Bitter absurd theater with Bonn. On Heinrich Böll's last novel "Women in front of a river landscape". In: Süddeutsche Zeitung . Volume 41, No. 218 of September 21, 1985. S. IV.
  • Anton Krättli: Bitter Legacy. Heinrich Böll: "Women in front of a river landscape". In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . No. 210, September 12, 1985. p. 41 [remote edition].
  • Fritz J. Raddatz: souls only painted on. Heinrich Böll's Bonn novel "Women in front of a river landscape" . In: The time . Volume 40, No. 42 of October 11, 1985. p. 11.
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki: One last farewell to Heinrich Böll. On the occasion of his book “Women in front of a river landscape”, a “novel in dialogues and self-talk” that is no longer complete. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . No. 233. October 8, 1985. S. L1f. (Literature supplement)
  • Wolfram Schütte: Loyalty and love, not faith. Talk to yourself at the end of the month. Heinrich Böll's posthumous novel "Women in front of a river landscape" . In: Frankfurter Rundschau . Volume 41, No. 225. September 28, 1985. S. ZB 4.
  • Jürgen P. Wallmann: Bonn as Sin Babylon. Heinrich Böll's last novel. In: Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin). May 8, 1985.
  • Günter Zehm: From the Count's Castle to the caravan. Böll's posthumous novel about the political Bonn . In: The world . Volume 40, No. 196 from August 24, 1985.

Secondary literature

  • Wilfried Barner (ed.): History of German literature. Volume 12: History of German Literature from 1945 to the Present . Verlag CH Beck, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-406-38660-1 .
  • Árpád Bernáth (Hrsg.): History and melancholy: about Heinrich Böll's novel women before river landscape . Kiepenheuer u. Witsch, Cologne, ISBN 3-462-02438-8 .
  • Lucia Borghese: The late work . In: Bernd Balzer (Ed.): Heinrich Böll 1917–1985 for his 75th birthday. Peter Lang AG, Bern 1992. 354 pages, ISBN 3-906750-26-4 , pp. 231-244.
  • Werner Bellmann (ed.): The work of Heinrich Böll. Bibliography with studies on early work. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1995, ISBN 3-531-12694-6 .
  • Henning Falkenstein: Heinrich Böll . Morgenbuch Verlag Volker Spiess, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-371-00398-1 .
  • Francis James Finlay: Aspects and Trends in Böll Research since 1976 . In: Bernd Balzer (Ed.): Heinrich Böll 1917–1985 for his 75th birthday. Peter Lang AG, Bern 1992, ISBN 3-906750-26-4 , pp. 315–338.
  • Erhard Friedrichsmeyer: The soft and the firm heart. Sentimentality and satire at Böll . In: Bernd Balzer (Ed.): Heinrich Böll 1917–1985 for his 75th birthday. Peter Lang AG, Bern 1992, ISBN 3-906750-26-4 , pp. 179-194.
  • Jens-Florian Groß: Wolfgang Koeppen Das Treibhaus and Heinrich Böll Women in front of a river landscape - a comparison . Grin Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-638-72763-1 .
  • Gabriele Hoffmann : Heinrich Böll. Life and work . Heyne-Verlag Biography 12/209 Munich 1991 (Cecilie-Dressler-Verlag 1977), ISBN 3-453-05041-X .
  • Christine Hummel / Silke Hermanns: Heinrich Böll: "Women in front of a river landscape". In: Heinrich Böll. Novels and short stories. Interpretations . Edited by Werner Bellmann. Reclam, Stuttgart 2000, pp. 269-285.
  • Klaus Jeziorkowski: The writing in the sand . In: Bernd Balzer (Ed.): Heinrich Böll 1917–1985 for his 75th birthday. Peter Lang AG, Bern 1992, ISBN 3-906750-26-4 , pp. 135-162.
  • Daniela Krämer: To Böll's women in front of a river landscape - The representation of the power elites . Grin Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-638-76315-8 .
  • Birthe Kreibohm: Heinrich Böll's utopia - the movens of his social imagination. (...) Investigations attached to the novels Caring Siege and Women in Front of a River Landscape . University of Bremen, Bremen 1996, DNB  951703927 .
  • Sarolta Németh: The “Guardians of Memory” - The role of women in Heinrich Böll's novel Women in front of a river landscape . VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken 2009, ISBN 978-3-639-13198-7 .
  • Klaus Schröter : Heinrich Böll . Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek 1982 (5th edition, 1992), ISBN 3-499-50310-7 .
  • Jochen Vogt: Heinrich Böll . Verlag CH Beck, Munich 1978 (2nd edition, 1987), ISBN 3-406-31780-4 .
  • Gero von Wilpert : Lexicon of world literature. German Authors A-Z . Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-520-83704-8 , p. 68.

Web links

  • Heinrich Böll - Cologne edition vol. 23

Individual evidence

  1. Borghese, p. 231, 2nd line vu
  2. Bellmann, p. 212, entry 1985.1
  3. Source, p. 14
  4. Source, p. 103, 21st line from
  5. Source, p. 184, 8th line vu
  6. Borghese, p. 235, 18th line vu
  7. Source, p. 183, 6th line vu
  8. a b source, pp. 176, 194, 195
  9. Source, p. 94, 11th line vu
  10. Source, p. 24, 18. Z. vo
  11. ^ Source, p. 69, 2nd line vu
  12. Source, p. 196, 5th line from
  13. Source, p. 209, 12th line vu
  14. Source, p. 92, 16. Z. vo
  15. ^ Source, p. 100, 2nd line vu
  16. Source, p. 100, 1st line vu
  17. a b Barner, p. 376
  18. Source, p. 22, 3rd line from
  19. Source, p. 131, 16. Z. vo
  20. Source, p. 27, 10th line vu
  21. Source, p. 134, 19th line from
  22. Source, p. 147, 17th line from
  23. Source, p. 68 above
  24. Source, p. 160, 12th line from
  25. Source, p. 176
  26. Source, p. 122, 7th line vu
  27. Source, p. 188, 3rd line from
  28. ^ Source, p. 199, 2nd line vu
  29. ^ Source, p. 208, 4th line vu
  30. Source, p. 194 above
  31. These are e.g. B. in the source the chapters 3 (24 pages), 5 (20 pages) and 12 (6 pages).
  32. Source, p. 208 above
  33. ^ Falkenstein, p. 83, 13th line vu
  34. Borghese, p. 232, 21st line from above
  35. Jeziorkowski, p. 155, 5th line from
  36. Falkenstein, p. 83 below
  37. Jeziorkowski, p. 157, 11th line vo
  38. Source, p. 25, 14th line vu
  39. Source, p. 194
  40. Quoted from an announcement of the book 1985 in: Schröter, p. 129, 4th line vo
  41. Hoffmann, p. 280, 10th line vu
  42. Hoffmann, p. 287, 2nd line vu
  43. Schröter, p. 126
  44. Schröter, p. 130, 8th line from above
  45. ^ Jeziorkowski, p. 155, 21st line vo
  46. Jeziorkowski, p. 155, 25th line from above
  47. Schröter, p. 129, 19th line from above
  48. ^ Vogt, p. 153, 14th line vu
  49. Reinhard Baumgart quoted in: Vogt, p. 153, 2nd line vu
  50. Falkenstein, p. 86 above
  51. Quoted in Finlay, p. 319, 15. Z. vo
  52. Quoted in Finlay, p. 319, 19th line vu
  53. Friedrichsmeyer, p. 192, 9th line vu