Georg Stefan Troller

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Georg Stefan Troller, on ZDF (2011) in the program "30 Years Ago"

Georg Stefan Troller (born December 10, 1921 in Vienna ) is a writer, television journalist, screenwriter, director and documentary filmmaker .

His subjective questioning of celebrities and other people became a model for many journalists, documentary filmmakers and talk show moderators. "Austrians of Jewish origin, who narrowly escaped the Nazis, now living in Paris as Americans, Troller feels that he belongs to the German-speaking area."


Troller is the second son of Karl Troller, a Jewish fur trader from Brno who ran a shop on Neutorgasse in Vienna's 1st district . The family lived there on Rudolfsplatz and later moved to Vienna-Döbling . Troller first learned the trade of bookbinder in the 1st district. When Austria was annexed in 1938 , at the age of 16 he fled from the Nazis to Czechoslovakia , from there to France , where he was interned when the war broke out. In 1941 he received a visa for the USA in Marseille . The parents were able to flee via Portugal . In the USA he was drafted into military service in 1943 and was involved in the liberation and documentation of the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945 and in the liberation of Munich on May 1, 1945 . Because of his knowledge of German, he was used by the US Army to interrogate prisoners of war.

After the end of the war, Troller tried to feel at home in Austria, but felt a stranger there. At the Viennese broadcaster Rot-Weiß-Rot , he initiated the series XY knows everything . He then returned to the USA and studied English from 1946 to 1949, initially at the University of California and then theater studies at Columbia University in New York.

After receiving a Fulbright scholarship for the Sorbonne in Paris in 1949 , Troller returned to Europe. Troller never came to study because he preferred an offer as a radio reporter for the RIAS , the "radio in the American sector" in Berlin. At the end of the 1950s, I got my first experience as a television reporter for Südwestfunk .

Troller is a member of the Berlin Academy of the Arts .


Georg Stefan Troller with cutter Elfi Kreiter in Paris (1985)

In 1962 he began working for WDR with his Paris Journal, which was broadcast by ARD . In 1971 he became a special correspondent for ZDF in Paris . There he began with the seventy episode TV series personal description , which had a style-forming effect in the area of ​​the interview. Troller is best known for his interviews . According to his own statements, he conducted between 1200 and 1500 interviews. Initially, his emphatically subjective questioning method was frowned upon or only tolerated by the editors, because documentation always had to meet the requirement of neutrality. Nevertheless, his sensitive and critical method of interviewing people became a model for many journalists.

A well-known and recognized example of this was encountered in the series of talks Gero von Boehm ... , which is exclusively dedicated to one personality. Troller was always interested in uncovering the hidden and personal secrets of the interviewees. He once described the sensationalism served by journalists self-deprecatingly as "cannibalism that lives on the warm blood of its victims". He counts Karl Kraus among his role models . Troller's primary driving force, however, was and is, according to his own statement, to overcome his natural fear of people, heightened by flight and persecution. By asking selected people the timeless questions that he has of himself, he has expanded his own horizon of experience as a person and filmmaker.


His first daughter Fenn comes from his first divorced marriage to the British journalist Davina Hughes. From 1976 onwards he was married to Kirsten Lerche, who was born in Hamburg, and had a daughter with her. His wife died in 2018 and is in the Montmartre cemetery , not far from Heinrich Heine's grave . He has lived in Paris since 1949.

In the original locations he shot his thoughtful self-description (expanded: Artemis and Winkler 2009), which was shown on Bavarian television on his 80th and 90th birthday .



  • 1962–1971: Paris Journal (50 episodes)
  • 1967: Sailor in the Saddle (2-part biography of Jack London )
  • 1968: Wolf without a collar. Pictures from the life of Paul Gauguin
  • 1968: Tierra y Libertad! The Mexican Revolution
  • 1971–1993: personal description (70 episodes of 1 portrait each)
  • 1971: On the edge of the habitable world - The life of the poet Arthur Rimbaud
  • 1972: La Violencia. Violence in Guatemala
  • 1973: Knef '73. What she says, what she sings and how to talk about her
  • 1978: Locations of world literature. Madame Bovary in Normandy
  • 1980: Vive la vie. Arthur Rubinstein in conversation
  • 1981: Karl Kraus - hated, in love. (Also script)
  • 1984: The red maiden. From the life of the communist mystic Simone Weil
  • 1984: Robert Badinter - The end of the guillotine. (Also script)
  • 1985: Stan Rivkin - The Last Bounty Hunter. (Also script)
  • 1991: Père Aristide - Haiti's last chance. (Also script)
  • 1992: Guatemala - land in death fever
  • 1993: murder for love. (Also script)
  • 1993–1999: Witnesses of the Century (one broadcast each with Gisèle Freund , Georg K. Glaser , Nachum Tim Gidal, George Weidenfeld , Paul Parin )
  • 1995: love in Hollywood. (Also script)
  • 1995: Among Germans. Impressions from a foreign country. (Also script)
  • 1998: Wolfgang Clement . A German politician. (Also script)
  • 1998-2003: Hollywood Profiles. (One film each about Lauren Hutton , John Malkovich , Isabella Rossellini , Kirk Douglas , Woody Allen , Andy García ) (Also script)
  • 1999: Bennent times four - portrait of a famous family. (Also script)
  • 2001: self-description . At original locations in Vienna, Prague and Paris ("Autobiofilmie" based on our own book, cf. 1988, 2009)
  • 2001: amok! (Also script)
  • 2003: Loki Schmidt - life as an adventure
  • 2004: Days and Nights in Paris. (Also script)


outside of own directorial work

  • 1973: A young man from the Innviertel . Director: Axel Corti
  • 1976: The young Freud . Director: Axel Corti
  • 1981: Whither and back - God no longer believes in us. Trilogy, director: Axel Corti, script together with Axel Corti
  • 1986: Where to and Back - Santa Fe. Director: Axel Corti, screenplay together with Axel Corti. Book edition: Santa Fe - A screenplay. TV game library , Residenz-Verlag, Salzburg 1985
  • 1986: Where to and Back - Welcome to Vienna. Director: Axel Corti, screenplay together with Axel Corti
  • 2002: Born. With Robert Schindel
  • 2009: Where to and Back - The Axel-Corti Trilogy. Book edition of the three scripts God no longer believes in us , Santa Fe and Welcome to Vienna . With an afterword by Ruth Beckermann . Publishing house of the Theodor Kramer Society .

Books, audio books

  • Self-description. Rasch & Röhring, Hamburg 1988
  • Self-description. Completed new edition, Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2009, ISBN 978-3-538-07276-3 , also made into a film
  • On the move on many roads. Experienced and remembered , Edition Memoria, Cologne 2016, ISBN 978-3-930353-36-1
Paris, France, Vienna
  • Paris Journal. Marion von Schröder, Hamburg 1966
  • Paris talks. Marion von Schröder, Hamburg 1967
  • Parisian stories. Schwann, Düsseldorf 1972
  • My paris revised Edition, Fischer, Frankfurt 1973
  • France: beauties and treasures. Umschau, Frankfurt 1984
  • with Artur Kittlitz jr: Unknown Paris. Beyond Montparnasse. A stroll through the last “Parisian village”. Düssel-Art, Düsseldorf 2000, ISBN 3-9806851-1-X
  • Poets and bohemians. Literary forays through Paris. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2003, ISBN 3-538-07149-7
    - summary of 3sat
  • The happy grave on the Danube. My Vienna 1918–1938. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2004, ISBN 3-538-07188-8 . Also as an audio CD spoken by Troller: Delta Music, Frechen 2006, ISBN 3-86538-227-4
  • Paris secret. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2008, ISBN 978-3-538-07262-6
  • Parisian stories. Audiobook, Patmos Audio, Düsseldorf 2009, ISBN 978-3-491-91295-3
  • Parisian spirit . Anaconda, Cologne 2010, ISBN 978-3-86647-474-1
  • A dream of Paris: early texts and photographs . Corso, Wiesbaden 2017, ISBN 978-3-7374-0743-4
Encounters and personal descriptions
  • with Robert Lebeck (photographer): The adventurer. The short, wild life of Jack London . Bertelsmann, Gütersloh 1968, ´ DNB 458444049 .
  • Personal description: Diary with people. Rasch & Röhring, Hamburg 1990
  • Your unforgettable. 22 strong encounters. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2006, ISBN 3-538-07216-7
  • Life stories. The stars, the saints, the poets, the sinners, the authors, the artists. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2007, ISBN 978-3-538-07247-3
  • Love, lust and adventure. 97 encounters of my life. Corso, Wiesbaden 2019, ISBN 978-3737407540
  • Bird migration to other planets: The little prince and his fox meet Pinocchio, Max and Moritz, Lolita and others , Karl Rauch, Düsseldorf 2011, ISBN 978-3-7920-0153-0


Star by Georg Stefan Troller on the Boulevard der Stars in Berlin


  • Gero von Boehm : Georg Stefan Troller. November 7, 2004 . Interview in: Encounters. Images of man from three decades . Collection Rolf Heyne, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-89910-443-1 , pp. 415-425.
  • Christian Hißnauer: Describing people, telling lives - The television portraits of Georg Stefan Troller and Hans-Dieter Grabe. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2017, ISBN 978-3-658-17316-6
  • Susanne Marschall , Bodo Witzke : “We are all ogre.” Georg Stefan Troller and the love of documentary. BoD, Norderstedt 2012, ISBN 978-3-8423-6377-9 .
  • Christoph Amend : "Old friends are amazed that I'm still here". The author Georg Stefan Troller, 98, looks back on his century of life , in: Zeit-Magazin, supplement to Die Zeit , Hamburg, No. 6, January 30, 2020, pp. 14 to 23.

Film portrait

  • Georg Stefan Troller and his Paris Journal. Portrait, Germany, 29 min., Script and director: Heinrich Breloer , production: WDR , first broadcast: August 31, 1995 on WDR, summary by Breloer.
  • "We are all cannibals". Georg Stefan Troller and his personal descriptions. Conversation documentation, Germany, 123 min., Written and directed by Bodo Witzke, ZDF 1998
  • Interpretation of reality - Georg Stefan Troller , Austria, 120 min, direction, script and production: Ruth Rieser , 2021 (world premiere at DOK.fest Munich 2021)

Web links

Commons : Georg Stefan Troller  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Directorial work

Individual evidence

  1. Susanne Marschall, Bodo Witzke: "We are all cannibals." Georg Stefan Troller and the love of documentary. BoD, Norderstedt 2012, ISBN 978-3-8423-6377-9 - blurb.
  2. GS Troller: self-description , p. 9, 2010, ( PDF file, 114 kB)
  3. Roman Tschiedl: Georg Stefan Troller: Childhood in Vienna's “Fetz'nviertel” , Ö1 Leporello , July 5, 2017.
  4. My life as a bookbinder. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung , July 8, 2012, pictures and times (Z1-Z2)
  5. ^ Holfelder, Moritz, Bayerischer Rundfunk: Visit to Paris: Portrait of the documentary filmmaker Georg Stefan Troller | (Interview, audio) May 4, 2017, accessed May 4, 2017 (from 1:26).
  6. ^ A "man eater " in Paris ( Memento of August 10, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), Rencontres, September 1, 2006.
  7. In: Georg Stefan Troller: Self-description , Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2009, p. 343
    “Because in the end - I said it once, I have to stand by it - we are all cannibals. We feed on the warm blood of our prey in order to strengthen ourselves with it, that is the psychological process, whatever protective cloak we may put on it: that of enlightenment, compassion or social reporting. "
  8. Joachim Mischke: “Reporter legend. Portrait: Georg Stefan Troller - Who asks, lives ” , Hamburger Abendblatt , June 27, 2009. Quotation in the last section.
  9. Josef Königsberg: Lost Photos by Georg Stefan Troller: “That was my Paris. Yesterday's Paris ”. In: Spiegel Online . December 9, 2018, accessed June 2, 2019 (interview).
  10. Georg Stefan Troller, Spiegel-Talk with Hauke ​​Goos and Alexander Smoltczyk, Der Spiegel No. 37 from 09/11/2021, p. 54
  11. "Days and Nights in Paris" ,
  12. Press release on “Gebürtig” , 2004, PDF file, 24 pp. The action takes place in 1987. Austria at the time of the Waldheim era.
  13. Stefan Fischer: A real life. Documentary about Georg Stefan Troller In: Sü from May 5, 2021, accessed on May 16, 2021.
  14. Interpretation of reality - Georg Stefan Troller at DOK.fest Munich 2021