Helmut Richter (writer)

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Helmut Richter (2008)

Helmut Richter (born November 30, 1933 in Freudenthal , Czechoslovakia ; †  November 3, 2019 in Leipzig ) was a German poet , writer and lyricist . He achieved particular fame as the author of the song text Over seven bridges you must go , a title that became particularly popular with the group Karat and Peter Maffay .

life and work

Helmut Richter was born on November 30, 1933 in Freudenthal (North Moravia ), now Bruntál, Czech Republic, as a latecomer and the last of four children. His father - a tailor - died when Richter was six years old. At the age of eleven and a half, he and his mother were expelled from Freudenthal on June 11, 1945 and after seven weeks of wandering between Dahme (Mark) and Herzberg (Elster) ended up in a village on the Elbe in Saxony / Anhalt. Here he finished his eight years of elementary school and began to work as a farm worker, community secretary and tractor driver. After an apprenticeship as a machine fitter in the Bleichert Transportanlagen Factory Soviet Stock Company (SAG) Leipzig N 22 , he graduated from the Workers and Farmers Faculty (ABF) and studied physics at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig. From 1958 to 1961 he worked as a test engineer at the Office for Metrology .

From 1961 to 1964 Richter was a student at the "Johannes R. Becher" Institute for Literature in Leipzig , where he met a teacher who shaped his poetry in the person of the poet Georg Maurer .

The composer Hanns Eisler took six lines from the poem Helmut Richter's expectation published in 1962 - Eine Frau zum XXII. Party conference as the text basis for the 5th song of his cycle Ernste Gesänge for baritone and string orchestra, a work that premiered on September 6, 1963, a year after Eisler's death, with the Staatskapelle Dresden (soloist: Günther Leib ) under Otmar Suitner . Eisler had the lines he selected from Richter's poem differing with XX. Party congress , the one with Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech, attempted the beginning of de-Stalinization in the USSR and the states under its rule. Four of the eight texts used by Eisler for the introduction and seven chants are by Friedrich Hölderlin , one each by Berthold Viertel , Giacomo Leopardi , Stephan Hermlin and Helmut Richter.

After completing his studies, Helmut Richter worked as a freelance journalist and writer and in 1969 became a member of the GDR Writers' Association . From 1970 he headed the poetry seminar at the Institute for Literature Johannes R. Becher , Leipzig. In 1975 he wrote the German-Polish love story You must go over seven bridges , and when GDR television began to take an interest in this subject a year later , Richter also wrote the scenario for the television film of the same name, which was finally broadcast on April 30, 1978 .

In 1982, Helmut Richter founded the cultural almanac Leipziger Blätter , which appears for the spring and autumn fair, and was its chief editor until 1989.

In 1980 Richter went back to the Literature Institute, where he worked as a lecturer and was elected director and professor in February 1990 to succeed Hans Pfeiffer . Supported by interventions and expressions of solidarity by renowned authors such as Elfriede Jelinek or Peter Turrini , Helmut Richter, the students and foreign colleagues succeeded in dissuading the Saxon government from its decision of December 11, 1990 to completely dissolve and liquidate the Literature Institute so that a continued existence of a University education for prospective authors within a relatively independent institute of the University of Leipzig was guaranteed.

After the Austrian lyric poet and action artist Christian Ide Hintze had taken part in summer courses at the Leipzig Literature Institute, he founded the School of Poetry in Vienna together with Sonja Moor, Christian Loidl, Christine Huber and Gertraud Marinelli-König in 1991 and asked Director Richter for a guest lecture on the history and working methods of the Leipzig author training (see quotations). Richter terminated his contract, which ran until the end of 1993, ahead of schedule on December 31, 1992. In the related letter to the Saxon State Minister for Science and Art , Richter justified this step with "prejudices, discrimination, denunciations and character assassination campaigns" against the institute, the lecturers and his colleagues Person. From January 1993 he worked as a freelance writer again .

Among the many poems, stories, radio plays and television films from his pen, the song composed by Ed Swillms and interpreted by Herbert Dreilich together with the group Karat became the theme music of his film Over seven bridges you have to go to an international success, which was enjoyed by numerous well-known pop musicians -Singers was covered, including u. a. by Peter Maffay (1980), Vicky Leandros (1982), Erkan Aki & Xavier Naidoo (2001), Drafi Deutscher (2002), Josep Carreras with Herbert Dreilich and Peter Maffay (2002), Puhdys (2003), Helene Fischer (2010) , Matthias Reim (2013) or Roland Kaiser (2016). Liesbeth List sang the song in Dutch in 1982, and Chris de Burgh published the English version Seven Bridges in 2011 .

Helmut Richter lived and worked in Leipzig since 1950. His grave is in the Leipzig-Gohlis cemetery, Viertelsweg, where he was buried on December 11, 2019.


Book publications

  • 1964: Expectation - A woman for the XXII. Party conference of the CPSU (poem, 1962) in: Mother's love - mother and child in the mirror of German poetry from eight centuries , publisher: Barbara Neubauer , Verlag der Nation, Berlin
  • 1967: Land drives by , poems, Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle / Saale
  • 1969: Bragulla's homecoming , narrative, in: Manuscripts - Almanach with new prose and poetry , Mitteldeutscher Verlag Halle, pages 506-525
  • 1969: Ballad from the city founders in: Mirror of our Becoming - Man and Work in German Poetry from Goethe to Brecht , editors: René Schwachhofer and Wilhelm Tkaczyk , Verlag der Nation, Berlin
  • 1969: Snow on the chimney , literary reports, Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle / Saale
  • 1971: Divorce process , novel, Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle / Saale
  • 1971: Small gardens - big people , comedy, together with Peter Gosse , Christoph Hamm, Joachim Nowotny and Hans Pfeiffer
  • 1972: The old gypsy and trumpet solo in: Das Wort Mensch - An image of humans in German-language poems from three centuries , publisher: Bernd Jentzsch , Mitteldeutscher Verlag Halle
  • 1973: Are you coming to Madras , comedy, stage play, world premiere: Städtische Bühnen Leipzig
  • 1973: The woman from the other house in: Der Weltkutscher , publisher: Fank Beer, Hinstorff, Rostock
  • 1974: Leipziger Letters in: Sachsen - Ein Reiseverführer , Publishing, Klaus Walther, Greifenverlag Rudolstadt, page 261
  • 1974: Interjection in: World in Socialist Poems - Poets, Methods , Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin, page 342
  • 1974: You must walk over seven bridges , narrative, in: Hier und heute, Paul List Verlag, pages 89–116
  • 1975: The key to the world , short stories, Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle / Saale
  • 1975: Chile - Singing and Report , Anthology, co-editor together with Thomas Billhardt , Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle / Saale
  • 1976: My other country: Two trips to Vietnam , together with Rolf Floß , Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle / Saale
  • 1976: Chimney builder in: The Strange Metamorphosis of Jenny K. - Radio plays , publisher: Peter Gugisch , Henschelverlag Berlin
  • 1977: Stopover in: Before my eyes, behind seven mountains - poems from traveling , editors: Ulrich Berkes and Wulf Kirsten , Edition Neue Texte, Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin and Weimar
  • 1978: Stopover in: Look, this is our time! - Poetry for socialist. Holidays and celebrations , publisher: Helmut Preißler , Verlag Tribüne 1978, page 621
  • 1979: Kamenz - The Lessing legend , with photo by Renate and Roger Rössing , Brockhaus miniatures, Edition Leipzig
  • 1983: You must go over seven bridges , literary landscapes, anthology, Mitteldeutscher Verlag Leipzig and Halle / Saale
  • 1986: Self-encouragement in: Self-encouragement: Considerations about writing Editors: Rudolf Gehrke and Lothar Zschuckelt, Offizin Andersen Nexö, Leipzig
  • 1986: Shift change in: Now - 50 Stories from Everyday Life , Editor: Gerhard Rothbauer; Reclam-Verlag, Leipzig, page 29
  • 1988: The Eye of the Snake: Unreal Stories , co-editor, together with Lothar Zschuckelt and Peter Gosse, graphics by Bernhard Heisig , Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle / Saale
  • 1989: Banaschek's pictures in: My place - memories, discoveries, longings , publisher: Walter Nowojski , Verlag Neues Leben, Berlin
  • 1990: In memoriam Trude Richter in: Trude Richter, Totgesagt - Memories , Mitteldeutscher Verlag Halle
  • 1993: The smallest university in the world - a fictional dispute with Friedrich Nietzsche about his thesis "that speaking and writing are arts that cannot be acquired without careful guidance and the most arduous years of teaching" , lecture held at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, in : About the teachability and learnability of literature , editors: Christian Ide Hintze and Dagmar Travner, Passagen Verlag Vienna
  • 1998: Reunion after year and day , stories and poems, with eight reproductions of red chalk drawings by Frank Ruddigkeit , Verlag Faber & Faber, Leipzig
  • 2000: Recovered papers in: What is that which remains? - Twenty interventions by writers and literary scholars , editors: Peter Gosse, Roland Opitz and Klaus Werner, Edition Ost, Berlin, page 17
  • 2001: The man and his name - from the story to the film in: Anna Seghers - studies and discussion contributions , editors: Alfred Klein, Horst Nalewski, Klaus Pezold, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Sachsen
  • 2002: How the leaves came to the tree: A little story of creation. The founder of the Leipziger Blätter talks about the early years in: Leipziger Blätter , 2002, No. 40: Pages I – VII
  • 2004: Antigone anno now in: Mythos Antigone - texts from Sophokles to Hochhuth , editors: Lutz Walther and Martina Hayo, Reclam Leipzig, page 98
  • 2004: I-profit, world-profit in: Reflecting on Leipzig , Connewitzer Verlagbuchhandlung, page 76
  • 2005: In the Deutsche Bücherei in: Ilka comes to Merkur with a deer - Leipzig poems , editors: Frauke Hampel and Peter Hinke, illustrations: Thomas M. Müller , Connewitzer Verlagbuchhandlung, Leipzig
  • 2006: Gerhard Kurt Müller : painting, sculptures, drawings, woodcuts foreword, Verlag Faber & Faber, Leipzig
  • 2008: What should happen when I'm no longer? , Hundred Poems, Verlag Faber & Faber, Leipzig
  • 2010: The persistence of good taste: To the Twentieth by Faber & Faber , in: Leipziger Blätter, 2010, no. 57, pages 58–59
  • 2013: If you love the fugue, you move , a hundred limericks, with illustrations by Egbert Herfurth , Verlag Faber & Faber, Leipzig
  • 2016: In the Deutsche Bücherei zu Leipzig in: Libraries of Poets - A Selection of German-Language Library Poems from the 16th Century to the Present , Editor: Raymond Dittrich, Engelsdorfer Verlag, Leipzig

Feature and radio plays

Television and film


  • Over seven bridges - a GDR hit goes around the world . Feature by Gerhard Pötzsch , first broadcast: December 6, 2014, MDR FIGARO / rbb kulturradio


" Expectation - A woman to the XXII. Party congress

Child, you are not yet. I hold

embrace you in my body.

Hope is like a seed

finally absorbed in me:

Your dreams will come true

those who gave their lives

for unexperienced happiness:

Life - without being afraid. "

- Helmut Richter, printed in: Neue Deutsche Literatur , X / 1962, Issue 6, p. 112, text basis for Hanns Eisler's composition Ernste Gesänge

You have to go over seven bridges

Sometimes I walk my street without a look

sometimes I wish my rocking horse back.

Sometimes I am without rest and peace

sometimes I lock all the doors on me

Sometimes I'm cold and sometimes I'm hot

sometimes I don't know what I know anymore

Sometimes I'm tired in the morning

and then I seek solace in a song

You have to go over seven bridges,

survive seven dark years

seven times you will be the ashes

but once also the bright glow.

Sometimes the clock of life seems to stand still

sometimes one always seems to be walking in circles.

Sometimes you're sick of wanderlust

sometimes you sit quietly on a bench.

Sometimes you reach for the whole world

sometimes you think that the lucky star is falling.

Sometimes you take where you prefer to give

sometimes you hate what you love.

You have to go over seven bridges..."

- Helmut Richter, lyrics, 1978

"Ladies and gentlemen - I have been asked to talk about the history and the working methods of the" Johannes R. Becher "institute, even though I studied at this" smallest university in the world "from 1961 to 1964 and since 1 March 1990 I am its director, the temptation was great to turn down the friendly offer.

So that this is not perceived as impoliteness, I will try an explanation: The institute was founded on September 30, 1955 by the government of the GDR, and on December 11, 1990, the government of the Free State of Saxony gave up the so-called liquidation. Processing is a technical term of liquidation law was in the Third Reich a popular euphemism for the Aryanization of Jewish property and describes two terrible events in one: first the one he is so evident in the picture, handle , and also the one who legally or preceded this is to dissolve . To train a mind that is only halfway trained in visual logic, and to train visual logic, is definitely part of the institute's program, it is of course difficult to imagine that something that has been dissolved can also be handled.

Regardless, we are currently doing nothing else until the last student in June 1993 will have achieved the intended study goal. De jure we no longer exist, but in fact we are still alive and that is better than the other way around. It is a somewhat difficult existence psychologically, but an Austrian has just discovered the connection between schizophrenia and creativity.

The reason for the resolution was initially exclusively political, a bundle of unchecked prejudices. Only gradually and very hesitantly did Dresden get involved in professional discussions, and I have to give the Saxon Minister of State for Science and Art, an English-speaking native, great credit for his original skepticism about the benefits of an art college for budding authors has settled that there will continue to be author training, even if not at an independent university, but at a relatively independent institute at the University of Leipzig. "

- Helmut Richter: The smallest university in the world - A fictional dispute with Friedrich Nietzsche about his thesis "that speaking and writing are arts that cannot be acquired without careful guidance and the most arduous years of teaching" , lecture given at the University of Applied Arts in 1992 Vienna, Esterházy-Straße in: About the teachability and learnability of literature, editors: Christian Ide Hintze and Dagmar Travner, Passagen Verlag Vienna, 1993


  • 1971: Art Prize of the City of Leipzig - as a collective
  • 1978: Art Prize of the City of Leipzig
  • 2016: Friedenstein Prize of the City of Gotha - together with the Karat group and composer Ulrich "Ed" Swillms


  • Christian Krause:  Richter, Helmut . In: Who was who in the GDR? 5th edition. Volume 2. Ch. Links, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-86153-561-4 .
  • Manfred Diersch and Hubert Orłowski: Approach and Distance - GDR literature in Polish literary criticism , Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle, 1983
  • Agata Owoc: The image of Poland in Helmut Richter's novel Divorce process , master's thesis, University of Education, Zielona Góra 1989

Web links

Commons : Helmut Richter (writer)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Over seven bridges: Helmut Richter died , mdr.de, published and accessed on November 3, 2019.
  2. FIGARO meets: Helmut Richter - Rahel Gelhoff in conversation with the writer Helmut Richter , editor: Angelika Zapf, broadcast by MDR radio on March 13, 2002
  3. ^ Hanns Eisler: Conversations with Hans Bunge - Ask more about Brecht , VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig 1975, pp. 261 to 266
  4. printed in: Bread and Salt - 15 radio plays from the seventies , edited by Bernd Schirmer , Reclam-Verlag Leipzig 1982, pp. 195 to 223
  5. printed in: The strange transformation of Jenny K. , radio plays, Henschelverlag Berlin 1976, pp. 11 to 40
  6. ^ Wieland Fischer awarded the Friedenstein Prize for Seven Bridges in: Thüringer Allgemeine from June 29, 2016