Henry Jaeger

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Henry Jaeger (born June 29, 1927 in Frankfurt-Bornheim as Karl-Heinz Jäger ; † February 4, 2000 in Ascona ) was a German writer .


Karl-Heinz Jäger grew up in Frankfurt-Bornheim, Fechenheimer Strasse. His father was a coppersmith . His mother brought a child into the marriage from an unknown relationship. Karl-Heinz Jäger's childhood was marked by arguments between his parents. The father left the family in the middle of the war. He had a close friendship with the neighboring children Horst and Willi Korbmacher from childhood. In 1942 all of them were drafted first as flak helpers on the home front and later in the Wehrmacht . Karl-Heinz Jäger says he completed training as a paratrooper and was deployed on the Western Front. He later described his traumatic war experiences several times in his books. He was taken prisoner by the British in 1945 . After his release he worked as an assistant, later as a laboratory assistant in the US Army in Frankfurt. He also attended evening courses with the aim of studying medicine after graduation . The first attempts at writing also fall during this time.

He was refused admission to the desired medical degree. As a result of an argument, he lost his job with the Army. Karl-Heinz Jäger stayed afloat with black market deals of all kinds. Among other things, he and the Korbmacher brothers ran an illegal taxi company in Frankfurt's station district. There were more and more targeted break-ins at tire, fur and office machine dealers. In the 1950s he was the leader of the "hunter gang" which specialized in robbery and break-ins and worked to order. In addition to Jäger, the two Korbmacher brothers and Fred Holland-Nell belonged to the core of the gang. In their forays they used only wooden dummies, apart from a sharp pistol. Precise preparation, lightning-fast implementation and careful protection with witnesses and alibis allowed the gang to slip through the clutches of the judiciary again and again and later earned them the title of “the most sophisticated and trickiest gang in the Federal Republic”. In December 1954 they attacked the pension payment office of the Bundespost in Oederweg in Frankfurt . This attack led the police authorities to take massive action against the gang mischief. A reward of 11,000 D-Marks was offered to catch the perpetrators, the highest sum in the young FRG up to that point. In a spectacular action in May 1955, Karl-Heinz Jaeger, the Korbmacher brothers, Holland-Nell and other people around them were arrested. There was evidence of more than 70 burglaries and robberies against them. The trial of the Hunter gang was under great public interest in Mannheim and ended in September 1956, prison sentences of twelve years ' imprisonment . Jäger's revision, which he justified with his literary streak, was rejected. He initially served his sentence in Bruchsal prison and from 1957 in Freiburg (Breisgau) prison . The strict conditions such as solitary confinement, a reading and writing ban, and silent courtyard soon led to a psychological crisis. In order to escape the impending madness, Jäger secretly began to write a novel on the toilet paper of his cell with a smuggled pencil stub. Jäger only took the chaplain into his trust. He smuggled the pages outside and finally found a well-known publisher for the book in Kurt Desch . The novel was published in 1962 under the title The Fortress (under the name Henry Jaeger) and was a sensational success. While in prison, Jaeger began his second book, The Rebellion of the Lost, with the permission of the prison administration. A pardon in 1963 led to her early release. The remaining sentence was suspended on probation .

He did a traineeship at the Frankfurter Rundschau and then worked primarily as a local editor for this newspaper. He also wrote major reports on Josephine Baker , Bill Haley , Jacob Astor and other personalities of the time. In 1964 his first novel was made into a film by Alfred Weidenmann under the title Damned to Sin . In the main roles are u. a. Martin Held and Hildegard Knef to see. At the Frankfurter Rundschau, Jaeger met his future wife Elke. She is the daughter of a district court director. The marriage of the ex-convict with the daughter of a judge took place in Frankfurt with great media coverage. In 1964 Jaeger's third novel “Die punishede Zeit” appeared, which led to a public discussion about the penal system. Jaeger has a son for me.

From 1965 Henry Jaeger lived as a freelance writer in Switzerland. Erich-Maria Remarque , whom he met in 1962 at the Frankfurt Book Fair, introduced him to the Ascona artists' colony . He had a deep friendship with Remarque until his death. In Ascona Jaeger belonged to a group of primarily German artists, singers and writers. She included u. a. Otto Bachmann , Will Berthold , Hans Habe , Horst Lemke and Helmut Zacharias . Jaeger later portrayed life within the artists' colony in his novel “The Club”. Jaeger suffered a stroke in the mid-1970s . An aneurysm was diagnosed in the brain. Despite the low chance of success, the operation succeeded, but Jaeger was unable to speak or write for months. The disease represented a clear turning point in his work. From the late 1970s, his novels were written for the entertainment sector and some of them were conceived as sequels for magazines.

Grave Henry Jaeger klein.jpg

Due to persistent alcoholism, the marriage broke up in the early 1980s. His writing work also came to a standstill and finally to a complete standstill. Jaeger spent the last months before his death in the poor hospice. The Ascona community donated his grave and burial to him.


Henry Jaeger's early novels are praised by literary critics as knowledgeable and literarily successful portrayals of the milieu of the disadvantaged, failed and outsiders of the Federal Republican society of the fifties.

In 1963 Robert Neumann wrote in Spiegel magazine: “A Kaspar Hauser of our contemporary literature. Where does this man come from? " Countess Sybil Schönfeldt wrote about his second book" Rebellion of the Lost ":" ... probably nobody will deny that he has confirmed himself as a first-class narrator. His novel has a solid fable, an oppressively convincing atmosphere and all the advantages of the conventionally closed form. "In Die WELT , Hans Liepmann wrote about" The Fortress ":" ... it is a book, on the upper limit of good entertainment, something, which is very rare in Germany. "

While his life story had initially contributed a lot to his popularity, it soon became a burden for Jaeger. In a radio interview in 1963 he said: “My so-called prison story seems to have been a little too prominent in the last few days. I tried to write art. If my books are good, they should be recognized. If my books are bad, they should be discarded. I and my past are not that important when it comes to my books. "

He was later accused of only producing trivial literature for the masses. Jaeger designed a number of his books for publication in magazines , but the successful author remained true to his liberal and pacifist sentiments, and his later works still show elements of social criticism .

Works (selection)


  • Birthday every day . Heyne, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-453-01583-5 (EA Munich 1966).
  • The organ grinder. Narrative (The Little Books of the Ark; Vol. 510/511). Die Arche publishing house, Zurich 1970.
  • Moses scores an own goal. Mysteries to die for . Heyne, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-453-00858-8 (together with Elke Jaeger).
  • Twelve times love. Erotic stories . Heyne, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-453-00938-X .
  • The night porter or The Vengeance of the Deputy (library “Der Rüsselspringer”; Vol. 17). Brennglas-Verlag, Niddatal 1987, ISBN 3-924243-19-0 .


Collected Works

  • Under charge . German Bücherbund, Stuttgart 1980 (content: Under indictment - human, Gustav - death of a boxer ).
  • One man for an hour . Droemer Knaur, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-426-01698-2 (content: A man for an hour - the house of joy - the fortress ).



  • Dietrich Wagner: A gangster writes free. The adventurous story of Henry Jäger . Hessischer Rundfunk, Frankfurt / Main 1999 (44 min.).
  • Maintower : Henry Jaeger, 1999, hr-fernsehen , Frankfurt / Maim 2019 (4 min.). [1]


  • Years in the Schweigehof . In: Der Spiegel . No. 40 , 1963 ( online ).
  • Rainer Holbe: Henry Jaeger . In: Ders .: Zeitgeist. Conversations with ... . Knaur, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-426-04831-0 .
  • Hanns-Peter Karr : Jaeger, Henry . In: Ders .: Lexicon of German crime fiction authors . Edition Softcrime, Bochum 1992.
  • Fred Kickhefel: From convict to successful author. The Henry Jaeger attack in 1954 . In the S. (Ed.): Frankfurter Geschichte (s). The book for the series of the Frankfurter Rundschau . Wartberg-Verlag, Gudensberg-Gleichen 2006, ISBN 978-3-8313-1644-1 , pp. 97-98.
  • Jakob Stein, The Gröschaz. A novel about Henry Jaeger, B3 Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2019, ISBN 978-3-943758-64-1

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Public Prosecutor's Office MA: Interrogation protocol . Ed .: Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe. Signature 309, 1955.
  2. ^ Federal Archives, Military career of Karl-Heinz Jäger
  3. ^ Reference drawing school, March 30, 1950
  4. Who raised the gang? , Der Spiegel , 48/1955, pp. 27-30
  5. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, October 20, 1955, page 8
  6. Regional Court MA, judgment, file: 2 KS 3/56
  7. Jaeger: Years in the Schweigehof , Der Spiegel , No. 40/1963, pp. 88–91
  8. clemency 2 Gns 339/62
  9. Frankfurter Rundschau, July 11, 1963 a. a.
  10. ^ Beatings in the Dungeon , Die Zeit , April 30, 1965
  11. Jaeger Dossier , p. 4
  12. Oswalt Kolle , Interview with Henry Jaeger, Bunte 1978, Issue 36
  13. ^ BILD, October 16, 1981
  14. ^ Friedrich Sieburg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, literary sheet, November 16, 1963
  15. ^ DIE ZEIT, Sybil Countess Schönfeldt, April 3, 1964
  16. DER SPIEGEL 40/1963
  17. ZEIT, 14/1964
  18. THE WORLD, 1962
  19. Hessischer Rundfunk 1963, Deutschlandfunk repeats August 30, 2019: From Knacki to Artist
  20. Max von der Grün, DER SPIEGEL, 26/1989