Horst Lange

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Horst Lange (born October 6, 1904 in Liegnitz , † July 6, 1971 in Munich ) was a German writer .

Lange was best known for his novel Schwarze Weide , published in 1937 , which Wolfgang Koeppen described as "the most important epic statement of the Hitler era that had nothing to do with this period". Long story Die Leuchtkugeln was praised by Carl Zuckmayer as "the best and most humane war book of the Second World War".


Origin and youth

Horst Lange was born as the first son of the regimental clerk and vice sergeant Ernst Lange in the barracks of the King's Grenadier Regiment No. 7, where he often stayed as a child. The experience of solidarity and the helpfulness of the soldiers influenced him early on and was particularly reflected in his novel Ulanenpatrouille . Although he was later to complain about the primitiveness and rudeness of his comrades in World War II , he made the humane word “get the other out of the line of fire” his motto and yardstick for judging the people he met.

The damp and boggy landscape in which Lange grew up shaped him. In the often flooded valley near Liegnitz, known as “Bruch”, there is also the small river “Schwarze Weide”, which gave Lange's first and best-known novel its title.

School days, Bauhaus

Long attended secondary school in Liegnitz . In 1921, due to a farm workers' strike, the students had to help with the harvest. On this occasion, he earned enough money to be able to secretly leave home and drive to Weimar . He wanted to realize his dream at the Bauhaus and become a painter .

Lange met Paul Klee and his wife Lily there, among others . Walter Gropius , who had recognized Lange's talent for writing, advised him against studying painting after a few attempts. Lange was brought back to Liegnitz by his father, where he passed the Abitur.

Despite his failed attempt to study painting, Lange painted and drew all his life, including one-eyed after he went blind in the second world war. The pictures and drawings made after the war are now in the holdings of the manuscripts department of the Munich City Library. Lange's talent for painting was also evident in the depictions of landscapes and the colorful vividness of his literary works.

Study time

In 1925 Horst Lange began studying art history , literary history and theater studies in Berlin ; he also studied philosophy and philology . Around the same time he began to publish, first in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung . He got to know the publisher Victor Otto Stomps and made several contributions and a linocut for the signet for his literary magazine Der Fischzug , of which only a few issues appeared in the course of 1926.

At the same time he made friends with Günter Eich and Martin Raschke at the university . Together with A. Artur Kuhnert, Raschke was the editor of the literary magazine Die Kolonne , published from 1929 to 1932 , to which Horst Lange also contributed and whose poetry prize he was to receive in 1932 together with Peter Huchel .

For financial reasons, he had to leave Berlin and return to Liegnitz before completing his studies. From there he drove regularly to the university in Breslau . He did not finish his studies and his doctoral thesis on the Silesian late baroque painter Michael Lukas Willmann was not accepted.

Escape to Berlin

During this time, in the autumn of 1930, he met the poet Oda Schaefer . After her divorce from the painter Albert Schaefer-Ast, she came from Berlin to Liegnitz to recover from an illness. In great secrecy, they made the plan to go to Berlin together. On May 1, 1931, they drove “into the unknown”, as Oda Schaefer would later write.

Horst Lange lived here as a freelance writer. He worked on Stomps' literary magazine The White Raven , which appeared between 1932 and 1934. In 1933 he was responsible for an edition on "Landscape Poetry" as an editor. Under the pseudonym Konrad Ostendorfer , he published his own work in this issue with the title Die Ziegelei . In the same year Lange's short story The Tortured was published by Stomps' publishing house Rabenpresse .

The literary circle that crystallized around Stomps included Lange and his future wife Oda Schaefer as well as Huchel, Werner Bergengruen , and for a short time Bertolt Brecht , Joachim Maass , Walther G. Oschilewski , Robert Seitz , Jens Heimreich , Rolf Bongs and Werner Helwig , Eberhard Meckel and Hans Gebser, who became known in Switzerland as the philosopher Jean Gebser .

Long published stories, feature pages, poems and reviews in various newspapers, in addition to the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, also in the Berliner Tageblatt and the culturally more important Vossische Zeitung , in the last issue of which the long story The Irrlicht was pre-printed. For a long time he also worked for the Berliner Rundfunk until its radical polarization by Joseph Goebbels in 1936.

Black willow

In 1933 Horst Lange and Oda Schaefer married, with Günter Eich being the best man. In the same year, Lange began work on his first novel and major work Black Weide , which he himself described as "the sum of all previous attempts, efforts and endeavors".

“The work on the book became a martyrdom”, his wife Oda Schaefer would later write. The characters in the novel haunted Lange into his sleep, he was prescribed heavy sedatives.

The poet friend Elisabeth Langgässer recognized the importance of the novel when the first three chapters were still in the making. It arranged a visit from the publisher Henry Goverts from Hamburg and his publishing director Eugen Claassen , with whom a contract was also concluded.

When the novel was published by Goverts in 1937, it immediately made Lange known. In 1940 Lange's novel Ulanenpatrouille was published , which was positively discussed in the NSDAP central organ Völkischer Beobachter . Lange also wrote texts for the Krakauer Zeitung , the Nazi propaganda sheet of the Generalgouvernement .

Lange, a propaganda unit of the Wehrmacht was a member, was established in December 1941 as a soldier in front of Moscow seriously wounded, and he lost his left eye. During this time he was exposed to severe reprisals from the Reich Security Main Office , as he was accused of " sabotaging the German Reich's Ostpolitik ".

After the end of World War II , Lange wrote for the Neue Zeitung , which appeared in the American zone of occupation . In the Soviet occupation zone , Lange's Die Leuchtkugeln ( Goverts , Hamburg 1944) was placed on the list of literature to be sorted out.

When the black pasture appeared for the second time in 1954, writers such as Gottfried Benn , Günter Eich and Wolfgang Koeppen classified it as a work of lasting importance. Nevertheless, today Horst Lange has largely been forgotten. This may partly be due to the fact that, unlike many of his colleagues, he did not seek affiliation with projects like Group 47 after the war .




  • The tormented. Narrative. With woodcuts by Joachim Karsch . Rabenpresse, Berlin 1933
  • Twelve poems. Rabenpresse, Berlin 1933
  • Black willow. Novel. Goverts, Hamburg 1937
  • On the east bank. Two stories. Frundsberg, Berlin 1939
  • Singing behind the fences. Poems. Rabenpresse, Berlin 1939
  • Uhlan patrol. Novel. Goverts, Hamburg 1940
  • The will-o'-the-wisp. Narrative. With thirty-two drawings by Alfred Kubin . Goverts, Hamburg 1943
  • The flares. Three stories. Goverts, Hamburg 1944
  • The dream of Vasilikova and the woman who thought Helena was ... , plays (premiere 1946)
  • The song of the oriole. Novel fragment. Desch, Munich 1947
  • Wind bride. Stories. Claassen & Goverts, Hamburg 1947
  • Poems from twenty years. Piper, Munich 1948
  • On the Cimmerian beach. Stories. Piper, Munich 1948
  • Cephalus and Procris. A seal. Comedy fragment. Piper, Munich 1948
  • A sword between us. Novel. Scherz & Goverts, Stuttgart / Hamburg 1952
  • Extinguishing fires. Novel. Scherz & Goverts, Stuttgart, 1956
  • A mistress made of air. Poems. Drawings by Max Hauschield. Hermit Press, Stierstadt 1956
  • Singing came from the dull waves. Poems. Goverts, Stuttgart 1958
  • Diaries from the Second World War. With a portrait of Horst Lange by Oda Schaefer. Edited and commented by Hans Dieter Schäfer . Hase & Köhler, Mainz 1979


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Frank-Lothar Kroll: German authors of the East as opponents and victims of National Socialism: Contributions to the problem of resistance. Duncker & Humblot Verlag, Berlin 2000, ISBN 978-3-428-10293-8 , p. 35.
  2. a b c d e Ernst Klee : The culture lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 352.
  3. ^ German administration for popular education in the Soviet occupation zone, list of literature to be sorted out
  4. http://www.kulturkreis.eu/uploads/000/003/689/literaturpreistraeger_1953-2016_stand_12-12-19.pdf
  5. This critical portrait from the left can also be read online , accessed on June 21, 2012