Jochanan Trilse-Finkelstein

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Jochanan Trilse-Finkelstein (born October 10, 1932 in Breslau ; † March 23, 2017 in Berlin ) was a German philosopher , literary and theater scholar, writer and publicist . He was born as Christoph Trilse and had a cover name in exile Krzystof Trilczé or Christoph Trilse , as well as later in publications from the 1960s and 1970s.


parents house

Trilse came from a Jewish social democratic family. His father was a doctor (oral surgeon and stomatologist, originally a tropical doctor) and came from Poland, his mother (nurse) from Galicia . In 1933 the family went into exile for political and racial reasons, initially to Vienna because the mother was an Austrian citizen. In 1938 - after the annexation of Austria to "Greater Germany" - she fled to Prague , the exile seat of the board of the German Social Democrats. In 1939 she came to Trieste via Slovakia and Hungary , from there to Shanghai on one of the last refugee ships . The family lived there until 1941 before returning to Europe for health reasons, the mother could not stand the Shanghai climate. Trilse lived illegally with a false passport and no Jewish identity, for a time in Vienna, where his father could work as a doctor. In 1943 there was another joint flight to Yugoslavia. The father joined the Yugoslav People's Liberation Army in Slovenia and Croatia as an officer in medicine.

In 1946 the family returned to Austria. All other relatives were murdered in Auschwitz, Theresienstadt and other Nazi camps. In Vienna his father worked again as a doctor until his death in 1951 and his mother again as a nurse until she moved to the GDR in 1952. In 1953 she was imprisoned in the GDR for six months without an arrest warrant or court verdict for “ Titofascism ” and “ Zionism ”. Dismissed after Stalin's death in the summer of 1953, she led an undetectable life until 1956; after the 20th party congress of the CPSU under Khrushchev the resignation of the proceedings and in 1963 the political rehabilitation (no legal) took place. Since then, Trilses's mother has lived without any function and as a minimum pensioner, withdrawn and undisturbed. In 1981 she received the VdN pension to which she was entitled , she died in 1985; and in 1992 received a posthumous legal rehabilitation.


Trilse attended the Theresianum in Vienna up to the Matura in 1951, completed an external acting course at the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar in 1950/51 , but could not take up the acting profession despite good exams due to a larynx disease. Therefore, he learned forestry until the end of 1952, when he finished his apprenticeship as a forestry worker. In 1951 he became a member of the KPÖ after a guarantee from Ernst Fischer (until 1969, left after the occupation of the ČSSR). 1953–1956 he studied philosophy as well as literature and theater studies at the University of Vienna , 1956/57 the same in Graz ; 1957 for a semester in Frankfurt / Main philosophy and social science with Theodor W. Adorno ; 1957/58 Continuation of studies with Ernst Bloch , Hans Mayer and Walter Markov at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig (GDR).

He took a linguistic and linguistic course with Professors Hauschild and Weithase as an external student in Jena until 1959 , graduating with several degrees, theater studies in Leipzig with Armin-Gerd Kuckhoff . He stayed in the GDR, did his doctorate in 1971 and 1972 at the universities of Rostock and Dresden , and completed his habilitation in 1977 in Greifswald . 1985 the professorship (titular) took place.


After completing his studies, Trilse worked as a dramaturge at the Güstrow Theater for a year at the end of the 1950s . Due to poor pay and his mother's illness, he moved back to Erfurt, where he worked as a lecturer at a university of applied sciences for architecture and construction until 1960. He then worked at the National Research and Memorial Sites for Classical Literature in Weimar until 1966, initially as a predominantly foreign-language museum guide for Goethe and Schiller sites in Weimar and Thuringia, later as a philologist and historian on the Heine Secular Edition , which he significantly built up and set up, but was later driven out. 1966–1971 he worked at Henschel-Verlag Berlin, initially as a lecturer, from 1967 as a senior lecturer for the performing arts. 1972/73 editor for "Weimarer Posts" at Aufbau-Verlag . Since then, Trilse has been a freelance writer and has been involved as an author, editor and publicist and in extensive international travel activities.


In 1973 he became a member of the Writers' Association of the GDR (chairmen Anna Seghers, Hermann Kant), 1986 in the Association of Authors of Austria (chairman: Ernst Jandl ), 1990 member of the Association of German Writers of the FRG; 1995 member of the Academy of Sciences New York .

Acceptance of the name Finkelstein and social commitment

When stones hit the windows of their mother's apartment for the fifth time on the November night of the 9th for the 10th time in 1978, his mother and Trilse himself took the anti-Semitic act as an opportunity to take their Jewish names again - Esther and Jochanan Finkelstein, the latter was the birth name mother. Esther Finkelstein went to the Jewish community without actually describing herself as religious and was buried in 1985 at her own request in the “good place”, the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee . Jochanan Trilse-Finkelstein also went to the Jewish community - without being particularly religious - especially to their cultural events. In the early summer of 1992 he became a member of the Jewish Cultural Association , where he was an active member of the board from 1992 until its dissolution in 2009. He regularly published articles in the club's magazine, including a regular series of articles “Every day a memorial day”, gave many lectures in the cultural association, organized events and looked after speakers and guests.

He sees the task and goal of his work in a freely and consciously lived secular Judaism - on the way from contemplation and understanding to active shaping. As an example of his committed social behavior, it can be pointed out that he was one of the first Jewish signatories of the Berlin Declaration Shalom 5767 .


  • 2012: Honorary gift from the Anna Amalia and Goethe Freundeskreis eV
  • 2015: Kurt Tucholsky Prize for literary journalism

Works bibliography (selection)

27 published books including
  • History of German Drama, 2 vols., Berlin 1967;
  • Antike und Theater heute, Berlin 1975 (translated into Greek 1978, 2nd German edition 1979);
  • Theater Lexikon, Berlin 1977 (2nd edition 1978);
  • The work of Peter Hack , Berlin 1982 (4 ed. Until 1982);
  • Heinrich Heine - Eine Bildbiografie, Leipzig 1984 (3 editions until 1988);
  • Lexikon Theater International, Berlin 1995 (5000 pages, manuscript, main author and editor); Paperback edition 2001 and 2003;
  • Lived Contradiction - Heinrich Heine, Berlin 1997/1998, 2001 (Aufbau-Verlag);
    • plus eight drama editions, three prose editions, two poetry editions; numerous book editions with works by Heinrich Heine and for Vormärz (annotated editions);
  • We - The Jewish Cultural Association in Berlin (publication and partial contribution) Mannheim, 2009;
  • Goethe's first Weimar decade , Ilse Nagelschmidt / Stefan Weiß / Jochanan Trilse-Finkelstein (eds.), Conference proceedings with further research results, 464 pages, Weimar 2010, ISBN 978-3-936177-15-2
  • Heinrich Heine and Kurt Tucholsky in Paris, Berlin 2010 (Edition Bodoni);
  • Every day a day of remembrance - Jewish images of life and society, Berlin, 2012;
  • Poetry against the Untime - Text-critical contributions to Gertrud Kolmar (co-edited and contributions), Frankfurt / Main, 2013;
  • I hope humanity makes it. Peter Hacks - Life and Work, Leipzig, 2015, ISBN 978-3-936149-19-7 ;
  • with Esther Grünwald : That's how I came under the Germans. The saga. Araki Verlag, Leipzig 2017, ISBN 978-3-936149-25-8 .
Collaboration on
  • History of German literature in 12 volumes, Berlin from 1960ff; Cultural history of antiquity, vol. 1: Greece, Berlin 1977ff;
  • Literature of the GDR, individual representations, Vol. 1 - 3, Berlin 1977ff;
  • Austrian literature, individual representations, Berlin 1988
In addition, essays, essays, introductions
  • in the subject areas of German, Austrian and world literature,
  • on theater history and theater today: approx. 90 articles;
  • on philosophy: 12 articles;
  • in the area of ​​ancient Greece: 14 depictions,
  • on Judaica (Jewish and Jewish-German cultural history): approx. 200 articles
  • Reports, travel and city pictures: around 50;


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Central Council of Jews in Germany Kdö.R .: Obituary: »Come! openly, friend! «| Jewish general. Retrieved April 5, 2017 .
  2. Contemporary witnesses in the Berlin Open Channel - those persecuted by the Hitler dictatorship report ( Memento from February 28, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) "First I was a witness, and then I was involved ..." Jochanan Trilse-Finkelstein in the contemporary witness project of the media consulting course, Institute for Language and Communication at the Technical University of Berlin in cooperation with the Berlin Open Canal
  3. ↑ The Federal Government should "finally take an active role in the peaceful solution of the Middle East conflict". In the wording: Schalom 5767 (Berlin Declaration)
  4. First Jewish signatories of the Berlin Declaration Schalom5767 (PDF; 13 kB)
  5. Honorary gift 2012 . Website of the Anna Amalia and Goethe Academy in Weimar. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  6. Prize winners 2015 . Website of the Kurt Tucholsky Society. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  7. ^ Kurt Tucholsky Prize for Literary Journalism 2015 to Jochanan Trilse-Finkelstein . Press release of the Kurt Tucholsky Society on Retrieved September 21, 2015.