Lothar-Günther Buchheim

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Lothar-Günther Buchheim (Photo: 1976)

Lothar-Günther Buchheim (born February 6, 1918 in Weimar ; † February 22, 2007 in Starnberg ) was a German painter , photographer , publisher , art book and novelist , filmmaker , collector and founder of the “ Buchheim Museum of Fantasy ” in Bernried at Lake Starnberg .


Lothar-Günther Buchheim was the son of the unmarried German painter Charlotte Buchheim (1891–1964) who lived in Chemnitz . He had a brother, Klaus Buchheim, who was two years his junior.

In 1926 he moved with his family to Rochlitz , where he spent the rest of his childhood, because his mother had married an ore foundry owner, but in 1930 she moved back to Chemnitz . Here he made long bike rides with his brother, sometimes as far as the Baltic Sea , to draw landscape pictures and later to convert them into linocuts . During this time he created his first linocut works. Buchheim was called a “painting prodigy” very early on and has already worked on newspapers and magazines as well as on collective exhibitions. At the age of 17 he got his first public contract from the city of Chemnitz. During this time he published the volume "Lothar-Günther Buchheim - A very young artist".

After graduating from high school in 1937, he moved to Italy , where he wrote his first book Days and Nights Going Out of the Stream (published in 1941). In this work he gathered all the experiences he had made during a 1938 Danube trip with a folding boat into the Black Sea .

From 1939 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden and in 1940 moved to the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich .

In 1940 Buchheim joined the Navy as a volunteer and served as a war correspondent for the national socialist prestigious newspaper Das Reich on mine clearing boats , destroyers and submarines , most recently in the rank of first lieutenant .

U 995 , a version VII-C / 41 boat, in front of the Naval Memorial in
Laboe in2004

During and after World War II he wrote numerous books about his experience in the Navy . In 1943, as a member of the crew of the VII-C boat U 96, he wrote his experience report Jäger im Weltmeer , which deals with a bitter battle between a German submarine and a British destroyer. It became the basis for the book and film Das Boot . In August 1944, Buchheim escaped from the Brest fortress with U 309 . Then he fled across France and returned to Germany. He processed this evacuation trip in the novel The Fortress .

He portrayed Admiral Karl Dönitz twice. Between 1941 and 1943 he took part in the Great German Art Exhibition in Munich with a total of 21 drawings - portraits of officers and depictions of submarines - and was numerically one of the best represented artists at this exhibition of the " Third Reich ".

In 1945 he founded the “handicraft workshops” in Feldafing, where he had now settled. After the end of the war he wrote art books about Max Beckmann , Otto Mueller and Pablo Picasso , which, together with his books about experiences from the Second World War , made him known. In 1949, his only son Yves Buchheim was born to the French Geneviève Militon. Buchheim founded an art book publisher in Frankfurt am Main in 1951 , which is now in Feldafing and which he ran together with his wife Diethild (1922–2014) and their two sisters.

In the 1950s his collection of graphic works of German Expressionism (especially the artist community Die Brücke ) was created. Since the value of this art was not yet widely recognized, he was able to purchase the works at a low price.

In 1968 he resumed work on the submarine manuscript and in 1971 finished the novel under the title "Das Boot". The film adaptation of the novel Das Boot in 1981 ensured the further fame of its author. Together with the novel “The Fortress”, published in 1995, and the novel “Der Abschied”, published in 2000, this work forms a trilogy.

In 1972 Buchheim made a painter's journey through New York and San Francisco to the South Pacific . During this trip he created many watercolors and gouaches , which he later called the tropics of Feldafing .

In the 1960s and 1970s he undertook numerous painting and exploration trips, which resulted in several travel reports and photo books. From 1981 to 1985, much of his work was exhibited in Leningrad, Moscow, Madrid, Tel Aviv and Japan.

After Lothar-Günther Buchheim had finished painting and writing for the public at the age of 65, he first wanted to put his collected works in the Duisburg Lehmbruck Museum . Since this project failed because of differences of opinion with the city of Duisburg , he withdrew his offer in the mid-1980s. In 1996 he founded a non-profit Buchheim Foundation, which financed the Museum of Fantasy , also known as the Buchheim Museum , in 2001 after around 30 years of efforts . The museum opened on May 23, 2001. In this museum, in which Buchheim was director until his death, he placed his collected works.

For years, Buchheim had planned to store his collection, estimated at around 100 million euros, in his place of residence in Feldafing . But the community refused after quarrels with him, who was also dubbed "Poltergeist von Feldafing". In 1998 a referendum brought the final end to his museum plans in Feldafing and Buchheim moved to the neighboring community of Bernried.

His eye patch, which he wore over his left eye due to a failed eye operation, was characteristic.

Lothar-Günther Buchheim died on February 22, 2007 of a heart condition. His urn was buried in the Bernried cemetery.

Urn grave of Lothar-Günther Buchheim in Bernried.

Awards and honors


  • Days and nights rise from the stream. A Danube trip. 1941 (Extended edition 2000, ISBN 3-7844-2772-3 and unchanged new edition TB 2001, ISBN 3-492-23297-3 )
  • Hunter in the ocean. 1943/1996, ISBN 3-455-11172-6 (unchanged new edition TB 2005, ISBN 3-492-24470-X )
  • Georges Braque. The graphic work. 1950
  • Henri Matisse. From the graphic work. 1950
  • Pablo Picasso. From the graphic work. 1950
  • Braque ("The Colored Series"). 1951
  • Raoul Dufy ("The Colored Series"). 1951
  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The lithographs. ("The Colored Series"). 1951
  • Henri Matisse ("The Colored Series"). 1952
  • Max Beckmann. The world of the individual. Woodcuts, etchings, lithographs. ("Buchheim Books"). 1954
  • Pierre Bonnard ("The Colored Series"). 1954
  • Around 1900. Lithographs by Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard, Vuillard. ("Buchheim Books"). 1954
  • Lexicon of Modern Art. Edited and edited by Lothar-Günther Buchheim. 1955
  • Fernand Leger. People and objects. ("Buchheim Books"). 1955
  • Between dream and day. Drawings by Marc Chagall. ("Buchheim Books"). 1955
  • Festive world. Drawings by Raoul Dufy. ("Buchheim Books"). 1955
  • The artist community "Brücke". Paintings, drawings, graphics, plastic. Documents of German Expressionism. 1956
  • French graphics of the XX. Century. ("Buchheim Books"). 1956
  • German graphics of the XX. Century. Woodcuts. ("Buchheim Books"). 1956
  • Hector Trotin's Sunday world. 1957
  • The “Blue Rider” and the “New Munich Artists' Association”. 1958
  • Picasso. A picture biography. 1958
  • How do you paint abstractly? An easy to understand guide. 1958 (new edition 2002, ISBN 3-7659-1051-1 )
  • Graphics of German Expressionism. 1959
  • Max Beckmann. Life and work. 1959
  • Max Kaus. Graphics from the years 1916–1926. 1959
  • Otto Mueller. Life and work. 1963 (new edition with changed layout 2003, ISBN 3-7659-1052-X )
  • The painter in the autumn grove. Chinese landscapes by Chi Pai Shih. 1964, ISBN 978-3-7659-0982-5
  • Max Kaus. Early lithographs. 1964
  • Art Nouveau posters (“Buchheim's great art books”). 1969
  • PI PA POP POSTERS. 1969 (Reprint 2007, ISBN 978-3-7659-1062-3 )
  • The boat . Novel. 1973 (new edition 2005, ISBN 3-492-04754-8 ); Translations in 30 languages
  • Submarine war. 1976 (3rd edition 2001, ISBN 3-492-04042-X )
  • State gala. 1977, ISBN 3-426-05608-9
  • My Paris - a city thirty years ago. 1977, ISBN 3-492-02294-4 (new edition with the title "Paris-Paris", TB. 2004, ISBN 3-7659-1055-4 )
  • State circus - with the Queen through Germany. 1978, ISBN 3-423-01438-5
  • The tropics of Feldafing. 1978 (new edition TB 2001, ISBN 3-7659-1050-3 )
  • The luxury liner. 1980
  • U 96 - Scenes from the naval war. 1981
  • The sailing ship. 1982 (revised new edition, 1986)
  • The submarine drivers - the boats, the crews and their admiral. Various editions: 1985, 1986, 1998 ISBN 3-492-04044-6 , special edition 2005 ISBN 3-937501-08-8
  • The museum in the clouds. About the Duisburg case. 1986, ISBN 3-8135-0278-3
  • Painter's book. 1988, ISBN 3-7857-0484-4
  • The fortress . 1995, ISBN 3-455-00733-3 (new edition. TB. 2005, ISBN 3-492-24470-X )
  • Submarine war. 1997. (New edition 2001, ISBN 3-937501-09-6 )
  • Conquered to death. The sinking of the submarines. 1998 (new edition 2001, ISBN 3-492-04043-8 )
  • The farewell . 2000, ISBN 3-492-04273-2


  • Das Boot (D, 1981), directed by Wolfgang Petersen , with Jürgen Prochnow and others
  • Convoy to the Kattegat. 1981
  • The sailing ship. 1981
  • Buchheim's colorful world of collectors. 1985
  • Conquered to death - From the sinking of the submarines. 1985
  • The villa and its Buchheim. Documentation by Bernt Engelmann and Gisela Wunderlich



  • Doctor Faustus (D, 1982), based on the novel by Thomas Mann , directed by Franz Seitz (Buchheim plays Dr. Erasmi in it )
  • Success (D, 1990), based on the novel by Lion Feuchtwanger , directed by Franz Seitz (Buchheim plays the gallery owner in it )


  • Mirko Wittwar: The image of war. On the novels "Das Boot" and "Die Festung" by Lothar-Günther Buchheim. Univ. Diss., Berlin 2002.
  • Andreas Lehmann: Lothar-Günther Buchheim's “Das Boot” in the context of war literature after 1945. Master's thesis, Munich 2005.
  • Yves Buchheim with the assistance of Franz Kotteder : Buchheim. Artist, collector, despot: my father's life. Wilhelm Heyne, Munich 2018, ISBN 978-3-453-20197-2 . (With photos, documents, bibliography)
  • Daniel J. Schreiber, Gerrit Reichert: Buchheim 100. (Catalog for the exhibition from March 17 to July 1, 2018 in the Buchheim Museum Bernried), Buchheim Verlag, Feldafing 2018, ISBN 978-3-7659-1096-8 .
  • Gerrit Reichert: U 96 - Reality and Myth: Der Alte und Lothar-Günther Buchheim , Mittler in Maximilian Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 2019, ISBN 978-3-8132-0990-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. Klee, Ernst .: Cultural encyclopedia for the Third Reich: Who was what before and after 1945 . 1st edition. Fischer, S, Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-596-17153-8 , pp. 76 .
  4. In his diary-like report, he names the escape boat “U 730”.
  5. Gerrit Reichert U 96 - Reality and Myth: Der Alte und Lothar-Günther Buchheim , Mittler in Maximilian Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 2019, ISBN 978-3-8132-0990-7
  6. Son on the family history of Buchheim
  7. Appreciation Diethild Buchheim (1922–2014)
  8. "Der Spiegel" 9/2007
  9. ^ Süddeutsche Zeitung : Verbal Poltergeist February 23, 2007
  10. DGPA
  11. On the family history of Buchheim

Web links

Commons : Lothar-Günther Buchheim  - Collection of images, videos and audio files