Lotte Betke

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Lotte Betke (* 5 November 1905 in Hamburg , † 25. July 2008 in Siegburg ) was a German theater - actress and writer . She wrote plays, poems, radio plays, fairy tales and stories for children and young people.


In her childhood, Lotte Betke, sitting on a stool, listened to the stories of her grandmother, which she claims to have shaped her a lot. She grew up alone and very sheltered; at the age of eight she wrote her first poem. After elementary school, at her mother's request, she attended the Hansa-Lyzeum , where her first work was the swineherd by Hans Christian Andersen in a play. After graduating from school, she attended an acting school in Hamburg and immediately played at the Thalia Theater there .

In the 1920s she mainly played the “youthful Sentimentale”, among others in Bielefeld, Mannheim and Nuremberg. In 1931 she went to Berlin and played there at the Prussian State Theater , among others under Gustaf Gründgens and Jürgen Fehling . In Berlin she also wrote again, mostly Low German poems. They were broadcast on the radio and printed under the title "Heimweh". Her play "Großvadder will danzen" was also successfully performed in the Berlin Rose Theater .

Betke's brother was schizophrenic and lived in an institution. During the time of National Socialism in Germany, he was threatened with evacuation and was therefore often brought home by Lotte Betke. She herself also had difficulties with the regime, especially after visiting an exiled Jewish friend in Belgium. Betke married the musician Ulrich Ponnier , and while pregnant with her first child, she wrote her first children's book, "LIEschEN", which was successfully published by Loewes Verlag in Stuttgart.

During the war she fled with her two children Mathias (* 1941) and Katharina (* 1944) from Berlin to Swabia, where she largely gave up acting and devoted herself more to writing. From 1962 Betke worked as a lecturer at Südfunk Stuttgart and earned her livelihood after the death of her husband in 1976.

She was a member of Amnesty International , to which she dedicated the book "The Song of the Swamp Goers". This book was on the shortlist for the German Youth Book Prize, as was "Lamps on the Canal".

Most recently Lotte Betke lived in the St. Josef retirement home in Siegburg for almost a decade. Heide Schmidt interviewed her, evaluated her tapes and wrote a biography . The biography appeared shortly before her death. She was buried in Cologne - Bocklemünd .


She was best known for her many books for children and young people, which were also published in English, Dutch, Danish and Norwegian. She often wrote about marginal figures in society, many of her mostly female youthful main characters have to take on strong roles, even if they judge themselves weakly. Lieschen is looking for her father, who was missing on an expedition, from her first book, Tinka from “Tinka und Matten” brings her family torn apart by the Second World War together again, and Käthe from “Lamps on the Canal” is the only one who keeps in touch with her father, Alcoholic lives in a withdrawal center.

Betke wrote two plays, twenty books (short stories, novels, fantastic stories, fairy tales and legends) and over fifty radio plays.


Web links

supporting documents

  1. Heide Schmidt: I'll remember you! Lotte Bethke tells her life. Alkyon-BIK Verlag 2016. ISBN 978-3-934136-63-2