Max Halbe

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Max Halbe

Max Halbe (born October 4, 1865 in Güttland , Prussia , † November 30, 1944 in Neuötting ) was a German writer . He was one of the most important exponents of German naturalism .


Max Halbe was born as the son of a West Prussian landowner in Güttland near Danzig. Beginning in 1883, he studied law in Heidelberg , moved in 1884 to the Faculty of Arts in Munich, where he was - after a few semesters in Berlin - 1888 with a dissertation on "Relations between . Frederick II and the Holy See " Dr. phil. PhD . He then settled in Berlin as a freelance writer . In 1893 his play Jugend appeared , which, along with Gerhart Hauptmann's play Die Weber, became the most successful naturalistic drama.

In 1895 Halbe moved to Munich and founded the Intime Theater for Dramatic Experiments . He also became a co-founder of the Münchner Volksbühne . This is where the personal connection to Ludwig Thoma came about . Halbe also cultivated a friendship with Frank Wedekind , which, although permeated by numerous tensions, lasted until Wedekind's death in 1918. Halbe gave the funeral oration at the funeral service. Halbe was also friends with the late impressionist painter Albert Weisgerber , one of the most important graphic artists for the magazine Die Jugend . Weisgerber also made a portrait of Halbe from 1909. He was also in close contact with Lovis Corinth , who created several pictures of Halbe and his wife Luise .

Towards the end of the 1890s, the poet increasingly began to turn away from naturalism. From this time onwards, Halbe tended towards neo-romanticism in terms of style and choice of topics, as had already been announced by the predominantly lyrical tone of voice in his youth and other theater pieces in his early creative period.

Max Halbe (portrait painted by Albert Weisgerber , 1909)

Although Halbe continued to focus primarily on the stage and the later plays (e.g. Der Strom ) show a clear further development compared to the early ones, he was not able to celebrate a success with any of them comparable to that of youth . As a result, he also turned to larger narrative works and wrote several novels, such as Die Tat des Dietrich Stobäus or Consul General Stenzel and his dangerous self , in which he particularly concentrated on the development of the trains of thought of his characters. Important source works on the history of German literature, especially naturalism, are the two autobiographies Scholle and Schicksal. Story of my life from 1933 and the turn of the century. Story of my life 1893–1914 from 1935.

After the “ seizure of power ” by the National Socialists in January 1933, Halbe, like Gerhart Hauptmann, did not publicly oppose the new rulers and stayed away from politics. But on October 22, 1933, he signed the pledge of loyal allegiance to Adolf Hitler .

As one of the few writers of importance who remained in Germany, the Nazis tried to reclaim him for themselves. In the final phase of the Second World War , Adolf Hitler included him in the God-gifted list of the most important writers in August 1944 , which seriously damaged his reputation in post-war Germany and led to his works being largely disregarded.

On November 30, 1944, Max Halbe died at the age of 79 on his estate in Neuötting in Upper Bavaria .

His daughter was the actress Anneliese Halbe (1894–1986).


Max Halbe was an honorary citizen of the city of Danzig. On the occasion of Max Halbe's 75th birthday, the city donated the City of Danzig Literature Prize, which it also called the Max Halbe Prize. The prize, endowed with 3,000  Reichsmarks (inflation-adjusted in today's currency: around 12,000 euros) was only awarded once due to the war. Ottfried Graf Finckenstein (for returning home to Reiherberg ) and Walter Sperling (for water nights ) were the winners in 1942.

Works (selection)

  • An upstart . 1889 (drama)
  • Free love . 1890 (drama)
  • Ice drift . 1892 (drama)
  • Youth . 1893 (drama)
  • Turning point . 1896 (comedy)
  • Mother earth . 1897 (drama)
  • The millennial kingdom. Drama in four acts. Berlin 1900
  • House Rosenhagen . 1901 (drama)
  • The stream . 1904 (drama)
  • Blue mountains . 1909 (comedy)
  • The juggler's ring . 1911 (a game)
  • The deed of Dietrich Stobäus . 1911 (novel)
  • Freedom. A play from 1812 . 1913
  • Closed time passed . 1917 (dramatic legend)
  • Io . 1917 (novel)
  • The meteor . 1920 (story, publisher Ullstein & Co.)
  • The dream face of Adam Thor . 1929 (acting)
  • Consul General Stenzel and his dangerous self . 1931 (novel)
  • Heinrich von Plauen . 1933 (drama)
  • Clod and fate. Story of my life . 1933 (autobiography)
  • Turn of the century. Story of my life 1893–1914. Danzig 1935 (autobiography); Reprint Salzburg 1945 (= Max Halbe, Complete Works. Volume 2).
  • Harvest Festival . 1936
  • The elixirs of happiness . 1936 (novel)
  • Emperor Friedrich II . 1940


  • Josef Egginger: The poet Max Halbe in the Öttinger Land. In: Oettinger Land, Altötting. Volume 15, 1995, pp. 127-135.
  • Ulrich Erdmann: From Naturalism to National Socialism? Contemporary-biographical studies on Max Halbe, Gerhart Hauptmann, Johannes Schlaf and Hermann Stehr. With unknown personal testimonials. Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1997, ISBN 3-631-30907-4
  • Andreas Lothar Günter: Prefascist worldview in Max Halbe's work. Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 2002. (= European University Papers; Series 1, German Language and Literature, Volume 1841) ISBN 3-631-39419-5
  • Sigfrid Hoefert:  Halbe, Max. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1966, ISBN 3-428-00188-5 , p. 532 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Joachim Kalcher: Perspectives on life in the drama around 1900. Boehlau, Cologne a. a. 1980. (= Cologne German Studies, Volume 14) ISBN 3-412-02880-0
  • Heinz Kindermann : Max Halbe and the German East. Rosenberg, Danzig 1941. (= Danzig in the past and present, volume 4)
  • Werner Kleine: Max Halbe's position on naturalism within the first two decades of his dramatic work. (1887-1900). Sporn, Zeulenroda 1937.
  • Peter Oliver Loew: Home is looking for the poet - the poet is looking for home. Max Halbe and Danzig . In: Andrzej Kątny (ed.): The literary and cultural heritage of Gdańsk and Gdańsk . Frankfurt am Main (inter alia) 2004, pp. 79–98 (= Danziger Contributions to German Studies, Volume 15). ISBN 3-631-53226-1
  • City Library Munich (Ed.): Max Halbe on the 100th birthday. Lehle, Munich 1965.
  • Thorsten Stegemann: literature on the sidelines. Studies on selected works by Rainer Maria Rilke, Hermann Sudermann, Max Halbe, Gottfried Benn and Erich Kästner. Ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-89821-040-5
  • Karl Ude: Max half of the estate. A Munich mirror from the turn of the century. In: Schwabing from the inside . Munich 2002, pp. 45–54.
  • Herbert Weder: The art of mood in Max Halbe's contemporary dramas with particular consideration of Ibsen. A contribution to the theory and history of drama around 1900. Werkbund, Würzburg 1932.
  • Evamaria Westphal-Wolf: Max Halbe and the Berlin Theater. I. Siegmund Lautenburg and his contribution to the reception of “Youth”, II. Otto Brahm and his relationships with Max Halbe , in: Yearbook “Der Bär von Berlin”, ed. v. Association for the History of Berlin , 28th year, Berlin 1979.
  • Friedrich Zillmann: Max Halbe. Essence and work. Holzner, Würzburg / Main 1959. (= The Göttingen Working Group; series of publications, volume 62)

Web links

Commons : Max Halbe  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Max Halbe ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. in The Ostpreußenblatt , Landsmannschaft Ostpreußen eV, October 7, 2000 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ Eva Dambacher: Literature and Culture Awards 1859-1949; 1996, ISBN 3-929146-43-6 , page 71
  3. 1944 as the film "Das Leben ruft", screenplay Otto Ernst Hesse , director Arthur Maria Rabenalt , EA December 20, 1944, producer Walter Tost , roles Waltraut Hahne, Karl Hannemann , Paul Henckels
  4. cf. Millennial Empire . Review of Rudolf Steiner from an anthroposophical perspective online