Max von der Grün

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Max von der Grün (undated)

Max von der Grün (born May 25, 1926 in Bayreuth , † April 7, 2005 in Dortmund ) was a German writer .


Birthplace of Max von der Grüns (rear building of the property behind the church 1 in Bayreuth)

Max von der Grün was born as the son of the maid Margarete von der Grün, who came from an impoverished aristocratic family, and the farmhand Adam Lauterbach in the Bayreuth district of Sankt Georgen , in the rear building of the property behind the church 1, where he also owned the first two Years of life spent. Until 1941 he grew up mainly with his grandparents Maria and Johann von der Grün in Schönwald in Upper Franconia , before moving to his mother in Mitterteich after the death of his grandfather . From 1933 to 1941 he attended elementary schools in Paulusbrunn (Bohemia) and Schönwald. His stepfather Albert Mark, a journeyman shoemaker whom his mother married in 1933, belonged to the Jehovah's Witnesses ( called Bible Students until 1931 ). That is why he was imprisoned in the Flossenbürg concentration camp from 1938 to 1945 during the National Socialist era .

Since he was not allowed to attend secondary school due to the imprisonment of his father, Max von der Grün began a commercial apprenticeship in 1941 at the Rosenthal porcelain factories in Selb and Marktredwitz . During the Second World War in 1943 he was drafted into a paratrooper unit of the Wehrmacht . In 1944 he was taken prisoner by the US at Quimper in Brittany . After a stay in a reception center in Scotland , he spent two years in camps in the USA, where he worked in work units on cotton and sugar cane plantations in Louisiana , Texas and New Mexico , as a logger and as a miner in a copper mine. Max von der Grün, who was one of the youngest of the camp inmates, said of this time: “My years of prisoner war were my university.” He came into contact with German exile literature and English-speaking authors such as Oscar Wilde , Jack London , Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck . there his interest in literature and the love of classical music was awakened. In 1946 von der Grün was released, after a first stop in Le Havre he returned to Mitterteich (Upper Palatinate), where he had lived with his parents since 1942.

Von der Grün initially pursued various unskilled jobs and trained as a bricklayer . Since he saw no professional prospects for himself in Bavaria, he signed up for the Ruhr mining industry , which was looking for workers in the early 1950s. From 1951 to 1954 von der Grün worked first as a tractor , then as a cutter at the Königsborn colliery in the Unna district . During this time, he was buried twice while at work. After a serious accident at work, he was retrained by the Hauer to be a mine locomotive driver. At this time he made his first attempts at writing. He literarily processed the experience of being locked up underground in Men in Two Nights , with which he achieved a respectable success in 1962. In 1959 he made the acquaintance of the director of the Dortmund libraries, Fritz Hüser , who became his mentor and also put him in contact with Paulus Verlag. Although von der Grün was unable to find a publisher for his first novel for a long time, he had not been discouraged from writing. His next novel Irrlicht und Feuer appeared just one year later, and it brought him his breakthrough as a writer in 1963.

Max von der Grün was married and had a daughter and a son. He lived as a freelance writer in Dortmund-Lanstrop from 1963 until his death in 2005 . In 1983 the Bayreuth city council rejected the award of the local culture prize to him by a majority.

Max von der Grün was buried in the Dortmund-Scharnhorst district cemetery.

Work and action

In his books, Max von der Grün dealt with the world of work and current political, private and social problems. He is therefore one of the most important German representatives of the literature of the world of work in the post-war period. Some of his works have been filmed several times and translated into numerous languages.

Von der Grün became known to a wider public in 1963 with the novel Irrlicht und Feuer , in which he described the poor working conditions of the miners in the collieries and denounced the excesses of performance thinking and the consumer society. From then on, von der Grün devoted himself entirely to his writing.

His youth book Vorstadtkrokodile (1976), which is about a paraplegic boy who wants to become a member of a children's gang, and their adventures, made him popular with younger readers. The book is still read today in many (elementary) schools in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. For the film version by the WDR , in addition to young amateur actors from the region and well-known actors such as Eberhard Feik , Martin and willy semmelrogge participated, screenwriter received from the Green in 1978 as part of the Television Festival Prague the price of Prague's TV viewers . Director Wolfgang Becker was awarded the Golden Camera in 1977 . In 2009, a remake of the material under the title Vorstadtkrokodile reached a new generation of young viewers, which was awarded the German Film Prize for Best Children's Film in 2010 and was continued in Vorstadtkrokodile 2 . In 2011, Vorstadtkrokodile 3 was another sequel to German cinemas.

Numerous other works by Max von der Grün served as models for television films. As early as 1966, a television version of Irrlicht und Feuer was made by the German television radio . In 1970 the novel Zwei Briefe an Pospischiel with Günther Simon as Paul Pospischiel was filmed for GDR television, a year later Eberhard Fechner played the role in the television film of the same name on ZDF . In 1975, directed by Wolfgang Petersen , the film Stellenweise Glatteis with Günter Lamprecht in the role of Karl Maiwald , who uncovered an in-house bugging operation and yet failed. The material was adapted for television by the author himself. The television play Spate Love also came from his pen , for which von der Grün was awarded the Wilhelmine Lübke Prize of the Board of Trustees of German Elderly Aid in 1978 . Von der Grün was also responsible for the screenplay for Alexander von Eschweges' 1981 film adaptation of the conflagration , in which Horst Frank played the leading role. The youth novel Friedrich und Friederike provided the template for a multi-part television series, which - also directed by Alexander von Eschwege - was broadcast in 1988 on ARD's evening program.

Von der Grün was one of the founding members of the Dortmund Group 61 in 1961 and a member of the PEN Center of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1964 until his death . At the writers ' congress in Berlin in May 1986, he was elected as a member of the federal board of the Association of German Writers , now in ver.di , and held this office until September 1987.

A ten-volume edition of the work was published by Pendragon-Verlag in Bielefeld, the first of which, Men in Two Nights and Two Letters to Pospischiel , came out in March 2009.

The Max von der Grüns estate is located in the Fritz Hüser Institute for Literature and Culture in the Working World in Dortmund.



The memorial plaque for Max von der Grün is on the wrong house
  • In the Bayreuth district of Kreuzstein , a street was named after Max von der Grün.
  • In Bönen , part of the former railway line of the Klöcknerbahn and the current cycle path was renamed Max-von-der-Grün-Weg . This railway line is one of the scenes of will- o'-the-wisp and fire .
  • In Dortmund, after a lengthy discussion about a suitable location, in November 2011 the District Representation of the City Center West decided to move the exposed space between the main train station and the Katharinentreppe, where the central library of the Dortmund City and State Library is located, in Max-von-der- Name green space. The street sign was unveiled on December 20, 2011 by Jennifer von der Grün, the writer's widow.
  • In May 2012, a memorial plaque was placed on the house where Max von der Grüns was born. However, the board hangs on the front building of the property. In fact, Max von der Grün was born in the Secret Annex.


  • Men in two nights. Paulus-Verlag, Recklinghausen 1962
  • Wisp and fire. Paulus-Verlag, Recklinghausen 1963
  • Two letters to Pospischiel. Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1968
  • Black ice in places. Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1973
  • Conflagration. Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1979
  • The avalanche. Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1986
  • Spring tide. Luchterhand, Frankfurt am Main 1990
  • Break in the journey and other stories. European publishing house, Frankfurt am Main 1965
  • Vacation at Lake Balaton. Eremiten-Presse publishing house, Stierstadt im Taunus 1970
  • The lights go out at the bar. Eremiten-Presse publishing house, Stierstadt im Taunus 1972
  • Shorthand. Stories. Eremiten-Presse publishing house, Düsseldorf 1972
  • A day like any other. Report. Eremiten-Presse publishing house, Düsseldorf 1973
  • A day like any other / Travel to the present / To Südiler and back. dtv, Munich 1978
  • The decision. Stories. Klett, Stuttgart 1979
  • Something out of legality and other narratives. Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1980
  • Late love. Narrative. Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1982
  • Rangers and bridgemen. Stories. Reclam, Stuttgart 1987
  • Drive in the morning. Stories. dtv, Munich 1994
  • Boar hunting and other suburban stories. Luchterhand, Munich 1995
Books for children and young readers
  • When the dead raven falls from the tree. Bertelsmann, Munich [a. a.] 1975
  • How was that actually? Childhood and Youth in the Third Reich. With a documentation by Christel Schütz, Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1979; Paperback edition dtv, Munich 1995
  • Class discussions. Essays, speeches, comments. Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1981
  • The district. A declaration of love. Harenberg Edition, Dortmund 1988 (together with Peter Iwers)
  • A youth in Franconia. Wallstein-Verlag, Göttingen 1990
more publishments
  • End of working day. The shooting and diary of a television film. Paulus-Verlag, Recklinghausen 1968 (together with Hans Dieter Schwarze )
  • Flight over mines and forests. North Rhine-Westphalia, land of contrasts. Westermann, Braunschweig 1970
  • People in Germany (FRG). 7 portraits. Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1973
  • Life in the promised land. Guest worker portraits. Luchterhand, Darmstadt / Neuwied 1975
  • Our factory. (Photo book) Bucher, Luzern / Frankfurt am Main 1979 (with Oren Schmuckler (photography) and Günter Wallraff (text))
  • Out and about in Germany. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1980
  • Maloche. Life in the district. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 1982 (photo book with the Anthracite group )
  • Our beautiful North Rhine-Westphalia. Of people and nature, of coal and culture. Umschau-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1983
Factory editions


  • From the world of work. Almanac of Group 61 and its guests. Luchterhand, Neuwied / Berlin 1966 (with Fritz Hüser , in collaboration with Wolfgang Promies )
  • My reading book. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1980
  • Stories from the world of work I . Baulino Verlag GmbH, 1982
  • Stories from the world of work II . Europe, Vienna [u. a.] 1984
  • Stories from the world of work III . Baulino Verlag GmbH, 1989
  • Stories from the world of work 4 . Löcker Verlag, Vienna 1993
  • Stories from the world of work 5 . Löcker Verlag, Vienna 1997


  • Suburban crocodiles. A story of watching. Audio CD. Patmos, Düsseldorf 1995 (also audio cassette)
  • Suburban crocodiles. CD-ROM for Windows 95/98 / NT / 2000 / XP [learning materials] Audio CD. Co.Tec-Verlag 2005
  • Suburban crocodiles. A story of watching. 3 CDs. Read by Richy Müller . Argonauts at Random House, Cologne 2006

Film adaptations

  • Wisp and fire (DFF, August 21 and 23, 1966; ARD, June 17 and 18, 1968)
  • Sketches from everyday life in Germany. The man at the control desk (ARD, January 29, 1967)
  • Ostend (ibid., April 8, 1968)
  • After work (ZDF, May 1, 1968)
  • Shift change. Television play (ARD, September 29, 1968; Whg. May 8, 1970)
  • Promotion opportunities (ibid., June 17, 1971)
  • Two letters to Pospischiel (DFF, November 22, 1970; Neuzzen. ZDF, October 13, 1971)
  • In places black ice (ARD, June 20 and 22, 1975)
  • The suburban crocodiles (ibid., December 25, 1977)
  • Late love (ibid., April 26, 1978)
  • Above ground, underground. Faces of the Ruhr area (ZDF series descriptions from February 17, 1980) [with U. Wöhning]
  • Conflagration (ARD, April 12, 1981)
  • Teutonia Lanstrop (ZDF: Der Sport-Spiegel , November 2, 1984) [with K.-H. Erfurt]
  • Friedrich and Friederike. TV series (ARD, 1988)
  • Suburban crocodiles (remake 2009)


  • Bread and games. Ruhroper. By Günther Wiesemann. Libretto v. Max von der Grün (Premiere at the Dortmund Opera House, April 15, 1989)
Broadcast work
  • Ruhr area? What's this? Thoughts at the time (WDR 1, June 6, 1965)
  • The lights go out at the bar. When the colliery closes (WDR 2, December 4, 1965)
  • Smog. Radio play (WDR 1966), last broadcast on WDR 5, March 2, 2010
  • Bonn is not that far. The voter and politics (WDR 2, April 2, 1966)
  • When the fog comes. People on the Edge of Society (WDR 2, November 20, 1966)
  • "Oh, you come from the Ruhr area?" A Dortmund resident in Dresden (WDR 2, August 12, 1967)
  • Dortmund, declaration of love to a city I do not love (WDR 2, October 7, 1967)
  • Off the beaten path. Visit to Flossenbürg (WDR 2, November 19, 1967)
  • Keywords from my reading (hr 2, January 25, 1968)
  • The accident. I. Vacation at Lake Balaton. A short story (hr 1, November 17, 1968)
  • A day like any other. As a writer in the Ruhr area (WDR 2, December 15, 1968)
  • Who was driving whom? Automation and people. Workplace observations (hr 2, January 9, 1970); licensed barrel: WDR, March 14, 1970; slightly modified: who controlled whom? Humans and Automation (DLF, March 25, 1974)
  • After the recent strike. Have the works council and union officials lost the workers' trust? An investigation. (NDR, February 6, 1970; WDR 2, February 9, 1970)
  • You don't live anywhere. Newspaper reader in the Revier (WDR 2, October 10, 1970)
  • When the evening comes (hr 1973; RIAS Berlin, December 9, 1973 as well as SDR, DLF, WDR / NDR)
  • To Südiler and back. When Turkish workers go on vacation (WDR 3, January 19, 1974)
  • The Crash Site (SWF 1976), last broadcast by WDR 5, September 24, 2005
  • Suburban crocodiles (WDR 1977)
  • Emergency or the street theater is coming (Premiere Ruhrfestspielhaus Recklinghausen, January 8, 1969; Director: HD Schwarze; Westf. Landestheater Velbert, April 30, 1971 [developed in the author collective])
  • Suburban crocodiles (Westf. Landestheater Castrop-Rauxel; Premiere Siegburg an der Lahn, 23 October 1981)


  • Heinz Ludwig Arnold (ed.): Conversations with writers. Max Frisch, Günter Grass, Wolfgang Koeppen, Max von der Grün, Günter Wallraff. Beck, Munich 1975, ISBN 3-406-04934-6 (= Beck's black series; 134)
  • Walter Gödden: Tests of courage in a wheelchair. Max von der Grün's classic children's book “Vorstadtkrokodile” still finds enthusiastic readers today. In: Westfalenspiegel. 52 (2003) p. 23
  • Max von der Grün. Edition text + kritik , Munich 1975, ISBN 3-921402-01-8 (= text + criticism, 45)
  • Gisela Koch (Ed.): For the 70th Festschrift for Max von der Grün. City and State Library, Dortmund 1996
  • Martin H. Ludwig: Perspective in the workers' novel. Investigations into the relationship between literary and sociological representation of the world of work using the example of Max von der Grüns “Irrlicht und Feuer”. Diss. Phil. University of Hamburg 1975
  • Heinz Georg Max: "Straightforward, without fear, calling things clearly by their names". Max von der Grün (1926-2005) . In: Literature in Westphalia. Contributions to research 9 (2008), pp. 235–266. It also includes: around 100-page special section about Max von der Grün with contributions by Horst Hensel, Hugo Ernst Buyer and Heinrich Peuckmann; also extensive bibliography (status summer 2008).
  • Hanno Möbius: Workers' literature in the FRG. An analysis of industrial reports and reportage novels. Max von der Grün, Christian Geißler, Günter Wallraff. Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne 1970.
  • Wozan Urbain N'Dakon: Children read “suburban crocodiles”. An empirical study on the reception of the children's novel Max von der Grüns. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 2000, ISBN 3-631-38658-3 (= Bayreuth contributions to literary studies; 23).
  • Take nothing for granted. Max von der Grün turns 60. Fritz Hüser Institute for German and Foreign Workers 'Literature, Dortmund 1986 (= information from the Fritz Hüser Institute for German and Foreign Workers' Literature of the City of Dortmund; 31).
  • Stephan Reinhardt (ed.): Max von der Grün. Materials book. Luchterhand, Darmstadt u. a. 1978, ISBN 3-472-61237-1 (= Luchterhand collection; 237).
  • Stephan Reinhardt (ed.): Max von der Grün. Texts, data, images. Luchterhand, Frankfurt am Main 1990, ISBN 3-630-61931-2 (= Luchterhand collection; 931).
  • Franz Schonauer: Max von der Grün. Beck, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-406-07123-6 (= author's books; 13).
  • Gunther Weimann: Max von der Grün: Workers' literature and everyday working life. An examination of the novels "Irrlicht und Feuer", "Two letters to Pospischiel" and "In places black ice". Univ. Diss., Saint Louis 1984.
  • Wolfgang Bittner , Mark vom Hofe: Heinrich Heine and the Königsborn colliery. Max von der Grün . In: I meddle. Striking German résumés. Bad Honnef 2006, ISBN 978-3-89502-222-7 .
  • Bernhard M. Baron : Max von der Grün - One of us. Time for a personal and literary renaissance. In: Heimat - Landkreis Tirschenreuth, Vol. 22/2010, Verlag Eckhard Bodner, Pressath, ISBN 978-3-939247-04-3 , pp. 82-90.
  • Rüdiger Scholz: Max von der Grün. Political writer and humanist. With a tribute to Werner Bräunig's “Rummelplatz”, Würzburg 2015, 604 pages, ISBN 978-3-8260-5699-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Nordbayerischer Kurier of May 25, 2012, p. 19
  2. Information from the Bayreuth registry office
  3. Max von der Grün in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely available)
  4. Nordbayerischer Kurier of August 11, 2012, p. 12
  5. ^ Archive of the registry office Schönwald / Upper Franconia
  6. Munzinger Archive, Max von der Grün . Website of the Munzinger Archive. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
  7. Rüdiger Scholz: “Max von der Grün. Political writer and humanist. "Verlag Königshausen & Neumann GmbH, Würzburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-8260-5699-4 , page 35
  8. Max von der Grün tells from his life, WDR 5 - Experienced stories from June 8, 2003
  9. ^ Archives of the registry offices in Schönwald / Upper Franconia and in Mitterteich / Upper Palatinate
  10. Christoph Rabenstein, Ronald Werner: St. Georgen - Pictures and Stories, p. 159
  11. The grave of Max von der Grün
  12. Golden Camera Best Director: Wolfgang Becker, Prize Winner Letter B ( Memento from May 15, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  13. A Dortmund Kohlhaas Zeit , No. 27, June 27, 1975
  14. Merit holders since 1986. State Chancellery of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, accessed on March 11, 2017 .
  15. "The Dramas About Names" , Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung , Dortmund local edition, December 21, 2011, accessed on July 25, 2015
  16. Short review on How was that actually? Childhood and Youth in the Third Reich