Michael Ende

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Michael Andreas Helmuth Ende (born November 12, 1929 in Garmisch ; † August 28, 1995 in Filderstadt ) was a German writer . He is one of the most successful German authors of books for young people . Books like The Neverending Story , Momo and Jim Knopf and Lukas the Engine Driver were international successes and were widely adapted for film, television and theater. Ende's works have sold over 30 million copies and have been translated into over 40 languages.


Michael Ende was the son of the surrealist painter Edgar Ende (1901–1965) and his wife Luise Bartholomä (1892–1973). Shortly after his birth, his parents moved from Garmisch to Munich , as his father expected better prospects of success as a painter there. End therefore spent the first years of his life in what is now the Munich districts of Pasing and Schwabing . Mid-1930s came the family in a crisis, as Edgar Ende works of the NS - Reichskulturkammer as degenerate art were classified. Many of the father's friends and colleagues, some of them Jews, were deported. As a small child, Michael Ende learned not to reveal anything he had heard at home to outsiders. From 1940, Ende attended the Maximiliansgymnasium in Munich, although he said he was a poor student and detested the school. In 1943 the grammar school was evacuated and Ende came back to his place of birth Garmisch with the deportation to Kinderland .

When the 15-year-old received his position order for “home defense” at the end of a few weeks before the end of the war, he tore it up and joined the Bavarian freedom campaign . In 1948 he graduated from high school at the Waldorf School in Stuttgart . During his time in Stuttgart he made his first attempts at writing, influenced by Dadaist and Expressionist poetry. Subsequently, at the end of 1950, he attended the Otto Falckenberg drama school in Munich. He wanted to create an approach for a later career as a playwright; an acting career was not his main goal. After completing his training, Ende worked as an actor at various regional theaters until 1953, including several months at the State Theater in Schleswig-Holstein. During this time, Ende wrote the lyrics for various political cabarets . From 1954 to 1962 he also worked as a film critic for Bayerischer Rundfunk , which was the first time that he had a steady income.

With his own, mostly dramatic plays, Ende was unsuccessful. At the end of the 1950s he wrote his manuscript Jim Button and Lukas the Engine Driver : “So I sat down at my typewriter and wrote: The country in which Lukas the Engine Driver lived was very small. That was the first sentence, and I had no idea what the second would be called. I had no story or idea whatsoever. I just let myself be led from one sentence to another, from one idea to the next, quite unintentionally. So I discovered writing as an adventure. The story grew and grew, more and more characters appeared, threads of action began to weave, to my own amazement. ”Ende liked to compare this rather unusual way of working with the working method of a painter who often only had a vague idea, but then during the Working process to create something much better from the material. After ten months of work, Jim Knopf was done. The manuscript was initially rejected by a total of twelve publishers for a year and a half, for example on the grounds that it was too long for a children's book. It was not until 1960 that the work was published at the instigation of the publisher Lotte Weitbrecht in her Thienemann Verlag in Stuttgart. Jim Knopf won the German Youth Literature Prize and has been a great success ever since. In the following decades, Thienemann-Verlag published most of his works.

The success of Jim Knopf made Ende financially independent for the first time. In 1964 he married the actress Ingeborg Hoffmann . From 1965 to 1971, Ende lived with his family in the Old Castle in Valley near Munich. A disappointment for him was the unsuccessful staging of his tragic comedy Die Spielverderber in 1967 , which received bad reviews. Various critics in Germany accused Ende, precisely because of his Jim Knopf , of escapism and accused him of failing to prepare children for the real life with his positive fairy tales. Critics dismissed him as a “writer for children”. Partly because of this escapism debate, the couple moved to Italy at the end of the 1970s. They settled in Genzano di Roma , about 30 kilometers southeast of Rome, in the Villa Liocorno (unicorn). Michael Ende emphasized that in Italy, in contrast to Germany, there is no strict distinction between realistic and fantastic literature, but only the quality of what is written.

“You can step into the literary salon from any door, from the prison door, from the madhouse door or from the brothel door. The only thing that is not allowed to come out of one door is the child's room door. Criticism doesn't forgive you for that. The great Rudyard Kipling already felt that. I always ask myself what it has to do with, where does this strange contempt for everything that has to do with the child come from. "

- Michael Ende

His fairytale novel Momo was written in Italy in 1973 and is one of his most successful works worldwide, with over seven million copies sold to date. In 1985, Ende was also one of the authors of the screenplay for the film adaptation of Momo , directed by Johannes Schaaf . In this film, Ende made a small guest appearance as a train passenger. In the 1970s, Ende had already written the libretto for the opera Momo and Die Zeitdiebe in close collaboration with the composer Mark Lothar . The world premiere took place in 1978 at the Landestheater Coburg . Also from 1978 he worked regularly with the composer Wilfried Hiller . This partnership resulted in numerous music theater pieces , such as The Goggolori in 1985 or the radio play Norbert Nackendick or the naked rhino . At the beginning of the 1980s, together with the politician Erhard Eppler and the actress Hanne Tächl, he published the discussion volume Fantasy / Culture / Politics , which spoke out against technocratic thinking in politics and business.

In 1979 Michael Ende wrote his fantastic novel The Neverending Story . The book sold around ten million copies worldwide and has been translated into forty languages. In the 1980s, Ende's popularity peaked and he dominated the bestseller lists in Germany with several titles. The large-scale film adaptation of the Neverending Story in 1984 by the producer Bernd Eichinger endorsed initially; When he saw the finished film, however, he was horrified and described it as a "gigantic melodrama made of kitsch, commerce, plush and plastic". He criticized, among other things, that the film lacks internal logic and that it no longer conveyed the basic messages of the book. Michael Ende had himself removed from the film credits and then litigated the filmmakers for a long time and ultimately unsuccessfully, asking them to either rename the film or stop production.

In 1983, Ende's Der Spiegel im Spiegel was published , a surrealist collection of stories aimed primarily at adult readers. With his works, Ende tried to distinguish himself as a serious author for adults. But the German literary criticism - less the foreign one - remained largely hostile towards the end. Marcel Reich-Ranicki said, for example, “I don't express myself about the phenomenon of the end”, whereupon Ende targeted the critic with the figure of the hideous, useless “Buchörgele” in his 1989 children's book Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch . The Night of Wishes meant again a success for the end and earned him the literature prize La vache qui lit one. After further children's books in the early 1990s, the work Zettelkasten appeared in 1994 , in which Ende published sketches and notes from his archives and also wrote directly about his own life for the first time.

Michael Ende's grave in the Munich forest cemetery

After his first wife Ingeborg Hoffmann died unexpectedly in 1985, Ende returned to Munich from Italy. In 1989 he married the Japanese translator Mariko Satō ( 佐藤 真理 子 ), who translated some of his works into Japanese . Ende had a strong affection for Japan and its culture and visited this country several times. In 1994 Michael Ende was diagnosed with stomach cancer, from which he died in Filderstadt in 1995 at the age of 65 . His last work, a libretto for a musical performance, remained unfinished. He found his final resting place in the forest cemetery (old part) in Munich (grave no. 212-W-3), which is marked by a large book in bronze, from which fairy tale characters of his works emerge in relief. Two stools in front of them and a small temple are also designed as books. Ludwig Valentin Angerer created the tomb .


The German Literature Archive in Marbach am Neckar manages the end of the literary estate . Individual exhibits, such as the manuscripts of The Neverending Story and The Satanarchaeolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch , can be seen in the permanent exhibition of the Modern Literature Museum in Marbach. Parts of the estate are in the Michael Ende Museum of the International Youth Library in Blutenburg Castle in Munich and in the Michael Ende Archive in the Kurohime Dōwakan Fairy Tale Museum in Shinano , Japan.

Themes and influences

Michael Ende's work is often determined by Rudolf Steiner and the ideas of anthroposophy . He tried to counteract the thought of the insignificance of the world, which found its way into his work among other things as the all-destructive nothing in the Neverending Story . Ende saw it as the task of art and literature to create a meaning for people's lives. “I am convinced that there is another real world outside of the world that can be perceived with our senses, and that man comes from there and goes there again. For me, nature is not just the sum of chemistry and physics. (...) For me the world looks like this, that the whole cosmos is filled like a huge amphitheater of gods and demons, who watch with breathless tension what we are doing here. I think we are the center of the universe. If I couldn't believe it anymore, I wouldn't know why I should be alive at all. "

In Michael Ende the “German-Romantic soul” would have found a “poet, seer, helper, guide, source of meaning”, something none of the great German post-war authors wanted to be, wrote Der Spiegel in 1984. In many cases, his works were Mixtures of reality and fantasy, such as The Neverending Story , in which a person in our world enters a fantastic dreamland. His father's surrealist works found their way into Ende's work in several places, especially in the collection of stories Der Spiegel im Spiegel ; also the Far Eastern culture, especially the Japanese theater , which Ende greatly admired.

In his children's books, Ende also addressed social issues, so that he was “by no means unpolitical, but in fact highly politicized”. According to Julia Voss, Jim Knopf can be read as a counter-story to National Socialist imagery. In Jim Knopf , for example, the Nazi racial policy is alluded to when the dragons are divided into full-fledged dragons or "half dragons". Both Momo and the Neverending Story address the dangers of a modern world in which fantasy , myths and humanity are disappearing. The Neverending Story and The Satanarchaeolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch can be read as a criticism of the way people deal with the environment, which is why Ende also became a popular author of the opponents of nuclear power and the peace movement . In Tilman Urbach's film Michael Ende - the father of the neverending story , his editor Roman Hocke emphasizes that Ende saw himself as a pure “fairytale uncle”. The film spokeswoman: "Michael Ende's books despite all Phantasterien civilization reviews, behind which is the vision of a different, better world." He also dealt with economics, specifically the idea of a monetary reform by Silvio Gesell . He processed many of his thoughts on economics in Momo .


Most of Michael Ende's books were first published by Thienemann Verlag , later also at the instigation of his publisher and editor Hansjörg Weitbrecht in his subsidiary, Edition Weitbrecht . His stories were also set to music and published as audio books and radio plays with well-known speakers.

His works have been translated into over forty languages ​​and have a total circulation of nearly thirty million. His children's book Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer , which was shown on television in the scenic representation of the Augsburger Puppenkiste, was particularly successful . The film adaptations of his novels Momo and The Neverending Story also contributed to his fame.

Ende's works were received and interpreted in many ways. Among other things, museum exhibitions were organized. The band Tocotronic also dedicated a song to him in 1995 ( Michael Ende, you destroyed my life ), which thematizes the influence of Ende's work on a whole generation of young people.

Kurpark Garmisch-Partenkirchen: The Michael-Ende-Linde with a lawn maze (left).
Sculpture of the ancient Morla in the Michael-Ende-Kurpark Garmisch-Partenkirchen

In 1990 Michael Ende planted an imperial linden tree in the Garmisch Kurpark to express his attachment to his place of birth. In 2009 the spa park was renamed "Michael-Ende-Kurpark" in honor of the author. In the middle of the Kurpark, the Kurhaus housed a permanent exhibition from 2007 to the end of 2016, "The Beginning of the End" about childhood and youth, the life and work of the end.

Numerous schools are named after Michael Ende.

Awards (selection)


Books for children and young readers

Posthumous publications

More prose

Posthumous publications


  • Flea market of dreams. Midnight songs and soft ballads. Weitbrecht, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-492-24798-9 .


As editor

Plays and opera libretti

Adaptations of his works

Film adaptations

Radio plays and audio books

The radio plays, especially that of the Neverending Story , are considered more successful than the film adaptations by the recipients of the end, who know both the radio plays and the films, not least because of Frank Duval's haunting music and Harald Leipnitz 's memorable narrative voice. With the exception of the audio book and the radio play about satanarchaeolügenialkohöllischen Wunschpunsch , all radio plays were originally produced as LP by Deutsche Grammophon for the subsidiary label Fontana , then were distributed by Philips , were first distributed by Karussell on MC from 1984 , today finally as CD available from Universal .

Radio plays:

  • Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver. 3 parts, narrator: Michael Ende, u. a. with: Rainer Plank and Heinz Stöwer , music: Aleida Montijn, director: Michael Ende
  • Jim Knopf und die Wilde 13. 2 parts, narrator: Harald Leipnitz , director: Anke Beckert
  • Momo. 2 CD or 3 (LP + MC) parts, narrator: Harald Leipnitz, music: Frank Duval, director: Anke Beckert
  • The never ending Story. 3 or 2 (LP, MC and CD) parts, narrator: Harald Leipnitz, music: Frank Duval, director: Anke Beckert
  • The satan archaeological lie, holy wish punch. u. a. with: Thomas Piper and Grete Wurm , director: Klaus-Dieter Pittrich ( produced by WDR in 1991 )


  • The satan archaeological lie, holy wish punch. Narrator: Michael Ende (Produced in the early 1990s)
  • The world of Michael Ende. Stories and thoughts about freedom, fantasy and humanity. ISBN 978-3-88698-468-8 .

Posthumous publications
radio plays:

Audio books
  • The music project Dolls United reached number 2 in the German single charts in September 1995 with the piece of music An island with two mountains , the text of which consists of quotations from the Jim Knopf film adaptation of the Augsburger Puppenkiste.


  • Werner Beer: Michael Ende and his "Jim Knopf" - intellectual location and self-image as a writer . In: Albrecht Weber (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Literatur in Bayern. From the early Middle Ages to the present. History and interpretations . Pustet, Regensburg 1987, ISBN 3-7917-1042-7 ( hoerspielhelden.de - about Ende's examination of the occidental literary tradition and philosophy in his works).
  • Klaus Berger: Michael Ende. Healing through magical imagination . EGfD , Wuppertal 1985, ISBN 3-87857-203-4 .
  • Peter Boccarius: Michael Ende. The beginning of the story . Nymphenburger, Munich 1990; Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-548-23844-0 .
  • Birgit Dankert: Michael Ende: Trapped in Fantasia . Lambert Schneider, Heidelberg 2016, ISBN 978-3-650-40122-9 .
  • Fabian Michael Friedrich: Jim Knopf. About Michael Ende's "Jim Button and Lukas the Engine Driver" and "Jim Button and the Wild 13" . EDFC, Passau 2004, ISBN 3-932621-74-3 .
  • Roman Hocke, Uwe Neumahr (ed.): Michael Ende - Magical Worlds . Catalog for the exhibition in the Deutsches Theatermuseum . Henschel, Leipzig 2007, ISBN 978-3-89487-583-1 .
  • Roman and Patrick Hocke: Michael Ende. The never ending Story. The encyclopedia of fantasy . Thienemann Verlag Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-522-20050-9 .
  • Charlotte Roth: The whole world is one big story and we play in it: Michael Ende - novel of a life. Eisele Verlag, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3-96161-069-3 . (Novel)
  • Wilfried Kuckartz: Michael Ende, “The Neverending Story”. An educational fairy tale . The Blue Owl, Essen 1984, ISBN 3-924368-13-9 .
  • Claudia Ludwig: What you have inherited from your fathers ... Michael Ende's fantasies - symbolism and literary sources . Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-8204-1181-X .
  • Friedhelm Moser: Jim Button and the Seven Wise Men. A philosophical introduction to Lummerland locomotivism . Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-8218-3452-8 .
  • Jacek Rzeszotnik (Ed.): Between Fantasy and Reality. Michael Ende memorial volume 2000 . EDFC, Passau 2000, ISBN 3-932621-29-8 .
  • Tilman Schröder: Adults only allowed when accompanied by children! (PDF) Memories of Jim Knopf, Momo and Michael Ende on his 75th birthday. November 3, 2004, accessed on September 19, 2016 (speech manuscript, with many biographical details).
  • Hajna Stoyan: The fantastic children's books by Michael Ende. With an introduction to the development of genre theory and an excursus on the fantastic children's literature of the GDR . Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-631-51784-X .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The first years. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  2. Edgar Ende and his art. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, archived from the original on September 4, 2016 ; accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  3. The school days. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  4. Hamburg bombing night and the first poem. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  5. ^ Wilhelm Keitel had extended compulsory military service to male youths born in 1929 by ordinance of March 5, 1945.
  6. The end of the war. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  7. a b First literary attempts. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  8. The famous first movement that leads to an entire novel. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  9. Sarah Kristin: "Writing as an Adventure" - On the 20th anniversary of Michael Ende's death. In: 3sat Kulturzeit. 3sat.de, August 27, 2015, accessed December 27, 2018 .
  10. Martin Mölder: 50 years of Jim Knopf. DW.com, August 9, 2010, accessed September 16, 2016 .
  11. Rescue like from heaven. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  12. Marriage on the Capitol. In: Michael Ende - For the 90th anniversary. AVA international GmbH, accessed on March 20, 2019 .
  13. Tanja Josche: Longing for the wonderful - On the 85th birthday of Michael Ende. torial.com, November 11, 2014, accessed November 4, 2017 .
  14. Thousands of flowers in honor of Michael Ende . August 23, 2013 ( merkur.de ).
  15. The Escapism Debate in Germany. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  16. Michael Ende and the Critique. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  17. Imagination / Culture / Politics. michaelende.de, accessed on November 4, 2017 .
  18. a b To Irate Michael Ende Blasts the 'Disgusting' Film Made from His Best-Seller, The Neverending Story . In: PEOPLE . tape 22 , no. 9 , 1984 ( people.com ).
  19. End against the "Neverending Story". In: Der Spiegel. April 2, 1984, accessed on September 16, 2016 : "gigantic melodrama made of kitsch, commerce, plush and plastic"
  20. Michael Ende in the show “Heutabend” 1990 on Fuchsberger's entire interview on YouTube
  21. a b c d The million-dollar fairy tale without end. In: Der Spiegel. February 4, 1984. Retrieved September 16, 2016 .
  22. Michael Ende: Biography. In: thienemann-esslinger.de. Archived from the original on July 2, 2016 ; accessed on September 16, 2016 .
  23. a b c Mariko Sato and Japan. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  24. ^ Sickness and death. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 8, 2016 .
  25. Report on the manuscript of the "Neverending Story". (No longer available online.) In: dla-marbach.de. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011 ; accessed on December 27, 2018 .
  26. Thomas Dietz: A great discovery: The small Michael-Ende-Museum. In: Mittelbayerische.de. September 24, 2010, accessed December 27, 2018 .
  27. ^ Prospectus of the International Youth Library for the Michael-Ende-Museum. Website of the Kurohime Dōwakan / Dōwa no Mori Gallery. Retrieved December 27, 2018 (Japanese).
  28. Peter Boccarius, Michael Ende: The beginning of the story, Munich: Nymphenburger, 1990, ISBN 3-485-00622-X .
  29. Search for a habitable world. In: michaelende.de. AVA international GmbH, accessed on September 20, 2016 .
  30. ^ André Müller: Interview with Michael at the end of 1983 , October 1983, accessed on November 22, 2016 .
  31. Wieland Freund: Michael Ende's books were "Opium for Children". In: world. November 12, 2009. Retrieved November 22, 2016 .
  32. Werner Onken : The economic message of Michael Ende's "Momo". In: Sozialökonomie.info. September 3, 1986, accessed on March 25, 2019 (with a letter from the end to Onken).
  33. Robert Mittelstaedt: Michael Ende's last words to the Japanese. Accessed on September 16, 2016 : “In the last years of his life, Ende had dealt very intensively with questions of the economy and the monetary system. His masterpiece "Momo" contains numerous hints on these topics. "
  34. Michael Ende: Lifetime Achievement. In: thienemann-esslinger.de. Archived from the original on September 16, 2016 ; accessed on September 16, 2016 : "His books have been translated into more than 40 languages ​​and have a total circulation of almost 30 million copies worldwide."
  35. Magical Worlds in the German Theater Museum in Munich. A family exhibition for the reception of Michael Ende's work. isarbote.de, November 25, 2007, archived from the original on April 8, 2014 ; accessed on May 1, 2016 .
  36. Dirk vs. Post-optimists. In: tocotronix.de. October 1996, archived from the original on April 21, 2018 ; accessed on December 27, 2018 (Dirk v. Lotzow in an interview with FM4 about the song Michael Ende, you destroyed my life ).
  37. Michael Ende in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In: phantastische-gesellschaft.de. April 7, 2004, accessed December 27, 2018 .
  38. ^ Kurpark renaming celebrated - Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In: Kreisbote.de. August 26, 2009. Retrieved December 27, 2018 .
  39. Culture with and without an end. (No longer available online.) In: gapa.de. Garmisch-Partenkirchen market, archived from the original on August 18, 2014 ; accessed on December 27, 2018 .
  40. Sabine Reithmaier: The finite story. Süddeutsche Zeitung, January 1, 2017, accessed on January 2, 2017 .
  41. ^ Federal Association of the Music Industry: Gold-Platinum Database Federal Association of the Music Industry. In: musikindustrie.de. Retrieved August 16, 2018 .
  42. Radio plays based on the famous children's books by Michael Ende. In: hoerspielhelden.de. Retrieved December 27, 2018 (with images).