Volker Braun

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Volker Braun (left) in 1981 with Ruth Berghaus and Wieland Förster at the Berlin meeting to promote peace

Volker Braun (born May 7, 1939 in Dresden ) is a German writer . Along with Peter Hacks and Heiner Müller, he was one of the most important playwrights in the GDR . In addition to theater texts, his work includes poems, novels, short stories and radio plays.


Volker Braun grew up alongside four other brothers as the son of the auditor , representative and art lover Erich Braun and his wife Irmgard in Dresden- Rochwitz . In 1957 he graduated from high school and initially worked for a year in the Dresden print shop of the Sächsische Zeitung. After he had initially unsuccessfully applied to study, he went to the Black Pump gas combine , where he a. a. worked as civil engineering worker and concrete pipelayer. The experiences of this time were reflected in his early literary works, including his debut drama Kipper Paul Bauch (later published under the title Die Kipper ). In 1960 he began studying philosophy at the University of Leipzig . During this time the first literary works were created. Braun was first known primarily as a poet. Since 1960 he was a member of the SED . Nonetheless, he was considered critical of the state in the GDR and often only succeeded in publishing his prose or poems with the use of tactical skills. From the start he saw himself as a decidedly political author in the critical successor to Bertolt Brecht . The focal point of his work were the contradictions between the socialist utopia on the one hand and the reality of state socialism on the other. Like Brecht and Heiner Müller , he understood them as part of a contradiction in epochs, the effects of which he did not simplify ideologically, but described as the “open ends of history”. The title The simple truth is not enough , which a volume of notation published in 1975 bears, is programmatic for Braun's attitude. The turn to historical material as the basis of his dramatic production, which he carried out in the 1970s, testifies to the intention to repeatedly place the contradictions of the GDR in a larger historical context.

At first he described the construction of socialism with a critical and enthusiastic attitude. From 1965 to 1967 he worked as a dramaturge at the Berliner Ensemble at the invitation of Helene Weigel . After the events of the Prague Spring , he became increasingly critical of life under socialism and the possibilities of reform. He was then increasingly monitored by the Stasi. Braun worked at the Deutsches Theater Berlin since 1972, and in 1976 he was one of the signatories of the protest resolution against Biermann's expatriation . From 1979 he returned to the Berliner Ensemble, and in 1981 he received the Lessing Prize of the GDR .

In the eighties, Braun's works increasingly portrayed a depressing life in the GDR. The actors in his pieces move resignedly in an immobile environment. His Hinze Kunze novel , based on Diderot's Jacques the Fatalist and his Lord , received permission to print in 1985, but after its publication it was sharply attacked by the influential critic Anneliese Löffler as "absurd" and "anarchist", and Klaus Höpcke , then deputy Minister of Culture, received disciplinary action for giving permission to print.

On the other hand, Braun received the GDR National Prize in 1988 . During the peaceful revolution in 1989 he was one of the advocates of an independent “third way” for the GDR and was one of the first invited to sign the appeal “ For our country ”. After reunification, he dealt critically with the reasons for the failure of the GDR. In this context there is also his collaboration with the western-Marxist magazine " Das Argument " published by Wolfgang Fritz Haug .

Volker Braun received many awards both in the East and in the West. Even before reunification, he had the status of an all-German author. In 2000 he received the renowned Georg Büchner Prize .

From 2006 to 2010, Volker Braun headed the literature section at the Academy of Arts (Berlin) . He is a member of the PEN Center Germany .

Braun lives in Berlin.

For the position during and after the turn

A famous poem from 1990 describes her:

The property
Here I am: my land goes to the west.
I gave him the kick myself.
It throws itself away and its skinny goat.
The winter follows the summer of desire.
And I can stay where the pepper grows.
And all of my text becomes incomprehensible.
What I never owned is torn from me.
What I did not live, I will miss forever.
Hope was in the way like a trap.
My property, now you have it on your claw.
When do I say mine and mine all again.

These verses “get to the point: the contradiction between design and life, possibility and reality, theory and practice, program and experience in the GDR socialism, which in the end is difficult to live with ... Each verse in the poem is a short, complete sentence with a period at the end . Each sentence is a laconic statement of sad finality. [...] The hope that was a trap on the way to the lack of illusions must now give way. A great elegy. "

Works (selection)

  • The dump trucks . Play. Henschelverlag [today: henschel Schauspiel Theaterverlag], Berlin 1962/65. World premiere: March 5, 1972, Städtische Theater Leipzig, director: Gotthard Müller. First performance in Germany: September 16, 1973, Wuppertaler Bühnen, directors: Günter Ballhausen and Jürgen Bosse .
  • Mink . Fragment. 1965 (first performance: Leipzig 1972).
  • Provocation for me . Poems. Mitteldeutscher Verlag Berlin and Weimar, 1965.
  • Preliminary . Poems. Suhrkamp Verlag, 1966.
  • Declaration of War . Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Berlin and Weimar 1967.
  • Schmitten . Play. 1969/1978. World premiere: January 18, 1982, Städtisches Theater Leipzig, director: Karl Georg Kayser.
  • Lenin's death . Drama. henschel Schauspiel [Henschelverlag], 1970. First performance: September 28, 1988, Berliner Ensemble, director: Christoph Schroth .
  • We and not them . Poems. Mitteldeutscher Verlag Halle and Leipzig, 1970.
  • The casual life of Kast . Aufbau Verlag, 1972. (Licensed edition: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1972).
  • Poems . 1972.
  • Hinze and Kunze . Play. henschel Schauspiel [Henschelverlag], 1967. First performance: May 4, 1973, Städtische Theater Karl-Marx-Stadt, director: Piet Drescher.
  • Tinka . Play. henschel drama [Henschelverlag], 1972/1973. World premiere: May 29, 1976, Städtische Theater Karl-Marx-Stadt, director: Hartwig Albiro. FRG premiere: April 23, 1977, Nationaltheater Mannheim, director: Jürgen Bosse , FRG premiere: April 23, 1977, Staatstheater Kassel, director: Hagen Mueller-Stahl .
  • Against the symmetrical world . Poems. Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1974.
  • The simple truth is not enough . Notes. Reclam-Verlag Leipzig, 1975.
  • Guevara or The Sun State . Play. henschel Schauspiel [Henschelverlag], 1975. First performance: December 10, 1977, Nationaltheater Mannheim, director: Jürgen Bosse. GDR premiere: January 21, 1984, Städtische Theater Leipzig, director: Karl Georg Kayser.
  • Great peace . Play. henschel Schauspiel [Henschelverlag], Berlin 1976. World premiere: April 22, 1979, Berliner Ensemble, directors: Manfred Wekwerth , Joachim Tenschert , collaboration: Werner Mittenzwei .
  • Training to walk upright . Poems. Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1976.
  • Simplex German. Scenes about immaturity . henschel Schauspiel [Henschelverlag], Berlin 1978. World premiere: April 26, 1980, Berliner Ensemble, director: Piet Drescher. First performance in Germany: November 20, 1982, Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe.
  • Unfinished story . Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1990, ISBN 3-518-38160-1 .
  • Poetry album 115: Volker Braun . Poems. New Life Publishing House, Berlin 1977.
  • Dmitri . Play. henschel Schauspiel [Henschelverlag], Berlin 1980. World premiere: December 7, 1982, Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, director: Günter Ballhausen . GDR premiere: April 27, 1984, Mecklenburgisches Staatstheater Schwerin, director: Christoph Schroth.
  • Procedure Prometheus , 1982, print: Black Art, Hamburg 1986.
  • Pieces . Henschelverlag Art and Society, Berlin 1983. (In it: Die Kipper , Hinze and Kunze , Schmitten , Tinka , Guevara or Der Sonnenstaat , Großer Frieden , Simplex Deutsch , Dmitri and an essay by Klaus Schuhmann).
  • Guevara or the Sun State . Gutenberg Book Guild , 1984.
  • Hinze Kunze novel . Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1985. New edition Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2007, ISBN 978-3-518-38038-3 .
  • The transition society . Comedy. henschel Schauspiel [Henschelverlag], Berlin 1987. World premiere: April 24, 1987, Bremen Theater, director: Torsten Fischer . GDR premiere: March 30, 1988, Maxim Gorki Theater , Berlin, director: Thomas Langhoff .
  • Slow crunching morning . Poems. Suhrkamp Verlag, 1987.
  • Disastrous consequences of a lack of apparent internal democracy . Fonts. Reclam 1988. (Licensed edition: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1988).
  • Transit Europe . After Anna Seghers. Play. henschel Schauspiel [Henschelverlag], 1988, world premiere: January 30, 1988, Deutsches Theater Berlin.
  • Bottomless sentence . Suhrkamp Verlag, 1990.
  • Iphigenia in freedom . Suhrkamp Verlag, 1992, ISBN 3-518-40440-7 .
  • The turning neck . Suhrkamp Verlag, 1995.
  • The unlived . Narrative. Faber & Faber, Leipzig 1995.
  • Lustgarten, Prussia . Selected poems. Suhrkamp Verlag, 2000, ISBN 3-518-39624-2 .
  • The four toolmakers . Parabola. Suhrkamp Verlag, 1996.
  • We are well so far. We are at the end for now . Utterances. Suhrkamp Verlag, 1998.
  • Tumulus . Poems. Suhrkamp Verlag, 1999.
  • Nonetheless, nothing or the turning neck . Suhrkamp Verlag, 2000.
  • The really wanted . Suhrkamp Verlag, 2000, ISBN 3-518-41170-5 .
  • The relationships break . Speech on the award of the Georg Büchner Prize. Suhrkamp Verlag, 2000.
  • The unoccupied area . Historical narrative. Suhrkamp Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-518-41634-0 .
  • The notorious Christian Sporn. The other Woyzeck . Two stories. ( Insel Library 1289). Insel Verlag, 2004.
  • On the nice antics . Poems. Suhrkamp Verlag, 2005.
  • The midday meal . Narrative. Insel Verlag, 2007.
  • Machwerk or The Shift Book of Flick von Lauchhammer . A picaresque piece. Suhrkamp Verlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3-518-42027-0 .
  • Working days I. Workbook 1977–1989 . Suhrkamp Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-518-42048-5 .
  • Kassensturz - Volker Braun and contemporaries. Projekt-Verlag Cornelius, 2010, ISBN 978-3-86237-131-0 .
  • The bright piles. Narrative. Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-518-42239-7 .
  • Working days II. Workbook 1990–2008 . Suhrkamp Verlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-518-42418-6 .
  • Demos , The Greeks / cleaning women . henschel Schauspiel Theaterverlag Berlin 2015, world premiere The Greeks / cleaning women on September 16, 2016, Berliner Ensemble , director: Manfred Karge .
  • Handbook of the Homeless. New poems. Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-518-42543-5 .
  • Relocation of the secret point. Writings and speeches. Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 2019. ISBN 978-3-518-42875-7
  • Hand strokes. Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 2019. ISBN 978-3-518-42849-8

Radio plays


Film adaptations

  • 1989: Great Peace (theater recording)
  • 1991: Suspicion , according to the narrative, Unfinished Story .


Braun sometimes had the habit of crossing out the name printed in the book when signing his books and then putting his name over it. Lately he has only signed his books in pencil, writing the signature date vertically from top to bottom.

Literature (selection)

Audio book



  • The writer Volker Braun. Training to walk upright. Documentary, Germany, 2014, 29:50 min., Script and director: Jens-Uwe Korsowsky, production: MDR , series: CVs , first broadcast: May 8, 2014 on MDR , synopsis by ARD .
  • About the person: Günter Gaus in conversation with Volker Braun. Talk, GDR, 1991, 48 min., Director: Harald Becker, production: DFF , series: Zur Person , first broadcast: April 11, 1991 by DFF, film data from Deutsche Kinemathek . Printed in: New Portraits in Question and Answer. Günter Gaus in conversation , Volk und Welt , Berlin, 1992, ISBN 3-353-00891-8 , pp. 57–74.

Web links

Commons : Volker Braun  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Databases on Volker Braun



Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wolfgang Düsing: Volker Braun . In: German dramatists of the 20th century . Edited by Alo Allkemper and Norbert Otto Eke. Erich Schmidt Verlag GmbH & Co. Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-503-04975-4 , p. 610.
  2. ^ Rainer Barbey: Love in times of the Volkssturm. Cover culture magazine , April 15, 2007, accessed on July 9, 2020 .
  3. NN : Volker Braun: The midday meal . In: Cicero , 2007.
  4. Braun at the VII. Writers' Congress of the GDR, quoted from: Chung Wan Kim: In search of the open exit. Investigations into the drama and dramaturgy of Volker Braun. Tectum Verlag Marburg 2003
  5. ^ Protests by more than 90 GDR artists against the expatriation of Wolf Biermann . In: gegen-diktatur.de
  6. Anneliese Löffler: When content and form coagulate into a farce. To Volker Braun's "Hinze Kunze novel" . In: Neues Deutschland , October 9, 1985, p. 4, beginning of the article.
  7. See York-Gothart Mix (ed.): A 'Oberkunze may not occur'. Materials on the publication history and censorship of the Hinze Kunze novel by Volker Braun. With an interview with Volker Braun and Dieter Schlenstedt . Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1993, ISBN 3-447-03422-X ; Wolfgang Emmerich : Small literary history of the GDR . Extended new edition. Structure, Berlin 2000, ISBN 978-3-7466-8052-1 , p. 52.
  8. ^ Call of November 26, 1989 "For our country" - complete text with the first signatories
  9. Walter Hinck: Volker Braun on the Seventy: The place I'm looking for is not a state . In: FAZ.NET . ISSN  0174-4909 ( faz.net [accessed February 11, 2020]).
  10. Gottfried Fischborn : Peter Hacks and Heiner Müller. André Thiele, Mainz am Rhein 2012, ISBN 978-3-940884-72-5 , p. 115.
  11. Michaela Schmitz: Hold on to love that passes . Review of the volume of poetry "Auf die Schöne Ante" in Rheinischer Merkur on August 18, 2005.
  12. Volker Weidermann : Braun, Volker: Working days 2 - workbook 1990-2008 . (PDF; 8.2 kB; 2 pages) ISBN 978-3-518-42418-6 . In: FAS , November 9, 2014, p. 38.
  13. Volker Braun in the Berliner Ensemble with “The Greeks”. ( Memento from September 28, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) henschel Schauspiel Theaterverlag, September 14, 2016.
    Manuscript of “The Greeks”. (PDF; 8 p., 48 kB) henschel Schauspiel Theaterverlag, 2015.
  14. radio play. The cleaning ladies . In: MDR Figaro , accessed January 15, 2017.
  15. Prices for Volker Braun . Suhrkamp Verlag; accessed on January 15, 2017.