Wolf Biermann [ Germany ]




Das ist die feinste Liebeskunst, 2004

Neue Gedichte, 2006

Berlin, du deutsche deutsche Frau, 2008

Dein freches Lächeln küsse ich so gern, 2010

Nachdichtungen und Adaptionen, 2011


Wolf Biermann was born in Hamburg in 1936. His father, imprisoned for his communist convictions, was killed in Auschwitz in 1943 as a Jew. In 1953, Biermann left West Germany for the GDR. He studied mathematics and philosophy at Humboldt University and from 1957 to 1959 worked as assistant director at Brecht’s theatre, the »Berliner Ensemble«. His artistic development was heavily influenced by his role model and mentor, the composer Hanns Eisler. Biermann has been writing songs and poems since 1960. In November 1965, he was banned from performing in public in the GDR, publishing his work and travelling to both Western and Eastern countries. Biermann was the most radical critic of the Socialist Unity Party’s dictatorship in the GDR and continued to publish his work in West Germany. In 1976, during an authorised tour of Germany, his first concert in Cologne was used – illegally – to brand him an »enemy of the state,« strip him of his citizenship, and prohibit his return to East Germany. The expatriation of the dissident singer triggered widespread, unprecedented protests in East and West and, for many, marked the beginning of the end of the ruling regime. Wolf Biermann returned to Hamburg, the city of his birth, and continued to give concerts and publish his work in many countries around the world. In November 1989, against the wishes of the authorities, East German civil rights activists fought for and made it possible for him to perform in Leipzig. In 1990 he was among the occupiers of the East Berlin headquarters of the secret police in Normannenstraße and helped prevent further destruction of Stasi files. Ever since the collapse of the GDR Biermann has published, alongside his poetry, a series of political-literary essays with which he effectively intervenes in current political debates, such as those about the War in Kosovo in 1999 and the Iraq War in 2003. He regularly tours in Germany and abroad.

In early 2006 Wolf Biermann switched from Kiepenheuer & Witsch to to the Hamburg publishing house Hoffmann und Campe, who published a new collection of his poems in the sutumn of 2006 entitled, »Heimat. Neue Gedichte« (tr: Homeland. New Poems) as well as an audio book, under the same title. In 2008, a new collection followed: »Berlin, du deutsche deutsche Frau« (tr: Berlin, you German German Lady).

Wolf Biermann has been awarded literary prizes linked to names such as Theodor Fontane, Jacques Offenbach, Friedrich Hölderlin, Eduard Mörike, Georg Büchner, Heinrich Heine and Joachim Ringelnatz (2006). In March 2007, the city of Berlin named him an honorary citizen. In 2008, Humboldt University in Berlin awarded him an honorary doctorate.