• GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
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  • W
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  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • Biermann, Wolf

    lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.5pt;font-family:"Meridien-Medium","serif"; color:black'>(1936 )

    singer and songwriter

    Wolf Biermann was an original lyric poet and

    songwriter in the GDR, who became a political

    dissident and celebrated case. The Biermann

    affair, demonstrated how the Communist

    regime dealt with writers and artists who criticized

    it.

    Born in 1936 in HAMBURG to a family that

    was persecuted by the Nazis and whose father

    was a Communist dockyard worker and resistance

    fighter killed at AUSCHWITZ, Wolf grew up

    in West Germany and at age 20 immigrated to

    East Germany in 1956. He studied at the Humboldt

    University, and between 1957 and 1959

    participated in the theater group Berliner

    Ensemble. Later, he started his own Berliner

    Arbeitr- und Studententheater, which met with

    government disapproval and began his long negative

    relationship with the Communist regime.

    In 1962, because of a performance at the

    Academy of Arts, he was forbidden to perform

    publicly and his application for membership in

    the SED (Socialist Unity Party) was rejected.

    There was a temporary ban on his work until

    1963, which was followed by a permanent ban

    in 1965. In 196465 he was allowed to perform

    in West Germany and had a collection of his

    songs and poems, The Wire Harp, published,

    which, however, led to a ban that lasted until

    1976.

    In 1976 the government allowed him to leave

    the GDR and perform in concert in West Germany.

    While there, his citizenship was canceled

    to prevent his return. This Biermann affair led

    to protests and an exodus of East German writers,

    which included artists such as Stefan HEYM

    and Christa WOLF. Biermann then settled in

    Hamburg, where his popularity declined. In the

    1980s he supported the West German peace

    movement.

    As a writer he was influenced by BRECHT and

    HEINE. His subject matter varies from political

    and social criticism to love poetry. In his music

    he employs a variety of instruments as a means

    of varying textual perspectives. His publications

    include The Wire Harp (1965), With the Tongues of

    Marx and Engels (1968), Germany, A Winter Tale

    (1972), and Prussian Icarus (1978).

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