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Wolf Biermann. A poet and songwriter in Germany

It can be said without exaggeration that Wolf Biermann is the best-known songwriter in Germany, East and West. His expulsion from the German Democratic Republic in 1976 was a political hiatus and represented the admission of considerable perplexity on the part of the SED, the Socialist Unity Party. Unlike less well-known artists, Biermann had become too popular to be put in prison and too unpredictable to be allowed to perform in public.

Many of his songs, ballads and poems have outlasted the immediate situation that gave rise to them. Songs such as “Warte nicht auf bessre Zeiten”, “Ermutigung”, and “ Ballade vom preußischen Ikarus” have become classics.

The exhibition on the life and work of Wolf Biermann takes a cultural-historical approach. This decision resulted from the special place that culture occupied in the GDR. Since the end of the Second World War, it was part of the self-understanding of the state to refer to itself as a cultural nation, first in relation to Weimar Classicism, later as the “socialist cultural nation” (Erich Honecker). In a country without free media, it was the area of culture that represented the public sphere. This provided art with visibility and recognition, but also made art and culture the object of political control and constraint.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Monika Boll.