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Wolf Biermann. A poet and songwriter in Germany

Wolf Biermann is one of the best-known songwriters in Germany. His expulsion from the GDR in 1976 was a turning point in post-war “German-German” history. Unlike less well-known artists, Biermann had become too popular to be arrested and too unpredictable to allow him to perform in public. Many of his songs, ballads and poems have outlasted the original circumstances of their making. “Warte nicht auf bessre Zeiten” (Don’t wait for better times), “Ermutigung” (Encouragement), “Ballade vom preußischen Ikarus” (Ballad of the Prussian Icarus) have become classics.

The exhibition examines the life and work of Wolf Biermann before the backdrop of the special standing that culture enjoyed in the GDR. It follows the songwriter’s development from his move to the GDR and initial artistic successes to the ban that was imposed on his public performances and the eventual deprivation of his GDR citizenship. This presented Biermann with a challenge: How was a songwriter to redefine himself who, despite all criticism of the SED leadership, saw himself as a communist? When the civil rights movement in the GDR grew stronger in 1989 and the government began to totter, Biermann first had to remain a passive onlooker. An extensive section of the exhibition is devoted to Wolf Biermann’s family history. For Biermann, whose father Dagobert was murdered in Auschwitz as a Jew and member of the communist resistance, this background was of central importance even before his expulsion from the GDR.

More Story

The digital format More Story provides background information and insight into our exhibition.

Programmes for children

Children from the age of 8 can explore the exhibition individually with an exhibition notebook or on an interactive children’s tour. Hands-on stations also invite young visitors to learn more about Wolf Biermann, his music, and his writings in a playful and creative way, and about the effects of the Cold War on his life.


You can listen to some of Wolf Biermann’s well-know songs on our Spotify playlist.

More on the topic on our blog

Funded by

Exhibition cooperation

Upon presentation of a DHM ticket purchased between 1 Nov. and 31 Dec. 2023, you can get 25% off of the exhibition “Another Country. Jewish in the GDR”, showing in the Jewish Museum Berlin.

Media partner

Partner Accompanying and Film Programme