In his biographical essay, Hans-Dieter Schütt turns to a character whose life movingly reflects both the rise and the failure of a political idea. Stephan Hermlin: a great poet, as uplifted by his time as he was scarred by it, in a sensitive, questioning portrait.
Stephan Hermlin - lyricist, narrator and translator - lived a contradiction: between intellectual nobility and a willingness to soldier on. A left-wing aristocrat who protected himself with self-stylization - and made himself vulnerable to attack. The writer who initiated the momentous petition against Wolf Biermann's expatriation in 1976 maintained form where political coarsening was on the rise. When he emphasized at the Writers' Congress in 1978 that he was a "late bourgeois writer," this was the rhetorical climax of a steadily growing inner distance from his own troupe. Stephan Hermlin (1915-1997) was one of the most important writers of the GDR.
Hans-Dieter Schütt, born in 1948, is a journalist. After studying theater in Leipzig, he was editor or editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Junge Welt from 1973 to 1989 and features editor of the daily newspaper neues deutschland from 1992 to 2012. As an author, interviewer and editor, he has written numerous biographies and books of conversations (including Regine Hildebrandt, Friedrich Schorlemmer, Andreas Dresen, Frank Castorf, Reinhold Messner, Dieter Mann, Inge Keller, Claus Peymann and Gerhard Gundermann). His volumes of conversations (with Paul Werner Wagner) are available from Quintus: Lebens Traum und Lebens Lauf. Contemporaries from East and West in Conversation (2020) and Lebens Licht und Lebens Schatten. Film Art of the GDR in Conversation (2021).