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The exhibition on the life and work of Wolf Biermann is dedicated to a cultural-historical context of the artist. Wolf Biermann is considered Germany's best-known songwriter, East and West, because his expulsion from the GDR in 1976 was a political break that generated huge attention.

Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin, Eingang zum Pei-Bau
Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin, Eingang zum Pei-Bau © DHM, Foto: Thomas Bruns

The expulsion is seen as an admission of great helplessness on the part of the SED party leadership. Biermann had become too popular to be imprisoned and he was too unpredictable to be allowed to make public appearances. 

Many of his songs, ballads and poems have outlived the current occasion of their creation, and pieces such as "Warte nicht auf bessre Zeiten," "Ermutigung," and "Ballade vom preußischen Ikarus" are considered classics.

The exhibition on the life and work of Wolf Biermann follows a cultural-historical approach. The choice results from the special position that culture held in the GDR.

The invocation of the cultural nation had been part of the GDR's state self-image since the end of the Second World War, initially in connection with Weimar Classicism, and later as a "socialist cultural nation" (Erich Honecker).

In a state without free media, the cultural sector represented the public sphere. This gave art visibility and recognition, but also made it an object of state control and coercion.

  • The exhibition is curated by Dr. Monika Boll.


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