War without Battle. Life in Two Dictatorships
Heiner Müller, one of Germany’s most distinguished post-war dramatists, writes about his life. Born in Saxony in 1929, Heiner Müller was enlisted to serve in the Reich Labour Service and territorial army shortly before the end of the war and was then taken prisoner by the Americans. He started working academically and as a journalist before joining the theatre at the end of the 50s. In his autobiography, he writes about his clashes with the omnipresent party and state censorship in the German Democratic Republic, and he describes the events that led up to his exclusion from the East German Writers’ Association after the debut performance of his play “Die Umsiedlerin” in 1961.
Above all, however, his biography focuses on the many years he worked as a dramatist and theatre director, first with the Berliner Ensemble, and from 1976 with the Volksbühne. He describes working in theatres in the East and West, his experience of freedom, commitment, the sounding out of possibilities, and his experience of oppression and repression. And in so doing, he produces a vivid and accurate picture of cultural and intellectual life at the time of Germany’s division and the Cold War.
Heiner Müller’s memoirs have caused a furore, triggering rejection and criticism, as well as admiration and enthusiasm. Supplemented by previously unpublished documents from his estate, “Krieg ohne Schlacht” is not only an impressive life story but, above all, an irreplaceable document and a classic of German literature.