Dorota Stroińska was born in 1965 in Poznań and has lived in Berlin since 1986. She studied German and Slavic studies in Poznań, Berlin, and New York. She has worked as a literary translator from German to Polish since 1994 (including such authors as Lutz Seiler, Karl Jaspers, Rüdiger Safranksi, Christian Kracht, Sibylle Lewitscharoff, and Ilse Aichinger). Sometimes she also translates from Polish into German (Wojciech Kuczok, children’s books). She leads the German-Polish translation workshop ViceVersa (since 2008) and is founder and coordinator of the translator Stammtisch “sztamtysz” (since 2006). She did research on the theory and practice of literary translation at the Karl Dedecius archive at the Collegium Polonicum of the European University Viadrina (2010-2012) and was a project manager at the Samuel Fischer Stiftung (2013-2016). As an ambassador for Polish literature in Germany and German literature in Poland she plans, organizes, and moderates events for adult and young readers in collaboration with the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, the Goethe Institute, the Weltlesebühne, and others.
Wir haben Kurator*innen gebeten, wichtige Orte der jeweiligen Szenen zusammenzustellen und so kann man sich auf verschiedenen Sprachlinien durch die Stadt bewegen.
In 1828, before the Berlin-Warszawa Express connected the two metropoles, the young Frédéric Chopin travelled by stagecoach from Warsaw to the Prussian capital. He wandered through the streets, heard opera premieres, and gave concerts of his own. He recorded his impressions in a letter to his family: “My opinion of Berlin: It’s far too big for the Germans alone. It could easily accommodate twice as many people.”
Almost two centuries later, Berlin is home to 3.6 million people from all over the world. Poles constitute the second-largest minority: today around 100,000 Polish immigrants live in the city on the Spree. Poles were also one of the first minorities to settle here in large numbers. This certainly has something to do with the geographical situation, but even more to do with Polish history. A few years after Chopin’s visit, in 1830-31, the November Uprising, which began among the Army of Congress Poland with the aim of freeing Poland from the Russian czars, was quashed. During the ensuing Great Emigration, ten thousand Polish freedom fighters fled towards Belgium, Switzerland, Great Britain, Italy, and above all France, where Chopin and the Polish national poet Adam Mickiewicz ultimately settled. As they crossed Germany, they were met with solidarity, relief campaigns, and enthusiastic “Polish songs.” These Polish songs were also sung in Berlin—of particular note Karl von Holtei’s, and others that evoked images of David and Goliath.
Since then, Berlin has experienced many more waves of Polish immigration, and has become a place of refuge for countless extraordinary people. For example, Françoise Frenkel, a Polish Jew who, in 1921—a time of renewed enmity between Germany and France—opened Berlin’s first French bookstore, which she ran until she fled the country in 1939. Beginning in the 1960’s, West Berlin, an island in the Soviet sea, became one of Europe’s major centers for Polish exiles, along with Paris and London. Above all, Poles came to Berlin in the 1980’s, seeking greater economic freedom and opportunity.
Now the city on the Spree is home to many Polish immigrants who have come here for a variety of reasons. While many of the older generation still see themselves as a community of exiles (“Polonia”) and Polish immigrants often strive to blend into German society (Emilia Smechowski described a phenomenon of “Strebermigranten” in the taz), many young immigrants today see no contradiction in living their German daily lives as Poles. Though the Polish community in Berlin is large, varied, and complex, there is no “Little Poland.” Polish culture is not nurtured in any particular borough of the city, but rather permeates and enriches the culture of Berlin as a whole. These selected literary spots in Berlin, the secret Polish city, show how fascinating and inspiring such an osmotic relationship can be.
Tür an Tür. Polen – Deutschland. 1000 Jahre Kunst und Geschichte, edited by Małgorzata Omilanowska with Tomasz Torbus. Curator of exhibition on Anda Rottenberg, 2011
Dorota Danielewicz, Berlin. Przewodnik po duszy miasta, Warszawa 2013; Auf der Suche nach der Seele Berlins, translated by Arkadiusz Szczepański, Europa Verlag Berlin 2014
Robert Traba, Malgorzata A. Quinkenstein (Ed.), Polnisches Berlin. Stadtführer, Ferdinand Schöningh Verlag, Paderborn 2016
Jahrbuch Polen 2011: Kultur (Vol. Nr. 22), published by the Deutsches Polen-Institut in Darmstadt:
Françoise Frenkel, Nichts, um sein Haupt zu betten. With a foreword by Patrick Modiano. Dossier by Frédéric Maria. Translated from the French by Elisabeth Edl, Carl Hanser Verlag, Hanser Berlin, Berlin 2016
Emilia Smechowski, "Ich bin wer, den du nicht siehst": www.taz.de/!868119/
Sanderstr. 8, 12047 Berlin
Öffnungszeiten: Mo–Fr 10–19 Uhr, Sa 11–18 Uhr
Deutsch-polnische Übersetzerszene schafft LiteraturWebseite
Buchbund is the first and only German-Polish bookstore in Berlin. It was founded in 2011 by Marcin Piekoszewski and his wife Nina Müller to showcase the diversity of the Polish book world and Polish culture in general. Buchbund has a rich variety of carefully curated books, including literature, nonfiction, and children’s and young adult literature, both in the original Polish and in German or English translation. The bookstore, with its adjoining café (complete with homemade cakes from Café Katulki) and cozy atmosphere, is an inviting place to stay for a while, browsing through books, drinking espresso, getting into conversation. Small wonder, then, that after a nomadic phase of roving through various Berlin bars and pubs, the Sztamtysz for German and Polish literary translators has finally settled upon Buchbund as its meeting place. On other evenings, the big pullout table hosts evening courses in Polish and Yiddish. The bookstore also hosts regular events: readings, exhibitions, and conversation series on culture, society, and politics.
In organizing its programming, Buchbund often collaborates with other local initiatives, associations, and institutions—for example the Israeli community or young American artists.This friendly and welcoming bookstore has quickly developed into a meeting place, intellectual center, and literary salon. Buchbund is a biotope that has grown far beyond its bi-cultural roots to enrich Berlin culture in general.
2. Literarisches Colloquium Berlin
The Literary Colloquium Berlin has long been a meeting place for the crème de la crème of the Polish literary scene. In 1963, Walter Höllerer invited Witold Gombrowicz as guest professor to the first writing workshop, which marked the beginning of the LCB’s programming. “I am the aspirin that relieves cramps,” Gombrowicz writes in his Diary, and the truth of this can be read in Die Zweite Schuld (“The Second Guilt”), prominent participant Hubert Fichte’s portrait of the workshop. The LCB was early in honoring Zbigniew Herbert and Tadeusz Różewicz as great writers of European modernism. In the reading series “Ein Gedicht und sein Autor” (1966-67), the two read together with their translator Karl Dedecius, whose 1959 anthology of Polish poetry Lektion der Stille precipitated a “Polish wave” in the West German book market. “Our teacher Różewicz” (Michael Krüger), and Herbert’s empathic, clear-headed poetry had a revolutionary effect on postwar German writing. West Berlin, an island in a communist sea, became Herbert’s favorite city.
In 2000, when Poland was Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the LCB organized a program of exiled Polish authors, the “Kosmopoles.” The unforgettable highpoint was a reading on June 1, 2000 by Nobel Prizewinner Czesław Miłosz. During the year of German-Polish culture in 2005, eleven young Polish writers were invited to Berlin and celebrated at the LCB as “the miracle of new Polish literature.” “Polococtail,” with cocktails invented by Dorota Masłowska, Wojciech Kuczok, and Michał Witkowski, among others, and “3 ways to get drunk on literature” have gone down in the annals of the LCB. And the drunken euphoria has lasted: guest writers like Żanna Słoniowska, Liliana Hermetz, Tomasz Różycki, Jacek Dehnel, Tadeusz Dabrowski, Marek Zagańczyk, Jakub Ekier, Krystyna Dąbrowska, and Kira Pietrek insure that the LCB remains a lively place.
Hubert Fichte, Die zweite Schuld. Glossen. Die Geschichte der Empfindlichkeit, S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2006
Akademie der Künste, Hansaviertel
Hanseatenweg 10, 10557 Berlin
Bartningallee 11/13, 10557 Berlin
3. Academy of Arts, Hansaviertel
In 1963 Witold Gombrowicz (1904-1967) ended his 23-year exile in Argentina to come to “bright shiny West Berlin, the last coquetry of luxurious Europe” for a year as one of the first recipients of a Ford Foundation grant (now the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program). For the first months, he lived in a guest studio at the Academy of Arts in Hansaviertel, where he met fellow grantee Ingeborg Bachmann. Both referred in later writings to their time in Berlin, Bachmann in a fragmentary essay (“Witold Gombrowicz,” 1964) and Gombrowicz in his Diary (1964). The divided city, two years after the erection of the Wall, struck him as “sweet-tempered,” erotically inspiring (as one can read in his intimate diary Kronos), and at the same time “demonic,” like Lady Macbeth, “constantly washing her hands.” A walk in the Tiergarten became an existential experience: he intensely perceived scents that took him back to his childhood and youth in Poland and gave and intimation of approaching death. “The circle is closed…in the Tiergarten (…) I experienced death directly—and since then it has not left my side.” In Berlin Gombrowicz took ill, spent two weeks in hospital, and three years later he died in Vence (France).
Witold Gombrowicz, Tagebuch 1953-1969, übers. von Olaf Kühl, S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2004
Witold Gombrowicz, Berliner Notizen, übers. von Olaf Kühl, Verlag edition.fotoTAPETA, Berlin 2013
Witold Gombrowicz: Kronos. Intimes Tagebuch, übers. von Olaf Kühl, Carl Hanser Verlag, München 2015
The Academy of Arts houses the Witold Wirpsza Archives. Witold Wirpsza (1918-1985), a Polish writer, critic, and translator, was a 1967-68 grantee of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program. After the publication in Switzerland of his essay “Pole, wer bist du?” (Pole, who are you?), he was banned from publication in Poland. In 1972 he emigrated to West Berlin, where he became an important ambassador between Polish and German culture (“I like the role of intermediary, regardless of which direction the work goes in, and it’s fun when I get to play with two languages at the same time.”) Wirpsza had a friendly relationship with Walter Höllerer and Günter Grass, but also enjoyed his reputation as an éminence grise among Polish exiles, and held an important role in Poland’s literary opposition. For many years Wirpsza ran a salon with his wife in their Moabit apartment (Alt-Moabit 21); together they translated many works of German literature, including texts by Hermann Broch, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, and Friedrich Schiller, for which they received the 1967 Johann Heinrich Voß Prize for Translation of German literature from the Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung.
Polish poet and essayist Adam Zagajewski (b. 1945) has been a member of the Academy of Arts since 1999, and received the Heinrich Mann Prize from the Academy in 2015. Poems and essays of Zagajewski’s appear regularly in German translation in the Academy’s magazine Sinn und Form. Zagajewski spent the years from 1979 to 1981 in West Berlin, before he went into exile in Paris (via the US), returning to Krakow in 2002. Zagajewski experienced the divided city as a combination of metropole and province, “a cake with few layers.” In the 1970’s and 80’s this “cake” also contained a kind of Polish Berlin comprised of writers and artists: a colony of Polish intellectuals in Grunewald who regularly met at the “welcoming home” of Polish emigrants Helen and Wiktor Szacki. Visitors included Zbigniew Herbert, Witold Wirpsza and his wife Maria Kurecka, Kazimierz Brandys, Wiktor Woroszylski, and Jacek Bocheński.
4. DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program
Founded in 1963 by the Ford Foundation, the Artists-in-Berlin Program has been run by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) since 1965. Since then many Polish writers, including Stanisław Lem, Witold Wirpsza, Tadeusz Różewicz, Sławomir Mrożek, Zbigniew Herbert, Adam Zagajewski, Ryszard Krynicki, Ryszard Kapuściński, Ewa Lipska, Olga Tokarczuk, Joanna Bator, Dorota Masłowska, Wojciech Kuczok, and Piotr Sommer have lived for a year in guest studios scattered throughout Berlin.
5. The pub Zum schwarzen Ferkel around 1900
The corner of Unter den Linden and Wilhelmstraße (formerly Husarenstraße)—in the 18th and 19th centuries site of several important Prussian and German governmental bodies—was once home to Gustav Türke’s Weinhandel und Probierstube (Wine store and tasting room), a pub that was popularly known in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Zum schwarzen Ferkel (The black pig). Before its destruction in the Second World War, this was a meeting place of European “Rauschkünstler,” first centering around August Strindberg, but later choosing Stanisław Przybyszewski as their master and chief. “The genial Pole” came to Berlin in 1889, like a “meteor that shines for a moment,” and not only had a great influence on bohemian life in Berlin but also shaped German literature of the 1890’s like no one else. “Stachu opened a door for us. (…) a hidden door that might lead into chaos, or into a habitable landscape, or just into a cabinet full of concoctions,” Julius Meier-Graefe wrote. Though Przybyszewski himself remained trapped in literary contradictions, he showed others new possibilities: Seemingly unconsciously he developed stylistic elements that shaped future generations (for example expressive imagery, and a narrative style that anticipated the internal monologue). Artists and writers like Ola Hansson, Paul Scheerbart, Carl Ludwig Schleich, Jean Sibelius, Christian Krohg, Gustav Vigeland, Otto Erich Hartlebe, Franz Ewers, Julius Bierbaum, Franz Servaes, Julius Hart, and Peter Hille flocked to “Stachu.” Przybyszewski had special artistic and personal relationships with Strindberg (chillingly chronicled in Strinberg’s Paris novel Inferno of 1897), with Richard Dehmel, who edited Przybyszewski’s first, much-discussed prose piece Totenmesse (Requiem) (1893), and with Edvard Munch, whom Przybyzewski recognized as an exceptional artist, and to whom he dedicated the enthusiastic critical essay “Psychic Naturalism,” (published 1894 in the Neue deutsche Rundschau), which helped propel Munch’s nascent career. For his part, Munch painted several portraits of Przybyzewski and was inspired by his insights into art. The 1892 essay “On the Psychology of the Individual. I: Chopin and Nietzsche” was Przybyzewski’s ticket into German literature. Theodor Fontane describes him as a powerful innovator of the German language the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Nietzsche. Przybyzewski’s legendary interpretations of Chopin gave rise to the term “to Chopinize,” to indicate the use of eruptive emotions, bold language, and extravagant actions.In Berlin Przybyzewski wrote his first works in German (including Totenmesse, Vigilien, and De profundis), founded the art and literature magazine PAN with Otto Julius Bierbaum and Julius Meier-Graefe, and published works in Karl Kraus’ Die Fackel and in Freie Bühne. Przybyzewski, “surely the most fascinating character of fin de siècle Germany” (Jens Malte Fischer), was also a formative figure for turn-of-the-century Polish art and letters. In 1898 he moved to Krakow, where he edited the magazine Życie (Life), which soon became the most important Polish journal for art and literature. His 1899 essay “Confiteor,” published in the latter, became a manifesto of Polish modernism (“Young Poland”). After 1918, he helped found the new Republic of Poland. He died in 1927 and received a state funeral.
Stanislaw Przybyszewski:Werkausgabe in 9 Bänden (1988-1999) beim Igel Verlag, Hamburg
Club der polnischen Versager
Ackerstr. 168, 10115 Berlin
Geöffnet wenn nicht geschlossen
Amtssprache: Deutsch und alle anderen Fremdsprachen
Verantwortlichen: Piotr Mordel und Adam Gusowski
6. Club der polnischen Versager (Club of Polish Losers)
The little manifesto of the Polish losers: “There are not many of our kind in the city. A few, perhaps some ten. The rest are successful people, cool, cold-blooded specialists—whatever they do, they do it well. (…) We are inclined to recognize their preeminence, yet we wish to remain creators—according to our abilities, on a lesser level.”
In 1994 Leszek Oświęcimski wrote the “little manifesto of the Polish losers” that gives the club its name: The Club der polnischen Versager (Klub Polskich Nieudaczników) is a joint cultural initiative of Polish writers and artists who have been in Berlin since the 1980’s who want to undercut clichés and prejudices about Polish ineptitude. The “Polish losers” who saw success in their own failures and combined art with improvisation, nonsense, provocation, and trash in a humorous and refreshingly witty manner quickly turned into stars. Hundreds of Berliners applied for “provisional memberships in the association of Polish losers.” The idea resonated deeply in the German and international press, and the “Losers” have won several prizes, including most recently (May 2017) the annual Blue Bear award from the Berlin Senate Department of Culture and Europe and the Representation of the European Commission in Germany.
The club is not only a place for German-Polish exchange but also a forum for multinational Berlin culture. The “Losers” collaborate closely with Club Real (Austrian exiles), Eesty Film (the Berlin Estonian community), and Ankoi (the Japanese community). The living-room-size club hosts literary events, theater, performances, exhibitions, films, and concerts, as well as lectures, discussions, and talk shows about current politics and culture. The creative offerings are wide-ranging: The magazine Kolano (The knee), the theater ensemble Babcia Zosia (Grandma Sophia), the satirical radio show Gaulojzes Golana (on Radio multikulti/RBB since 1998 and now on Funkhaus Europa/WDR/RBB). For years, the Club appeared in the television show Kowalski trifft Schmidt, (RBB), and Leutnant-Show and Die Schizonationale are regularly staged in many places in Germany, Austria, or even Japan during “Festivals of Polish Losers.” In 2002 Leszek Herman Oświęcimski’s satire The Club of Polish Sausage-People was published by the club’s own press, and in 2012 Rowohlt Verlag published the book The Club of Polish Losers by Piotr Mordel and Adam Gusowski.
7. Café Katulki
Anyone who wants a sensual experience of Polish culture is strongly encouraged to enjoy some pierogi at one of the many Berlin restaurants specializing in Polish cuisine. For eating and understanding—the sensual and the intellectual—have an almost archaic symbiotic relationship with each other, and cultural understanding has much to do with food. Pierogi eaters should therefore not be ruled by moderation: for as Walter Benjamin knew, only the greedy can fully experience the world. I can particularly recommend a place in Kreuzkölln for such greedy souls: a cozy café with delicious homemade food and homebaked cakes. The café, where guests can also browse through the many books on gastronomic culture, is run by two women: a Pole and an Italian, thus combining the Italian dolce vita with the Polish esprit. The name “Katulki” references both food and literature: “He who hasn’t eaten a “marble” hasn’t tasted life” (kto nie jadł katulki, nic nie wie o życiu). The line comes from “Twelve Stations” (Dwanaście stacji), a long poem by the great Polish poet and translator of French literature Tomasz Różycki (b. 1970). Anyone who wants to know exactly what this katulka is must read the delicious poem, which many critics have compared to the Polish national epic “Pan Tadeusz” by Adam Mickiewicz. The following praise of pierogis should serve to whet the appetite:
“O phantasm, o imagination!
O horror, knowledge, and hyperbole! (…)
Pierogies. For as long as he could remember
They’d formed the foundations of his family, they’d brought enemy
Camps together, and because of them, every Friday
A heavenly peace reigned.”
Tomasz Różycki, Zwölf Stationen, übers. von Olaf Kühl, Sammlung Luchterhand, München 2009)
8. Teatr Kreatur at the Theater am Ufer
In 1988 the Polish painter and set designer Andrej Woron (born Andrzej Woroniec, in Berlin since 1982) founded Teatr Kreatur, which was one of Germany’s most well-respected independent theaters until its closing in 2003. Woron worked in the tradition of Polish avant-garde theater (particularly influenced by the sets of Tadeusz Kantor) and created striking dramatic images that evoked the world of Eastern European Jewry. His second production, Die Zimtläden (after Bruno Schulz’s “Cinnamon Shops”), was an outstanding event of the 1990-91 season. The third production, 1992’s Das Ende des Armenhauses, (after Isaac Babel’s “The End of the Poorhouse”) was the first independent production invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen, and resulted in Woron’s being named director of the year by the magazine Theater Heute. Further productions, like Zug des Lazarus and Merlin garnered Woron recognition beyond Berlin. In 1994 the ensemble won the Friedrich Luft prize for a staging of Ein Stück von Paradies (after Itzik Manger’s Book of Paradise), and in 1996 they were awarded the critic’s prize of the Berliner Zeitung. Since 1998 Andrej Woron has worked as a freelance director of opera and theater, including engagements at the Berliner Ensemble, Stadttheater Bielefeld, Theater Konstanz, and the Nationaltheater Mannheim, among others.
9. OSTEUROPA Magazine
OSTEUROPA is an interdisciplinary monthly scholarly journal analyzing politics, the economy, society, culture, and contemporary history in Eastern Europe, East-Central Europe, Southeastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia: it is comparative and analytical, intellectual and colorful, with fresh ideas and fine style. Not only does it have a long tradition as unquestionably the best German-language magazine dealing with current affairs in Eastern Europe, it is also internationally one of the leading magazines in research on Eastern Europe, and “the best contribution to the Europeanization of Europe” (Gunter Hofman). As a European platform for intellectual exchange, OSTEUROPA gives significant space to literary themes and often includes contributions by authors. Essays on Polish literature can be found among other places in several double editions focusing on Poland (1-2/2016 „Gegen die Wand. Konservative Revolution in Polen“: www.zeitschrift-osteuropa.de/hefte/2016/1-2/; 6-7/2016 „Sinnbild. Die Zerstörung von Mensch und Gesellschaft“: www.zeitschrift-osteuropa.de/hefte/2016/6-7/; 5-6/2011 „Denkfabrik Polen. Europäisch aus Erfahrung“: www.zeitschrift-osteuropa.de/hefte/2011/5-6/) or in volume 7/2011 under the aphoristic title: „Ressourcenfluch, Ressource Buch. Erkundungen in raffiniertem Terrain“ (https://www.zeitschrift-osteuropa.de/hefte/2011/7/)
OSTEUROPA is published by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde e. V. (DGO).
10. German-Polish Magazine DIALOG
DIALOG is a bilingual German-Polish magazine which has focused on relations between Poland and Germany in the context of greater Europe since 1987. It describes itself as a “German-Polish agora in the middle of Europe” and also organizes conferences and debates around a wide variety of cultural and political themes that engage questions about the past, present, and future of German-Polish relations, or about current phenomena in one of the two countries (at Buchbund, for example). In cooperation with the board of the Deutsch-Polnische Gesellschaft Bundesverband (national association of German-Polish societies), DIALOG has awarded an annual DIALOG prize since 2006 (for example, in 2015 to the editors of the magazine OSTEUROPA).
The Deutsch-Polnische Gesellschaft Bundesverband, which publishes DIALOG, is an umbrella organization of over 50 German-Polish organizations. Basil Kerski, a political scientist who is also head of the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk, has been chief editor of the magazine since 1998.
11. Suhrkamp Verlag
The Suhrkamp publishing company publishes authors, not books—and this guiding principle goes for Polish writers as well. As of 2000, Suhrkamp’s “Polish library” included 50 volumes of classic Polish literature, edited by Karl Dedecius and supported by grants from the Robert Bosch Stiftung. Suhrkamp has also published individual books by authors such as Stanisław Lem, Zbigniew Herbert, Wisława Szymborska, and Zygmunt Haupt, among others. Editor Katharina Raabe knows the Central- and Eastern- European literature scene like no one else, and has been its champion and ambassador to the German readership. Her Polish portfolio includes authors such as Andrzej Stasiuk, Joanna Bator, Wojciecj Kuczok, and Michał Witkowski. Her Deutscher Sprachpreis-winning essay “Der erlesene Raum—Literatur im östlichen Mitteleuropa seit 1989“ (The exquisite region—Literature in eastern Central Europe since 1989) was published in OSTEUROPA magazine (12/2005).
12. Verlag edition.fotoTAPETA
The small but excellent Berlin press edition.foto.TAPETA, headed by author and translator Andreas Rostek, recently celebrated its tenth birthday. The independent press is notable not only for its azure covers, but also for its program: Since its founding in 2007, the press’s focus has mainly been on its neighbors to the east.
The press began as a collaboration between partners in Berlin and Warsaw. Initially, edition.foto.TAPETA was focused equally on words and images: the first books were books of photography and text, published in the same format in both countries, in both languages. The first project contained works by Tadeusz Rolke, a well-known Polish photographer, and concerned his investigation of Hasidic Jewish culture. The publisher’s access to Poland owes much to Rolke, who also helped him see Germany with new eyes. “The press is an attempt to pass on some of what Rolke taught me to the readers of our books,” Rostek said in an interview with Arno Widmann. The press’s goal remains to recount history “without pointing fingers, but with severity, clarity, and precision,” to develop an exchange between East and West in the spirit of Europeanism, with stories from Warsaw and Zamość, Palermo and Rome, Kharkiv and Odessa. “In blue,” one can read such Polish authors as Miron Białoszewski, Stefan Chwin, Konrad Fiałkowski, Witold Gombrowicz, Rafał Kosik, Piotr Paziński, and Piotr Szewc.
Tadeusz Rolke, Simon Schama, WIR WAREN HIER. Verschwindende Spuren einer verschwundenen Kultur. Fotos von Tadeusz Rolke, Essays von Simon Schama. Mit einer Einleitung von Feliks Tych und Texten von Abraham Joshua Heschel, edition.fototapeta 2008
Theater am Schiffbauerdamm
Bertolt-Brecht-Platz 1, 10117 Berlin
13. Berliner Ensemble - Theater am Schiffbauerdamm
From 1956 to 1958, Andrzej Wirth was a guest of the Berliner Ensemble. It was the beginning of a unique career for this important scholar, critic, and revitalizer of theater. Wirth, born in 1927—a Polish immigrant with an American passport and his residence in Berlin—wrote his dissertation in the 1950’s on Bertolt Brecht, translated Brecht’s plays into Polish, and worked to bring Brecht’s epic theatre to the Polish stage. As a student of philosophy and literature in postwar Poland, he translated—often in collaboration with his friend Marcel Reich-Ranicki—Franz Kafka, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Max Frisch, and early Günter Grass. Starting in 1958, Andrzej Wirth was invited to meetings of Gruppe 47 where, however, he found Polish humor and an interest in the literary life of the East lacking, and felt a bit like a “foreign body.”
Wirth edited an anthology of modern Polish drama, and is, alongside Jan Kott, one of Europe’s most important theater critics. In the 1960’s he brought Polish avant-garde authors such as Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Witold Gombrowicz, Tadeusz Różewicz, Sławomir Mrożek, Tadeusz Kantor, and Jerzy Grotowski to the German stage. He translated Peter Weiss into Polish and also recommended the Polish director Konrad Swinarski for the premiere of Marat/Sade at the Schillertheater in Berlin in April 1964. The “escape artist’s” production was celebrated as the “performance of the year,” and a “marvel,” and propelled Peter Weiss’s play to international success.
In 1965, Andrzej Wirth was invited by Walter Höllerer as a guest lecturer to the Technische Universität to give talks on “Wechselwirkungen zwischen deutscher und osteuropäischer Literatur” (The Interrelationship of German and Eastern European Literature). He then emigrated to the U.S., taught at American and British universities, returned to Germany with an American passport, and in 1982 founded the Institute for Applied Theater Studies at the Justus-Liebig University in Gießen, which he headed until he was made Professor Emeritus in 1982. He coined the term “postdramatic theater.” René Pollesch, Moritz Rinke, and Tim Staffel are among the prominent graduates of the Institute. Wirth received the ITI Theater prize in 2008 for his life’s work.
Andrzej Wirth, “Berlin’s last dandy, gentleman, and genius (Peter von Becker in the Tagesspiegel) lives in Charlottenburg. In April 2017 he turned 90.
Wirth publizierte auf Polnisch, Deutsch und Englisch zur polnischen und internationalen Theater- und Literaturgeschichte, sowie über die NS-Zeit und die Judenverfolgung in Polen:
Andrzej Wirth (Hrsg.): Modernes polnisches Theater. Neuwied u.a. 1967.
Andrzej Wirth, Flucht nach vorn. Gesprochene Autobiografie und Materialien, herausgegeben von Thomas Irmer, Spector Books, Leipzig 2013
14. Polish Institute Berlin
The Polish Institute Berlin is an arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. Since 1965, it has fostered and spread Polish art and culture, history, and regional studies in the form of exhibitions, concerts, films, literary events, plays, lectures, discussions, etc.