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Horst Bienek

Horst Bienek German writer

German writer
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro German writer
A.K.A. Horst Bieniek
Was Writer Novelist Poet Playwright
From Germany
Type Film, Television, Stage and Radio Literature
Gender male
Birth 7 May 1930, Gliwice, Poland
Death 7 December 1990, Munich, Germany (aged 60 years)
Star sign TaurusTaurus
The details
Plaque on the house in which Horst Bienek was born (in Polish)
Plaque on the house in which Horst Bienek was born (in German)

Horst Bienek (May 7, 1930 in Gleiwitz – December 7, 1990 in Munich) was a German novelist and poet.


Born in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia, Germany (today Gliwice, Poland), Bienek was forced to leave there in 1945, when Germans were expelled from Silesia. He resettled in the eastern part of Germany. For a time, he was a student of Bertolt Brecht. In 1951, he was arrested by NKVD and sentenced in a show trial to 25 years of labour for "anti-Soviet incitement" and alleged espionage on behalf of the United States, and sent to a Gulag concentration camp in Vorkuta. When he was released as the result of an amnesty in 1955, he settled in West Germany. Much of his writing addressed the theme of his uprooting from his Upper Silesian homeland

Although homosexual, his autobiographical writings never discussed openly his own homosexuality, and his novels only on occasion allude gently to homosexual attraction.

Bienek died in Munich in 1990 from AIDS.


Bienek was the winner of numerous prizes, including the Nelly Sachs Prize in 1981. His best-known work is the four-volume series of novels dealing with the prelude to World War II and the war itself, Gleiwitz, Eine oberschlesische Chronik in vier Romanen.

Three of his works were adapted for film:

  • Die Zelle (1970)
  • Die erste Polka (1979)
  • Schloß Königswald (1987).

Bienek's four novel have all been translated into English:

  • The First Polka (1978)
  • September Light (1986)
  • The Cell (1973)
  • Time Without Bells (1988)
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