Double Life

The history of literary life in Germany after 1945

This exhibition offered a multifaceted portrayal of literary life in West and East Germany during the first ten years following World War II. When it was re-established in 1945, public literary life was strongly characterized by the utopia of a democratic society that hadn't yet been divided into public and private institutional structures. On the basis of historic textual documents, photographs, film and audio recordings, and staged reconstructions, this exhibition discerned the requirements, conditions and relationships that were responsible for significantly shaping the reinvigorated literary life in post-war Germany. The exhibition did not intend to provide a systematic overview of post-war literature under German division. Instead it focused on regional specifics - the literary scenes in Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Leipzig all formed under unique conditions and consequently, each had its own unmistakeable character. In order to adequately portray the special characteristics of these former literary centres, the German Academy for Language and Poetry and the Literaturhaus Berlin modified the design of the exhibition to correspond to each city. In cooperation with selected partners at the presentation venues, the core exhibits were displayed in varying exhibition settings.
A two-volume publication about the exhibition explores the views and insights regarding the revival of German literary life in more depth. With pedagogical projects - e.g., materials specially developed for instruction in schools - and an extensive event programme, the project organizers tried to attract a broad audience along with the usual exhibition crowd.

Curator: Helmut Böttiger
Exhibition design: Lutz Dittrich, Peter Karlhuber

Venues and schedule:
Literaturhaus Berlin, 26 April 2009 - 12 July 2009
Literaturhaus Frankfurt, 3 September - 18 October 2009
Literaturhaus Munich, 29 October 2009 - January 2010
Freie Akademie der Künste Hamburg, December 2009 - February 2010
Leipzig, March / April 2010
Museum Künstlerkolonie Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt, 10 Sep. - 24. Oct. 2010


Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung

Alexandraweg 23

64287 Darmstadt (external link, opens in a new window)