Born in Eppendorf, Saxony, in 1929, Heiner Müller was one of two sons of a working-class family. His father was a member of the Social Democratic Party and subject to the persecutions of the Nazi regime. Müller’s childhood trauma began with the arrest of his father, who was put in a concentration camp in 1933, released, and reimprisoned when he refused to accommodate to the Nazi regime. After 1949, Müller’s father was expelled from the Socialist Unity Party because of his “Titoism” (his opposition to the personality cult that had formed around Joseph Stalin) and left the German Democratic Republic (GDR) for West Germany in the early 1950’s in order to avoid the threat of government persecution.
During the last year of World War II, Müller was drafted and experienced the total defeat of the German army in 1945. After the liberation of Germany, he was employed as an administrator for various cultural organizations in the GDR, and then worked as journalist and editor of the journal Junge Kunst (young art), until he was hired by the Maxim Gorky Theater in East Berlin (1958-1960), where he learned his stagecraft. In the late 1950’s, Müller wrote a number of plays in collaboration with his wife, Inge Müller (1925-1966), for which they were awarded the Heinrich Mann Prize in 1959. After 1959, Müller continued to devote himself to the writing of plays. From 1970 to 1976 he served as dramaturge of the former Brecht company, the Berliner Ensemble, and later of the East Berlin Volksbühne.
Like many of his colleagues, Müller has had his share of conflicts with the Socialist Unity Party, the ruling party in the GDR, and with government officials responsible for the direction of cultural...
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