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"If you mean it really well with the Volksbühne (as the critics almost always assure you), for God's sake just leave it a few years of quiet, undisturbed work!"[1]

The Volksbühne is a theater building on the Platz. It was built in 1914 for the Freie Volksbühne e.V. based on designs by Oskar Kaufmann. In front of it is the Wiese, to the east of it the Pavilion and the Spielplatz, to the west it is bordered by the Trinkerpark, to the north it encloses parts of the Nazi-Bauten.


Making Of[]

See also: Construction of the Volksbühne

Piscator: Too much revolution for the Volksbühne?[]

Because the show "Who's the boss here?" turned out to be a bestseller (and those responsible couldn't get enough of it themselves), a spin-off was created in 1927 for director Erwin Piscator. From 1924 on he had been senior director at the theater. Initially, the Volksbühne was doing well economically in these years and with 160,000 people the Volksbühne association had more members than ever before, so the association's board was also very satisfied with Piscator. Its staging, which was always technically ultra-modern, also corresponded to the claim to initiate social changes and to shape Berlin's urban culture.

But when the number of members declined due to rising inflation, the productions by KPD member Piscator made the association's board increasingly afraid. The board found his staging of Ehm Welk's Thunderstorm over Gottland too revolutionary for the cross-party claim of the house. The board accused Piscator of having reinterpreted the piece for his own interpretation in an inadmissible manner. As always, this discussion about the role of art was not limited to the Volksbühne, but also made waves beyond that. Piscator didn't feel like this show anymore: He left the Volksbühne and founded his own theater, the Piscator-Bühne, in 1927.

Deprecation and new edition[]

In the aftermath of the November 20, 1943 war, the place was attacked by aerial bombs, and the supposed stronghold proved to be not that resistant at all and suffered a lot. For technical reasons (but probably not only) the Volksbühnen show was canceled in January 1944 until further notice. On April 26th, 1945 there was another huge rumble and by now nobody should have dared to go into the house (or anywhere else). By then, broadcasting had long since ceased.

When both the broadcasting station and all stars were no longer available, a new edition of the Volksbühne was sought from 1947 with a new broadcasting company (logo color: red). The Volksbühne movement formed what felt like 50 times in 50 years and joined the general mood in the new, anti-fascist counter-draft to the old tinsel from before: The summer hit in the winter of 1947 (and long afterwards) was called `` Jugend erwache! by the FDJ-Chor KaWe (really not a One Hit Wonder !). [2]

On April 21, 1954, the house was reopened or reopened. There was no real agreement. In 1974 the 20th birthday was celebrated in any case, in 2014 the 100th was celebrated again - can someone not count on that ?!

The reopening was accompanied by a slight but significant re-branding: From now on, the slogan Die Kunst dem Volke was missing from the portal. Why? Well because that was clear to everyone anyway!

Free love, free land, free land?[]

In the 1970s, air and love ruled the square, possibly due to the X. World Festival of Youth inspired, the house under the then boss Benno Besson made sure that the neighborhood felt invited to their very own Spectacles.

With a turning point in the Volksbühne, the signs were pointing to a new beginning and active participation. So at the Women's Congress ambitious plans were made, of which, like so many other expectations of the future, only a fraction could be realised.

The Castorf era[]

A messiah from the provinces, who actually came from neighboring Prenzlauer Berg, was to lead the house into the new era. The early days of Frank I.'s reign are documented in the report of a minnesinger who was at court at the time and thus offer an insight into that legendary time, which would enveutal reach religious hypes between several generations of Professional hipsters. The Volksbühne became a brand and hip, not only through LSD, i.e. a sophisticated design concept Bert Neumanns, which also included the Räuberrad, but also through every refusal to be cool and precisely because of that pave the way for the coming millennium. When it wasn't even going like Geschnitten Brot any more, but instead people were talking about an international theater institution, it was clear that every myth has to get rid of itself at some point. The hope of all of Frank I's disciples, to at least surpass the duration of the anti-fascist protective wall, was dashed by the proclamation of the Empire of Dercon. Years of war and occupation followed, of which the posse A pile of shit sings a song.

Who's the boss here?[]

current show logo (2021)

The show is a spin-off, which usually takes place outside the theater and square and decides who has to say that in the house for the coming years. The popular casting show has been held since 1913. Their terminology is different and the number of episodes and their mode have varied greatly over the years. The winner receives the title of Volksbühnen boss. So far, the following people have won the show:

Season Date Winner Regency Notes
1 1913 EN Emil Lessing.png
Emil Lessing
Emil I.


other nominees:
  • Leopold Jessner
2 1914–15 EN Max Reinhardt.png
Max Reinhardt
Max I.


lead the house as a second residence of the Deutsches Theater
3 1917 EN Friedrich Kayssler.png
Friedrich Kayßler
Fritz I.


4 1924 EN Fritz Holl.png
Fritz Holl
Fritz II.


other nominees:
  • Jürgen Fehling
  • Karl Heinz Martin
  • Ludwig Berger
5 1927 EN Heinrich Neft.png
Heinrich Neft
Heinz I.


post-nominated, previously executive director
6 1928 EN KH Martin.png
Karl Heinz Martin
Heinz II.


7 1931 EN Heinz Hilpert.png
Heinz Hilpert
Heinz III.


8 1933 EN Graefchen.png
Bernhard zu Solms-Laubach
Bernie I.


no selection was held, chosen due to lack of alternatives
9 1935 EN Eugen Klöpfer.png
Eugen Klöpfer
Eugen I.


exchanged the regency at the Theater am Nollendorfplatz with Bernie I
10 1945 EN Fritz Wisten.png
Fritz Wisten
Fritz III.


11 1960 EN Wolfgang Heinz.png
Wolfgang Heinz
Heinz IV.


12 1962 100px
Maxim Vallentin
Max II.


lead the house as a second residence of the Maxim Gorki Theater
13 1964 Karl Holàn Karl I.


only on paper
14 1968 EN Benno Besson.png
Benno Besson
Benno I.


de-Facto Boss since 1965
15 1978 EN Fritz Roedel.png
Fritz Rödel
Fritz V.


16 1989 EN Annegret Hahn.png
Annegret Hahn



Due to a tie on points there were several winners this year.
EN Marion van de Kamp.png
Marion van de Kamp
EN Winifred Wagner.png
Winfried Wagner
1990 EN Annegret Hahn.png
Annegret Hahn
Anne I.


The winner's term of office was extended by one year. No competition was held.
17 1991 EN Frank Castorf.png
Frank Castorf
Frank I.


18 2015 EN Chris Dercon.png
Chris Dercon
Chris I.

August 2017 to April 13th 2018

  • Thomas Walter
19 2018 EN Klaus Doerr.png
Klaus Dörr
Klaus I.

Sommer 2018 – 15. März 2021

  • Gabriele Gornowciz
  • Sabine Zielke
20 2019 EN Rene Pollesch.png
René Pollesch
René I.

since September 13th 2021



  1. Volksbühne Berlin, issue 6, July / August 1931, p. 12
  2. A very nice version on Aunt Tube