Conversation with Heiner Müller in Garath

The Garath Conversation

2 Jul 1990
News & Stories
Heiner Müller
Heiner Müller


In 1989, Heiner Müller staged an unabridged seven-and-a-half hour Hamlet, because in the process of German reunification "a leave-taking from the Hamlet principle in favor of the market economy" was taking place. In this interview, he elaborates on the parallels between the play and contemporary reality in terms of the plot and the characters (for example, Günter Schabowski as well as the problematic role of Fortinbras).

Asked about his behavior during the many interviews that Müller gave following the fall of the Wall, the conversation turns to the demonstration of November 11, 1989, on the Alexanderplatz. Through an exact description of the circumstances of this day (weather, toilets, the sequence of speakers, the sound system), Müller, who, in the role of a "messenger," read a resolution aloud, characterizes the crowd as something animalistic for which he was no match, but over which he also felt his power.

Towards the end of the interview, Müller returns to the topic of his previously-discussed understanding of art: Art arises through "acceptance without taboos." For this reason, art is not "humane," and it is only authentic when it resists the sentimentalization demanded by a pluralistic society. The claim that "there is no argument against Auschwitz" is to be understood in this context as an example of art's necessarily off-putting means of expression. In response to Kluge's question about the revolutionary character of the reunification, Müller, aligning himself with Benjamin, emphasizes that revolutions have the function of putting the brakes on history.