Thaddäus Troll

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Monument to Thaddäus Troll in Bad Cannstatt. The sculpture depicts the protagonist of Troll's 1976 play Der Entaklemmer

Hans Bayer, known by the pseudonym Thaddäus Troll, (18 March 1914 – 5 July 1980) was a German journalist and writer and one of the most prominent modern poets in the Swabian German dialect. In his later years he was also an active campaigner for libraries and for support, pension rights and fair publishing contracts for writers. He was born in Bad-Cannstatt, a suburb of Stuttgart and committed suicide there at the age of 66. The literary award, Thaddäus-Troll-Preis, is named in his honour.

Life and career[edit]

Thaddäus Troll was born Hans Bayer in Bad-Cannstatt, a suburb of Stuttgart. His family had a soap-making business in the town. After he finished his secondary education at the Johannes-Kepler-Gymnasium, he worked briefly as a volunteer at a newspaper in Cannstatt. He then studied German, art history, comparative literature, theater, and journalism at the universities of Tübingen, Munich, Halle, and Leipzig, receiving his doctorate in 1938 from Leipzig University.[1]

Bayer served as a reserve lieutenant in the German army from 1938 and was stationed on the Eastern Front in 1941. He eventually ended up in an English prisoner of war camp, where he directed its theatre in 1945. Later that year, he married the journalist Elfriede Berger. The couple had one daughter but divorced a few years later. He then married another journalist, Susanne Ulrici Bayer, and had two more daughters. After the war, Bayer worked as a journalist and co-founded with comedian Werner Finck, Das Wespennest (The Wasp's Nest), Germany's first post-war satirical magazine.[1] (The magazine ceased publication in 1949.[2]) Bayer was a correspondent for Der Spiegel from 1947 to 1951, but during that time he also began a career as a free-lance writer. He adopted the pseudonym "Thaddäus Troll" in 1948, the name under which he is primarily known and chosen because he wanted his books to be on library shelves near those of his role model Kurt Tucholsky.[3][4]

In the ensuing years he published prolifically—poems, plays, novels, short-stories, theatre criticism, and satirical essays—often written in Swabian dialect. He also wrote scripts for the Düsseldorf cabaret Kom(m)ödchen, articles on wine and cookery, and a sex education book in Swabian on the model of Peter Mayle's Where Did I Come From?.[4] His poetry was based on everyday life but had a political dimension in common with many post-war German poets. According to Wolfgang Beutin writing in A History of German Literature, Troll's playful linguistic use of dialect was simultaneously a "confrontation with social convention and a criticism of social rigidity," a trait akin to concrete poetry and one which he shared with the Franconian dialect poet Fitzgerald Kusz (de).[5]

Although he was a supporter of the Social Democrat politicians Gustav Heinemann and Willy Brandt, Troll's approach to politics was essentially non-partisan and like his poetry, was often playful.[1] In 1950 he became one of the founding members of Werner Finck's Radikale Mitte (Radical Middle) party. Describing themselves as an "Association for Combating the Deadly Seriousness of the Time" and a "Parody Party", they were in favour of radicalism but opposed to extremism of both the Left and the Right. The party's symbol was a safety pin.[6] In his later years Troll was an active campaigner for libraries and for support, pension rights, and fair publishing contracts for authors.[4] He was one of the founders of the Förderkreis deutscher Schriftsteller, an organization that supports and sponsors writers in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, and served as its first chairman from 1968 to 1977. He also served on the executive councils and committees of Verband deutscher Schriftsteller (de) (General Association of German Writers) and Süddeutschen Rundfunk (South German Radio). In 1978 he was elected Vice-President of the German branch of PEN International.[7]

After a lengthy and severe depression, Thaddäus Troll committed suicide in his Stuttgart apartment with an overdose of sleeping pills on 5 July 1980.[3] He was 66 years old and had planned his own funeral before his death. At his wake the mourners were served his favourite dumplings and Trollinger wine. A Dixieland band accompanied him to his grave in the Steigfriedhof cemetery in Bad-Cannstatt.[8] He specified no lengthy graveside sermons, only the Lord's Prayer and a reading of his self-written obituary.[9] In the year following his death, the Förderkreis deutscher Schriftsteller established a literary award in his honour, the Thaddäus-Troll-Preis. That same year, Hoffmann & Campe published a posthumous anthology of his writings, Das große Thaddäus Troll-Lesebuch, which included Troll's self-written obituary.[10]

Selected works[edit]

  • Sehnsucht nach Nebudistan (1956), comic novel. Kindler Verlag
  • Hilfe, die Eltern kommen! (1956), novel (revised version published 1964). Sanssouci
  • Deutschland deine Schwaben (1967). Hoffmann & Campe
  • Preisend mit viel schönen Reden – Deutschland deine Schwaben für Fortgeschrittene (1972). Hoffmann & Campe
  • Wo komm’ ich eigentlich her? (1974), children's book based on Peter Mayle's Where Did I Come From? The Facts of Life without Any Nonsense. Hoffmann & Campe
  • O Heimatland (1976), poetry in Swabian dialect. Hoffmann & Campe
  • Der Entaklemmer (1976), adaptation of Molière's play The Miser. Hoffmann & Campe
  • Deutschland deine Schwaben im neuen Anzügle (1978). Hoffmann & Campe
  • Das große Thaddäus Troll-Lesebuch (1981), posthumous anthology of Troll's writings. Hoffmann & Campe
  • Thaddäus Trolls schwäbische Schimpfwörterei (1987), posthumous collection of Troll's Swabian anecdotes and swear-words. Silberburg-Verlag


  • Bischoff, Jörg (2013). Thaddäus Troll: Eine schwäbische Seele. Tübingen: Silberburg-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8425-1268-9.


  1. ^ a b c Biography of Thaddäus Troll, originally published in 1984 in the literary journal exempla and republished on the official website of Troll's literary estate. Retrieved 22 October 2012. (German)
  2. ^ Der Spiegel (6 October 1949). "Werner Finck". Retrieved 21 October 2012. (German)
  3. ^ a b Der Spiegel (14 July 1980). "Gestorben Hans Bayer" (Hans Bayer has died)
  4. ^ a b c Ignée, Wolfgang (29 September 2008). "Einer unserer größten Schwaben: Thaddäus Troll" (One of our greatest Swabians: Thaddäus Troll). Stuttgarter Zeitung. Retrieved 18 October 2012. (German)
  5. ^ Beutin, Wolfgang (1994). A History of German Literature, p. 629. Psychology Press. ISBN 0415060346
  6. ^ Die Zeit (23 March 1950). "Werner Finck beschloß, Politiker zu werden... Humor gegen Diktatur – Die „Radikale Mitte“" (Werner Finck decides to become a politician... Humor Against Dictatorship - The "radical middle"). Retrieved 20 October 2012. (German)
  7. ^ Lindenberg, Eleonore (2002). "Thaddäus Troll". Förderkreis deutscher Schriftsteller in Baden-Württemberg. Retrieved 18 October 2012. (German)
  8. ^ Acher-und Bühler Bote (17/18 April 2010). "Die Vertraute des Thaddäus Troll" (The confidant of Thaddeus Troll) republished on the official website of Troll's literary estate. Retrieved 22 October 2012. (German)
  9. ^ Jens, Walter and Küng, Hans (1995). Menschenwürdig sterben: ein Plädoyer für Selbstverantwortung (Worthy people die: A plea for personal responsibility), p. 105. Piper. ISBN 3492037917 (German)
  10. ^ Troll's obituary was originally published in 1970 in Vorletzte Worte: Schriftsteller schreiben ihren eigenen Nachruf (Penultimate words: Writers write their own obituary), a collection of self-written obituaries from 45 German writers published by Bärmeier & Nikel.

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