Herbert Achternbusch

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Herbert Achternbusch
Achternbusch in 2015
Herbert Schild

(1938-11-23)23 November 1938
Munich, Germany
Died10 January 2022(2022-01-10) (aged 83)
Munich, Germany
  • Film director
  • writer
  • painter
Years active1971–2002

Herbert Achternbusch ( Schild; 23 November 1938 – 10 January 2022) was a German film director, writer and painter.[1] He began as a writer of avant-garde prose, such as the novel Die Alexanderschlacht, before turning to low-budget films. He had a love-hate relationship with Bavaria which showed itself in his work. Some of his controversial films, such as Das Gespenst (The Ghost), were presented at the Berlinale festival.


Born Herbert Schild in 1938 in Munich,[2] Achternbusch was the illegitimate son of the sports teacher Luise Schild, née Muckenthaler, and the dental technician Adolf Achternbusch.[3] He grew up in the Bavarian Forest with his grandmother.[3][4] In 1960, he was adopted by his biological father and took the name Achternbusch.[5] After his Abitur in Cham,[6] he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg, and at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich.[4][7]

In the early 1970s, Achternbusch wrote the prose Die Alexanderschlacht,[4] an important novel for the literary avant-garde of the time.[8] Achternbusch produced almost 30 low budget films.[9] He was often leading actor in his own films,[10] and worked together mainly with friends.[11] In 1975, Achternbusch met actor Josef Bierbichler, who played in 15 of his films, partly without salary.[12] Also notable were the actresses Annamirl Bierbichler [de] and Margarethe von Trotta,[13] as well as actor and painter Heinz Braun and cinematographer Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein.[14] In 1974, he made his film debut with Das Andechser Gefühl.[15] The 1977 film Bierkampf [de] (Beerfight) caused attention with numerous drunk Oktoberfest visitors as involuntary amateur actors.[4] Role models are the comedians Karl Valentin and Groucho Marx.[16][17][18] His anarchist surrealistic films are not known to a wide audience in Germany, although one of them, Das Gespenst (The Ghost), caused a scandal in 1983 because of its alleged blasphemous contents,[19] including a scene where Christ climbs down from the cross and later goes bathing with a nun.[15] Federal Minister of the Interior Friedrich Zimmermann halted the funding for the film as it was deemed to have violated the "religious feeling of large parts of the population".[4] For a long time, no public broadcaster showed any of Achternbusch's films.[20] Years of legal battle ensued, with Achternbusch finally winning in 1992.[11] In the 1983 film Der Depp, he had his favorite enemy Franz Josef Strauss poisoned.[6]

In 2002, Achternbusch stopped making films.[10] In 2008, the Munich Film Festival dedicated a retrospective to him,[7] and on the occasion of his 80th birthday, the Munich Film Museum paid tribute with eight of his feature films and a film portrait.[6]

Achternbusch's work also includes 20 plays, 40 books, and hundreds of paintings.[9] His large-format paintings have been described as child-like, expressive, and "naively excessive".[11] For his 70th birthday, the Museum of Modern Art Passau [de] made an exhibition of his works.[7] His plays were present on German stages, such as his two-person play Gust at the Munich Kammerspiele in 1986,[21] and his last play Dogtown Munich at the Münchner Volkstheater in 2017.[22][23] He was also a theatre director.[20] Werner Herzog, a director of the New German Cinema, based his film Heart of Glass on a story by Achternbusch.[24] Achternbusch wrote novels, poetry, children's books and also theatre reviews for the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.[25]

Personal life and death[edit]

Achternbusch was the father of six children with three women.[26] In 1959, his daughter Eva was born. The child's mother was a classmate. In 1962, during his studies, Achternbusch met Gerda Oberpaul, whom he married in November.[27] The children from that marriage were Rut (born 1963), Andreas (born 1964), Rita (born 1966), and Judit (born 1968).[28] They divorced in 1982.[28] From 1985 to 1993, Achternsbusch's partner and actress in 20 of his films was Annamirl Bierbichler [de], sister of Josef Bierbichler.[29] In the 1980s, they lived together in a commune in Ambach, Lake Starnberg.[11] From 1990 onward, Achternbusch lived on Munich's Burgstraße.[30] From 1993 to 1997, he was married to the actress Judith Tobschall. Their daughter is the actress Naomi [de] (born 1994).[28] He had a love-hate relationship with his homeland of Bavaria.[3]

Achternbusch eventually withdrew from public life,[3] and died in Munich on 10 January 2022, at the age of 83.[31][32] Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier described Achternbusch in a letter of condolence as a "unique universal artist" and that he "invaluably enriched the German cultural landscape, also because he provoked and polarized".[33][34]


Achternbusch was awarded the German international literary Petrarca-Preis in 1977, but he declined the honor.[4][30] He burned the prize check after accepting it and left the event.[30] He won the Mülheimer Dramatikerpreis in 1986 and 1994.[35] In 1996, Achternbusch refused to personally receive the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Film Award in Bielefeld.[36] In 2010, he was awarded the Kassel Literary Prize.[37]



  • Die Alexanderschlacht (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. 1972. ISBN 978-3-518-36561-8. OCLC 11319713.
  • L'Etat c'est moi (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. 1972. ISBN 978-3-518-10551-1. OCLC 4057774.
  • Der Tag wird kommen (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. 1973. ISBN 978-3-518-02030-2. OCLC 850738.
  • Die Stunde des Todes (in German). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. 1977. ISBN 978-3-518-06949-3. OCLC 8279906.
  • Ich bin ein Schaf : Memoiren (in German). München: Goldmann. 1996. ISBN 978-3-442-30685-5. OCLC 34894645.


  1. ^ "Filmemacher Herbert Achternbusch ist tot". Die Zeit (in German). Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  2. ^ Busche, Andreas (13 January 2022). "Zweifellos der größte Anarchist". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Detje, Robin. "Der Atlantikschwimmer". Die Zeit (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Herbert Achternbusch ist tot: Filmemacher, Schriftsteller und bayerisches Original". Der Spiegel (in German). 13 January 2022. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  5. ^ Espeter, Martina (25 April 2018). "Erlebte Geschichten mit Herbert Achternbusch". WDR (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "Regisseur Herbert Achternbusch gestorben". Süddeutsche.de (in German). 13 January 2022. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  7. ^ a b c "Bayerns Anarchist: Zum Tod von Herbert Achternbusch – 13.01.2022". DW.COM (in German). Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  8. ^ Merck, Nikolaus (29 April 2020). "Herbert Achternbusch ist tot". Nachtkritik (in German). Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Regisseur und Maler Herbert Achternbusch ist tot". tagesschau.de (in German). 13 January 2022. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  10. ^ a b Seidl, Claudius (13 January 2022). "Herbert Achternbusch gestorben: Nichts ist besser als gar nichts". FAZ.NET (in German). Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  11. ^ a b c d Dössel, Christine (17 May 2010). "Ein Grantler namens Herbert". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Josef Bierbichler". Kino (in German). 1 December 1993. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  13. ^ Leibold, Christoph (13 January 2022). "Dramatiker und Filmemacher Herbert Achternbusch gestorben". BR24 (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  14. ^ Leibold, Christoph (1 October 2021). "Der Maler Heinz Braun: "Lieber Idiot als Beamter"". BR.de (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  15. ^ a b Peitz, Christiane (23 November 2018). "Das Achternbusch-Gefühl". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  16. ^ Kürten, Jochen. ""Bierkampf": Szenen eines Oktoberfestes – 03.10.2016". DW.COM (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  17. ^ Karl, Franz Xaver (14 January 2022). "Bayerischer Universal-Dilletant: Zum Tod von Herbert Achternbusch". BR.de (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  18. ^ Häglsperger, Julia (1 October 2008). "Die Wiesn auf der Leinwand". Süddeutsche.de (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  19. ^ "Filmszene Bayern – Herbert Achternbusch | Kultur & Szene | Bayerischer Rundfunk". 29 September 2007. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  20. ^ a b Höbel, Wolfgang (13 January 2022). "Herbert Achternbusch ist tot: Es war ihm ein Leichtes, beim Filmen vom Boden abzuheben". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  21. ^ "Schriftsteller und Filmemacher: Herbert Achternbusch ist tot". ZDF (in German). 13 January 2022. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  22. ^ Lutz, Cosima (13 January 2022). "Nachruf Herbert Achternbusch: Sein "Gespenst" erschreckte den Minister". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  23. ^ Meier, Christa M. "Dogtown Munich". Theaterkritiken München (in German). Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  24. ^ "Herz aus Glas". Residenztheater. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  25. ^ "Herbert Achternbusch". filmportal.de. 23 November 1938. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  26. ^ "Ich mache gar nix mehr". Abendzeitung (in German). 22 November 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  27. ^ "Herbert Achternbusch". Schachinger Künstlerbedarf (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  28. ^ a b c Loimeier, Manfred (2013). Die Kunst des Fliegens : Annäherung an das künstlerische Gesamtwerk von Herbert Achternbusch (PDF) (in German). München: ET+K, Edition Text + Kritik. ISBN 978-3-86916-243-0. OCLC 861177056.
  29. ^ "Der Geist der Begabung: Annamirl Bierbichler 1946–2005". Der Standard (in German). 2 June 2005. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  30. ^ a b c Hauck, Simon (17 October 2018). "Herbert Achternbusch: Du hast keine Chance, aber nutze sie". Münchner Feuilleton (in German). Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  31. ^ "Herbert Achternbusch ist tot" (in German). Süddeutsche Zeitung. 13 January 2022. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  32. ^ Ott, Günther (13 January 2022). "Herbert Achternbusch ist tot: Gegen das eigene Unglück und die öde Welt". Augsburger Allgemeine (in German). Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  33. ^ "Steinmeier würdigt Filmemacher Achternbusch". die Zeit (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  34. ^ "Bundespräsident Steinmeier kondoliert zum Tod von Herbert Achternbusch". www.bundespraesident.de (in German). Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  35. ^ "Achternbusch, Herbert". Stadt Mülheim an der Ruhr (in German). 8 July 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  36. ^ "Regisseur Herbert Achternbusch gestorben – auch in Bielefeld eckte er an". Neue Westfälische (in German). 13 January 2022. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  37. ^ "Herbert Achternbusch: "Es ist einfach nichts mehr da"". Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine (in German). 25 February 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  38. ^ Moises, Jürgen (28 September 2018). "Film: "Der Neger Erwin" von Herbert Achternbusch". Süddeutsche.de (in German). Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  39. ^ "February 13 – 24, 1981". Berlinale. 15 December 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  40. ^ "Berlinale: 1983 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  41. ^ "Berlinale: 1988 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  42. ^ "Berlinale: 1995 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 31 December 2011.

Further reading[edit]

Documentary films[edit]

  • Niessner, Andi (2008). Achternbusch (in German). BR. OCLC 316157383.

External links[edit]