Wolf Biermann (15 November 1936 -) is a German singer-songwriter and former East German dissident. He was the son of a German Communist killed by the Nazi government during World War II. In 1953, at the age of 17, Biermann decided to emigrate from West to East Germany where he believed he could live out his Communist ideals.
In 1960 Biermann met composer Hanns Eisler, who adopted the young artist as a protégé. Eisler used his influence with the East German cultural elite to promote the songwriter's career, but his death in 1962 deprived Biermann of mentor and protector. In 1961 Biermann formed the Arbeiter- und Studententheater (Workers and Students Theater). It produced a show called Berliner Brautgang documenting the building of the Berlin wall and was shut down by the authorities in 1963. Although a committed socialist, Biermann's nonconformist politics soon alarmed the East German establishment. In 1963 he was refused membership in the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED). Two years later, publicly denounced as a "class traitor," he was was forbidden to publish his music or perform in public.
In 1976 the SED Politbüro decided to strip Biermann of his citizenship while he was on tour in West Germany. Biermann's exile provoked protests by leading East German intellectuals, including novelist Christa Wolf. In 1977 he was joined in West Germany by his partner, East German actress Eva-Maria Hagen, and her daughter Catherina (Nina Hagen).
In the west he continued his musical career, criticing East Germany's Stalinist policies. He was able to perform publicly again in East Germany in late 1989 during the Wende, or peaceful revolution, that eventually toppled the Communist government. In 1998 he received a German national prize. He now lives in Hamburg and in France.