The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum
The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, or: how violence develops and where it can lead (original German
Standard German
Standard German is the standard variety of the German language used as a written language, in formal contexts, and for communication between different dialect areas...

 title: Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum oder: Wie Gewalt entstehen und wohin sie führen kann) is a 1974 novel by Heinrich Böll
Heinrich Böll
Heinrich Theodor Böll was one of Germany's foremost post-World War II writers. Böll was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize in 1967 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972.- Biography :...


The story deals with the sensationalism of tabloid news and the political climate of panic over Red Army Faction
Red Army Faction
The radicalized were, like many in the New Left, influenced by:* Sociological developments, pressure within the educational system in and outside Europe and the U.S...

 terrorism in the 1970s Federal Republic of Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

. The main character, Katharina Blum, is an innocent housekeeper whose life is ruined by an invasive tabloid reporter and a police investigation when the man with whom she has just fallen in love turns out to be wanted by the police because of a bank robbery. Later it turns out that he is not a bank robber: he is a deserter from the Army who had stolen money from his camp before deserting. Ultimately she shoots the reporter, after she invited him to her house for an interview. The book's fictional tabloid paper, Die Zeitung (The Newspaper), is modelled on the actual German Bild-Zeitung
The Bild is a German tabloid published by Axel Springer AG. The paper is published from Monday to Saturday, while on Sundays, Bild am Sonntag is published instead, which has a different style and its own editors...



Four days after a Weiberfastnacht party, where Katharina met a man named Ludwig Götten, she calls on Oberkommissar Moeding and confesses to killing a journalist for the newspaper Die Zeitung.

Katharina had met Götten at a friend's party and spent the night with him before helping him to escape from the police. The next morning, the police broke into her house, arrested her and questioned her. The story is sensationally covered by Die Zeitung, and in particular its journalist Tötges. Tötges investigates everything about her life, calling on Katharina's friends and family, including her ex-husband and hospitalized mother, who dies the day after Tötges visits her. He paints a picture of Katharina as a fervent accomplice of Götten, and as a communist run amok in Germany.

Katharina arranges an interview with Tötges. According to Katharina, upon his arrival he suggests that they have sex, whereupon she shoots him dead. She then wanders the city for a few hours before driving to police headquarters and confessing to Moeding.

The book also details the effects of the case on Katharina's employers and friends the Blornas; Mr Blorna is her lawyer, and Mrs Blorna one of the designers of the apartment block where Katharina resides. Their association with Katharina leads to their exclusion from society.


The story is written from a first-person plural perspective. That is, the narrator is, as it were, presenting a confidential report to the reader on the basis of sources. The technique is documentary, as with Group Portrait with Lady, but with a much more disciplined focus on essentials. The reader is sometimes left to infer who the sources are for many of the reports, and even to wonder whether the narrator may not be one of the characters in the novel. This technique avoids the use of character-zoning by an omniscient narrator who assumes the authority to enter the minds of his characters. Instead, the narrator is reduced to a dependency on characters and the information they impart. The narrator becomes a researcher and critic of his source material, and in this novel is implicitly contrasted with the journalists who irresponsibly distort their sources. The attack on vulgar journalism is thus mounted from the perspective of a narrator whose moral authority is enhanced by the use of the 'regal' first-person plural form.


  • The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum. A 1975
    1975 in film
    The year 1975 in film involved some significant events, with Steven Spielberg's thriller Jaws topping the box office.-Events:*March 26 - The film version of The Who's Tommy premieres in London....

     film adaptation of Böll's novel was directed by Volker Schlöndorff
    Volker Schlöndorff
    Volker Schlöndorff is a Berlin-based German filmmaker who has worked in Germany, France and the United States...

     and Margarethe von Trotta. It starred Angela Winkler
    Angela Winkler
    Angela Winkler is a German actress.- Biography :Born in Templin, Winkler trained to be a medical technologist in Stuttgart. Interested in theater, she went to Munich, where she took acting classes with Ernst Fritz Fürbringer...

     as Blum, Mario Adorf
    Mario Adorf
    Mario Adorf is a German film and stage actor, best known for his lead role in the 1978 film The Tin Drum.-Biography:...

     as Kommissar Beizmenne, Dieter Laser
    Dieter Laser
    Dieter Laser is a German actor.He is known to English speaking audiences for his roles in Lexx, The Ogre and The Human Centipede , for which he won "Best Actor" at the Austin Fantastic Fest....

     as Tötges, and Jürgen Prochnow
    Jürgen Prochnow
    Jürgen Prochnow is a German actor. His most well-known roles internationally have been as the sympathetic submarine captain in Das Boot , Duke Leto Atreides I in Dune , the minor, but important role of Neo-Stalinist dictator General Ivan Radek in Air Force One and the villain Maxwell Dent in...

     as Ludwig.
  • The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck. This 1984 TV movie starred Marlo Thomas
    Marlo Thomas
    Margaret Julia “Marlo” Thomas is an American actress, producer, and social activist known for her starring role on the TV series That Girl . She also serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital...

     as Blum and Kris Kristofferson
    Kris Kristofferson
    Kristoffer "Kris" Kristofferson is an American musician, actor, and writer. He is known for hits such as "Me and Bobby McGee", "For the Good Times", "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down", and "Help Me Make It Through the Night"...

    as Ben Cole.
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