Story of his life: Benno Pludra

For more than 60 years Benno Pludra was a unique voice of German and international children’s and youth literature. His book “Tambari” from 1969 became a classic. Right from the beginning he represents through his work literature for young people in the GDR like no one else.
Only 17 years old Benno Pludra, born 1925, went to Hamburg to become a seaman. In 1944 he barely escaped death when his ship was bombarded by Norwegian partisans. After this incident he turned his back on seafaring. He moved back in with his parents who were accommodated in a villa close to Riesa in the eastern part of Germany. The house had a huge library of Russian and American literature. Pludra devoured umpteen books and has only one dream: to become a writer himself. After winning a writing competition for the promotion of socialist children’s literature he decides to work full time as a writer. And he is successful. Every year he publishes a new book. He had his big breakthrough in 1963 with “The little Maarten and the white conch” which was picturized only one year later. The settings of his stories are often close to the sea, and he likes to write about outsiders who dream of sailing away. This wasn’t always well received by the GDR regime. When Pludra published his book “Island of Swans” in 1980 the SED sees some criticism the way the author describes socialist cities as concrete faces. But Pludra always held on to his ideas. He continued to write and his books are published in the west, too. Six of his books were picturized. He remains successful even after the German reunification and continues to win his young reader’s hearts.
Written by: Anna Schmidt
Direction: Anna Schmidt
Director or Photography: Stephan Boerger, Tilo Holzapfel, Axel Funke
Sound: Harry Viol, René Jugold
Editor: Tom Chapman