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The translation of the most important pages of the website of the German Cabaret Archives will start in 2018. Meanwhile here you find a brief description.

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Documentation Center for German-Language Satire
Since 1961



The playful, satirical form of cabaret and its literary, philosophical, and poetic qualities are the focus of our documentary interest.  The central task of the German Cabaret Archives is the continuous collection and the availability of these materials to academics and historians.

Queries are answered on a daily basis, and scholars visit from around the world.  First of all the archives serve as a research site and source for studies, dissertations, and theses in the fields of Literature and Theatre, as well as Musicology, Linguistics, Cultural History, and Politics.

Exhibits of the archives’ collections tour Germany regularly.  They have been seen in Switzerland, Austria, Luxemburg, France, Poland, Israel, Japan, and Australia. The six-part series “100 Years of Cabaret” was opened in 2001 in Berlin’s Academy of the Arts. In light of the huge demand, two versions of this touring exhibit are now available, and with help from the Maison Dijon de Rhénanie-Palatinat part of the material is being translated into French.

A special exhibit on the theme of “Cross-German History in the Mirror of Political Cabaret: Divided Mockery, Shared Laughter” was commissioned by the Federal President on the occasion of the National Day of Unity.

A Cultural Foundation

Over eighty artistic estate collections and material on more than eighty thousand names spanning the history of the cabaret and its predecessors comprise the core of the German Cabaret Archives.  Founded in 1961 by Reinhard Hippen in Mainz, the private collection transferred to the city of Mainz in 1989.  Meanwhile, under the direction of Jürgen Kessler, the archives have been transformed into a cultural foundation subsidized by several public institutions.  Since 1999, in recognition of their national importance, the Cabaret Archives have been supported by funding from the Cultural and Media Deputies of the Federal Government.  The collections moved to the historical Proviant-Magazin warehouse building in Mainz in 2004.


The Bernburg Collection

A second branch in Bernburg on the Saale River documents the history of the cabaret in the German Democratic Republic.  This project is supported by the city of Bernburg and the Federal Government.  The archives are located next to the “Eulenspiegel Tower” in the Christiansbau of the Bernburg Palace.


Stars of Satire

In their museum areas, both branches of the archives memorialize major figures of the cabaret in the twentieth century and present the “Stars of Satire” in their permanent exhibits.  Mainz has honored the “immortals” of history in a cabaret “Walk of Fame” that runs between the Proviant-Magazin and the Unterhaus Theater, while a “Hall of Fame” in the Bernburg Palace has a similar mission.


For further information please contact:

Eingang: Neue Universitätsstraße 2
55116 Mainz am Rhein
phone: +49 (0)6136 – 144730 Telefax 231675

Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 9 am  – 4.30 pm , Friday until 2 pm


Bernburger Sammlung

Schloss Bernburg, Christianbau,
06406 Bernburg an der Saale
phone: +49 (0)3471 – 621754 Telefax 622271


Opening hours: Wednesday to  Friday  9 am -  4 pm

Translation : Alan Lareau



Cabaret in Germany officially began on January 18, 1901.  The German Cabaret Archives document its history:
What the cabaret was, what it became, and what it is.  And what it can be, even in systems of oppression and intolerance. The year 2018 is the eightieth anniversary of the so-called “Night of Broken Glass,” a euphemism for the night of November 10, 1938.   And 85 years ago, May 10, 1933, was the day when books burned in Berlin.  Shortly thereafter, on June 23, they burned in Mainz as well.  In his memoirs, “Defying Hitler: A Memoir”, Sebastian Haffner describes what literary-political cabaret could be during the years of the National Socialist reign of terror:…read more



Take a peek…

You’ll be surprised when you visit me in the historic Commissariat in Mainz.  I’m anything but the cliché of a dusty archive.  Despite my youth, I am a classic, if I may say so myself.  Permit me to present myself in over a thousand square feet of downright museum elegance.  Just for you, of course!  After all, I have a mission.  In the cultural interest of the public.  I preserve an entire genre, a unique art form, so to speak!  My founder registered me in the family genealogy as a “documentation center for German-language satire.”  Just after he arrived in Mainz in 1961, he proudly named me the “German Cabaret Archives.”

Since that day, my staff has been dedicating themselves to the performance forms and manifestations of satire around the world.  That’s why we so often greet international visitors.  Recently a student from Moscow was here to hunt for material from the 1920s for her doctoral dissertation, and a professor from Japan was interested in the cabaret in exile.  Once a doctoral candidate from Yale University spent nine months in the bowels of the archives tracing the role of the medieval troubadour as an ancestor of the political singer-songwriter.  Written inquiries from all over the world testify to the great interest in my treasures.  That’s why I was able to open over 160 exhibits since the beginning of the 21st century, in seven European countries.  Including France.  In the Maison Heinrich Heine of the Cité Universitaire Internationale de Paris: “Le Monde, un Cabaret – Les débuts du cabaret littéraire en Allemagne et en France.” Montpellier, Toulouse, Lyon, and Dijon followed.  In the German-speaking regions, we toured with “100 Years of Cabaret” from Alzey to Zurich.  That exhibit shows what I have to offer: the genre!  Its manifestations.  Their history.  It’s about the artists.  Especially about the political-literary cabaret as an art striving for democracy and freedom.  It’s about the authors.  Their life stories.  All too often they were stories of suffering.  It’s about their relevance for interested people from all eras.  For the audience of the Belle Epoque.  Of the imperial era.  Between revolution and censorship.  Between the First and Second World Wars.  Between democracy and dictatorship, militarism and fascism.  It’s about the art of survival.  In exile and under cover.  Between styles and between political parties.  It’s about our culture.  About its transformations.  About education.  And of course it’s about laughter.  Laughter at ourselves and at everyone else….read more

Stars of Satire – the special Walk of Fame

“Stars of Satire” –  the special Walk of Fame is located in Mainz on Romano Guardini Square. It is suitably surrounded by the Institut Français which is representing the place of birth of Cabaret, the renowned cabaret stage “Forum-Theater unterhaus” and, of course, the German Cabaret Archives. Until today, 80 artists have been awarded a star, who we would like to introduce to you here:

The virtual Walk of Fame