The Winter Garden
A German Family in the Long Twentieth Century

From the Empire to Reunification - the Eventful Century of a German Family.

Through the age of the emperor, the First World War, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi dictatorship, the Second World War, the DDR-era and the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Jan Konst follows Saxon Hilde Grunewald, daughter of a high school teacher, and her relatives as they try to survive and are forced to make difficult choices.

With historical precision and narrative skill literary scholar Jan Konst describes the life of his family in-law. Hilde's story, as well as that of her parents, children and grandchildren, reflects German history and is a fascinating journey through time in the long twentieth century, from the Empire to reunification. A unique family chronicle of four generations and one hundred and fifty years of German history.


»Literary non-fiction at its best!«
De Volkskrant

»A fascinating book .. It shows people trying to lead a a more or less normal life in times of political turbulences.«
NRC Handelsblad

»A true witness of the century. And a genuine, moving contemporary document thanks to a comprehensive family archive with an impressive collection of photos and a son-in-law who, thanks to his skills as a literary scholar, tells a great piece of contemporary history in an exciting way.«
Märkische Lebensart

»The author takes the reader on a journey through time that begins in 1871 and leads through the 20th century - from the Empire to reunification.«

»A great family epic.«
De Telegraaf

»Literary historiography on a high level!«
Die Kunst zu leben

»DE WINTERTUIN has not only become the impressive story of a very ordinary family in times of war, but it also questions how best to tell about 'ordinary' Germans who, however, have caused indescribable suffering and have been severely punished for it. Konst's solution to this problem: Don't hide your own ambivalent feelings. Playing with open cards as an author. And that works. If you read DE WINTERTUIN, you will see that there are many different answers to the question of how all this was possible.«

Original Language

Dutch, Balans

Rights sold

GERMAN paperback Goldmann

Available Material

Dutch pdf
German translation


on behalf of Balans Uitgeverij
World excl. Dutch

Rights Sold

  • Germany Europa Verlage

© Ekko von Schwichow

Jan Konst

born in 1963, Prof Dr Jan Konst has studied Dutch language and literature in Utrecht and is a professor for Dutch literature at Freie Universität in Berlin since 2000. He also writes literary non-fiction. Konst lives with his wife and two daughters in Berlin.