Robert Hans Olschwanger‘s citizenship certificate
Robert Hans Olschwanger‘s citizenship certificate, dated 11 Mai 1956
German Exile Archive 1933-1945 at the German National Library, estate Robert Hans Olschwanger


Das Deutschland ist nicht mehr, das ich einst kannte.
Dass ich es liebte, sagen Dir die Zeilen,
Die ich empfunden, als ich noch im Lande
Wo ich geboren, doch nicht durft' verweilen.

[The Germany I once knew no longer exists. The lines I composed while I was still in the country of my birth, the country which no longer allows me to stay, show you how much I loved it. (ed. trans.)]

From Robert Hans Olschwanger’s ballad Die Geschichte eines Verbrechens (The story of a crime)

In 1956, Robert Hans Olschwanger applied to the German Embassy in Peru for German citizenship, but initially remained in Peru. Since he had been stateless prior to his exile from Germany, this was the first time that he had held a German passport. In 1959, he married Käthe Krebs, who brought four sons to the marriage. His mother Jenny died in Lima in 1964. The 1960s saw increasing political unrest in Peru, culminating in a military coup in 1968. The new, radical government did not tolerate political opposition and soon controlled all the country’s media. This made the situation there all the more dangerous. Many German exiles returned to Germany or emigrated to Israel, the USA or Canada. Olschwanger and his family eventually returned to Germany in 1970. However, he did not wish to go to Berlin, since the city of his birth no longer existed for him. His former home had been taken from him and could never be restored. Instead, he and his wife moved to Cologne, where one of his stepsons was already living. Once he had settled there, he continued working as a commercial artist and caricaturist for various newspapers.

Created with his accustomed precision and sharp wit, his works provided a commentary on socio-political developments, not least those in the Federal Republic of Germany, from the economic miracle until well into the 1970s. He also turned his attention to international affairs such as the Cold War, the Middle East conflict and the Watergate affair. According to his stepson, he always kept in touch with current events: “[He] read the newspaper three times a day and made sure he was kept well informed. He never minced his words and always had very clear opinions.” (Interview Trouw from 29 April 2020).