Cover image for Burning down the Haus : punk rock, revolution, and the fall of the Berlin Wall / by Tim Mohr.
Burning down the Haus : punk rock, revolution, and the fall of the Berlin Wall / by Tim Mohr.
Title Variants:
Burning down the house
First edition.
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2018.

Physical Description:
ix, 363 pages, 8 pages of unnumbered plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A version of this book was originally published in Germany as Stirb nicht im Warteraum der Zukunft: die ostdeutschen Punks und der Fall der Mauer by Heyne Hardcore in 2017"-- title page verso.
Too much future -- Oh bondage up yours! -- Combat rock -- Rise above -- Burning from the inside -- Disintegration -- Lust for life.
"The history of how teenage East German punk rockers played an indispensable role in bringing down the Berlin Wall"-- Provided by publisher.
Personal Subject:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
306.48426 MOH Book Adult General Collection

On Order



"A thrilling and essential social history that details the rebellious youth movement that helped change the world." -- Rolling Stone

"Original and inspiring . . . Mr. Mohr has writ­ten an im­por­tant work of Cold War cul­tural his­tory." -- The Wall Street Journal

"Wildly entertaining . . . A thrilling tale . . . A joy in the way it brings back punk's fury and high stakes." -- Vogue

It began with a handful of East Berlin teens who heard the Sex Pistols on a British military radio broadcast to troops in West Berlin, and it ended with the collapse of the East German dictatorship. Punk rock was a life-changing discovery. The buzz-saw guitars, the messed-up clothing and hair, the rejection of society and the DIY approach to building a new one: in their gray surroundings, where everyone's future was preordained by some communist apparatchik, punk represented a revolutionary philosophy--quite literally, as it turned out.

But as these young kids tried to form bands and became more visible, security forces--including the dreaded secret police, the Stasi--targeted them. They were spied on by friends and even members of their own families; they were expelled from schools and fired from jobs; they were beaten by police and imprisoned. Instead of conforming, the punks fought back, playing an indispensable role in the underground movements that helped bring down the Berlin Wall.

This secret history of East German punk rock is not just about the music; it is a story of extraordinary bravery in the face of one of the most oppressive regimes in history. Rollicking, cinematic, deeply researched, highly readable, and thrillingly topical, Burning Down the Haus brings to life the young men and women who successfully fought authoritarianism three chords at a time--and is a fiery testament to the irrepressible spirit of revolution.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this lively narrative, music journalist and former Berlin DJ Mohr takes readers on a profanity-laden, up-close-and-personal tour of the punk rock scene of 1980s East Germany. He follows notable figures in the scene-"Major" (who was 15 in 1977 when she became, in Mohr's retelling, the first punk in East Germany), "A-Micha," "Colonel," "Pankow," "Chaos," "Otze," and others-and their associated bands as they evolve from a handful of disaffected youths influenced by outside radio and bootleg Sex Pistols albums to a relentless movement of politically minded revolutionaries determined to change a corrupt system from within. Mohr makes clear the punks weren't seeking a reunited Germany, just an East Germany where they'd be free to express themselves, yet their movement contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall. He chronicles the ongoing clashes between the East German authorities and several microgenerations of punks, describing a compelling war of subversion, persistence, attrition, and defiance, where every act meant to crush spirits and enforce conformity only helped to fan the rebellious flames. The short chapters and punchy prose, coupled with thorough research, give the reader a front-row seat to the events of the '80s. This take on punk evolution is engaging, enlightening, and well worth checking out. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Whether it's Duff McKagan's memoir, It's So Easy, or Paul Stanley's confessional Face the Music, Mohr is famous for helping rock stars articulate the lurid, gory details of their lives. Here, the author turns his attention from the Sunset Strip to the gray, dull streets of East Germany and political liberation, beginning in the late 1970s and paralleling the uprising of the punk rock revolution with a political awakening among the city's disaffected youth. Amid constant arrests, government surveillance, and beatings in the street, the East Germans found a common rallying cry in the growling voice of the Sex Pistols. Mohr shows how these influences from across the sea transformed into a specific political expression under an oppressive regime. The music was a reason to organize-that organization sparked a movement culminating in the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. VERDICT Mohr pens an inspiring history of a punk scene that literally tore down a symbol of division and oppression. An excellent companion to Paul Hockenos's Berlin Calling. [See Prepub Alert, 4/30/18.]-Joshua Finnell, Colgate Univ., Hamilton, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. 1
I Too Much Futurep. 7
II Oh Bondage Up Yours!p. 77
III Combat Rockp. 121
IV Rise Abovep. 191
V Burning from the Insidep. 249
VI Disintegrationp. 297
VII Lust for Lifep. 333
Acknowledgmentsp. 357
Bibliographyp. 361