Pola Kinski


(German title: Kindermund)
ca. 267 pages
Pola Kinski
Foto: Pola Kinski
© Stefan Klüter

Pola Kinski was born in Berlin, the first child of actor Klaus Kinski. At an early age she began acting in theatre and television productions; she is a graduate of the Otto Falckenberg Acting School in Munich, and acts on stage and in films. Pola Kinski lives in Berlin.

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The autobiography of a childhood destroyed


Pola Kinski is three years old when her parents divorce. She is the first child of Klaus Kinski, an aspiring young actor at the time, in the mid-1950s. After the divorce the girl goes to live with her mother and grandfather in Munich; she rarely sees her father. Everything changes with Kinski’s breakthrough in film and on television.

He uses every opportunity to have his daughter with him in Berlin and later in Rome, having her travel to visit him on the sets of his films. Pola experiences her father’s extravagance and his fits of rage: he hurls abuse at her and showers her with gifts and money. Both her mother and her father fail to provide what she longs for most of all: the love and protection of her parents. Soon, her mother’s attention is devoted exclusively to her new husband and second child. And for years her father treats his own daughter as his child bride.

Kindermund is Pola Kinski’s autobiography of her childhood and youth. She writes about what it was like to be the daughter of the enfant terrible of German cinema, and speaks out, unsentimentally and unsparingly, about a man to whom any and all boundaries were there to be crossed and who had absolutely no scruples about destroying the life of his own child in the process.

»I’m cold, and at the same time I’m hot. I can smell the fear seeping out of my pores, and yet I can’t feel myself. I reach out and touch the burning end of the cigarette – I can’t feel it. I pinch my cheek – I can’t feel myself. I’m inside a sphere – you can see through it. A thin membrane, like a soap bubble, between me and my life.«


»I don’t want to have his eyes. His eyes used to shoot arrows into the world. But no matter how he looked at me: tenderly, angrily, beseechingly, commandingly, tearfully, coldly. I didn’t like his gaze […] I have always felt the need to write it down […] This was the right moment. I felt compelled to write it. Not just for myself, but also for others who have been through something similar. In a way we’ve all got a life sentence […] everybody does.« Pola Kinski's interview with German magazine Stern

»Pola Kinski loses her sense of self, she writes that back then she dissolved, that her identity melted away. And because she succeeds in describing accurately and arrestingly all the things that sexual violence can do to a person, this is ultimately a book that far exceeds the non-surprise that it is about Klaus Kinski.« Antonia Baum, FAS

»Not an enjoyable book – but a good one, important, and worth reading.« Anne-Dore Krohn, kulturradio

»In powerful images Kinski paints the emotional and mental world of a child who feels by turns like a beautiful ornament and a stranger in her own family. And she also succeeds on another level: in her representation of the internal contradictions that can dominate the emotional life of a victim of abuse.« Claire Horst, Jungle World Online

»This is a book written against the legend of Kinski, it is an attempt to unmask him. All that is left of the mad genius is his madness.« Spiegel Online

»Pola Kinski’s Kindermund is more than a settling of scores: it is a memoir of great literary merit« Daniel Kothenschulte, FR

»Her sister Nastassja Kinski has called this book brave, and it is brave, because Pola does not let herself off the hook, she doesn’t try to embellish herself, she is simply writing it all down, finally, and giving the public, which still venerates the ›colossal Kinski‹, a view of her father—naked.« Veronika Bock, WDR