Youth and Childhood

Volker Schlöndorff is born on March 31st, 1939 in Wiesbaden, Germany, and grows up in nearby Schlangenbad as the son of an ear, nose and throat specialist. His brothers Georg (from his father’s first marriage) and Detlef will later follow in their father’s footsteps and enter the medical profession.

Schlöndorff’s mother dies early, falling victim to a kitchen-fire in her own home, when he is only five years of age.

He attends grammar school in Wiesbaden and participates in a French/German student exchange program in 1956. His stay in France is supposed to last only two months, but he ends up staying there for ten years.

He first attends a liberal Jesuit-run boarding-school in Morbihan (Brittany), going from there to the elite »Lycée Henri IV« in Paris’ Quartier Latin, where he graduates with a Baccalaureate. One of his classmates at the time is future director Bertrand Tavernier.

After receiving an equivalent German degree Frankfurt/Main, Schlöndorff returns to France. His father’s and brothers’ careers have pretty much predetermined what his path in life will be: a medical doctor or at least an attorney. But Schlöndorff has other plans.