Cast of Players
including commentary about
Philosopher, critic, composer
All Quiet on the Western Front
Originally written in German as Im Westen Nichts Neues by Erich Maria Remarque (Erich Paul Remark) in 1928, this novel has been advertised by publishers as "the greatest war novel of all time" (Fawcett Crest, New York, 1958). We can't verify its ultimate standing in the pantheon of great books, but it does stand as the most impressive anti-war statement we've found in the library at Planet Deutsch.
All Quiet is a realistic portrayal of the life of a foot soldier in the trenches of the First World War. The narrator, Paul Bäumer, is a young man of twenty who enlists in the German army along with seven of his classmates. Swept up in the rhetoric of nationalism and heroism so characteristic of the age, these young students march to the recruitment office at the exhortation of their schoolmaster, who rallies them as exemplary "Iron Youth" of Germany. It is their duty to serve the Fatherland.
Away from the idyllic scenes of school, mired in the trenches, Paul and his comrades face the lulls between bombardments and gas attacks by discussing the motivations of the political and military class, whose leaders have sent them to fight a war against an enemy they have no quarrel with. The young men agree that there would be no war if the leaders simply had a fistfight among themselves.
As the war progresses, the story grows grim, then grimmer, as one after another of the group is killed or maimed. Starvation and filth become everyday realities. The focus on survival becomes elemental, but Paul keeps a sense of humor throughout the narrative. Especially poignant for readers are the episodes about the search for food and an encounter with a group of French women. Even as the boys are stripped of culture's niceties, they develop what Paul considers the only positive aspect of war: esprit de corps.
Paul questions what will happen to his generation after the war's end. He understands that once a man has killed another man and experienced the atrocities of war, his sense of reality and home become alien and disconnected. After Paul returns home on leave, he realizes that he doesn't understand his former life or the people in it.
At the end of the story, Paul is the last survivor of the seven schoolmates. He yearns for the comforts of his life before the war, but he understands that he has lost everything, and that nothing else can be taken from him. He also understands how society will view the young soldier, who is eternally misunderstood, ignored, forgotten, and pushed aside. FAB
Dancer, singer, actress, spy, activist
Born 3 June 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Died 12 April 1975 in Paris, France
How does one connect a showgirl par excellence from Paris via St. Louis and Broadway to the Weimar Republic? To put it another way, why does a celebrity the likes of Josephine Baker figure in current historical surveys of the era? The answer lies in the intricate powers of revisionism and the creeping influence of pop culture on historical inquiry....
The bauhaus, founded in Weimar by Walter Gropius in 1919, was a school for architects, artists, and designers. Its main purpose was the synthesis of art, technology, modernity, and functionalism. From 1925 to 1933 the bauhaus was located in Dessau.
Born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1884
Died in New York 1950
Max Beckmann, a chronicler of the absurd and the grotesque aspects of urban Weimar, captured the everyday sufferings and indignities of the age on his strange and often disturbing canvasses.
Early in his career, Mr. Beckmann was primarily an Impressionist in the style of Lovis Corinth. Like so many of his peers, he forged his lasting artistic sensibility in the Great War. After volunteering as a medical orderly and suffering a nervous breakdown, he fled the Elysian fields of Impressionism and stepped into the bleak metropolis of the human psyche. Neither a member of Der blaue Reiter (the Blue Rider) nor Die Brücke (The Bridge) — popular names for art movements of the time — Mr. Beckmann painted in a style that became totally original.
According to Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times (June 27, 2003), Mr. Beckmann declared that he had been saved by the war from being a conservative painter. His paintings portrayed "distorted pictures of a sordid world," Franz Roh wrote in German Painting in the Twentieth Century. During the Twenties his work became more color-infused, but still maintained the modernist distortions of shape and perspective. It was during this later period that he painted nine huge triptychs. Mr. Beckmann referred to his triptych style as a "mathematics of expression," in which he strove to communicate "the multiple substance of life" (Roh, 99).
Mr. Beckmann's themes ranged from the mythic and mysterious to the calamitous and the extraordinary. Especially compelling were his depictions of the earthquake in Messina, Italy, in 1908 that left 84,000 dead, and the sinking of the unsinkable Titanic in 1912.
He studied at the Weimar Art Academy, and then settled in Berlin from 1907 to 1914. From 1925 to 1933 he taught at the art school in Frankfurt. When Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, Mr. Beckmann was listed as one of the degenerate artists, resulting in his dismissal from the art school. He fled to Amsterdam soon after Hitler's public condemnation of the degenerates in 1937. He remained in Holland until 1947 when he accepted a teaching position in the United States at Washington University in St. Louis. He later taught at the Brooklyn Academy of Art in New York City. Mr. Beckmann never returned to Germany.
Notable works include Night (1918-1919), Hell (1919), The King (1937), Perseus Triptych (1941), and many self-portraits. FAB
Eberle, Matthias. World War I and the Weimar Artists. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1985.
Kimmelman, Michael. "Chuckling Darkly at Disaster." New York Times Online. Online. 27 June 2003.
Roh, Franz. German Painting in the Twentieth Century. Trans. Catherine Hutter. Ed. Julia Phelps. Greenwich: New York Graphic Society Ltd., 1968.
Playwright, novelist, translator, political activist
Born 17 October 1813 in Hesse-Darmstadt
Died 19 February 1837 in Zurich
Resurrected from obscurity by Weimar radicals as an icon of youthful rebelliousness and German creative genius, Georg Büchner achieved in the early Twentieth Century what he failed to achieve during his lifetime: influence and fame. Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck, based on Mr. Büchner's last work, the unfinished tragedy Woyzeck, was performed in 1925 and secured for both flesh and spirit a place in the pantheon of literary fame.
"...the Dichter Büchner was a living force in the world of Weimar," Peter Gay wrote in Weimar Culture: The Outsider As Insider (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001). "The fame of Berg's opera gave fame to Buchner's play." Wozzeck, Gay wrote," was doubly radical: it used Schönberg's twelve-tone system and Sprechgesang in combination with more conventional musical means, and it had as its hero — or antihero — one of Büchner's most moving characters, the poor ignorant soldier who is humiliated by his betters and betrayed by his girl, and who ends up committing murder and suicide."
Democrats, socialists, and Communists of Weimar were drawn to Mr. Büchner because of his reputation for radical politics. The Hessian Courier, a pamphlet he co-authored in 1834 with political activist Pastor Weidig while a student at the University of Giessen, championed the ideas of the revolutionary "Society of Human Rights." Official reaction to the pamphlet led to Mr. Büchner's permanent exile from Germany. The pamphlet is considered one of the seminal works of German political thought. EB
Danton's Death, 1835: a tragedy depicting the activist Danton's disillusionment with the French Revolution.
Leonce and Lena, 1836: a comedy.
Lenz, an unfinished novel.
Woyzeck, an unfinished tragedy.
Marlene Dietrich and The Blue Angel
Marlene Dietrich gained international acclaim for her role as Lola, a temptress in the film The Blue Angel, Germany's first talkie. Directed by Josef von Sternberg in 1929, The Blue Angel earns its place in the history of Weimar for several reasons. As a cultural artifact, it illuminates character types, fashion trends, and popular social obsessions of the era. As a wellspring of symbolism, the film explores elemental themes of change, desire, and sexual power: The mesmerizing allure of unfettered sensuality clashes with conservative values of disciplined personal conduct, setting the stage for a morality play that exposes the cultural tensions and conflicting behavioral standards of the age. Beyond history, it's simply a darned good movie.
"Set in the seedy world of a cabaret, it attacked the bourgeois values of pre-war Germany by depicting the painful humiliation of an old schoolmaster at the hands of a femme fatale cabaret singer, Lolo Lola." Alexandra Richie wrote with her typical precision in Faust's Metropolis (Carroll & Graf, 1998).
Herr Professor, played by Emil Jannings, comes to the music hall in search of wayward students, but falls in lust with Lola. The professor's obsession with the denizen of the night induces him to abandon his teaching position and join Lola's traveling troupe as a clown. In the end he is undone. His fall from grace is consummated in a memorable scene of private desperation and public humiliation. Lola continues to sing — and to rule the night.
"The physical world, von Sternberg showed, has a potent wealth of attraction that snares like an octopus devouring its victims," Parker Tyler wrote in Early Classics of the Foreign Film (Citadel Press, 1962). "The backstage 'labyrinth' at the Blue Angel, made of piled scenery, spilled-out trunks and shadowed crannies, offers the chiaroscuro of a sort of jungle. It is the perennial domain where masculine senses — even if first they must be hypnotized — willingly lose themselves."
Ms. Dietrich parlayed the stardust of The Blue Angel into a fabulous career in Hollywood. She left Berlin before Hitler rose to power, and spoke out against her homeland during World War II. When she returned to Berlin for a concert in 1960, she was booed by a crowd chanting, "Marlene Go Home!" She never came back, although family members chose to bury her in Berlin upon her death in spring, 1992. "Many people I talked to seemed openly pleased that she had died; one man was glad that 'that bitch' had gone; others referred to her as a 'whore' and a 'traitor' or as a woman who had come back to Berlin in 'enemy uniform'. These same Berliners were furious to hear that she was to be buried in the city," Ms. Richie wrote. "Shortly before the coffin was moved on an open Cadillac towards the cemetery some people actually spat in the freshly dug grave." EB
Some of Her other Films:
The Scarlet Empress, 1934
A Foreign Affair, 1948
Witness for the Prosecution, 1957
painter from Dresden
Born 10 August 1878
Died 26 June 1957
Alfred Döblin was a practicing psychiatrist in working class Alexanderplatz, Berlin. Born a Jew, he became a socialist, fled to France in 1933, then to USA in 1940. He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1941 and resettled in Paris in the early 1950s.
Die drei Sprünge des Wang-lun [The Three Leaps of Wang-lun], 1915: A rebellion in China is crushed by the power of the State.
Wallenstein, 1920: Historical novel.
Berge, Meere, und Giganten [Mountains, Seas, and Giants], 1924: An anti-utopian satire, republished as Giganten in 1932.
Berlin Alexanderplatz, 1929: The human condition in a disintegrating social order.
Babylonische Wandrung [Babylonian Wandering], 1934: surrealism.
Pardon wird nicht gegeben [Men Without Mercy], 1935.
Schicksalsreise [Destiny's Journey], 1949.
Died 1934 in Berlin
S. Fischer Verlag was the publisher's imprint most tightly wound into the fabric of Weimar modernism. A constellation of leading literary lights of the age were published by Sam Fischer of Berlin: Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Gerhart Hauptmann, Stefan Zweig, Carl Zuckmayher, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Alfred Döblin, and quite a few more.
Samuel Fischer launched S. Fischer publishing house in January, 1887, with the issue of Henrik Ibsen's Rosmersholm. The house rose to prominence quickly by aligning its catalog with the German naturalist movement. It also published the early works of Vienna's Arthur Schnitzler and Hofmannsthal. The release of Mann's Buddenbrooks in 1901 secured S. Fischer's role as the house of choice for creative and innovative literary artists writing in the German language.
Hesse's Peter Camenzind, published in 1903, not only introduced the renowned author to the world, but also initiated an exclusive and profitable relationship between writer and publisher that remains current today — though in altered states — through legacy interests, estate copyrights, and traditional notions of dogged artistic independence.
Healthy sales of works by Mann, Hesse, and the industrialist-politician Walther Rathenau enabled S. Fischer to survive the economic pressures of World War I and its aftermath. By the mid-Twenties the house had also established its prominence as publisher of translations of Whitman, O'Neill, Conrad, Dos Passos, and other English-language writers of international prominence.
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Berlin physician Gottfried Bermann purchased controlling interest of S. Fisher Verlag in 1925 to pave the way for the merger of his family interests with those of the Fischers. Dr. Bermann's daughter Brigitte soon thereafter married the Fischer's first-born, Samuel, who changed his name to Gottfried Behrmann-Fischer before assuming leadership of the publishing house.
The elder Mr. Fischer remained active in the business, cultivating his extensive contacts to help the firm acquire a deep catalog of works in translation, and promoting the discovery of fresh voices in Germany and Austria.
S. Fischer Verlag continued to flourish until the ideologues of National Socialism began to purge the Fatherland of Jews, Reds, and other practitioners of the culture they branded as degenerate. Led by its strong-willed and fearless co-publisher, Peter Suhrkamp, the house battled with diminishing results the legal restrictions and outright censorship of Nazi bureaucrats. The Behrmann-Fischers fled Germany in 1936, transforming the enterprise into an imprint in exile. Remnants of S. Fischer's roster of authors were published through a long line of contacts and contracts extending from Vienna to Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, and New York City. Mr. Suhrkamp stayed put and somehow kept the Berlin office open until April, 1944, when he was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
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Mr. Suhrkamp survived Sachsenhausen. Mr. Behrmann-Fischer returned to Germany soon after the War's end. The two were never able to restore their working relationship. After extended wrangling and negotiation, they agreed in 1950 to end their differences by allowing the authors to choose their champion. "More than 30 authors, led by Hermann Hesse and Bertolt Brecht, defected to Peter Suhrkamp and his upstart house out of solidarity for his sacrifices as a publisher who opposed the Nazis," John Schmid wrote in the International Herald Tribune (October 28, 1999). "Of the 48 Fischer authors, 33 went to Suhrkamp."
Mr. Behrmann-Fischer and wife Brigitte maintained S. Fischer Verlag as a family business until the early 1960s when they retired and sold out to the Holtzbrinck family. The S. Fischer imprint survives as a cog of the corporate publishing wheel Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck.
Mr. Suhrkamp died in 1959, but the publishing legacy launched by Sam Fischer over one-hundred years ago survived, primarily through the integrity of Suhrkamp Verlag, which has retained its independence from the corporate megalosaur and remains one of the most respected literary houses on the planet. EB
Born 12 July 1868 in Büdesheim, Germany
Died 4 December 1933 in Minusio, Switzerland
A leading conservative writer of the Weimar Era and currently in favor as one of Germany's most respected poetic voices, Stephan George was famous before World War I as an advocate of German symbolism, the antipode of literary realism.
Mr. George's fascination with Nietzsche's concept of the superman permeated his writings and attracted the attention of Nazi intellectuals. Despite the poet's opposition to Hitler and National Socialism, he was adopted by the Nazis as their leading literary light — although the dubious honor was bestowed posthumously. In his last years the poet declined awards and honors from Hitler's thinkers before leaving his homeland in protest. He wasn't much fond of anything rawly political.
"Imbued with a conscious adoration of the elite, George despised the Weimar period, with its 'decadent mass culture' and its debasing, democratic socialism. Like so many of his compatriots, George longed for the noble rebirth of the Reich under a new Siegfried whom the nation could follow into the dawn of a new glory," John E. Rodes wrote in Germany, A History (1964 Holt, Rinehart and Winston).
Mr. George's esoteric lyrical style was firmly grounded on the Greek classics, but his austere and melodic poetry was also influenced by Mallarmé and the Paris symbolists, the Parnassians and their embrace of the doctrine of art for art's sake, and the sensuous and subjective Aesthetic Pre-Raphaelitism movement of London.
Mr. George founded and led the Georgekreis (George-Circle), a secretive and ultra-private band of writers, intellectuals, and pretty boys, who sat at the feet of the master and expressed their devotion to Art with a capital A. The Georgekreis members were further educated by Mr. George's private literary journal, Blätter für die Kunst (Pages for Art), which was distributed only to the members of his circle.
A master linguist, Mr. George crafted critically acclaimed translations into German of the works of the French Symbolists, Dante, and Shakespeare.
Das Jahr der Seele [The Soul's Year], 1897.
Der siebente Ring [The Seventh Ring], 1907.
Der Stern des Bundes [The Star of the Covenant], 1914.
Das neue Reich [The New Kingdom], 1928.
A S I D E :
Caught-up in the revisionist fervor and pseudo-intellectual machinations of special-interest critics in the Age of Dissolution, Mr. George's reputation and persona have been appropriated by quite a few earnestly homosexual intellectuals. He is now one of the gay Left's historical closet all-stars, a benign pedophile of the first order. Most every web search in the English language points to cyber-articles focusing in one manifestation or another on the poet's ne'r acknowledged homosexuality.
In an oft-cited article on a website devoted to "The World History of Male Love," an anonymous author at androphile.org (as part of its "Gay History Project") writes admiringly of Mr. George's "homoerotic inclination," and explores in some depth his fondness for very young men and the influence they exerted upon his poetry. His 1907 volume, Der siebente Ring, is supposedly influenced by his unrequited love for a 14-year-old Munich schoolboy.
In the online version of the magazine Girlfriends, Craig B. Palmer wrote: "George's homosexuality is an open secret in the scholarship about him; that is, it is a commonplace that almost no one will admit. George, however, is as responsible for this closetedness (sic) as anyone since he strove in his work to create a private space that would be accessible only to those 'like-minded' individuals who possessed the code. Therefore, his poems allow themselves to be easily construed as 'metaphorical' or 'platonic,' even if they most immediately appear to be about burning gay passion. George accomplishes this effect by addressing a genderless 'you' in his poems and by personifying such terms as 'love,' 'soul,' and 'heart.' Two works, Algabal (1892) and Maximin (1906), especially embody a gay sensibility."
P O S T S C R I P T :
We await with interest the publication of "In Search of the Secret Germany: Stefan George, his Circle and the Weimar Republic," a collection of essays about the Georgekreis by Melissa Lane and Martin Alexander Ruehl. Dr. Ruehl in 2003 was Temporary University Assistant Lecturer in Political Thought and Intellectual History and Fellow of Queens' College, the University of Cambridge. EB
architect. founder of the Bauhaus School.
Satirist and artist
Born 26 July 1893 in Berlin
Died 6 July 1959 in Berlin
A fearless radical and the leading German painter of the Dada movement, Georg Grosz earned his notoriety with an acidic style and a harsh view of prevailing political culture that scoured Germany at every turn. He was a master of caricature and portraiture, a champion of the hapless proletariat, a chronicler of the grotesque underbelly of society, and a fearless critic of mainstream leadership.
Mr. Grosz, a communist, was chosen by Nazi art critics to serve society as one of the degenerates. Stephanie Barron in Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany (Harry N. Abrams, April 1991) wrote that his works were displayed in the abomination exhibitions (Schandausstellungen) in Mannheim and Stuttgart in 1933, and were featured prominently in the infamous Entartete Kunst that toured Germany and Austria for four years in the late Thirties.
"Grosz considered himself a propagandist of the social revolution," Ms. Barron wrote. "He not only depicted victims of the catastrophe of the First World War — the disabled, crippled, and mutilated — he also portrayed the collapse of capitalist society and its values.... In a 1925 portfolio of prints Grosz ridiculed Hitler by dressing him in a bearskin, a swastika tattooed on his left arm. Until 1927 he also painted large allegorical paintings that focused on the plight of Germany; Count Harry Kessler, a leading intellectual and collector, called these 'modern history pictures.' "
Mr. Grosz was conscripted into the German army in World War One, released because of emotional problems, then drafted again into military service. He guarded prisoners until he attempted suicide in 1917. His unrepentant anti-authoritarian attitude led to a death sentence, but patron Count Kessler interceded.
He was anti-war, anti-Nazi, and pro-Red, a mix of radicalism that kept him in hot water with officialdom. Many of his works were printed in communist journals published by Malik-Verlag in the Twenties. His drawings, paintings, and political cartoons were collected in two critically acclaimed books, The Face of the Ruling Class (1921) and Ecce Homo (1927).
Wisely, he fled Germany in 1932. He became a naturalized citizen of USA in 1938. The Autobiography of George Grosz was published in 1955. Mr. Grosz returned to Germany in 1959, but died six weeks later in an accident.
For more information, visit The International Dada Archive. EB
Graphics artist and illustrator who pioneered the technique of photomontage in the arts journal, Die Neue Jugend.
Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Born 1902 in Brandenburg an der Havel
Died 1933 in Washington, D.C.
Eckart Kehr's studies of Germany's foreign policy and economic systems in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are viewed today as important texts in German historiography. He was a social-economic theorist with a radical bent — a Weimar outsider who wrote furiously and died young.
A provocative thinker with a sharp inclination toward revisionist perspectives, Mr. Kehr wrote controversial histories that contributed (from the viewpoint of the fringe and in the manner of the sidebar) to the debate about Germany's political, social, and economic development during the struggle to build, or to destroy, the Weimar Republic and Germany's experiment with democratic government.
His best-known work, The Building of the German Battle Fleet and Party Politics (1894-1901), was written in 1927 as a doctorial dissertation at the University of Berlin under the direction of historian Friedrich Meinecke and published as a book in 1930. Mr. Kehr contended that imperial Germany's foreign policy initiatives were directed almost exclusively to satisfy the peculiar demands of domestic social and economic policies. The expansion of the German navy in the last decade of the nineteenth century, for example, would appear at first glance to be a foreign policy reaction to English naval power in light of the struggle between Germans and Brits for colonial primacy in South Africa. However, in the mind's eye of Mr. Kehr, the expansion of the fleet was intended (in prime) to provide economic ballast and psychic bearings to the twin pillars of Germany's elite, the Junker agrarian aristocracy and their urban industrialist allies, as they wrangled with radical social democrats for political power and financial advantage. The economic benefits of a healthy shipbuilding industry provided a capitalist counterforce to the growing popularity of socialism. A great German navy supported the propaganda aims of the imperial Reich, which depended on Anglophobia to distract the citizenry from difficulties on the homefront.
Studying in the United States in 1933 under the patronage of the Rockefellers, Mr. Kehr died suddenly of congenital heart failure. He was thirty.
"With his intense striving for rational, scientific insight and political education, he passionately pursued the problem of the connection between economy, society, and political domination which he considered fundamental," Hans-Ulrich Wehler wrote in Great Historians of the Modern Age: An International Dictionary (Lucian Boia Editor-in-Chief, Greenwood Press, New York, 1991). "Having been ignored and forgotten in Germany for nearly twenty years, Kehr has had a uniquely delayed influence in the Federal Republic of Germany since about 1965, both because of his emphatic separation from the main current of German historiography and because of his insights and conceptions which have been very fertile for the critical history of modern German society and politics." Mr. Wehler is identified in reviews as the principal figure in the restoration of Mr. Kehr's reputation.
Under the title Battleship Building and Party Politics in Germany 1894-1901: A Cross-Section of the Political, Social, and Ideological Preconditions of German Imperialism, Mr. Kehr's defining work was published in English by the University of Chicago Press in 1973 (edited, translated, and with an introduction by Pauline R. Anderson and Eugene N. Anderson). A collection of Mr. Kehr's essays — Economic Interest, Militarism, and Foreign Policy: Essays on German History — was published in English in 1977 by the University of California Press (editor Gordon A. Craig, translator Grete Heinz). EB
man of influence
Born 23 May 1868 in Paris
Died 4 December 1937 in Paris
Peter Gay in Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (2001, W.W. Norton & Company, p. 16) describes Count Harry Kessler as a "liberal statesman and indefatigable diarist, eminently well-informed and remarkably free from caste prejudice."
The German monarchists referred to Count Kessler as the "Red Count" because of his belief that the Social Democrats had betrayed the Republic by using armed forces to suppress the revolutionary left. His friends knew him as a pacifist and a patriot, but his influence extended into all realms of German culture.
Son of a Hamburg banker and an Irish beauty, Harry Kessler was born in Paris on May 23, 1868. His family was ennobled by Kaiser Wilhelm I. Rumor had it that Kaiser Wilhelm I was Harry's father, but the Count denied this and said that he had been conceived before his mother had met Wilhelm; however, Count Kessler does mysteriously concede that his mother might have been the last love of the Kaiser "in the same way as Marianne was the last love of Goethe in his old age." (In the Twenties, p. x)
Educated in France and England, Harry completed his university life in Bonn and Leipzig. Thus was Harry raised among an ensemble of aristocrats, politicians, academicians, military officers, and artistes. He was a member of the Uhlan Guards and fought in Belgium and at the eastern front in World War I. Because of his connections and savoir-faire, he was sent to Switzerland to negotiate Vladimir Lenin's return to St. Petersburg, and then to Warsaw to serve as the first German minister to the reborn Poland.
Count Kessler's reputable and fascinating book, Harry Graf Kessler, Tagebücher 1918-1937 (Harry, Count Kessler, Diaries 1918-1937), begins in Berlin when he is called on assignment to escort the Polish military leader, General Pilsudski, from internment in Germany to Poland. The reader follows the urbane raconteur on his travels throughout Europe as he recounts the events that laid the foundation for one of the most heinous eras in history, that of the Third Reich. Count Kessler did not embellish nor did he apologize for what he witnessed. He was a recorder of the times, meticulous and objective.
Count Kessler left Germany for Paris almost immediately after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor. The Count died there at the age of 69 on December 4, 1937. FAB
S O U R C E :
In the Twenties: The Diaries of Harry Kessler by Harry Kessler. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. 1971. Introduction by Otto Friedrich and translation by Charles Kessler.
Heinrich von Kleist
Rainer Maria Rilke
Mies van der Rohe
Composer, conductor, teacher
Born 13 September 1874 in Vienna
Died 13 July 1951 in Los Angeles
Arnold Schönberg, an early Twentieth Century modernist, fit nicely into the avant garde philosophy of rebellion against the old social and cultural order of Europe. In the tumultuous time of the continent's recovery from the deep wounds of World War I, his act of rebellion overthrew the traditional harmonies of symphonic music. In their place he composed atonal creations of harmonic strangeness and unconventional melody to stand against the status quo and for liberation of the intellect....
painter from Hanover
Josef von Sternberg
The Threepenny Opera
A child of the Fifties in the USA most likely has hummed the tune to Bobby Darin's rendition of "Mack the Knife" — and may even be able to sing the first lines in English:
Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
And he keeps it, ah, out of sight
Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, oh, wears old MacHeath, babe
So there's never, never a trace of red.
Fritz von Unruh
Writer and citizen of the world
Born 28 November 1881 in Vienna
Died 22 February 1942 in Petrópolis, Brazil
A citizen of the world as much as he was a citizen of his native Austria, Stefan Zweig kept a purposeful distance from Germany during the Weimar Era, but his influence on the intellectual climate of the times gives him some currency in any discussion of the period. Removed from the fray in Berlin and other cultural vortices of the ruling north, Mr. Zweig interspersed his frequent travels with sojourns at his home in Salzburg, where he created a prolific flow of writings that elevated him to international acclaim. He maintained professional friendships with Berliners and contracted with S. Fischer Verlag to publish many of his successful books.
Mr. Zweig, world traveler and literary vagabond, wrote poetry, essays, short stories, drama, biographies, travel narratives, and journalism. In the Thirties he was one of the most widely read authors on the planet. He found his unique voice through an innovative narrative technique combining history, biography, and imaginary characters — often with a Freudian slant.
Nazi persecution of Jews forced Mr. Zweig to flee Salzburg to England in 1934, but his impact on Nazi cultural paranoia was not yet done. A libretto he had written for the Richard Strauss opera, Die schweigsame Frau, attracted negative notice from the censors, who brought intense pressure to bear on the renowned composer for presuming to collaborate with a Jew. The incident led Mr. Strauss to resign the presidency of the Reich Chamber of Music in 1935, according to Alexandra Richie in Faust's Metropolis (Carroll & Graf, 1998).
In 1940 Mr. Zweig left England for residence in Brazil. Less than two years later he and his wife committed suicide in his villa not far from Rio de Janeiro. A state funeral was held in his honor. It was reported that he was dejected and disillusioned by the sorry case of a world at war.
A web feature presented by The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution memorializes the Stefan Zweig Exhibition of 1977. The text reminds the reader of one of Mr. Zweig's lasting contributions to contemporary thought, the idea of unity between the nations of Europe, the kind of thinking that led to the formation of the European Union in late Twentieth Century. "Stefan Zweig was more than just an important writer who slowly grew to world acclaim: he was a European institution," the webpage quotes screenwriter Berthold Viertel's tribute of 1942. [EDITOR'S NOTE: At least we think the website is quoting Mr. Viertel. The page designer leaves some room for doubt.] "Europe existed in him, from the beginning, as a single unit, a cultural fusion, beyond all language and national frontiers that he did not acknowledge. In all of his stages and development as critic, translator and historian Stefan Zweig strove for one thing, to bring into being and to maintain that which lived within him, the cultural fusion of Europe; to make clear and to further this aim, as a 'public agent' and a dispenser of spiritual benefits." EB
M A J O R (and some minor) W O R K S :
Die fruhen Kranze, 1906: a volume of poems.
Tersites, 1907: a drama in verse, performed in Dresden and Kassel in 1908.
Das Haus am Meer [The House on the Sea], 1912: a tragedy, performed in Vienna in the same year.
Drei Meister [Three Masters], 1920: essays about Honré de Balzac, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Romain Rolland, der Mann und das Werk [Romain Rolland: The Man and His Work], 1921: a biography.
Der Kampf mit dem Dämon [The Struggle with the Daemon], 1925: essays about Friedrich Hölderlin, Heinrich von Kleist, and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Verwirrung der Gefühle [Conflicts], 1925: collection of short stories.
Sternstunden der Menschheit [The Tide of Fortune], 1928: five historical portraits.
Drei Dichter ihres Lebens [The Life of Three Writers], 1928: biographies of Casanova, Stendhal, and Tolstoy.
Bildnis eines politischen Menschen [Portrait of a Political Man], 1929: biography of French statesman Joseph Fouche.
Die Heilung durch den Geist [Healing through the Mind], 1931: biographical portraits of Freud, Anton Mesmer, and Mary Baker-Eddy.
Baumeister der Welt [Master Builders], 1936: a collection of biographical studies.
Ungeduld des Herzens [Beware of Pity], 1938: a novel.
Der Mann und seine Tat [A Man and His Deeds], 1938: a biography of Magellan.
Die Welt von Gestern: Erinnerungen eines Europaers [The World of Yesterday: Memories of a European], 1941: autobiography.
Brazil: A Land of the Future, 1941: a study of the country's history, economy, culture, and major cities.