In this short article about Stefan ZWEIG I mentioned that he served during WWI in the Kriegspressequartier:

He served voluntarily in the “Kriegsarchiv“, what was part of the “Kriegspressequartier” – a kind of early propaganda service, Austrian edition. Here writers like GINZKEY (Eng.), CSOKOR (Eng.), Paul STEFAN (Eng.), POLGAR (Eng.),  EHRENSTEIN (Eng.), TREBITSCH  served, later joined by a certain RILKE (Eng.). In the end they had to tell lies and to produce two patriotic journals (“Österreich-Ungarn in Waffen” and “Donauland“) and hated it.

Meanwhile someone wrote a small article about the “k.u.k. Kriegspressequartier” (KPQ) on Wikipedia (Ger. only). This institution was founded in July 1914 and concentrated all press and propaganda efforts in the double-monarchy throughout WWI. For this purpose it used all media channels of the time, of course the written word but also war painting, photography and film. More than 33.000 photographs taken at the behest of the KPQ are stored in the Austrian National Library (ÖNB, Ger., Eng.). Known to have worked for the KPQ is the photograph Hugo EYWO (Ger.). In command of the film departement was Sascha KOLOWRAT-KRAKOWSKY (Ger., Eng.), the founder of the Austrian film industry. The article focuses on the painting departement, but mentions the following writers as connected with the KPQ:

Albert Paris GÜTERSLOH (Eng.), Alfred KUBIN (Eng.), Egon Erwin KISCH (Eng.),  Robert MUSIL (Eng.), Leo PERUTZ (Eng.), Alice SCHALEK, Hugo von HOFMANNSTHAL (Eng.), RODA RODA (Eng.), Ferenc MOLNÁR (Eng.), Robert MICHEL und Franz WERFEL (Eng.).

Alice SCHALEK was the only female war correspondent of the Great War. A search for “Kriegspressequartier” in the English Wikipedia brings up the painter Alfred BASEL (Ger., Eng.) and the already mentioned KOLOWRAT. The Adalbert-Stifter-Verein had a touring exhibition about “writers and artists in propaganda 1914-1918” in 2003 (35 panels, 80×60 cm) and there exists an accompanying publication in two volumes, but this is hardly a profound essay about the history and relevance of  the first modern propaganda instrument. As I understand actually exist only two works about the KPQ, a dissertation from 1963 by Klaus MAYER about the organizational structure and one by Hildegund SCHMÖLZER about the propaganda of saied institution, from 1965.

It would be worth the effort to write and research the history of the KPQ on various levels, especially in respect of the year 2014 and the centenary of the Great War. Seemingly anybody in the Habsburg Empire who could hold a brush, use a photograph and write a clear sentence (and did not run away in August ’14) was sooner or later in some way connected with the KPQ, and what a bunch they were. For ZWEIG it was a turning point, for others maybe not. So the intellectual implications would be worth a look, and mundane things too: Where do these people gather? What is daily routine?
Two and a half years left – a stipendium should be thrown out, someone should start to search for records and source materials.

Interesting Women: Germaine Krull

She died in the 31st of July 1985 in the town of Wetzlar (Ger., Eng.), somewhere in the middle of Hassia, where ‘the Dill joins the Lahn’. She went to this place 1983 to live with her sister Berthe (born 1906) after having suffered a stroke in autumn 1982 in Dehra Dun near Rajpur, Uttar Pradesh. She lived in India since 1967 after she had sold her stake in the hotel Oriental in Bangkok she co-owned and managed since 1947. To Bangkok she went 1946 after having served for Free France under deGAULLE in Northern Africa, what let to her taking part in the Southern Invasion of France.

Germaine KRULL (1897-1985) (Ger., Eng.) was born in Wilda, the smallest district of the town Posen, to the engineer Johann Friedrich KRULL of Hamburg and his wife Albertine, born in Nuremberg. The family life was agitated, not only did the young family move a lot through Europe, but the relationship of the parents deteriorated and finally, 1912, they split: The father leaves the family, Albertine moves with her two daughters to Munich and opens a small pension. Friedrich dies 1917.

She learned to photograph at the Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Photographie in Munich (Ger. only), received her certificate 1918 and as Meisterphotographin she opened her own studio in Schwabing (Ger., Eng.) – a kind of German Montmatre. And found herself in the middle of the German revolution of 1918 (Ger., Eng.), the Bavarian Räterepublik (Ger., Eng.) and the buzzing new bohème that established itself in the old artist-quarter. Friedrich POLLOCK (Ger., Eng.) and M. HORKHEIMER (Ger., Eng.), the founding fathers of the Institut für Sozialforschung (Ger., Eng.) and the Frankfurter Schule (Ger., Eng.), became friends of her, as TOLLER, RILKE and Stefan ZWEIG.  She calls POLLOCK throughout her life her ‘older brother’ – it is remarkable that she keeps her friendships for long, item with men (and some women) her relations were of a more intimate sort. She writes in one of her autobiographical texts that she “wanted to be the queen of  Schwabing” – she was not, but surely played her part.

She marched with Kurt EISNER (Ger., Eng.) on the 7th of November, took the portraits of him that still today are printed in history books, and photographed his dead body, after he was murdered by Anton GRAF von ARCO (Ger., Eng.), who shot the first Bavarian Ministerpräsident in back and head – pereat !

When the revolution finally had been drowned in blood by those infamous murdergangs called Freikorps, Germaine was sentenced to expulsion out of Bavaria (1920). She follows a lover to Russia, but this whole episode is ill-fated, she is arrested in the Lubyanka (Ger., Eng.) two times 1921 and finally expelled from Russia in January 1922. Ill, she finds shelter at a small village in the Schwarzwald at the house of Elisabeth EISNER, Kurt’s widow.

She goes to Berlin. Where else?

Here she’s in the middle of a lot of other women photographers of the age (Debschitz-Kunowski, Lendvai-Dircksen, Elli Marcus, Cami Stone, Else Neuländer (‘Yva’)) – their future ways will lead in absolute different directions. Together with Kurt HÜBSCHMANN (Eng. only, later known as Kurt HUTTON) she opens a studio, and she does some nude-photography that still pops up first when you search for her: If a photographer wants to survive, s/he seemingly needs to picture some naked flesh only.

She meets Joris IVENS (Ger., Eng.) and follows him to Amsterdam 1925, meets the Netherlandish avantgarde (everything called Neues Sehen or Neue Sachlichkeit belongs in this area, go search for yourself, start with Bauhaus), participates in filmmaking – and finally, in spring 1926 – chooses Paris as her permanent place of residence. She marries Joris 1927, it’s a marriage of convenience, but she gets a Netherlandish passport, not bad in 1920s Europe (and still today … ).

She developed an audience already  in Berlin and took part in exhibitions, her work met growing success, and the years up to September 1939 see her on her hight, developing her own photographic language, working for magazines, doing reportage, shooting mode (especially DELAUNAY (Ger., Eng.))  – a lot of her work seemingly is still buried in diverse magazine archives over Europe. 1941 the party is definitely over, she leaves Europe in January for Brazil and arrives in Belem (Ger., Eng.) in February.

Sometimes in the first half of 1942 she hears a speech of Charles deGAULLE and knows what to do: She joins the Forces Françaises Combattantes and travels by ship to Brazzaville (Ger., Eng.), where she arrives in September 1942. In French Äquatorialafrika she organizes the photo service for Radio Brazzaville. The history of the Free French Forces (Ger., Eng.) is a bid complicated – as is often with organizations in exile. Germain writes in her autobiography that she is proud of having joined the organization of deGAULLE and that a lot of  ‘the pure’ had difficulties later, when le General was forced to make compromises with the Americans that let to the ‘cooperation’ with general GIRAUD – but honestly, in my humble opinion all this has always a bit the air of opera to it: I know that it is dead serious for some people (and deadly for some ! ), that connections and relations dating from this time play a major role in the coming French republic(s), but it was fought out in the desert by British and German forces. Monty won.

She works in Algiers 1944, joins the forces for the invasion in Southern France and photographs the liberation of Paris. In September of this year she goes as war correspondent for the French Press to Ceylon. And as I see it she only returns 1983 to Europe.

She settles in Bangkok 1946 and becomes co-owner of the Oriental (Ger., Eng.) 1947 for the next twenty years, until she moves to India. She publishes articles, she photographs, she writes her memories; she has exhibitions, her first retrospective 1967.

I would very much like to read her autobiographical writings, I am sure that a lot more photographs of her are to be discovered. She was always independent, very political, never without passion. She came a long way, from Posen to Wetzlar via the world. Her biography can be understood as quintessential example of  a whole generation, with all her ideas, ideals, imaginations – and all the set-backs, disillusions, disappointments, too.

An interesting woman.


Apologies – I totally forgot to mention my source ! It is the excellent  book by

Sichel, Kim: Avantgarde als Abenteuer. Leben und Werk der Photographin Germain Krull, München 1999.
First: Germain Krull. Photographer of Modernity. Cambridge, Mass., 1999.

The heritage of Germaine Krull is to be found in the photographic collection of the Museum Folkwang in Essen.

I should try to sort my books now …

The Book as Entrance to the World

Das Buch als Eingang zur Welt” is a small essay by Stefan Zweig (Ger., Eng.), first published in the Pester Lloyd (Ger., Eng.) from 15th of August 1931. It describes how Zweig meets on a ship from Italy to Algier (Ger., Eng.) a young sailor and befriends with him. In Neapel (Ger., Eng.) the young man receives a letter and asks Zweig to read it to him. It takes a little time until the author realizes that his young friend is an Analphabet, an illiterate.
This starts a trail of thoughts for Zweig and he tries to understand how a life without reading, a life without books must be, what a life without books would mean to himself. Thinking for example of “Algier” the fact that Cervantes (Ger., Eng.)  was wounded while he took part in the assault on the city under emperor Charles the Fifth flashes up – “two thousands years of connections and relations hustled from my brain, all that read from my childhood days onwards enriched this single word”. Let alone the imaginary worlds, the adventures in strange and distant worlds created by an author’s phantasy, the emotions stirred by poetry – remembering situations, feelings, insights, they all are connected in some way or another with a book.

Stefan Zweig is a child of the enlightened Jewish bourgeoisie of the late 19th century and so absolutely “k.u.k österreichisch” as it seemingly possibly can be. This is not the place to explain in detail what “k.u.k.” encloses and means. I will only give a rough scetch of his life.
He had a privileged upcoming and childhood and most part of his life was free from economical worries. He started to write early and his family did not object his idea of becoming a kind of literate; his father only wanted him to finish his studies, what he did truely. He was a “man of the world”, well travelled, well connected. Herzl – yes, Theodor (Ger., Eng.) – was Redacteur of the times’ leading Austrian newspaper Neue Freie Presse (Ger., Eng.) and accepted young Zweig’s collaboration  – I think it ended only 1938.
At the beginning of WWI for a brief time span Zweig kind of followed the national drunkness, but only very short. He served voluntarily in the “Kriegsarchiv“, what was part of the “Kriegspressequartier” – a kind of early propaganda service, Austrian edition. Here writers like Ginzkey, Csokor, Paul Stefan, Polgar, Ehrenstein, Trebitsch served, later joined by a certain Rilke. In the end they had to tell lies and to produce two patriotical journals (“Österreich-Ungarn in Waffen” and “Donauland“) and hated it. Zweig was sent on a journey through Galizien  (Ger., Eng.) where he collected firsthand impressions of the heroic murder. He reacted in a typical way, writing his drama Jeremias*, a profound denomination towards pacifism, humanism and enlightenment.
After war and revolution Zweig settled in Salzburg and a very productive and successful time started for him. He became a best selling author, specialized in biographical narrations (Lebensbilder). 1934 saw fightings in Wien between leftwing and rightwing militias, Zweig’s house became searched through for weapons – maybe because militant pacifists hoard machine guns. This incident and the worsening general political situation bring Zweig to the decision to take permanent residence in London. 1936 he travels for the first time to southern America, Brasilien. He keeps on travelling, giving lectures and 1941 he settles for the last time in a new house, in Petropolis in Brasilia. Here, together with his second wife Lotte, he kills himself by Veronal on the 22nd of February 1942. She seemingly waited until he had passed away and used Morphium to follow him.

After the first worldwar Zweig – and others like the great Ernst Robert Curtius (Ger., Eng.) for example –  nurtured the idea that a kind of “Geisteselite” or “Geistesaristokratie” should take over, should seek gubernance and responsibility, after the old way of politics had miserably failed. It followed an idea that Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (Ger., Eng.) (1724-1803) already had formulated in his utopy of a “Gelehrtenrepublik” (Ger., Eng.). It is – at least in the German variant – mostly based on Goethes humanism and describes a position and countenance free from dogmata, a kind of spiritual and educated federalism. Goethe’s idea of “Weltliteratur“, “world literature” is fundamental for all this. It describes not the summary of the world’s literature, or a kind of canonical list of “must reads”, it is the process of a border transgressing communication and understanding (völkerübergreifende Verständigung). As Robert Faesi put it 1947 (!) : “Weltliteratur ist für Goethe der geistige Raum, in welchem die Völker mit der Stimme ihrer Dichter und Schriftsteller nicht mehr nur zu sich selbst oder von sich selbst, sondern zu einander sprechen; ein Gespräch zwischen den Nationen, ein Austausch der geistigen Güter.“ “World literature for Goethe is a spiritual space, in which the nations raise their own voices through their poets and writers – not to speak about themselves and talk to themselves, but to talk to each other: a communication between nations, an echange of spiritual goods.”

Zweig was optimistic until 1914, the old would go, a new generation formed by peace and progress would take over. He understood very early that things would change dramatically. A new Europe had to emerge. The optimism stayed with him through the 1920s and started to fade in the 1930s. 1942 the brown Reich was storming from victory to victory; all he despised – the brutality, the stupidity, the sheer perversion of all human – was seemingly unstoppable marching on and on. And his strength was gone. His religion, his belief in the human, was gone. Veronal seemed to be the only way out.

* Bodmer, Thomas: Jeremias. Ein Bekenntnis zu Pazifismus, Humanismus und Weltbürgertum. In: „Das Buch als Eingang zur Welt“, herausgegeben von Joachim Brügge, Internationale Stefan Zweig-Gesellschaft Salzburg (Schriftenreihe des Stefan Zweig Centre Salzburg, 1), Würzburg 2009