Alfred Semerau's private life is obscure, biographical information is scarce.
As a philologist, Alfred Semerau, who had a doctorate in literature, was close to the zeitgeist phenomenon of Renaissanceism , he translated and published a large number of works by famous authors such as Aretino and Straparola . He not only limited himself to the development of vernacular Renaissance literature , he also translated works in Latin, such as those by Poggio Bracciolini and Girolamo Morlini, but also wrote his own treatises on the history and culture of the Italian Renaissance , such as courtesans and condottieri .
In Nazi Germany, some of Semerau's earlier publications, such as the novel Die Abenteuerin , a scholarly treatise on The Courtesans of the Renaissance, and the translated letters by authors such as Voltaire and Rousseau , The Men of Freedom in Their Writings , were due to their "harmful and undesirable literature" forbidden. During the years 1933 to 1945 nothing was published by Semerau.
Semerau as a publisher of erotic literature
As a translator, editor, self-publisher and also distributor of expensive erotic private prints, such as Die Priesterinnen der Freude and Felicia the Joy Girl , with drawings by Franz von Bayros , Semerau, who lives in Munich, developed from 1904 under the pseudonyms EO Kayser and Ernst Otto Kayser a lively and lucrative activity. In contrast to other publishers, however, Semerau's private prints were not available in the traditional range, at most under the counter - the delicate goods mostly reached the manageable number of potential buyers outside of the conventional distribution channels, via confidential contacts. But the Bavarian authorities were not very tolerant of the fight against immorality, in the sense of selling and distributing indecent writings, images or representations - very soon people became aware of the bustling Semerau.
The Semerau affair
In January 1907, a mail item was confiscated in Heidelberg which contained the reprint of Paul d'Hancarville's monuments to the secret cult of Roman women and which, according to the imprint, had been printed for “Alfred Semerau and his friends”. As a result, the public prosecutor at the Munich Regional Court initiated criminal proceedings against Semerau in February 1907 for an offense against morality under Section 184 of the Reich Criminal Code . At the same time, the authorities arranged for the confiscation of other books printed by Semerau and the confiscation of his business correspondence - but the investigative authorities lacked solid evidence, because Semerau was smart enough not to store anything in his apartment and to conceal the distribution channels. Several raids led nowhere, but then in the autumn of 1909 the persistent surveillance of Semerau led to a success. When he left Traunstein, he carelessly left two empty book boxes with the sender address of the typesetter Bernhard Taube, who was immediately questioned by the authorities and recorded:
“From February 1, 1907 to February 1, 1909, I worked for the printer's owner Helene Ebermayer [...] as a manager. I have printed the following books on my own responsibility from Semerau:
- "The Little Countess's Letters" about 4-600 copies.
- "Venus Rosenkranzlein" about 600 copies.
- Andrea de Nerciat love spring about 600 copies.
- Eleonora or the lucky man about 300 copies.
- The tariff of the courtesans of Venice, 300 ex.
On March 15, 1909, I sent the following books to Semerau:
- The little countess's letters
- Eleonora or the lucky man.
- The tariff of the courtesans of Venice
The bookbinder Heinrich [...] bound the following books for Semerau (1908)
- The letters of the little countess 400 copies à 1 M
- King of Honor 200 copies of 1.25M each
- Eleonora or the lucky man about 500 copies (90 M)
- The tariff of the courtesans of Venice (90 M.) "
On October 16, 1909, the arrest warrant and the wanted notice were issued. Although Semerau managed to evacuate to Austria, the local authorities arrested him and handed him over to the Bavarian judiciary in 1911. The following process took place in camera and ended with a sentence of eight months in prison and the destruction of the confiscated documents. In view of the prospect of a penalty under the code, which usually provided for a fine or a six-month prison sentence - the latter which the public prosecutor himself demanded, the sentence was disproportionate.
The regional and national press reported on the Semerau affair, so the magazine Vorwärts noted under the heading "Stories on the dressing table":
"A jury [...] handed the public prosecutor a piece of paper with the following information:" We have strict protective measures against the spread of animal diseases. Can we see to it that we have such riddled laws against the moral and physical contamination of our people - our children? How few criminals dangerous to the public are rendered harmless! ”The defendant tried to explain that he had pursued cultural-historical purposes with his work, which wanted to bring moral corruption before the great French revolution to life. The public prosecutor countered that there was nothing in the works to support it. They only contained filth, lewd representations, purely with the intention of serving lustful lust. The defense lawyers requested that the jury see not only the published works, but also other erotic works, the authors of which have remained without charge or have been acquitted. […] The court rejected these applications. In viewing and reading out the accused works, several jurors clearly express their feelings of disgust. The experts consistently came to the conclusion that the writings and illustrations that were accused are in the highest degree common, crude and grossly lewd and lack a cultural-historical, artistic or scientific character. [...] The verdict can be explained from the defendant's activity, which is only aimed at sensory stimulation and money-making, and from the flight undertaken by him and his accomplices. "
The social democratic Munich Post reports under the heading "Judgment of Judges and Racial Breeding":
“An example has been made; the paralyzed Dr. Semerau, the comrade of the escaped Marquis de Bayros, has been sentenced by the jury to eight months in prison. [...] There was much indignant morality; of the jury calling for an artistic cattle disease law; From the public prosecutor, who gracefully philosophizes about art and shame, to the clerical, liberal, radical experts, everyone was of one opinion and everyone was outraged. [...] The racial hygienist played a particularly strange role among the experts, who demanded the condemnation in the interests of refining and keeping the breed clean. […] It is nonsense that the race should be protected by the eight months in prison that any alleged or real pornographer has to serve. [...] The breed must be kept pure. Very nice! But the few buyers of Dr. Semerau have certainly not been damaged in their racy by reading. [...] Allow us the bitter laughter at so much racial welfare that is raging against a few books, with their supposed unproven dangers for 300 wealthy buyers, where the millions around are in reality shattered in body and soul! "
The public excluded from the process also took a lively interest in the Semerau affair. The writer Erich Mühsam reported on the "Semerau case" in his diaries and took his side several times in his magazine Kain :
“What did the defendant do? He took advantage of the economic boom and wrote books for wealthy bon vivants that dealt with sexual matters in clear labels. I haven't read the books because I don't have a lot of money left for what are probably literarily insignificant products, and because I myself have enough sexual imagination to be able to do without that of a writer who provides the living world with it. But in the event that the jury trial concerned a piece of scandal, a work for which artistic standards have no validity, I will nonetheless support Dr. Semerau, I defend his efforts to tickle undifferentiated sexual nerves: for reasons of morality. "
"Semerau. Grab him, pinch him, grab him, pinch him,
catch him, hold him and drag him
into the dungeon barn, -
Herr Doktor Semerau.
Ha! The crowd is already following him.
Full of violated moral
rigor, one throws him into the hole immediately,
far away in the country of Austria.
Those in Arco, those in Munich,
wanted to lynch the doctor,
who, all decent, was
Bayros ' partner.
Anyone who read his book knows the horror,
and especially Herr Doktor Kausen
paid many a golden fox
that his indignation grew.
Into the paragraph screw
With the thumb that he believes
recurrences and morals
full of warnings for the next time.
Mrs. Justitia make us strong, oh!
when he comes from Arco, will devour him for a long time, in the
name of justice. "
- Little Venus Rosary , 1906.
- The Dynasty , 1907.
- The Condottieri (= The Renaissance), Jena, Eugen Diederichs Verlag 1909.
- The fall of Pompeii , 1914.
- The courtesans of the Renaissance , Leipzig, Borngräber Verlag 1914.
- The war , 1914.
- Storming England , 1915.
- Charlemagne , 1915.
- The Fate of Italy , 1916.
- Michelangelo. The master's works and his life story , Berlin, Borngräber Verlag 1916.
- Eros the Victor , 1917.
- The sinking Rome , 1918.
- The men of freedom in their writings, letters, memories, diaries , Berlin, Bong Verlag 1919.
- Pietro Aretino: A picture from the Renaissance (= people, peoples, times 10), Vienna, König Verlag 1925.
- The big thieves (with Paul Gerhard Zeidler), (= cultural documents 1), Wittenberg, A. Ziemsen Verlag 1927.
- The great mistresses (with Paul Gerhard Zeidler), (= cultural documents 2), Wittenberg, A. Ziemsen Verlag 1928.
- The great fighters (with Paul Gerhard Zeidler), (= cultural documents 3), Wittenberg district Halle: A. Ziemsen 1928
- The arrows of eros. Pictures and Letters from Greek love (with 4 illustrations by Otto Weigel), Leipzig, H. Blömer Verlag 1929.
- Gallant treasures (with 12 illustrations by Otto Weigel), Leipzig, M. Ostrau Buchsbaum Verlag 1932.
- The castle of happiness , Munich, Georg Müller Verlag 1913.
- Under scythe and sickle , Charlottenburg, Raben Verlag 1916.
- The Chinese Pearls , 1916.
- Homecoming , 1916.
- The millionaire , 1918.
- Prince Louis Ferdinand. A book of love and fatherland (= novels of famous men and women 19), Berlin, Bong Verlag 1919.
- The Return of the Dead , 1920.
- Flaming Hearts , 1921.
- Prince Christian's boy (with Victor Helling, Sven Elvestad, August Trinius, Hugo Salus and Reinhold Ortmann), (Kürschners Bücherschatz 13), Berlin, H. Hillger Verlag 1921.
- Die Abenteuerin , Leipzig, GH Wigand Verlag 1923.
Translations and editorships
- Pierre de Bourdeille de Brantôme: Memoirs of the Lord of Brantome, 1904.
- Giovanni Francesco Straparola: Fairy Tales, 1905.
- Gian-Francesco Poggio Bracciolini: The twitches and purrs of the Florentine Gian-Francesco Poggio Bracciolini, 1906.
- Giovan Battista Giraldi: Novellas from the Hekatommithi, 1906.
- The empire of the Kypris (16 erotic novels by Morlini and Bandello). Translated into German for the first time. Private print 1906. (Curiosa of World Literature Volume 3).
- Antonio Francesco Grazzini: Novellas 1907.
- Antoine de La Sale: The Hundred New Novellas, 1908.
- Margaret of Navarre: The Heptameron, 1909.
- Francisco Delicado: The Pretty Andalusian Woman, 1910.
- Margaret of Valois: Memories, 1914.
- Pietro Fortini: The eight days of love, 1916.
- Georges Touchard-Lafosse: The Beloved, 1916.
- Johann Konrad Friedrich: The lucky soldier. Truth and Poetry or Forty Years and Fifteen Years from the Life of a Dead ?, Munich, Georg Müller Verlag 1916.
- Alessandro Piccolomini: The Raffaella, 1917.
- Nicolas-Edme Rétif de La Bretonne: Der Pornograph, Berlin, Hyperion Verlag 1918.
- Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon: Tanzai and Neadarne or The Skimmer (with Helmut Müller-Valmont), (Die galante Rarität 2), Leipzig, Rabinowitz Verlag 1919.
- Claude-Henri de Fusée de Voisenon : Three gallant stories by the Abbé von Voisenon, Berlin, Hyperion Verlag 1918.
- Love letters from the Rococo, Berlin, Hyperion Verlag 1919.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Confessions, 1920.
- Benvenuto Cellini: life story, told by himself, 1921.
- Pietro Aretino: The Conversations, 1921.
- Wilhelm von Kügelgen: Memories of an old man's youth (selection series of the Volksverband der Bücherfreunde 9), Berlin, Wegweiser-Verlag 1925.
- Francisco Agramonte y Cortijo: The Last Years of Frederick the Great, 1927.
- Catalina de Erauso: The nun as an ensign. The story of Donna Catalina de Erauso written by herself (with 4 illustrations by Otto Weigel), Leipzig, H. Blömer Verlag 1929.
- Prosper Mérimée: The Bartholomew Night.
- Claude Tillier: My Uncle Benjamin.
- Christina Templin: Medialer Schmutz: A Scandal History of the Naked and Sexual in the German Empire 1890-1914, Bielefeld 2016, ISBN 978-3837635430 .
- Reinhard Wittmann: The hunt for Mr. Semerau. A side light on the censorship of the Prince Regent's time, in: Sven Hanuschek u. a. (Ed.): The structure of media revolutions. Festschrift for Georg Jäger , Frankfurt am Main a. a. 2000, ISBN 978-3-631-35930-3 , pp. 106-117.
- Literature by and about Alfred Semerau in the catalog of the German National Library
- Writer on the radio - author appearances on the radio during the Weimar Republic 1924-1932
- Burned and exiled. The list of publications and authors prohibited under National Socialism
- Letters from Alfred Semerau in the Kalliope union catalog
- Elisabeth Arend: Translation research and reception research. Questions of theory and practice using the example of the translation reception of Italian literature in the German-speaking area from 1750–1850, in: Frank-Rutger Hausmann (ed.): Italy in Germanien. German reception of Italy from 1750-1850, Tübingen 1996, p. 193.
- Banished Books - berlin.de ( Memento from June 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
- Reinhard Wittmann: The hunt for Mr. Semerau. A side light on the censorship of the Prince Regent's time, in: Sven Hanuschek et al. (Ed.), The structure of medial revolutions. Festschrift for Georg Jäger, Frankfurt am Main 2000, pp. 107–109.
- Reinhard Wittmann: The hunt for Mr. Semerau. A side light on the censorship of the Prince Regent's time, in: Sven Hanuschek et al. (Ed.), The structure of medial revolutions. Festschrift for Georg Jäger, Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 107.
- Reinhard Wittmann: The hunt for Mr. Semerau. A side light on the censorship of the Prince Regent's time, in: Sven Hanuschek et al. (Ed.), The structure of medial revolutions. Festschrift for Georg Jäger, Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 111.
- Reinhard Wittmann: The hunt for Mr. Semerau. A side light on the censorship of the Prince Regent's time, in: Sven Hanuschek et al. (Ed.), The structure of medial revolutions. Festschrift for Georg Jäger, Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 112.
- Vorwärts (July 11, 1911) No. 159; Quoted in excerpts from: Reinhard Wittmann: The hunt for Mr. Semerau. A side light on the censorship of the Prince Regent's time, in: Sven Hanuschek et al. (Ed.), The structure of medial revolutions. Festschrift for Georg Jäger, Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 112f.
- Münchner Post (July 12, 1911) No. 159; Quoted in excerpts from: Reinhard Wittmann: The hunt for Mr. Semerau. A side light on the censorship of the Prince Regent's time, in: Sven Hanuschek et al. (Ed.), The structure of medial revolutions. Festschrift for Georg Jäger, Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 113f.
- Erich Mühsam: Diary entries from July 7th and 12th 1911
- Erich Mühsam: Cain. Journal for Humanity (1911) No. 5, p. 66
- Erich Mühsam: Cain. Journal for Humanity (1911) No. 1, p. 63
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||German writer, translator and publisher|
|DATE OF BIRTH||May 14, 1874|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Bromberg|
|DATE OF DEATH||February 8, 1958|
|Place of death||Berlin|