Edwin Redslob

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Edwin Redslob, 1929

Edwin Redslob (born September 22, 1884 in Weimar ; † January 24, 1973 in West Berlin ) was a German art historian , cultural politician, publicist and university rector. From 1920 to 1933 he was Reichskunstwart .


From Weimar to Berlin

Goethe's garden in Weimar. In Redslob's hometown of Weimar, the memory of Goethe's time was kept alive. The experience of the landscape and the experience of education as the greatest asset shaped Redslob's youth. He became a close connoisseur of Goethe, wrote several works about him and built up an extensive Goethe and classical collection over the years. (Photo: 2006)
Constitutional celebration on August 11, 1932 in front of the Reichstag. As Reichskunstwart, Redslob designed the constitution days as celebrations of the republic from 1922 onwards . Simultaneously with the ceremony in the plenary hall, a folk festival took place on the Königsplatz in front of the Reichstag with the doors open, symbolizing and making the unity of government and people tangible. The general theme was: Commitment to the republic through culture.

In the empire

Edwin Redslob spent his childhood and youth in Weimar, which was one of the most important cultural centers in Goethe's time. As the son of Ernst Redslob, a school principal and high school professor of Latin, history and German, he came into contact with the artistic avant-garde at an early age. While still at school he met the expressionist painter Christian Rohlfs and the art nouveau architect Henry van de Velde in Weimar . From 1903 he studied art and literature in Weimar and Heidelberg, in 1906 he received his doctorate with a thesis on the Franconian epitaphs of the 14th and 15th centuries under Henry Thode in Heidelberg. After an internship at the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg , he worked at the Suermondt Museum in Aachen from 1909 and joined the Sonderbund Westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler . In 1909 he married Charlotte Hardtmuth. Through its close contacts with the avant-garde him the structure managed a collection of works by August Macke , Heinrich Nauen , Emil Nolde , Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and other artists of the artist group bridge , all the exhibitions of the Special Federal 1910-1912 in Dusseldorf and Cologne emerged were.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner: Elisabethufer in Berlin (1912). (Temporarily owned by Redslob.) Redslob collected expressionist works and organized exhibitions. During the First World War he visited Kirchner in the sanatorium in Davos. A review of the picture by Redslob in a magazine led to a falling out. During a visit to the Reichstag in Berlin in 1926, Redslob introduced Kirchner to the Reich Chancellor, Hans Luther . In 1937, 32 pictures by Kirchner were shown in the exhibition Degenerate Art after his works had previously been removed from museums and confiscated. Kirchner died in 1938 by suicide.

In 1911 Redslob went to Bremen and became deputy director of the local arts and crafts museum . A year later he successfully applied as director of the Erfurt Museum and thus became the youngest museum director that had ever existed in Germany. He stayed there for seven years. In 1914 his first daughter Ottilie was born, in 1918 his daughter Sybille.

First World War and Weimar Republic

At the beginning of the First World War in 1914 he volunteered for military service, but was turned away because of a foot injury. After supporting ammunition transports in the Metz area for a supply unit headed by his father, he fell seriously ill and had to go to Switzerland for a long period of time for a cure. In his spa town of St. Moritz he wrote an expressionist play entitled "The New City", which is about the struggle of rival classes in a medieval cathedral city ruled by a bishop, which is ended by a Christian crusader after an outbreak of the plague. It was only after more than two years that Redslob had overcome the disease, which had initially been diagnosed as leukemia, and returned to the Erfurt Museum in 1917. When a political-avant-garde group of artists called Jung-Erfurt formed in Erfurt after the end of the war in November 1918 , they supported Redslob with an exhibition and published his play under their name. In a series of leaflets, Das neue Thüringen, Redslob bundled efforts aimed at overcoming the small states of Central Germany and developed the idea of ​​a “Thuringian cultural nation”. However, he refused a party political tie. When a campaign against him ensued in Erfurt, a career change became necessary. From 1919 to 1920 he directed the State Gallery in Stuttgart . On September 1, 1920, Redslob was appointed general director of all Württemberg museums and Reichskunstwart , who was responsible for the artistic design of the Reich during the Weimar Republic . H. was responsible for all state art and culture issues of the German Reich. This included decisions about state symbols such as national coats of arms , coins, bank notes, postage stamps, flags and awards such as the eagle shield of the German Empire . The organization of exhibitions and state celebrations also belonged to his office. B. the artistic design of the constitution days and the funeral service for Foreign Minister Rathenau, who was murdered in 1922, in the Reichstag. "The Rathenau coffin stood on a pedestal under a canopy in the plenary hall of the Reichstag and at the end of the celebration was carried out to the sounds of the funeral march from Wagner's 'Götterdämmerung'." - a music ritual adopted by Nazi propaganda. As an organizational principle for his work, he chose "Werkräte", expert committees that should be convened for individual decisions. In collaboration with modern artists, he developed a symbolic language of forms for the new republic, which should offer all citizens the opportunity to identify with these symbols. Redslob developed a routine way of dealing with the public and the press, gave speeches to committees, in the Reichstag and on the radio. When the position of the Reichskunstwarts was to be dropped in 1924 in the course of cost-cutting measures, Redslob managed to continue, but only as a "two-man operation". His extensive network of relationships, which he also cultivated in the German Society in 1914 , an alliance of intellectuals, reform citizens and nobles who pursued politics behind the scenes, was probably helpful . The “ flag dispute ” was about the question of whether the imperial flag should be “black-red-gold”, the flag of the liberal republic, or “black-white-red”, the colors of the empire. Redslob drafted a compromise proposal: a large black iron cross on a red and gold background, which earned him widespread rejection in the media. For the Goethe year 1932 he produced a book on Goethe's life and work and a film for screening in cinemas and schools with the title "Goethe lives ...!" For which he himself wrote the screenplay: The spirit of Weimar became conjured up the ideal basis of the republican order.

The time of National Socialism

After the National Socialists and their allies came to power , Redslob was given paid retirement on March 1, 1933 by Reich Interior Minister Frick , who was a declared opponent of modern art. He only received smaller public contracts. Until 1945 Redslob devoted himself to research, worked as a translator and writer. In 1935 he published an autobiographical novel about his youth in Weimar: A century fades away and a sequel in 1937: Dianens Homecoming . Both books went largely unnoticed. Redslob expanded his collection of books and other testimonies from the classical Weimar era (1750–1850), the time of Goethe and Schiller, and was a private art dealer. As a result, the furnishings of his own house increasingly corresponded to the style that was valid a hundred years earlier. During this time his book Des Reiches Straße was created , which tells German cultural history along the route based on a presented journey along the Via Regia , from Frankfurt via Leipzig to Berlin and which was published by Reclam in several editions from 1940. The book was included in the annual review of German literature by the “ Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda ” in 1942 and was thus recognized as particularly valuable. Another popular success in 1940 was a book with a similar topic as The Reich Road : The World One Hundred Years Ago . Due to a back ailment, he did not have to take part in World War II for health reasons , but volunteered for "Home Service for the Front". In 1939 he successfully applied as a civilian employee of a weekly illustrated wall newspaper of the Luftwaffe called Bilder der Woche , which earned his work the title “war important”. In 1943, the Reich Ministry of the Interior approved the lifelong payment of Redslob's pension, which was initially limited to 1943. From 1941 Redslob worked as a consultant for the publishers Reclam and Stalling, and in 1942 he signed a contract with Reclam on a biography of Goethe.

From Berlin to Europe

New beginning in Berlin

Redslob experienced the end of the war with his wife in his house in Neubabelsberg near Potsdam . A few weeks later he took part in one of the first exhibitions in post-war Berlin, at which the gallery owner Gerd Rosen exhibited pictures of the Classical Modern period and also those of the Expressionists, which were banned from 1936. A little later he also showed his own collector's items in the house on the Waldsee, which was newly opened in 1946, and reported on the exhibitions in newspaper articles.

Edwin Redslob was the only extraordinary member of the board in the first board of the re-established Deutscher Künstlerbund, which was constituted in 1951, and from 1970 he belonged to the honorary board of the DKB. In the catalog for the first annual exhibition in 1951 in the rooms of the University of Fine Arts, he wrote the essay: The Idea and History of the German Association of Artists.

Tagesspiegel and professorship

In the summer of 1945 Redslob was co-founder, license holder and publisher of the Berlin daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel , which initially appeared with a national-liberal character and with an American license. The first issue appeared on September 27, 1945. In the Tagesspiegel , Redslob initially published short pieces from his research on the Goethe era and the Biedermeier era, but soon, at the suggestion of his friend, CDU politician Ferdinand Friedensburg , also published critical and polemical articles on current issues Problems of the city. In October 1945, with an article in the Tagesspiegel , he intervened in the debate on internal and external emigration between Thomas Mann and the intellectuals who remained in Germany after the NSDAP and its allies came to power, defended the attitude and importance of internal emigration with sharp words and counted himself to their representatives: They were "victims of the dictatorship", had lived twelve "subversive" years in an "inner space" which Hitler had not succeeded in conquering. He wrote: "All this living work, through which Germany lived on and acquired a right to the future, is now declared as tainted by the desk of a once German writer on whom the warm California sun shines."

In the late summer of 1945, Redslob applied for a professorship as a career changer at the university. The acting rector of Berlin University Johannes Stroux , who has been acting since October, supported Redslob's application to the appointment committee. At the end of December 1945, Redslob was appointed honorary professor. He should be involved in the administration and take over the management of the art historical institute on an interim basis. However, possibly because of his work for the Tagesspiegel , he did not receive admission to courses from the Soviet-dominated university administration, although he remained formally an honorary professor. Since 1946 Redslob went with the Tagesspiegel on a direct course of confrontation with the policy of the administration in the eastern part of the city, which was controlled by the Soviet occupying power, and advocated a democratic and liberal system with his newspaper. Accordingly, he saw himself exposed to violent attacks by the East Berlin media. In October 1946, Redslob wrote in the Tagesspiegel under the heading “Farewell to the Berlin University” that since its so-called opening it had constantly lost its academic reputation and that it had meanwhile “lost the last remnant of its formerly good reputation”. It is "a party university". He deleted them "from Germany's cultural list." Redslob organized and moderated public discussion panels with the Tagesspiegel . The Tagesspiegel was, despite numerous competition in the newspaper market, quickly one of the most successful newspapers in Berlin, but was financially Redslob not profitable enough.

In March 1946, Redslob became a lecturer in art history at the Technical University of Berlin , located in the British sector , and was appointed full professor there in 1947. In the spring of 1946, Redslob's book Des Reiches Strasse was placed on the index as ns-polluted by the Deutsche Bücherei in Leipzig , which had to check all publications from the time of National Socialism on the orders of the Allies.

Free University and Rectorate

Veritas, Iustitia, Libertas (truth, justice, freedom). The coat of arms and motto of the FU Berlin , designed by Redslob for the opening in 1948: The bear symbolizing Berlin holds the "torch of the spirit", the three stars symbolize the three original faculties. The FU was supposed to "save" the humanistic traditions of the Berlin University founded by Humboldt and to continue them in another location. It should serve the "free development of personality", in particular research and teaching without one-sided commitment to party-political doctrines and the exploration of the "truth for its own sake" .. Redslob designed the new enrollment of students in 1949 as a pledge to the above motto of the FU .
FU-Berlin (2005): Rust and silver arbor . On the right at the edge of the picture the villas that originally housed many institutes, in the background the tower of the library in the Henry Ford Building. Thanks to donations from the Ford Foundation, the FU grew rapidly from 2,000 students in 1948 to 11,000 students in 1958 and to 60,000 students in 1990. Particular emphasis was placed on international visiting professorships and exchange students. Various institute buildings were newly constructed.

As early as 1946, on the occasion of the May 1st celebrations at Berlin University, there were student protests, which were also published in the student newspaper Colloquium . When the East Berlin university administration finally took away the student status of the editors of this newspaper in 1948, there was a large protest meeting in the Esplanade Hotel on Potsdamer Platz, which had the topic of the division of the university and reported on the Redslob in the Tagesspiegel . With Ernst Reuter, Redslob took over the chairmanship of a “preparatory committee” for the establishment of a new university and, after negotiations with the American military governor General Lucius D. Clay, received the order to carry out the establishment, committed teachers and took care of the financing. The historian Friedrich Meinecke , poached from the Berlin University Unter den Linden , became the first rector of the new university. Meinecke, who was already 86 years old, was to become a symbolic figure who embodied the spirit of this university, as he had given an explanation for the recent past with his book The German Catastrophe and, with his reference to humanism and Goethe, a path to renewal through a return to lasting values made possible. Redslob held the university's first lecture on the “Basic Principles of Painting” in front of 130 students and opened it as Managing Rector in a festive event in the Titania Palace with a speech about the donor figures of Naumburg Cathedral . Drawing a parallel to the current situation in Berlin at the time, he emphasized the idea of ​​"protecting our country and its culture against the threat from the East that has so often recurred in history". In 1948 Redslob was one of the initiators of the establishment of the Free University of Berlin (FU), which he headed as rector in 1949/50 . Claude Lanzmann was a lecturer at the FU during this time and wrote in his 2009 autobiography “ Le lièvre de Patagonie ” (Eng. “ The Patagonian Hare ”) about his impressions: “At that time, the Free University was a hideout for Nazis who Denazification, which was pretended to be the order of the day everywhere, had been nothing but fun there ”. He also wrote that he had forced Redslob to resign from the rectorate through an article about Freie Universität that he had published in East Berlin in early January 1950. With the article, a poem by Redslob was printed, without Lanzmann's knowledge, which Redslob allegedly dedicated to Emmy Göring , with whom he was friends from film and from his work as Reichskunstwart before 1933. However, Redslob's biographer Christian Welzbacher contradicts this : Redslob did not write the poem for Emmy Göring directly, but for the Copenhagen porcelain factory, which Emmy Göring presented with a tableware set. Redslob ended his term of office in the summer of 1950, a good six months after Lanzmann's article.

As early as the spring of 1949, at the beginning of his term of office, Redslob came under criticism of his students for personnel decisions of the university administration, since some members of the faculty had apparently not been carefully checked with regard to their past in the "Third Reich" and Redslob had advocated a takeover. He had also used his powers to recruit colleagues, friends, acquaintances and family members for the university. After the end of his term in November 1950, he became Vice Rector. Redslob taught a total of 12 semesters as a professor of art and cultural history at the FU and was retired in 1954.

Free Kulturbund and Volksbühne

In the summer of 1948, parallel to the preparations for the founding of the university, Redslob published in the Tagesspiegel a “call for the establishment of a free cultural association”, which was to become the western variant of the East German cultural association. Redslob spoke to up to 20,000 people at the first “Freie Kulturbund” events at Schöneberg Town Hall.

When the Berlin Volksbühne was to be reopened in 1947, but no agreement between one interest group with the goal of more bourgeois theater and another with the idea of ​​a workers' theater seemed possible, Redslob was appointed by Mayor Louise Schroeder as chairman of a mediation committee. After the failure of the negotiations, he worked with Joachim Tiburtius in October 1947 to found the Free Volksbühne in the west, while the Volksbühne was opened in East Berlin . This was the first split in a cultural institution in Berlin after the end of the war.

At the end of 1949, six months after the end of the Berlin blockade , Redslob visited the United States for three weeks at the invitation of the American government and reported there on the Free University of Berlin. He has lectured at several universities, including Harvard and Columbia, as well as at a congress that had "cultural life in the countries occupied by the United States" on. He also met the future President Dwight D. Eisenhower , then President of Columbia University.

In 1950 Redslob belonged with Otto Suhr and Ernst Reuter to the organizing committee of the international organization Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), officially founded in West Berlin , in which anti-communist-oriented intellectuals and academics met with public participation. The CCF was partially funded and influenced by the American government, with Redslob also involved in financial transfers.

Berlin Museum

Former Prussian court in Lindenstrasse. From 1969 to 1993 it housed the Berlin Museum , which Redslob helped launch.

At the beginning of the 1960s, Redslob began to campaign against the “deforestation” of West Berlin and at the same time for a new museum, the Berlin Museum . He initiated a press campaign and gathered a group of friends. In 1964 he was given a building in the zoo in which he organized an opening exhibition on the painter Daniel Chodowiecki with a small grant .

The Berlin City Palace was for Redslob "a self contained monument of half a millennium of German history". Accordingly, he saw the demolition of the war-damaged ruins in East Berlin in 1950 as “the most terrible work of destruction in the modern era” in the city and as “a brutal disregard for everything that has become.” He viewed the thoughtless demolition of historic buildings in West Berlin in a similar way. “In Wilhelmstrasse, the former power center of Reich and Prussia, the grass grew out of the cracks between the cobblestones [..] Where the hectic, twitching center of the metropolis had been, that intersection between bars, nightclubs and cafes that embodied the myth of modernity had established, there was a huge wasteland. The zoo expanded and buried the dead heart of the faded cosmopolitan city under itself. Only the asphalt slabs still traced the characteristic street patterns. "

Redslob was a member of almost all of West Berlin's cultural associations and took an active part in their events.

In 1968, Redslob bequeathed his extensive Goethe collection to the Düsseldorf Goethe Museum , which had existed since 1954 and was based on a foundation by the Kippenberg couple , which combined two of the most extensive classic collections in Germany and ended his rivalry with Kippenberg as a collector.

Around 1970 Redslob wrote an autobiography that appeared in 1972 under the title "From Weimar to Europe". He explained the development at Freie Universität in the course of the 1968 movement there as a result of “paralysis” and “political disintegration”: Generational conflicts and the situation of the Cold War had “not a large part of the youth, but the loudest part of the negative revolutionaries without a living, positive goal ”. The endeavors for which the FU was once founded and which were expressed in the motto he had chosen have been turned into their opposite.

In his last interview in 1973, he expressed the wish to withdraw from the public for some time in order to be able to devote himself to a large work for which he had long been collecting material, a book about Johann Wolfgang Goethe .


Grave of Redslob, his wife and daughter in the Dahlem St.-Annen-Kirchhof

In 1952 Edwin Redslob was awarded the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and in 1959 the star. A street that was newly laid out in 2001 near the Free University of Berlin and the State Museums in Berlin-Dahlem was named after him.

He rests in an honorary grave of the State of Berlin in the St. Anne's churchyard in Dahlem.


  • The artistic design of the empire , Werkkunst-Verlag, Berlin 1926.
  • Garden of Remembrance , Hamburg 1928
  • Goethe's life , Berlin 1932
  • A century has passed , Breslau 1935
  • Diana’s Homecoming - Romans Diana’s Homecoming - Romans from the turn of the ages 1910–1920 , Christian Wegner, Hamburg 1937
  • The world a hundred years ago , Leipzig 1940
  • Des Reiches Strasse , Leipzig 1940/41
  • Run of the year , Leipzig, Insel Verlag 1943 ( Insel-Bücherei 99/3)
  • Charlotte von Stein. A picture of life from Goethe's time , Leipzig 1943
  • From the Römerberg to the Brandenburg Gate. Paths of German History and Culture , Munich 1957
  • Free University of Berlin , series: Berlin. Gestalt und Geist, Vol. 1, Wolfgang Stapp Verlag, West Berlin 1963
  • Confession to Berlin , Stapp Verlag, West Berlin 1964
  • Spiegel des Lebens , Edwin Blaschker Verlag, West Berlin 1969
  • From Weimar to Europe. Experienced and thought through , Haude & Spener, West Berlin 1972, ISBN 3-7759-0144-2 (autobiography)


  • Ernst Klee : The cultural lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 475.
  • Biogram in: Thomas Leiberg: The St. Annen churchyard in Berlin-Dahlem. Stapp Verlag, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-87776-423-1 , pp. 44-45.
  • Nadine Rossol: Performing the Nation in Interwar Germany. Sport, Spectacle and Political Symbolism, 1926-36 . Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke et al. a. 2010, ISBN 978-0-230-21793-5 .
  • Christian Welzbacher: Edwin Redslob. Biography of an incorrigible idealist. Matthes & Seitz, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-88221-734-6 .
  • Christian Welzbacher (ed.): The Reichskunstwart. wtv campus, Weimar 2010, ISBN 978-3-941830-04-2 .
  • Steffen Raßloff : Escape into the national community. The Erfurt bourgeoisie between the Empire and the Nazi dictatorship. Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-412-11802-8 (with a chapter on Redslob and the “Erfurt museum question”).
  • Olaf Peters:  Redslob, Edwin. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 21, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-428-11202-4 , p. 250 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Gisbert Laube: The Reichskunstwart: History of a cultural authority 1919-1933. (Volume 164 of "Legal History Series"). P. Lang Frankfurt / Main 1997. Zugl. Kiel, Univ. Diss., 1997. ISBN 978-3-631-31977-2

Web links

Commons : Edwin Redslob  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi Christian Welzbacher: Edwin Redslob. Biography of an incorrigible idealist. Matthes & Seitz, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-88221-734-6 .
  2. ^ Gerhard Lemmens (Vorw.): House Wylerberg. An Expressionist country house by Otto Bartning. Architecture and cultural life 1920–1966. Nijmeegs Museum 'Commanderie van Sint-Jan', 1988, p. 23.
  3. ^ Gisbert Laube: The Reichskunstwart. History of a cultural authority 1919-1933 . In: Legal history series . tape 164 . Peter Lang, Frankfurt / Main 1997, p. 113 .
  4. ^ Max Bloch: Latest history: C. Welzbacher: Edwin Redslob. Matthes & Seitz Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-88221-734-6 .
  5. ^ Rudolf Vierhaus: Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie (Vol. 8), KG Sauer, Munich 2007, p. 235, ISBN 978-3-598-25038-5 .
  6. Alexander Mühle, Arnulf Scriba: Edwin Redslob. Tabular curriculum vitae in the LeMO ( DHM and HdG )
  7. ^ A b Edwin Redslob: Confession to Berlin . Stapp Verlag, Berlin 1964
  8. ^ Exhibition catalog of the German Association of Artists 1950: First exhibition Aug. 1 - Oct. 1, 1951 in the rooms of the Hochschule der Bild. Arts Hardenbergstr. 33 , Berlin 1951 (without page numbers)
  9. ^ Karol Kubicki, Siegward Lönnendonker: The Free University of Berlin 1948–2007. From the foundation to the excellence competition. , V & R unipress, Göttingen 2008, p. 28, ISBN 978-3-89971-474-6
  10. ^ Farewell to the Berlin University. In: Der Tagesspiegel . No. 244 of October 18, 1946, supplement.
  11. ^ A b c d e Edwin Redslob: Free University of Berlin , series: Berlin. Shape and spirit. Vol. 1 , Wolfgang Stapp Verlag, Berlin 1963.
  12. a b c d e Edwin Redslob: From Weimar to Europe. Experienced and thought through , Haude & Spener, Berlin 1972, ISBN 3-7759-0144-2 .
  13. ^ A b Claude Lanzmann: The Patagonian Hare. Memories. Rowohlt, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-498-03939-4 .
  14. Berliner Zeitung , January 6, 1950, compare new publication: Die teething problems at the Free University. Berliner Zeitung, January 24, 2009
  15. Bert Rebhandl: As an illegal person behind the iron curtain. In: Berliner Zeitung , January 19, 2009. Claude Lanzmann: Berlin Lesson. In: Sinn und Form , 4/2009.
  16. Michael Hochgeschwender: Freedom on the offensive? The Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Germans. R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-486-56341-6 , pp. 225, 239.
  17. Edwin Redslob: Berlin's intellectual profile. German Werkbund Berlin e. V. 1960, p. 18ff.