Johannes Deserts

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Johannes-Wüsten-Monument in Johannes-Wüsten-Straße in Görlitz
Self-Portrait 1930

Johannes Wüsten (born October 4, 1896 in Heidelberg , † April 26, 1943 in Brandenburg an der Havel ; also Peter Nikl or Walter Wyk ) was a German artist and writer .


Johannes Wüsten was the son of a free religious preacher and his wife. One year after his birth, the family moved to Görlitz . There, Wüsten attended grammar school through to lower secondary school . After he was expelled from school because of an arms affair, his parents rejected his wish to become a painter . Instead, he went to Dresden , where he began an apprenticeship as a carpenter , which he broke off after a short time for health reasons. He got the opportunity to become a pupil of the painter Otto Modersohn in Worpswede . He then worked in a ceramics factory in Bunzlau . From the summer of 1916, Wüsten took part in the First World War as a soldier . In October of the same year he was wounded on the Eastern Front; he suffered another wound on the western front.

After the end of the war, Wüsten settled in Hamburg as a freelance artist . The expressionist Wüsten, who co-founded the “ Hamburg Secession ”, mainly created paintings and woodcuts . At the same time, his first literary works were published. In 1920 he joined the “ Hamburg Artists ”. In 1922 Wüsten went on a study trip through the Netherlands ; after his return he founded a manufacture for ceramics and faience in Görlitz , in which his second wife, the painter Dorothea Koeppen , was also involved.

In 1929 Wüsten took over the studio of the portrait painter Erna von Dobschütz in Görlitz (Kahle 7) in the street later named after him. He had once been her student when he was preparing for the entrance examination at the Dresden School of Applied Arts.

Wüsten was active in the “ Görlitzer Künstlerschaft ”, in whose painting school he, who was meanwhile a representative of the “ New Objectivity ”, headed the graphics class in the second half of the 1920s. At the same time he published numerous reviews and feature articles and gave lectures. From 1929 Wüsten began to be interested in copperplate engraving ; until 1934 he created numerous works in this technique. The socio-critical tendency of his works meant that Wüsten could exhibit less and less in Görlitz.

Wüsten, who had been a member of the Antifascist Kampfbund since 1930 and later of the “ Red Aid ”, became a member of the Communist Party of Germany in March 1932 . Shortly afterwards, his first literary success: his three-act play Die Verrätergasse was premiered. After the Nazis came to power , he took over the leadership of the illegal Görlitz KPD, which agitated against the new rulers mainly with leaflets and helped members of the banned party to flee to Czechoslovakia . In 1934 Wüsten emigrated to Prague , where, as an artist and writer, he made polemical contributions against the conditions in the German Reich, which were published in German-language exile magazines such as “ Simplicissimus ” (later: “Simpl”) and the “ Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung ”. In addition, he wrote two plays with historical themes ( Weinsberg and Dieehre vom Mariastern ) as well as a Zeitstück ( Bessie Bosch ), artist stories and the novel Rübezahl , whose publication was prevented by the German occupation of the Sudetenland in autumn 1938 (it appeared in 1963 from the estate under the title The current does not flow uphill ). In 1937/38 he also wrote a utopian novel Fighters Against Comets , which was published in sequels under the pseudonym Walter Wyk in the magazine Volks-Illustrierte . The identity of the author was only discovered in the 1980s, after which it was republished in 1992.

In July 1938 Wüsten left Prague and went to Paris , where he worked as a visual artist for the exile organizationDeutsches Kulturkartell ”. His economic situation deteriorated noticeably and after the outbreak of World War II he was interned on September 10, 1939. He went through different camps; On June 19, 1940, he managed to escape from the labor camp in Saint-Nazaire . While fleeing from the advancing German troops, he reached the French Atlantic coast; an attempt to get to England from there failed. In mid-July 1940, Wüsten returned to the now German-occupied Paris.

As deserts in winter tuberculosis ill, he went to, who could not be treated by the French as a German, in a hospital of the Wehrmacht . He was nursed to health there and then handed over to the Gestapo . He was brought to Germany and tried before the People's Court in Berlin; his artistic work was interpreted as "preparation for high treason ". The trial against Wüsten began on March 11, 1942 and ended with his sentencing to fifteen years in prison . He began his sentence in the Brandenburg-Görden prison, but soon fell ill again with open tuberculosis and died on April 26, 1943 in the prison hospital. Much of his artistic and literary work is considered lost.

On January 23, 2019, an episode of the NDR's Lieb & Teuer program was broadcast, moderated by Janin Ullmann and filmed in Reinbek Castle . In it, an engraving was discussed with the painting expert Ariane Skora , which depicts a self-portrait by Johannes Wüsten from 1930 and is a reprint from the 1960s.


  • Semper the mummy , Hamburg 1921
  • Ywon , Hamburg 1921
  • The Teaching of Mariastern , Prague 1935 (under the name Peter Nikl)
  • Bessie Bosch , London [approx. 1942]
  • The life of a fanatic and other painter's stories , Berlin 1951
  • Weinsberg , Berlin 1958
  • The current does not flow uphill , (original title Rübezahl), Rudolstadt 1963
  • Three nights by Jan Bockelson and others from the story , Rudolstadt 1972
  • Copper engravings , Leipzig 1973
  • Tannhäuser , Berlin 1976
  • Verrätergasse , Berlin 1980
  • Pseudonym Peter Nikl , Berlin 1987
  • The holy grave , Görlitz 1989
  • ... so that I can win quite a few , Görlitz 1991
  • Local miniatures , Görlitz 1991
  • Fighters against comets , Berlin 1992

Illustrated works

  • Paul Duysen: Everyone, the beastly person. Hamburg 1921.

Exhibition catalogs

  • Johannes Wüsten , Görlitz 1948
  • Alfred Frank, Fritz Schulze, Johannes Wüsten , Dresden 1970
  • Johannes Wüsten , Leipzig 1973
  • The blood samples from Johannes Wüsten , Hamburg-Langenhorn 1995
  • Johannes Wüsten , Heidelberg 1996
  • Point and Line - Black on White , Görlitz 1996
  • The copper engraving in the Modern Gallery Carlshorst Berlin December 2007


  • Ernst Kretzschmar (editor): Johannes Wüsten and Görlitz. Görlitz 1966.
  • Beate Jahn-Zechendorff (editor): Johannes Wüsten. Copper engravings. Epilogue Insel-Bücherei No. 979, Leipzig 1973.

Individual evidence

  1. deserts wrote on cooperation with Dobschütz in his autobiography: "In preparation for Dresden exam I got into the hands of a painting Görlitz noblewoman who declared after a short time, I was so inept that I should prefer to be a photographer." Despite With this negative assessment, Wüsten does not seem to have lost contact with his old teacher until 1929.
  2. Georg Wenzel: Home in Exile . On the borderline experience of the painter-poet Johannes Wüsten Archive link ( Memento of the original from February 2, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Video self-portrait by Johannes Wüsten on
  4. Information on the episode on

Web links

Commons : Johannes Wüsten  - Collection of images, videos and audio files