Karl Jakob Hirsch

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Karl Jakob Hirsch (born November 13, 1892 in Hanover ; died July 8, 1952 in Munich ; pseudonyms : Joe Gassner ; Karl Böttner ) was a German painter , artist and writer .



Karl Jakob Hirsch was the son of the Hanoverian doctor and medical adviser Salomon Hirsch (1866-1916), grandson of the writer Isaak Hirsch and the great-grandson of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch .


Karl Jakob Hirsch was born into a Jewish family in Hanover during the founding of the German Empire . The son of the city-famous ear, nose and throat doctor first grew up in Herschelstrasse before the family moved to Stiftstrasse in 1896 and then to Königstrasse in 1905 . The spoiled, constantly “ailing” child, which his mother sometimes called “Lieschen”, visited the Hanoverian Lyceum II , where he was particularly noticeable for “frequent chatter”. After the so-called “November phlegma ”, who was constantly suffering from illness, was able to escape the unloved facility by means of numerous certificates from his father, he finally left without a degree.

In the meantime, his parents had supported his musical inclination, which was already pronounced in his early youth, with piano lessons, which had astonishing success. A possible musical career then ended suddenly with a partial amputation of the right index finger.

In 1909 Hirsch attended the Hanover School of Applied Arts for a short time , then his parents sent him to his grandmother in Munich , where he - also from 1909 - attended the Debschitz School founded by Wilhelm von Debschitz and studied painting and graphics there until 1911.

In 1911 Hirsch first returned to his hometown, then moved to Worpswede in the artists' colony there . In 1912 and 1913 he stayed in Paris .

In the middle of the First World War , Hirsch moved to Berlin with Auguste Lotz , known as Gulo (1889–1947) , where the two married in 1916. There, Hirsch made friends with Franz Pfemfert , for whose magazine Die Aktion he made prints such as woodcuts and linocuts as well as drawings.

Karl Jakob Hirsch did his military service in an administrative office near Berlin, where he took part in the First World War from 1916 to 1918.

After the November Revolution, Hirsch worked as an "artistic adviser" at the Berlin Volksbühne and in 1918 and 1919 as one of the founders of the " Council of Intellectual Workers ". Also from 1919 onwards, Hirsch published texts and graphics in the style of Expressionism , and he was involved in the artist group “ Novembergruppe ”, which pursued revolutionary and socialist goals.

Until the mid-1920s, Hirsch created not only graphic works, but also a large number of paintings that are now lost and that identify him as a representative of the Expressionist movement. He designed sets and costumes for the Berlin " Volksbühne " and created the structures for a number of German films .

In 1925, Hirsch switched from the fine arts to literature , initially writing music, art and literary reviews for various newspapers and magazines. He stayed mainly in Italy and France and provided features , travel reports and stories for newspapers.

In 1929 Karl Jakob Hirsch married his second wife Wera Carus .

He achieved great success with his main work, the novel Kaiserwetter , which was published by S. Fischer Verlag in Berlin during the Weimar Republic in 1931 , and which brilliantly depicts the atmosphere of the late Empire in a provincial town; However, the pre-written sequel was after the " seizure " of the Nazis no longer appear and was lost.

Hirsch emigrated in December 1934. He first went to Denmark, then to Switzerland and in 1936 to the United States . In New York he was editor of the German-language Neue Volkszeitung ; from 1942 he worked as an employee of the state mail censorship . After having worked for the American military government in Munich for a while after 1945 , Hirsch returned to Germany for good in 1948 . However, his hope of being able to build on his literary career from the time of the Weimar Republic was dashed. Only one book, the autobiography Homecoming to God , in which he described his 1945 conversion to Protestantism , appeared during his lifetime. Hirsch's extensive estate , which is now administered by the university library of the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich , has largely been unpublished to this day. His autobiography Quintessential My Life was published posthumously .


  • The Black Tower - Eight unpublished original woodcuts printed from the stick and an afterword . November-Verlag 1918, Kiel 1919. Reprint: Ed. Joseph Hierling, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-925435-10-7 .
  • Revolutionary art . The action, Berlin-Wilmersdorf 1919.
  • Eight etchings on songs by Gustav Mahler . Dresdner Verlag H. Schilling, Klotzsche near Dresden 1921.
  • Imperial weather . S. Fischer, Berlin 1931. (jmb Verlag, Hannover 2009, ISBN 978-3-940970-98-5 ).
  • Felix and Felicia. A summer story . S. Fischer, Berlin 1933 (under the pseudonym Karl Böttner). (jmb Verlag, Hannover 2011, ISBN 978-3-940970-90-9 ).
  • Diary from the "Third Reich" . New York 1941. (jmb Verlag, Hannover 2009, ISBN 978-3-940970-97-8 ).
  • Return to God . Desch, Munich 1946.
  • Wedding march in minor . Oberon, Bad Homburg 1986, ISBN 3-925844-01-5 .
  • Quintessence of my life . v. Hase and Koehler, Mainz 1990, ISBN 3-7758-1211-3 .
  • The old doctor . Hauschild Verlag, Bremen 1994, ISBN 3-929902-18-4 .
  • The graphic work . Worpsweder Verlag, Lilienthal 1994, ISBN 3-89299-175-8 .
  • Karl Jakob Hirsch - the posters . Poster Concepts, Hanover 1998.
  • Manhattan serenade . Lang, Bern a. a. 2001, ISBN 3-906766-22-5 (= series of exile documents , vol. 4).
  • Karl Jakob Hirsch's last novel “Someone has to do it”. A post-war manuscript . Ed .: Helmut Stelljes . VDG, Weimar 2003, ISBN 3-89739-375-1 .


  • Paul RaabeHirsch, Karl Jakob. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 9, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1972, ISBN 3-428-00190-7 , pp. 208 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Walter Huder and Ilse Brauer: Karl Jakob Hirsch: 1892-1952 . Academy of Arts u. a., Berlin a. a. 1967 (catalog for the exhibition on the occasion of the opening of the Karl Jakob Hirsch archive at the Academy of Arts, Berlin).
  • Congratulations to Karl Jakob Hirsch on his 100th birthday. An exhibition of the Munich University Library . University Library, Munich 1992.
  • Anne Mahn (Ed.): Karl Jakob Hirsch. Expressionist graphics. Stations in the life of a German-Jewish artist . Altonaer Museum, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-927637-43-2 (for the exhibition from October 3rd to December 1st, 2002 in the Heine Haus, branch of the Altonaer Museum).
  • Wolfgang Maier-Preusker: Book and portfolio works with graphics of German Expressionism. Maier-Preusker, Vienna 2006, ISBN 978-3-900208-37-0 (= catalog accompanying the exhibition in the Hanseatic city of Wismar 2006).
  • Armin Strohmeyr : Lost Generation. Thirty forgotten poets of the “Other Germany” . Zurich: Atrium, 2008, ISBN 978-3-85535-721-5 , pp. 64–76
  • Volker Weidermann : The book of burned books . Cologne: Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2008; ISBN 978-3-462-03962-7 . (On Hirsch pp. 224–226)
  • Anne Mahn: Karl Jakob Hirsch (1892–1952): "I almost became something ...". Life and work of the writer and visual artist VDG, Weimar 2011, ISBN 978-3-89739-693-7 .
  • Helmut Stelljes : Karl Jakob Hirsch (1892–1952). In: Heimat-Rundblick. History, culture, nature . No. 101, 2/2012 ( summer 2012 ). Druckerpresse-Verlag , ISSN  2191-4257 , p. 17.
  • Gerhard Müller: Mourning the lost time. Karl Jakob Hirsch: "Quintessence of my life" . www.muellers-lesezelt.de/rezensions/hirsch-quintessenz.pdf
  • Helmut E. Pfanner: Hirsch, Karl Jakob. In: Andreas B. Kilcher (Ed.): Metzler Lexicon of German-Jewish Literature. Jewish authors in the German language from the Enlightenment to the present. 2nd, updated and expanded edition. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2012, ISBN 978-3-476-02457-2 , pp. 230-232.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l m Hugo Thielen : Hirsch, Karl Jakob. In: Dirk Böttcher , Klaus Mlynek, Waldemar R. Röhrbein, Hugo Thielen: Hannoversches Biographisches Lexikon . From the beginning to the present. Schlütersche, Hannover 2002, ISBN 3-87706-706-9 , p. 170.
  2. Pinchas Grünewald:  Hirsch, Samson Raphael. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 9, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1972, ISBN 3-428-00190-7 , p. 210 f. ( Digitized version ).
  3. a b c d Lothar Pollähne: Karl Jakob Hirsch / Biographical notes from Lothar Pollähne on the side of the SPD local association Südstadt-Bult , [o. D., 2011?]