Karl Schwesig

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Karl Schwesig (* 19th June 1898 in Braubauerschaft today Gelsenkirchen-Bismarck ; † 19th June 1955 in Dusseldorf , actually Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Schwesig ) was a German painter , member of the artist group The Young Rheinland and opposition in the era of National Socialism .

Memorial stone on the Golzheimer Friedhof in Düsseldorf-Pempelfort


Karl Schwesig was the son of an East Prussian miner who immigrated to the Ruhr area and later manufacturer of mine lamps. Due to deficiency diseases in childhood he suffered a curvature of the spine and only reached a height of 1 meter 39. During the First World War he was used in the military as a clerk. In 1918 he went to Düsseldorf. During the National Socialism he was persecuted and imprisoned several times. In 1946 he married Hannelore Müller, with whom he had three children.

Artistic career

From 1918 to 1920 Schwesig attended the Düsseldorf Art Academy . He joined the circle around Johanna Ey and was especially friends with Gert Wollheim . He exhibited for the first time in 1921 with the Young Rhineland artist group in the Düsseldorf Kunsthalle. The former Düsseldorfer Nachrichten commented:

“In the house where they have exhibited their works so far, the Wollheim, Schwesig and Pankok , to name some of the most embarrassing representatives of this latest style, should have stayed. You don't belong in the community of artists who have a sense of responsibility. "

Together with Wollheim and Peter Ludwigs , Schwesig published the political-satirical magazine Die Peitsche , which turned against class justice and militarism with satirical drawings . In 1924 he took part in the “proletarian” exhibition Der Kampf organized by Wollheim in the Kunsthalle . In 1928 Schwesig was one of the founders of the Rhenish Secession . In 1930, Karl Schwesig founded the Düsseldorf branch of the Asso together with his fellow painters Ludwig, Hanns Kralik , Julo Levin , Carl Lauterbach and the director and actor Wolfgang Langhoff . At the same time Langhoff had taken over the management of the recently founded agitprop theater group "Nordwest ran!", The communist amateur theater group to which Hilarius Gilges also belonged. Karl Schwesig, like Gilges, was meanwhile a member of the Düsseldorf KPD .

time of the nationalsocialism

After the Reichstag fire , Schwesig took part in the production and distribution of leaflets and provided shelter for the persecuted. On 11 July 1933 he was the SA arrested and taken to the basement of the Schlegel brewery, Bismarckstraße 44, Schlegel Keller , deported. Schwesig was 'interrogated' and tortured here for three days in order to find out the names of his colleagues in the resistance against the Nazis . After four days he was transferred to the police headquarters , four weeks later by the SS at the headquarters of the StaPo Düsseldorf at Mühlenstrasse 29 . This was followed by pre-trial detention in the Ulmer Höh with conviction for “preparation for high treason” and further imprisonment in the Wuppertal-Bendahl prison . In November 1934 he was released and placed under police supervision.

In the spring of 1935 Schwesig managed to escape to Belgium. In Antwerp he was granted political asylum and began again with artistic work. He recorded what had happened to him and his fellow prisoners in the SA torture cellar, and he wrote. In 1935/1936 he finished the work, a cycle of 48 drawings Schlegelkeller . These were exhibited in exile: in 1936 in Brussels and Amsterdam, in 1937 in Moscow. At the beginning of 1938 he made eight bitterly biting sketches of motif wagons for the Cologne Carnival for the satirical forgery of the "Kölner Rosenmontags-Zeitung" printed by the KPD section management in Brussels.

In 1940 he was arrested repeatedly during the invasion of Antwerp by German troops and transported to southern France. After internment in the Saint-Cyprien (Pyrénées-Orientales) , Camp de Gurs , Noé-Mauzac and Nexon camps , the SS took him back to Germany in 1943, where he was again imprisoned several times in 1943 and 1944. In 1945 Schwesig was finally released shortly before the American invasion.

post war period

In 1945 Karl Schwesig returned to Düsseldorf and took part in the cultural reconstruction. In paintings and etchings, among other things, he presented his experiences in internment. After his death, the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf acquired his painting Self-Portrait in Carnival .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Ev. Parish Brauberschaft / Bismarck, baptisms 1898, No. 428.
  2. also described in: Wolfgang Langhoff: Die Moorsoldaten. Zurich 1935, p. 104.
  3. ^ Karl Schwesig 1898 to 1955, artist of the Remmert and Barth gallery.