Kurt Guggenheim

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Kurt Guggenheim (born January 14, 1896 in Zurich ; † December 5, 1983 there ) was a Swiss writer .


Kurt Guggenheim came from a Jewish merchant family. At the urging of his father Hermann Guggenheim he learned a merchant profession, worked in Le Havre in a coffee - import company and took over after his father's death his company, which he in subsequent years of the Great Depression slipped and went bankrupt .

He then worked for a while as a copywriter , editor and antiquarian until he turned entirely to writing. When his first novel Entfesselung was published, he was 39 years old. He achieved his breakthrough in 1938 with Riedland , a novel about oil drilling in the reed area on upper Lake Zurich . In addition to his novels, he also wrote a number of theater plays and was (co-) author of film scripts , for example by Wachtmeister Studer and Wilder Urlaub (based on his novel of the same name).

The young Guggenheim's love for Eva Hug - the later wife of his writer colleague Albert J. Welti -, whom he was not allowed to marry (probably because of the anti-Semitic attitude of the Hug family), was formative for the young Guggenheim . This love was processed several times in the work, for example in All in All or in The Early Years . In 1939 he married the widowed Gertrud Schlozer.

During the First World War , Guggenheim advocated pacifist ideals in connection with the religious and social ideas of the Swiss theologian Leonhard Ragaz and considered refusal to serve . During the Second World War he voluntarily rejoined the Swiss Army , from which he had been expelled (due to bankruptcy !). In his novel We were our four , he processed his experiences during the occupation of the border in World War II, as well as his encounter with Albin Zollinger .

Another important topic is dealing with Judaism . The father was over-conform, almost denied being Jewish. In the first decades of the 20th century, many Jews immigrated from Eastern Europe and brought a completely different Judaism to Zurich than that of the long-established Jewish families from which Guggenheim came. These Jewish milieus in Zurich are described in his main work , the novel tetralogy Alles in Allem .

The preoccupation with the life and work of Jean-Henri Fabre , mediated by the aforementioned biologist Eva Welti-Hug, was particularly important for Guggenheim's intellectual development . In doing so, he achieved excellent German translations of " Homer der insects", which were later published under the title The Open Secret . With the novel-like approximation of grain of sand in 1959, he also created a literary monument to the great French entomologist . Since 1967 he was a member of the German Academy for Language and Poetry .

Guggenheim has described himself several times as a “local writer”: he writes for the people he lives among. His estate is in the Zurich Central Library .

He found his final resting place in the Rehalp cemetery in Zurich .



Prose, essays

  • Unleashing. Novel. Schweizer Spiegel, Zurich 1935
  • Seven days. Novel. Schweizer Spiegel, Zurich 1936
  • Riedland. Novel. Schweizer Spiegel, Zurich 1938
  • Wild vacation. Novel. Schweizer Spiegel, Zurich 1941
  • The secret journey. Novel. Artemis, Zurich 1946
  • We were our four. Novel. Artemis, Zurich 1949
  • All in all. Novel in four volumes. Artemis, Zurich:
  • * Volume 1, 1900-1913. with eight original lithographs by Hans Falk , 1952
  • * Volume 2, 1914-1919. with eight original lithographs by Hans Falk, 1953
  • * Volume 3, 1920-1932. with drawings by Arnold Kübler , 1954
  • * Volume 4, 1933-1945. with drawings by Arnold Kübler, 1955
  • Peace of heart. Novel. Artemis, Zurich 1956
  • Grain of sand for grain of sand. The encounter with J.-H. Fabre. Artemis, Zurich 1959
  • The truth under the flow sheet. From the diary. Artemis, Zurich 1960
  • Home or domicile? The position of the German-Swiss writer in the present. Artemis, Zurich 1961
  • The early years. Report. Artemis, Zurich 1962
  • Diary at the Schanzengraben. Ceremony for the 125th anniversary of A. Welti-Furrer AG. With drawings by Karl Mannhart . Artemis, Zurich 1963
  • Salt of the sea, salt of tears. Artemis, Zurich 1964
  • The end of Seldwyla . A Gottfried Keller book. Artemis, Zurich 1965
  • The golden cube. Novel. Artemis, Zurich 1967
  • 125 years of weaving machines. Maschinenfabrik Rüti AG, Rüti 1967
  • Why me? Words for the sick. Artemis, Zurich 1968
  • Minute of life. Novel about the friendship between Zola and Cézanne . Artemis, Zurich 1969
  • Mignon and Peregrina. Encounters. Jacobi, Bremen 1970
  • The holy comedian. Narrative. Benziger, Zurich 1972 (on Jean Rotrou and Genesius von Rome )
  • Called and not called. Novel. Benziger, Zurich 1973
  • Later. Four stories. Benziger, Zurich 1974
  • The labyrinthine promenade. Goethe's trip to Zurich, Stäfa and the Gotthard in 1797. Huber, Frauenfeld 1975
  • Everything is worth talking about. Words for the new day. Huber, Frauenfeld 1977
  • The puzzle game. Novel. Huber, Frauenfeld 1977
  • Just one time. Diary pages 1925–1980. Three volumes. Huber, Frauenfeld 1981-1983


  • The cheerful retirement. Comedy. Reiss, Basel 1938
  • The Dying Swan (The Fall of the Second Squadron). Play in three acts. Reiss, Basel 1943

Radio plays

  • Micheli. Swiss Radio DRS , 1945
  • Laederach family. Radio play series, DRS 1949–1951

Film scripts


Work edition

Published by Charles Linsmayer in Huber Verlag, Frauenfeld 1989–2014:


Web links