Max Jacob (puppeteer)

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Max Jacob (born August 10, 1888 in Bad Ems , † December 8, 1967 in Hamburg ), sometimes internationally known as Makkusu Yakopu , was a German puppeteer and the founder of the Hohnstein puppet shows .


Max Jacob was associated with the Wandervogel movement since his early youth ; He felt obliged to folk art and customs early on. After attending a puppet show as a spectator in 1921, Jacob, who had not come into contact with this art form until then, bought hand puppets and performed them in front of an audience for the first time on August 10, 1921 in Hartenstein in the Ore Mountains - his own birthday party, which was largely consisted of Wandervogel friends - a short game. From this developed the Hartenstein puppet shows, which, after the growing group of artists moved to Hohnstein Castle in Saxon Switzerland, became world famous as Die Hohnsteiner .

Jacob and his "Punch Family", as the group of artists around him called themselves, initially lived at Hohnstein Castle and performed their Punch games there; As a youth hostel, the castle ensured a constant “supply” of interested visitors. The puppet family included not only the puppeteers themselves, but also their wives as well as the wood sculptor and puppet carver Theo Eggink and the costume designer Elisabeth Grünwaldt , whom Jacob had both met through the Wandervogel. With these talented people managed sustainably Jacob, the puppet theater from the environment of the year market get and as educational means and form of theater to establish.

In 1933 Jacob and his ensemble had to leave Hohnstein Castle: the mighty fortress was confiscated by the Nazis and converted into a concentration camp. The Kasper family moved into a multi-family house (called "Kasperhaus") built by the community and in 1939 received the puppet theater from the exhibition Sachsen am Werk in Dresden , where Jacob's stage was a guest during the exhibition in 1938, which was rebuilt.

This was followed by international guest tours as well as numerous film productions (primarily short films, with Kaspers Reise um die Welt , 1950, but also full-length) and recordings for radio and (later) for television. Many of Jacobs' texts for the Puppenbühne appeared in print from the 1930s and later also translated into other languages.

In the 1940s, the Hohnsteiner stage was used to support the troops . In other respects, too, Jacobs Theater functioned as the German showcase puppet theater during the Nazi era . After the Second World War , he was often blamed for a lack of distance from the Hitler regime.

After the Second World War, Jacob began a fresh start with his Hohnsteiner puppet theater in Hamburg. Most of his former team-mates - all of them still young - died in the war or, like Rudolf Fischer, started their own business. Jacob's wife Marie stayed in the Kasperhaus in Hohnstein until her death in the 1990s , as did the carver Eggink and the costume tailor Grünwaldt.

In 1953 Jacob finally said goodbye to active puppetry, but remained present at specialist conferences and courses and was closely associated with puppet theater. Other puppeteers such as Friedrich Arndt , Harald Schwarz and Erich Kürschner carried on the work of the Hohnsteiner in the spirit of Jacobs. In 1957 Jacob was elected President of UNIMA , an international puppet theater association. He held this office until his death in 1967.

Max Jacobs urn was buried in the small cemetery right next to the Hohnstein puppet theater. His wife Marie, the carver Eggink and the costume designer Grünwaldt are also resting in the same cemetery today.

Appreciation and aftermath of Max Jacobs' work

  • The traditional association Hohnsteiner Kasper e. V. tries hard to maintain Jacob's legacy and operates the rebuilt Max Jacob Theater in Hohnstein , which is named after Kasper, in Saxon Switzerland. Theater performances, readings and concerts as well as film screenings take place here. The association pays particular attention to inexpensive performances for groups of children. The puppet theater built in 1939 is a cultural monument and is included in the list of monuments of the city of Hohnstein. It is located directly opposite the Hohnstein Castle, which is operated as a youth hostel. The city of Hohnstein also paid tribute to Jacobs' work by naming a street in Max-Jacob-Straße .
  • The recordings of the Hohnsteiner Kaspers are still available in stores today - 40 years after they were made. Jacob's successor Friedrich Arndt plays Kasper on most radio plays, but Jacobs' distinctive voice can be heard on two of the radio plays.
  • Hohnstein hand puppets are still made in Hohnstein and sent from there all over the world. Most of these are the types of figures developed by Max Jacob and his carver Theo Eggink.
  • After all the stage directors died, not a single one of the Hohnsteiner puppet theaters existed. Many of today's theaters adorn themselves with the historical name Hohnsteiner , but in fact have no direct relationship to Jacob and his idea of ​​the puppet theater and also do not work in his legitimate successor.
  • Parts from Jacob's artistic estate are now in the Puppet Theater Museum in Bad Kreuznach and in the Hohnstein Local History Museum.
  • In the course of the revitalization and redesign, the city of Bad Ems renamed a previously neglected passage in its inner city the Max-Jacob-Kultur-Passage.


In the series Der Hohnsteiner Kasper (currently at Deutsche Grammophon ), among others with and by Max Jacob:

Episode 1:

  • Kasper becomes king (with Max Jacob as Kasper spokesman)
  • The bear goes for a walk
  • The tourist train
  • The curious princess

Episode 2:

  • The mysterious coffee grinder
  • The fun with the giant
  • The fearful ghost
  • The magic betting

Episode 3:

  • An adventurous air journey
  • The green balloon (Max Jacob: Wachtmeister)
  • The devil carousel
  • The Strange Groundhog (Max Jacob: Magician)

Episode 4:

  • The flying house

Episode 5:

  • The Bridge of Lies
  • Kasper catches the pirates
  • Sorrow with the cuckoo clock
  • Kasper and Seppel with the Indians

Episode 6:

  • A kind of dates
  • The bewitched cone ball (Max Jacob: Man in the moon)
  • Aquarius treasure
  • Exciting visit (Max Jacob: robbers)

Episode 7:

  • The lucky bird (with Max Jacob as Kasper speaker)
  • The raven prince
  • The Rain Guessing (Max Jacob: Klingelmann)
  • It doesn't take much to be happy

Episode 8:

  • The Butzemann in the sack
  • Strolling philipp

Episode 9:

  • The honey cake horse

Episode 10:

  • A dog is shopping

(Unless otherwise stated: Friedrich Arndt in the role of Kaspers)

Literature (selection)

  • Max Jacob: My Kasper and I (autobiography), Rudolstadt 1964.
  • Richard Schimrich: The hand puppet amateur playbook of the Hohnsteiner , Reichenau 1942.
  • Herbert Just (Ed.): Mensch, Narr, Weiser - Puppeteer (Ceremony for Jacob's 70th birthday), Kassel 1958.
  • Ludwig Krafft:  Jacob, Max. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 10, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-428-00191-5 , p. 218 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Wolfgang Hensel, Gerd J. Pohl (preface): Kasper's way from east to west (with a detailed chapter on Max Jacob and the Hohnsteiner puppet shows), Dettelbach 2008, ISBN 978-3-89754-301-0

Awards (selection)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b The puppet theater in Hohnstein celebrated its 75th birthday - and is now called Max-Jacob-Theater , Dresdner Latest News, May 19, 2014.
  2. Max-Jacob-Kultur-Passage in Bad Ems. Retrieved June 12, 2016 .