Oskar Baum

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Oskar Baum in the 1920s

Oskar Baum (born January 21, 1883 in Pilsen , Austria-Hungary ; died March 1, 1941 in Prague ) was a Bohemian writer.


Baum was the son of a Jewish cloth merchant in Prague and suffered from vision problems from birth. At the age of eight he lost one eye and at the age of eleven he lost his sight completely in a fight. As he was therefore no longer able to take part in the normal classes at the grammar school, he was sent to Vienna to the Hohe Warte Institute for the Blind . There he trained as a music consultant and learned to play the organ and piano . In 1902 he passed the teaching examination and returned to Prague. Baum earned his living as organist and cantor of a synagogue ; later he became a piano teacher.

In 1904 Max Brod introduced Baum to Franz Kafka and Felix Weltsch . The three became friends, and after Baum's marriage to Margarete Schnabel, the couple's apartment became a meeting point for the Prague district . Here the friends read their own literary texts to each other, but people were also enthusiastic about foreign texts and house music. During this time, a lively correspondence began between Kafka and Baum.

In 1908 Baum made his debut with his novel "Uferdasein", which is autobiographical and made him famous - almost overnight. From 1922 the writer and politician Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk won him over to work for his daily newspaper Prager Presse . One focus of Baum's journalistic work was music and theater reviews; but also essays and glosses on social issues were written by him. Gradually other newspapers and magazines became interested in Baum's work; u. a. These include Die Weltbühne (by Siegfried Jacobsohn ), Die Aktion (by Franz Pfemfert ) or Der Sturm (by Herwarth Walden ) as well as the exile magazine Neue Deutsche Presse published in Prague .

In 1929 Baum was able to publish his story "Nacht ist umher", to which Stefan Zweig had written an epilogue. In 1934 Baum took over the chairmanship of the "Protection Association of German Writers" in Czechoslovakia and held this office until 1938. After the Munich Agreement and the increased pressure on Czechoslovakia, he was relieved of the post and his journalistic activities. After the German invasion of Prague in March 1939, his writings were banned.

An exit to Palestine failed because of the bureaucracy. At the end of February 1941 Baum underwent an intestinal operation in the Jewish Hospital, the consequences of which he later succumbed to. Shortly thereafter, his wife was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and died there. The couple's only son, Leo Baum (1909–1946), died on July 22, 1946 in the Irgun attack on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem .


  • Shore existence. Adventures and everyday things from the blind life of today. Axel Juncker, Berlin-Charlottenburg 1908
  • Life in the Dark (autobiographical) novel. Axel Juncker, Berlin-Charlottenburg 1909
  • The life of Mrs. Marianne Rollberg. Axel Juncker, Berlin-Charlottenburg [1912]
  • A fate. Narrative. In: Saturn. A monthly. , 2nd year, issue 8, Saturn-Verlag (Hermann Meister), Heidelberg 1912
  • The evil innocence. A small-town Jewish novel. Rütten & Loening, Frankfurt / M. 1913
  • Two stories (1. The Beloved; 2. Unlikely rumor of the end of a folk man). Kurt Wolff, Leipzig ("Der Jüngste Tag", Volume 52) 1918
  • The danger. A novella. In: German poets from Prague ed. by Oskar Wiener, Ed. Strache, Vienna Leipzig 1919
  • The transformed world. German-Austrian publishing house, Vienna 1919
  • The door to the impossible. Novel. Kurt Wolff, Munich 1919
  • The wonder. Drama in three acts. Berlin 1920
  • The New Reality. Heris, Reichenberg ("Heris books", volume 3) 1921
  • Night is around Reclam's Universal Library (RUB 7005) Reclam, Leipzig 1929
  • The way of blind Bruno. In: New German storytellers. Vol. 1 Paul Franke, Berlin [1928]
  • Three women and me. J. Engelhorns Nachf., Stuttgart 1928
  • The writing that didn't lie. Axia, Berlin 1931
  • Two Germans. La Bibliothèque, Antwerp 1934
  • The people of hard sleep. Löwit, Vienna Jerusalem 1937
  • The victims , in Jewish stories from Prague. Library Bohemica, 9th ed. Christian Grüny. Vitalis, Prag 1997, pp. 135–148 (first in: German poets from Prague . Ed. Oskar Wiener . Strache, Vienna 1919)


Web links

Wikisource: Oskar Baum  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. after Weissweiler p. 100 "State examination for organ"
  2. Weissweiler p. 100: “Music critic of the› Prager Presse ‹”.
  3. Weissweiler p. 100.
  4. cf. Weissweiler p. 101.
  5. According to Weissweiler p. 101: He was unable to present a tax certificate from 1920 that was required for his departure to England.