Oskar Loerke

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Loerke (fourth from right, seated) - Prussian Academy of Arts , 1929

Oskar Loerke (born March 13, 1884 in Junge bei Schwetz (now Polish: Wiąg) in West Prussia ; † February 24, 1941 in Berlin ) was a German poet of Expressionism and Magical Realism .


Berlin memorial plaque on the house at Kreuzritterstrasse 8, in Berlin-Frohnau
Honorary grave of the city of Berlin in the Frohnau cemetery , Hainbuchenstrasse 64–75
Footbridge Loerkesteig in Berlin-Hermsdorf , named after Oskar Loerke.

Oskar Loerke, born in Junge (West Prussia) in 1884, studied history, German, philosophy and music in Berlin from 1903. In 1906 he broke off his studies, in the same year he met his future partner Clara Westphal . Between 1908 and 1912 he made long journeys in Germany and France. He documented his experiences in detailed travel diaries. In 1909 he first met Moritz Heimann , editor at S. Fischer Verlag .

As a writer, he first emerged with the story Vineta (1907). In 1911 his first volume of poetry was published. Loerke paved the way for natural poetry with his strict form, intense imagery, musicality and mythical features . At the age of 29 he received the Kleist Prize in 1913 (together with Hermann Essig ). The prize money enabled him to travel to Italy and Algiers.

From 1910 to 1917 Loerke was a member of the Berlin “Thursday Society”, a meeting point of the artistically and intellectually progressive Berlin, where literature, music and painting were discussed.

From 1917 Loerke worked as an editor at " S. Fischer Verlag " and got to know the publishers' authors, especially Thomas Mann . After the First World War he became an enthusiastic supporter of Max Herrmann-Neiße and Walter Rheiner .

Between 1920 and 1928 numerous articles and reviews penned by Loerkes were published in the Berlin Börsen-Courier . Between 1929 and 1932 he also contributed to the literary magazine Die Kolonne , which was open to nature poetry.

In 1926 he became a member of the Prussian Academy of the Arts . Two years later he was given a paid position there as secretary of the “Poetry Section”.

In 1926 he gave a series of lectures on problems of form in poetry . In the years from 1931 to 1937 he organized reading evenings in the Berlin publishing house Rabenpresse .

His love for music was reflected in two writings on Johann Sebastian Bach and in 1938 on Anton Bruckner .

In 1933 Loerke, who rejected National Socialism , was expelled from the Prussian Academy of the Arts. However, after he had signed the pledge of the most loyal allegiance in October 1933 - according to the testimony of his friends with the intention of protecting his Jewish publisher Samuel Fischer - he was again a member of the “ cleanedGerman Academy of Poetry , a subdivision of the Prussian Academy of the arts.

Loerke retired to his house in Berlin-Frohnau and remained chief editor of the “S. Fischer Verlag ”, which he tried to defend against ever new repression and censorship measures. His volumes of poetry, Der Silberdistelwald (1934), Der Wald der Welt (1936) and Der Steinpfad (1938), which were published in the 1930s, established his reputation as a poet of " inner emigration " and representative of the so-called "natural magic school".

A few months before his death, he wrote an obituary for the Silesian poet and National Socialist Hermann Stehr , who died in the autumn of 1940 and with whom he had once been friends, which was published in the magazine Das Reich , which was controlled by Joseph Goebbels , which later led to irritations led because Loerke was mistakenly believed to be one of the authors of this propaganda magazine.

Oskar Loerke died in Berlin-Frohnau in 1941 . His remains are buried in the Frohnau cemetery. The grave is dedicated to the city of Berlin as an honor grave .

Works (selection)

Reading output
  • Poems and prose. Edited by Peter Suhrkamp. Volume 1 The Poems , Volume 2 The Writings . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1958.


Loerke viewed his books of poetry, published by S. Fischer Verlag during his lifetime, as a seven-fold unit, planned as a "book of seven". The individual volumes published between 1911 and 1936 are in turn divided into cycles.

  • 1911 wandering (in it: Blue Evening in Berlin )
  • 1916 poems (1929 in second edition under the title Pansmusik )
  • 1921 The secret city
  • 1926 The longest day
  • 1930 Breath of the Earth. Seven circles of poetry - projekt-gutenberg.org
  • 1934 The silver thistle forest
  • 1936 The forest of the world
Selected poems or poems from the estate
  • 1938 Magical Verses. Selected and introduced by Peter Suhrkamp
  • 1939 Carinthian summer. A few copies as a manuscript printed by Victor Otto Stomps
  • 1941 The stone path. First published in 1938 as a manuscript in a few copies, printed by Victor Otto Stomps
  • 1949 The farewell hand. Last poems. With an afterword by Hermann Kasack . Suhrkamp Verlag formerly S. Fischer (with the cycles Der Steinpfad , Kärnter Sommer , 1939, Der Gast von Altheide , 1940 and dedicatory poems on special occasions)
Complete edition of the poems

Novels and short stories

  • 1907 Vineta. narrative
  • 1909 Franz Pfinz. narrative
  • 1910 The tower. novel
  • 1919 The gold mine. Novella
  • 1919 Chimera rider. Novellas
  • 1919 The Prince and the Tiger. narrative
  • 1921 The ogre . novel

Diaries and records

  • Diaries 1903–1939 . Published by Hermann Kasack. Lambert Schneider Verlag, Heidelberg / Darmstadt 1955, German Academy for Language and Poetry, Darmstadt, fifth publication
  • Travel diaries . Introduced and edited by Heinrich Ringleb. Lambert Schneider Verlag, Heidelberg / Darmstadt 1960, German Academy for Language and Poetry, Darmstadt, twenty-second publication; partly read online at google books


    • Harz trip 1908.
    • Journey to the Giant Mountains 1909.
    • Trip to North Africa and Italy 1914.
      • Algerian trip
      • Italy trip
  • What doesn't change . Thoughts and remarks on literature and life, edited by Reinhard Tgahrt. Cotta, Marbach am Neckar 1996, ISBN 3-7681-9806-5 .

Literary essays, essays and reviews

  • 1922 Changes in a thought about music and its subject. (Bach essay 1)
  • 1925 contemporaries from many times
  • 1928 Problems of form in poetry
  • 1935 The invisible realm. (Bach essay 2)
  • 1933 The poet's poor public
  • 1935 The old risk of the poem
  • 1938 Anton Bruckner. A character image
  • 1939 house friends. Character images
  • 1950 Hermann Kasack (Ed.): Johann Sebastian Bach two essays. Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 1950. ( New edition with a foreword by Hermann Kasack and the essays on Bach from 1922 and 1935 )
  • Speeches and short essays by Oskar Loerke. Published by Hermann Kasack. Publishing house of the Academy of Sciences in Mainz, Wiesbaden 1956.
  • The book cart: meetings in the Berlin stock exchange courier 1920–1928. Edited by Hermann Kasack with the assistance of Reinhard Tgahrt. Lambert Schneider Verlag, Heidelberg 1965; partly read online at google books
  • Reinhard Tgahrt (ed.): Literary essays from the New Rundschau. Lambert Schneider publishing house, Heidelberg / Darmstadt 1967.


  • Moritz Heimann : Legacy writings. (Also the fifth volume of the prose writings) With an afterword by the editor Oskar Loerke. S. Fischer, Berlin 1926
  • Yearbook of the Poetry Section 1929 . Foreword and introductions by Oskar Loerke. S. Fischer Verlag, Berlin 1929, publication of the Prussian Academy of the Arts . The four main parts contain the lectures of the newly elected members, treatises on politics and poetry from the point of view of the reintroduction of censorship by the Prussian state parliament, the speeches on Lessing's 200th birthday and five university lectures from the winter semester 1928/29, including Loerke's lecture Formprobleme der Poetry .
  • German spirit. A reader from two centuries . Edited by Oskar Loerke and Peter Suhrkamp . With an introduction by Oskar Loerke. Two volumes. S. Fischer Verlag, Berlin 1940. The editors stated on the blurb that their intention was to provide a closed memorial of what the German spirit was, monumental and visible to the rest of the world, as a reminder, stimulation and strengthening for contemporary Germans . In 1953 an expanded edition appeared, ISBN 978-3-518-02623-6 with additional texts by Heinrich Heine , Karl Marx , Sigmund Freud , Ricarda Huch , Hugo von Hofmannsthal , Hermann Hesse , Gerhart Hauptmann and Thomas Mann , which at the time of the third Reiches would have led to a ban on the compendium.


  • Gerhart and Margarete Hauptmann / Oskar Loerke: Correspondence. Edited by Peter Sprengel in conjunction with students at the Free University of Berlin. Aisthesis-Verlag, Bielefeld 2006, ISBN 3-89528-552-8 .
  • Jochen Meyer: "I go to sleep with Kremserweiß and get up with vermilion!" Emil Orlik's "Camel Letters" to Oskar Loerke 1913–1932. Wallstein, Göttingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-8353-1360-6 .


"Loerke is one of the most important German-speaking poets of the epoch that followed Rilke, Hofmannsthal and George between 1920 and 1945."


  • Hermann Kasack : Loerke, character image of a poet. Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz. Treatises of the class of literature. Volume 2. Wiesbaden 1951.
  • Oskar Loerke 1884–1964. Catalog: A commemorative exhibition for the 80th birthday of the poet in the Schiller National Museum. Marbach am Neckar 1964.
  • Norbert Langer: I rhyme with all things. Oskar Loerke's trips to the Giant Mountains. In: Sudetenland. H. 1, 1980, pp. 46-51.
  • Jochen Meyer: Alternative worlds: Eugen Gottlob Winkler, Gottfried Benn, Oskar Loerke. In: Classics in Dark Times: 1933–1945. An exhibition by the German Literature Archive in the Schiller National Museum in Marbach am Neckar, May 14 - October 31, 1983. Volume 2. 1983, pp. 182–203. (Marbach catalogs. 38.)
  • Hans Dieter Schäfer : Oskar Loerke: Winter birds feeding. In: Poems and Interpretations. Volume 5: Harald Hartung (Ed.): From naturalism to the middle of the century. Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-15-007894-6 , pp. 360-368.
  • Gerhard Schulz : Zeitgedicht and inner emigration: To Oskar Loerkes poetry book "Der Silberdistelwald" (1934). In: Zeit der Moderne: On German literature from the turn of the century to the present. Edited by Hans-Henrik Krummacher, Fritz Martini and Walter Müller-Seidel on the occasion of Bernhard Zeller 's 65th birthday . Kröner, Stuttgart 1984, ISBN 3-520-85801-0 , pp. 377-399.
  • Walter Gebhard:  Loerke, Oskar. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 15, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-428-00196-6 , pp. 55-58 ( digitized version ).
  • Norbert Langer: The Chinese at Loerke. On the poetics of the poet. In: NZZ. Remote edition 141, June 22, 1990.
  • Norbert Langer: The breath of the earth. On the 50th anniversary of Oskar Loerke's death on February 24, 1991. In: NZZ. No. 45, 23./24. February 1991.
  • Hans-Josef Olszewsky:  LOERKE, Oskar. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 5, Bautz, Herzberg 1993, ISBN 3-88309-043-3 , Sp. 167-170.
  • Cordula Koepcke: "The easily vulnerable is constant." Oskar Loerke - poet in the resistance. In: Frank-Lothar Kroll (ed.): German authors of the East as opponents and victims of National Socialism. Contributions to the problem of resistance. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-428-10293-2 , pp. 75-92.
  • Christian Kohlroß: Theory of the modern natural poem. Oskar Loerke, Günter Eich, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2000, ISBN 3-8260-1742-0 .
  • Hans Sarkowicz , Alf Mentzer: Literature in Nazi Germany. A biographical lexicon. Extended new edition. Europa-Verlag, Hamburg / Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-203-82030-7 , pp. 305–308.
  • Hans Dieter Schäfer: Modernism in the Third Reich. Culture of intimacy with Oskar Loerke, Friedo Lampe and Helmut Käutner. Steiner, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-515-08432-0 .
  • Julia Cremer: Found again: Emil Orlik's mural from Oskar Loerke's gazebo in Berlin-Frohnau. In: Yearbook of the German Schiller Society. 53rd year 2009, Wallstein, Göttingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-8353-0524-3 , pp. 276-291.
  • Jan Röhnert : Oskar Loerke In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Ed.): Kindlers Literatur Lexikon 3rd, completely revised edition. 18 volumes. JB Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2009, ISBN 978-3-476-04000-8 , Volume 10, pp. 252-254.
  • Lutz Seiler : The world's forest. To Oskar Loerke. In: Sense and Form . Vol. 62 (2010), No. 4, pp. 524-534.
  • Jörg Thunecke: "The Years of Doom": The inner emigrant Oskar Loerke in his diaries and posthumous poems. In: Marcin Gołaszewski, Magdalena Kardach, Leonore Krenzlin (eds.): Between Inner Emigration and Exile. German-speaking writers 1933–1945. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2016, pp. 65–82.


  • Papers and essays on poems, motifs and the research situation are collected in:
    • Reinhard Tgahrt (Ed.): Oskar Loerke. Marbach Colloquium 1984. Hase & Koehler, Mainz 1986, ISBN 3-7758-1133-8 .
    • Reinhard Tgahrt (ed.): Contemporary of many times. Second Marbach Loerke Colloquium 1987. Hase & Koehler, Mainz 1989, ISBN 3-7758-1183-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. Quote from Hans Sarkowicz: “Loerke faced the National Socialists with disgust and fear from the start” in Ernst Klee : The cultural lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 375.
  2. ^ A b Ernst Klee: The cultural lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, p. 375.
  3. Hans Sarkowicz, Alf Mentzer: Literature in Nazi Germany. Extended new edition. Hamburg / Vienna 2002, p. 305 f.
  4. Jörg Thunecke: 'The Years of Doom': The inner émigré Oskar Loerke in his diaries and leftover poems. In: Marcin Gołaszewski, Magdalena Kardach, Leonore Krenzlin (eds.): Between Inner Emigration and Exile. German-speaking writers 1933–1945. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2016, pp. 65–82; here: p. 70 f. in Google Book Search.
  5. ^ Jan Röhnert: Oskar Loerke. In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Hrsg.): Kindlers Literatur Lexikon . 3rd, completely revised edition. 18 Volume JB Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2009, ISBN 978-3-476-04000-8 , Volume 10, pp. 252-254, here 252.

Web links

Commons : Oskar Loerke  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Oskar Loerke  - Sources and full texts