Siegfried Jacobsohn

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Siegfried Jacobsohn.jpg

Siegfried Jacobsohn (born January 28, 1881 in Berlin ; † December 3, 1926 there ) was a German journalist , editor and theater critic. In 1905 he founded the magazine Die Schaubühne and renamed it Die Weltbühne in 1918 , of which he remained editor until his death.


At the age of 15, Siegfried Jacobsohn, who came from a Jewish family, decided to become a theater critic. In October 1897 he left school without a qualification and began studying at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Berlin , which was also possible without a high school diploma . His academic teachers included Erich Schmidt , Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff and Max Herrmann . But he learned even more than from them by studying reviews that seemed exemplary to him, especially those of Maximilian Hardens , Fritz Mauthners and Paul Schlenthers . He took additional advice from actors, including Albert Bassermann , Jakob Tiedtke and Richard Leopold .

Memorial plaque for Siegfried Jacobsohn

As a student, Jacobsohn was hired by Hellmut von Gerlach as a theater critic for the Berlin weekly newspaper Die Welt am Montag . “This youth,” Gerlach later recalled, “literally spent every evening of his student life in the theater. He knew every actor in every role, and he knew all of the stage literature. At the same time, the accuracy of the judgment that seemed unimaginable with such youth. It was a phenomenon ”( Frankfurter Zeitung , November 8, 1926, 1. Morgenblatt).

In March 1901, Jacobsohn's first contribution was published in Die Welt am Montag . In June 1902 he received a three-year contract as an editor. In September 1902 he also took over the theater correspondence for the Vienna daily newspaper Die Zeit .

He quickly made a name for himself as a sharp critic of amateurism on stage and in 1902, in the dispute over Hermann Sudermann's polemic Die Verrohung in theater criticism , did not shy away from attacking the Berliner Tageblatt as the “seat of art corruption”. In November 1904, the features editorial team retaliated this daily newspaper published by Mosse-Verlag by accusing Jacobsohn of plagiarism in two cases. He explained the correspondence with the texts of the theater critic Alfred Gold with the fact that after working on his book Das Theater der Reichshauptstadt in his memory "words, pictures, sentences and whole sequences of sentences awakened by the slightest association were [slumbered] by foreign authors" be. In spite of the advocacy of Maximilian Harden and Arthur Schnitzler , who, in view of the similarities in commonplace formulations, could not believe in "intellectual theft", the world dismissed its critic on Monday .

Head of the first Schaubühne on September 7, 1905

After several months of traveling to Europe, which took him to Vienna, Rome and Paris, among other places, he returned to Berlin at the end of May 1905 with plans for a theater magazine. The first issue of the weekly, which initially specialized in theater issues and was given the title Die Schaubühne in reference to Friedrich Schiller's essay Die Schaubühne viewed as a moral institution , appeared on September 7, 1905. Julius Bab , Willi Handl and Alfred Polgar were among the most important collaborators , Robert Walser (from 1907), Lion Feuchtwanger (from 1908), Herbert Ihering (from 1909), Robert Breuer (from 1911) and Kurt Tucholsky (from 1913).

Cover of the Weltbühne dated December 2, 1930

From 1913 onwards, Jacobsohn gradually opened the “Leaflet”, as he liked to call his magazine, also for political topics. In April 1918 he renamed it Die Weltbühne and developed it into a pacifist forum for the political left that is well known beyond Germany . With the realignment, the employee profile also gradually changed. Polgar and Tucholsky continued to belong to the narrow circle of authors. In addition there were u. a. the political journalist Kurt Hiller (from 1915), the economist Alfons Goldschmidt (from 1917), the satirical writer Hans Reimann (from 1917), the co-founder of the German Peace Society Otto Lehmann-Rußbüldt (from 1918), the social democratic politician Heinrich Ströbel (1919 / 20), the art critic Adolf Behne (from 1920), the writer Walter Mehring (from 1920), the business journalist Richard Lewinsohn (from 1921), the journalist Friedrich Sieburg (from 1921) and the political editor Carl von Ossietzky (from 1926) .

As a theater critic, Jacobsohn was Alfred Kerr's antipode , unlike Kerr a staunch critic of naturalism and, in contrast to him, also valued Max Reinhardt's achievements as a theater director and director far higher than those of Otto Brahm . Reinhardt's turn to an arena theater, which led to the conversion of the Schumann Circus into the Great Playhouse, which opened in 1919, was decidedly disapproved of. After the First World War, he placed great hopes in Leopold Jessner's work as director of the Staatliches Schauspielhaus in Berlin, and also attentively registered the productions by Ludwig Berger , Jürgen Fehling , Heinz Hilpert , Berthold Viertel and finally Erwin Piscator .

In addition to the classics, especially William Shakespeare , the authors valued and supported by Jacobsohn in the first few years included Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Arthur Schnitzler . The hopes he placed in neo-romantic drama, however, did not come true for him. That was probably a major reason for its gradual politicization that began in 1913. He judged the stage works of Expressionism - with the exception of the plays by Georg Kaiser and Ernst Toller - extremely critically: "In this entire generation of poets", he wrote in the Schaubühne on March 14, 1918, "there is too little of actual poetry."

During the Weimar Republic, Jacobsohn was one of the few theater critics who immediately recognized the potential of authors like Bertolt Brecht , Arnolt Bronnen and Carl Zuckmayer , although - as he confessed to Herbert Ihering in 1920 - he had long been plagued by theater fatigue.

By “drawing on the right people”, so Kurt Hiller in 1950 in his book Heads and Trots , Jacobsohn brought about a “tremendous rise” in his paper after the First World War. It is particularly noteworthy that Jacobsohn also opened it to articles on topics that were important in terms of cultural policy, but were not in the least important to him. This includes, above all, film reviews for which he was able to win over Hans Siemsen , Frank Warschauer , Roland Schacht and Rudolf Arnheim as employees. He also set new accents in music criticism by entrusting the social democratic Wagnerian Klaus Pringsheim with the music criticism - himself a staunch opponent of Richard Wagner .

Politically, towards the end of the First World War, he was getting closer and closer to the positions of the USPD . In 1918 he was involved for a short time in Hiller's Council of Intellectual Workers , but soon left it because editorial work seemed more important to him for the world stage , he did not want to be co-opted by parties and he was fundamentally hateful of doctrinal positions. He showed no reservations about social contacts, for example with Oskar von Hindenburg , which he reported ironically to Tucholsky in Paris. When he intensified his journalistic polemics against President Ebert , the alleged “traitor of his class”, Jacobsohn admonished him with prophetic words in November 1924:

Finally leave the Ebert alone! First, you will long for him bitterly from his successor. Second, body size is not an argument. Thirdly, I would like to experience what you would say if a German national representative were a German national Reich President (...) Fourthly, he achieved the dissolution of the Reichstag in a tough battle, and that means that I will stay with you and pay you a salary while you with a new right-wing government you could have looked for me and your money in the mass grave.
Siegfried Jacobsohn's grave in the south-west cemetery in Stahnsdorf

Jacobsohn was a decidedly argumentative character. In the “Answers” ​​section and in his own articles and series of articles, he also attacked opponents who one might think deserved his support: In 1913 there was a violent conflict with Theodor Lessing after Jacobsohn's report on Hermann Sudermann's play Der had a good reputation and Sudermann appealed to the courts for it. After he had had a falling out with Stefan Großmann as early as 1918 , Jacobsohn claimed in 1920, due to interim support, that Großmann was being paid by directors for positive reviews (in 1922 he had to withdraw this accusation). In 1925 - on a tip from Kurt Tucholsky - he unjustifiably accused Heinrich Fischer of plagiarism, which led to the final rift with Karl Kraus , who - although his character was very similar - had an "urge to button ahead that bordered on morphinism" in the torch “Certified. In fact, the Jacobsohns sometimes brought hasty attacks because they were not sufficiently backed up by research, earning him around forty lawsuits over the years, many of which he won, but not all.

Jacobsohn also worked for numerous other periodicals, including the Deutsche Montagszeitung (Berlin), the Frankfurter Nachrichten , the Weser-Zeitung (Bremen), the Prager Presse , the Prager Tagblatt and the Zeit im Bild (Berlin / Munich / Vienna).

He died unexpectedly of an epileptic fit on December 3, 1926. Jacobsohn was buried in the south-west cemetery Stahnsdorf , south of Berlin ( honorary grave of the city of Berlin ). Since 1915 he worked with the publisher and translator Edith Jacobsohn born. Schiffer married, who several times saved the publisher from bankruptcy with her fortune. With her he had a son, Peter Jacobsohn (1916–1998).

His weekly newspaper Die Weltbühne was continued for a few months after his death by the reluctant Kurt Tucholsky (1926/1927), then by Carl von Ossietzky (1927–1933). His widow Edith Jacobsohn took over the management of the publishing house in 1927. In 1933 the magazine was banned and its archive was confiscated; it has since been lost. It appeared after the ban in 1933 as the “New World Stage” in Prague; Re-establishment in 1946 in East Berlin, discontinued in 1993.


  • The theater of the imperial capital . Albert Langen, Munich 1904.
  • Max Reinhardt . Erich Reiss , Berlin 1910.
  • The Jacobsohn case . Schaubühne publishing house, Berlin 1913.
  • The first days. A writer experiences the beginning of the First World War on Sylt . Reuß & Itta publishing house, Konstanz 1916 [1] (Reprint 2014).
  • [As editor:] Oscar Sauer. A memorial book 1856-1916 . Oesterheld & Co., Berlin 1916.
  • The year of the stage . 10 volumes. Oesterheld & Co., Berlin 1912–1920, Verlag der Weltbühne 1921.
  • Max Reinhardt . 4th and 5th completely changed (and extended to seasons up to 1919). Erich Reiss, Berlin 1921.
  • Richard von Soldenhoff (Ed.): Letters to Kurt Tucholsky 1915–1926. The best employer to the worst employee . Munich and Hamburg 1989.
  • Collected writings , ed. by Gunther Nickel and Alexander Weigel . Wallstein, Göttingen 2005.


  • Rolf BadenhausenJacobsohn, Siegfried. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 10, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-428-00191-5 , pp. 245 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Joachim Bergmann: The Schaubühne - The World Stage 1905–1933. Bibliography and index with annotations . Saur, Munich 1991.
  • Axel Eggebrecht : About Siegfried Jacobsohn . In: Hans Jürgen Schulz (Ed.): Journalists on journalists . Munich 1980.
  • Alf Enseling: The world stage. Organ of the intellectual left . CJ Fahle, Münster 1962.
  • Hans Mayer : Siegfried Jacobsohn in front of the Schaubühne and Weltbühne . In: Ders .: On the German literature of the time. Connections, writers, books . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1967.
  • Rolf Michaelis : From the stage world to the world stage. Siegfried Jacobsohn and the Schaubühne . Königstein / Taunus 1980.
  • Gunther Nickel: The Schaubühne - the world stage. Siegfried Jacobsohn's weekly and its aesthetic program . Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1996.
  • Stefanie Oswalt: Siegfried Jacobsohn. A life for the world stage . Bleicher, Gerlingen 2000, ISBN 3-88350-665-6 .
  • Alfred Polgar: S. J. and ›Die Weltbühne‹ . In: Die Weltbühne , vol. 23, no. 48 of November 29, 1927, pp. 830–832.
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki : The solid enthusiast . In: Ders .: The lawyers of literature . DVA, Stuttgart 1994, pp. 203-216.
  • Rolf Schulze: The theater critic Siegfried Jacobsohn . Leipzig undated
  • Wolfgang Steinke: The publicist Siegfried Jacobsohn as a theater critic . Berlin 1960.
  • Kurt Tucholsky: Memory of Siegfried Jacobsohn . In: Die Weltbühne , vol. 23, no. 48 of November 29, 1927, pp. 810–812.

Web links

Wikisource: Siegfried Jacobsohn  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Siegfried Jacobsohn  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Father of many sons - the publicist Siegfried Jacobsohn. Retrieved February 13, 2018 .
  2. ^ Wilhelm von Sternburg: "There is an eerie atmosphere in Germany": Carl von Ossietzky and his time. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-351-02451-7 , pp. 194f.
  3. ^ Wilhelm von Sternburg: "There is an eerie atmosphere in Germany": Carl von Ossietzky and his time. Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-351-02451-7 , p. 196f.