Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack: more than a Bauhaus artist
Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack was among the first students of the Weimar Bauhaus in 1919. Written by Resi Schwarzbauer with Chris Bell, this book is a culmination of two decades of research, drawing on extensive private family archives and oral histories. For the first time, it reveals the full details of Hirschfeld-Mack’s extraordinary life as so much more than a Bauhaus artist — teacher, musician, inventor, performer, pacifist — a man of compassion and resilience.
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Attracted by the visionary ideas of Walter Gropius, and the promise of a new world order following the First World War, Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack was among the first students of the Weimar Bauhaus in 1919. In the company of talents such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Oskar Schlemmer and Josef Albers, he thrived in the atmosphere of creative freedom and artistic experimentation — but fell victim to the suppression of such ideals with the rise of Nazi Germany and the closure of the Bauhaus.
From the battlefields of the Western Front, to a hellish sea journey on board the Dunera, and to the internment camps of New South Wales and Victoria, Hirschfeld-Mack’s story is one that it is linked inextricably to the major events of the twentieth century. Self-exile from Germany in 1936, and enforced separation from loved ones, became mandatory detention in Australia as an enemy alien. Unexpectedly, it was in Australia that he found peace and fulfilment as a teacher at Geelong Grammar School and in the company of family, old and new.
Riveting, inspiring and deeply moving, this book is a culmination of two decades of research, drawing on extensive private family archives and oral histories. For the first time, it reveals the full details of Hirschfeld-Mack’s extraordinary life as so much more than a Bauhaus artist — teacher, musician, inventor, performer, pacifist — a man of compassion and resilience. Ultimately, his story is a plea for creativity and enterprise, and a stirring testament to our common humanity.
Resi Schwarzbauer was born in Tatura Internment Camp, where Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack was also held, a connection that stimulated her deep admiration for the man. She taught German in primary schools for most of her teaching career, and in 1999 was presented with a Department of Education LOTE Award for German by the Governor of Victoria, in recognition of her significant contribution to languages education. She has published various resources for German teachers, some of which relate to her connection with Tatura, as well as a series of craft books for Macmillan. Resi lives in the Melbourne suburb of Boronia.
Chris Bell is the grandson of Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack. His mother, Marga, was the eldest daughter of Ludwig and his first wife, Elenor. Chris, a retired Commonwealth public servant, became the custodian of his grandfather’s legacy in Australia in 1986, following the death of Hirschfeld-Mack’s second wife, Olive. He is the curator of an extensive private family archive. Chris and his wife live on the Gold Coast, where the memory of Hirschfeld-Mack lives on in the many artworks that fill their home.