A woman named Betty Karrenbauer was photographed in Weimar, Germany in the 1920’s. Little is known about her, but these photos have been posted all over Tumblr and while her life remains a mystery, she would surely have been fun to time travel with. I’m sure someone will tell her story one day.
A Gritty Weimar Portrait of Youth Gangs, Restored to Renewed Acclaim
By WILLIAM GRIMES
When Nazi students burned proscribed books all over Germany in 1933, a compact work of fiction by a writer named Ernst Haffner went up in smoke along with the writings of Thomas Mann, Robert Musil and Sigmund Freud.
“Jugend auf der Landstrasse Berlin” (“Youth on the Road to Berlin”) had been published the previous year to considerable acclaim for its unsparing look at a gang of down-and-out teenagers in Berlin. “I have rarely read a description of this milieu that is so grippingly written,” the journalist and cultural critic Siegfried Kracauer wrote in The Frankfurter Zeitung. “If a film should ever be made of it, the public will get an object lesson that goes far beyond the usual gangland movie.”
No film was ever made. After 1933, the book and the author sank into oblivion and remained there until a small German press, MetroLit, reissued the novel in 2013 under the title “Blood Brothers.” It created a sensation at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and went on to harvest rapturous reviews in the German press. For many German readers, it seemed as though a time capsule had been unearthed, transmitting a live report from the final days of the Weimar Republic.
All the more intriguing, then, that the novel, which is to be published on March 3 in the United States by Other Press in a translation by Michael Hofmann, had lain hidden for so many years. “Not even scholars interested in the Weimar Republic had this book on their radar screen,” said Erhard Schütz, a professor at Humboldt University in Berlin and the author of “Novels of the Weimar Republic.” “Even though, in the 1980s, I researched and wrote about the problem of destitute youth in Weimar novels, I never came across Haffner’s name or the novel.”
No photograph of Ernst Haffner exists. Only a few scraps of biographical information survive. Kracauer, in his review, referred to Haffner as “a journalist who has long plied the area between Alexanderplatz and the Silesian Railway Station” (now the Ostbahnhof) — in other words, the poor and working-class neighborhoods in the eastern part of Berlin.
There is speculation that Haffner might have been a social worker. An official city registry puts him in Berlin between 1925 and 1933, and in 1938 he was summoned to the office of the culture ministry of the Third Reich.
That is it. In an article on the novel, the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag asked readers to send in any information they might have about the author’s fate. There has been no response.
The novel resurfaced in the late 1970s when it caught the eye of Rolf Lindner, a cultural sociologist doing research on youth gangs in Berlin. “Haffner’s book was by far the best written of the contemporary literature on the question of unemployed, delinquent youth at the end of Weimar,” he said.
Very excited to announce the new project I’m working on for Maple Key Comics which needs your support on KICKSTARTER!! Maple Key is a comics anthology magazine, released bi-monthly. Edited by Joyana McDiarmid. Act now, and it’s 300 pages of comics (by some of my best friends and fave cartoonists) for only $5 (digital) or $15 (print). You’d be a fool not to support it!!
My story is called “The Disappearance of Pepper Stein.” It’s about an underground queer nightclub known as “Bahnhof,” which occupies an abandoned turn-of-the-century Manhattan metro station. Despite its outlandish fashions and glorious performances, this club is drowning in submerged dark secrets: false identities, affairs, blackmail, and murder. And they are all about to surface.
Phaedra M, a bumbling and adorable private investigator heads to the nightclub to search for Pepper Stein, a wild socialite (the daughter of Brooklyn sausage magnate Saul Stein) who has taken off with a fortune of her father’s money.
This story is campy, glamorous, and deeply queer. It’s an homage to four of my favorite things: Agatha Christie, Paris is Burning, Michael Alig, and Weimar Germany. Those all go together, right? No? Oh well. I’ve been working really hard on the art for this story. As some of you know, most of my comics have been pastiche, based on “drag"ing out the work of renowned cartoonists. This time, though, I’m continuing in the style developed for my piece in QU33R. No references, just free drawing. It takes forever, but i’m happy with the results. More updates soon!!
The cruelty of abstraction, its cutting into the flesh of sensuousness in order to enact such sensuousness, engages us on the ground of our bodily mortality, which the reigning universals eclipse as a condition for meaning. The disturbance, distress, suffering of the material surface - just that - that these canvases perform (on and to us) are a way of calling back and voicing sensuous reality in its mortal coils, of recalling or inventing an experience of depth of transcendence that hangs on nothing more than our bodily habitation of a material world in which all things pass away.