I've been spending lots of time with my diary anthology and am hoping to finish this weekend. I was struck by the excerpt of German artist Käthe Kollwitz, whose work I am familiar with but of whom I knew very little about biographically. She was a graphic artist and sculptor. She was the first woman to be elected to the Berlin Academy (in 1919) and served as the director for the Academy's masterclasses for graphic art from 1928 until she was dismissed by the Nazis in 1932. Despite this she was one of the foremost artists of the country.
Not only was one of her son's killed in 1914 in WWI but a grandson died in battle on the Russian Front in 1942 during WWII. Her anguish and antiwar attitude are apparent in her work, which was banned by Hitler in 1936. "She loved Germany but came to reject the concept of sacrifice of youth for nationalistic ideals." Since I've been reading about WWI these excerpts seem particularly poignant. I've read very little about the war from a German perspective and really do need to broaden my horizons a bit.
August 22, 1916
Stagnation in my work.
When I feel so parched, I almost long for the sorrow again. And then when it comes back I feel it stripping me physically of all the strength I need for work.
Made a drawing: the mother letting her dead son slide into her arms. I might make a hundred such drawings and yet I do not get any closer to him. I am seeking him. As if I had to find him in the work . . .
March 19, 1918
. . . If all the people who have been hurt by the way were to exclude joy from their lives, it would almost be as if they had died. Men without joy seem like corpses . . .
. . . At the beginning it would have been wholly impossible for me to conceive of letting the boys go as parents must let their boys go now, without inwardly affirming it--letting them go to the slaughterhouse. That is what changes everything. The feeling that we were betrayed then, at the beginning. And perhaps Peter would still be living had it not been for this terrible betrayal. Peter and millions, many millions of other boys. All betrayed . . .
October 1, 1918
. . . Wildly contradictory feelings. Germany is losing the war . . . Will the patriotic emotion flare up once more so powerfully that a last-ditch defense will start? . . . not another day of war when it is clear that the war is lost.