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Emigre Literary Journalism - past events

Émigré Literary Journalism in 1920s Berlin: Past events

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Russian Jewish Artists and Book Design, 1919-28. Berlin as a Showcase for the Old and the New Russia

During the years 1922-23, almost half a million Russians lived in Berlin. Some of them proclaimed themselves to be emigrants, others considered Berlin as merely a gathering point, a staging post, rather than a declared destination of emigration. A further group of Russian Berliners emerged following the Treaty of Rapallo in April 1922, whereby Germany accorded de jure recognition to the USSR. These were pro-Soviet intellectuals, travelling on Soviet passports. Despite deep antagonisms between those groups, in many instances intellectual exchanges took precedence over political recriminations, and their encounters led to an enormously fruitful cultural production.

It was the period of Dada; Expressionism made a strong impact through painting and cinema; Constructivism and Suprematism were on their way to Europe from Russia where the new revolutionary social context had provided rich fodder for avant-garde artists, and in 1922 the First Russian Art Exhibition brought avant-garde artists from Russia to Berlin. The profile of Russian Berliners was thus manifold, depending largely on their experience in the pre-Soviet Russian Empire but also on their degree of resistance or conformity to the new governing elites in Soviet Russia: for some of them, Berlin was the cultural capital of the Russian Diaspora; others were simply attracted by the favourable economic and technical conditions Germany offered to foreign press and book publishing during the years of hyperinflation, while in Russia subsidies for such activities had been cut and self-financing was obligatory. Altogether 44 Russian publishing houses had been established in Berlin. As a result, in 1922 more books were published in Russian than in German.

This Russian publishing scene of 1920s Berlin is brought to life for us by some colourful art editions that, for a short time, united Russian craftsmanship, Jewish book ornamentation, Soviet design, and German typographical engineering. It was a symbiosis unique in the history of publishing. This exhibition will display some of the finest masterpieces of book design by Jewish artists from Russia, both Silver Age and Avant-garde. Among them are works by Nathan Altman, Boris Aronson, Marc Chagall, Josef Tschaikov, El Lissitzky, Issacher Ber Ryback, Leonid Pasternak and Leo Michelson. Periodicals on display include Milgroym/Rimon [The Pomegranate], Zhar ptitsa [The Firebird], Spolokhi [Northern Lights], and Zlatotsvet [Chrysanthemum], all published in and disseminated from Berlin during the 1920s.

The exhibits and reproductions are part of the LS Collection, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


A Homage to the Jewish Talent for Journalism: 80 Years of Pressa

An International Interdisciplinary Conference, jointly organised by the Universities of Bremen and Portsmouth. Bremen, 12–14 May, 2008

The 80th anniversary of Pressa, the international exhibition of modern press and design held between May and October 1928 on the banks of the river Rhine in Cologne, is a welcome opportunity to revisit the items displayed at the time, together with their editors and audience. The timing and the location of Cologne for such an exhibition were not arbitrary choices: the year 1928 was a watershed for the modern press with its fundamental principles under review, and a period of growth, stocktaking and consolidation.

Twenty four countries and the League of Nations (Völkerbund) participated in this cultural show, the most impressive exhibition of its kind to date, and a debut for the Jewish press, which, thanks to the initiative of Isidor Bodenheimer, was granted its own space: both historical roots and current developments of the modern Jewish press were on show, including a section on the new Hebrew Press in Palestine and a limited allocation to the Yiddish press. Bodenheimer, highly appreciative of the Jewish contribution to writing and publishing, wanted the Jewish Press Pavilion to be a sign of Jewish integration and the combating of prejudice.

This Conference, jointly organised by the Universities of Bremen (Deutsche Presseforschung) and Portsmouth (Centre for European and International Studies Research), aims to bring together a variety of approaches on the study of modern journal and book publishing, with emphasis on the Jewish contribution to modern journalism. In its planned structure and content the conference attempts to follow loosely that of Pressa

80 Jahre „Pressa“: Internationale Presse-Ausstellung Köln 1928, und der jüdische Beitrag zum modernen Journalismus

Eine internationale interdisziplinäre Konferenz, gemeinsam veranstaltet von den Universitäten Bremen (Deutsche Presseforschung) und Portsmouth (Centre for European and International Studies Research). Bremen, 12.-14. Mai 2008

Der achtzigste Jahrestag der Eröffnung der Internationalen Presse-Ausstellung „Pressa“ in Köln 1928 – Mai bis Oktober – bietet einen Anlass, die dort zur Darstellung gebrachten Themenbereiche, einschließlich der zeitgenössischen Akteure und der Öffentlichkeit, aus heutiger Sicht zu betrachten. Sowohl der Zeitpunkt als auch die Lokalität dieser historischen, in ihrer Art besonderen Presseausstellung erscheinen nicht zufällig: Hier ging es um eine Bestandsaufnahme und Selbstdarstellung des modernen Journalismus, seiner Ansprüche, seines Umfeldes in einer weltoffenen Großstadt der Weimarer Epoche. Vierundzwanzig Länder und der Völkerbund beteiligten sich mit eigenen Beiträge an einem kulturellen Ereignis, das bis heute als

eindrucksvollste Ausstellung zum Pressewesen gilt. Für die jüdische Presse bedeutete die „Pressa“ gleichsam ein Debut: Dank der Initiative vor allem von Isidor Bodenheimer konnte sie in einem eigenen Pavillon sowohl ihre historischen Wurzeln als auch neuere Entwicklungen präsentieren, einschließlich eines Abschnittes zur neuen hebräischen Presse in Palästina und, begrenzt, auch zur jiddischen Presse. Eingedenk der Beiträge jüdischer Publizisten zur Literatur und Presse der Zeit wollte Bodenheimer mit diesem Pavillon ein Zeichen für die gesellschaftliche Integration des Judentums setzen und gleichzeitig gegen antijüdische Vorurteile angehen.

Die Konferenz zum achtzigjährigen Jubiläum der „Pressa“, gemeinsam veranstaltet von den Universitäten Portsmouth (Centre for European and International Studies Research) und Bremen (Deutsche Presseforschung), möchte unterschiedliche Ansätze in der Erforschung des modernen Pressewesens, einschließlich seiner historischen Entwicklung, zusammenführen. Einer der Schwerpunkte wird der jüdische Beitrag zum modernen Journalismus, sowohl innerhalb einer spezifisch jüdischen Presse als auch im allgemeinen Pressewesen, sein. Ihren Inhalten nach lehnt sich das Programm zum Teil an das historische Konzept der Pressa an.