Apparently, at Heinrich Zille’s funeral in Berlin in 1929 the respective delegates from the socialist town council and the communist party entered into a violent public dispute over his artistic legacy. At the time of his death Zille was a legendary figure. He was so well known and loved in the city that each side of the warring left had an interest in appropriating his work and reputation. And the work was sufficiently open to allow them to do so. Indeed, in 1933 one of his main critical champions, the sociological journalist Hans Ostwald, attempted to defend it from censorship on the grounds that Zille had ‘exposed in order to help all his compatriots towards a better life. Unconsciously, he prepared the way for the national socialist movement and the new Germany’. This essay examines the character of Zille’s published representations of Berlin life, particularly in the pre-war years, in the light of both its enormous popularity and its political ambivalence, which were, of course, not unconnected.
|Publication status||Published - 2008|