Erich Mühsam

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Erich Mühsam
Birthplace Berlin, Imperial Germany
Anarchist, poet, playwright, and cabaret performer
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mühsam, Erich


Born Apr. 6, 1878, in Berlin; died July 11, 1934, in the Oranienburg concentration camp. German poet, playwright, publicist.

Miihsam was the son of a pharmacist. In his first collections, which included The Desert (1904), he depicted the world through the eyes of a lonely hero. He published topical verse in satirical journals. In its thematic content, Mühsam’s poetry was similar to the rebellious antiwar lyric poetry of left-wing expressionism. For the first time in 20th-century German democratic poetry, Miihsam created the heroic figure of the revolutionary.

In 1919, Miihsam took part in the struggle for the establishment of a Soviet republic in Bavaria. After the counterrevolutionary coup in Munich, he was arrested and remained in prison until 1925. In his satirical play Weather for All (1930; published posthumously), he exposed the behind-the-scenes collusion of the Nazis, industrialists, and the German military clique and the conciliatory policy of the right-wing Social Democratic leaders. Mühsam was arrested in early 1933 by the Nazis, who staged his “suicide” a year later.


Auswahl: Gedichte, Drama, Prosa, 2nd ed. With an obituary notice by E. Weinert. Berlin, 1961.
In Russian translation:
Zemlia v ogne. Moscow, 1925.
Prizyv: Izbr. stikhi i rasskazy. Moscow, 1925. [Verse.] In Nemetskaia demokraticheskaia poeziia. Moscow, 1955.


Pavlova, N. S. Tvorchestvo Erikha Miuzama. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Among them are Bernard Lazare, Gustav Landauer, Milly Witkop, Rudolf Rocker, Peter Kropotkin, Erich Muhsam, Hans Kohn, Alexander Shapiro, Martin Buber, Augustin Souchy, Willi Paul, Heiner Koechlin, Sam Dolgoff, Joseph Luden, Jose Ribas, Hans and Syma Popper, Micha Michaelis, and Giora Manor.
Marc Chagall used the traditional Christian imagery associated with the Crucifixion as a symbol of the massacre of Jewish people while the German-American satirist George Grosz depicted the violent persecution of his friend, writer Erich Muhsam.
You did not have to be highly conservative to be shocked by the politics and aesthetics of avant-garde theater in the 1920s: the radical plays of Erich Muhsam and Ernst Toiler, together with director Leopold Jessner's assaults on the classics, politicized theater by attacking nationalism, and, in the process, cutting well-known texts, sacrificing the poetic recitation of verse drama, and sometimes providing inaudible spectacles.
Writings by the last laid the ideological foundation for the Sozialistischer Bund, whose first members were Martin Buber and Erich Muhsam.
Such seemingly diverse figures as Alfred Kerr and Erich Muhsam, the SPD leader Otto Braun, the liberal newspaper-owner Theodor Wolff, and the diarist and professor of Romance literature Victor Klemperer were united by the veneration of authority, hierarchy, and the Obrigkeitsstaat that had been instilled in them, often by violent means, in their youth.
And this seems also to have applied to Ball's wife, Emmy Hennings, who, judging from Erich Muhsam's recently published diaries, was torn by similar polarities.
This synthesis also meant that it was home to an important anarchist faction, with both Erich Muhsam and Gustav Landauer active in the state.
Walter Fahnders clarifies the links between the anarchist intellectuals Gustav Landauer and Erich Muhsam and the Bohemian scene.