Das Buch der Deutschen in America: Pages 393 - 397

Theodor Hoster was born in Winnweiler, Rhine Palatinate in 1854. He emigrated at an early age and he lives in New York. He is a publisher of the Scientific American. Emil Klässig, born in New York in 1881, wrote sketches and other works. Vitus Völkel was born in 1849 in Wirsitz in Posen. He currently lives in New York. He wrote Superstition and Imagery and many other works.

Henry F. Urban (1) was born in Berlin. He is a humorist and satirist and a descendent of Johann Heinrich Voss. He is a contributor to many prominent periodicals in Germany and America. He wrote In the Land of Dollars, Mouse Lulu and many other works.

Marie Jüssen was born in Madison, Wisconsin. Since 1904 she is the editor of The German Housewife in Milwaukee. She is the compiler of a series of travel pictures of the old homeland. She has written biographies of important women and other works. Albert Pulvermacher (2), born in Bromberg in 1866, first studied medicine and later philology and literature. For a time he was secretary to Max Nordhaus in Paris. He emigrated in 1892. He was employed by the Pittsburger Volksblatt, then the Hobokener Abendpost and the New Yorker Morgen-Journal. In 1897 he became editor and drama critic of the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung. He wrote mottos and other works.

Mrs. Louise Lübbe, born in the Altmark, lives in Chicago. She is the writer of many novellas and poems. Adolf Schaffmeyer lives in New York. He is an editor of the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung. He wrote many important novels as well as successfully


Caption under picture at center reads Adolph Schaffmeyer.

(1) Picture of Henry Urban can be found on page 391. Return to text

(2) Picture of Albert Pulvermacher can be found on page 392. Return to text

producing dramas: His Lordship, the Baron, Honorable Men and other works.

Hermann Alexander (1), founder of the Echo in New York which ceased publication at the beginning of the year 1909, describes himself in the following way: "Born in Pomerania forty-five years ago. Attended the gymnasiums [academic high schools] in Stolp and Danzig and for some time intended to study theology. Upon more mature reflection it seemed better to me to turn the world upside down as a writer. However the world remained the same even though I came to America in the year 1881 especially to achieve this goal. Soon after I met my destiny in the daily press. I grew up with the New Yorker Herold, worked my way up the ladder and after nearly twenty years of employment left a place of operation, which I completely loved. Then I established my own newspaper, the New York Echo, currently in its seventh year of operation. I atoned for the sins of my early childhood as a newspaper publisher. Besides half a hundred smaller articles I have written only one not-so-large novella, which doesn't impress me as much today as it did at the time of its birth. For the most part I've only written carnival poetry, which I still write today. Herman Alexander."

Robert Reitzel is without a doubt one of the most professional German poets and writers of our new homeland and he deserves special attention. He was born on January 27, 1849 in Weitenau in the Black Forest. He lost his mother when he was young and nothing much in common bonded him to his father. Intending to study theology, he went to the University of Heidelberg. In 1870 he came to America and threw himself into all different kinds of occupations as a novice. He later published his collected experiences in Arme Teufel under the title Adventures of a Novice. Independence and passion for freedom are the fundamentals of Reitzel's character. They brought him into conflict with the church. In the end, he set the coin on its edge. He began a life of wandering as a "traveling orator." He was very popular in gymnastics clubs and radical societies.

In Detroit at the end of 1884 he published a newspaper with the help of friends. Der Arme Teufel was first issued on December 6, 1884. Der Arme Teufel was not only popular, it was loved and each new issue was joyfully anticipated.


Caption under picture at right center reads Dr. William L. Rosenberg.

(1) Picture of Hermann Alexander can be found on page 395. Return to text

Reitzel did not write according to a preset system. He gave of himself and many found that it was more beautiful and greater than a system. He introduced German-Americans to the literature of the young writers of Germany: Karl Henkell, J. H. Mackay, Wedekind, Hauptman. He also acquainted them with American thinkers such as Emerson and Thoreau. His own poetry is indeed the best to be written in German America. However he did not want to be merely a purveyor of beauty; above all else for him there exists the fight for freedom and not just the phrase-packed "political freedom." This didn't satisfy him. He wove his own ideal of freedom.

Incurable illness forced Reitzel to the sickbed years before his death. But although he suffered greatly, his Arme Teufel maintained its same humor and youthful vigor. Reitzel died in Detroit on March 31, 1898.

Karl Kniep lives in Newark, New Jersey. He was born in Hannover on October 6, 1845 and has been in America since 1866. He established a wholesale business in Newark. He is the composer of the opening hymn for the 21st National Sängerfest and poetry gathering. He wrote Through Storm and Sunshine for Forty Years.

W. L. Rosenberg (1), born in Germany on January 10, 1850, came from Lutheran parents in Westphalia. For years he was employed as a Latin teacher and during that time he also wrote. His first poem was published in 1880 in Frankfurt on the Mainz. In 1881 he emigrated to the United States, took up the study of national economy and afterwards for two years was employed as a teacher in Boston. He went into the political newspaper field first in Chicago, then New York, later in Cincinnati and from 1898 on in Cleveland, where in 1901 he opened an institute for speech-impaired and intellectually left-behind children.

Rosenberg demonstrated his gift for theatrical writing through many works. Crambleton (1869), On the Moral Wave, The Bringer of Peace and The Hero of San Juan Hill are the titles of his dramatic works, which found overall approval from the audience. In these works the poet deals with social themes with psychological undertones. Rosenberg, who has travelled much and has had an abundantly rich life, is without a doubt one of the most multifaceted writers of German-American literature. His collection of stories, From the Empire of Tantalus (1888 Zurich) met with great approval.


For nearly four hundred years the spark of German intellect has continually drifted over to the New World, which of late has seen little that is new.


(1) Picture of W. L. Rosenberg can be found on page 394. Return to text

Thus it is little wonder that German activity and thought, work and perception have become strong factors in American life. It will become greater than it already is and as it should be when the German casts off his all-too-great modesty. —

And yet, despite this shy holding back, the German art of poetry has raised itself up bravely in the infertile soil of America. Grant it that the abundant host of German authors in the United States may be as numerous as the brightest stars in the heavens among their own people and it may certainly be viewed with great satisfaction that in the honorable struggle of these humble gifted ones they are the truest to genuine German passion; these German poets in America are the standard bearers of the German Ideal on foreign soil.


German-America's Greatest Ballad Writer

Udo Brachvogel is one of the best known literary personalities in German-America. He was born in 1835 but he has maintained the eternal youth of the poet.

He studied law in Jena and Breslau, published a promising small volume titled Youth Poetry in Vienna and came to the United States in 1866, where he worked for a time as co-editor of the Westlichen Post in St. Louis. Later in New York he took over the editorship of the flourishing Belletrischen Journal, in which many of his poems appeared.

He is best known as a prosaist among the younger generation. His novel, Corn King, which was published in installments in the newspapers but never appeared in book form, describes the relationship of man to the earth with an intimacy reminiscent of Zola's powerful work, The Earth. Another novel of importance is Astray on the Prairie. Especially powerful in this tale is the description of a blizzard; other great events of nature, such as wildfire and hurricanes, are favorite subjects for the author in his poetry. It is worthy of mention that it was Brachvogel who translated Bret Harte's first works perfectly into German since he is mainly a masterful translator. We thank him for this and in warm recognition of his accomplishments for his first larger novels he has been dubbed "Udo Brachvogel, Esq." by the Americans. Meriting further mention is the gripping work written in verse titled Novella of the Female Artist.

Astonishingly, Brachvogel's poetry is not available in book format. Even so, based on the small number of poems in anthologies, professional critic Carl Busse declared that Udo Brachvogel is the most prominent of the German-American poets. The critic can decide how true this statement is when the youthfully vital old man assembles his poetry for publication. From the manuscripts and excerpts which the poet has kindly put at our disposal, it is undeniable that we cannot withhold from him the laurel wreath as our greatest ballad writer. He possesses life, mastery of color, music and image like no other of our poets. His teachers were Rückert and Freiligrath, for whom he was a worthy pupil. For him language is a tone instrument and a palette. He often performs the most daring of experiments with great success. Above all else it must be said that his feeling for what sounds beautiful and what is seen as colorful occasionally dominates his sense of language. In the attempt to create never before existent effects, the artful wood carving becomes ornamentation, which forces art. Indeed for this school of poetry this is unavoidable and with Brachvogel the approach is fully justified.

He is as conscientious in his artistic intentions as any other German-American poet. Often he searches for days for a word, for he knows that in each case there is only one work that is appropriate.

If Brachvogel were merely great in creating artistic effects, then that would be sufficiently worthy of praise and it would place him high above most of our poets. However it is the form — as paradoxical as it might sound — which is the soul of art. Brachvogel has also given the soul a body.

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Text provided by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Buffalo NY
Imaging and translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks