Tucholsky, Kurt

Tucholsky, Kurt
© Sonja Thomassen

Kurt Tucholsky was born the son of a Jewish banker on 9 January, 1890, in Berlin. During his childhood, the family spent six memorable years (1893-99) in Stettin on the Baltic Sea coast, which Tucholsky regarded throughout his life as his “homeland”. After completing his schooling in Berlin, he studied law in Berlin and Geneva and was awarded a doctorate of jurisprudence in Jena in 1915. During World War I, Tucholsky spent most of his time behind the lines in Courland and Romania. He kept his distance from the German Revolution of 1918-19, although he did join the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), which since 1917 had been more determined in its struggle for peace than the SPD. During the 1920s, Tucholsky, who had already begun writing newspaper articles as a high school student, became one of the most renowned and harshest critics of Prussian militarism and German post-war society and its elites. In innumerable satirical articles for the pacifist Weltbühne (many of which appeared under his famous pseudonyms Peter Panter, Theobald Tiger, Ignaz Wrobel and Kaspar Hauser), the Berliner Tageblatt and Vorwärts and in chansons written for cabaret, he expressed his support the Weimar Republic, democracy and human rights. He regarded the years from 1924 to 1928 as his happiest, when he was living in Paris with his wife Mary Gerold (although this second marriage also ended in divorce). His immigration to Sweden signalled his sense of resignation in the face of the political situation in Germany and his name was included in the first list of those deprived of their citizenship issued by the Nazi regime in August 1933. Tucholsky died in Gothenburg on 12 December, 1935, probably by suicide.