Saturday, 3 August 2019

Max Barthel (1893 – 1975) - German poet and writer

Max Barthel, who also used the pen names Konrad Uhle and Otto Laurin, was born on 17th November 1893 in Loschwitz, a borough of Dresden in Germany. The son of a bricklayer, Max had six siblings.  He began work in a factory when he was fourteen years old and worked as an unskilled labourer in various different jobs.  He was a member of the Socialist Youth Movement. Along with the German poets Heinrich Lersch and Karl Bröger, Max became a well-known ‘worker poet’.

During the First World War, Max served in the German Army and was wounded while fighting in the Argonne area of France.

After the war, Max founded Youth International in the Soviet Union in 1920 and went on to join the Nazi party, which alienated him from his former Communist companions.

Max died on 17th June 1975 in Waldbröl, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Max’s First World War collection was “Verse aus den Argonnen” (Eugen Diderich, Jena, 1917).

Cover of Verse aus den Argonnen
“In den Argonnen” by Max Barthel

In den Argonnen
liegt manches Grab,
Die himlischen sterne
Leucten herab.

In den Argonnen
fliesst junges Blut,
Und jedem var doch
ein Mädel gutt.

In den Argonnen
Donnert der Tot
Vom frühen Morgen
Zum Abendrot.

In den Argonnen
Tief in der Nacht,
Da wird noch mancher
Zur Ruhe gebracht.

In den Argonnen
Weinen im Wind
Die Toten Zeelen
Die nicht mehr sind.

In den Argonnen –
O Bittere Qual!
Heiss ist die Liebe
Kalt ist der Stahl.

A German photograph of the Argonne 1915


“In the Argonne”

In the Argonne
Are many tombs
On which the heavenly stars
Shine down.

In the Argonne
Young blood flows,
And each young man
Had a girl back home.

In the Argonne
The dead are thundering
From early morning
Till the setting of the sun.

In the Argonne
Deep in the night,
Many are silenced
No more to fight.

In the Argonne
You can hear the sound of dead souls
Wailing, voices carried on the wind
Of those you will never more find.

In the Argonne -
Oh bitter torment!
While passion runs hot
Steel is cold.

From: “Verse aus den Argonnen” (‘Verses from the Argonne’) by Max Barthel (Eugen Diderich, Jena, 1917). pp 20 - 21