Türkenstrasse in Munich’s Schwabing District (1910s)
This photograph shows Türkenstrasse in Munich’s Schwabing district. Around 1900, this residential area west of the English Garden was a hotbed of cultural activity and a center of Bohemian life. (Contemporary travel books still describe the neighborhood as Munich’s version of Greenwich Village.) The sheer number of important intellectuals, political figures, publishers, and artists who lived and worked in this neighborhood at the turn of the century is nothing short of staggering. For example, in 1896, Georg Hirth (1841-1916) founded and published the journal Jugend there. The journal lent its name to the Jugendstil movement, the German variant of Art Nouveau. That same year, Schwabing also saw the publication of the first issue of the satirical journal Simplicissimus, edited by Thomas Theodor Heine (1967-1848) and Albert Langen (1869-1909). From 1911-1914, the neighborhood was home to the Blue Rider (der Blaue Reiter), a highly influential avant-garde artists’ group whose membership included Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Gabriele Münter (1877-1962), Franz Marc (1880-1916), and Paul Klee (1879-1940). Thomas Mann (1875-1955) and Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924), who first adopted the pseudonym Lenin while living in Schwabing, were only two of the numerous luminaries who resided there for a time. Fortunately, literary accounts preserve a vivid picture of life in Schwabing in the two decades preceding the First World War. The eccentric Countess Franziska zu Reventlow (1871-1918), a quintessential neighborhood Bohemian, once remarked that “Schwabing is not a geographical term but a state.” And Thomas Mann’s novella Gladius Dei (1903) opens with an equally evocative description of the Bavarian capital as a whole: “Munich was shining.…” This photograph (1910s) was taken by Heinrich Hoffmann (1885-1957), who would go on to become Adolf Hitler's personal photographer.