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Biographical/Historical Information

The poet and playwright Ernst Lissauer was born in Berlin on December 10, 1882, the son of Hugo Lissauer (1843-1910), a city counselor for Charlottenburg and one of the founders of the Berliner Reformgemeinde. Ernst Lissauer’s first collection of poetry, “Der Acker” was published in 1907. In 1914 at the beginning of World War I, he wrote “Hassgesang gegen England” (‘Song of Hate against England’), the poem that brought him most fame. Lissauer served as a volunteer in the war and edited the German sections of the Feldwochenschrift, which was published in German and Hungarian from 1917 to 1918. At the end of the war he was transferred to Berlin, where he worked in the media department of the Ministry of War. As a playwright, his biggest success was the comedy “Gewalt”, which was performed for the first time in Frankfurt in 1924. In 1923, Lissauer moved to Vienna, where he stayed for the rest of his life. His last collection of poems was published in Vienna in 1936. He died on December 10, 1937 and is buried on the Jewish cemetery in Vienna.

Eugen Spiro was born in Breslau, Germany (Wroclaw, Poland) in 1874, the son of a synagogue cantor. He studied art in Breslau (under Albrecht Bräuer), Munich (under Franz von Stuck), and in Italy. After an extended stay in Berlin from 1906 to 1914, Spiro settled in Paris, where he belonged to a group of artists that met at the Café du Dôme. He received a professorship at the Académie Moderne, was elected to the Académie Des Beaux-Arts and co-founded the Salon d'Automne. The outbreak of WW I forced him to return to Germany, where he soon became a popular portrait painter. From 1915 to 1933 Spiro was on the executive board of the Berlin Secession and a professor at the Staatliche Kunstschule. The Nazi takeover forced Spiro into emigration. The sixty-one-year old went to Paris in 1935, where he founded the Union Des Artistes Libres in 1936. During this time, he met his wife Lily Jacoby at a French internment camp in Gurs. After the German occupation of France in 1940, Spiro and his wife emigrated to America, settling in New York in 1941. Spiro worked as a teacher at the Wayman Adams School in Elizabethtown, New York and at Dartmouth College. He participated in exhibits in the United States for the rest of his life. Eugen Sporo died in New York in 1972.

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Spiro, Eugen: Portrait of Ernst Lissauer (1882-1937), Leo Baeck Institute, 78.581.