bauhaus
imaginista
Interview

Praised, Sentenced, Forgotten, Rediscovered

62 Members of the Bauhaus in the Land of the Soviets

Erich Borchert, Colour plan for the canteen of the Moscow consumer
organisation MOSPO, 1930, in: Maljarnoje delo, No. 1/2, 1930, supplement.

Your research has brought to light that more than fifty members of the Bauhaus emigrated to the Soviet Union, a number that is much larger than was assumed at the beginning of the 1990s. What incentives did the Soviet Union offer to these mostly young people; and what did they hope for when they set off for eastern Europe?

Based on information gathered as of fall 2018, a total of 62 members of the Bauhaus left Germany or elsewhere for the USSR. They were from all fields of training at the Bauhaus: painters and graphic artists, designers, photographers, weavers, a composer and, of course, architects and town planners. Among them were teachers and administrative staff—members of Gropius’s building department—including foreign guest lecturers Edvard Hejberg, Mart Stam, Karel Teige and Hans Schmidt. We also found former students—with and without a diploma—under all three directors had moved to the USSR. For example, under Mies van der Rohe there was Arnold Knake, Michail Kowarski, Isaak Butkow, Lony Neumann and Anima Kuithan. Among the visiting or postgraduate students were Pál Forgo, Stefan Sebök, Antonin Urban and Tibor Weiner.

Persons traveling from the Bauhaus to Russia were from eleven countries. They belonged to various denominations—there were Protestants and Catholics, Jews and atheists. Of the 15 women and 47 men, around one third, 21 people, were members of communist parties: the others were not. Eighteen persons from the Bauhaus were naturalized. Belá Scheffler and Max Krajewski, the latter a Polish Jew, were stateless when they resettled there. They were then no longer registered as foreigners. (Only during the Great Terror did they make reference to their origin again.1)

However, the majority of those mentioned did not emigrate to Moscow but came as temporary contract workers—so-called inospezialisty (foreign specialists). No matter if they decided to take this path spontaneously or upon careful consideration, individually or collectively, they could not simply set off. They required valid documents to enter the country, a work contract concluded beforehand with a Soviet firm that also took care of their accommodations, and export permits for personal belongings such as typewriters and cameras. Even the articles of clothing they could take along were limited.

At first, hardly anyone was interested in these bureaucratic hurdles. All that mattered was the possibility to find out for oneself what this huge foreign country which since the October Revolution had taken a different path than the “Old World” was really like, and what the mentality of its people was. For the West was in a deep crisis that did not spare the Bauhaus either. Since Moscow promised a qualified position, the endeavor did not appear too risky—apart from one’s Russian language deficits. And let’s not forget that the Bauhaus members by no means arrived there clueless. There were numerous books, films, art exhibitions and lectures in the West. At the Bauhaus in Dessau, Dziga Vertov’s experimental films captivated the audience; lectures by El Lissitzky and Naum Gabo were highlights. And the eyewitness reports of Hans Volger, Peer Bücking, Gerhard Moser, Gunta Stölzl and Arieh Sharon—all of whom had gained firsthand experience with Russia—increased interest in this eastern New World.

Lony Neumann, The Saarland young pioneer Hubert L'Hoste in Wonderland, no year, Estate of Olga Beskina-Labas, Moscow.

Gerhard Moser, Street Children in Moscow, 1928, Private Archive Astrid Volpert.

The basis for foreigners to travel to the USSR, help build up socialism, and contribute to industrialization in the frame of the first two Five Year Plans was the decree from February 1927 of the Sovnarkom (Council of the People’s Commissars) “On Attracting Specialists from Abroad.” It addressed persons of distinction. Only with the decree dated 2 August 1928 were persons with average qualifications also welcome. By way of comparison: at the beginning of 1930 there were 1,112 foreigners; a year later there were 2,898; and at the beginning of 1933 there were 6,550. Mostly these people were representatives of industrial firms hired to install Western plants or train Russian specialized personnel, and then return home. While the Russians sought out distinguished specialists, such as Bauhaus professor Hinnerk Scheper, the other Bauhaus members applied voluntarily for the mission abroad—among them Max Krajewski, Willi Zierath and Isaak Butkow. Hannes Meyer, who offered himself to the Soviets after his dismissal from the Bauhaus in Dessau, brought seven former students with him to Moscow. From 1933 to 1935, during which several Bauhaus members left the USSR upon expiration of their work contracts, the first emigrants fleeing political persecution by the Nazi regime arrived. They were tolerated as refugees, but usually didn’t have the right to normal employment contracts and, like Gerhard Moser, who had fallen severely ill with tuberculosis in the Börgermoor concentration camp in Germany and came to Moscow with the help of the MOPR (the Russian section of the International Red Aid) after his exile to France, received provisional care and accommodation.

However, the majority of those mentioned did not emigrate to Moscow but came as temporary contract workers—so-called inospezialisty (foreign specialists). No matter if they decided to take this path spontaneously or upon careful consideration, individually or collectively, they could not simply set off. They required valid documents to enter the country, a work contract concluded beforehand with a Soviet firm that also took care of their accommodations, and export permits for personal belongings such as typewriters and cameras. Even the articles of clothing they could take along were limited.

At first, hardly anyone was interested in these bureaucratic hurdles. All that mattered was the possibility to find out for oneself what this huge foreign country which since the October Revolution had taken a different path than the “Old World” was really like, and what the mentality of its people was. For the West was in a deep crisis that did not spare the Bauhaus either. Since Moscow promised a qualified position, the endeavor did not appear too risky—apart from one’s Russian language deficits. And let’s not forget that the Bauhaus members by no means arrived there clueless. There were numerous books, films, art exhibitions and lectures in the West. At the Bauhaus in Dessau, Dziga Vertov’s experimental films captivated the audience; lectures by El Lissitzky and Naum Gabo were highlights. And the eyewitness reports of Hans Volger, Peer Bücking, Gerhard Moser, Gunta Stölzl and Arieh Sharon—all of whom had gained firsthand experience with Russia—increased interest in this eastern New World.

The basis for foreigners to travel to the USSR, help build up socialism, and contribute to industrialization in the frame of the first two Five Year Plans was the decree from February 1927 of the Sovnarkom (Council of the People’s Commissars) “On Attracting Specialists from Abroad.” It addressed persons of distinction. Only with the decree dated 2 August 1928 were persons with average qualifications also welcome. By way of comparison: at the beginning of 1930 there were 1,112 foreigners; a year later there were 2,898; and at the beginning of 1933 there were 6,550. Mostly these people were representatives of industrial firms hired to install Western plants or train Russian specialized personnel, and then return home. While the Russians sought out distinguished specialists, such as Bauhaus professor Hinnerk Scheper, the other Bauhaus members applied voluntarily for the mission abroad—among them Max Krajewski, Willi Zierath and Isaak Butkow. Hannes Meyer, who offered himself to the Soviets after his dismissal from the Bauhaus in Dessau, brought seven former students with him to Moscow. From 1933 to 1935, during which several Bauhaus members left the USSR upon expiration of their work contracts, the first emigrants fleeing political persecution by the Nazi regime arrived. They were tolerated as refugees, but usually didn’t have the right to normal employment contracts and, like Gerhard Moser, who had fallen severely ill with tuberculosis in the Börgermoor concentration camp in Germany and came to Moscow with the help of the MOPR (the Russian section of the International Red Aid) after his exile to France, received provisional care and accommodation.

Hannes Meyer, Peer Bücking, Israel Geimanson, Greater Moscow, 1932, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin (detail).

How did the professional and social situation of the foreign specialists from the Bauhaus evolve in the Soviet Union?

This must be seen in a differentiated way. It depends on the professional group, the status, the circumstances of resettlement, and the place of work: There was a lot to do for architects, town planners and color designers in Moscow, and, above all, in the regions of the country where the living and working conditions (hygiene) were more difficult. That is why mainly young people were sent there. For example, the head of the Frankfurt municipal building and planning office, Ernst May, whose work brigade included a number of persons from the Bauhaus, sent young specialists directly to the construction sites in Magnitogorsk, Nizhny Tagil, Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Prokopyevsk-Tyrgan and Novokuznetsk. In letters they offered vivid, enthused, critical and skeptical accounts of their everyday life to friends and colleagues. Mart Stam, for example, in a letter to Siegfried Giedeon, secretary general of the CIAM, wrote from Magnitogorsk on 25 August 1931: “We noticed that every honest person traveling to Russia, mostly arriving in Moscow first, has to cope with severe depression for several weeks. … That you cannot rely on what the rightist party writes is understandable, but the leftist party also conveys a false image; and although we know that the communist party exaggerates and although one is … disgusted by the tone of this press, one cannot entirely evade its influence.”2 In another letter to Giedeon from Makeyevka in the Ukraine, Stam wrote about the situation and task of the foreign specialists: “We are not working here with the intention of influencing the development of art and providing art history with new material but because we want to experience a major cultural-historical development (that is) unprecedented with regard to scope and extent. Here we have an entire people establishing a new order, seeking with great energy to bridge a gap of several decades; … We are not working in Moscow, we are always outside where the actual building is taking place. Where the simplest concepts are entirely new and foreign to the population. Living culture, hygiene, all amenities are unknown, one has hardly outgrown the earth hut. … Today we were dispatched to Makeyevka in the Donbas, where an old city of small wooden shacks is to be replaced by a new city. For more than 200,000 people. Our task is to realize the project on site, to have it approved, and then to select all projects for further buildings from an existing album (“standardized models,” AV) or design them ourselves, to fight for approval, and draw up plans ready for building. Such a task would impress any architect. It’s really incredibly inspiring, but nonetheless still so difficult and awkward, and far too difficult to understand.”3 At the end of 1934, Stam gave up and returned to the Netherlands.

Max Krajewski and Faina Belostotzkaja and others, Sozgorod in honor of the anniversary of the 1905 revolution, Moscow district Krasnaja Presnja (1932), competition project, model, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Archiv der Moderne, Max Krajewski Estate, scan: Astrid Volpert.

What kind of projects did they work on and how much did these still have to do with the kind of architecture they had learned at the Bauhaus?

Mart Stam already indicated it: It was not about “Bauhaus architecture”—only Hannes Meyer believed in it at first—but he had to correct himself later on as well. The Soviet clients (state administrations that functioned strictly upon command of the party apparatus) provided the guidelines, including each detail of aesthetic design. Generalissimo Stalin regarded himself as chief architect and often intervened in large-scale projects. Bauhaus members were involved in numerous urban planning projects, in the design of community buildings. They did research on the development of certain construction types (especially residential and school building). They were also in charge of interior architecture, implementing social demands and the technical details of building construction. The vague, impermanent structures of the Soviet building institutions that acted according to power-political calculus and monopoly became their undoing. So there was always too much paper architecture without any fault on their part. Characteristic of this were the tenders and competitions that dragged on over the years, the standards of which were changed again and again. We can think of the orders to reconstruct and redesign the Soviet capital. In 1932, Hannes Meyer, Peer Bücking and the Soviet architect Israel Geimanson, along with six other planning teams who were assigned the same task by the municipal soviet submitted a design for “Greater Moscow.” In complex and radical ways their plan envisioned the construction of a modern red satellite city, but it was rejected like all the other proposals. It was not until 1935 that agreement was reached on a new general plan, one that made no reference to the preliminary designs of the foreign specialists (Ernst May and Kurt Meyer had also participated).

Belá Scheffler, Trading house Uralmash (1932–35/38), northeast view, Ekaterinburg, Photo: Astrid Volpert, 2008, Private Archive Astrid Volpert.

Belá Scheffler, Trading house Uralmash (1932–35/38), round window north wing, Ekaterinburg, photo: Anja Ratowa, 2008, Private Archive Astrid Volpert.

Nevertheless, in the 1930s the Bauhaus was very useful for the development of architecture, urban planning and also consumer goods for the population. It was not in demand as a “style icon,” but as a place of practical training. In principle, Bauhauslers could organize everything themselves so that it worked: they were used to structuring, organizing and communicating their work well. They taught officially and unofficially. Moreover, they excelled as rational designers. When the cultural center connected with a canteen kitchen and a dining hall designed and built by Belá Scheffler in the Sverdlovsk Oblast in the Ural Mountains was inaugurated in 1935, the building lacked lamps and seating furniture. A trained carpenter, Scheffler designed these overnight and they were quickly produced according to his instructions. A similar anecdote has been told about Philipp Tolziner. While imprisoned in the gulag at Solikamsk, he constructed a perfectly functioning dental chair for the local female dentist.

Let’s please not forget the achievements of those who were active in other professions in the USSR. For example, the photographer and designer Lony Neumann and the weaver Lena Bergner, both from the Bauhaus commune at Arbat Square. The latter was active in a factory producing furniture textiles, designing new patterns and also installing and operating the weaving mills that produced the patterns she developed.4 Lony Neumann worked as the chief designer in the editorial office of the fine arts magazine Tvortchestvo, among other assignments. And Fritz Christoph Hüffner designed belletristic book covers for VEGAAR (Publishing Cooperative of Foreign Workers in the USSR).

What was life like for the former Bauhaus members when Stalin turned against so-called “formalist architecture” at the beginning of the 1930s? What was their plan B?

The turning point came in April 1932 with the decree issued by the Central Committee of the ACP(B) “On Restructuring Literary and Artistic Organizations” in the USSR. The pluralism of the numerous artists unions was to be abolished through unified professional associations. The architects—very few of whom were party members—resisted the longest; their first congress was held only in 1937. The Bauhaus members did feel the new wind of leveling effected by socialist realism that often culminated in pure naturalism or hero worship. Together with their design team, Max Krajewski and his wife Fanni Belostotzkaja, a student of Malevich and Lissitzky, had just won a prize for the “Jubilee Ensemble 1905,” for the central Moscow district of Krasnaya Presnya. The district they planned in memory of the 1905 Revolution was a thoughtfully conceived, fantastically implemented constructivist proposal for a socialist city with rhythmically alternating private and communal spaces. After the resolution of the Central Committee, there was no majority in favor of realizing it.

In the regions farther away from the capital, such as the Urals or Siberia, the architectural and urban planning premises of avant-garde contents and forms could still be realized until the mid-1930s. In a subversive way, modern structures were built and their bare facades were beautified with decoration. The problem, as Fred Forbat already saw it on-site in 1932/33, was not to create functionalist or constructivist architecture but architecture of quality. One had to get involved, to be curious and clever enough to combine the one (Western experiences) with the other (Eastern habits and customs). On the other hand, conditions for photographers and designers were less favorable. Lony Neumann laid her Rolleiflex in the cupboard once protocol photographs and monumentally bloated naturalistic works began to be exhibited and published. Her responsibility for designing the art periodical was revoked. Antonin Urban arrived from Prague at the newly founded architecture academy together with Hannes Meyer in 1934, where he conducted research on domestic architecture. But the special edition of texts and drawings conceived with Meyer was shredded after being printed, upon orders from higher up. The commissions Erich Borchert received to design building color schemes also became rarer. From then on he—like other migrants—had to make a living by selling his art. Soviet editorial boards rejected Borchert’s pointed antifascist caricatures for the press for stylistic reasons (“foreign strokes”), as his daughter Erika phrased it when looking at the originals.5

Most of the Bauhaus members remained guests in the country. In the mid-1930s (when the terror against dissidents and foreigners began), anyone who was able left the country, including Hannes Meyer and Hans Schmidt. They didn’t have a plan B, not for the USSR. In 1937 Konrad Püschel and Tibor Weiner were expelled from the country, Fritz Hüffner was arrested in Moscow and Peer Bücking in Leningrad. Isaak Butkow, one of the architects of the Moskva-Volga Canal, was tortured for an entire year before he—like Margarete Mengel, Antonin Urban, Leo Wassermann, and Michail Kowarski—was shot dead in Butovo near Moscow. The last resting place of Béla Scheffler, architect of the Sozgorod Uralmash, is a mass grave in the forest near the Moscow beltway. Other Bauhaus members died in prison hospitals (Gerhard Moser, Stefan Sebök), in camps in Kazakhstan (Erich Borchert, Arnold Knake), and on the Taimyr peninsula (Pál Forgó).

Antonín Urban, Vocational school of the Metallurgical Combine in Novokuznetsk, 1933, photo: Yevgenia Konysheva, Private Archive Astrid Volpert.

Tibor Weiner, the first five-storey dwelling house of the new Orsk on Prospekt Mira, 1935, photo: Astrid Volpert, Private Archive Astrid Volpert.

You were one of the first German academics to pursue an investigation of the Bauhaus members after the Russian archives were opened. What did you find

Erich Borchert, Colour plan for the canteen of the Moscow consumer organisation MOSPO, 1930, in: Maljarnoje delo, No.1/2, 1930, supplement, Private Archive Astrid Volpert.

Erich Borchert, Canteen of the Moscow consumer organisation MOSPO, 1930, today's building view in Weberstraße, now a bank branch, photo: Astrid Volpert, Private Afchive Astrid Volpert.

The Russian archives were opened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the era of President Yeltsin. In 1990/91 I traveled to the former restricted area of Swerdlowsk/Jekaterinburg, where Scheffler successfully planned and built for almost ten years, which was not clear to me at the beginning, because his track was hidden. Even as late as the 1980s his name appeared as a German pest and betrayer of the people in a chronicle of the history of the Ural plant for heavy mechanical engineering. And the confusion was complete when in 2003 the company newspaper published a report on an exhibition commemorating his 100th birthday under the headline, “An Agent of German Espionage Built the Uralmash.” For this exhibition, I was able to work with the first verified documents of the local plant museum. A year later I received extracts of Scheffler’s last criminal file. It was not until 2012 that his Comintern personnel file was opened for me in Moscow. In the meantime, many other names of Bauhaus members had been added. From 1999 onward I did research in Perm and Solikamsk. That is how I learned about the most significant places where the architect and monument conservator Philipp Tolziner worked. Inspecting the files is laborious. The stocks often reveal gaps. Sometimes you receive what you request, other times you don’t. Often, you cannot rely on the inventories. By the way, as a rule the documents are always related to the person, never to plans or works. These stocks are still mostly inaccessible today. If someone left the country, taking photocopies of their works and keeping them in his or her estate, which was later bequeathed to museums and archives in Western Europe, one has the chance to find something. For example: about Lotte Beese, Mart Stam and Johan Niegeman in the Netherlands; Tibor Weiner in Hungary; Hans Schmidt in Switzerland; Fred Forbat in Stockholm; and a number of Bauhäuslers in Germany, including in the Bauhaus successor institutions in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin. Many things have not been systematically collected and filed, and only a very few have been sufficiently evaluated.

Where in Soviet cities today can one still find traces of architects trained at the Bauhaus?

For that I have to open a map of the post-Soviet region: Russia, the Federation, forms the center of this historical search for traces. It has ranged from Moscow to Vladivostok, and in the Urals, which connects the European with the Asian part of Siberia and the Far East. The major projects with Bauhäusler participation are the Sozgorods Uralmash Yekaterinburg in Perm, Ishevsk, Linkes Ufer/Magnitogorsk (Orsk), Avtosavod/Nizhni in Novgorod, Chernigovsky Rayon in Ufa. The types of buildings include schools, technical and vocational schools, residential quarters, clubs—also in Novosibirsk and Novokuznetsk, in Sernograd in the Rostov Oblast. And when we look beyond today’s Russia, we can mention Baku (Azerbaijan), Samarkand, Bukhara (Uzbekistan), Kharkov, and Makeyevka (Ukraine).

A small group of Russian students visited the Bauhaus, whereupon a small Bauhaus delegation traveled to the Soviet Union, including Gunta Stölzl and Arieh Sharon (1928).

The trip you mentioned is cited in literature as evidence that there were direct relations between the avant-garde schools in Dessau and Moscow/Leningrad in the 1920s. However, they were not of an institutional character. The trip by Stölzl, Sharon and also Peer Bücking was the result of a private initiative by Gunta Stölzl. Prior to this, a group of Soviet Bauleute, including students of the VKhUTEIN, had visited the Bauhaus and issued an oral invitation. Stölzl, the junior master of the weaving workshop and a supporter of Hannes Meyer’s reforms at the Bauhaus—whose aim was to develop a new product range for a more socially just living and environmental culture—explored the Soviet capital with her students in April/May 1928. They met with fellow students of the VKhUTEIN and saw their works. Back in Dessau, the group’s oral report attracted a lot of attention. More than a year later, in November 1929—on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the October Revolution—Kostufra6 students from Dessau wrote a letter to the Moscow university students describing their own inadequate, i.e. “not sufficiently revolutionary” situation and disposition. The two institution’s respective directors, Meyer and Nowitzki, also exchanged short messages, welcoming the establishment of a lively exchange relationship.

In 1929 Hinnerk Scheper, junior master of the workshop for wall painting, was released from duty at the Bauhaus for two years to participate in building the Moscow Maljarstroi. He was accompanied by his wife, the painter Lou Scheper-Berkenkamp. What were their impressions of Moscow and were they in contact with the Hannes-Meyer Brigade?

It was Fred Forbat who arranged for Scheper to go to Moscow. He recommended him as the best color designer for architecture of Neuen Bauen. Scheper found this task very appealing, even though his wife, who accompanied him, was officially not allowed to collaborate. But she was in fact his closest consultant during this time and often also his colleague. She used her free time to write: some things were published in the “Moskauer Rundschau,” or in letters, while some of her other writings she kept private. Her first remarks were on what she experienced visually: “Astounding architecture, attractive due to the impression of having grown, not of having been planned. Juxtapositions and hodgepodge: magnificent buildings and … shops, churches and wooden houses … the squares are huge and irregular, the streets broad … Heavy (but never clunky) architecture next to primitive (yet emphatic) architecture.”7 Lou Scheper also mentions “vivid grays, pink, blues (made of ultramarine),” of large surfaces animated by lettering. However, the “modern architecture is mostly to be seen in the lively cityscape as a dead, gray block, structured in a foreign and ungainly way.”8

She thus named the challenge of making proposals of one’s own. Very soon, the Maljarstroi Laboratory, restructured by Scheper according to the workshop principles of mural painting, was booming. In February 1930, Erich Borchert (one of Scheper’s former Bauhaus students) strengthened the collective. After one year, a start had been made. Apart from his activities in the trust, Mossei Ginsburg tasked Scheper with the interior color design of the Narkomfin building. After his contract expired, Scheper returned to the Bauhaus, from there writing to his friend and colleague Boris Ender in a letter dated 6 November 1931: “I am still living very well with you and your, or our, work. I hope to continue what I have started next semester.”9 Scheper planned to commute between Moscow and Dessau in the future. The closure of the Dessau Bauhaus in 1932, as well as escalating political disputes in the Weimar Republic, problems with the Soviet authorities and, last but not least, concerns about being separated from his family made further trips impossible.

The relationship between Scheper and Hannes Meyer was already difficult at the Bauhaus. Scheper felt that Meyer—unlike his predecessor Gropius—did not take wall painting seriously. He understood Scheper’s delegation to Moscow as an affront and even wanted to dismiss him from the Bauhaus for this reason. In Moscow, he avoided any contact with Scheper. He was suspicious of Scheper’s ability to openly communicate and exchange with representatives of the Moscow avant-garde and the German ambassador (Herbert von) Dirksen.

And yet Meyer shared Scheper’s affirmative sense of a new beginning when he arrived in Moscow in October 1930: “all values are revaluated.”10 And a year later he wrote in a letter to Lotte Beese of having worked “in twelve months as much as in four years”: “…compared with the west, the east is strong and powerful.”11 He simultaneously announced that “in the near future i intend to perfect myself theoretically and systematically acquire a thorough leninist education. the bolshevik praxis establishes a natural solid foundation.”12 Meyer, who joined the Communist Party of Switzerland in 1935 and left the Soviet Union in 1936, stuck to this view.

The experiences and conclusions of Meyer’s illegitimate son, Johannes Mengel (1927–2003), were entirely different. Like his mother, the 11-year-old boy was arrested by the NKVD during the “German action” in early 1938; his mother was killed in Butovo in August 1938. His life was a constant struggle for survival. Only in 1994 could Mengel be repatriated to Germany as an ethnic German. In a biographical poem written in Russian and preserved in the family estate, he looked back, asking himself:

“Where does home begin?
From the grates of the jail in Taganka;
Or from rags wrapped in a miner’s boot.
Or, who knows?, from the Arbat or Sretenka
Of my achingly kindred Moscow
Where, lovingly, I absorbed my Russian
As the fairest tongue on this earth

As a child, I figured, my home
Was kindled in my mother’s embrace:
And the joy of the connection with the nations,
And friendship, love, charity.
But as a boy I recognized with sorrow
That I became the enemy son,
In prison, children's home and in the column
Cleaned when I was 11.

To my homeland I return to live.”13

Philipp Tolziner survived the gulag. In the 1960s he was allowed to return to Moscow. After many years of working as a conservationist and restorer in the Urals, his last urban planning project led him back to the Bauhaus experience of systematic residential construction he had first acquired at the Bauhaus. In Vladivostok, on one of the hills typical of the Far East (Sopka), he designed the new urban district “Wtoraja retschka” (Second River)—a dynamic arrangement of six-story housing blocks and the first skyscraper towers in the region. He paid special attention to the design of the courtyards and the planning of service facilities on the ground floor of the high-rise buildings.

Philipp Tolziner, Type buildings realized in Vladivostok, Wtoraja retschka district, Tolziner Estate, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.

Prospectus of the Moscow Institute of Urban Development Gorstroiprojekt, 1963 with type buildings elaborated by Philipp Tolziner, realized in Vladivostok, Wtoraja retschka district, Tolziner Estate, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, 

●Footnotes
  • 1 From autumn 1936 to the end of 1938, Stalin ordered the organs of the NKVD to arrest around 1.5 million people in the country. More than half were shot dead. The others were brought to the “corrective labor camps” of the Soviet gulag system. Only a very few survived. Among the victims of the mass operations against dissidents and alleged opponents of Stalin’s rule were many German contract workers and emigrants.
  • 2 Mart Stam, Correspondence, Inv.-No. 43-K-1931-08-25-1, ETH Archiv / gta Zürich.
  • 3 Mart Stam, Correspondence, copy of the letter, Inv.-No. 43-K-1932-08-20, ETH Archiv / gta Zürich.
  • 4 Regarding Lena Bergner’s work in the Soviet Union see Viridiana Riviera Zavala, María Montserrat Farías & Marco Santiago Mondragón, “Lena Bergner. From the Bauhaus to Mexico,” in the bauhaus imaginista Online Journal.
  • 5 Conversation between Astrid Volpert and Erika Koltschenko, November 2013 in Moscow.
  • 6 Kommunistische Studenten Fraktion.
  • 7 Notebook of Lou Scheper Moscow (July–November 1929), unnumbered pages, estate of Hinnerk and Lou Scheper, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin.
  • 8 Ibid.
  • 9 Estate of Boris Ender, Inv.-No. f. 2973 op.1 d.143 l.1, RGALI Moscow.
  • 10 Hannes Meyer, Letter to Margarete Mengel (former secretary at the Staatliches Bauhaus Dessau) sent from Moscow to Berlin, dated 1 November 1930. Getty Research Institute, LA, ID 910170 HM3, p. 1.
  • 11 Hannes Meyer, Letter sent from Moscow to Lotte Beese, dated 23 October 1932. Getty Research Institute, LA, ID 910170, HM 25, p.1.
  • 12 Ibid. (Exclusive use of lower-case lettering was typical of Meyer’s writing.)
  • 13 Archive of Astrid Volpert, translation by Guiliano Vivaldi.
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●Article
The “School in the Woods” as a Socio-pedagogical Ideal — Functional Analyses and Photographs by Peterhans

The building theory classes at the Bauhaus focused on imparting a functional understanding of architecture. Building had become a science. As a result, the ADGB Trade Union School was designed logically from the inside out. Walter Peterhans’ photographs of the school images illustrate both the architect’s intentions for the building and the environmental studies conducted by Bauhaus students. → more

●Translation
The Moscow Bauhaus exhibition catalogue (1931)

When Hannes Meyer had emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1930, one of the first things he did was organizing an exhibition about "his" Bauhaus. As early as in February 1931 Meyer had the exhibition “Bauhaus Dessau. Period of Hannes Meyer’s directorship. 1928-1930” already ready to receive the Moscow public. It was shown at the renown State Museum of New Western Art. This is the first English translation of the exhibition catalogue. → more

●Artistic Work
To Philipp Tolziner

For the exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away. The Internationalist Architect at Garage Contemporary Museum of Art, the contemporary artist Alice Creischer has been invited to respond to the personal archive of Bauhaus architect Philipp Tolziner. She produced reading of material relating to the architect’s socialist backgrounds and his work in the Soviet Union.  → more

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Richard Paulick and the Remaking of a Greater Shanghai 1933–1949

The article focusses on Richard Paulick’s sixteen-year exile in Shanghai. It is an examination of the interaction between a Bauhaus socialist and a Far East port city in its rush to modernize at the midpoint of the twentieth century. → more

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The “Hungarian Bauhaus” — Sándor Bortnyik’s Bauhaus-inspired Budapest School Műhely 1928–1938

One of the many Hungarians associated with the Bauhaus, painter and graphic designer Sándor Bortnyik (1893-1976) opened his art and design school, Műhely, in Budapest in 1928 to bring the Bauhaus’s sprit and some of its teaching methods into Hungary. Even if Bortnyik’s school did not have the scope of the Bauhaus, it was an efficient experiment in an independent form of institutionalized education in the field of modern graphic design and typography. → more

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The Spread of the Bauhaus in China

As early as the end of the 19th century up to the beginning of the 20th century, which is to say before the founding of the Bauhaus and after China’s forced opening through war to the outside world, China had already been witness to various experiments in modernization. Such experiments contributed to the laying down of a foundational mindset necessary for the acceptance of the Bauhaus in China’s traditional culture. → more

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Modern Vernacular — Walter Gropius and Chinese Architecture

This essay explores the connection between Walter Gropius and I. M. Pei, as well as the influence of the one on the other. After completing his studies, I. M. Pei worked with Gropius on plans for a university in Shanghai, which he subsequently realized in Taiwan, than in association with Chang Chao-Kang and Chen Chi-Kuan. → more

●Video
Architects' Congress

The passenger ship Patris II transported the participants of the 4th International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) from Marseilles to Athens and back. Bauhaus teacher Moholy-Nagy, travelling as a “friend of the new building movement” produced this half-hour soundless film as a travel journal. → more

●Video
Jawaja Project — A Case study

The NID was involved in a joint venture with the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in the adoption for development of a group of villages in Rajasthan. Could local self-reliance emerge from a process of mutual learning between communities and other groups of people? The film shows how leather work and weaving emerged as the opportunity and basis for sustained group effort. → more

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Bauhausmoderne und chinesische Tradition — Franz Ehrlichs Entwurf für ein Haus des Handels in Peking (1954–1956)

In den frühen 1950er-Jahren bestanden gute diplomatische, politische und ökonomische Beziehungen zwischen der Volksrepublik China und der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik. Beide, sich als sozialistisch verstehende Staaten, waren 1949 gegründet worden. In diesem Aufsatz geht es um die besondere Beziehung zur chinesischen Architektur, Kunst und Gestaltung, die Franz Ehrlich entwickelte. → more

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