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Kurt Löwengard in den 1930er Jahren
© AVK Maike Bruhns

Kurt Löwengard * 1895

Eppendorfer Landstraße 60 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)

London tot 08.01.1940
(starb an Entbehrung kurz nach Flucht/London)


Kurt Löwengard, born on 2 Apr. 1895 in Hamburg, died on 8 Jan. 1940 in London

Eppendorfer Landstrasse 60

Kurt Löwengard was born on 2 Apr. 1895 as the oldest son of the well-known Hamburg architect Alfred Löwengard. After Kurt, another three siblings were born: Auguste-Natalie "Gusti,” who later assumed Ruth as a name, Käthe-Marie, and Manfred. Before the First World War, the family occupied a whole floor on Oberstrasse and then moved to the building at Sierichstrasse 177, designed by themselves. The ancestors on the father’s side had been living in Hamburg for several generations already, operating an antique store on Neuer Wall. That the Löwenstein family, with four children and a staff, were not able to live it up during the difficult times of the 1910s and 1920s is documented by the surviving correspondence between father and son.

Kurt’s mother, Jenny Löwengard, came from Vienna and she was of Jewish-Italian descent. Her maiden name was Kanitz, with her father working as a banker. From his mother, Kurt inherited his charm, as she was a kind woman. His dark, brunette appearance, which some considered to be Egyptian or Indian, but many also typically Jewish, can be traced back to the Italian grandmother. Jenny was a very good musician, with the entire family sharing her inclination toward music. Alfred and Jenny had been raised in a liberal-minded way, leaving the synagogue and baptizing their children as Protestants, out of gratitude for the emancipation of Jews. The Löwengards belonged to the cultivated, highly assimilated Jewish men and women of Hamburg who did not differ in their lifestyle from their non-Jewish environment. Kurt became a painter, his sister Gusti studied German language and literature and married the neurologist Fritz Künkel. Käthe married the concert accompanist and opera expert Gustav Witt, and Manfred learned the profession of graphologist.

In the First World War, Kurt Löwengard served from 1916 until 1918, as an artilleryman in Russia and as a switchboard operator at the French front; he was decorated twice. In 1919, he began studies at the Bauhaus in Weimar. From there, he undertook extensive study trips at the end of 1920. Since 1922, he lived as a freelance artist in Hamburg. He earned his livelihood by teaching, and he also did vignettes, etchings, frontispieces and wood engravings, as well as poster designs.

Starting in 1923, Löwengard regularly participated in the exhibitions of the "Hamburg Secession;” he was among the most renowned members of this artists’ association. He maintained a very deep-felt friendship with Willem Grimm, Karl Kluth, and Hans Martin Ruwoldt, but he also had close contact with older members of the Secession, such as Alma del Banco, Gretchen Wohlwill, Eduard Bargheer, and many others.

In the period from 1929 to 1932, the Hamburg Senate, drawing on competent advice by senior architectural director Fritz Schumacher and the museum directors Max Sauerland and Gustav Pauli, had commissioned 15 Hamburg artists with the task of creating murals for public buildings. In the context of this project, Kurt Löwengard composed a triptych on canvass entitled "workers in the port of Hamburg” (Arbeiter im Hamburger Hafen) for the school at Schlankreye 13, a piece that thankfully survived in this school by lucky coincidence.

After the death of the father in 1929, Löwengard’s mother Jenny had to sell the house on Sierichstrasse, where Kurt had had a nice "gable studio.” Afterward, Jenny moved into a two-and-a-half bedroom apartment at Rehagen 9 (now Gustav-Leo-Strasse), located not far from Kurt Löwengard’s live-in studio at Eppendorfer Landstrasse 60.

In May 1933, Löwengard’s exhibition of watercolors at the Hamburg Arts Society (Hamburger Kunstverein) was closed by order of the authorities, and, being Jewish, he was banned from exhibiting at all starting in Apr. 1935. He had numerous experiences concerning anti-Semitism and withdrew into a sort of inner emigration. In the Nazi campaign called "Degenerate Art” ("Entartete Kunst"), two watercolors by him were confiscated in the Hamburg Art Gallery (Hamburger Kunsthalle) in 1937. During the Pogrom of November 1938, he hid for a time with the university professor Bruno Snell from 9 Nov. 1938 onward. When he was able to depart for London in May 1939, leaving Hamburg and the Elbe River was hard on him. With the intention of emigrating to the USA, he had a "lift van,” a moving container, stored in the Hamburg port for transport. The container never arrived in London and it was not returned to his relatives following his death. He also did not get the benefit any more of a small inheritance deposited in a blocked account in Hamburg.

In London, Kurt Löwengard lived for another seven months with Jewish relatives and friends. Serious worries about how to make a living, the search for an apartment, and the tough life as an immigrant weakened him noticeably. Since he was hardly able to sell any of his works, his USA plans were no longer feasible. On 8 Jan. 1940, at the age of 44, Kurt Löwengard succumbed to terminal bone marrow anemia in a London hospital. News of his death shocked the large circle of his Hamburg friends.

Today, Löwengard’s brothers and sisters, his nephews and nieces, all live abroad, with the exception of Thomas Witt. His mother, Jenny Löwengard, and his sister Gusti ended tragically by committing suicide. Jenny’s half-brother, Johannes Kanitz, took his own life when German troops entered Vienna.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: March 2017
© Lore Wieprecht

Quellen: 1; 2; 4 (Löwengard, Jenny); Bruhns, Kurt Löwengard, 1989; Bruhns, Geflohen aus Deutschland, 2007, S. 131ff.; StaH 331-5 Polizeibehörde – Unnatürliche Sterbefälle, 1942/1317; StaH 314-15 OFP, R 1939/247; StaH 314-15 OFP, Fvg 5525; AfW 020495 Löwengard, Kurt Leopold.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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