Feast of Kathe Kollwitz (April 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Kathe Kollwitz

Image in the Public Domain

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KATHE SCHMIDT KOLLWITZ (JULY 8, 1867-APRIL 22, 1945)

German Lutheran Artist and Pacifist

Kathe Schmidt always had leftist politics and an active concern for the poor and the downtrodden; socialism and nonconformity were her inheritance.  Our saint, born in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia), on July 8, 1867, was a daughter of house builder Karl Schmidt and socialist Katerina Schmidt, daughter of an outcast, independent Lutheran minister.  Our saint, who began to study at the age of 12 years, went to work in etching, sculpture, lithography, and woodcutting.  She channeled her social concerns via her art.

Above:  Working Woman (1910), by Kathe Kollwitz

Image in the Public Domain

From 1891 to 1940 our saint was the wife of Dr. Karl Kollwitz (died in 1940), a physician who treated poor and working-class patients in clinics.  Some of those patients became models for her artwork depicting the struggles of the underclass.  Our saint especially liked to create art depicting mothers and children; the maternal bond interested her.  Kathe, who lived in Berlin most of her life, had two sons–Hans (born in 1892) and Peter (born in 1896).  Peter’s death during World War I was one factor in her conversion to pacifism, which she defined as the brotherhood of man, not merely opposition to war.  Peter’s death was on Kathe’s mind as she sculpted The Grieving Parents (1932), a war memorial commissioned for the Soldiers Cemetery near Dixmuiden, Belgium.  She and her husband were the models for the grieving parents.

Above:  The Grieving Parents (1932), by Kathe Kollwitz

Image in the Public Domain

Life was difficult for the Kollwitzes during the Third Reich.  Officials banned exhibition of her work and the Gestapo threatened the couple.  The Kollwitzes’ prominent international profile seems to have protected them, however.  Nevertheless, Kathe was not exempt from the grief of war; grandson Peter died in combat.

Kathe died, aged 77 years, in Moritzburg, Germany, on April 22, 1945, shortly before V-E Day.

The power of her art that survived the ravages of World War II remains, however.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 10:  THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALEN POSTEL, FOUNDER OF THE POOR DAUGHTERS OF MERCY

THE FEAST OF GEORGE ALFRED TAYLOR RYGH, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN MOORE WALKER, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE RIGHTEOUS GENTILES

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Kathe Kollwitz.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder, that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-8 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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