Grimm, Hans

(1875-1959)
   writer; remembered for the novel Volk ohne Raum (People without room). He was born in Wiesbaden; his lineage included peasants, clergymen, and jurists. His father, a professor, helped found the German Colonial Association. While his youthful ambition was to write, his father's desire that he engage in international finance led him to approach his dream circuitously through the career of an export trader. After a semester of literary studies he acquired his business training during 1895-1897 in England. Ten years followed in South Africa, first as representative of an importing firm in Port Elizabeth, then from 1900 as harbor agent and importer for the German East-Africa Line in East London (where he leased a farm outside the city). After a year in German Southwest Africa as a correspondent, he returned to Germany in 1911 to devote himself to writing. While doing freelance work, he studied political science—first in Munich and then from 1914 at Hamburg's Colonial Institute. His short-story collection, Sudafrikanische Novellen (South-African novellas), appeared in 1913. Having joined an artillery unit in 1916, he was assigned to the High Command with the task of documenting French atrocities in Togoland, one of Germany's African colonies. What resulted was the fiercely anti-French Der Olsucher von Duala: Ein afrikanisches Tagebuch bearbeitet von Hans Grimm (an African diary adapted by Hans Grimm). Although the book used fictitious names and events, Grimm alleged that its documentation was authentic.
   After years in expansive southern Africa, Grimm was claustrophobic in con-fined and economically depressed Germany. The feeling infected his work; Volk ohne Raum, a two-volume best-seller that appeared in 1926 and was set in southern Africa, covered 1887 to 1925. Not only did it espouse imperialism, but its title became a slogan for the NSDAP. In the following years, especially after visiting Southwest Africa in 1927-1928, Grimm championed the restora-tion of Germany s colonies and established contact with the pan-German and volkisch movements. Once the Nazis appropriated his Volk ohne Raum, Grimm encouraged them to focus attention on Southwest Africa; his lobbying had little impact.
   Grimm was less poet than narrator. His Das deutsche Südwester-Buch (The German Southwest Book) appeared in 1929, and his seven novellas, known collectively as Lüderitzland, were published in 1934. These last contain some of his best writing. In 1927 Gottingen awarded him an honorary doctorate; he received the Goethe Medal and was elected to the Prussian Academy of Arts in 1932. After 1945 he remained convinced that a Nazi victory would have im-proved the world.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Berman, Rise ofthe Modern German Novel; Garland and Garland, Oxford Companion to German Literature; NDB, vol. 7.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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