Hiller, Kurt

(1885-1972)
   journalist and cultural critic; espoused an elitist socialism inspired more by Kantian idealism than by Marxian dialectics. Born in Berlin* to a Jewish businessman, he descended from a line of rabbis on his father's side and socialists on his mother's. After he took a law degree, his nonconformism led him to become one of Berlin's coffeehouse Literaten.A proponent of Expressionism,* he founded Der Neue Klub in 1909 and, soon thereafter, the cabaret Gnu, which engaged in protest against the Kaiserreich. He then evolved his quixotic "Logokratie," a philosophy that espoused the rule of intellectuals. He avoided the patriotic fervor of August 1914 and was the driving force in November 1918 for a Rat geistiger Arbeiter (Council of intel-lectual workers), a futile quest aimed at achieving Logokratie.
   Hiller joined the German Peace Society* in 1920; supported by Helene Stocker,* he founded the Revolutionary Pacifist Group (Gruppe revolutionare Pazifisten) in 1926. He worked in the early 1920s for International Workers' Aid (Internationale Arbeiterhilfe), but rejected collectivism and carefully main-tained an above-party (uberparteilich) posture. His Revolutionary Pacifists— variously promoted by Kurt Tucholsky,* Erich Kastner,* Harry Kessler,* and Theodor Lessing*—espoused socialization. The German Peace Society expelled him in 1930 for attacking the venerable Wilhelm Foerster as an unsuspecting agent of French and Russian imperialism.
   Hiller energetically promoted his views. He edited his own Ziel Jahrbucher, contributed to Die Weltbuhne* and other periodicals, and lectured on behalf of humanism, rationalism, Logokratie, and sexual freedom. His books included an overview of his philosophy entitled Verwirklichung des Geistes im Staate (Con-sumation of the intellect in the state, 1925) and a call for socialist unity in the face of Nazism, Das Ziel: Die rote Einheit (The goal: red unity, 1931). Indeed, by 1930 he was among the few leftist intellects to grasp the danger of Nazism and to apprehend its divergence from other middle-class movements. In pro-posing Heinrich Mann* as a presidential candidate in 1932, he aimed at socialist unity.
   The NSDAP arrested Hiller in 1933 and sent him to Oranienburg concentra-tion camp. He was released in April 1934 after a period of severe torture and fled in September to Prague. He wrote for the exiled Neue Weltbuhne and, joined by Otto Strasser,* published another plea for Logokratie. In 1938 he went to London and founded the League of Independent German Writers. He settled in Hamburg in 1955.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon;Deak, Weimar Germany's Left-Wing Intellectuals; Wurgaft, Activists.

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

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