Ossietzky, Carl von

(1889-1938)
   editor and publisher; managed Die Weltbuhne* during 1927-1933. He was born in Hamburg to petty bourgeois circumstances; his father (a civil-service* stenographer of Polish origin), died when Carl was two. Despite the "von" (whose origin is uncertain), his upbring-ing was decidedly not aristocratic. He left Gymnasium before graduation and clerked during 1907-1914 for Hamburg's provincial administration. Notwith-standing the poor start, he married an Englishwoman of aristocratic extraction and matured into an uncommonly cosmopolitan writer. Attracted to politics, he belonged to the Democratic Alliance (Demokratische Vereinigung) in 1912-1914 and became a radical pacifist during the war; he served in 1919-1920 as secretary of Berlin's* German Peace Society.* In January 1920 he joined the left-liberal Berliner Volkszeitung as a correspondent. With other radical pacifists in the newspaper's employ, he helped organize the "Nie-wieder-Krieg-Bewegung" ("Never Again War Movement") of 1920-1922. In January 1924 he was a founder of the short-lived Republican Party. Led by Fritz von Unruh,* this left-liberal Party, which sought to unite labor and the middle classes, failed to gain a seat in the May 1924 elections. Soon thereafter Ossietzky wrote: One hears people say that this republic is without republicans. Unluckily, the situa-tion is just the reverse: the republicans are without a republic."
   Ossietzky joined Das Tage-Buch in June 1924. Although it was coedited at the time by Leopold Schwarzschild and Stefan Grossmann, he became respon-sible editor (Sitzredakteur) and thus assumed liability for the journal's rather radical opinions. In 1927 he accepted the offer of Siegfried Jacobsohn's* widow to edit Weltbühne. Working closely with Kurt Tucholsky* (who had acted as editor since Jacobsohn's death), he preserved and even extended the journal's rigorous coverage of Weimar's political and economic situation, but with a com-mitment to elegance that markedly enhanced its image. Because the journal published an informed critique in 1929 of Germany's secret rearmament pro-gram, Ossietzky was sentenced in November 1931 to an eighteen-month prison term for "betraying military secrets." Although he was the beneficiary of an amnesty in December 1932, he refused to leave Germany and was arrested again on 28 February 1933, remaining imprisoned until November 1936. His final seventeen months were spent in a Berlin hospital, where he died of tuberculosis in May 1938. He was awarded the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize in absentia.
   REFERENCES:Abrams, Nobel Peace Prize;Deak, Weimer Germany's Left-Wing Intel-lectuals; Poor, Kurt Tucholsky; Suhr, Carl von Ossietzky.

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

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