Tribute to the Artist Ruth Baumgarte in Berlin-Karlshorst

Festive unveiling of the memorial stele dedicated to Ruth Baumgarte in Berlin-Karlshorst by Dr. Catrin Gocksch, Head of the Section of Fine Arts and Culture, District Office Lichtenberg at the Stadthaus, Alexander Baumgarte, Chairman of the Art Foundation Ruth Baumgarte, and Michael Grunst, district mayor of Berlin-Karlshorst, on October 30, 2020.

The artist Ruth Baumgarte (1923-2013) is honoured in Berlin-Karlshorst for her regime-critical, artistic processing of the racially, religiously, and politically motivated crimes during National Socialism with a memorial stele. The stele is being erected close to Rheingoldstraße 32, a place where Ruth Baumgarte, together with her mother, lived during her years of study at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (Academy of Fine Arts) (1939-1945) up until the final battles of the Soviet troops entering Berlin-Karlshorst. Ruth Baumgarte, too, experienced the political and racial persecution and consequential repressive measures of the Nazi regime amongst her friends and family. This way, her awareness for Sinti and Roma families living in Berlin-Karlshorst was sharpened, and she began portraying families fleeing from the Genocide in her works, against all political directives.

In the presence of Michael Grunst, district mayor of Berlin-Karlshorst, and Alexander Baumgarte, Chairman of the Art Foundation Ruth Baumgarte, the official unveiling of the memorial stele took place during an event open to the public. Manfred Becker, member of the Memorial Stele Commission, and Dr. Catrin Gocksch, Head of the Section of Fine Arts and Culture uncovered the stele.

Friday, 30th October 2020, at 2:30 pm

At the Entrance of the Rheinsteinpark

Access via Rheingoldstraße 32

10318 Berlin-Karlshorst

The painter, draughtswoman, and illustrator Ruth Baumgarte, who gained internal recognition through her Africa cycle, received her first artistic education at the Private Kunstschule des Westens (Private Art School of the West) under Emmy Stalmann in Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1938. Hans Scholz (1911-1988), who would later become a famous author, was one of her teachers and, over time, long-time friendship developed between the two artists. During the years shaped by the National Socialist regime, both searched for and found symbiotic yet different ways of coping with what they had experienced in their art and in conversation. Hans Scholz dealt with the historic events he witnessed in his novel Am grünen Strand der Spree (On the Green Beach of the Spree) (1995), which became a motion picture in 1960, in an unusually revolutionary portrait of war and National Socialism in Berlin.

Memorial Stele dedicated to Ruth Baumgarte in Berlin-Karlshorst

Views of the stele

A humanist taking sides for the Sinti and Roma during National Socialism

Gypsies in the Rain, 1942
Chalk on Paper, 48 x 37,8 cm

The young artist had great sympathy and maintained connections with the Sinti and Roma families, against increasingly strict restrictions imposed by the Nazi regime. Some of her works, which she could only complete due to a special permit issued in post-war Berlin, tell stories of displacement and persecution, including her drawing Zigeuner im Regen (Gypsies in the Rain) from 1942: Two musicians flee from an imminent danger that is expressed by the drawing. As a warning sign of the beginning Genocide, the monitored railway tracks of the historic railway station Berlin-Wuhlheide, which was one of the last stops during deportation, are an integral part of the drawing’s composition.

Those of Ruth Baumgarte’s works that date back to her Karlshorst years were created during a time of persecution and repression, when the so-called “Zigeunerlager” (gypsy camp) in Berlin-Marzahn was already in place. This way, the young artist became a precise and close observer of the world surrounding her, not to be stopped by forbidden or inconvenient truths but dedicating her work to the people around her and their lives and realities throughout her life.

Invitation

Press release by the city of Berlin

Impressions

f. l. t. r.: Dr. Wiebke Steinmetz, Alexander Baumgarte, Dr. Catrin Gocksch, Manfred Becker, Michael Grunst
District mayor, Michael Grunst
Head of the Section of Fine Arts and Culture, District Office Lichtenberg at the Stadthaus, Dr. Catrin Gocksch
Deputy Head of the Art Foundation Ruth Baumgarte, Dr. Wiebke Steinmetz