Biography and Historical Events

Ruth Kellner in a baby carriage, 1925


Ruth Johanna Kellner was born in Coburg on June 27. She comes from an old acting family. Her parents are Kurt Rupli (1899-1960), theater director and later UFA production manager, and the actress Margarethe Kellner-Conrady (1899-1969).


Unemployment, housing shortages and hunger characterize people's lives. During the Ruhr crisis, the economic center of Germany is occupied by the French. Nothing is produced anymore and the government prints a lot of money. As a result, hyperinflation occurs, with money losing massive value. The government has to introduce a new currency, the Rentenmark. In the Hitler Putsch, Adolf Hitler declares the government removed from office in November. His march on the Feldherrnhalle is stopped by the police, and the putsch fails.

Ruth Kellner as a schoolgirl


Mother and daughter move to downtown Berlin near Potsdamer Platz in 1924. A childhood friend is the later composer and music director Heinz Struve (1925-2015), who wrote the autobiography Im Dschungel - zwischen Nazis und Stalinisten in 2013.

1926 Beginning of lifelong friendship with Marie-Luise Krüger (née Bieder).


After Weimar democracy fended off attempts to overthrow it from the left and right, a period of relative political and economic stability followed in the years from 1924 to 1929. It is characterized by a variety of artistic, cultural and scientific achievements. However, the election of Paul von Hindenburg as Reich president in 1925 gives the anti-democratic forces the chance to implement a return to authoritarian conditions legally, with the aid of the presidential elements of the Reich constitution.

This period is characterized by a veritable explosion of art and culture, an ecstatic new attitude to life and new forms of mass culture. The starting point for the "Roaring Twenties" was the USA. Jazz music comes from there, and in 1927 the first sound film is made in the USA. Josephine Baker is the first African-American world star. On January 14, 1926, Baker performs in Berlin for the first time. Her dance performances, in which she mostly appears scantily clad, cause a great stir and result in bans on her appearances in Munich and Vienna, among other places.

The year 1929 marks the end of a period characterized by political stability and economic prosperity. As a result of "Black Friday" with the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange, the Great Depression is triggered and increased foreign capital is withdrawn from Germany.

On September 14, 1930, the Reichstag elections are held. The NSDAP, which had played only a modest role for a long time, finally achieves considerable success in regional elections.

The year 1931 brings further successes for the NSDAP in all regional elections. The party now feels strong enough to seek an open exchange of blows with the traditional right.

In February 1932, the private efforts of the Austrian Adolf Hitler are successful. He is granted German citizenship. After the Reichstag elections, the NSDAP is the strongest faction for the first time. Changes of great magnitude are in the offing in Germany.

On January 30, 1933, Hitler became Reich Chancellor. As early as February 1, 1933, he dissolved the Reichstag and called new elections for March 5, the third Reichstag elections in seven months. Within a few months, his regime eliminates the separation of powers, pluralistic democracy, federalism and the rule of law with terror, emergency decrees, the Enabling Act, Gleichschaltung laws, bans on organizations and parties. Political opponents are imprisoned in concentration camps, tortured and murdered.

In 1934, Hitler had political opponents and potential rivals in his own ranks murdered in connection with the "Röhm Putsch." He uses Hindenburg's death in August 1934 to have the office of Reich President combined with that of Reich Chancellor, and from then on he rules as Führer and Reich Chancellor.


Ruth Kellner and her mother in Grunewald in Berlin, 1936


1935 Moves to Berlin-Karlshorst. Student at the Karlshorst Lyceum (from 1938 Marie-von-Ebner-Eschenbach School). She graduates with the "Einjährige" (Mittlere Reife).

In 1936 during the Olympic Games in Berlin she had to perform gymnastic exercises on the Maifeld together with her fellow students. She was deeply impressed by the outstanding victories of the US athlete Jesse Owens.

1939 Attended Emmy Stalmann's Private Art School of the West at Kantstrasse 154 A in Berlin-Charlottenburg (until 1941).

Hans Scholz (1911-1988) has been teaching at the art school since 1937, succeeding Gerhard Ulrich (1903-1988). She had a long friendship with him. In 1955 he published the successful novel Am grünen Strand der Spree (On the Green Beach of the Spree), the film version of which became a hit when it was broadcast on television in 1960 and alluded to Ruth Baumgarte's life, among other things.

In 1939, she moved with her mother to Rheingoldstraße 32 in Berlin-Karlshorst, where she also frequently met her aunt Anna-Marie Schubert and her adopted son Dieter.


Since 1935, jazz music is no longer allowed to be played on German radio. The so-called Führer Principle and the new German Municipal Code eliminate the last remnants of democracy at the municipal level as well. The Wehrmacht is built up and general conscription for the rearmament of the German armed forces becomes legal again.
The "Nuremberg Laws", which distinguish the German master race from all lower "elements", are the height of contempt for humanity.
Germany goes down a path that is geared toward dictatorial power.

From August 1 to 16, 1936, the XI Olympic Games are held in Berlin.

The civil war continues to rage in Spain in 1937. The German aircraft squadron "Legion Condor" destroys the Basque city of Guernica in an air raid.
The traveling exhibition "Degenerate Art" presents works by renowned painters to show the people how art should not be.
The state visit of the Italian dictator Mussolini to Germany becomes a propaganda event of enormous proportions. Hitler and Mussolini want to support their comrade-in-arms Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

In 1938, Austria is annexed by the German Reich. Some 65,000 German Wehrmacht soldiers march into the neighboring country. The heavily armed Nazi troops are greeted with jubilation. The people of the Sudetenland are also enthusiastic when the German Wehrmacht marches in in October. This invasion was legalized by the "Munich Agreement".
The horrible machinations of the Nazis in the German Reich find another climax in the Reich Pogrom Night. The destruction of stores, Jewish institutions and synagogues makes the night of November 9-10 the so-called "Reichskristallnacht".

On September 1, 1939, the invasion of Poland follows, marking the beginning of World War II.

In 1940, the Second World War dominates everyday life in Germany. The population is largely carried away by Adolf Hitler's plans for conquest. Reports of victory never cease, causing a questionable frenzy of joy, while new concentration camps are built in Germany.
Italian dictator Mussolini and German leader Hitler agree on an alliance against Britain and France. Denmark and Norway are occupied by German troops and in the West the blitzkrieg against France begins. In May, the first German bombs have already destroyed Rotterdam in the Netherlands. German air raids open the war against Great Britain and in Warsaw all 400,000 Jews still alive were locked up in a ghetto.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., one of the most courageous film satires of the time premieres - "The Great Dictator," starring Charlie Chaplin in the title role.

Lessons with Gerhard Ulrich at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin


Begins studying free graphic art and painting at the Staatliche Hochschule für bildende Künste Berlin (until 1944) with professors Gerhard Ulrich, Kurt Wehlte, Wilhelm Tank, Hermann Franke and Carl Michel. During her studies she created nude and portrait drawings, as well as her first works with workers' motifs and illustrations.

During the war years she observes deportations of people persecuted by the Nazi dictatorship.

During her studies, she worked from 1941 to 1944 in the Kaskeline animated film studios of Wolfgang Kaskeline (1892-1973). The so-called "UFA Kaskeline" is the only Jewish director still working in Germany at this time. Kaskeline also hid persecuted people in his studios in Neubabelsberg to protect them from the Gestapo. Among them were two of Ruth's fellow students and friends who worked for Kaskeline: Uta von Kardorff, née von Witzleben, and Lilo von der Horst, who repeatedly faced interrogation by the Gestapo.


Siege of Leningrad from September 1941 to January 1944 by the German Wehrmacht. Over a million civilians starved and froze to death.

Learn more

Gypsies in the Rain, 1942


It was at this time at the latest that she met Sinti and Roma in the Wiesengrund allotment garden site in Karlshorst.

The work Gypsies in the Rain is created. Near Karlshorst is the Sinti and Roma forced labor camp Berlin-Marzahn. From here, people were deported to Auschwitz and murdered in 1943.

At the academy, she meets Florian Breuer (1916-1994), a student of Max Kaus, with whom she had a decades-long connection. He gives her insights into expressive watercolor painting and thus has a strong influence on her.


Between 1941 and May 8, 1945, 5.6 to 6.3 million European Jews are murdered by the Nazi regime in German concentration camps in occupied Europe. This genocide is carried out for the first time with industrial methods. Many other people are also murdered, such as communists, socialists, pastors, critics of the system, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, mentally handicapped people and alleged "asocials". The exact number of dead is unclear.

Ruth Busse (second from left) at the Reich Labor Service, 1943


She meets her fellow student Annemarie Stübler (née Kranz), whom she portrays several times. Stübler lives in the GDR after the war. Both remain in close contact.

She spends the summer of 1943 with the Reich Labor Service near Lauenburg, Pomerania (today: Lębork/Poland), cutting peat. Later she will describe this time as "decidedly enriching."

She marries fellow student Eduard Alfred Gustav Busse (1914-2003) from Bielefeld, who has to return to the front immediately after the marriage.


After ten days of deliberation, the Western Allies announce the official war aims to the press for the first time: "Unconditional surrender of Germany, Italy and Japan". They also decide to step up air raids on German cities.

At the end of January, Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrenders with the German units trapped in the Southern Cauldron in the Battle of Stalingrad. German schoolchildren aged 15 and over are drafted into military service as flak helpers. In February, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels calls for "total war" in a speech at the Berlin Sports Palace.

Sophie and Hans Scholl as well as their friend Christoph Probst are sentenced to death by guillotine in February by the People's Court under the "blood judge" Roland Freisler as members of the resistance group White Rose for "decomposition of military strength", "favoring the enemy" and "preparation for high treason".

On the night of March 1 to 2, the first major air raid on Berlin takes place.

In April, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising begins.

In November, the air battle for Berlin begins.

Ruth Busse as a student in Sonneberg, 1944


Ruth Baumgarte discovered early on that portraiture was the ideal pictorial genre for gaining a differentiated image of herself and other people. From 1944-45 she created an impressive portrait cycle of young and old men who had been called up for the Volkssturm.

As a result of the evacuation of the Staatliche Hochschule in Berlin, she transfers for five months to study at the Staatliche Industrie- und Kunstgewerbeschule Sonneberg in Thuringia.

She applies for a place at the Dresden State Art College, Department of Painting and Sculpture. Because only war-disabled persons are admitted, she receives a rejection. She returns to Berlin.


At the end of January, the Red Army liberates Leningrad, a city encircled by the Wehrmacht.

On June 6, the Allied forces of the anti-Hitler coalition land in Normandy on D-Day.

On July 20, the assassination attempt on Hitler by Stauffenberg and others fails.

In August, Joseph Goebbels decrees the "total wartime deployment of cultural workers." When it comes into effect on September 1, this results in the closure of almost all German and Austrian theaters and cultural institutions. Artists who are not on the so-called Gottbegnadeten list are also called up for so-called "war-important activities".

On September 11, American units cross the German Reich border northwest of Trier. In October, the Red Army reaches the German border in East Prussia.

Studio corner (in the evening), 1945


On February 3, it experienced the worst air raid on Berlin. On May 8, the surrender takes place. Berlin-Karlshorst becomes a restricted area by the Soviet army. She works briefly as a press artist for the Berliner Zeitung, published by the Soviet occupying forces. With a special permit, she is able to save part of her work from her apartment at Rheingoldstrasse 32 in just a few hours. She moves to Berlin-Lichtenrade.

Meets the physician Dr. Fritz Kohs, whose type is recognizable again and again in several of her compositions. A long lasting friendship develops.

In Lichtenrade she takes over the management of a youth center founded by the Soviet occupation forces (later Lortzingclub) and from July works as a drawing teacher at the Ulrich-von-Hutten-Gymnasium in Lichtenrade. She produces her first watercolor drawings, including Boys' Portraits and Studio Corner (Evening).


The liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by the Red Army takes place on January 27.

The old city of Dresden is largely destroyed in air raids by the Royal Air Force and US Air Force from February 13-15, 1945, just a few months before the end of World War II. Some 25,000 people die.

Germany surrenders at Reims and Karlshorst on May 8 and 9.

Ruth Busse, 1946


At the beginning of the year, she moves to her first husband's family in Bielefeld and supports her family alone, who follow her to Bielefeld. However, she commutes regularly to Berlin.

Her marriage to Eduard Busse is divorced.

She meets Dr. Steff Koch, head of the feature section of the Freie Presse in Bielefeld.


In Germany, the denazification agreed upon in the Potsdam Agreement reaches its first climax in the Nuremberg trial of the main war criminals, which ends with several death sentences and a series of prison terms for the greats of the Nazi state. In the following months, the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and the daily newspaper Die Welt are published. In May, the first Leipzig Trade Fair after the end of World War II opens.

The merger of the occupation zones of the future Federal Republic of Germany at the suggestion of the USA is prevented by France and the Soviet Union.

At the end of September, the sentences in the Nuremberg trial against the main war criminals are announced.

Early self-portrait, around 1947


Birth of son Thomas Christian Busse.

Start of her career as an illustrator, graphic artist and freelance painter. She creates illustrations for newspapers and magazines such as the left-leaning Freie Presse (1949-1953) and Magazin der Hausfrau (1949-1954). She designs a number of children's and youth books, as well as fiction, such as works by Alfred Döblin and Oscar Wilde.

Connection with the Bielefeld booksellers Erich Vogel (1906-1956) and Otto Fischer (1907-1995) as well as the lawyer Albert Daltrop (1886-1977), who returned from the concentration camp Theresienstadt.

First public exhibition participation with ink drawings at the exhibition Deutsches Buchschaffen in Bielefeld. She joins the Landesberufsverband Bildender Künstler Nordrhein-Westfalen and participates in numerous group exhibitions until 1952.


In the extremely cold hunger winter of 1946/47, which was accompanied by a cold spell, there was a shortage of food, heating material and much else.

In the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ), the development toward a transformation of society also continues. The communist-oriented SED is the dominant force in the country. In 1947, an important course is also set in the economic field; for example, the German Economic Commission is established, which centrally controls economic life in the SBZ from East Berlin. In the meantime, economic life in Germany's western zones was being rebuilt on a capitalist basis, making a unified economic policy for Germany increasingly impossible. Offers by the U.S. to use Marshall Plan aid to support Eastern European states and the SBZ are interpreted by the Soviet Union as Western propaganda.

The summer becomes extremely hot (summer of the century); there are crop failures. Many people die from malnutrition and contagious diseases.

Another very cold winter in 1947/48 further aggravates the situation of the people.

Ruth Busse and the actor Hans Wintrath, around 1950


In the years 1947 to 1948 she is heavily involved in the cultural and theater scene. The actor Hans Wintrath (1905-1965) becomes her most important companion and later a close friend, godfather to her son Thomas and the Baumgarte family.

She met the Swedish entrepreneur Carl Erik Pihl (1914-1970) and traveled with him to Paris, among other places. The two became lifelong friends.

She has a brief relationship with the stage designer Johann Wenzel Minarik (1925-1999), who later works at the Munich State Opera, among other places.

She meets the entrepreneur Hans Baumgarte at his own exhibition of children's portraits and portrays his two sons from his first marriage.

From 1950 to 1953 she travels to Lake Constance several times with Hans Baumgarte.


In 1948, the announced Marshall Plan comes into effect in the western zones of Germany. The USA provides $550 million in the form of loans and raw materials.

The Soviet Union lays claim to the entire city of Berlin, in which it had hitherto administered only one occupation zone. When the currency reform is implemented by the Western Allies that year, which applies exclusively to the western zones and the western sectors of Berlin, a blockade is set up by the Soviet occupation forces to prevent the supply of West Berlin via highways and waterways.
From then on, the Allies supply the city from the air. The Berlin blockade is an act of solidarity and at the same time a fierce power struggle in the Cold War. By the end of the year, 100,000 planes reach West Berlin.

In 1949, there is no longer any hope for a unified Germany. On May 23, the Federal Republic of Germany was founded, and on October 7, the GDR came into being. The West does not recognize the founding of the GDR as a state. Two states on German soil are not in the sense of the people and also not of the western politics. The founding of the Federal Republic is disapproved of by the Soviet Union because it violates existing treaties. The founding of the GDR, in turn, is a thorn in the side of the Western Allies.
Many people move from East to West because they find better living conditions in the West. Apart from the political circumstances, the Germans on both sides are still busy trying to eliminate the consequences of the war, renew the infrastructure and hope for the relatives still in captivity.

In 1950, the two German states were increasingly drifting apart economically and politically. Konrad Adenauer had held the office of Chancellor since 1949. In West Germany, the economy was quickly able to report successes, including the abolition of the last ration cards. While an era of Heimatfilme dawned in West Germany, the Ministry for State Security was founded in the GDR.

In 1951, the first post-war Richard Wagner Festival was held in Bayreuth. In terms of culture, the country experiences a shock at the beginning of the year. Hildegard Knef, the protagonist in the film "Die Sünderin" (The Sinner) enrages the public and thus begins her international career.
In the course of time, the Federal Republic is able to detach itself more and more from the dependence of the Western Allies. Denazification is primarily carried out by the American side. The West German judiciary, on the other hand, gradually punishes the crimes of Nazi perpetrators by granting amnesties. Almost 800,000 people involved in the machinations of the Nazi regime thus escape their full punishment.


Ruth Baumgarte in Finland, 1952


Marriage to the industrialist Hans Baumgarte (1917-1999). The marriage produced children Janine and later Alexander. The patchwork family also includes the children from the first marriages: Thomas, Ernst-August and Hans-Herrmann.

Their honeymoon takes them to the Olympic Games in Helsinki and throughout Scandinavia.

A period of intensive travel begins, including trips throughout Europe, stays of several weeks in Spain and Italy. Numerous trips to many major international cities, again and again to Berlin.

Creates travel paintings such as the watercolors Finnish Impression (1952), View of Mount Vesuvius (1955) and Istanbul (1960).

Commissioned by Eisenwerke Baumgarte, she creates calendar illustrations (until 1969) that lead to the work cycle Fabrikwelten, which she realizes together with the graphic artist Werner Kuhnert, a friend from Bielefeld.

In 1952, she designs the cover for the opening program of the Apollo Theater in Düsseldorf, which is managed by her father for UFA.

Further commissions for the private sector, including for the Dr. Oetker company.


The year is marked by the ongoing Korean War. In Europe, the Montan Union lays the foundation for what will later become the European Community, further integrating the Federal Republic into Western Europe.

At the end of May, the GDR begins to establish a five-kilometer-wide exclusion zone along the demarcation line to the Federal Republic of Germany. This marks the start of the forced resettlement of over 12,000 residents. Telephone lines between West Berlin and the GDR are cut. West Berliners are now only allowed to enter the GDR with permission.

In June, the Defiance Campaign against apartheid in the South African Union begins. Demonstrations have already taken place on April 6. Participants in the campaign deliberately violate apartheid laws, such as the ban on Whites using facilities and the requirement to carry passports. The idea is to get arrested for breaking the laws, so that prisons become overcrowded, crippling the justice system. The unexpectedly large number of nonviolent civil disobedience activities in the course of this campaign puts the South African government in a difficult position, both politically and tactically, since it is very difficult to take action against civilians with no potential for violence by police means. Although thousands of actors will be arrested in the coming months, the campaign will not abate.

The XV Summer Olympics are held in Helsinki, Finland, from July 19 to August 3. In November, U.S. nuclear physicists detonate the first hydrogen bomb on Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

Ruth Baumgarte with dog Nauke, 1956


For social reasons, her husband forbids her to do illustration work for the politically left-wing Freie Presse.

In the years 1954 to 1961 she creates numerous portraits, still lifes and theater illustrations.

In 1956 Kurt Rupli, Ruth's father, brings the opera Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin to the Apollo Theater in Düsseldorf during a world tour.

First international exhibitions: Galeria Machico, Estoril / Portugal (1954), Galleries Dr. Khalili, Tehran / Iran (1957), Circolo Nautico, Alessio / Italy (1961).

From the mid-fifties annual stays on Sylt. In 1956 she traveled for the first time to Iran, further trips took her to Italy, the Canary Islands and Turkey.

Between 1957 and 1959 first trip to Johannesburg / South Africa and Egypt.


In 1953, with the death of Joseph Stalin, the process of de-Stalinization begins in the USSR. His successor, Khrushchev, opted for a course of détente in view of the nuclear stalemate and massive domestic political problems. Meanwhile, political and economic problems in the GDR erupted in the June 17, 1953 uprising.

In 1954, Otto John, the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, causes a scandal in the Federal Republic by going underground in the GDR. In the USA, the McCarthy era reaches its climax with the Communist Control Act of 1954.

In 1955, the period of occupation ends in Austria, the GDR and the Federal Republic; at the same time, the two German states are firmly integrated into their blocs with the founding of the Warsaw Pact and admission to NATO, respectively. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, on his trip to Moscow, achieves the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and the return home of the last German prisoners of war.
In Montgomery, Alabama, African American Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white male passenger. The ensuing "Montgomery Bus Boycott" becomes the birth of the black civil rights movement in the USA.

In 1956, Nikita Khrushchev initiates de-Stalinization in the Soviet Union. The demonstrations in Tbilisi, the Poznan Uprising and the Hungarian Uprising are all bloodily put down as a result of Soviet control of the Eastern Bloc.
The three North African states of Morocco, Tunisia and Sudan gain their independence. The rearmament of the two German states begins with the establishment of the Bundeswehr and the NVA.

The Sputnik satellite marks the beginning of the space age in 1957. At the same time, it is also an expression of the system competition between the USA and the Soviet Union, which is also reflected in the Eisenhower Doctrine. Meanwhile, the most important cornerstone of European unification is laid with the Treaties of Rome.

In 1958, the world economy experiences its first post-war recession. The Federal Republic, in the midst of the economic miracle, is only slightly affected. 1958 (or 1957) is regarded as the year in which a long crisis in the coal and steel industry begins in West Germany. In the Ruhr region, Germany's largest agglomeration with more than 10 million inhabitants, these crises become particularly visible. Worldwide, the movement for nuclear disarmament strengthens. In Germany, the "fight atomic death" movement emerges in parallel.

In 1959, the revolutionaries under Fidel Castro take power in Cuba after the escape of the dictator Batista. The superpowers USA and USSR engage in talks to weaken the confrontational course of the Cold War.

Ruth Baumgarte on Ischia, around 1963


Around 1960, further trips to Iran, including to Tehran, Ishafan and the Caspian Sea.

1960 her father Kurt Rupli dies.

1965 Death of close friend and actor Hans Wintrath.

1966/67 she gets in touch with the cultural scene in Prague because of the work cycle Fabrikwelten. She is offered a teaching position at the Prague Art Academy.

The Baumgarte couple intends to separate. Ruth Baumgarte considers moving to Munich.

1969 After a trip to Ireland, her mother Margarethe Kellner-Conrady dies unexpectedly.

1970 Surprising death of Carl Erik Pihl.

From 1970, her works show for the first time the sensitivity for social and environmental issues, e.g. in the works Meditation (1975) and Später Winter (1975).


In 1960, 18 African colonies gain independence from their colonial powers.
In the same year, John F. Kennedy is elected the 35th President of the USA.

1961 The conflict between the great powers hardens when the GDR state government begins building the Berlin Wall. Powerless, the citizens and visitors of Berlin have to watch as the sector border becomes insurmountable. Yuri Gagarin is the first man in space.

In 1962, the Cold War reaches a new climax with the Cuban Missile Crisis. The world public becomes aware of the danger of a global nuclear war.

1963 Assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas.
As his last official act, Konrad Adenauer signs the Franco-German Friendship Treaty before being succeeded by Ludwig Erhard.

In 1964, the GDR leadership facilitates visits by East and West German citizens.

In 1965, the verdict in the Auschwitz trials is pronounced in Frankfurt am Main.

1966 After the collapse of the CDU/CSU/FDP coalition, the Federal Republic of Germany is led by a grand coalition under Kurt Georg Kiesinger.

1967 During a demonstration against the Shah's visit, the student Benno Ohnesorg is shot.

1968 The "Club of Rome" is founded on April 7. Founded by the Italian industrialist Aurelio Peccei and the British OECD director Alexander King, the private club is to study the consequences of forced industrialization and warns even then of the rise of CO₂ in the atmosphere.
To ensure the state's ability to act in crisis situations such as natural disasters, insurgency and war, the emergency laws are passed by the grand coalition in the Bundestag in May with a two-thirds majority. On the night of August 20-21, 1968, Warsaw Pact tanks occupy Prague, ending the "Prague Spring."

After the 1969 Bundestag elections, the first social-liberal coalition in the Federal Republic is possible and Willy Brandt becomes Chancellor.
On July 21, 1969, Neil A. Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon.
Moscow and China fight each other on the Ussuri River.
France's President de Gaulle resigns and Yasser Arafat becomes PLO leader.
War and famine in the Nigerian province of Biafra cause international consternation.

1970 The left-wing extremist Red Army Faction (RAF) appears in various series of attacks until 1982.

Willy Brandt is honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his German-German policy. The world moves closer together, the East-West conflict changes.

The study published by the "Club of Rome" in 1972 under the title "Limits to Growth" sells millions of copies.

Ruth Baumgarte, 1973


Intensive travels to the eastern Pyrenees and confrontation with the regions of the Ampurdán, burdened by the Spanish Civil War, which already shaped Alma Mahler-Werfel, Walter Benjamin and Lion Feuchtwanger during their flight from the Nazis.

1974 solo exhibition at the Chamoizzi Gallery, Lyon / France.


Oil crisis: Starting in 1973, highways are closed on four consecutive Sundays to save fuel. The oil supply freeze is triggered by the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War between Israel and its Arab neighbors Syria and Egypt. The curtailed oil production is intended to force a revision of the "pro-Israel" policies of Western Europe and America.

In 1974, the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research, commissioned by Der Spiegel magazine, identified an "explosion of fears" in April, but this does not only refer to the economic situation. According to Frank Biess, the new status of psychological sciences "contributes to this change just as much as new ideas of subjectivity, which assigned a higher value to feelings" and "allowed or even encouraged the open articulation of fear."

Ruth Baumgarte in the gallery Das Fenster, after 1975


The works Meditation (1975) and Später Winter (1975) are created on socially sensitive themes.

1975 Re-joins the Bundesverband Bildender Künstler Ostwestfalen-Lippe. Participates in numerous exhibitions of the association until 1985.

1975 Founds the producer gallery Das Fenster in Bielefeld, which she operates until 1982. In this way she also promotes the regional art scene.

The former head of the arts section of the Neue Westfälische, Martin Bodenstein, wrote in his book Mimes, Painters and Mimosas: "Das Fenster had a tiny seating area for enthusiasts who did not value art comfort but comfortable art and, on top of that, conversation with its creators. With her legendary gallery, Ruth Baumgarte had 'pried open the bull's-eyes of the provinces.'"

1975 Suicide of her cousin Dieter Noack (b. 1938).

1976 she travels to Corfu. In December, her aunt Anna-Marie Schubert (Dada) dies.

In 1978 she creates the work Der Entschluss (The Decision), which deals with the socially taboo subject of suicide.


The Vietnam War comes to an end in 1975.
The Suez Canal is reopened.
The USA, Canada and almost all European states commit themselves to peace, non-violence and free exchange of views with the CSCE agreement.
In Spain, a new era begins with the constitutional monarchy after the death of General Franco.
The RAF kidnaps CDU politician Peter Lorenz and attacks the embassy in Stockholm. The trial of Ulrike Meinhof and Andreas Baader begins in Stuttgart.

In 1976, riots break out in Soweto (South Africa) and are a symbol of resistance in the apartheid era.

1977 is marked by terrorism: Schleyer kidnapping, hijacking of the "Landshut" to Mogadishu, death of the RAF prisoners in Stammheim - the "German Autumn" dominates the political discussion.
In the Middle East, there are first signs of détente when Egypt's President Sadat travels to Israel.

The 1978 U.S. four-part television series "Holocaust - The Story of the Weiss Family" is broadcast on German television in January 1979. Twenty million viewers watch the series. The program represents a decisive break in the German perception of the genocide perpetrated by Germans against the European Jews.

With the return of the Shiite leader Khomenei in 1979, the Islamic dictatorship is established in Iran.
Egyptian President Sadat and Israel's head of government Begin sign a peace treaty that is criticized especially by the Arab states.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter struggles to gain favor with voters.
The NATO dual decision is adopted.
Rhodesia, the former Zimbabwe, becomes a British colony again. Uganda's dictator Idi Amin flees to Libya.

Ruth Baumgarte, Amalfi 1983


From 1980, annual stays of several months in Africa, parallel travels through Europe and repeatedly to Spain. Artistic examination of social and political changes, including 1986 after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. The series of pictures Wintertod (1982-1983). based on the Spanish Sketchbook pictures to the Spanish Legend and the series A la recherche du temps perdu Lebensabend I (1984), as well as Der Zweifel (1985) and Der Freund (1985).


In the 1980s in South Africa, the oppressed black majority fights against the regime's oppression with waves of strikes, protest marches and also violent resistance such as sabotage and bombings. International sanctions put South Africa under pressure.

In 1980, the invasion of Soviet troops in Afghanistan politicizes the Summer Olympics in Moscow. Numerous nations boycott the event.
German-German relations reach their lowest point and Polish workers force a free trade union.

1981 Peace demonstration against the deployment of U.S. Pershing II missiles in Bonn's Hofgarten with over 400,000 demonstrators. In the Federal Republic, thousands demonstrate against environmental sins and for peace.
Martial law is imposed in Poland, while in Spain the young democracy passes its first test.

1982 In the Federal Republic, a change of government after 13 years. After the breakup of the social-liberal coalition, Helmut Kohl becomes the new chancellor. Argentina and Great Britain fight over the Falkland Islands and the conflict in the Middle East intensifies.

The international economy is threatened by a worldwide crisis in 1983. In the Federal Republic, people demonstrate for peace and disarmament.
The publication of the forged Hitler diaries goes down in history as one of the greatest journalistic blunders.


Ruth Baumgarte, 1980s


1984 Joined the Lippe Artists' Association.

Beginning of the Africa cycle, which will include around 100 works by 2011. The cycle addresses the social and socio-political upheavals on the African continent.

From 1985 onwards, she reflected on the areas of tension between the individual and society, people and nature in milieu studies.

Frequent encounters with non-sedentary people, including in New York, where she met a man wearing only a shoulder blanket in the freezing cold. The experiences lead to the eight-part drawing series Non-Sedentary (from 1986).

1986 Co-founder of the Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie, Bielefeld.

Around 1987 she contacts the GDR state art trade and the East German art scene. Gerhard Kettner, rector of the Dresden University of Fine Arts, offers her a teaching position.

Since the end of the 1980s, she has a friendly relationship with the renowned New York art dealer Joachim Jean Aberbach (1910–1992).


In 1984, German politics had to contend with the effects of two affairs. The dismissal of General Günter Kießling after dubious investigations by the military counterintelligence service and the involvement of high-ranking politicians in the Flick affair diminish the government's reputation.
The largest industrial dispute since the founding of the Federal Republic can be ended with a compromise.
Indira Gandhi is assassinated and Ronald Reagan is re-elected.
Gas explosions cause significant casualties in Bhopal, India, and Mexico City.

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev becomes the new General Secretary of the CPSU and meets Ronald Reagan.
German-German relations have to overcome some problems.
In the Middle East, the fight between Palestinians and Israelis is reaching a new dimension. Riots in football stadiums claim numerous victims.
Ronald Reagan visits Bitburg, Austrian wine is laced with glycol and Joschka Fischer becomes the first Green Minister.

On April 26, 1986, a reactor disaster occurred in reactor unit 4 in Chernobyl.

The year 1987 was dominated by the biggest political scandal in post-war history. The affair surrounding the CDU politician Uwe Barschel and his unexplained death is shaking the Federal Republic.
The dialogue between the superpowers can finally produce results. US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Michael Gorbachev sign a disarmament treaty.

The disarmament efforts of the superpowers made further progress in 1988.
The war between Iran and Iraq ends with a peace agreement after a new flare-up.
A bomb explosion causes a US plane to crash over Lockerbie, Scotland. Several hundred people die.
In Germany, the Gladbeck hostage drama is keeping people in suspense.

1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. Reunification of the two German states. The Cold War is effectively ended.


Ruth Baumgarte with the Maasai, 1990s


From 1992 onwards, intensive international exhibition activity, including Ladengalerie Berlin (1991), Frost & Reed Ltd., London (1992), G. W. Einstein Company Inc., New York (1993), Galleria Giulia di Roma, Rome (1994).

The multi-part series African Landscapes as well as the works Wanting to Build a House (1994) and A Man Without Livestock Isn't a Man (1994) were created.

1993 First institutional presentation of Africa images at the Paderborn Art Association.


1990 Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years as a political prisoner. End of apartheid.
In July 1990, Chancellor Kohl and President Gorbachev met for talks in the Caucasus. Gorbachev grants a united Germany full sovereignty and the free choice of alliance membership. The end of the Soviet Union also became apparent with the declaration of independence by some member states, which actually collapsed in 1991.

In 1991, world events were particularly dominated by the Second Gulf War, the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the final dissolution of the Soviet Union. After the August coup in Moscow, numerous Union republics declared their independence. Since then there have been numerous post-Soviet states; the largest of them is Russia.

In 1992, the planned expansion of the East initially turned out to be more of a dismantling. A declining economy is resulting in large-scale layoffs in East Germany. In the USA, Democrat Bill Clinton replaces Republican George Bush as president. The world looks at the Federal Republic in shock. In Rostock-Lichtenhagen, neo-Nazis rioted for four days to the applause of residents and without interference from the police.

In 1993, Jürgen W. Möllemann, Björn Engholm and many other politicians resigned from their positions. The arson attack on the house of a Turkish family in Solingen shocks the republic. Glimmer of hope for peace in the Middle East: PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin sit down at a table in Washington.

In 1994, an election marathon took place in Germany - citizens were asked to vote 20 times. Roman Herzog takes office as Federal President. At the end of 1994, the Treuhandanstalt ceased its work. 900 people die when the Baltic Sea ferry "Estonia" sinks.


Ruth Baumgarte at FIAC Paris, 1995


The monumental triptych Turn of the Fire was created between 1995 and 1997.

Large solo exhibition in the renowned Stichting Veranneman, Kruishoutem/Belgium (1996).

This is followed by the solo exhibition in the Galleria Marieschi di Monza, Monza (1997).

Travels to Spain (Ibiza), where, among other things, she also meets the ZERO artist Heinz Mack and the author Martin Suter.

1999 death of Hans Baumgarte.


After almost four years of bloodshed in Bosnia, the war opponents signed an agreement in Dayton in 1995 under Western pressure. 50 years after the end of the war, German soldiers are in the Balkans as part of an international peace mission.
Israeli Prime Minister Rabin is shot dead during a peace demonstration.

The arson attack on an asylum seekers' home in Lübeck shocked the republic in 1996.
In the USA, President Clinton is re-elected. There is war in Chechnya.

In 1997 Hong Kong was returned to China.
In Germany, thousands are protesting against Castor transports.

In 1998, the change of power in Bonn and the beginning of the Kosovo crisis dominated political reporting. The people of the Federal Republic are shocked by the accidents in Eschede and Cavalese.

In 1999, the CDU donations affair in particular caused a stir domestically.
The Kosovo war is the dominant topic internationally.

Ruth Baumgarte with Susan Aberbach and Alexander Baumgarte, New York, 2001


2000 trips to Africa, Italy, Spain (Ibiza), USA and Great Britain

2000 solo exhibition Visiones Africanas, Sala Pelaires Galeria d’Art, Palma de Mallorca

2001 solo exhibition African Visions, Susan Aberbach Fine Art, Fuller Building, New York

2002 solo exhibition at Galerie Schloss Mochental, Ehingen

2004 Solo exhibition Galleria Marieschi di Milano, Milan


In the USA, George W. Bush's narrow victory in the 2000 presidential election was a matter of concern to the courts. Violence is flaring up again in the Middle East. In Serbia, the people are forcing the change of power.
September 11, 2001 changed the world. Since the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the USA has been waging a “war on terrorism”. Strict anti-terrorism laws are being passed in many Western countries.

In 2002, disasters and economic crises shocked the Germans. The floods on the Elbe, Mulde, Havel and Danube claim 20 lives, make tens of thousands homeless and cause billions in damage. After the masses of water comes the flood of donations, which floods disaster areas nationwide with over 250 million euros.

The fear of international terrorism and an impending war in Iraq are unsettling people.
The year 2003 was dominated from the start by the war in Iraq. Germans stand firmly behind the government as it speaks out against the war in Iraq.

In 2004, voters in the USA opted for continuity with the re-election of George W. Bush.

In 2005, Pope John Paul II died. He was succeeded by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Benedict XVI. On July 1st, the incumbent Chancellor Gerhard Schröder asked the German Bundestag for a vote of confidence. After the election, the SPD and the CDU/CSU agree on a grand coalition. Angela Merkel is elected Chancellor by the Bundestag.

In 2006, around 5 million people in Germany were unemployed. As the host country of the 18th Football World Cup, Germany is experiencing a true summer fairy tale.

In 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy won the French presidential election.
Climate change is becoming more and more noticeable this year with many storms and extreme weather conditions. In January, hurricane “Kyrill” caused enormous damage across large parts of Europe. 34 people become victims of this severe storm. In Germany alone, property damage amounts to around 8 billion euros. Further summer storms in Central Europe follow.

In 2008 the XXIX. Olympic Games in Beijing. Despite the world's ongoing criticism of human rights violations in China, millions of people saw a magnificent opening ceremony. Just three months earlier, a massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck the country, killing more than 70,000 people.
In the USA, Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected the 44th President of the United States of America on November 4th.

In Germany, in 2009, there was an unexpected consequence of the construction work on the expansion of the Cologne light rail system. A house that houses the historical city archives collapses. An architectural masterpiece, however, is completed in the tallest skyscraper in the world: the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is 828 meters high.

In his first year as US President, Barack Obama receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his extraordinary efforts in international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.
2010 environmental disasters: earthquakes in Haiti, China and Chile, the monsoon that floods large parts of Pakistan, thousands of fires in Russia and floods in eastern Germany.

At the Love Parade in Duisburg, more than 20 people die in a mass panic and over 500 people suffer injuries, some of them very serious. The worst oil spill in US history occurs in the Gulf of Mexico when the Deepwater Horizon oil platform explodes.

Ruth Baumgarte and the UFA actress Gisela Uhlen at an exhibition opening in Bielefeld, 2005


Last Self-portrait (unfinished). The final work of the Africa cycle, African Composition, remains unfinished.

2012 Founding of the Ruth Baumgarte Art Foundation.

Ruth Baumgarte died in Bielefeld on February 7, 2013.


2011 is a year of fundamental change and devastating catastrophe. In North Africa, the “Arab Spring” is sweeping long-time rulers out of office. In northeastern Japan, a severe earthquake and subsequent tsunami destroy large areas of land and trigger the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl at the Fukushima I nuclear power plant. This is leading to a move away from nuclear energy in Germany and helping the Green Party in a number of state elections.

The ongoing topics of 2012 are the euro crisis, groundbreaking decisions and the US election.

In 2013, US President Obama begins his second term in office, and Chancellor Merkel begins her third.
Pope Benedict XVI becomes the first pope ever to resign. Otherwise, the year will be dominated by the NSA and NSU.

Movie - 100th Birthday