Der entwurzelte Baum


Josef Luitpold Stern (1886-1966), Der entwurzelte Baum (The Uprooted Trees).Woodcuts by Otto Rudolf Schatz (1900-1961) (Berlin: Büchergilde Gutenberg, 1926). Graphic Arts GAX 2011- in process


Austrian author and poet Josef Luitpold Stern was an active member of the sozialdemokratischen Bildungszentrale (Social Democratic Educational Center) and in 1924, co-founded the Büchergilde Gutenberg (Gutenberg Book Guild) together with Bruno Dressler, chairman of the Education Association of German printers. With offices in Leipzig and Berlin (and later Prague, Vienna, and Zurich), their objective was to publish inexpensive books in an effort to make them available to a broad audience.


While teaching at the Vienna Workers’ University, Stern collaborated with the equally progressive Viennese artist Otto Rudolf Schatz on several woodblock books. Their first was Der entwurzelte Baum in 1926, followed by Die Neue Stadt (The New State) in 1927. Both volumes promoted the ideals of social democracy through poetry and graphic images beautifully carved and printed from full-page wood blocks.


When the Nazis took over the Book Guild, both men moved temporarily to the United States. Schatz lived briefly in New York City but when he tried to return in 1938, both he and his wife were sent to a concentration camp in Bistriz. Stern made his way to Philadelphia and worked for a time at the newly established Pendle Hill, a Quaker study center at Wallingford, Pennsylvania.