This day in history: 4 December 1926

On Saturday, 4th of December 1926, the new Bauhaus, Hochschule für Gestaltung was solemnly reopened in Dessau (Germany, Sachsen-Anhalt) with more than one thousand guests from all parts of Germany. It was esteemed as a sort of icon of modern architecture, arts and crafts, and design. Walter Gropius, the charismatic architect, was its head and gave distinction to the Bauhaus already at its first location, Weimar, where he had founded it in 1919.

When the political right became dominant in Thuringia after regional elections in 1924, the politically leftist Bauhaus teachers with their international and puristic modern philosophy like Lyonel Feininger, Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky, Johannes Itten, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy or Mies van der Rohe had lost any support in Weimar. The Mayor of the city of Dessau in Anhalt, Fritz Hesse, and the head of the department of arts and culture, Ludwig Grote, offered Walter Gropius to relocate the Bauhaus to Dessau. So the buildings could be raised there in 1925-1926 according to Gropius‘ plans.

Bauhaus Centre
Hamburger Anzeiger, 7 Dezember 1926, p. 3, „Die Eröffnung des Dessauer Bauhauses“ (The opening of the Bauhaus in Dessau)
Hamburger Anzeiger, 7 Dezember 1926, p. 3, „Die Eröffnung des Dessauer Bauhauses“ (The opening of the Bauhaus in Dessau)

On 7th December, the Hamburger Anzeiger reported on the inauguration ceremony. The author seemed to be impressed by Gropius‘ creative determination to get things accomplished in his way. He claimed to build and design objects as diversified as possible with maximum typification.

Fritz Stahl, too, commented very favourably on the opening in the Berliner Tageblatt the same day.

Berliner Tageblatt, 7.12.1926, Morgenausgabe, S. 2, „Das Bauhaus in Dessau“
Berliner Tageblatt, 7.12.1926, Morgenausgabe, S. 2, „Das Bauhaus in Dessau“

The central building of the Bauhaus was the school building famous for its avantgardistic glass facade. The Hamburger Anzeiger referred to this building two days later in its article about the „problematic glass house“. On the one hand, the author admires the radical and stringent realisation of the puristic Bauhaus style, on the other hand, he voices discomfort over a typical German vice: a theoretical bias, overestimated doctrines and ideologies. And he mentions protest of civic associations in Dessau against the „un-German“ architectural style.

Hamburger Anzeiger, 9.12.1926, p. 1, „Das problematische Glashaus“ (The problematic Glass House)
Hamburger Anzeiger, 9.12.1926, p. 1, „Das problematische Glashaus“ (The problematic Glass House)

The „Meisterhäuser“ where the Bauhaus teachers and artists lived were commonly praised as showcases of modern architecture and interior decoration.

60 workmen’s houses of 70 square metres each were erected in Dessau-Törten as examples of low-budget building activities encompassing complete interior fitting and kitchen equipment.

"Meisterhäuser" (residential buildings) in Dessau
“Meisterhäuser” (residential buildings) in Dessau
Settlement of residential buildings in Dessau-Tört
Settlement of residential buildings in Dessau-Tört

 

 

 

 

 

The pilot function of Bauhaus style was controversial as well as readily accepted by the public. In the women’s supplement to the Hamburger Anzeiger on 3rd March 1927 Annette Robody praised the progressive components in Bauhaus design helping German housewives to overcome their lack of modernity.

Hamburger Anzeiger, 3.3.1927, Nr. 5, p. 1 „Für unsere Frauen“ (For our women)
Hamburger Anzeiger, 3.3.1927, Nr. 5, p. 1 „Für unsere Frauen“ (For our women)

Only a few years later the Bauhaus episode in Dessau came to an end. The National Socialists had gained a majority in the Dessau City Council, and they decided to close the Bauhaus Hochschule für Gestaltung immediately on 22nd August 1932. Under the direction of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe the Bauhaus School continued working as a private institution in Berlin-Lankwitz for ten months, before it was closed down by the Nazi government who claimed that it was a centre of communist intellectualism.

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