Haas Willy (1891-1973)
Willy Haas was an homme de lettres, i.e. a man of letters, and one of the great literary editors of Germany's legendary second Weimar period. He was also one of the first avant-garde film critics and film scriptwriters, apart from being an essayist, raconteur, friend and critic of writers like Kafka and Werfel. From 1925 to 1932 he edited one of the most widely respected literary journals in Germany and Europe: Die Literarische Welt. (Cf nr. 1, chapter 'notes and references')
He was probably one of the greatest classic feuilletonists in the German tradition.
Haas was born on 17 June 1891 in Prague, which at that time was in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and all through his life, which took him from Prague to Berlin, to Bombay, to London and finally to Hamburg, he retained the consciousness of the problems of the legal identity associated with a Central European citizen of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in its dying phase.
Haas' family was of Spanish-Jewish origin that had migrated to a Moravian village from Holland in 1680. As Haas put it in a charmingly written curriculum vitae, he thus 'was born in Prague of a respectable Czechoslovak family that had been settled on Czechoslovakian soil for at least 250 years according to available records'. (Cf. nr 2, chapter 'notes and references')
His father, Dr. Gustav Haas, was apparently a well-known and respected lawyer. In the multilingual milieu of Prague, however, to be Jew was almost identical with being German, and both were hated. But, there were exceptions. Haas remembered mobs going on rampages as a child against the German-speaking Jewish community and in one of these attacks their house was saved by their Czech nurse. (Cf. nr 3, chapter 'notes and references')
- nächste Seite