In Dresden, the architecture students Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fritz Bleyl, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Erich Heckel found the artists’ collective Die Brücke (The Bridge).


Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Swiss artist Cuno Amiet join Die Brücke.


The program of Die Brücke.
Else Lasker-Schüler: Das Peter-Hille-Buch (prose)


Gustav Klimt organises the Vienna Kunstschau, an overview exhibition of contemporary Austrian art featuring work from, among others, the young painter Oskar Kokoschka.


The first instalment of Carl Einstein’s meta-novel Bébuquin appears in the journal Die Opale.
Else Lasker-Schüler: Die Nachte der Tino von Bagdad (prose).
Karl Kraus: Sittlichkeit und Kriminalität (essays).


Kurt Hiller and Jacob Hoddis (see image) found the artists’ and students’ collective Der Neue Club.


Else Lasker-Schüler: Die Wupper (play).

Members of the Neue Club organise a series of public readings in Berlin under the name Das Neopathetisches Cabaret. The events effectively form the starting point of literary Expressionism.


Georg Tappert and Max Pechstein found the Neue Secession, an artists’ association that will organise their own exhibitions independently from traditional institutions. Among the members are the painters of Die Brücke.

In Berlin, Herwarth Walden founds the journal and publishing house Der Sturm, which will become one of the most important vehicles for Expressionist art and writing.


Karl Kraus: Heine und die Folgen.


Franz Pfemfert founds Die Aktion, a journal similar to Der Sturm, but more politically oriented (communist/anarchist).

In the catalogue for an exhibition of the Neue Secession, the art historian Max Raphael is the first to use the term Expressionism to describe the new developments in painting: Modernist German, but also French painting (Matisse, Dérain etc.) does not aim at giving an impression of nature, but at the direct expression of the sensations.


Jakob Hoddis: “Weltende” (poem) appears in Der Demokrat; other poems in Die Aktion.
Carl Einstein: Bébuquin. Serialised in its entirety in Die Aktion.
Else Lasker-Schüler: Meine Wunder (poems).
Georg Heym: Der Ewige Tag; Der Krieg; Die Stad (poetry).


Herwarth Walden opens gallery Der Sturm in Berlin.

The new artists’ collective Der blaue Reiter (among whose members are Wassily Kandinsky; Franz Marc, August Macke, Alexej von Jawlenski and Marianne Werefkin) hold their first exhibition in the Sturm gallery.

Georg Heym dies at the age of 24 during a skating trip with a friend.


Der blaue Reiter, first almanac.
Gottfried Benn: Morgue und andere Gedichte.
Georg Heym: Umbra Vitae (poetry); posthumously published with Ernst Rowohlt Verlag.


Der Sturm gallery organises the Erster deutscher Herbstsalon (first German autumn salon), showcasing various international avant-garde movements, including Expressionism, Futurism and Cubism.


Georg Trakl: Gedichte (poems) appears with Kurt Wolff Verlag (see image).


28 June: Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated in Sarajevo.
Outbreak of World War I.

Kraus begins work on the play The Last Days of Mankind.

Death of August Macke, aged 27, in combat in France.

Georg Trakl dies from an overdose of cocaine in a military hospital in Cracow.


Karl Kraus: “In These Great Times” (essay) published in Die Fackel.
Paul Fechter: Der Expressionismus.



Carl Einstein: Negerplastik. Appears with the Weissen Bücher Verlag in Leipzig.
Georg Trakl: Sebastian im Traum (poems) appears posthumously with Kurt Wolff Verlag.


Franz Marc dies, aged 36, at the front near Verdun.

In Zurich, the artists Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara and Jean Arp (among others), found the Cabaret Voltaire that will give birth to the Dada movement.

The Dresden atelier of the painter Conrad Felixmüller (see image; self-portrait) becomes the gathering site for a group of artists that will eventually form the Expressionist Working Group Dresden, focussing on a politically engaged art.

Russian revolution. Abdication of Czar Nicholas II and assumption of power by the Bolshevik Party.


Gottfried Benn: Gehirne (prose).
Hermann Bahr: Expressionismus.



Gottfried Benn: Fleisch (collected poems).
(see image)


In Berlin, a group of artists, architects and writers found the Arbeitsrat für die Kunst (Workers’ council for the arts) with the aim of liberating the arts from traditional, institutional structures and create a fusion between art and society. Among the members are Erich Heckel, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Otto Freundlich, Bruno Taut and Walter Gropius.

With the war effectively lost, political chaos erupts in Germany. Strikes and uprisings spread throughout the country and a battle for power ensues between the Social Democrats (SPD) and the radical left-wing Spartacus League. The leaders of both parties try to seize political control on the same day, November 8. The next day, general strike breaks out in Berlin. In order to prevent full-scale revolution, the Kaiser abdicates and Germany is declared a parliamentary republic. A provisional government is formed under the leadership of Friedrich Ebert (SPD).

In Berlin, Max Pechtstein and others found the revolutionary November Group. A host of artists, writers, architects and musicians join forces with the aim to effect social and political change with their work.

October: Germany signs the armistice. End of WWI.


Karl Kraus: Die Letzte Nacht, epilogue to The Last Days of Mankind, appears in Die Fackel.
Walter Rheiner: Das tönende Herz (poems); Insel der Seligen (poems; see image); Der Inbrünstige Musikant (poems); Das Schmerzliche Meer (poems/prose); Kokain (novella).


Conrad Felixmüller founds a revolutionary Expressionist artists’ collective named the Dresden Secession Group 1919. Among the members are Oskar Kokoschka, Otto Dix, and Walter Rheiner.

The Spartacus League founds the German Communist Party (KPD). When a general strike among workers throughout the country breaks out in January, the KPD call for armed resistance against the provisional government, with the aim to establish a communist republic.

January 15: Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht are murdered.

January 17: General elections result in a victory for the SPD. The new government chooses the city of Weimar as their base.


Menschheitsdämmerung, the first anthology of Expressionist poetry, edited by Kurt Pinthus for Ernst Rowohlt Verlag.
Karl Kraus: The Last Days of Mankind; published in Die Fackel.


In Berlin, the International Dada Fair takes place.


Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene).


Walter Rheiner: Das Fo-Buch (his last publication).



Nosferatu (W.F. Murnau).



Georg Heym: Umbra Vitae; published with Kurt Wolff Verlag in an edition illustrated by Kirchner.


In Mannheim, the exhibition Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) showcases a new style in painting, marking the end of the Expressionist era.

Walter Rheiner dies, aged 30, from an overdose of morphine in Berlin (see image; painting by Felixmüller].


The first volume of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.



Faust (F.W. Murnau).


Carl Einstein: Die Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts.



Metropolis (Fritz Lang).


Carl Einstein moves to Paris, where he will co-found the journal Documents with Georges Batailles.


The Wall Street crash marks the onset of a worldwide economic crisis.
Karl Kraus: The Last Days of Mankind, is performed in Berlin for the first time.


Alfred Döblin: Berlin Alexanderplatz.


Increasing censorship of the arts under Joseph Goebbels. Many artists decide to leave the country or work in secrecy.

Hitler appointed as chancellor.

On April 8, the Student Union issue a publication containing 12 theses calling for a ‘purification’ of the ‘Un-German’ spirit of ‘Jewish intellectualism’. On May 5 followed by the proclamation of a nationwide action against the ‘Un-German spirit’.
10 May, in university towns across Germany and Austria, public book burnings are organised, bonfires, torch lit parades, Nazi leaders present, 10.000s of books by 'degenerate', 'Jewish', 'Bolshevik', 'communist' authors were burned. On Berlin's Bebelplatz, Goebbels is present and delivers a speech in which he denounces 'the era of extreme Jewish intellectualism', proclaiming: 'Here the intellectual backbone of the November Republic is sinking to the ground.'


Death of Karl Kraus at the age of 62.


Having seized a large number of art works from collections and museums throughout the country, the Nazis launch a full-scale attack on modern art (notably Expressionism) with the Entartete Kunst (‘Degenerate Art’) exhibition. The event takes place in Munich between July and November, and travels to Berlin and others cities the next year. Eventually, the majority of the art works are destroyed or sold off to foreign collectors.