Berlin Report, 1947

Virginia sent carbon copies of this letter to her mother Myrtle Hammersmith, and good friends Polly Coan, Interim Director of the Milwaukee Art Institute, and Edith Snow (later Sewall), poet and translator. The recipients did not receive any of the photos. They were later placed in the Scrapbook. Virginia almost always included her young daughter Carol, age five, in her travels. It was her first trip to Berlin after being in Germany only one year, and was accomplished only with a bit of bureaucratic savvy. It was not easy to travel between cities and zones in Germany so soon after the war. You were expected to only go on official business or if invited by an official. It’s not clear how she accomplished this, but was picked up at the train station by the wife of a captain in the Armed Forces, Ruth Christian.  She made this trip and wrote this letter to document what artists were still active in Berlin for the benefit of her friends and also to report back to Hanna Bekker on the artists’ activity. Bekker was the first gallerist of post-war Frankfurt and a former art dealer in Berlin. She intended  to visit as many artists as possible, for both the intention to document and to collect their work.

Virginia visits the Gerd Rosen Gallery where she introduces herself to Ilse Margret Vogel, the co-founder. (Vogel  emigrates in 1950 to New York, where Virginia meets up with her again in 1952–See Diary 1952. In 1992 she published her memoir Bad Times, Good Friends, a Personal Memoir which reveals her experiences in Berlin with these same artists during the war.) Virginia visits five artists, the majority in their homes, sculptor Karl Hartung, painters and members of Die Brücke, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and  Max Pechstein, painter Carl Hofer and sculptor Hans Uhlmann. She is able to photograph all of them except for Pechstein.

Click here to read the Berlin Report 1947 transcribed with photos

Click here to read the original typewritten document