A Central European Life in an Age of Crisis: Camill Hoffmann, 1878-1944

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Exhibition curated by John Deak, Alice Schreyer, and John Boyer.

This exhibition traces the life of Camill Hoffmann (1878-1944), a poet, editor, translator and Czech diplomat, from avant-garde Austria to the fate of a Jewish intellectual under the Nazis. Born near Prague, Hoffmann studied at the University of Vienna and served as literary editor of the Viennese newspaper, Die Zeit, until 1917. In 1920 he joined the Czechoslovak Embassy in Berlin as a cultural and press attachŽ, actively promoting Czech culture in the German capital until 1938. Hoffmann corresponded with many leading literary figures whose writings he translated, edited or published. When the Czechoslovak Republic was occupied by the Nazis in 1939, Hoffmann was living in retirement in Prague. He was transported to Teresienstadt in 1942; and in 1944, Hoffmann and his wife, Irma, were sent on the last transport to Auschwitz before its liberation. The letters, manuscripts, photographs and documents in this exhibition are drawn from a collection of Hoffmann's papers placed on deposit in the University of Chicago Library by alumnus Ralph S. Saul (AB '47). After graduation, Mr. Saul served with the United States Foreign Service in Prague, where he received the papers for safekeeping. After ascertaining that Hoffmann's daughter, Edith Hoffmann-Yapou, had presented papers in her possession to the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach am Neckar, Germany, Mr. Saul decided to add his collection to this archive. Following the conclusion of the exhibition, the Hoffmann papers at the University of Chicago Library will be transferred to Marbach, in order to reunite the archive and make it widely available to researchers in one location.

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