Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele, born in Berlin in 1889, was the son of the banker and art collector Friedrich Ehrenbaum and of Emilie Degele, the daughter of the opera singer Eugen Degele. In 1908/9 Ehrenbaum-Degele studied German and French language and literature at Freiburg University, then returned to Berlin for a time.  One of his fellow students here was Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (originally F.W. Plumpe), who became his long-term companion In 1910, he and Murnau moved to Heidelberg to study art history and literature, only to return to Berlin the following year.

Ehrenbaum-Degele´s first poems appeared in Pan, Der Sturm and in Die Bücherei Maiandros in 1911 and these established him as an early representative of expressionism. About this time he befriended the poet Else Lasker-Schüler, through whom he met Paul Zech and other members of artistic circles. In 1912/13 he contributed to Kurt Hiller’s cabaret Gnu and from 1913 co-edited the journal Das neue Pathos together with Paul Zech, Ludwig Meidner and Robert Schmidt.

In the winter of 1912/13 he left Berlin for Neuruppin for a year’s military service; here he began working on a cycle of sonnets, which were eventually published posthumously. In April 1914 he matriculated into Rostock University, but only four months later war broke out and he left to join his regiment. He was sent to the eastern front and died in 1915 during fighting on the Narew river (today in Poland). His friend Paul Zech published a poetry collection in 1917. He is also commemorated in a series of poems by Else Lasker-Schüler, in which she celebrates him as the knight “Tristan”.


Kreuzfahrt. Verse. (Hamburg, Kugel-Verlag, Hamburg, 1913)

Gedichte. (with a preface by P. Zech; Leipzig) Insel-Verlag 1917; reprinted 1973

Der Werkmeister. Vorspiel zu einem Drama. (Berlin, E.W. Tieffenbach 1913)

Die Gräfin von der Wart. Ein Trauerspiel in fünf Akten. (Karlsruhe-Leipzig, Dreililien-Verlag 1912)

Das tausendste Regiment und andere Dichtungen, H. Vollmer (Ed.), Vol. 22 of: „Vergessene Autoren der Moderne“ ISSN 0177-9869 (Verlag Universität-GH Siegen, 1986)


F. Milautzcki: „Bejaht allen Zweifel bis er zerbricht“, Article of 24.10.2010 on www.fixpoetry.com/feuilleton/lesearten/hans-ehrenbaum-degele/ohne-titel, accessed May 2015.

P. Raabe: Die Autoren und Bücher des literarischen Expressionismus. 2. Ed.. Stuttgart, Metzler 1992.

E. Lasker-Schüler: Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele in: Werke und Briefe. Critical Edition, N. Oellers, Rölleke u. Shedletzky (Eds.) Vol.. 1.1-2: Gedichte. Text und Anmerkungen., Jüdischer Verlag: Frankfurt./M., 1996.

This page contributed by Penelope Monkhouse