walter schulze-mittendorff bio 13

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff

13. Social Life in Berlin-Grunewald
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From its very foundation in 1889, industrialists, bankers, artists, scientists, publishers and politicians with many very famous persons among them, were attracted to this exclusive residential area in the park-like surroundings of Grunewald, and settled there. Life has its own special pulse here, with culture playing an outstanding role. Nobody here flaunts wealth or money; bankers, merchants, and factory owners, representatives of the upper class, what is now called the high society, are occasionally seen to take the bus or to walk on their way to their places of work*. Wealth is revealed in engaging the help of domestic personnel, in a generous lifestyle of extensive learning and culture, and in a social life with a strong commitment to art and culture.

Walter Röhrig, 1919,
side entrance of the Villa of Max Liewen at
Winkler Straße 4 in Berlin-Grunewald

The Jewish population in Grunewald with almost 40 percent is much higher than anywhere else in Berlin or Germany. Grunewald is the place where the German-Jewish community has come to a cultural zenith, and where anti-Semitism is unknown. It does get introduced, however, from the outside. In 1922 Germany's first (and only) Jewish Foreign Minister, Walter Rathenau, is assassinated in his car by two non-local young men. The murder happens not far from his house at Koenigsallee, near the premises of the banker brothers Mendelssohn.
A memorial plaque was installed as early as 1946, to honour the murdered Jewish and German politician.

*The German bourgeoisie or upper class, combining wealth, patronage, and a classical education in the humanities is all but obsolete now, at best it leads a rudimentary existence. Today, this class is casually referred to as the 'super-rich', which may point to the loss of importance of cultural commitment and classical education in the tradition of enlightenment.

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff now becomes part of the Grunewald society. He is a guest at the legendary music evenings at the home of the brothers Franz and Robert von Mendelssohn, where even Albert Einstein participates occasionally in playing music, and Walter Schulze-Mittendorff mentions how he even heard the Spanish Cellist Pablo Casals play there once. The premises of the banker brothers with its mansion and stables, spans three residential streets, with the lake Herthasee bordering on the south side. It gets destroyed in the Second World War, like so many of the magnificent villas in Berlin-Grunewald.

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff 1929

People like to be in his presence and he enjoys the social life. Women lavish their attention on him, and he doesn't mind. He jokingly refers to himself as the 'presentable goy' of his Jewish in-law family. A very close friend of his is Hans Wertheim, a son of Franz Wertheim who belongs to the Wertheim dynasty, owners of the department store by the same name at Leipziger Platz, one of the most pompous of European department stores in those times. Hans Wertheim dies in 1938 and is buried in Schulzendorf, close to Berlin. In Schulzendorf, Walter Schulze-Mittendorff runs a second studio until the end of World War II.

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff, 1932
Grunewald Tennis Club at Flinsberger Platz
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