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German Expressionism collection

 Collection 0081-LIT

The literary movement German Expressionism generally dates from around 1905 to 1945. It arose as a reaction against materialism, complacent bourgeois prosperity, rapid mechanization and urbanization, and the domination of the family within pre-World War I European society. It was the dominant literary movement in Germany during and immediately after World War I. The authors explored in their works the predicaments of representative symbolic types rather than of fully developed individualized characters. Expressionist poetry was similarly nonreferential and sought an ecstatic, hymn like lyricism that would have considerable associative power. This condensed, stripped-down poetry, utilizing strings of nouns and a few adjectives and infinitive verbs, eliminated narrative and description to capture the essence of feeling. The dominant themes of Expressionist verse were horror at urban life and apocalyptic visions of the collapse of civilization. This collection of approximately sixty individual items includes correspondence and manuscripts, of both prose and poetry, by forty individuals including Leonhard Frank, George Groz, Oskar Kokoscha, Else Lasker-Schuler, Ernst Toller, and Franz Werfel.


  • 1909-1961
  • Majority of material found within 1916-1934

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

This collection is unprocessed. This means that materials are in the same state we received them and have not been reviewed for content or condition. The collection may need to be screened prior to use. Please contact us before visiting the Special Collections reading room to view this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


0.50 Linear Feet

Guide to the German Expressionism collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742