Biography of Siegfried Kracauer

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Between 1907 and 1913 Kracauer studied architecture, eventually obtaining a doctorate in engineering in 1914 and working as an architect in Osnabrück, Munich, and Berlin until 1920.

From 1922 to 1933 he worked as the leading film and literature editor of the Frankfurter Zeitung (Frankfurt Newspaper) in Berlin, where he worked alongside Walter Benjamin and Ernst Bloch, amongst others. Between 1923 and 1925, he wrote an essay entitled Der Detektiv-Roman (The Detective Novel), in which he concerned himself with the everyday life phenomenon of modern civil society.

Kracauer continued this trend over the next few years, building up theoretical methods of analyzing circuses, photography, films, advertising, tourism, city layout and dance, which he published in 1927 with the work Ornament der Masse (Ornaments of the Masses).

In 1930, Kracauer published Die Angestellten (The Salaried Masses), a critical look at the lifestyle and culture of the new class of white-collar employees. Spiritually homeless, and divorced from custom and tradition, these employees sought refuge in the new "distraction industries" of entertainment. Observers note that many of these lower-middle class employees were quick to flee into the arms of Adolf Hitler three years later.

Kracauer became increasingly critical of capitalism (having read the works of Karl Marx) and eventually broke away from Frankfurt newspaper. About this same time (1930), he married Lili Ehrenreich.

In 1933, Kracauer emigrated to Paris, for political reasons. However, Nazism continued to spread and so he, in 1941, emigrated to the USA.

From 1941 to 1943 he worked in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, supported by Guggenheim and Rockefeller scholarships for his work in German film. Eventually, he published From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film, (1947) which traces the birth of National Socialism from the cinema of the Weimar Republic as well as helping lay the foundation of...
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