Jo Mihaly

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Jo Mihaly (born Elfriede Alice "Piete" Kuhr[1]) (1902 – 1989) was a German dancer and writer.

Early years and war diary[edit]

Kuhr grew up in Schneidemühl (now Piła), then about 80 miles from the German-Russian border, now in Poland. The town was the site of a World War I prisoner of war camp, and Kuhr's rediscovered adolescent diary was published late in her life as Da gibt's ein Wiedersehn (1982). It has been translated into English by Walter Wright, a pacifist and former conscientious objector, under the title There we'll meet again, a young German girl's diary of the first world war. It gives an unusual insight into German experience of the war: 'The fact that the diary is written by a German teenager does make it unusual. The fact that this teenager went on to oppose war, to dance her anti-war message on the Berlin stage, to marry a Jew, and to be forced to flee Germany in 1933, gives an added poignancy to the diary.' [2]

Expressionist Dancer[edit]

Jo Mihaly started as a dancer in 1923. In 1933 she was well known for an anti-war dance she had devised with the World War I war boots sword and helmet. She belonged to the German expressionist dancers of the 30s, along with Mary Wigman, Rudolf von Laban, Gertrud Bodenwieser and Gret Palucca. She was a courageous opponent of the persecution of Jews, fleeing Germany for Zürich in 1933 to escape being taken to a concentration camp like so many of her activist socialist friends. She continued to dance there from 1934 to 1938.

Novelist[edit]

Mihaly started by contributing articles and poems to the magazine of the Brotherhood of Wayfarers around 1925. She then wrote her first novel, Michael Arpad und sein Kind, a novel about a gypsy family. She wrote another novel in 1938, "Gesucht: Stepan Varesku". She wrote other books but only her World War I diary has been translated into English.

Media Portrayal[edit]

Elfriede Kuhr is one of the 14 main characters of the series 14 - Diaries of the Great War. She is played by actress Elisa Monse.

References[edit]

  • Biographical notes in There we'll meet again
  • L'espace qui crie en moi - Hommage à la danse expressionniste allemande, a 1991 documentary.
  • Petra Josting: ‚Zigeuner‘ in der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur der Weimarer Republik am Beispiel von Jo Mihalys ‚Michael Arpad und sein Kind. Ein Kinderschicksal auf der Landstraße’ (1930). In: Petra Josting/Walter Fähnders (Ed.): "Laboratorium Vielseitigkeit". Zur Literatur der Weimarer Republik. Festschrift für Helga Karrenbrock zum 60. Geburtstag. Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2005 ISBN 3-89528-546-3 (D)