Otto Eisler

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Otto Eisler
Born (1893-06-01)1 June 1893
Bystřice nad Pernštejnem
Died 27 July 1968(1968-07-27) (aged 75)
Brno
Nationality Czech
The synagogue (Agudat Achim) at Skořepka 13, designed by Eisler

Otto Eisler (1 June 1893 – 27 July 1968) was a Czech architect, noted for his contributions to International style in architecture.[1][2]

Biography[edit]

Eisler was educated at the Deutsche Technische Hochschule Brünn over the course of ten years, with a likely interruption for military service during World War I. During his studies, he worked at studios in Vienna. Upon graduation, he worked in the architectural practices of Heinrich Tessenow and Walter Gropius before founding his own firm. He also took part in managing his family's business, including his brothers' (Artur, Hugo, Leo, and Moriz) construction company.[3]

He was subject to Nazi persecution during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia because he was both Jewish and a suspected homosexual. In April 1939, he was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in the prison at Špilberk, where he was apparently tortured. When furloughed, he fled to Norway, where he arrived on 21 February 1940. After Norway was invaded by Germany, he tried to flee to Sweden but was shot and wounded only a few yards from the border, and then deported to Auschwitz on the SS Donau. There he was reunited with his brother Mořic (Moriz), with whom he survived the death march to Buchenwald.[4][5][6]

He was liberated from Buchenwald and returned to Brno to resume his architectural career; he also took over the woodcutting business his deceased brother left to his heirs. He married his cousin Gertruda Kenderová, née Hermannová, in 1946. The family company was nationalized in 1948, and Eisler found work first in his own business, and subsequently at the Botanical Gardens of Masaryk University.[5] He acted as the chairman of Brno Zoo from 1950 to 1953.[7]

In addition to his professional interests in architecture, Eisler was also an avid painter, gardener, book collector, and horticulturist. Several works of art that were stolen by the Nazis were restored to his estate in the 2000s. He is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Brno.[8][9]

Notable works[edit]

  • Own house, Neumannova 10, 1930
  • House for two brothers, Brno, 1931
  • Synagogue in 13 Skořepka street, Brno, 1934 (the only remaining synagogue in Brno)[10]
  • Synagogue, Uherský Brod, 1946
  • Brno zoo, 1949–1966

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kroupa, Jiří. Otto Eisler a racionální purismus, aneb: problém obytného domu ve 30. letech [Otto Eisler and Rationaly Purism or Questions of the Residential Home in the 1930s]. Výtvarné Brno 1918-1938. ISBN 80-7027-007-1. 
  2. ^ Gruber, Ruth Ellen (2008-04-09). "In a Czech city, '30s modernism lives on". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  3. ^ "Otto Eisler" (in Czech). Archiweb. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  4. ^ Gibson, Eric (26 December 1994). "Philip Johnson: Life and Work (book review)". Insight on the News. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Otto Eisler". Docomomo. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  6. ^ "Spørreskjema for jøder i Norge" [Questionnaire for Jews in Norway] (in Norwegian). Oslo: Riksarkivet. 6 March 1942. 
  7. ^ "History of the Brno Zoo". Brno: Brno Zoo. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  8. ^ "Evening programs, March 2009". Prague: Jewish Museum in Czechoslovakia. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  9. ^ "Ing. arch Otto Eisler". Prague: Osobnosti. 27 July 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  10. ^ Ethnic minorities in Brno: Jews, brnonow.com, accessed 15 April 2010