Urgent Call for Unity

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The "Urgent Call for Unity" (German: Dringender Appell für die Einheit) was an appeal by the Internationaler Sozialistischer Kampfbund (ISK) to defeat the Nazis. It was signed by nearly three dozen well-known German scientists, authors and artists in advance of the German federal election in July 1932.[1]


The June 1932 appeal called for support of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Communist Party (KPD) in the Reichstag election in order to prevent the National Socialists from gaining control of the government. The appeal was unsuccessful, and Adolf Hitler was later appointed chancellor, after which the Nazis were able to consolidate power.

The appeal was published in the ISK's newspaper, Der Funke, in response to the growing strength of the Nazi Party.[1] Placards were also put up all over Berlin.[2]

Text of the message[edit]

U r g e n t    A p p e a l !
The annhiliation
of all personal and political freedom
in Germany is imminent, if there is not success at the last minute,
without prejudice to the principles of opposites, to consolidate
all forces that are united in the rejection of fascism. The next
opportunity for this is July 31st. It is imperative to use this
opportunity and finally take a step toward
Building a united labor front,
which is necessary not just for the parliamentary, rather for
additional defense as well. We're addressing everyone who
shares this conviction with us, to aid in this urgent call to
Coalesce around the SPD
and KPD in this election,
best materializing in the form of joint candidate lists, however,
at least in the form of joint party lists. Not only in the political parties,
but especially in the large labor organizations, it is essential
to exert every conceivable influence. Let us ensure that no
sloth of nature or cowardice of heart allow us sink into barbarism!
Chi-yin Chen / Willi Eichler / Albert Einstein / Karl Emonts / Anton Erkelenz
Hellmuth Falkenfeld / Kurt Großmann[3] / E[mil] J. Gumbel / Walter Hammer
Theodor Hartwig / Vitus Heller / Kurt Hiller / Maria Hodann[note 1] / Hanns-Erich
Kaminski[4] / Erich Kästner / Karl Kollwitz / Käthe Kollwitz / Arthur Kronfeld
E. Lauti / Otto Lehmann-Russbüldt / Heinrich Mann / Pietro Nenni / Paul
Oestreich / Franz Oppenheimer / Theodor Plivier / Freiherr von Schoenaich
August Siemsen / Minna Specht / Helene Stöcker / Ernst Toller / Graf Emil
Wedel[note 2] / Erich Zeigner / Arnold Zweig

Second attempt[edit]

On February 12, 1933,[5] two weeks after Adolf Hitler was named Reichskanzler, the identical appeal was made to rally against Hitler in advance of the German federal election, March 1933. Placards appeared on February 14. This time, there were only 19 signatories, among them, Heinrich Mann and Käthe Kollwitz and her husband, Karl.[6][note 3]

Immediate cultural repercussions[edit]

On February 15, 1933, the day after the new placards appeared, both Mann, then head of the poetry department, and Kollwitz were forced to withdraw from the Akademie der Künste, Berlin by Bernhard Rust,[6] a Nazi who became the acting head of the Prussian Ministry of Culture on February 2, 1933, and with that, curator of the Akademie. Rust insisted that their presence endangered the very existence of the Akademie.

Akademie president Max von Schillings called a meeting of the entire Akademie that very evening, at which he announced the departure of Kollwitz and said that Mann would also have to quit, or he would himself quit. The minutes of the meeting report that there were protests from members because Mann was not present, nor had he been invited.[6] The meeting was interrupted so Mann could be called by telephone, after which the meeting was resumed and Mann's resignation was announced. There were protests, including one from Berlin city planner Martin Wagner, who then walked out. In the following days and months, numerous leading artists quit or were forced out of the institution. Alfons Paquet declared his solidarity in a letter on February 17. In March 1933, Paquet, Alfred Döblin and Thomas Mann (younger brother of Heinrich) quit.[7] In April, Ricarda Huch quit. Max Liebermann, Paul Mebes, Otto Dix and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff quit in May 1933,[6] after the Nazi book burnings. In July 1937, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Ernst Barlach and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner quit.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ After her emigration to Great Britain, Maria Hodann took the name Mary Saran.
  2. ^ This is probably the Graf Emil von Wedel from Großenhain mentioned in "Bürgermeisterwahlen 1927 – ein historischer Exkurs". Retrieved July 8, 2010 (in German)
  3. ^ The other signatories were Willi Eichler, Karl Emonts, Hellmuth Falkenfeld, Kurt Großmann, E.J. Gumbel, Theodor Hartwig, Maria Hodann, Käthe Kollwitz, Karl Kollwitz, Robert Kuczynski, Otto Lehmann-Russbüldt, Heinrich Mann, Paul Oestreich, August Siemsen, Minna Specht, Erich Zeigner. In addition, there was Anna Siemsen, sister of August Siemsen, as well as Marie Westphal-Krause and Karl Zwing. Körner lists only the first 16 names (see footnote 11), but the PDF file of Der Funke, Edition No. 321, p. 3 shows the additional three signatories.


  1. ^ a b Der Funke, Edition No. 147 A (PDF) Friedrich Ebert Foundation, official website. (June 25, 1932) Dringender Appell on p. 2. Retrieved July 6, 2010 (in German)
  2. ^ Scan of placard in article about Arthur Kronfeld Internet Publikation für Allgemeine und Integrative Psychotherapie Retrieved July 6, 2010 (in German)
  3. ^ Ursula Langkau-Alex, Deutsche Volksfront – 1932–1939 Book mentioning Grossmann's in the German Resistance. Akademie Verlag (2004) ISBN 3-05-004031-9. (in German)
  4. ^ Hanns-Erich Kaminski biography Retrieved July 7, 2010 (in German)
  5. ^ Der Funke, Edition No. 321, p. 3 (PDF) Friedrich Ebert Foundation, official website. (June 25, 1932) Retrieved July 6, 2010 (in German)
  6. ^ a b c d Dorothea Körner, "Man schweigt in sich hinein – Käthe Kollwitz und die Preußische Akademie der Künste 1933–1945" Berlinische Monatsschrift (2000) Issue 9, pp. 157–166. Retrieved July 8, 2010 (in German)
  7. ^ Liukkonen, Petri. "Heinrich Mann". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015.