State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 78 Spring 2006


Walter Struve
‘Dedicated to the Promotion of
International Understanding’:
A Memorial for Kurt Offenburg at the State Library

We who listened to his talks and admired his deep love of all mankind, and his clear understanding of what is needed if peace is to be preserved, feel that what he said should not be allowed to fade from the memory of the Australian people.
Richard Boyer, 19471
from 1950 until the early 1970s, a Kurt Offenburg Memorial Collection was readily accessible ‘in the annex of the Art Room immediately opposite the main entrance to the reading room’ of the Public Library of Victoria (now State Library of Victoria). The donors — friends and supporters of Kurt Offenburg (1898-1946) — had hoped that the collection would ‘form the nucleus of a special international section’,2 dedicated to the promotion of international understanding.3 ‘It is good to know, too, that Kurt's name is being perpetuated in this way,’ wrote Ian Clunies Ross, chairman of the CSIRO, in 1955.4
In recent years, however, the only obvious link between Kurt Offenburg and the State Library of Victoria has been a reference to a ‘Kurt Ofenberg [sic] Bequest’ in various annual reports.5 The memorial collection itself was retired to closed-stack areas, and the man himself all but forgotten. Who was he?6
At the time of his death, Offenburg was regarded as ‘one of the most popular and provocative radio speakers in Australia’.7 An eloquent tribute came from Charles Bean (1879-1968), Australia's official First World War historian, in a radio broadcast devoted to Offenburg:
Kurt Offenburg stood particularly for the enlightenment of the average citizen as to the realities behind the claims or excuses of statesmen in their international dealings. He felt that, whatever statesmen might say about avoiding war, there was no chance of lasting peace unless the nations ceased to think and act as nations, and man recognized an overriding loyalty to all mankind: and he was too honest to let his hearers think that he saw signs of the growth of this loyalty, when as a matter of fact he saw none at all, or hardly any. Although his frank and penetrating broadcasts brought him a large and loyal audience, he was often enough made to feel, despite his Australian nationality, the provincial suspicion with which a large section of us regards anyone of foreign birth, appearance or accent. He knew that we were as far as any nation from the international allegiance which mankind must embrace before long, or perish. Australia needs nothing more than a persistent effort to establish and continue the frank and sane interest in the rest of mankind for which Kurt Offenburg stood.8
This article is an attempt to reflect on the man who has become a largely unknown figure,

Luke, Monte, photographer. Kurt Offenburg 1930. The Australian Handbook Vol. 6, No. 3. Courtesy of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

and on the choice of international understanding as the principle for a Kurt Offenburg Memorial Collection at the State Library of Victoria. It is my contention that both the man and the collection have very real relevance for us, and deserve our attention.

Approaching Kurt Offenburg

From the day in 1928 when, at a luncheon of our institute, I sat beside this former opponent of Passchendaele days, I have never ceased to wonder at his discernment and fair and unswerving statement of the real causes of international moves.
Charles Bean, 19469
It is in the First World War that a clear image of Kurt Offenburg emerges for us, and it was
with pieces dealing with the First World War that he opened his final book. He had served in the German Army, on the Western Front:
I was then only a lad of twenty, in body that is to say. But in spirit I was older than my father's father, who was already well over eighty and had outlived his son by one score and ten. For they did not send such old men to the trenches, and if you were merely forty-nine and nine months you were still considered a youngster, good enough to be made mince-meat of, or to be doubly sewn up by machine guns, or to be quietly suffocated by a crushing trench avalanche. But we won't talk about that.10
Ten years after this war, Offenburg returned to Flanders and recorded his thoughts of a world and landscape that had not ceased to haunt him.11 It was the year he turned thirty and he already had some five books to his name.12 The First World War had brought him into contact with work by German worker poets. ‘The poet from the proletariat, who consciously speaks for his own class, is a phenomenon that had not previously existed’, Offenburg later wrote; ‘new, never before heard sounds and rhythmic turns were found for the heaving episodes of a chaotic, abysmal epoch’.13
In the European Spring of 1918, when it seemed that war and its bloodthirsty recklessness would not end, Offenburg was sitting in a small garrison on the Rhine, the shattering experience of weeks in a military hospital still in his bones. He did not elaborate on the military hospital experience, but mentioned that he was handed several manuscript pages of poetry that immediately intrigued.14 The poetry was by Gerrit Engelke (1890-1918), who was to die on the Western Front later that year, two weeks before his British contemporary, Wilfred Owen (1893-1918).15
Jakob Kneip (1881-1958),16 co-founder of a circle of worker poets known as the ‘Working People at Haus Nyland’,17 was the soldier who had handed Offenburg the manuscript pages. Others associated with this circle included Max Barthel (1893-1975), Karl Bröger (1886-1944), Heinrich Lersch (1889-1936) and Engelke, all of whom were subsequently represented in an anthology of worker poetry that Offenburg published in 1925, dedicated to Kneip and Lersch ‘in friendship’. Offenburg's introduction to the section on Engelke was an outburst — controlled yet indignant — that revealed his own core:
This poet, with all the warmth given by the earth and the power of love, died as a nameless ‘ordinary’ soldier along with countless others, a sacrifice of the Machine State that devours its children like Moloch. And yet he had loved life like a creator and had devotedly embraced all human beings as brothers and sisters.18
In 1928, when Offenburg returned to the landscape of the blood-baths, he came to the Gate of Menin, ‘the main attraction for hordes of tourists, who “do the trip” over the battlefields by car’. He stood there, reading names of former enemy soldiers who had been killed, and again revealed for us the determined passion that would drive him for the rest of his life:
Was this the enemy? They were human beings: fathers, brothers, sons who loved their lives as much as you and I; and they did not go less reluctantly into this hell of bursting shells and mud than you and I. And each one of them wanted to live, and none wanted to die.19

Kurt Dreifuss Offenburg

It is not Heine the poet, the greatest lyrical writer of the last three hundred years, of whom I shall speak tonight, but of Heine, the political seer, the political analyst, who, next to Nietzsche, x-rayed the German character like none before or since.
Kurt Offenburg, 194520
Nearly two decades later, in December 1945 and on the birthday of Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), ‘the grandfather of modern German journalism’,21 Offenburg devoted his evening ‘News Review’ broadcast on ABC radio to this ‘clear-sighted analyst and foe of Prussianism’ who ‘is as modern to-day as a century ago and more’. Offenburg, who had settled in Australia in the early 1930s, was naturalized in 1936. Without any condescension to Australian listeners who may not have heard of Heine, he began:
To-day happens to be the anniversary of the birth of a man by the name of Heinrich Heine. He was born at Düsseldorf, on the Rhine, then occupied by Napoleon's forces, on the 13th of December, 1797, or, perhaps, 1799. It doesn't make any difference: for the accident of birth is immaterial. The thing that counts is what follows: what a man makes of his life.
At the time of this broadcast, the Second World War had ended and Offenburg had turned forty-seven; he had experienced ‘two wars, two revolutions and two inflations’, enough ‘to melt down all illusions’.22 Earlier that year he experienced serious heart problems that would kill him five months later.23 Had he been remembering Heine as a beacon, perhaps also Heine's greatness as a lyrical writer?24 Had he been wondering about what he had made of his own life? Did he think back at all to his beginnings in the town of Offenburg, in the German state of Baden, where he had grown up as Kurt Dreifuss?
He was the eldest of five children, the son of Josef Dreifuss (1866-1915) and Rosa, née Halle (1873-1916). From September 1908 until July 1915, he studied at the Oberrealschule in Offenburg, then moved to Frankfurt am Main.25 We know of his First World War service, ‘a soldier of 1917’ who ‘now made his first acquaintance with Death, the ever-present companion for many a year to come’, and who realized that ‘all values had changed’.26 In May 1923, when he applied to study economics at the university, he stated that he had spent a year and a half in a business apprenticeship. He had married in April 1922.
‘Offenburg’ was his pen-name, used at least by 1921, when he a reviewed a volume by the poet Erich Mühsam (1878-1934).27 His articles in the 1920s ranged from studies of the writer Alfons Paquet (1881-1944) in the context of ‘our rationalistic-atomized oriented age’,28 to impressions — in verse — of New York,29 to James Joyce (1882-1944), ‘whose soul remains deeply embedded in a mediaeval Catholicism’.30 Correspondence with writers like Armin Wegner (1886-1978),31 or the publisher Bruno Dressler (1879-1952),32 allow us to glimpse additional layers.
His books reveal an openness to the world, observant and thoughtful. A poem, ‘Old Oak Tree’,33 evokes deep roots; but they are world roots, taking in world history. A decade
later, some two years after he was naturalized, Offenburg described this experience in a way which suggested that he had turned himself into a world citizen:
Nationality is normally no more than an accident of birth. But to set out to choose one's nationality implies not only a repudiation, but also a deliberate acceptance. It implies that one has made the sublime endeavour to analyse ruthlessly the elements which went into one's own mental making in the years of development and early growth: school, university, service to the State: and parallel with it one's own education, study, and, perhaps, an ultimate higher level of culture.34
Was this his journey both as writer and man? Speaking of Heine in December 1945, Offenburg told how ‘Heine, like any liberal leader of his time, lived in exile’. The contempt by German officialdom for Heine ‘was due more to his political writings than to the fact that he was a Jew’, added:
that is to say, until the Nazis came along: the murderous criminals whose coming Heine had foreseen, whose onslaught on Christian ethics he saw with the vividness of the true poet, the prophet.

Offenburg in Australia

Offenburg is a German author, recently resident in Sydney.
E. Morris Miller, 194035
Because there is no detailed chronology of Offenburg's life that I know of, against which isolated pieces of information can be checked, he remains for us a mysterious figure, perhaps cheerful and urbane, sceptical and bold; these, at least, were qualities that Offenburg admired in Geoffrey Chaucer, this ‘English Boccaccio’, whose Cantebury Tales formed the basis of his earliest book. Will memoirs and letters from those who knew him eventually emerge? His own papers do not appear to have survived.
Offenburg travelled widely, ‘from the United States, to the Far East, studying political and economic conditions, writing for newspapers and periodicals’.36 One biographical note stated that, ‘as Special Correspondent for one of the leading European newspapers, he covered the first and second stages of Japan's conquest of Asia’.37 Had he been based in China for several years?38 Had he passed through Sydney in 1928, as Bean remembered? P.C. Murphy, who employed Offenburg at the ABC in 1936, recalled that, when Hitler came to power in Germany, ‘Offenburg was in Shanghai as the correspondent of the Frankfurter Zeitung and it was there he heard of the ransacking of his flat in Frankfurt and the burning of his library by the Nazis’.39
Offenburg paid his first longer visit here in 1930.40 A series of articles by him on ‘The Australian Experiment’ appeared in the Frankfurter Zeitung in 1931.41 Aside from writing and broadcasting (including work for the Macquarie Broadcasting Services), he had also lectured for the Sydney University Extension Board on Pacific and Far Eastern Affairs.42 In December 1938 he married Dulcie Irene Cooke (1897-1972), a teacher.43
The books he published during the Second World War reveal a mind able to focus,

Photograph of Kurt Offenburg taken from The Home, 1 June 1940. SLTF 052.9 H752

able to size up situations without the benefit of hindsight, yet still based on careful observation and reasoning. This was topical, urgent journalism. He warned as much as he could. In the preface to his book, Japan at our Gates: the Thermopylae of Australia is at Singapore (1942), he wrote:
To be blunt: this country is in deadly peril. The author's worst fears — owing to censorship guardedly expressed in War in the Pacific?44 — have come true.
And a few lines later:
I acknowledge the kind permission of the Australian Broadcasting Commission which enables me to use some material from my News Commentaries since 1936, including many formerly deleted passages. Perhaps I may say with some pardonable pride that almost every word has been confirmed by the relentless sequence of events, and that in no instance have any of my statements — first considered as ‘alarmist, fantastic, pessimistic’ — been proved anything but plain facts.

Offenburg's letterhead in the 1920s.

The Public Library of Victoria's bookplate for the Kurt Offenburg Memorial Collection.

Offenburg died too soon, in May 1946, at the age of forty-seven. Transcripts of his broadcasts of 1945 and 1946 reveal the directions that his thinking was heading, his wit and clarity intact:
I doubt if any previous generation has ever been entertained with such an amazing series of fables and fairy tales about the Brave New World which would spring out of the purgatory of war, fully clad and magnificent like Pallas Athene from the head of Zeus.
To us, however, we are not dealers in fables (although it is the easiest profession to gain the popularity of political windbags): to us, who deal in reality and not in wish-dreams, good intentions and proclamations are not the yardstick with which to measure the future shape of things to come.45

An Australian Memorial

I wish these people would be given a proper European memorial, not to appease our conscience but to summon the courage of future generations.
Fritz Stern, 200546
A Kurt Offenburg Memorial Fund was established, on 30 September 1946,47 with Richard Boyer, chairman of the ABC, as its chairman. A General Committee of twenty-five included
the Consuls-General of America, Argentina, Belgium, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and a string of prominent individuals like, for example, Emery Barcs, Charles Bean, Ian Clunies Ross, Walter Murdoch and Vance Palmer. An Executive Committee of six included both the ABC's Controller of Talks and the arranger of commentaries, and the University of Sydney's Challis Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence.
They had hoped ‘to arrange a regular series of lectures to assist the cause of international understanding for which the late Kurt Offenburg worked’. This aim was later modified and became a plan ‘to offer to a public library some of Offenburg's books as a nucleus of a special book section to be added to from time to time by purchases from the fund’.48
Two letters, both written on 8 December 1947, offer clues on what came next. The first, by Colin McCallum, Chief Librarian at the Public Library of Victoria, addressed to Irving Benson, Chairman of the Trustees of the Public Library of Victoria, described a visit from Paula Pentley:
I have just had a visit from Mrs. O. Pentleigh [sic] of Punchbowl, New South Wales. She was a little bit reticent, but told me she was acting on behalf of a principal who was considering offering to our Library a collection of some 400 volumes related to international affairs and world understanding. 90 per cent of the books are in English. The suggestion is that if the Trustees would accept these, keep them together as a unit, and make them available to the public as a memorial library, her principal would keep the collection up-to-date by additions from interest monies.49
The second letter, by Ian Clunies Ross, was addressed to Paula Pentley, the Memorial Fund's Honorary Secretary:
I like the idea of the establishment of a memorial collection of books at some suitable centre, the books which belonged to the late Kurt Offenburg forming the nucleus of such a collection. On the other hand, I think every effort should be made — if in fact, the collection is to prove a memorial — for the books to be held together and a suitable indication given that they constitute a memorial to Kurt Offenburg. I think, therefore, that rather than the books being handed to a large Public Library where they will almost certainly be distributed amongst the general collection, consideration might be given to placing them in some smaller specialist library such as that of the Commonwealth Council of the Australian Institute of International Affairs or the Department of International Law at the Law School, University of Sydney. At such a centre, the books could probably be held as a distinct collection and an indication given on the shelves that they constitute the Kurt Offenburg Memorial Library.50
Almost a year later, on 26 November 1948, a meeting of the Kurt Offenburg Memorial Fund resolved:
That the Fund shall be dissolved and that upon dissolution assets and funds on hand shall be paid to the Public Library of Victoria to form the nucleus of a memorial collection.
Negotiations and preparations proceeded bit by bit. In April 1950 bookplates with a dedication — ‘This book forms part of the Kurt Offenburg Memorial Collection, dedicated to

Photograph of Paula Pentley, n.d. but mid to late 1940s. Courtesy of her son Martin Pentley via Walter Struve.

the Promotion of International Understanding’ — were printed. The Kurt Offenburg Memorial Collection at the State Library of Victoria was opened with ‘a simple ceremony’ on a Friday afternoon, 2 June 1950. Vance Palmer spoke on behalf of the Kurt Offenburg Memorial Committee, and Irving Benson on behalf of the Library Trustees. A sheet outlining ‘visitors expected’ at the ceremony mentioned that Paula Pentley, Secretary of the Memorial Committee, wished to say ‘a very few words’ and that ‘she knew Kurt Offenburg pretty well’.51 Her words were not reported.
Later that month she wrote to Colin McCallum:
This is just a little personal note which I would like to send to you because I feel that it was your support right from the beginning which made the establishment of the Collection possible. I know it is only a small thing at present, compared with other big collections, but I am not ashamed to say that I have faith in its future and that it will one day honour its dedication. I am not foolish enough to think it might prevent war and disaster, but if it only achieves to make people think a bit more broadmindedly and at the same time objectively, it will mean a step further.52
Paula Pentley was the driving force behind the Kurt Offenburg Collection, as her correspondence with Colin McCallum attested. ‘Just keep up your present good work,’ McCallum wrote to her on 8 September 1955. On 11 July 1956 she wrote to him:
It makes me very happy to be able to help with the development of the Memorial Collection and I feel I must say again how much confidence it gives me to know that the Collection, its aims and its future is under the best possible guardianship.
Colin McCallum (1895-1981), chief librarian at the Public Library of Victoria from 1945 to 1960 and a member of staff for forty-one years, has been described as ‘undoubtedly the best man ever to have held the chief's office’.53 He would have known about ‘war and disaster’ and the need to prevent it; in December 1917, on the Western Front, he had been burned by mustard gas.54 Paula Pentley, née Mandl (1896-1957), and her husband, Oscar Pentley (1889-1966), were both born in Vienna and later lived in Czechoslovakia. They arrived in Sydney with their son, Martin, in May 1939.55
Martin Pentley has described his mother for me as follows:
She was intelligent, had many interests, loved books, and read much contemporary literature. From my uncle I learned that as a young woman she wanted to study Chemistry, but her parents did not think this appropriate for a young woman. Eventually however she did, until she married. During my school years in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in the 30s I recall she did voluntary work for a social service organization. She loved music and played the piano.
In Sydney she had various jobs — office work in a hospital, typing for a doctor, and finally with Mr. Offenburg (in Pymble I think). Unfortunately I recall very little, but had the impression that she was energized by working for Mr. Offenburg and greatly valued him and his work.56
It is fitting that an article on the State Library memorial to Kurt Offenburg and his ideals should honour Paula Pentley's memory also. After her death, Oscar Pentley wrote to Colin McCallum: ‘Knowing and understanding how deep in the heart of my late wife was the desire to perpetuate Mr. Offenburg's work I was contemplating in which way I could continue her work.’57 From then on — in fact, until 1972 — a cheque for 15 guineas was sent each year to the Library Trustees, ‘to be applied by them in the purchase of suitable books to be added to the Kurt Offenburg Memorial Collection at the Library and to be inscribed “In Memory of Paula Pentley.”’. Oscar Pentley hoped that ‘this little brick may be a contribution to the gigantic idea of attaining a better understanding and ultimately Peace’.58
Offenburg and the Offenburg Collection are indeed bricks to treasure. How is it that we had allowed them to be forgotten, and what can we now do to make amends, ‘not to appease our conscience,’ as Fritz Stern put it, ‘but to summon the courage of future generations’?


Since the day when I first asked Anne-Marie Schwirtlich and Shane Carmody about the Kurt Offenburg Memorial Collection at the State Library of Victoria, and then when Tim O'Grady found the relevant correspondence, many people have given help on a host of particulars: Peg Anthony, John Arnold, John Barnes, Leslie Bodi, Regina Brischle (Germany), Deborah Brown, Peter Coleman, Tom Darragh, George Dreyfus, the late Peter F. Drucker (USA), Ruth Dwyer, Wilgha Edwards, Sol Encel, Helen Ferber, Caroline Grafe (Germany), Judith Hamilton (UK), Volker Harms-Ziegler (Germany), Irmgard and Hans Heidler (Portugal), Michael Heidler (Germany), Ross Humphreys, Myfanwy and the late Donald Horne, Ken Inglis, Konrad Kwiet, Lee Kersten, Wallace Kirsop, Anna Lanyon, Michael Lenarz (Germany), Morag Loh, Peter Lyssiotis, Michael Maaser (Germany), John McLaren, Brian McLure, Joyce McGrath, Humphrey McQueen, Robin Marsden, George Matoulas, Leone Mills, Johanna-Elisabeth Palm (Germany), Martin Pentley, Warren Perry, Neville Petersen, Graeme Powell, the late Maria Prerauer, John Ramsland, Monica Raszewski, John Romeril, Norman Rothfield, Susan Rutland, Peter Ryan, Sebastian Salt (Spain), Bernard Smith, Gavin Souter, Dennis Spiteri, Gerda and Werner Struve, Vicente Such-Garcia (Germany), Marjorie Tipping, the late Prue Torney, Guy Tranter, Johannes Voigt (Germany), David Walker, Diane Wallace (USA), Andrea Wölbing (Germany), Eva Wuthenow (Germany), Valerie Yule, and Heidi Zogbaum. Both Humphrey McQueen and John Barnes gave kind advice when they saw an unwieldy first draft.

Books by Kurt Offenburg

Der englische Boccaccio: den erbaulichen und kecken Canterbury-Geschichten des seligen Herrn Chaucer. Nacherzählt von Kurt Offenburg.
Dresden, Sibyllen-Verlag, 1924.
11/10: ein zeitgenössischer Roman.
Frankfurt am Main, Mittelland-Verlag, 1925.
Arbeiterdichtung der Gegenwart.
Frankfurt am Main, Mittelland-Verlag, 1925.
Profile europäischer Romanciers: Essays.
Frankfurt am Main, Mittelland-Verlag, 1925 (?).59
Der ewige Garten: ein Buch der Einkehr.
Berlin, Verlag der Büchergilde Gutenberg, 1928.
These Glorious Crusades: a Contemporary Novel. Translated by the late C.J. Brennan.
Sydney, Macquarie Head, 1934.
[a translation of 11/10: ein zeitgenössischer Roman.]
War in the Pacific?
Sydney, Gayle, 1941.
Does Russia matter?
Sydney, Gayle, 1941.
Japan at our Gates: the Thermopylae of Australia is at Singapore.
Sydney, Gayle, 1942.
World in Dust: a Personal Record.
Sydney, Gayle, 1945.


R.J.F. Boyer, ‘The Kurt Offenburg Memorial Fund’ [a printed sheet announcing the launch of a Kurt Offenburg Memorial Appeal on 16 May 1947].


‘Memorial Gift of Books for Library’, The Age, 3 June 1950, p.4.


‘Kurt Offenburg Memorial’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April 1949, p.8.


I. Clunies Ross to Mrs. O. Pentley, 1 September 1955; National Archives of Australia (NAA): A10651, 1CR22/40.


See, for example, the Library Board of Victoria's Annual Report for 2001-02 (p.88), 2002-03 (p.123), and 2003-04 (p.82), where ‘Offenburg’ consistently appears as ‘Ofenberg’.


For a preliminary investigation, see my article, ‘Who was Kurt Offenburg?’, ISAA Review, vol.3, no.2, Nov. 2004, pp.6-13.


‘Will miss forthright voice of Offenburg’, The ABC Weekly, 1 June 1946, p.40.


C.E.W. Bean, ‘Broadcast commentary, 2 F.C., 1.15 p.m. 23 May 1946’; NAA: SP300/1, 1946/Bean, Dr CEW.


‘Dr. Bean's Tribute’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 May 1946, p.4. Bean was referring to the Institute of Journalists, of which he was president.


Kurt Offenburg, World in Dust: a Personal Record, Sydney, Gayle, 1945, p.29. Offenburg was born on 25 November 1898, hence turned 20 just after the end of the First World War. His father, Josef Dreifuss, had died on 17 July 1915, at the age of 49.


Kurt Offenburg, ‘Nach zehn Jahren’ [‘After Ten years’], Deutsche Republik, 2. Jahrgang, 2. Teil, April-Sept. 1928, Heft 52, pp.1671-78; and ‘Rüstkammer des Todes’ [‘Arsenal of Death’], Frankfurter Zeitung, 2 Aug. 1928.


A listing of his books appears as an appendix to this article. Note that, in an interview given in Sydney in 1930, Offenburg mentioned also a second novel, Und jede nimmt und gibt zugleich (could this have been serialized in a periodical?), and two plays, Kitsch in Variationen, and Der Olympiasieger; see ‘Interesting Visitors at “The Australia”: Mr. Kurt Offenburg’, The Australia Handbook, vol.6, no.3, Dec. 1930, p.17.


Kurt Offenburg, ‘Arbeiterdichtung der Gegenwart’ [‘Contemporary Worker Poetry’], Deutsche Republik, 2. Band, 1. Jahrgang, April-Sept. 1927, Heft 37, pp.469,471.


Kurt Offenburg, ‘In memoriam Gerrit Engelke’, Deutsche Republik, 3. Jahrgang, Band III, 1. Teil, Okt.-März 1928/1929, Heft 3, p.80.


Engelke was born on 21 October 1890 and died on 13 October 1918, a week short of his twenty-eighth birthday; Offenburg, in his Arbeiterdichtung der Gegenwart, Frankfurt am Main, Mittelland-Verlag, 1925, p.66, incorrectly gave Engeleke's year of birth as 1894. Owen was killed on the Western Front on 4 November 1918, a week before the Armistice.


It is thanks to Kneip that much of Engelke's writings was collected and published; see, for example, Gerritt Engelke, Vermächtnis, aus dem Nachlaß herausgegeben von Jakob Kneip, Leipzig, Paul List, 1937. A poem by Kneip is included in Offenburg's anthology, Der ewige Garten: ein Buch der Einkehr, Berlin, Verlag der Büchergilde Gutenberg, 1928, p.170.


‘Werkleute auf Haus Nyland’ was founded in 1912 by Kneip, Josef Winckler (1881-1966) and Wilhelm Vershofen (1878-1960). Gerrit Engelke has been described as ‘the most original’ of them; see Patrick Bridgwater, The German Poets of the First World War, London, Croom Helm, 1985, p.141.


Arbeitedichtung der Gegenwart, p.66.


World in Dust, p.54.


Kurt Offenburg, ‘News Review’, 13 December, 1945, 2 FC, 9.05 pm; NAA: SP 369/2.


J.P. Stern, Re-interpretations: Seven Studies in Nineteenth-Century German Literature, London, Thames and Hudson, 1964, p.208.


World in Dust, p.9.


Offenburg's death certificate indicates that problems began in February 1945; NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1946/007195. See also the obituary, ‘Vale Kurt Offenburg’, A.B.C. Federal Publicity Bulletin, no.386, 9 June 1946, where his health problems are described.


For Heine the lyrical writer, see Kurt Offenburg, ‘Deutsche Lyrik des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts’, Der Bücherkreis, 5. Jahrgang, Heft 10/11, Okt.-Nov. 1929, pp.150-1.


Details skimmed over here are from the Stadt Offenburg Archiv und Museum, the Universitätsarchiv, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, the Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt am Main, and the Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt am Main.


World in Dust, pp.16,26,60.


Kurt Offenburg, ‘Brennende Erde’, Die Aktion: Zeitschrift für freiheitliche Politik und Literatur, no. 1/2, 1921; this review was reprinted in the volume, Färbt ein weiβes Blütenblatt sich rot: Erich Mühsam, ein Leben in Zeugnissen und Selbstzeugnissen, ed. Wolfgang Teichmann, Berlin, Der Morgen, 1978, p. 151. Mühsam's subsequent murder by German authorities (in July 1934) was described to Australian audiences by Egon Kisch (1865-1948) during his controversial visit of 1934/35; see Heidi Zogbaum, Kisch in Australia: the Untold Story, Melbourne, Scribe, 2004, p.109.


Kurt Offenburg, ‘Alfons Paquet’, Die Glocke, no.8, 1922, pp. 1157–61, 1178-83.


Kurt Offenburg, ‘New-York’, Der Bücherkreis, 3. Jahrgang, Heft 3, März 1927, pp.45-48.


Kurt Offenburg, ‘Joyce: Ulysses’, Deutsche Republik, 2. Jahrgang, 2. Teil, April-Sept. 1928, Heft 35, pp. 1137–39; the article appeared also in the Münchener Post, 31 May 1928.


Kurt Offenburg to Armin T. Wegner, 14 November 1924; Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, HS001678388.


Kurt Offenburg to Dressler, 17 January 1925 and 12 December 1925; Fritz-Hüser-Institut für deutsche und ausländische Arbeiterliteratur, Dortmund, Dressler and Ernst Preczang (1870-1949) had, in 1924, founded the Büchergilde Gutenberg, publishers of Offenburg's fifth book.


Kurt Offenburg, ‘Alte Eiche’, Der ewige Garten: ein Buch der Einkehr, Berlin, Verlag der Büchergilde Gutenberg, 1928, pp.171-3.


Kurt Offenburg, ‘Civis Britannicus Sum’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 July 1938, p.13.


E. Morris Miller, Australian Literature, from its Beginnings to 1935: a Descriptive and Bibliographical Survey of Books by Australian Authors in Poetry, Drama, Fiction, Criticism and Anthology, with Subsidiary Entries to 1938, Melbourne University Press, 1940, p.934.


‘Embodied Voices: Commentators on International Affairs’, The Home, 1 June 1940, p. 16. See also Kurt Offenburg, ‘Symphony of Travel’, The BP Magazine, 1 Sept. 1934, pp.40-41, 97.


Kurt Offenburg, Does Russia Matter?, Sydney, Gale, 1941, [p.95].


See Kurt Offenburg, ‘China — the Inscrutable?’, The BP Magazine, 1 March 1935, p.39; for a sense of his deep affection for Chinese tradition and civilization, see Kurt Offenburg, ‘The Happy Stomach’, The BP Magazine, 1 June 1942, p.55.


Neville Petersen, News not Views: the ABC, the Press, & Politics, 1932-1947, Sydney, Hale & Iremonger, 1993, p.138.


See Offenburg's Statutory Declaration (16 September 1936) that accompanied his Application for Certificate of Naturalization; NAA: A1, 1936/11104.


Six articles under the general title, ‘Das australische Experiment’, appeared in the Frankfurter Zeitung as follows: (1) ‘Die Nachkriegssünden’ [The Post-War Sins], 8 May 1931; (2) ‘Der Farmer ohne Geld’ [The Farmer without Money], 12 May 1931; (3) ‘Die australische Industrie — ein “Wasserkopf” [Australian Industry — a ‘Sick’ Industry], 14 May 1931; (4) ‘Australische Gegensätze und Besonderheiten’ [Australian Contrasts and Peculiarities], 5 June 1931; (5) ‘Australien ein Arbeiterparadies?’ [Australia a Workers' Paradise?], 23 June 1931; and (6) ‘Quo vadis Australia?’ [Where is Australia heading?], 29 June 1931. The first three articles appeared in English, under the title ‘Australia Goes Broke’, The Living Age, July 1931, pp.462-468. The first two had also appeared (in a different English version) in The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 January 1931, p.8, and 14 January 1931, p. 12.


See The Austral-Asiatic Bulletin, vol.1, no.5, Dec.-Jan. 1937-38, p.3.


Offenburg's first marriage, with Olga Abramson, was dissolved.


‘Published March, 1941’ (Offenburg's note).


Kurt Offenburg, ‘News Review: 2FC, 9.05 p.m., 29 November 1945’; NAA: SP 369/2.


Fritz Stern, ‘Lessons from German history’, Foreign Affairs, vol.84, no.3, May/June 2005, p.17.


For a succinet overview, see G.D. Paterson (Perpetual Trustee Company Limited, Sydney) to Acting Secretary, Library Council, National Museum & Science Museum of Victoria, 19 January 1978; Library Council of Victoria, Bequests & Donations, Kurt Offenburg File.


‘Kurt Offenburg Memorial Fund’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 December 1947, p.16.


C.A. McCallum to Rev. Dr. C. Irving Benson, 8 December 1947; State Library of Victoria (SLV) Corporate Archives SEC Series: Kurt Offenburg Memorial Fund. Minutes of the Public Library Trustees' meeting of 19 December 1947 recorded that the Memorial Library was ‘to be accepted if offered’.


I. Clunies Ross to Mrs. P. Pentley, 8 December 1947; NAA: A10651, 1CR22/40.


Typed sheet, ‘Kurt Offenburg Opening, 2nd June, 1950: Visitors expected’, with handwritten annotation: ‘Copy to Dr. Benson’; SLV Corporate Archives SEC Series: Kurt Offenburg Memorial Fund.


Paula Pentley to Colin McCallum, 20 June 1950; SLV Corporate Archives SEC Series: Kurt Offenburg Memorial Fund.


Karel Axel Lodewycks, The Funding of Wisdom: Revelations of a Library's Quarter Century, Melbourne, Spectrum, 1982, p.82. Lodewycks (1910-90) worked at the Public Library of Victoria before his appointment, in 1948, as deputy librarian of the University of Melbourne (and later chief librarian).


‘1914-1918 War: Recollections of No. 7887, Private Colin Alexander McCallum, 7th Field Ambulance, Australian Army Medical Corps A.I.F.’, included in Ronald East, More about the East Family and Related Pioneers: Yules, Milligans, Hoopers, McCallums, Neethlings, Males, Quicks, Phillips, Keys, Burchetts, Greenwards, privately published, 1988, pp.409-418.


In the following month their surname was changed from from ‘Pentlarz’ to ‘Pentley’; NAA: C123/1, 7199.


Letter from Martin Pentley, 8 February 2006.


O. Pentley to C.A. McCallum, 2 June 1957; SLV Corporate Archives SEC Series: Bequests & Donations, Pentley, O.


O. Pentley to C.A. McCallum, 18 April 1958.


Offenburg consistently included this work in listings of his books (in Australia he referred to it as ‘Profiles of European Novelists’), but it does not appear in the Gesamtverzeichnis des deutschsprachigen Schriftums (GV), 1911-1965, or in the Offenburg entry in Deutsches Literatur-Lexikon: biographisch-bibliographisches Handbuch (3rd ed, 1988), and I know of no actual copy anywhere. Kürschners Deutscher Literatur-Kalender auf das Jahr 1930 does list it, but with a 1927 publication date. It is advertised in the back of Offenburg's book, Arbeiterdichtung der Gegenwart (1925), p.207, as available; correspondence between Offenburg and Bruno Dressler in 1925 give valuable clues on what went wrong.