Kathe Kollwitz

Kathe Schmidt Kollwitz (July 8, 1867 - 22 April 1945) was a German artist. She was born in Konigsberg, Prussia. Her husband was a doctor amongst the poor in Berlin. She took her inspiration from his patients and the people who lived around them in the slums of Berlin and painted scenes of poverty and suffering.

Statue of Kollwitz in East BerlinHer work was too difficult for the art patrons of the time and when she was nominated for the gold medal of the Grose Kunstausstellung in Berlin, Kaiser Wilhelm II withheld his permission.

She lost her youngest son Peter in the first week of the First World War, prompting a prolonged depression. Over the next 17 years she worked on a memorial for him, entitled "the grieving parents" with was placed in the Flemish cemetery of Roggevelde in 1932. Later, when Peter's grave was moved to the nearby Vlodslo the statues were moved also. She also created the sculptures of four mourning soldiers at Langemarck cemetary in Belgium.

She was a committed socialist and pacifist as illustrated by her work "memorial sheet for Karl Liebknecht" and her involvement with the workers council for art, a part of the socialist government in the first few weeks after the war. In 1933 the Nazi Party forced her to resign her place on the faculty of the Academy of Arts. She was banned from exhibiting, but some of her work was used by the Nazis for propaganda. She survived her husband (died in 1940 from illness), and her grandson, Peter (the son of her oldest son Hans), who died in action in 1942.

She evacuated Berlin in 1943, and moved to Moritzburg, a town near Dresden, where she died just before the end of the Second World War.