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Banat Biographies
Banat Biographies Index Est. 13 Feb 2010 at by Jody McKim Pharr.

Poet & Writer

Otto Alscher was born January 8 1880 in Perlas/Perlasz along the Tisza River, Banat, then Hungary, † December 29th 1944 in Targu Jiu, Romania). Lived in Orschowa 18912 He is mentioned in literary history as "a German poet of Hungary" and "Romanian-German and Austrian writers.  Editor of the "Deutdschen Tageblatts.


For a brief period from 1919 to 1922, Otto Alscher lived in Temesvar, the capital of Romania Banat, and found a new sphere of activity in Banat Journalism and cultural politics.  As contributor to the Deutsche Wacht (Subsequently Banater Tagblatt) and the Deutsche Tagespost in Hermannstadt, and from 1921 as co-editor, together with his colleague from Belgrade and Budapest days, Franz Xaver Kappus, of the Schwabische Volkspresse and the monthly Illustrieter Weltspiegel, he championed the rights of Banat Germans and strove to foster cultural activity among them.  Now that the Banat was cut off from literary developments in the wider German-speaking world, he sought to cultivate cultural links with Austria and Germany by discussing German novels, plays and art, and supporting theatre productions, translations, readings and lectures.

This phase of his life ended in withdrawal to his smallholding in Orschowa in 1922. For several years his only writing appear to have consisted of sporadic contributions to the Lugoscher Zeitung, which was edited by his friend Heinrich Anwender.  In the second have of the 1920’s he published a series of stories in the Kronstadter Zeitung, and his Munich publisher Albert Langen bought out a new volume, stripped of the philosophizing and emotional excesses of his early writing, under the title Tier and Mensch.3 

The final twist in Alscher’s fortunes came in the Autumn of 1944.  When the Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu was toppled and the country transferred its support from Hitler to Stalin, he was interned together with many of his countrymen.  He died from the results of malnutrition and infection in December 1944, aged sixty four.  Few traces of Alscher’s life remain: the house in which he grew up in Orschowa disappeared when the old town was submerged by the waters of a dam built in the early 1970s, his forest home outside of town has been demolished, and his body lies in an unmarked grave near the camp in Tirgu Jiu.3

Source: German Monitor Fractured Biographies, Edited by Ian Wallace; Publication: 1994, printed in the Netherlands.  A Life Among Gypsies and Wolves: Otto Alscher’s Quest For An Alternative to Modern Civilization written by Axel Goodbody. Paperback: 257 pages; Publisher: Rodopi (November 2003); Language: English; ISBN-10: 904200956X ; ISBN-13: 978-9042009561

Additional reading: Goodbody, A.H. (, 2007. The Hunter as Nature-Lover: Idyll, aggression and ecology in the German animal stories of Otto Alscher. In: Gifford, T. and Beckett, F., eds. Culture, Creativity and Environment: New Environmentalist Criticism. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 135--159.

Published by Jody McKim Pharr, 10 Nov 2009.


 Der Dukaten" Der Türk stürmt


2Deutsche Literatur im Banat (1840-1939) der Beitrag der Kulturzeitschriften zum banatschwäbischen Geistesleben. Author: Engel, Walter. Publisher: Julius Groos Verlag, Heidelberg, 1982. ISBN-10: 387276280X / ISBN-13: 978-3872762801

3German Monitor - Fractured Biographies by Ian Wallace, 2003



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