The First World War
Eleanor Bron reads Fiona McCarthy’s biography of the visionary founder of the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius. Today - the First World War.
Eleanor Bron reads Fiona McCarthy’s biography of the architect and visionary founder of the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius.
In this third episode, Gropius’ professional career is interrupted by the outbreak of war. On 1st August 1914, he was immediately called up, and sent straight into action in the mountains of Alsace where the German Army were locked into long battles with the French. His letters from the front reveal his anger at the widespread loss of human life and the sheer incompetence of his superiors. He was decorated as a war hero but his nerves were shattered, and what he called "the screaming jeebies" never really left him.
As he fights at the front, Gropius begins to formulate plans for the school that evolved into the Bauhaus, a school for an ideal future in which art, craft and technology were fused. The Bauhaus stood for delight, experiment and creative freedom.
Meanwhile, his love affair with Alma Mahler continues and, after Gustav Mahler’s death, Walter and Alma marry. They have a child, but Alma takes a lover and her second child is clearly not Walter’s. As he realises what has happened, Gropius "crumpled as though struck by lightning".
Reader: Eleanor Bron
Producer: Elizabeth Burke
Executive Producer: Joanne Rowntree
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4