I finish the trilogy (I, II) that I promised, not because there should no be many any more turpitudes, but because I believe that it costs with one of each one of the three big ones. And I finish off the series with relief, because it is not nice to count so many dirty rags.
To Mies van der Rohe one has accused him of having been often too docile with the Nazi. This has debatable shades, but many relation with which I consider his real turpitude, so I will begin thereabouts. Hannes Meyer happened to Walter Gropius in the direction of the Bauhaus. If the school, free and ultramodern, had been always rather of left sides, under Meyer’s direction it it was already firmly. In full height of the Nazi, Hannes Meyer toughened the political ideology of the Bauhaus up to intolerable limits for those. In 1930 they expelled him, and they were not sure still of closing the Bauhaus. Grain convinced them somehow that the school could “re-behave” and him to be useful to the Reich.
(In this delicate relation the most open to criticism elements are, to the effect that Grain betrayed the Bauhaus and she was delivered to the Nazi, but also another reading can make to him and defend that he did everything possible for saving it, and that the negotiation with the Nazi was inevitable. I, up to there, give him to Grain the benefit of the doubt).
Once defenestrado Meyer, Grain he was nominated the director. The first thing that it did was a fierce sieve of pupils and teachers, up to eradicating the political ideology of the Bauhaus. Grain was apolítico, and more in these times. (“Apolitical” can understand in this context as ” rather of rights “, but lukewarm and without desire of messes).
Some teachers did not hope that they were dismissing them, and resigned. Many pupils were stirred up, and were expelled. Rather: Grain was much more radical. He expelled absolutely all the pupils, and later it opened a period of matriculation in the one that examined personnel and concienzudamente to every aspirant, to insure itself that the leftist bilges had finished forever.
Mies Mies contracted Lilly Reich as Interiorismo’s teacher and Decoration.
It had known her in 1924, and had impressed him deeply (so much that to a little time left his wife and his three daughters for her). Lilly had begun his career as fashionable designer, where it learned to value materials, textures, colors … what used him as much to pass later to the design of furniture and to the conditioning space.
To Mies, always so conscious and so lover of the materials, but still anchored to the traditional ones, taught him to value the fabrics, the glass, the steel, etc. Immediately they started working together. Lilly threw him to the design of furniture, and was fundamental in projects as fantastic as the Pavilion of Barcelona or the house Tugendhat.
But, apart from what Lilly contributed him to Mies in the field of the architecture, in the personal thing it made him reconsider his life and his future. It is supposed that they lived through a torrid history of love, but the only graphical testimony is this, that very torrid, which is said very torrid, it does not seem. We go, that is not like to melt of emotion. (I do not know – and he would swear that there does not exist – any other photography in which the two appear).
Personal life, professional life, uncertainty before the future… Convulsed Years (that the classic one would say).
Philip Johnson (who was filonazi, and in this moment great age people) in 1933 wrote keenly that Grain had to be the architect of the Third Reich. In this moment Hitler still did not know Albert Speer (it was starting seeing any his things). Do you imagine if it had noticed Johnson? Do you imagine if someone him had presented in this moment to Grain? The life and the chance have these things, and Grain was arranged to everything, and insurance that he would have celebrated to be keenly the architect of the regime.
The Nazi still did not know what they wanted as for art and architecture, but prompt one saw that they did not like the forefront anything, and the Bauhaus did not last not at least under the servile direction of Grain. To Hitler, who was artist fond without talent, without culture and without imagination, and that had wanted to be an architect but did not have any aptitude, it was throwing clasicote-barilla, and Speer’s skilful elegance with the Neoclassicism had just defined him architectonically. (Pero Mies was a great admirer of Schinkel, and it would have been perfectly capable of betraying the modern line and of exercising the Neoclassicism without turning pale).
Mies did not leave running to America, as Gropius, because it supported the hopes of a future with the Nazi. His behavior in this regard today meets ridiculous and even sultry, but it is necessary to understand that about these moments the majority of the people was thinking that it was possible to live and to grow with the Nazi.
Mies did many and varied efforts for gaining with the artistic politics of the Reich, in spite of fitting in her. But the Nazi were contradictory and brutal: On one hand they were interested in the functionality, the efficiency and the monumentalidad with modern dyes, but for other one they wanted a nationalistic symbolic and emphatic renaissance. The efforts of Mies show it to us now as a fool or, even worse, as a coward.
In that epoch his life seemed not to run risk, but it did not have orders either, nor was giving neither lessons, or anything.
To a little time, they called him of America and, now yes, it fought to the opportunity.
After a correspondence that lasted almost all the year round 1936, in which one was offering him a chair finally to lose it for the hair, in 1937 the marriage Resister entrusted him a summer house in Wyoming and, especially, he invited him to just USA when Germany was smelling already to gunpowder of an unbearable way. Mies did the suitcases full speed and left running.
Already it had left his wife and his daughters was doing time, but these were already major and they might take charge of his mother. As for Lilly Reich, why did it leave without her? It left her in Germany, in the middle of the danger, alone, in love with he.
In America it saw another world. There was peace and tranquility. The people were respecting him, they wanted to do orders to him and it had a couple of universities to choose chair.
In April, 1938 it returned to Germany to arrange rapidly some things and to turn to the paradise, and met that the Nazi already had caught on: They were Judging the whole forefront as degenerate art and were relating her to the Judaism and the communism. Yes, they reminded him, and also they were relating him with the Jews and the communists of the extinct Bauhaus. Mies realized that it had got into the trap and that she was played, and that maybe could not return already to America.
In August, before returning, it had to happen for the policeman’s police station to gather his passport (that had delivered before) with his visa of emigration. He was afraid that were waiting for him to stop him that it sent a friend. This one gathered the passport, but when it came to the Mies´ house to give it to him one found it scared to death, before two officials of the Gestapo who were interrogating him and being going to take it to him precisely for being without passport.
Lucky, it was possible to clarify the thing, and the officials of the Gestapo gave for the visa good and left him.
Naturally, with the passport visa in the pocket, Mies went away again to America running, leaving everything behind, without knowing anybody. There be saved the one that could. His wives were remaining in the hell.
Lilly Reich, with big works, was busy with going to the study left of Mies and with rescuing the drawings and the papers, and with classifying them and with arranging them meticulously. (Thanks to her today the file of Mies exists). Also it fought to defend the rights of his furniture (that were pirated very much), and of managing to receive something of money that was taking the Mies´wife. Everything fought to defend it from Mies, while this one, in America, he forgot her. A call from there might have saved it, might have taken her also to her to the salvation, but Mies did not want to be tied to anybody. It did not want that he could not stand anybody.
On the following year, in the nochevieja of 1939, it knew Lora Marx, with whom he fell in love. It never lived with her. Grain was not supporting already to live with anybody. It was living alone, in a room of hotel, with his pictures under the bed. It liked to find with Female parrot, but that then went away to his house.
Mies lived as a king whereas his wife and Lilly were spending hunger and fear, in the horrible Berlin of the world war. It did not do anything for them helping. (It could send neither money nor food such as the thing was).
Lilly Reich spent the war working since it could. The Nazi were interested in the prefabricación and in the standardization, which Neufert de la Bauhaus was connecting with the spirit and with the Werkbund, and she could work precariously and anonymous in routine works of metric modulation, trying to be useful and to fulfill his duty. It took care always of the Mies´legacy and fought against great force and valor. Soon after ended the war, with destroyed Berlin and the sunked morality, died of cancer in 1947, inspired love still and always with Mies van der Rohe.
The Mies´wife, Ada, with all his efforts and penuries, was capable of concealing a few Jews in his small apartment during a season.
They all were heroines.
José Ramón Hernández Correa
PhD Architect and author of Arquitectamos locos?
Toledo · may 2012