Kerr, Alfred

BORN 25 Dec 1867, Breslau (now: Wroclaw) - DIED 12 Oct 1948, Hamburg
BIRTH NAME Kempner, Alfed
CAUSE OF DEATH suicide with overdose of sleeping pills
GRAVE LOCATION Hamburg: Friedhof Ohlsdorf, Fühlsbüttler Strasse 756 (Z21 (217))

Alfred Kerr was born as the son of a Jewish wine merchant. He studied history and philosophy and started writing for German newspapers. From 1892 until 1900 he worked mainly as a theatre critic for the "Vossische Zeitung" and other newspapers.

In 1898 his dissertation on the early work of Clemens Brentano was published. From 1900 until 1919 he was theatre critic for "Tag" magazine. On 27th Oct 1909 he formally changed his name in Kerr. From 1910 to 1912 he published "Pan" together with Paul Cassirer and from 1912 to 1915 he was the sole publisher.

In 1917 his first volume of poetry "Die Harfe" was published and in the same year five volumes of his criticism were published as well. He married Ingeborg Thormählen in 1918, but she died in the same year. In 1920 he married Julia Weismann, the daughter of a Prussian secretary of state. They had two children.

He and the famous dramatist Gerhart Hauptmann were friends and his daughter Judith recalled witnessing a champagne celebration in 1932. But one year later Hauptmann was collaborating with the nazis and Kerr had to leave Germany.

He stayed in London from 1935 onwards and became a British citizen. In 1948 the British Control Commission sent him to Hamburg to report on the theatre in the British Occupation Zone. He as given an ovation when he entered the Thalia Theatre and was recognized. Emotions overtoke him and he suffered from a stroke. He flew to Hamburg in mid-September an was admitted to a military hospital. He was partly paralysed and after four weeks he committed suicide.

In 1973 his daughter Judith published her account of the family's very hard time in exile after 1933. In 1977 a literary prize was named after Alfred Kerr.

Related persons
• cooperated with Cassirer, Paul
• was detested by Kraus, Karl

19/9/1905Ida Orloff appears in Hauptmann's "Hanneles Himmelfahrt" at the Lssingtheater in Berlin. The critics Alfred Kerr and Arthur Eloesser weren't enthousiastic about her performance. [Eloesser, Arthur][Orloff, Ida]
17/9/1932Paula Wessely performs in Hauptmann's "Rose Bernd" at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. This was her breakthrough, both the audience and the critics were enthousiastic. Alfred Kerr praised her in the Berliner Tagblatt and Werner Krauss was deeply impressed. The director of the play was Karl Heinz Martin. [Krauss, Werner][Martin, Karl Heinz][Wessely, Paula]


The grave of Alfred Kerr at the Ohlsdorfer Friedhof in Hamburg.
Picture by Androom (26 Jan 2006)


The grave of Alfred Kerr at the Ohlsdorfer Friedhof in Hamburg.
Picture by Androom (26 Jan 2006)


• Heuser, Frederick W., The Life of Ida Orloff and her Relations to Gerhart Hauptmann, 1957
Wikipedia (DE)

Kessler, Harry, Graf

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 18 Jan 2022