(Louise Charlotte Märten [given Name]; Luzifer [pseudonym]; Raa Bonares [pseudonym]; Allan Loeben [pseudonym])
Born September 24, 1879 in Berlin-Charlottenburg
Died August 12, 1970 in Berlin-Steglitz
German journalist and socialist theorist
The fourth child in a protetarianized civil servant family, Lu Märten experienced a childhood marked by poverty and illness. Universities were still closed to women, so she acquired an extensive knowledge of history, philosophy, economics, ethnology and art history through home study.
At the age of 19, she joined the SPD (Social Democratic Party), the party whose platform most decisively proclaimed what Lu was striving for: full equality for women and men. A brief marriage confirmed her insight that women's liberation was only possible if they freed themselves from the bourgeois ideal of the caring and devoted housewife and mother. In her early journalistic work, Lu therefore advocated the dissolution of the individual household in favor of cooperative household arrangements. The realization that the workers' movement had not yet developed an independent culture, but rather merely copied the culture of the bourgeoisie, prompted her to write her most important work, published in 1924: Wesen und Veränderung der Formen/Künste (Essence and Transformation of Forms/The Arts), in which she developed a Marxist aesthetic.
Following a prolific period of publishing activity during the Weimar Republic – and having joined the Communist Party in 1920 – in May 1933 her works were among those to fall victim to the Nazi book burnings. No longer able to publish and in dire financial straits, she nonetheless remained true to her socialist stance. As part of the resistance, she distributed literature and helped the persecuted writer Recha Rothschild flee Germany.
She resumed publishing after 1945 but, like so many authors of the Weimar Republic, found little public resonance. Her theory of art was considered outdated; she was frowned upon as a Marxist in the West and as unorthodox in the East.
She later worked as an editor and helped to establish the public library in Steglitz. She was financially secure thanks to a lifelong honorary pension granted to her in 1949 by the magistrate of Greater Berlin for her work in journalism.
(Text from 1995; transl. Julie Niederhauser)
Author: Marianne Goch
She countered her Marxist critics: “Historical materialism is not a toothpick with which one only barely reaches the critical damage, but rather a root instrument.”
“For us, speaking about art cannot mean primarily dealing with Wilde or Shakespeare, but with the spirit of the people.”
“Art arises from imitation, play and communication.”
“We greet the highest art, shaken, there where form comes so close to content that it can no longer be conceived of in any other way.”
“Under the rule of capitalism, art and intellectual labor have become a commodity like any other.”
“Music is beyond all rational conditionality or possibility.”
“What the music of the savage can express is the same as what the music of our day expresses. Feelings without concepts.”
(All quotes except the first from: Knischek, Stefan (2006): Lebensweisheiten berühmter Philosophinnen. »Freiheit ist das höchste Gut«. Baden-Baden: Humboldt (Humboldt-Paperback Information & Wissen, 4072). ISBN 3-89994-072-5.)
Literature & Sources
Numerous pictures, links, and detailed literature references can be found on the German Lu Märten page (click top right).
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