From 1919-1921, politically active intellectuals and artists lived and worked in Simonskall in the municipality of Hürtgenwald near the city of Düren. Situated in a wooded valley, which at that time could only be reached on foot from Nideggen, this seclusion attracted artists from the Cologne area in particular, who understood Dadaism as their art form.
The founders built a printing press with which they could produce their own graphics and literary works. This put them in a strong, independent position. The so-called Kalltalpresse functioned like a publishing house for the actors working here, which was not subject to censorship. The nearby paper mill in Zerkall gave them the best conditions for publishing their works. The signet of the Kalltal community is a church on a mountain.
The core community, which consisted of the writer Käthe Jatho-Zimmermann, the writer Carl Oskar Jatho, the painter and stage designer Franz Nitsche and the painter and sculptor Franz Wilhelm Seiwert, was constantly visited by people who wanted to change society. For example, the writer Ret Marut alias B. Traven, who is still known today through the film adaptation of his works : “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and “The Ship of the Dead”, hid in the centre of the community in order to avoid arrest because of his involvement in the Munich soviet republic. By this time, the Kalltal Community had already gained the interest of dissenters from all over the Republic through its meetings, exhibitions and, above all, its self-printed writings, beyond the Eifel mountains and Cologne Bay.
On a barn wall behind the community’s home gleams the portrait of the writer Ret Marut alias B.Traven. In 2014, on the occasion of an exhibition in the “Junkerhaus”, the artist Klaus Dauven had engraved the portrait as reverse graffiti of the legendary author into the meanwhile heavily weathered façade using a high-pressure cleaner.
“In the small Eifel community of Simonskall, the Kalltal community was able to host Cologne artists of distinction, but also revolutionaries such as the legendary Ret Marut, alias B. Traven, who had fled straight to the Eifel after the failed Munich soviet republic. The last issue of the pacifist journal ‘Der Ziegelbrenner’ was printed here before Traven took his leave of Europe.” (Gertrude Cepl-Kaufmann)
More information see:
Photo Junkerhaus: wikipedia.de
Photo of Junkerhaus entrance with banner for Bauhüttenwoche: private
Photo of reverse graffiti on barn wall: private
Signet of Kalltalgemeinschaft: private
F.W. Seiwert, World to marvel at: private
Heinrich Hoerle, Der Arbeiter, 1922/23. Berlin, Privatbesitz © gemeinfrei