Leopold von Hoesch and Anglo-German Relations

Over the last year or so we have been undertaking research on the early provenances of the Library’s collections, using ledgers, account books and minutes housed in the School’s Archives and Collections Centre. These materials can help shed light on where we acquired items, how much we paid for them, or who gifted them to us.

A small ledger in our Archives (GSAA ISE 5/4) notes that certain years of the influential German periodical Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration were gifted to us by the German Consul on 18 April 1935. The journal was  published monthly between October 1897 and September 1933 and featured the decorative and fine arts. International in scope, it nevertheless predominantly covered German, Austrian, Scandinavian and Central European art. It was influential however, particularly in its early years, for featuring the work of young artists, including Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School (September 1902).

The German Consul to Britain in 1935, and the man who gifted these volumes to us, was Leopold von Hoesch (1881-1936). A career diplomat, in 1932 he was made Consul to Britain and a year later found himself representing a new Nazi government, which had come to power under Hitler in 1933. Against a prevailing tide of worsening relations between Germany and Britain, von Hoesch did much to build and enhance relations between the two countries. By 1934 he was growing increasingly critical of the new Nazi regime, criticising Hitler’s appointment of von Ribbentrop. As von Ribbentrop gained in power, von Hoesch’s relationship with Hitler continued to worsen. By 1936 he was being openly critical of Hitler’s Rhineland invasion, denouncing it as an act of aggression designed to provoke both France and  Britain. A month later, in April, von Hoesch died from a heart attack. Such was the esteem in which he was held in Britain, his funeral cortege was transported to Germany aboard HMS Scout to a 19-gun salute.

423px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-13864,_Leopold_von_Hoesch

Leopold von Hoesch in September 1932. Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-13864 / CC-BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en) via Wikimedia Commons

Update June 2014: Sadly our copies of Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration have been destroyed in the Mackintosh Library fire.

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