Tagore’s German publisher

Born in 1887, Kurt Wolff established a very successful and progressive publishing house in Leipzig in 1913. For many centuries, Leipzig, where the world’s first newspaper was published in 1650, had been the center of publishing and printing in Germany. The German Book Museum and the German National Library are witness to the city’s important role in the history of the printed word. Kurt Wolff published Tagore first in 1914 and, until 1930, sold more than a million of his books. Tagore visited Kurt Wolff in Leipzig many times. A commemorative plaque serves as a reminder of the former location of Wolff’s publishing house in Leipzig today.

Tagore in Dresden

In 1921, 1926 and 1930, Tagore stayed in Dresden for longer periods of time. His uncle, Raja Sourindro Mohun Tagore, had already visited the Royal Saxon court in 1877 and 1882. In post World War I Germany, and especially in Dresden, Tagore was celebrated like a pop star. He held speeches and conducted seminars in many locations that can still be visited today, like the Academy of Arts on Brühl’s Terrace where his pictures were shown, too, the former dancing school of Mary Wigman, the Technical University, or Hohnstein Castle at Saxon Switzerland National Park.

Tagore and East Germany

The 100th birthday of Tagore was celebrated in style by the Communist government of East Germany. Even though it could not agree with Tagore’s views, the regime saw itself in competition with West Germany and also wanted to demonstrate its solidarity with the Indian government. To justify the attention on Tagore, his friendship with the Soviet Union was stressed. The relevance of Tagore, now freed from the chains of political ideology, was proven by the long festivities in Dresden on the occasion of his 150th birthday.