Reinhard Johannes Sorge "The Beggar" 1892- 1916 Illustrated Biography.C.- "I want to talk yet, beautiful stranger
"Hear me- I want to talk Beautiful Stranger"
The Youth speaks (abridged from The Beggar . R.J.Sorge )
"Night-deep, midnight blue, How wonderful,
Salvation, silver moon,
Now the day collapses, stone opression,
Cool orb- She can see you and into other neighbourhoods,
And keep heavenly conversation.
"You silver miracle"
The Youth speaks to the mother and father (abridged from the Beggars R.J.Sorge-Act 2)
"I hear you completely.
You are the stars and voices. I live with forever.
Your characters they are carved in me.
These characters talk- And sometimes they get to me.
Oh when you speak of eternity & everything else is nice consolation"
Poppy Poets C.
The Poppy Poets project was not a planned Centenary of War poets.
Simply one of my stumbling upon lost treasure projects.
So I am - Writing & painting about these artists and poets of the World War 1 - Hopefully others may begin to see their colours too.
A Tribute to the generation where men & woman had their lives forever changed.
Amongst them -men from all backgrounds conscripted and became soldiers. Woman went to work in ammunition factories and as volunteer Nurses -
Amongst them Artists, poets, writers known and unknown.
Glimpse of lost Expressionists
I discovered Reinhard Johannes Sorge by accident.
I was looking for the first time at German Artists/poets that fought during WW1.
There was much promising talent lost during this period of 1914-18.
On all sides.
In England- poetic talents like Charles Hamilton Sorley, Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves all fought for their Country.
Charles Sorley died at The Battle of Loos 13th October 1915.
Wilfred Owen was killed during the last days of World War 1.
Robert Graves survived and became a legendary poet and writer.
He mourned the loss of Charles Sorley and his promising poems.
The Expressionist poet Alfred Lichtenstein was killed at Somme, 25th of September 1914.
Serving in the German Imperial Army.
The German painter and printmaker, Franz Marc- Whose series of paintings often depicted animals and titles "Fate of the animals" Was sadly killed in action 1916 Barquis France.
Reinhard Johannes Sorge - 1888- 1916 Somme- Showed up on an Image search.
His name was not familiar to me then. I knew nothing of him until that moment.
The image did give me shock-Unprepared for some reason.
Such dis-belief he could have ever been a soldier I suppose-Tears came to my eyes.
Researching more about him my first impressions of a gentle soul were true.
He was also a deep thinker and very zealous.
Reinhard was overbearing to his brother during childhood.
There is little other negative incidence in his regard for others.
Reinhard had much energy and creative peaks.
Even as his Religion became zealous- To cope with the horrors he saw in the trenches of World War.
There is no heaviness on those around him or in his poetry- only acceptance.
Unusually- His poetry at that time became more spiritual.
A knowing "Ah it is just Johannes way-He means no harm"
There is sadly in his last poems- like others of his poet contemporary of World War One - A seeming longing for the outcome of Death in War or life After to be dealt and over with.
First Sketches -Reinhard Johannes Sorge
My first sketches of Reinhard Johannes Sorge were very light.
I worked from this photo image.
A Gentle face captured in a photograph.
After years of reading about Celtic and Medieval periods and people and imagining their faces.
To look at a period in History that was photographed is very compelling. To see an actual photo of say Wilfred Owen- English War poet, is very moving. Particularly their eyes -Full of soul.
After a few days. I found the image of Sorge- His overall composure is gentle.
This time another photo showed up of Reinhard it was taken in 1915 at Furlough Berlin. He was by then a Conscripted Soldier in uniform.
His composure and face had set so differently- it was sad to see such shadows cast on youth.
I believe he was in post traumatic stress disorder at that time- Like millions of conscripts, Officers and Career personnel through miles of trench lines.
The sad part is that through his childhood his family. Particularly his family took great care to ensure that Reinhard Johannes Sorge was protected and safe.
In particular from his fathers outbursts as his mental state sadly deteriorated.
Reinhard was often sent to stay with relatives.
Reinhard Johanne Sorge -Early years
Reinhard Johannes Sorge was born in Berlin- Rixdorf. His Father worked as a Salesman in the City.
The family were Lutheran in religion and from an young age Reinhard Johannes Sorge was very moved by Faith & God.
By the time Reinhard reached Nine years old. His Father's mental health sadly declined and the family moved to Jena.
It was from this time that Reinhard was protected from incidences and the fall out from his Father's mental decline. The family also although not poverty stricken were on a tight budget.
It seems that his mother realised perhaps her own sadness & reflection was also painful for her sons.
In Reinhards play "The Beggar" The Mother character is very beautifully written & melancholy
"The fact that the tears come. She cries a lot and speaking of dying-Poverty does last" The Mother from "The Beggar" by Sorge
"I was placed here in the Sun. Its so beautiful here. Its become Spring. The Sun is warm on my hands" The Mother in the Beggar by Sorge
He was sent to stay at a Parsons house in Prussia.
During this time Sorge began reading poetry and Philosophy discovering August Strindberg & Nietzsche.
He also had an intense friendship with another boy during this time who was also interested in Nietzsche- These concepts were written by Friedrich Nietzsche 1844-1900 He wrote many major works that influenced many.
His ideas convinced by new concepts of the Scientist, evolutionary biology and the idea of a "Superman" driven Will to power.
Most of all Nietzsche rejects the idea of established Religious ideals.
The impact of such Philosophy upon Reinhard Johannes Sorge took his Christian faith and swept it from under his feet.
His whole World and belief structure came tumbling down.
"God is Dead" Is a well known quote from the philosophy and for a time Reinhard almost believed it.
He somehow forbade the saying of Grace at mealtimes.
He also affected his brothers Spiritual beliefs deeply with his chaotic belief.
Reinhard during this time left school and began working part-time.
He tried acting but instead became inspired by the Expressionist Movement. Sorge began to seriously write his first Plays and continued his poetry.
Reinhards father sadly died in 1908.
The Beggar "Der Bettler"
By taking Expressionist ideas of using emotions, motivations and passions to describe or depict the world. It is also plausible that Reinhard was influenced by the poetic style of the philosophy he was reading as well.
Reinhard's first poem in this style was entitled "The Youth" and then he wrote "The Beggar" The play.
Whilst writing Der Bettler Reinhard spent time in Berlin to help develop his characters in the plot.
He did not enjoy so much contact with people- Rev O'Brien says "He was a Hermit nature"
Reinhard Johannes Sorges developed a powerful character cast in the play "The Beggar" That he drew from his own experiences.
The title "The Beggar" is expressive of the poets position in the play.
This was used by many Expressionists after to symbolise the coming of the new prophet-priest-writers that were hoped would free up society to think.
Throughout the play his relationships with his Mother and Father are explored and torn open to find answers.
The play implores at his Elders in Society.
The Scenes throughout the Play are outbursts of Youth wanting to rise above the mundane levels working to live.
The poet offers that the free spirit of creative expression could change society.
The Play centres on "The Poet" (Sorge) Who wants to find his place in the World.
He is uncertain if he is worthy.
As the play unfolds and the characters around him evolve & revolve.
Reinhard also exposes their workings with words beyond his years.
The Play is idealist-Sorge was far to young to have yet gained the wisdom of years.
The Beggar" Is a poetic work that has words and a flow that is suggestive of Shakespeare.
Because it reads like an uninterrupted medley of thought.
In 1912 his play "The Beggar" Was put forward for the Kleist Prize.
It was also being considered by a Publishers.
It is interesting to note how this ideal of Expressionism & philosophy in art throughout Germany at the time- would in the years following be at odds with the terrible rise of Hitler and his Ideal.
The Expressionist and works of ART in general would suffer greatly from being destroyed during Hitler's regime.
Norderney & The North Sea
Whilst waiting to hear news about "The Beggar " & The Kleist prize he found his nerves quite worn. He was feeling claustrophobic by the attention his Play had created.
His time in Berlin had unnerved him- The talk of War already building around him. He found the City life dull and did not like to see the poverty of some.
"The loneliness of the City gives me pain, but also makes me strong, and in the future I can well use strength" Reinhard Johannes Sorge from Rev.O'Brien article 1939
Reinhard travelled to the extreme solitude of Norderney.
The salt air and Seascapes soothed Reinhard.
He spent time soul searching and reflecting.
The forceful philosophy of Nietzsche had worn him down and he realised that it could take him no further.
Reinhard was anxious and felt desolate by the North Sea.
He wanted to be part of the generation that brought new teachings-By seeking spiritual heights and understanding depths.-Rev O'Brein
He could not just manufacture the spiritual from some new philosophy- Reinhard found himself then experiencing a vision where he saw endless light.
At Norderney. The poet experienced a spiritual awakening that came through his body and refreshed his soul.
This led to him rejecting Nietzsche. He let go of all the religious and philosophical ideals he had held since childhood.
Reinhard returned to Jena his play "The Beggar" Had been accepted by the Publisher S.Fischer 1912
In November he won the Kleist Prize for his play "The Beggar" From the prestigious Kleist Foundation.
It was awarded by his Mentor Richard Dehmel.
With the Prize money Reinhard Johannes Sorge married his long term Fiancée, Suzanne Marie Hardewerk.
Love of Suzanne Sorge
Suzanne Marie Handewerk first met Reinhard Johannes Sorge in a reading room-Their eyes met. She describes Sorge as having piercing blue-Grey eyes. source Rev.O'Brien article
Leaving the Public building at Jena they began talking and were hardly ever apart after that day.
In Rev.O'Brein's article "from Nietzsche to Christ" He describes Suzanne "as coolness to Sorge's fire"
They married with the prize money Reinhard won from the Kleist prize.
There was also a free shipping coupon which they used to go on a Honeymoon cruise.
Travelling in North Germany and Antwerp. They also visited Naples and Rome.
Reinhard Johannes Sorge was very inspired by Rome and the Catholic faith.
His wife noticed how peaceful he became as he prayed through the week at St Peters.
On return to Jena both he and Suzanne were received into the Catholic Faith & Church at their hometown.
"My soul was always inherently Christian, but I was misled by Nietzsche, entangled in suns and stars. In Der Bettler, I invoked the Name of God many a time quite unconsciously, and yet thought myself a fervent disciple of Nietzsche, who denies God's very existence" R.J.Sorge
To the amazement and sadness of the Expressionist Movement in Germany Reinhard declared "Thenceforth my pen has been and forever will be Christ's Stylus-Until my Death"
Sorge's mother and brother also converted to the Catholic Faith. The poet changed his name to Reinhard Concern.
The next few years were very happy for Sorge and his wife. They lived in a secluded area
surrounded by forest at Tautenburg.
Sorge wrote twelve poems dedicated to the Mother of the Starry Heavens- Mary.
The couple's long term friend- Artist and Theosophist Frau Gronvold spent time with them. They nourished each other with ideas but there was also friction.
The Artist Gronvold and his wife are also characters in "The Beggar" Under the names Peter and Mirjam. Their relationship had some friction and Gronvold was another Mentor to Reinhard.
Suzanne and Reinhard Sorges moved to Fluelen Central Switzerland- This was to be the happiest time for them.
They had a child during this time and the new father wrote many poems and new plays. They all had Biblical and Religious themes. Like "King David" & "Metanoeite"
Suzanne poem by Reinhard Johannes Sorge
Throw me the thread-So I can catch sight of him
Jesus is our Gold, we look through the mesh-
For we weave through Two souls, golden dreams.
Christ builds the garment.
We Will walk in the rooms
By Reinhard Johannes Sorge-Abridged
Shortly before War broke out in 1914 Reinhard had been considering becoming a Catholic Priest- This would have been a sacrifice because Reinhard loved his family.
The Poet also pondered about studying Theosophy.
He joined a Prayer group dedicated to the "Union of the reparation to the Sacred Heart" This was because he felt unsure of what God wanted from him.
Reparation means to make amends and the Sacred heart is Jesus's Sacrifice to mankind.
Reinhard conscripted to the German Imperial Army in 1915.
All men were eligible for Military Service between the ages of 17-45 years.
Most young men in Germany were put in a Home defence force between the ages of 17-22 years.
At the outbreak of World War in 1914 Germany had over 4.3 million trained men.
"Remove the eyes-But the light is shining"Reinhard Johannes Sorge
After a Training period-Reinhard endured the harsh realities of trench warfare. He was sent to Belguim.
In letters to Suzanne he explained that "It is not the endless toil or physical endurance that was exhausting but the hardened hearts of men."
Sorge found it hard to live at such close proximity with so many men. They did not know his writing or sometimes even appreciate the arts.
He felt a World away from his beloved family but was convinced he would continue to preach and be a Poet of Christ.
Reinhard became zealous in his efforts to convert fellow soldiers to his faith. He succeeded.
Where many men lost their faith and all hope of a peaceful Dawn. Reinhard's belief in Christ grew stronger.
He believed his faith would keep him safe and transform him for the better.
On the 1st July of 1916 after days of bombing the German defences- The British launched an Offensive that would become known as The Battle of the Somme.
At 7'O' Clock am an enormous explosion from the British side split apart great elm trees as a prelude to the beginning of the Battle.
The British soldiers whose ranks were largely formed from "Pal Battalions" (men who conscripted from Colleges or workplace).
As the whistles were blown to go over the top of the trenches the Allied Soldiers advanced in full view as they had been told that the Germans had been blown to pieces with the bombardment.
All they had to do was "walk" over and take the Central Powers trenches.
This was not the case-The Central Power soldiers had survived the bomb barrage in deep dug-outs and were waiting for the British advance with machine guns.
Later Survivors would describe the machine gun fire as cutting the soldiers down like a scythe.
"The whole Battalion was wiped out. There was a big shell hole filled with dying men. Tall men got it through the Jaw, shorter men through the eyes." Sergeant James Payne source -faces of WW1
The Battle of the Somme became a drawn out Offensive that lasted for months.
By the end of the campaign in November the estimated loss of men from the Allies and Central Powers lost 1.5 million men.
Reinhard Johannes was unfortunately one of those men. In the August of the campaign he was mortally wounded by a shell explosion near Ablaincourt France.
In his last letter to Suzanne he wrote "I am quite happy on Jesus's heart"
Reinhard Johannes Sorge never saw his plays performed in his lifetime.
He had plans to write about Moses entwining the horrors of World War 1 before he died.
Burial at Vermandovillers
Reinhard Johannes Sorge lies buried in a communal mass war grave at the Vermandovillers German War Cemetry.
This is near the Battlefield where he died.
The German poet Alfred Lichenstein is buried in the same Cemetery.
The Expressionist Grand-Daddy and his contemporaries do not have a Dedicated War Memorial as yet.
Rest in peace- Reinhard Johannes Sorge
"I am the enemy you killed, my Friend. I knew you in the Dark: For you so frowned.
Yesterday through me we parried; But my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now" Abridged from the poem "Strange Meeting" By Lieutenant Wilfred Owen-English War Poet
Painting in progress
John Reinhard Concern-Evening Walk
"I prefer to go in the Evening
The Day has fallen-Declined
The Light and Peace
That her Lover deceived me
And I drank from her August"
By Johanne Reinhard Concern
From Nietzsche to Christ- Rev.O'Brien, S.J "The Irish Monthly"1939
Wickipedia- Reinhard Johannes Sorge & Battle of the Somme
The Faces of World War 1 By Max Arthur
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