Poems by Albert Verwey

Albert Verwey, Gedichte.jpg


A collection of poems written by the most famous Dutch poet Albert Verwey, translated into German and published by the internationally renowned German publishing house Insel Verlag in Leipzig in 1917. During the war, Insel Verlag's editor Anton Kippenberg was strongly involved in the German Flamenpolitik, a cultural propaganda policy aimed at strengthening the assumed cultural and racial unity between the Flemish, the Dutch, and the Germans. To read two of Verwey's poems in German and the foreword by Paul Cronheim, please click on the sources above.


All belligerent parties designed cultural propaganda to win over the neutral states. In the case of Flanders and the Netherlands, translation projects and reciprocal literary exchanges played a major role in German propaganda. During the war, Kippenberg focused on the publishing of Dutch literature, in particular Flemish literature. For these projects, he collaborated closely with those heavily involved in German cultural propaganda policy, such as the German envoy in the Netherlands Richard von Kühlmann, the German censor in Brussels, Richard Schröder, and the German cultural propaganda official in Switzerland Harry Graf Kessler, who had all been close friends prior to the war. In 1915, Albert Verwey, the most famous Dutch poet of his time, agreed to the publication of large collection of his poems by Insel Verlag, translated by Paul Cronheim. The publication of Gedichte turned into a prestige project, as this collaboration was considered to be not only of major artistic but also major political importance. The edition was printed at the private Cranach Press of Count Harry Graf Kessler, as is mentioned on the last page of the collection (see above). Verwey's involvement with Insel Verlag illustrates the complexity of cultural propaganda during the war. Verwey probably understood the translation project as an opportunity to reestablish his beloved 'European community of poets', as Cronheim also indicated in the foreword. At the beginning of the war, as a neutral and on moral grounds, Verwey had broken off all contact with his German friends such as the poet Stefan George, who initially defended the German invasion of Belgium. As German propaganda officials also aimed at repairing broken cultural contacts between Germany and the outside world, Verwey's support was considered invaluable. At the same time though, Verwey did not agree with the core of the German Flamenpolitik. In all his public articles and speeches, he rejected every form of anti-Belgian collaboration between the Flemish and the Germans. This translation project, which was financially very lucrative for the author, can also be seen in practical terms, since Verwey had lost his initial editor Kurt Wolff because of the war.