November 30, 2021
Peter Paul Theodor Bourfeind (born December 22, 1886 in Solingen, † June 19, 1968 in Cologne) was a German teacher, author and cultural activist.
Paul Bourfeind was born in Solingen in 1886 as the son of Johanna Sophia, née Driessen, and the chef Konstantin Bourfeind; In 1890 the family moved to Cologne. His brother was the future journalist Erich Bourfeind. The convinced Catholic attended the Apostle High School in Cologne until he graduated from high school in 1907 and passed the first state examination for teaching in 1911. In 1912 he married Anna Elise Vogt in Cologne. From 1913 to 1922 he studied philosophy, German literature, history, art history and Latin at the University of Bonn and completed his studies with a doctorate (The social shifts in the social novel between 1830 and 1850). From 1922 to 1945 he was a teacher at the Realgymnasium in Cologne-Lindenthal, where he had been teaching from 1913. In 1919 he became a member of the SPD and was a member of the Cologne City Council from 1922 to 1924, where he spoke primarily about school policy. Bourfeind's literary beginnings were published in 1908 in the Musenalmanach Bonner Studenten; the scientist Martin Hollender rated this as a “traditional home kitsch”, which “did not raise any hopes for poetic class”. In later years, too, poems appeared with “insignificant harmlessness” (“waking birds, blooming roses”), on the other hand he wrote plays such as the spring of nations, which was premiered in Cologne in 1921. It was “dedicated to socialists of all countries” and “right on the border with hostility towards the state” because it was supposed to be “an indictment against the capitalist world order” - as one critic wrote in the Literary Echo. The Essen cultural newspaper Hellweg was reluctant to print its praises of left-wing plays and Soviet mass performances and distanced itself from the political content of its texts in the foreword. In Cologne, Bourfeind was director of the theater of the working people in the Theater am Friesenplatz and chairman of the Freie Volksbühne, which ran the theater. From 1922 to 1924 he organized the Rhenish Literature and Book Weeks, which he initiated himself. From 1922 to 1928 he was co-editor of the Deutsches Theaterjahrbuch and was co-editor of the Rheinische Sammlung. He also sat next to prominent citizens such as Carl Duisberg, Max Clouth, Josef Haubrich and Alfred Neven DuMont on the committee of the Wallraf-Richartz Society. He got involved with penniless fellow authors with the idea of a cooperative authors' association. During these years, the obviously financially well-off Bourfeind went on extensive study trips to Spain, Iceland, Spitsbergen, North Africa and Turkey. He owned an automobile, which in 1920 was not the rule even in wealthy circles, and wrote a poem about his impressions on car tours (“In the engine, time purrs its song [...]”).
Bourfeind ran a literary salon in his villa in Cologne-Lindenthal, where he received Thomas Mann and Alfred Döblin, among others. He was well known to the photographer August Sander, whose son Erich was his student at the secondary school, as was the later art professor Gottfried Brockmann and the publicist Leo Fritz Gruber. In 1923 August Sander took a portrait photo of him, which later became the first picture in Gruber's Sander collection. On the occasion of a birthday party for Bourfeind Gruber noted: "Those who heard him speak will not forget him, know his black hair, his dark beard and his light, blue, ecstatic eyes." In 1926 Paul Bourfeind resigned from all public offices and resigned Left the SPD in 1929. It is not known what prompted him to do so. Hollender suspects that he saw himself as an “individualist and misunderstood genius” to whom he is entitled