Dr. Fritz Kahn (1888-1968) was a gynaecologist in Berlin and a world-famous popular science writer who illustrated the form and function of the human body with spectacular, modern man-machine analogies. In the 1920s, his magnum opus, “Das Leben des Menschen” (The Life of Man) – a five-volume series – was renowned as a German accomplishment of global repute. In the 1930s, his books were banned and burned by the Nazis, then edited by Kahn’s publisher and reissued as plagiarisms with a superimposed anti-Semitic chapter.
The Jewish intellectual was expelled from Germany, and settled in Palestine, later in France. He was eventually able to escape his pursuers, with personal help from Albert Einstein, by immigrating to the U.S., where he successfully continued his career as a bestselling author. He spent his final years in Danish exile and died in Ascona, Switzerland in 1968, when he was almost 80, after an extraordinary life and career.
In Germany, Fritz Kahn was silenced. Now some thousand links on the internet demonstrate a newly aroused interest in Kahn, especially among young historians and designers. To this day, creative professionals all over the globe are inspired by the images Kahn’s staff produced for his books almost 100 years ago. Many adapt his inimitable metaphoric approach for their own contemporary interpretations.
The aim of the illustrated monograph “Fritz Kahn – Man Machine” is to popularize his unique works again and to show why and how this valuable part of German cultural history is still alive today.