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Traugott Fuchs

  • Traugott Fuchs was a multi-talented philologist, painter and poet who lived in Istanbul from 1934 until the end of his life in 1997.
  • Traugott
  • Fuchs
  • 23-11-1906
  • Lohr (DE)
  • 21-06-1997
  • Istanbul (TR)
  • PhilologistRomanistPoetPainter
  • Traugott Fuchs was a multi-talented philologist, painter and poet who lived in Istanbul from 1934 until the end of his life in 1997.

    Word Count: 21

  • Traugott Fuchs with his cat Traugotta at Robert College, photographer unknown, December 1960 (Traugott-Fuchs-Archiv Istanbul).
  • Traugott Fuchs belonged to the circle of the Jewish Romance scholar Leo Spitzer, under whom he had studied and whose assistant he became in 1930 at the Romance Department of the University of Cologne. After Hitler's assumption of power, when Spitzer was dismissed by the National Socialist regime, Fuchs started a solidarity action protesting against his dismissal and was consequently persecuted by other university members. Fuchs was not of Jewish origin, but out of political conviction and solidarity decided to follow his teacher Spitzer into exile in Istanbul in 1934.

    There he first worked as a French teacher at the foreign language school at Istanbul University. Together with Spitzer, he then founded the German Department of the Faculty of Philosophy and taught German language and literature for almost half a century. Fuchs remained in Istanbul even after Spitzer took up a position in the United States and worked from that point on with Spitzer's successor, the exiled Romanist Erich Auerbach. Auerbach wrote his foundational work Mimesis during his years in Istanbul.

    From 1943 to 1978 Traugott Fuchs also taught at Robert College (in 1971 it became Boğaziçi University) where in 1924 one of the Dimitri Ismailovitch’s exhibitions took place. Traugott Fuchs gave German language classes. Founded in 1863, the American College was initially a missionary educational institution based in Bebek on the Bosporus. Fuchs’ contract was renewed annually or every three years, and he became an “assistant professor” there in 1961 and a full-time teaching member of the faculty (doçent) in 1971. His students' enthusiasm for their lecturer continued even after they had graduated (see quotations from former students in Wiemers/Kalaycı 2007, 25).

    In addition to his teaching activities, Traugott Fuchs developed a diverse academic, literary and artistic oeuvre. He wrote poems and elegies, worked on Rimbaud (Fuchs 1937) and, as one of the few German-speaking emigrants to learn the Turkish language, translated into German a number of Turkish literary works, such as the stories of the now-canonical modern Istanbul writer Sait Faik Abasıyanık (“Die Löffelinsel”). A self-taught artist, he also painted and drew. He left behind 200 paintings and several thousand works on paper. These include portraits, landscapes and flower paintings, as well as everyday scenes, and reveal a variety of artistic expressions that range from meticulous realism to a rather free style.
    A small, undated watercolour drawing by Fuchs depicting a naked bather in the sea can be seen as being in a dialogue with a poem by the German Orientalist Hellmut Ritter, who lived in Istanbul from 1926 and enjoyed a long friendship with Fuchs. The poem, “Das Bad im Mittelmeer” (The Bath in the Mediterranean), reads: “A leap! The god disappears in the waves, / Poseidon's darling romps in the sea; / The brown arms' quick thrusts speed / The slender body back and forth in the water.” (Ritter 1969, 94f., own translation from German; see also Stauth 2011, 422).

    In general, Traugott Fuchs can be seen as an important component in the various networks and literary relationships within the exile community. His correspondence with Erich Auerbach, Hellmut Ritter and the writer Hermann Hesse, who, like Fuchs, was also an an artistic talent, provides a revealing picture of life in an age under pressure. Fuchs was in touch with many German-speaking intellectuals and academics in Istanbul, such as the philologist Robert Anhegger, the art historian Ernst Diez and the biologist and photographer Leonore Kosswig.

    Fuchs’ artistic work can likewise be used to examine the exceptional situation of exile. Interned for thirteen months in the Anatolian town of Çorum – in 1944, all German-speaking emigrants were interned in three Anatolian towns – Traugott Fuchs created a cycle of paintings (Çorum resimleri) dedicated to the landscape, people and experiences of internment (Fuchs 1986; Bilder der Sehnsucht 2001, 19). Always open to new techniques and materials, even as he grew older, in the 1970s and 1980s Fuchs produced the Günaydın notebooks, using newspaper cuttings from the Günaydın newspaper, which he collaged and wrote comments on, creating a subjective compendium of the socio-political and cultural contexts of the two decades (Schweißgut 2020).
    Fuchs’s long list of residential addresses (compiled with information of his nephew Hermann Fuchs) illustrate the precarious life led many emigrants who lacked permanent employment. However, this was the exception in Istanbul, where most emigrants were required to have fixed contracts.

    During the period immediately after his arrival in Istanbul in 1934, Fuchs lived with the philologists Hans Marchand and Heinz Anstock, both from Leo Spitzer’s circle, first in Bebek, then near Istanbul University. In 1938, he moved into a 19th century red yalı in Anadolu Hisari, on the Asian side of Istanbul. He was to draw this villa in a series of pictures that extended into the 1980s. In the early 1940s, Fuchs again lived in Bebek, a former fishing village where a number of emigrants had houses. He took up residence in a house opposite Arslan Konak, where Erich Auerbach resided. As already mentioned, between September 1944 and November 1945, Traugott Fuchs was interned in Çorum, Anatolia. After his return, he moved in with Hellmut Ritter in Bebek for a year (in the same neighbourhood as Leonore and Curt Kosswig), and in 1946 found accommodation in Ortaköy, close to the Ortaköy Mosque. In 1952 Fuchs moved into room 13 in Hamlin Hall in the grounds of Robert College (Bilder der Sehnsucht 2001, 35). From his window, he had a view of the Küçüksu valley. He sought new accommodation when the college became a Turkish state university, Boğaziçi University, in 1971 and moved to a private flat in Rumeli Hisar. In 1991, aged of 85, he was evicted from the flat and, after suffering a stroke, spent the last years of his life in Saint George Austrian Hospital in Beyoğlu. Traugott Fuchs was buried in the Protestant Istanbul cemetery Feriköy (Johnson/Wittmann 2020, 20).
    His gravestone is decorated with the outline of the door of an old house in his internment village of Çorum, which he once painted. The name on the headstone is written in the form of his signature and the flowers represented are pansies, which Fuchs loved and frequently sketched (Fuchs 2021).

    Word Count: 1008

  • Traugott Fuchs, Self-portrait, c. 1940 (Traugott-Fuchs-Archiv Istanbul).
    Traugott Fuchs, Hekimbaşı Salih Efendi Yalısı, Anadolu Hisarı, c. 1984 (Traugott-Fuchs-Archiv Istanbul). Fuchs draw the villa on the shores of the Bosporus many years after he lived there in 1938.
    Traugott Fuchs, Harvest I, Çorum, 1945 (Traugott-Fuchs-Archiv Istanbul). This rural scene was drawn during internment.
    Traugott Fuchs, Lonely tomb at naked mountain, Çorum, 1945 (Traugott-Fuchs-Archiv Istanbul). The artist painted this picture during internment.
    Traugott Fuchs, Sailing ship close to Istanbul, c. 1950s (Traugott-Fuchs-Archiv Istanbul).
    Traugott Fuchs, City silhouette with load carrier, n.d. (Traugott-Fuchs-Archiv Istanbul).
    Sébah & Joaillier, Robert Collège, Rumeli Hissar, 1904, photograph, postcard (, SALT Araştırma, Fotoğraf Arşivi). Main building and campus of Robert College on the European side of Istanbul, where Traugott Fuchs taught and lived from 1952.
    Traugott Fuchs, Young man bathing in blue water, n.d., coloured pencil on paper (Traugott-Fuchs-Archiv Istanbul). This drawing refers to a poem by the Orientalist Hellmut Ritter, with whom Traugott Fuchs had a close friendship. Ritter gave Fuchs refuge in his house in Bebek when he returned from internment in Çorum.
    Hellmut Ritter. “Das Bad im Mittelmeer.” Castrum Peregrini, vol. LXXXIX, Amsterdam, 1969, 94f. (Photo: Gregor Langfeld). Ritter’s poem can be read as a dialogue with the Young man bathing in blue water by Traugott Fuchs.
    Traugott Fuchs, Kleine Käsflattermalve, n.d. (Traugott-Fuchs-Archiv Istanbul).
    Traugott Fuchs’s headstone, Feriköy cemetery, Istanbul (Photo: Richard Wittmann, 2019).
  • Abasıyanık, Sait Faik. Auf der Löffelinsel. Translated into German by Traugott Fuchs. Traugott Fuchs Cultural and Historical Heritage Archive (manuscript, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, Istanbul, n.d.).

    Artemel, Süheyla, et al., editors. Traugott Fuchs – Türkiye’de Geçen Bir Yaşam – Ein in der Türkei verbrachtes Leben – A Life in Turkey. CECA Publications, 1995.

    Bilder der Sehnsucht. Traugott Fuchs – ein Leben am Bosporus, edited by Hermann Fuchs, exh. cat. Deutsche Welle, Cologne, 2001.

    Deleon, Jak. “Bir Anadolu Sevdalısı: Traugott Fuchs.” Sanat Çevrisi, no. 92, 1986, pp. 30–31.

    Dietrich, Anne. Deutschsein in Istanbul. Nationalisierung und Orientierung in der deutschsprachigen Community von 1843 bis 1956 (Schriftenreihe des Zentrums für Türkeistudien, 13). Leske & Budrich, 1998.

    Fischer-Defoy, Christine. “‘Ich habe keine andere Wurzel als meine Sehnsucht nach Liebe und Wahrheit = Freiheit’. Traugott Fuchs. Ein Leben am Bosporus – Bilder der Sehnsucht. Rede zur Eröffnung der Ausstellung am 19. Juni 2009 in der Galerie im Saalbau Neukölln.” Aktives Museum. Mitgliederrundbrief, no. 61, July 2009, pp. 13–17, Accessed 23 March 2021.

    Fuchs, Hermann. “E-Mail to Burcu Dogramaci.” 7 January 2021.

    Fuchs, Traugott. La premiere poésie de Rimbaud, Istanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi, 1937.

    Fuchs, Traugott. “A short story of my life.” Traugott Fuchs. Çorum and Anatolian Pictures, exh. cat. Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, Cultural Heritage Museum, Istanbul, 1986, pp. 7–14.

    Johnson, Brian, and Richard Wittmann. “A Brief Guide to Istanbul’s Feriköy Protestant Cemetery.” 17 June 2020, Feriköy Protestant Cemetery Initiative, Accessed 23 March 2021.

    Kırlı, Cengiz, and Nurçin Ileri, editors. Bavullardan kataloglara: Boğaziçi Arşivleri'ne doğru. Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, 2015.

    Özbek, Yasemin. “Heimat im Exil. Lebensalltag am Bosporus in Briefen von Traugott Fuchs an Rosemarie Heyd-Burkart.” “Istanbul”. Geistige Wanderungen aus der “Welt der Scherben”, edited by Georg Stauth and Faruk Birtek, Transcript, 2007, pp. 159–190.

    Ritter, Hellmut. “Das Bad im Mittelmeer.” Castrum Peregrini, vol. LXXXIX, Amsterdam, 1969, 94f.

    Schweißgut, Karin. “Traugott Fuchs – ein Leben als Migrant in Istanbul.” 11. September 2020, Orient-Institut Istanbul, Accessed 23 March 2021.

    Stauth, Georg. “Hellmut Ritter and Traugott Fuchs in Istanbul – Orientalism, life and ideas and life in exile.” Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, vol. 101, 2011, pp. 407–424.

    The Futureless Memory, exh. brochure, Kunsthaus Hamburg, Hamburg, 2020, Accessed 22 December 2020.

    Vialon, Martin. “Traugott Fuchs zwischen Exil und Wahlheimat am Bosporus. Meditationen zu klassischen Bild- und Textmotiven.” “Istanbul”. Geistige Wanderungen aus der “Welt der Scherben”, edited by Georg Stauth and Faruk Birtek, Transcript, 2007, pp. 53–130.

    Wiemers, Gerald, and Suzan M.R. Kalayci. Bonds of Exile. Gefesselt im Exil. Sürgün Bağları. Traugott Fuchs, edited by Süheyla Artemel and Lale Babaoğlu, exh. cat. Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, 2007.

    Word Count: 444

  • Traugott-Fuchs-Archiv Istanbul

    Word Count: 2

  • My deep gratitude goes to Hermann Fuchs, who sent me information on the Istanbul addresses of Traugott Fuchs and allowed me to reproduce his works. I am grateful to Richard Wittmann, who encouraged and supported my research. I thank Katja Schneider from the Kunsthaus Hamburg, whose exhibition The Futureless Memory (2020) drew my attention to Traugott Fuchs, and Gregor Langfeld, who provided me with a reproduction of Hellmut Ritter’s poem in Castrum Peregrini.

    Word Count: 73

  • Burcu Dogramaci
  • Istanbul, Turkey (1934–1997)

  • Yoğurtçu Zülfü Sokak No. 21, Bebek, Istanbul (residence shared with Hans Marchand and Heinz Anstock, May 1934–Oct. 1934); Hekimbaşı Salih Efendi Yalısı, Anadolu Hisarı, Körfez Caddesi No. 53, Beykoz, Istanbul (residence, c. 1938); Cevdat Paşa Caddesi No. 62, Bebek, Istanbul (residence, c. 1940–August 1944); c/o Hellmut Ritter, Inşirah Sokak No. 34, Bebek, Istanbul (residence, Nov. 1945–Nov. 1946); Hazine Sokak No. 1 (now Iskele Sokak/Cami Sokak), Ortaköy, , Istanbul (residence, Dec. 1946–Dec. 1951); Robert College, Hamlin Hall (Robert Kolej, now Boğaziçi University), Bebek, Istanbul (workplace and residence, 1952–1971); Kışlak Sokak No. 24, Rumeli Hisar, Istanbul (residence, 1971–1991); Saint George Austrian Hospital, Bereketzade Medresesi Sokak No.7, Beyoğlu, Istanbul (1991–1997).

  • Istanbul
  • Burcu Dogramaci. "Traugott Fuchs." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 14-09-2021.
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    Word Count: 28