Richard Paulick

  • After studying with Hans Poelzig, Richard Paulick worked in Walter Gropius’s office and frequented the Bauhaus in Dessau before emigrating to Shanghai in 1933. After his return, he became an influential planner and architect in the GDR, from 1950 until his retirement
  • Richard
  • Paulick
  • Peter Winslow

  • 07-11-1903
  • Roßlau (DE)
  • 04-03-1979
  • Berlin (DE)
  • ArchitectDesigner
  • After studying with Hans Poelzig, Richard Paulick worked in Walter Gropius’s office and frequented the Bauhaus in Dessau before emigrating to Shanghai in 1933. After his return, he became an influential planner and architect in the GDR, from 1950 until his retirement

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  • One of the first to flee Germany for political reasons after the National Socialists came to power was the architect Richard Paulick, who moved to Shanghai at the beginning of June 1933, at the invitation of his former fellow student Rudolf Hamburger, with whom he had studied under Hans Poelzig in Berlin. After 17 years in exile, he returned to East Berlin in 1950. During his time in Shanghai, Richard Paulick became an important contact person who, during the first phase of his exile, met with politically like-minded people, as well as with the German community. During the second phase, towards the end of the thirties until after the end of the war, he worked within the circle of Jewish emigrants. From the early 1940s until his return, he collaborated with Chinese colleagues on important urban planning issues in Shanghai.

    In the beginning Paulick worked as an interior designer at The Modern Home, a company owned by his friend Rudolf Hamburger. In November 1933 his brother Rudolf, who had been trained at the Bauhaus in Dessau, also arrived in Shanghai. The brothers later founded their own companies with other partners: Modern Homes, at the end of 1936; Paulick & Paulick Architects & Engineers during the war; and Modern Textiles after the war.

    In the mid-1930s, Richard Paulick met communist friends for discussions and training courses at the political magazine Voice of China. When American journalist Agnes Smedley moved from Shanghai to the USA in 1941, he took over her legendary library of banned political books. Secret meetings of communist refugees from Europe took place in his apartment during the war, with Alfred Dreifuß, Johannes König and Walter Czolleck, for example, taking part. They all returned to the GDR after the war. For the community of Jewish refugees, Paulick and his partners organised an exhibition of prints and originals by German painters in 1940, including those by Käthe Kollwitz, Max Pechstein, Max Liebermann, Max Slevogel and Lovis Corinth, which were shown in the Modern Homes shop.

    Richard Paulick worked as a set designer for the Deutscher Theater Verein, which had been forced into line since the Nazis came to power, on at least eight productions up until 1939. Between 1940 and 1946 he designed at least seven sets for the Jewish theatre in exile and, from 1947 until his return, worked with the British Amateur Dramatic Club on at least five productions, though the number may actually have been ten.

    From 1943 to 1949 Richard Paulick taught as a professor of interior design and urban planning at St. John’s University in Shanghai. Because of his expertise in urban planning, he was appointed after the war to the planning commission for urban planning in Greater Shanghai, which he also headed from 1948.

    On 1 November 1945, a discussion group developed into the Gemeinschaft der demokratischen Deutschen (Association of Democratic Germans), which a short time later gave itself the English name Association of Refugees from Germany in Shanghai – China. The association supported the mainly Jewish refugees returning to Germany or emigrating to other countries. As a member of the board of directors, Richard Paulick supported the association’s aid organisation with “very substantial donations”, but also supported individuals. While 2,500 of the 7,000 people in the association wanted to return to Germany, by the end of 1948 only around 500 were able to do so. Of these, 244 went to the Western zones and 258 to the East.

    While in exile in Shanghai, Paulick was associated with communist groups and with “normal” Germans, helped Jewish emigrants and supported their cultural activities, just as he collaborated with foreigners from other nations. In his professional work he trained China’s first urban planners and led the planning group for Greater Shanghai with its interdisciplinary strategies. In Shanghai, Paulick was a significant node in the network, connecting different milieus and using his positions to help others. After his return to the GDR in 1950, he was no longer able to engage in all these rich activities, because his stay in Shanghai was considered a “Western emigration” and therefore ideologically hostile.

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  • Richard Paulick on board ship, en route to exile, photography, 1933. (© private archive, courtesy of Natascha Paulick).
    Richard Paulick on a weekend boat trip around Shanghai, photography (© private archive, courtesy of Natascha Paulick).
    Richard Paulick sketches in the landscape, photography (© private archive, courtesy of Natascha Paulick).
    Richard Paulick (with a pipe) in his office. His brother Rudolf is standing in front of the plan cupboard, photography (© private archive, courtesy of Natascha Paulick).
    Ye Qianyu, cover print, The Second-class Rail Carriage, Modern Sketch, July 1935.
  • Eduard Kögel: Ein Knoten im Netz. Richard Paulick in Shanghai, by Burcu Dogramaci; Karin Wimmer (Hg.): Netzwerke des Exils. Künstlerische Verflechtungen, Austausch und Patronage nach 1933. Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag 2011 p.223–241.

    Kögel, Eduard. "The Glamour Boy of Hongkew, Emigration und Politik – Richard Paulick in Shanghai (1933–1949)." Bauhaus Tradition und DDR Moderne. Der Architekt Richard Paulick edited by Thöner, Wolfgang and Peter Müller,  Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2006.
    Thomas Flierl, editor. Bauhaus Shanghai Stalinallee Ha-Neu. Der Lebensweg des Architekten Richard Paulick 1903–1979,Lukas Verlag, 2020.

    Word Count: 82

  • Eduard Kögel
  • Shanghai (1933–1949)

  • Modern Homes, Bubbling Well Road, International Settlement (now Nanjing Xi Lu, Huangpu Qu) Shanghai

  • Shanghai
  • Eduard Kögel. "Richard Paulick." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 15-09-2021.
  • David Ludwig Bloch

    David Ludwig Bloch is known for his paintings and watercolours revolving around the Holocaust and his exile. With the woodcuts from his time in exile in Shanghai, Bloch created an artistic account of everyday life in the city, while harvesting the simplicity of form and colour of the medium.

    Word Count: 49

    Friedrich Hermann Schiff

    Friedrich Schiff was an Austrian-born artist who went to Shanghai in 1930. He became known for his humorous cartoons, which were enjoyed by the colonial bourgeoisie.
    Due to his Jewish origins, he was unable to return to Austria after Hitler’s annexation of Austria in 1938. He left Shanghai for Buenos Aires in 1947.

    Word Count: 51

    Hans Jacoby

    Hans Jacoby fled in 1938 to the Netherlands, where he was interned by the Dutch government in Hook of Holland. He was able to leave the camp and arrived, together with his wife Emma Jacoby, in Shanghai in 1940 where he continued to work as an artist.

    Word Count: 45

    Emma Bormann

    Emma Bormann was a pioneering artist and printmaker. Her oeuvre gives witness to her extensive travels around the globe and to the agility and versatility of her artistic rendering of the urban sites she encountered.

    Word Count: 35

    Lyceum Theatre

    The new Lyceum Theatre was designed in an eclectic style by British architects Davies & Brooke and opened on 5 February 1931.

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    Voice of China

    Song Qingling, widow of the founder of the republic, Sun Yatsen, supported the political magazine Voice of China in 1936, which appeared in Shanghai in English. After the Japanese army invaded China in August 1937, the magazine had to cease publication.

    Word Count: 39

    Shanghai Life

    Shanghai Life was the first book published by the newly-founded Shanghai Cartoonist Club (March 7, 1942). The club held its first exhibition in June of the same year, at the Shanghai Art Gallery on Nanking Road (now Nanjing Dong Lu).

    Word Count: 38

    Hubertus Court

    The print was made by the artist Emma Bormann during her exile in Shanghai in the 1940s.The title suggest that the print offers a bird’s eye view from the Hubertus Court building.

    Word Count: 34

    Association of Jewish Artists and Fine Art Lovers (ARTA)

    Seven Jewish artists living in the so-called Shanghai Ghetto joined together to form an art association in 1943. The founding members were: David Ludwig Bloch, Paul Fischer, Fred Fredden Goldberg, Ernst Handl, Max Heimann, Hans Jacoby and Alfred Mark.

    Word Count: 38

    St. John’s University
    University / Higher Education Institute / Research Institute

    In the first half of the 20th century, St. John’s University in Shanghai was an important Protestant university under American leadership. During the 1940s, German emigrants also taught there, after British and American university lecturers were interned in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Word Count: 48

    Modern Homes
    Architecture and Furniture Company

    The three firms The Modern Home, Modern Home and Modern Homes existed from 1931 until 1950. Run by the Paulick brothers together with the Jewish emigrant Luedecke, the firms provided work for many emigrants.

    Word Count: 32

    Photo Willinger
    Photo Studio

    Before their emigration to China in 1938, Margarete and Wilhelm Willinger ran several successful photo studios and agencies in Berlin (until 1927), Budapest and Vienna. Their son was the photographer Laszlo Willinger.

    Word Count: 30

    Agnes Smedley

    Agnes Smedley was an American journalist, writer and activist. Between 1929 and 1941, she lived in China, where she wrote reportages for European and American newspapers. As a feminist and socialist writer, she focused on the concerns of rural people and paid special attention to artists and their work during the Chinese revolution.

    Word Count: 51

    Exhibition of prints by Käthe Kollwitz

    A German woodcut exhibition organised at the Zeitgeist Bookstore presumably took place in June 1931. In June 1932. A further exhibition with more than 200 works by German artists, including works by Käthe Kollwitz and George Grosz, was shown at the Chinese Y.M.C.A.

    Word Count: 44