le camp d'internement 1914-1919
Le camp d’internés 1914-1919

Dieser Internet-Auftritt verfolgt das Ziel, möglichst viele Informationen über das Internierungslager auf der Ile Longue zusammenzustellen, damit Historiker und Nachkommen der Internierten sich ein Bild von den Realitäten dieses bisher wenig bekannten Lagers machen können - nicht zuletzt auch, um die bedeutenden kulturellen Leistungen der Lagerinsassen zu würdigen.

Le but de ce site est de prendre contact avec les familles des prisonniers allemands, autrichiens, hongrois, ottomans, alsaciens-lorrains... qui ont été internés, pendant la Première Guerre mondiale, dans le camp de l’Ile Longue (Finistère).

Leo Primavesi (En)
Article published on 6 April 2013
last modification on 17 February 2016

by Christophe, Ursula
logo imprimer

1. Leo Primavesi, in a few words
2. « Leo Primavesi – an approach » by Ursula Burkert, daughter of the civilian internee Carl Röthemeyer
3. « Leo Primavesi », by Gerard Schneider (in preparation)

Leo Primavesi, in a few words

Leo Primavesi : painter, illustrator, lithographer.
As a stage designer, a close associate of G. W. Pabst, whose portrait he drew.

Several lithographs, steeped in symbolism, in the camp magazine Die Insel-Woche.
Especially :

  • 2nd series, 1st year, n° 31 (p.3) : Young man in chains.
  • and, highly remarkable : 2nd series, 1st year, n° 38 (p.1). The legend is the first stanza of the poem « Mondnacht (Moonlight) » by Joseph von Eichendorff
  • 2nd series, 1st year, n° 40 (p. 1), legend : an excerpt from the poem « Hyperion’s song of fate » (end of stanza 3) by Friedrich Hölderlin
  • and also 2nd series, 2nd year, n°3 (p. 1)

Leo Primavesi, stage designer :
see also :

  • Die Insel-Woche, 2nd series, 1st year, n°2 (p. 2) (Schauspiele)
  • Die Insel-Woche, 2nd series, 1st year, n°13 (p. 2) (Schauspiele)
  • Die Insel-Woche, 2nd series, 1st year, n°17 (p. 2) (Schauspiele)

2. « Leo Primavesi – an approach »
by Ursula Burkert, daughter of the civilian internee Carl Röthemeyer

The name “Leo Primavesi" has been familiar to my family for a long time. In our parents’ house there were seven pictures signed with his name and our father, Carl Röthemeyer, always cared well for them. He decorated the walls of his bachelor flat with them for around 13 years, and when he married in 1933, the pictures accompanied him to his new home, our family home.

He had brought these pictures from an internment camp in France on the Ile Longue to Germany. They were a gift from one of his friends, the painter Leo Primavesi. Two of the paintings we own (an oil painting and an ink drawing) are dated to the year 1920, so the two men obviously stayed in touch even after the internment. During the interment our father had to work on a farm, and was treated very well there. We cannot recall that our father told us any details about his stay and life in the camp or about his relationship to the painter. All we know is that he did not seem to like talking about these events since times were politically and personally turbulent: The horrors of World War II, the confusion of the post-war time, then the illness of our father.

So for us Leo Primavesi was just a name, an artist - the painter of these pictures.
The sight of the portraits was somehow normal for us children. The pictures have been part of the interior design as long as we could remember. Nevertheless, these painting had an irritating effect on us: Our father, mostly friendly and in times even cheerful, looked so serious and reserved on the portraits. On them he seemed to be a stranger to us. That was a long time ago – 30 years and more, it was a different life.

The two other paintings of 1920 produced mixed feelings to us in the old times. The mythical figures of the fauns dancing around the grace stimulated our imaginations. The dark forest with so few spots of sun in the distance seemed dark and sinister. As we grew older we thought these pictures where somewhat incongruous in our home: The delicate naked lady publicly hung in the hallway, the dark forest image was mounted on a shady wall in the living room.

Nevertheless, these images still accompany us today being an important part of the inheritance of our father. Later after the death of our parents we three daughters shared the heritage: My oldest sister kept the portrait, in which her similarity to the father is most evident.

My other sister chose the more picturesque, slightly feminine portrait resembling her, as well as the image of the fauns, which had always intrigued her. I own the only portrait on which my father’s camp clothing is visible a bit and the dark oil painting of the fallen tree.

With Google at our hands, it is now possible to raise and hopefully answer the question: Who was Leo Primavesi?

For about ten years we are now looking for information. But we only found very few traces of the painter:

  • A children’s book illustrated by Leo Primavesi “OUDE Vlaamsche KINDERFEESTJES & VOLKSVERMAKEN” by Jacob Stinessen, Antwerp 1908
  • A report by Leo Primavesi in Antwerp Bull Du bur. d’étude des phén. Spir of 1906 from Mattiesen, E.,.”Der jenseitige Mensch. Eine Einführung in die Metapsychologie der mystischen Erfahrung”. Bln., de Gruyter, 1925. 8, 825 ... ...
  • Various paintings, drawings, and lithographs after 1920
  • From a documentary about “Kunst und Eifel “- a project in 1936:
  • The picture of an old stone wind as well as a comment referring to this painting in the paper: Der neue Weg der Kunst zum Volk, Ausstellung des NS-Gemeinschaftswerks “Kunst und Künstler” in Mayen”by Otto Klein: “... mit einem feinen Empfinden für malerische Tonstufen malte dagegen der Kölner Leo Primavesesi eine alte Steinwinde”.
  • An application for admission of a Leo Primavesi to the Großherzoglich Sächsische Hochschule für Bildende Kunst, Weimar, year 1890 – 1891.

In early 2013 we were very lucky. We found the new internet site of the internment camp Ile Longue with extensive information about the camp. The contact to the working group of this site brought a new dynamic to our search. We learned surprising facts about the history of our father and a lot about Leo Primavesi.

The following information is from its list of internees:
Leo Primavesi was born in Cologne on 25/03/1871 as the son of Joseph Primavesi and Marie Arns. His was arrested in Antwerp, his current home, on 05/08/1914, and brought to the camp in Dinan, then 28/03/1915 to Ile Longue. He was released only on 10/10/1919. These data suggest that the information already found can be assigned to “our” Leo Primavesi.

In the weekly magazines “Die Insel Woche” of the camp we found five lithographs with his signature or his character. They demonstrate in an impressive way the artist’s mood and feelings. More drawings in "Die Insel-Woche” show his handwriting but are not signed.

Second Series 1st Year No. 31 of 04/11/1917
No. 34 of 25/11/1917
No. 38 of 23/12/1917
Second Series 2nd Year No. 02 of 14/04/1918
No. 03 of 21/04/1918

Another important discovery in the internet was the folder "Darstellungen aus der Theaterproduktion des Internierungslagers Ile Longue” (Images from the theatre production of the internment Ile Longue) with pictures of Leo Primavesi. Among the 25 colour lithographs and next to the portrait of GW Pabst, with whom he had worked together closely, there was a self-portrait of the artist. Finally we know how he looked – we know his face.

Leo Primavesi, Selbstportrait, „se ipse delineavit“, 11/2/1916

Leo Primavesis curriculum vitae are still incomplete, so the search continues.

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