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German actor, critic, journalist, and publicist.

Career Summary

Maximilian Harden (born Felix Ernst Witkowski) trained as an actor in his teens, and by the age of fifteen or sixteen had joined a traveling theater troupe. At the age of sixteen, he converted from Judaism to Protestantism. He began to write theater criticism and political commentary in his early twenties, publishing in numerous magazines and journals such as Die Gegenwart and Die Nation.

In 1892, Harden established his own weekly journal in Berlin, Die Zukunft, which he continued to publish for thirty years, and through which he became one of the most powerful cultural and political opinion-makers in Germany.

Originally a monarchist and support of Otto von Bismarck, Harden grew critical of the Kaiser after Bismarck was dismissed. In 1907 and 1908 he instigated what is known as the "Harden-Eulenberg Affair," when he accused members of the Kaiser's personal military entourage of homosexual behavior.

At the outset of World War I, Harden had recovered enough of his erstwhile monarchism to support the German invasion of Belgium. But during the course of the war, he once again became critical of the nation's political leadership, and instead became an outspoken advocate for Woodrow Wilson's policies. He eventually supported the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

In 1922, he survived an assassination attempt apparently initiated by an antisemitic organization in Munich. The brutal attack made it impossible for Harden to continue publishing Die Zukunft. He removed to Switzerland, where he died in 1927 from long-term consequences of the attack.

Harden and Schenker

Harden seems to have been introduced to Schenker's work as a critic by a third party at a pub sometime in 1892 (OJ 11/42, [1]), shortly after Die Zukunft began publication. The first piece of Schenker's that appeared in the journal was "Mascagni in Wien," on October 15, 1892. Thereafter, Schenker was a regular contributor, publishing a total of eighteen articles between 1892 and 1897.

On April 18, 1896, Harden published Schenker's extremely favorable review of Karl Goldmark's Das Heimchen am Herd. This review became a sore spot for Harden, who found Goldmark's work execrable when he heard it, and received support for his opinion from his more musically literate acquaintances. This resulted in a rift that grew until December 1897, when Harden rejected a submission by Schenker, informing him that further collaboration would be impossible (OJ 11/42, [30]).


Thirty-one letters and postcards survive from Harden to Schenker, OJ 11/42, [A], [1]‒[30], spanning the years 1892 to 1897. No items of correspondence from Schenker to Harden are known to survive, although it is clear that Schenker wrote to Harden as well as submitting articles to him. Schenker's diaries do not begin to record day-to-day events or provide summaries of correspondence sent and received until 1906, thus they furnish no evidence for Schenker's side of the exchange, or for his reactions to that of Harden.

Schenker's diary only once refers in passing to Harden, at least betwen the years 1894‒1911. However, he devotes a whole section of his long letter to August Halm on September 25, 1922 (DLA 69.930/10), which is worth quoting in extenso here; it is headed "Harden": Already during my earliest years, because I had to support mother, sister, younger brother [...] and nieces by giving piano lessons, I gladly accepted an offer from a Viennese friend of Harden to write something for him. They were my very first attempts and I thank Harden for having the courage to publish them, for the multiple effects of the collaboration help in any case to prepare for a better future. From the first moment, without having understood anything, he showed me boundless, even stirring trust. However, I could not return that love. I soon saw that he had mastered no issue independently, consequently is relegated to judge according to unrelated, insubstantial, even foreign viewpoints. "Being different than the others" had to be the reward, subconsciously, that he pursues up to the present. And then again he was precisely for that reason just like the others who conceal their lack of independence (= insufficiency) from themselves in the same manner. He scolded the newspaper editors, the underlings as though a daily paper without mundane dirt were even possible [...] but managed altogether differently himself. Even with me he did not shy away from frequently attempting to exert influences depending on how he himself was influenced. (But I did not yield.) He has merely always been a pathetic H. Bahr, went along with everything that smelled of minority, etc.

His "Monarch's Education," which got him jail time, had an especially repulsive effect on me. Not only did I find the essay boorish but above all too cheap. If only he had had insight (at close range) into the life of the historically rich, as even I did back then, it would not have occurred to him to seek more "education" than can be achieved according to circumstances generally. He would have to object to Masaryk, Harding, Ebert, Wilson, etc., with the same authority. The profession, the scope of the dealings draw boundaries which one has the strength to transgress only in the rarest cases. Such a person does not even have an overview of his own goods, the mundane ones. A majordomo has to give a daily report that only bores the owner. Every chairman depends on "reports," and it is exactly the same with an emperor, who does not need to know everything, know how to do everything. It was an awful misuse by Harden ‒ again opportunism ‒ which caused me ‒ pardon the expression ‒ to give him a kick despite all necessity. Additionally there was the comprehension that I could not make myself as understandable to readers as I might have hoped in some other way. Back then I drafted my theories and I felt the powerful urge to develop them. [Eng. transl. Lee Rothfarb]


  • Berlin als Theaterhauptstadt (Berlin: F. and P. Lehmann Verlag, 1888)
  • Apostata (Berlin: George Stilke Verlag, 1892–93)
  • Literatur und Theater (Berlin: Freund & Jeckel Verlag, 1896)
  • Kampfgenosse Sudermann (Berlin: Verlag der Zukunft, 1903)
  • Köpfe, 4 vols. (Berlin: Erich Reiss Verlag, 1911–1924)
  • Krieg und Frieden, 2 vols. (Berlin: Erich Reiss Verlag, 1918)
  • Von Versailles nach Versailles (Hellerau bei Dresden: Avalun-Verlag, 1927)
  • Die Zukunft, 30 vols. (Berlin: Verlag der Zukunft, 1892–1922)


  • William Pastille

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