Follow-up to the story of Louis Georg Hagen

I had an email the other day from a gentleman in Norway, the son-in-law of Karl Victor Hagen! Those who read this blog regularly, may remember I did a series of blogs about Josef's involvement with a black market passport business in Berlin in 1938. One of the individuals who purchased a Finnish passport from Jürgen Ziebell was Louis Georg Hagen (father of Karl Victor Hagen).

The Norwegian gentleman had been researching the Hagen clan for many years and came across my blog on Louis Georg Hagen. He was grateful for the new-to-him info on the passport business and I'm glad that my blog was able to help him with his research. He also gave me a few more family connections to the Hagen family and mentioned two books written by two women of the clan.

From Art to Life and Back by Yvonne Hagen
The first book is From Art to Life and Back, written by Yvonne (nee Forrest) Hagen, widow of Karl Victor Hagen. While the book doesn't seem to be focused on the family's escape from Nazi Germany, my Norwegian contact says it does have some info on the Hagen clan. The book was self-published in 2005 via Xlibris which has a write-up on the author:
Having been an art critic for the International edition of The New York Herald Tribune, Yvonne Hagen has a remarkable story to tell. After WW II, Hagen got to know many of the American and French artists who mingled in Paris’ exciting art world. Her book is an immensely instructive account of these people and this period as seen through the eyes of an unconventional and engaging young woman. Yvonne Hagen was born in France in 1920. Her extensive art background includes studies in New York, Berlin and Paris where she became the art editor and weekly columnist for The International Herald Tribune. She has worked as a translator and has written for the French art magazine Art Aujourd’hui as well as The American Magazine of Art. Yvonne Hagen has also served as the art director for the The Museum of Modern Art in Munich. She lives in Sagaponack, New York.
Out of Nazi Germany and Trying to
Find my Way
by Irene (nee David) Matthews

The second book is Out of Nazi Germany and Trying to Find My Way by Irene Matthews, youngest grandchild of Carl (Levy) Hagen. Published in 2000, the book tells the tale of how a young Irene escaped to England out of Nazi Germany. The write-up on Amazon has this to say:

Irene Matthews's autobiography is the story of a young Jewish girl who had the misfortune of growing up in Nazi Germany. Full of the greatest interest, as well as sadness and joy, this is a tale that readers of all ages and backgrounds would find not only entertaining, but also inspiring. A picture is created that is as clear and colourful as one of the vintage colour films that one sees of Germany at this time. We learn how she idolised the Hitler Youth as a child and how, as a schoolgirl, she actually saw Hitler and Mussolini at a parade. A tremendous sense of fear and tension develops as she documents the horrors of the Kristallnacht and her subsequent escape through Aachen and Brussels to a safer life in England. There she experiences great loneliness as a German refugee in wartime England. When she visits Berlin after the fall of the Wall in 1989, the essentially positive character of the book - a strong sense that humanity will always triumph in the end - shines through the epilogue. Affectionate, heart-warming and touching by turns, 'Out of Nazi Germany and Trying to Find my Way' is a frank and poignant collection of memories made even more vivid through a startling recall for detail that is undiminished by time or distance.
The book sounds fascinating and I'm looking forward to reading it. Irene Matthews was born Irene Ellen David, daughter of Clara (nee Hagen) and Ernst David whose story I told in a previous blog post.

I did come across one news story which mentioned Irene Matthews. Published in 2001, the News Shopper article tells how Irene was visiting the National Gallery in London which was featuring an exhibition of paintings from the Nationalgalarie Berlin. The exhibition included four paintings that her grandfather, Karl (Levy) Hagan, had donated to the Nationalgalerie in 1906 in gratitude to the country where he had made his fortune as a banker. Given what the Nazis later did to the Hagen family, one can understand Irene's reaction when she saw the paintings: "I sat down on a bench opposite and started to feel tears fall down my cheeks. I wanted to take them down off the wall and take them home because they had belonged to my grandfather." The National Gallery exhibition had four paintings that had belonged to Carl (Levy) Hagen:

Summer by Manet

St. Germain, L'Auxerrois by Monet

Farmhouse (or House) at Rueil by Manet

Children's afternoon at Wargemont by Renoir

I've ordered copies of both books mentioned above and am keeping my fingers crossed that they won't be too delayed by Covid-19. Irene's book, in particular, looks quite fascinating and I'm looking forward to reading both of them.

News Shopper site - Face-to-Face with the Past (2001) - article about Irene Matthews
Google Arts & Culture - The House at Rueil by Manet
Google Arts & Culture - Summer painting by Manet
Google Arts & Culture - Children afternoon at Wargemont by Renoir
Google Arts & Culture - St. Germain, l'Auxerrois by Monet
Ancestry - genealogical information


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