Dada Millenarianism: Johannes Baader’s Intervention at the National Assembly in Weimar, 1919

Lucy Byford

‘Dada is the Creator of all things and God and the World Revolution and the Last Judgement simultaneously, all in one. It is not fiction, it is within man’s reach’.1

Johannes Baader, ‘Dada-Spiel’ (Dada-Game) (1919)

On 16 July 1919, Berlin Dadaist Johannes Baader (1875-1955) staged a sudden intervention during a sitting of the National Assembly, the interregnum parliament tasked with drafting a constitution for Germany’s newly-founded Weimar Republic. For most of 1919, the assembly did not meet in the Reichstag, instead gathering in the Deutsches Nationaltheater (German National Theatre), a site strategically removed from the revolutionary turmoil in Berlin.2 During his brief performance, Baader released a selection of self-authored Dada texts from the highest gallery in the theatre, announcing that he had ‘material for minister Naumann’, one of the Republic’s founding fathers.3 The Dadaist then swiftly left the chamber, continuing to talk loudly as he made his exit, after which he was promptly arrested.4 Among the Dada ‘material’ which fluttered down to the galleries and stalls below was a series of ‘grey cards’.5 These were most likely the grey promotional postcards, which Baader printed at the end of June to publicise his Handbuch des Oberdadaismus (Handbook of Supreme Dadaism, abbreviated to HADO), 1919-1920 (Fig. 1). The thick ‘handbook’ consisted of montaged headlines from Berlin newspapers, collected during the first six months following the November Revolution (1918-19).6 Baader also threw out a double-sided flyer titled Sonderausgabe: Grüne Leiche (special issue: Green Corpse). This short polemical text is sometimes known by its subtitle, ‘Dadaisten gegen Weimar’ (Dadaists against Weimar), but is more commonly cited as the Green Corpse handbill. One side of the flyer declares the ‘Oberdada’ (Superdada), Baader’s Nietzschean alias, as ‘Präsident des Erdballs’ (president of the globe). On the reverse, an upper-case statement blends the political and the cosmic: ‘der Präsident des Erdballs sitzt im Sattel des Weissen Pferdes Dada’ (the president of the globe sits in the saddle of the white horse Dada) (Figs. 2 and 3).7

Advertisement for Handbook of the Oberdada
Fig. 1: Johannes Baader, Advertisement for Handbook of the Oberdada (Handbuch des Oberdada, abbreviated to HADO) (28 June 1919). Grey card, 9.2 x 13.6 cm. Berlinische Galerie, Berlin. Reproduced with the kind permission of Bernd Baader.
Dadaists against Weimar letterpress document
Fig. 2: Johannes Baader, Grüne Leiche: Dadaisten gegen Weimar (Green Corpse: Dadaists against Weimar) [front] (February 1919). Letterpress, 23.5 x 20.7 cm. Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich. Reprinted in Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris, ed. Leah Dickerman (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2006), p. 137. Reproduced with the kind permission of Bernd Baader.
Green Corpse: special edition
Fig. 3: Johannes Baader, Grüne Leiche: Sonderausgabe (Green Corpse: special edition) [reverse] (February 1919). Letterpress, 23.5 x 20.7 cm, Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich. Reprinted in Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris, ed. Leah Dickerman (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2006), p. 137. Reproduced with the kind permission of Bernd Baader.

Baader’s act of hurling Dada pamphlets into the midst of a live parliamentary session remains a key episode in the history of Berlin Dada, featuring prominently in Dadaist Hans Richter’s Dada: Art and Anti-Art (1964), one of the wider movement’s most significant histories. In this text, the impact of Baader’s intervention is described thus: ‘Dada had insulted the country’s leading politicians, and the whole nation heard about it. The resulting laughter strengthened opposition, sowed confusion and weakened authority’.8 Richter and others’ accounts of the action paint a picture of Dada chaos disrupting dry political formalities, an injection of Dionysian dynamism into a thoroughly Apollonian affair.9 However, a closer reading of the full assembly debate, published in the Berlin daily, the Berliner Börsen-Courier (hereafter, the Courier), discloses how Baader’s action in fact took place during an already highly charged session at the National Assembly. The sitting saw such uproar that the stenographer was occasionally unable to distinguish what the assembly members were saying, ambiguities reflected in the debate transcript.10 Far from the account of the action offered by Dada scholar Stephen C. Foster, of a ‘ceremony’ whose ‘proceedings gave the appearance of sanity and stability’, Baader’s intervention appears to have taken place in a rather chaotic assembly session.11

Following the ‘Dada incident’, noted in a brief five-sentence segment in the Courier, the assembly schedule quickly resumed as planned. The outburst certainly created a brief moment of confusion, but hardly derailed the proceedings in any meaningful sense. Were the significance of Baader’s action to be measured according to the metric introduced by Richter—its political impact—it would stand as an episode of little importance. Yet such a reading of the performance would be altogether at odds with its significance to the historiography of Berlin Dada. The present chapter will correct the record by qualifying the action’s prominent place in the history of the Berlin group. In doing so, it will address Foster’s proposition that the avant-garde’s public interventions, rather than their interest in art and literature, reveal the ‘centre of their radicalism’.12 Also of relevance is the assertion by scholars David Hopkins and Michael White, who argue that many of the characteristics of the avant-garde were ‘taken to their extreme’ in Dada, noting how the movement is considered a ‘paradigm case’ of the avant-garde.13 If Dada is ‘paradigmatic’ of the avant-garde, and if performed interventions reveal the core of avant-garde radicalism, then a Dada intervention in the German parliament is surely of importance even beyond Dada scholarship. However, avant-garde studies will not be the focus here.

To properly qualify the importance of this episode in Dada history, I consider three core aspects throughout in the following discussion. First, I revisit the reportage surrounding the action to provide a more precise reconstruction of the event. To aid the reconstruction, I extrapolate from performance scholar Susan Bennett’s notion of theatrical ‘frames’. When determining audience reception, Bennett describes two distinct ‘frames’ in a performance. The ‘inner frame’ comprises the direction, set, props, actors, and script, and the ‘outer frame’ is made up of factors external to the piece itself, but which nonetheless condition its reception, such as wider geographical and political contexts.14 In this somewhat unconventional performance, I view the immediate elements in the parliamentary chamber as the performance’s ‘inner frame’, while contextual factors, in addition to incidents and writings from Baader’s total oeuvre comprise the performance’s ‘outer frame’. Second, a close reading of the revolutionary, anti-pacifist language used in the handbill facilitates a more in-depth political reading of the overall action. Finally, I analyse Dadaist engagements with eschatological themes, such as, in the case of Baader, prophecy and Christian iconography of the horsemen of the apocalypse. The discussion recalls how the Dada movement in Berlin understood themes of apocalypse as bound up with notions of revolution. Scholars, such as White and Katharina Hoins, have analysed Baader’s manipulation of the press as a tool for the construction and destabilisation of received realities during and immediately following Germany’s November Revolution.15 Yet the relationship between these practices and the artist’s engagements with Christian mysticism are comparatively underexplored. A chapter by Dada scholar Debbie Lewer entitled ‘Dada, Carnival and Revolution’ is a key, highly productive, exception to this trend.16 As shall be made evident, there are significant overlaps between the topics of mysticism and apocalypticism in the work of Berlin Dada. Building on Lewer’s approach, the present reconstruction is designed to open up the National Assembly intervention to fresh interpretation. Subsequently, the following study seeks to demonstrate the value of returning to the precise circumstances of Dada’s more ephemeral public performances, where at all possible.

A Contested Legacy

In his account of the intervention in the National Assembly, Richter recalls how Baader’s ‘sheer lack of inhibition’ was ‘exactly what Berlin Dada needed in order to carry out its “programme” of protest and resistance’.17 Much later, Foster similarly argued for Baader’s importance to the movement as the individual who ‘offered the most consummate formulation of the Dada event’.18 The understanding that Baader created situations deemed quintessentially ‘Dada’ is greatly at odds with the limited scholarly attention garnered by the action, and, indeed, Baader’s career in general. Dada scholar Adrian Sudhalter’s PhD dissertation, completed in 2005, remains the most extensive and comprehensive examination of Baader’s work.19 There are two reasons for this relative neglect. The first is addressed by Foster when he observes that the art ‘event’, while ‘rarely overlooked by the avant-garde artist, … has, alas, been largely ignored by these same artists’ historians’. He suggests that this may be a result of the natural tendency of these performances to ‘largely abandon historically sanctioned aesthetics’.20 The second reason why previous scholarship has not analysed this action in detail relates to the fact that scholars have, until fairly recently, tended to dispute the significance of Baader himself. This has its roots in a rift between Berlin Dadaist Richard Huelsenbeck (1892-1974) and the ‘Oberdada’, a feud which came to a head in February 1919, triggered by the initial circulation of Baader’s Green Corpse flyer.21

From early 1919, Huelsenbeck went to substantial lengths to ostracise Baader from the movement. Writing to Zurich Dadaist Tristan Tzara, he claimed that Baader ‘has nothing to do with our thinking’.22 Huelsenbeck began openly questioning Baader’s sanity, referring to him as a ‘crafty inmate of a lunatic asylum’ in the Dada Almanac (1920).23 This portrayal of Baader as mentally unsound permeates some of the secondary literature. Scholar John D. Erickson, for example, describes the artist as ‘psychotic’.24 Although Baader committed himself to psychiatric institutions on numerous occasions, Sudhalter has shown how his medical records cannot be interpreted as concrete evidence for genuine psychosis. In her thesis, Sudhalter analyses Baader’s first psychiatric diagnoses from 1907 alongside his idolisation of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche from that period. She identifies how Baader was attended to in Jena by the same psychiatrist who treated Nietzsche in this same city, Dr Otto Binswanger, ‘nineteen years earlier, to the day(!), in January 1889’.25 Sudhalter also connects Baader’s practice of writing letters to figures of authority to similar letters penned by Nietzsche after the philosopher suffered a nervous breakdown in 1889.26 She notes that medical professionals and art historians alike failed to notice Baader’s ‘copy-cat’ actions, each of which he cannily orchestrated to mirror the life of the philosopher.27 A mark of the success of Baader’s deception is the continuing tendency among some Dada commentators to uncritically accept his performances as symptomatic of mental instability.

Uncertainties surrounding Baader were also exacerbated by a more general reluctance to explore Dada’s engagements with mysticism during the post-war period, a trend inherited from critical theory and originating, according to White and Hopkins, in Theodor W. Adorno’s essay ‘Theses against Occultism’ (1947).28 As art historian Andréi Nakov explains, ‘philosophical endeavours of a mystical character [resembled] the philosophical-mystical deceptions of National Socialism’.29 In the case of Baader specifically, Lewer notes how his self-fashioned mystical, messianic identity has been read as a form of megalomania close to the ‘esoteric end of völkish-nationalistic thought’.30 Such dubious affiliations are not helped by an instance in 1943 when Baader wrote a letter to Adolf Hitler, in which he claimed that the Gestapo had misjudged Dada due to the regime’s defective programme of public enlightenment.31 Dada scholar Richard Sheppard addresses these valid concerns. He identifies the particular vein of mysticism pursued by Berlin Dadaism. Sheppard notes how the group, ‘having recognised the dangers of the Expressionist cult of ecstasy’ subsequently ‘feared that such ecstatic states of mind would either destroy their sense of balance, or take them away from the realities of society and politics, or lead them towards totalitarianism of one kind or another’.32 To prevent this, they diverged from Expressionist engagements with mysticism which, because they ‘stress[ed] spiritual inwardness’, were more at risk from the influence of mythic realities, instead moving more towards a practice of ‘extraverted natural exuberance’.33

The analysis here examines Baader’s activities alongside the interests in mysticism harboured by other members of the Berlin cohort. This shows firstly that Dadaist engagements with mysticism could indeed manifest as ‘extraverted exuberance’, as Sheppard suggests. Secondly, it demonstrates how Baader’s particular extraverted practice coheres, in many ways, with that of his Dadaist peers, despite their attempts to distance him from the movement. As such, the present reconstruction is part of a wider project of rehabilitation of the Dadaist by scholars Sudhalter, Hanne Bergius, White and Hoins.34

Baader in the ‘Besuchertribüne’ (Tribunal Gallery)

On 16 July 1919, in the Weimar National Theatre, interim cabinet members Hugo Preuß, Eduard David and Johannes Bell sat at desks placed on the stage. They faced theatre stalls occupied by the remaining assembly members in the temporary parliament (Fig. 4). Seats for reporters from the press were reserved in the front row of the ‘erster Rang’ (lower circle), and the main section of the ‘zweiter Rang’ (upper circle). The general public occupied the remaining rows of the lower circle and all of the ‘dritter Rang’, an area of elevated seats at the back of the upper circle. These areas reserved for the public were known as the ‘Besuchertribüne’ (tribune for visitors, or tribunal gallery), and it was from the ‘dritter Rang’, the worst seats in the house occupied by members of the public, that Baader released his Dada texts (Fig. 5).35 In this tribunal set up, democracy itself was set on stage and performed before a select audience, a practice dating back to the mid-nineteenth century in Germany.36 Foster has demonstrated how the theatrical setting adopted by the assembly served Baader well in underscoring his message that the assembly itself was little more than ‘a piece of theatre’, tacitly justifying the Dadaist’s institution of ‘his own superior, non-theatrical reality’ and ‘mock jurisdiction over the Weimar authorities’.37

Session of the National Assembly in Weimar, 1919
Fig. 4: Photographer unknown, Session of the National Assembly at Weimar (1919). Postcard. © Süddeutsche Zeitung, August Scherl archive, Munich. Bridgeman Images.
National Assembly at Weimar, 1919 (b/w photo)
Fig. 5: Photographer unknown, National Assembly at Weimar (view of the ‘third gallery’ of the Besuchertribüne) (1919). Photograph. © Süddeutsche Zeitung, August Scherl archive, Munich. Bridgeman Images.

The significant amount of space reserved for members of the public in the assembly surreptitiously asserts the idea of a transparent democratic process. However, the body’s claims to political legitimacy were flatly rejected within Berlin Dada circles. For example, in the Dadaist-edited magazine Die Pleite (Bankruptcy), Carl Einstein described the provisional legislature a few months before Baader’s action in evocative terms. Einstein addresses the assembly: ‘National assembly of the drowned corpses, meeting of the decelerating old wretches; your nimble mouths oozed four-year-old blood sludge, chattering … Did your word threshing bring us bread?’38 This bile directed at the National Assembly shows Einstein vocalising a key complaint of the radical left at the time, as this faction supported a model of workers’ councils over a parliamentary democracy.39 Despite gestures of transparency and democratisation by the National Assembly, the reality on the ground in Weimar painted a very different picture. While it hosted the National Assembly, access to the town was granted only upon the presentation of documents of identification bearing specially stamped passes.40 The exterior of the theatre was guarded by officers from the Freikorps paramilitary who had been subsumed into the Berlin police, and Landjägerkorps, another rank of militarised policemen, with additional police officers checking entry tickets of the members of the parliament, press and public on the door.41 These tight security measures make the infiltration of the space by Baader all the more remarkable, particularly as the Berlin authorities had certified him as clinically insane back in November 1918.42 In a discussion on the careful planning and coordination required to execute a performance of this ilk, scholar Roy F. Allen describes how the organisers behind avant-garde events are generally ‘entrepreneurs’ and ‘manipulators of the organisational and promotional services crucial to public success as much as articulators of a new conception of reality’.43 Richter reinforces this impression when he characterises Baader’s ‘innate unreality’ as ‘curiously linked with an extraordinary practical awareness’.44

Baader’s position in the tribunal gallery is also reminiscent of the failed attempt to set up a ‘Rat der geistigen Arbeiter’ (council of intellectual labourers) by Activist Expressionist Kurt Hiller (1885-1972). This project was initiated in 1917 and came to fruition during the November Revolution in 1918.45 Activist Expressionism promoted the vision that, in a post-revolutionary society, representatives of Geist (intellect, in the sense of the intelligentsia) should defend values of pacificism and rationalism.46 According to scholar Seth Taylor, representatives of Geist would gather to form a council, an ‘upper house’, entrusted with encoding a philosophy of ‘principles and norms’. These guiding principles would then be followed by a ‘lower house’ whose task it was to draft laws addressing material concerns.47 During its three days of existence at the height of the November Revolution, this council of the intelligentsia briefly represented a viable channel through which members of the avant-garde might effect political change. Huelsenbeck was one of many artists among their number, meaning that, during the revolution, members of the Dada group in Berlin came tantalisingly close to real political power. For the Dadaists, the National Assembly arguably embodied the failure of the revolution, a perception surmised in their construal of the conference as, in the words of Bergius, ‘a restitution of feudal-monarchical stakeholders and nationalist powers’.48

In Berlin, Hiller became the poster boy for this failure due to his attempts to form a council of representatives of Geist. The resulting ire towards Hiller’s ‘Activist’ camp of Expressionism is palpable in the Green Corpse handbill. The bill functions an ‘inner frame’ prop on which the whole performance hinges. The contents of the handbill parody Activist prose by painting a picture of the German people forgoing the instinct of the brutish masses to seek out representatives of Geist,

… And then we will no longer wish to be content merely with instinct, the mechanical purposefulness of the unconscious, foreboding masses, but will instead seek out the personal genius [of intellect], which we must finally have produced in some class of our people.49

Though Huelsenbeck initially allied himself with Hiller, both Baader and Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971), the latter being a possible co-author of the handbill and Baader’s closest Dada peer, were long-term sceptics of Hiller’s ideas. This position is defined most succinctly in a passage by Sheppard worth quoting in full,

Just as the late Expressionists tried to cover up the darker sides of human nature by affirming that revolutionary Geist was emerging after a disastrous war to create a new, redeemed humanity, so the Weimar Republic, with its claim to be based on the ideals of classical modernity inherited from Goethe and Schiller, actually covered up the fact that nothing in Germany had changed fundamentally.50

Sheppard’s comment on the ‘ideals of classical modernity’ leads us to another ‘outer frame’ consideration related to Baader’s intervention. The classicism referenced by Sheppard drew heavily from the late eighteenth-century literary and cultural movement of Weimar Classicism, which was named after the residence of the movement’s two primary luminaries, Goethe and Schiller.51 Dominating the square in front of the National Theatre in Weimar stands a statue of both figures, the Goethe-Schiller Denkmal (Goethe-Schiller Monument), sculpted by Ernst Rietschel in 1857, a looming reminder of the town’s ‘genius loci’.52This reputation was duly exploited by the National Assembly sixty-two years later during their temporary encampment in the town. Between Goethe and Schiller, it was the latter who elevated theatre to a position of unrivalled pre-eminence in German culture. Schiller promoted the idea of the theatre as a site for the moral and spiritual nourishment of a people. He contended that the medium of theatre could exert the ‘moral influence’ necessary for doctrines of law to be upheld by a nation.53

Chancellor Scheidemann alluded to these associations between theatre and the stability of the state when he quoted a line from Schiller’s 1789 poem, ‘Die Künstler’ (The Artists), before the National Assembly in May 1919: ‘The Dignity of Man into your hands is given – Its keeper be!’54 In response, Baader promptly sent a large portrait of Schiller to Scheidemann, lampooning the chancellor’s use of the literary figure in his plea for morality and civility. This preliminary act is yet another component of the core action’s ‘outer frame’. Equipped with a keen sense of the politics of place, the radical figure of Baader delivered his portrait of Schiller to mock the way in which the assembly was decked out with the trappings of German high culture. An inscription on the portrait sent by Baader purportedly read, ‘Since you despise the rights of the spirit, you are in no way entitled to lay claim to any other rights. The people whom you represent deserve no better fate than utter destruction … the Entente will die of Dada!’55 In his reference to the Allies, Baader tapped into deepening tensions surrounding the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. This issue led to Scheidemann’s early resignation on 20 June 1919 when he refused to pass the peace treaty into law due to overwhelming public backlash against its highly punitive terms.

Baader repeatedly articulated his rejection of the republic in expressly violent language. The threat of ‘utter destruction’ featured in the inscription on the Schiller portrait is but one example. In a line from the Green Corpse handbill, Baader wrote that the Dadaists, because they were ‘against Weimar’, intended to ‘detonate it into the air’, sparing ‘nothing and no one’.56 He then animated this threat in a series of spoof newspaper reports written in conjunction with the handbill’s original creation in February 1919. The articles, composed in the style of news bulletin entries reporting on two warring factions, present a fanciful write-up of a ‘Dada Coup’ in the Haus Rheingold, a cavernous Berlin restaurant with a capacity of four thousand.57 In one report, the Rheingold, along with several other cafés, including the popular avant-garde haunt, the Café Josty, was stormed and occupied by the Dadaists. The second report relays the Dadaists’ seizure of power, reporting that,

President Scheidemann was detonated along with the whole of Weimar … The lavish funeral service of the ill-fated National Assembly will take place on 6 February in the Dada graveyard.58

This violent rhetoric mocks the assembly’s pretences to morality and civility and goads the pacificist, humanist rhetoric of Hiller’s Activism. It also alludes to resistance against rampant nationalism and nation-building projects. This anarchistic undercurrent to Baader’s writing is most apparent in a letter he sent to Tzara, in which he described himself as a ‘dadaistic bomb’ whose purpose it was to explode ‘every nationality and every domain of power, but above all the German [regime]’.59 It is perhaps no coincidence, then, that Baader’s anti-pacifist language in this letter to Tzara; the Green Corpse handbill; and his faux reporting all recall the anarchist strategy of ‘propaganda by the deed’. This term refers to violence perpetrated in order to spark revolutionary action, an anarchist tactic primarily seen in the late nineteenth century.60 Erickson, though he does not mention Baader’s action specifically, outlines similarities between Dada ‘events’ and anarchist tactics of propaganda by the deed, accounting for how the latter term evolved into the more general, less violent idea of ‘direct action’.61 He contends that ‘the legacy of anarchism for Dada lay … in [anarchism’s] translation of cultural-political belief into direct action’ whose most effective means, in turn, ‘lay in performance’.62 Richter similarly recalls how Baader made works ‘designed purely for “direct action”’, prompting him to destroy his creations after they had served this purpose.63 We have seen how during the action, Baader targeted the assembly and its bourgeois pretensions from his marginalised position in the tribunal gallery, adopting a strategy partly inspired by anarchist praxis. But his writings elsewhere provided the opportunity to re-write himself into historical accounts as a clear protagonist.

Like his reports of a fictional coup, the long-form piece by Baader entitled ‘Reklame für mich’ (Advertisement for Myself), published in the ‘little magazine’ Der Dada 2 in December 1919, also contains a fantastical account that places Dada at the centre of contemporary political events. This constitutes an intertextual element of the ‘outer frame’ of the performance, as, though it did not feature in the performance itself, it directly references the action, thereby deepening our understanding of Baader’s artistic intent. In weaving Baader’s recollection of his intervention into the narrative, the prose recycles terms used in his Green Corpse handbill. For example, ‘Advertisement for Myself’ frames the episode as a proclamation by the ‘Presidency of the Universe’ that ‘the President of the Globe sits in the saddle of the white horse of Dada’.64 In this text, Baader blends an account of his intervention into a fabricated retelling of the world war’s escalation and peace negotiations. In this narrative, the Oberdada is a central diplomat, working alongside figures such as the Pope and generals ‘Hindendorf und Ludenburg’ (caricatures of Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff).65 Baader renegotiates his marginal position in the assembly chamber by writing a lectern into the tribunal gallery, thereby implying that all the assembly members were turned in his direction and looking up at him during his assembly address’. In his account of the action, Baader delivers a wordless sermon of laughter from the lectern, indiscriminately directing his derision at ‘German socialism, Communism [and] Nationalism’. He thereby scorns the multiple conflicting ideologies jostling to align themselves with the new German state.66

The German Constitution and Cinematic Smut

In the following section, I examine the ‘inner frame’ aspects of Baader’s performance that further rationalise the Dadaists’ anarchistic disillusionment with the state and its parliamentary parties. Previously unconsidered, these aspects, such as the particular timing and circumstances in the chamber during the action, reveal Baader’s specific concerns, enabling a more precise interpretation of the action. One of the few ‘inner frame’ variables that Baader was able to control during his intervention was the timing of the release of his Dada ‘materials’. The full parliamentary debate, published as a transcript in various contemporary newspapers, including the Courier, shows that Baader released his handbill ‘während der Abstimmung’ (during the vote) at the moment when ministers were voting on an amendment to article 118 of the constitution.67 This article ostensibly secured freedom of speech in the Weimar Republic, but the vote was on whether to retain restrictions around film and certain types of performance. Baader chose this moment over several more dramatic interludes when he could have released his texts. For example, one moment of high drama presented itself when the assembly voted to reject the Social Democrat (SPD) motion to ban the death penalty in the Weimar Republic. At another, Independent Socialist (USPD) Oskar Cohn accused the democratic liberalist Conrad Haußmann (DDP) of corruption, claiming that the German film industry was subject to government control.68 By forgoing these moments of high tension in the debate, the timing of Baader’s action challenges the idea that the performance was primarily a stunt engineered to cause maximum sensation.69 I contend that the timing of the action indicates that the intervention should instead be viewed as a calculated critique of a key clause in the constitution. The contents of an earlier press announcement linked with the original circulation of the Green Corpse handbill similarly suggest that Baader was concerned with the broader issue of censorship in the months before the intervention. This press release outlined details of the imaginary Dada ‘coup’, describing a coronation ceremony of Baader as ‘President of the Globe’ on 6 February. Baader selected this date to symbolically coincide with the inaugural sitting of the National Assembly. The opening lines of this press release read, ‘“What is satire permitted to do?” was a question that appeared in the press the other day. The answer was: Everything!’70

Baader’s concern surrounding the legislation is made clear by the assembly debate on the issue. After a brief discussion, the ministers agreed that film should be exempt from freedom of expression clauses in the Weimar constitution. They reasoned that this medium posed the risk of ‘degeneration’, which would result in a general ‘moral decline of the people’, with the vulnerable minds of minors deemed to be particularly at risk.71 In its proposed censorship of film, the constitutional article curtailed rights that had been promised to the German people in late 1918, when acting President Friedrich Ebert lifted all censorship measures.72 Both Bergius and White link Baader’s action to the constitutional article promising ‘freedom of the press’ for the Republic, a liberty that the Dadaists believed they did not enjoy.73 More specifically, however, Baader is referring to the hypocrisy written into the fine print of the article, with its implicit restrictions of artistic freedoms. In its final form, article 118 initially reads: ‘Every German is entitled … to express his opinion freely in word, writing, print, image …’.74 However, a contradictory caveat followed stating that ‘in the case of the cinema, other regulations may be established by law. Also, in order to combat trashy and obscene literature, as well as for the protection of the youth in public exhibitions and performances, legal measures are permissible’.75 Baader’s action, therefore, seems to comprise a response to the moral panic projected onto cinema and its perceived links to smut, pornography and, more broadly, ‘cabaret and certain cosmopolitan products of the press’.76 In this way, his action highlighted the fact that imperial-style, draconian restrictions were already forming the legal foundations of the Republic.

Baader was undoubtedly concerned by what impact this censorial clause might have on avant-garde activities. Innovations in film had already started to transform visuality long before Walter Benjamin was to write on the cultural implications of the medium in his famous 1935 essay.77 In his ‘Synthetisches Cino der Malerei’ (Synthetic Cinema of Painting) manifesto of 1918, Hausmann called for artists to move away from oil painting. His appeal hints at how the dynamism and shifts in perspective generated by film partly inspired the Dadaists’ preferred visual medium of photomontage.78 Dada scholar Matthew Biro notes how the aesthetic and technical advances exhibited by film, a medium which had developed from circus sideshow Wanderkino in the late 1890s to feature-length cinema by 1919, translated into social and revolutionary potential in the eyes of the Berlin Dadaists:

[C]inema … revealed the power of photographic montage to fragment and reassemble reality … allow[ing] its practitioners to … imagine new forms of individual and collective existence.79

Alongside cultivating class consciousness, film was also emerging as a powerful tool for state propaganda. The accusation levelled during the debate of collusion between the state and the film industry was not altogether unfounded, despite the assembly’s outraged dismissal of this claim. Between 1917 and early 1919, the German government had employed Berlin Dadaists George Grosz (1893-1959) and John Heartfield (1891-1968) to produce now lost war propaganda and advertising animation films for UFA (Universum Film A.G.).80 As such, the Dadaists were generally aware of this medium’s ability to variously serve or challenge nationalistic ideology. This awareness likely caused Baader to regard any attempts by the state to stunt or control cinema’s capacity for imagining new political realities as high stakes indeed.

Parties from across the political spectrum raised concerns about the film’s capacity for moral corruption during the debate. The unanimously pro-censorship views expressed by ministers go some way to explaining Baader’s disenchantment with political ideologies represented by the assembly.81 For example, a representative from the leftist USPD party, Wilhelm Könen, supported censorship on the grounds that ‘the excesses of film are nothing more than the excesses of our capitalist economic system’.82 Little wonder, then, that Baader depicts himself laughing at socialism and Communism in his ‘Advertisement for Myself’ piece. Scorn towards most forms of modern entertainment was widespread among the radical left. Its proponents held that popular culture was a mere capitalist sideshow designed to distract from revolutionary struggle.83 Dadaist Wieland Herzfelde later attempted to lobby against this position from within the KPD (German Communist Party).84 Given Baader’s campaigning work with Hausmann on behalf of the USPD in 1917, two years before the intervention, the ‘philistine’ attitudes towards film displayed by the party in the chamber must have been bitterly received by the Dadaist.85 The political influence of the USPD had been in decline since the suppression of the Spartacist uprising in January 1919 by Freikorps units, a move sanctioned by the SPD. As White points out, Baader obliquely references this power shift in his Green Corpse handbill, erroneously listing Eugen Ernst as one of its signatories.86 This move was intentionally provocative as the SPD politician Ernst had recently replaced the USPD member Emil Eichhorn as head of the Berlin police.

Returning again to the retelling of Baader’s action in his ‘Advertisement for Myself’ text, we have seen how his image of a lectern set up from the viewing gallery reconfigures the space of the temporary parliament. This set-up promotes him to the focal point of the assembly as an impassioned high priest looking down on his unsuspecting congregation. By the close of the tale, the reign of the Oberdada, ‘the arbiter of the Last Judgement’, is established, signalling the first year of world peace.87 The millenarian accolade, ‘arbiter of the Last Judgement’ hints at a further supra-framing of the intervention: a leitmotif of apocalypse. Ideas of apocalypse form a steady undercurrent through the Berlin Dadaists’ work. By reviewing Dada interpretations of the end of days, we can gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between the action and the Dadaists’ wider oeuvre in Berlin.

Baader’s idiosyncratic Millenarianism

In addition to Dadaist interests in mysticism from non-Western religions, Sheppard also discusses Dada engagements with Christian mysticism, citing, in particular, recurrent evocations of the Book of Revelation and the Old Testament in Huelsenbeck’s early work. When analysing these references, Sheppard remarks that the god in Huelsenbeck’s writing is ‘a wrathful being who judges and destroys rather than redeems’.88 Visions of a violent god perhaps analogise the Dadaist worldview that, to again quote Sheppard, ‘the élan vital ’ which Dada understands to be pervasive to all life, is ‘capricious and impersonal’.89 Huelsenbeck’s prose piece, ‘Ein Besuch im Cabaret Dada’ (a visit to the Dada cabaret), featured in Der Dada 3 in 1920, represents an important development in his use of the topos of apocalypse. This is due to the fact that, in this text, Huelsenbeck inserts the character of Baader as arbiter of the Last Judgement into the centre of his eschatological conceit. The text accordingly depicts a ‘great procession of the Dada Last Judgement’ led by the Oberdada, who appears under a ‘mighty baldachin’.90 Huelsenbeck’s use of Baader in his ‘Cabaret Dada’ piece is particularly notable due to the aforementioned animosity between Huelsenbeck and Baader seen from early 1920.

Baader developed Huelsenbeck’s newfound mode of apocalyptic parody into a sustained critical practice, aestheticising biographical or current affairs in eschatological terms.91 Sheppard, Bergius and White have all discussed Berlin Dada’s interest in apocalypticism, but it is Lewer whose analysis is most relevant to the present discussion.92 In her aforementioned chapter on Dada and revolution, Lewer considers references to carnival, revolution and apocalypse in the work of the German Dadaists. She argues that Baader in particular interpreted the German revolution of 1918-1919 as a ‘rupturing of time’, which naturally found ‘its most extreme form in the Apocalypse and the end of days’.93 According to Lewer, Baader announced his own death, and subsequent resurrection, as part of his eschatological reading of and response to the revolutionary period. Parallel to this, he developed a personal calendar system to represent the beginning of, what he pronounced as, a ‘new act in the divine comedy’ of mankind.94 Lewer accounts for the link drawn by Baader between time, revolution and apocalypse by explaining how Baader ‘re-writes in order to mock with irony a time of violence – the present – as a time of “world peace”’.95 Additionally, she suggests that Baader’s allusions to apocalypse may also operate as a ‘carnivalisation of the profoundly serious but, for many, impotent, Expressionist discourse of Apocalypse’.96 Like Sudhalter, Lewer is careful not to read Baader’s use of millenarian language too literally. This is appropriate given Baader’s searing critique of Christianity. Baader believed that the Church, in choosing not to resist the war, was complicit in its suffering. It was this conviction that prompted his previous action in the Berlin Cathedral in November 1918.97 Given these ‘outer frame’ aspects, any allusions to apocalypse in Baader’s work must be considered bearing in mind his animosity towards the institution of the Christian church and his subsequent interest in alternative spiritualities.

In his 1999 study, Avantgarde und Anarchismus (Avant-garde and Anarchism), scholar Hubert van den Berg elaborates on Baader’s position. Van den Berg discusses how Baader saw the ‘foreign rule’ of organised religion as a threat to the ‘sovereign “I”’. Baader had derived these anarchist ideas from the ‘radical individualism’ of Max Stirner.98 Such perspectives, elided with Nietzschean thought, led to Baader’s own identification as a Christ-like figure. More specifically, Sudhalter additionally views Baader’s self-deification as a provocation to the atheism championed by many Nietzscheans at the time, such as the magazine editors Michael Georg Conrad and Otto Julius Bierbaum.99 She notes, however, that Baader did not adopt this identity to discard spirituality altogether. Rather, he sought to reimagine faith as an individual spiritualism guided by the principles of monism, a philosophy developed in the eighteenth century as a rebuttal to Cartesian dualism.100 Monism provided a dynamic, egoist alternative to rigid institutionalised religion. Baader’s urge to discard Christianity in favour of a new belief system is evident in many passages in his collected works. For example, his ‘Ak. 12’ document, advertising an upcoming lecture on 12 October 1919, states,

One knows that the cross rose in Germany … on which the former emperor was celebrated as the bringer of world peace. [T]he date 1914 appeared in the middle. Then the cross disappeared and in its place came the pyramid of the five fixed stars … through the open tip of which the seed of the new birth flows…101

In his astronomically encrypted prophecy, the First World War is revealed as the turning point when Baader is destined to abdicate the false prophet of the Kaiser. In the prophecy, Baader replaces the imperial crucifix with his own idiosyncratic monist symbol of a pyramidal constellation.102 Here we begin to see the ways in which Baader’s use of apocalyptic imagery diverged from that of his Dadaist peers. Where Huelsenbeck employed millenarianism to communicate the chaos of the universe, Baader used the idea of heavenly visitations on Earth to advocate for guiding monist principles.

Monist thought sought to unite the material and spiritual realms and promoted the belief that spirit resides in matter.103 Baader was not the only member of the Dada circle in Berlin with an interest in slippages between the perceived and metaphysical worlds. The group’s other resident Nietzschean, the Neo-Kantian philosopher Salomo Friedländer (1871-1946), also frequently explored these themes through his literary grotesques.104 The monist view of reality as a kind of ‘Metachemie’ (metaphysical chemistry), popularised by honorary president of the German monist League Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), is most strongly evident in Baader’s short text from 1919, Die acht Weltsätze (The Eight World Statements). Here the Dadaist blends monism and millenarianism to determine that, if ‘chemical and physical transformations’ in the body are ‘magical processes’, then people are, in effect, ‘angels’. As a result, Baader formulated his motto that the new age ushered in by war and revolution will be a time when ‘the people know that they are in heaven’.105 White traces Baader’s interest in the monism of Haeckel back to Expressionist writer Paul Scheerbart (1863-1915). Scheerbart’s influence is particularly evident in Baader’s numerous references to cosmology.106 Similarly, Bergius cites the eschatological imagery in Scheerbart’s Das Paradies (Paradise) (1889) as a significant influence for Baader’s own ‘chiliastic utopias’.107

The starlit vision of a pyramid usurping a crucifix is one example of Baader stylising his texts as prophecies. Baader commonly employed this approach following the start of the war. For example, on 1 August 1914, Baader wrote in response to the outbreak of war, ‘The result of the world war, which is now beginning, has been identified by the council of Souls for millions of years’.108 The figure of the prophet was occasionally used by the Dadaists in a parodic manner. One of the large poster images in the Dada-Messe exhibition of 1920, for instance, shows Heartfield putting his hands up to his mouth while shouting, ‘Down with Art!’. The caption below reads, ‘DADA is GREAT, / And John Hartfield [sic] is its prophet’.109 However, the theme of prophecy was also employed more authentically when it expressed Dada’s privileged status as beholden to enlightened insight beyond the reach of others. For example, in 1920, for an article entitled ‘Die Dadaistische Bewegung: Eine Selbstbiographie’ (The Dadaist Movement: An Autobiography), Huelsenbeck writes,

The poor lives did not hear the sound of the Last Judgment which … was screamed loud and clear for the insightful, raved and shouted from Dadaism. The great relativity of things and ideas … the “downfall of the Occident”.110

The Berlin group even reiterated these ideas in their private correspondence, as shown by the contents of a letter penned in September 1918 by Hausmann. This letter notes how, ‘There are so many true secrets in our writings, compressions of all world events, which, as far as humans are concerned, cannot be understood all at once; but have such a future meaning as had Brahmanism or Buddhism or Christianity …’.111

Regarding the link between text and event in Baader’s work, Foster makes the observation that, ‘[his] activities, almost all of them employing the text, are marked by his interception of “real world” events in ways that deflected their development on behalf of the reception of his texts.112 I argue that the topos of prophecy serves as an additional means of bridging text and performance in Baader’s work. For Baader, the avant-garde text is not constrained to criticism and observation, but exerts its agency over events as they unfold. The text may do this by alluding to a future performance, or by introducing themes that are then developed during a performance. For example, in a letter to the rector of the University of Berlin, sent in advance of his intervention in the Berlin Cathedral, Baader wrote, ‘The Last Judgement, gentlemen, is a reality on the globe. But it is not Wilson, the American, who is the judge of the world, but he who returned to the clouds of heaven to judge the dead and the living according to Dadaist principles.’113 Here, Baader again thematises monist imagery of heavenly visitations, deploying the image of himself and Wilson as competing arbiters of the Last Judgement to alert the rector ahead of his cathedral action. Just like in his letter to the rector, Baader appeared in the cathedral, judging the priest ‘according to Dadaist principles’, thereby highlighting the Church’s hypocrisy in facilitating World War I and its militarism. In this case, Baader also forwarded his advance notice to the culture minister, sending ahead a transcript of his prepared speech.114

Beyond the purpose of promoting his own polemical Dada literature, these advance notices functioned as a form of prophetic framework as they involved the placement of a pre-distributed text alluding to the action within the action itself. In the case of the National Assembly action, Foster notes that Baader was acquitted following his arrest partly due to his certification as clinically insane, but also because he was able to evidence previous ‘correspondence with various statesmen involved’.115 This suggests that Baader repeated his practice of providing advance warnings for his intervention in the National Assembly, with minister Naumann seeming to be the most likely target for this advance notice. The Green Corpse pamphlet was itself publically distributed in the Haus Rheingold café several months before the National Assembly action. One line on the pamphlet contains the prophetic line, ‘Der Oberdada spricht in Weimar … über den Oberdadaismus’ (The Supreme Dada speaks in Weimar … on Supreme Dadaism) (Fig. 2). It was through such moments of contrived clairvoyance that Baader interlaced aspects from ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ frames, anchoring the total meaning of his performances to his texts. He fulfilled self-authored prophecy by acting as its organ and spokesperson, stepping into the roles of both prophet and alternative Son of God. If, as Foster notes, ‘the event’ or performance generates ‘transition points between past, present and future’, it is the prophetic framework set up by Baader that binds these temporal elements together in his actions.116

In addition to stylising the props of his texts as prophecies, both texts also contained more direct millenarian allusions. The first of these was the aforementioned ‘grey cards’. There are several indications that these ‘inner frame’ props are the promotional postcards that Baader produced for his Handbook of Oberdadaism (HADO) project, which served as placeholders for the handbook in the action. For instance, the description of HADO items in the catalogue for the International Dada Fair from the following year explicitly links the handbook to the action in the National Assembly. The description recorded how, ‘The book was offered as a gift to the National Assembly on July 16, in Weimar by the Oberdada himself. The MP Friedrich Naumann, who was supposed to deliver the gift, refused and therefore died’.117 Naumann did in fact die shortly after the intervention. Baader exploited this fluke, portraying the incident as a curse triggered by Naumann’s rejection of the handbook. Further to this, in a joint 1920 photomontage created with Hausmann entitled, Club der blauen Milchstrasse (Blue Milky Way Club), Baader also presented a printed HADO ‘Erklärung’ (Explanation) sheet alongside a copy of the Green Corpse handbill.118 While White refers to HADO as ‘Baader’s version of the Bible’, the Dadaist ersatz scripture is perhaps more specifically defined as a modern-day ‘doomsday book’. Baader described the work in his grey postcards as ‘neither Quran nor Bible’ but a ‘Buch des Weltgerichts’ (Book of the Last Judgement) (Fig. 1).119 In a 1919 circular on the project, Baader outlined how he designed the handbook to capture ‘the whole Doomsday orgy’, compressing revolutionary time through the filter of the media ‘like an overture in a single prelude’.120 By montaging not just visual fragments, but successive headlines as a form of narrated history HADO comprised Baader’s magnum opus after years of media hoax appearances in the press. The idea, posited by Baader, that Naumann’s rejection of HADO triggered the minister’s death may be read as a foreboding warning to heed Dada wisdom. The HADO piece, considered together with the action’s targeting of the censorship clause, demonstrates how Baader’s action provided a commentary on the republic’s past, present and future.

In addition to the action’s links with the Dada doomsday book HADO and its promotional grey cards, the Green Corpse handbill also contained references to Christian millenarianism. In this bill, Baader presents himself as ‘seated in the saddle of the white horse of Dada’. Hausmann’s account of the National Assembly intervention suggests that the ‘white horse of Dada’ at least partially alludes to the first horseman of the apocalypse described in the Book of Revelation. In a text entitled ‘Dada riots, moves and dies in Berlin’, Hausmann encouraged these links with the biblical text, indicating how Baader’s pamphlets ‘announced the arrival of the Ober-Dada on the “white horse” of the Supreme Arbiter of the Last Judgement’.121 This ‘conqueror horseman’, bestowed with bow and crown and riding a white horse, is summoned in the Revelation of St John at the breaking of the first seal and sent to vanquish nations and empires immediately prior to the Last Judgement.122 In the Book of Revelation, just as in Baader’s wider artistic practice, the sealed ‘text’ plays a pivotal role, as the opening of the first seal conjures the vision of the horsemen. The suggested identity of Baader as a conqueror horseman reinforces a reading of the action as an infiltration by the bombastic figure of the Oberdada, tasked with the deliverance of divine justice. Among the four horsemen, the first presents an appropriate subject for Baader. This rider’s identity is most widely disputed out of the four horsemen, with commentators variously interpreting him as Christ, a rival pagan god, or the Anti-Christ.123According to historian John Court, the most plausible identity of this fearsome rider is Mithras, the celestial ‘unconquerable’ warrior god of a tauroctonic mystery cult.124 While the extent of Baader’s interest in this New Testament figure is unknown, a pagan, warring sun god-cum-Antichrist seems a fitting identity for the Oberdada. This reading is consistent with Bergius’ classification of the mysticism displayed by Baader as ‘monistic-pantheistic’.125

Baader’s work repeatedly includes the motif of a white steed of Dada with the ‘Oberdada’ as its triumphant rider. For example, it re-emerges in a publicly published letter by Baader. The letter dates from more than a year after the National Assembly intervention and was addressed to the Dresden-based circus and zoo director Hans Stosch-Sarrasani (1873-1934).126 From the late nineteenth century, zoos functioned as spectacular displays of colonial and imperial domination. Baader himself had worked on the design of a zoo in Berlin for circus director and exotic animal trader Carl Hagenbeck in 1912.127 In his letter to the ringmaster Sarrasani, Baader offers a striking vision of the Dada horse:

The steed Dada is totally white, painted, has green eyes and looks like a cross between a German tank and a little French Christmas rocking horse. It is eight metres tall, spits fire from its mouth and nostrils … Around its upper body is a gallery … From here … the supreme Dada will hurl his poems and speeches …128

In his public correspondence, Baader transforms the horse from a destructive servant of the apocalypse into a mechanical colossus. This imagery again appears to be partly derived from the otherworldly mechanical-architectural constructions populating the works of Scheerbart.129 Baader thus developed the figure of the white horse into an ideological instrument for imposing his reign of ‘Panem et Circenses’ (bread and circuses).130 In this imagined scenario, just as in the National Assembly, Baader also proclaims ideological doctrine from a balcony. However, in the fantastical setting described in the correspondence, his is the voice of a ruling tyrant, not an unknown eccentric shouting from the margins.

On 20 January 1921, during a carnival ball hosted by Baader just over two months after the public exchange with Sarrasani, the white horse surfaced once again in the Marmorsaal at Zoologischer Garten. The horse was realised as a ramshackle, mobile sculpture, painted white and constructed from papier-mâché. Bergius has interpreted this makeshift sculpture as a visual pun on one of the translations of the word ‘Dada’, the French name for a hobby horse.131 During a simultaneous poem performed by Baader from a stand, the model horse was wheeled around the ballroom, as if animated by the Oberdada’s incantations.132 Given Baader’s architectural training, the steed appears to have been executed in an unnecessarily dilettantish manner. The metamorphosis of this allegorical steed recalls a discussion by anthropologist David Graeber on the ongoing tradition of creating giant puppets for protests. Graeber proposes that while the ephemerality of these carnivalesque and often humorous puppets undoubtedly parodies monumentality, the very act of erecting totemic statues has the effect of materialising new values for a prefigured society.133 Judging from an underwhelmed review of the ball in the Courier, Baader’s sculpture left the impression of a tragicomic caricature akin to the protest puppets analysed by Graeber. Moreover, his sculpture contrasted greatly with the triumphant, conquering horse depicted in his correspondence to Sarrasani and the Green Corpse handbill. After the National Assembly action, the colossal white horse in the letter and the sculpture at the carnival ball demonstrate the range of interpretation we can apply to the white horse in the Green Corpse handbill.134 Baader’s action encapsulated this range. It was simultaneously a deeply tragicomic display of the limited political power of the Dadaists, but also an instance of direct action which aimed to illuminate the cracks in the constitutional foundations of the Republic and forewarn of their consequences.


To conclude, the reconstruction of both the ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ frame aspects of Baader’s intervention reveals the need to interrogate established historiographies, as these can contribute to the mythologisation surrounding such avant-garde groups, obscuring their genuine cultural contributions. Through his politically radical intervention, Baader distributed Dada literature containing threats of violence against the government in the high-security setting of the Weimar Republic’s first parliament. Scenographic analysis of the ‘inner frame’, focusing on Baader’s position in the tribunal gallery, reveals how the performance constituted an outright rejection of the passive, observer role assigned to the public in parliament. Through both the contents of the Green Corpse handbill and his facetious accounts of the assembly intervention, Baader framed his performance as an act of anarchist pseudo-violence intended to rebuff the pacifism of Activist Expressionism. His act protested the fact that even the assembly’s most left-wing members voted in favour of a censorial article in the new constitution. The specific timing of the release of the handbills also confirms that the performance was not a simplistic, sensationalist stunt. Instead, as has been argued here, Baader’s action constituted a targeted critique of a constitutional clause, which threatened to criminalise avant-garde activities. Baader’s intervention subsequently underscored the wider illegitimacy of the incoming government at the precise moment that it ratified old prejudices into the new constitution. Through the same ream of news headlines which Baader compressed in his HADO piece, the Berlin Dadaists quickly grasped how the ‘ruptured time’ of the war did not herald an ‘apocalypse’ in the sense of the death of an old world order. Rather, it drove imperial ideology to mutate and re-emerge in the visage of the Spießer (bourgeois philistine). Baader reacted by delivering his flyer and HADO advertisements to the assembly, selecting the minister Naumann as his conduit. In so doing, he devised the performed apogee of his correspondences with political, imperial or religious dignitaries. In the guise of a vengeful horseman of the apocalypse, his handbills and doomsday book advertisements in hand, Baader burlesqued this state of affairs as a means of agitating for genuine revolution.

Baader co-opted political proceedings to perform a critique of regime change and power, a theme which the text in his handbill grotesquely exaggerated to fantastical new heights through violent, millenarian language. The marbling together of the sublime vision of the ‘Oberdada’ as the arbiter of the Last Judgement and references to contemporary politics evokes Erickson’s observation that, ‘rather than a cultural rebellion grafted onto a political rebellion, the two are inextricably elided in Dada activity’.135 Ultimately, then, this instance of avant-garde extremism seen in the National Assembly is significant for deepening our understanding of the Dada movement in Berlin. It illustrates how Baader’s millenarianism was not an eccentric flourish to be glossed over or dismissed. Nor was it the manifestation of mental disturbance, staged or otherwise. Rather, monist ideas, or variants thereof, were fundamental to Dadaism. Sheppard surmised this notion in his discussion on the role of mysticism in Dada. As concluded by Sheppard, ‘where Christian mysticism must ultimately tend toward a distinction between God and Creation, soul and matter, Dada is much more monistic, affirming the unity of the life force and the material world’.136 In his Vierzehn Briefe Christi (Fourteen Letters of Christ), published on the eightieth birthday of Haeckel in 1914, Baader accordingly identified Christianity’s core fallacy as its separation of the ‘true world’ of immortal heaven from the ‘apparent world’ of earthly mortality.137 Through his action, Baader deployed an idiosyncratic millenarianism, scripting and delivering his own cosmic portent at the dawn of Germany’s first democracy.


Johannes Baader, ‘Dada-Spiel’, Der Dada 1, June 1919, quoted in Hanne Bergius, ‘Zur phantastischen Politik der Antipolitik Johannes Baaders’, in Hanne Bergius, Norbert Miller and Karl Riha (eds.) Johannes Baader, Oderdada: Schriften, Manifeste, Flugblätter, Billets, Werke und Taten (Gießen: Anabas Verlag, 1977), p. 185. ‘Dada ist der Schöpfer aller Dinge und Gott und die Weltrevolution und das Weltgericht in einem gleichzeitig. Es ist keine Fiktion, sondern den Menschen greifbar.’ Translations author’s own, unless otherwise stated.
Before 21 August 1919, the parliament met in the court theatre in Weimar, which was known after 19 January 1919 as the Deutsches Nationaltheater. See Heiko Bollmeyer, Der steinige Weg zur Demokratie: Die Weimarer Nationalversammlung zwischen Kaiserreich und Republik, vol. 13 of Wolfgang Braungart et al. (eds.), Historische Politikforschung (Frankfurt and New York: Campus Verlag, 2007), pp. 200; 202.
‘Deutsche Nationalversammlung, Weiterberatung der Verfassung’, Berliner Börsen-Courier, 17 July 1919, p. 3. ‘Hier ist Material für den Abg. Naumann!’ According to Baader’s account, he also read out some of the contents of the Green Corpse handbill. See Johannes Baader, ‘Reklame für mich’ (Advertisement for myself), Der Dada 2, December 1919, p. 7. University of Iowa Digital Library, accessed 22 September 2019,
4 ‘Nationalversammlung’, p. 3. ‘Der Zettelwerfer entfernte sich erregt sprechend, ohne weiter behindert zu werden.’ Stephen C. Foster, ‘Event Structures and Art Situations’, in ‘Event’ Arts and Art Events, Stephen C. Foster (ed.), vol. 57 of Studies in the Fine Arts: Avant-Garde (Ann Arbor, MI.: UMI Research Press, 1988), p. 9.
‘Nationalversammlung’, p. 3. ‘Während der Abstimmung warf plötzlich ein Besucher des dritten Ranges ein großes Paket Flugblätter und graue Karten.’
Hanne Bergius, Dada Triumphs! Dada Berlin, 1917-1923, Artistry of Polarities, in vol. 5 of Stephen C. Foster (ed.), Crisis and the Arts: The History of Dada (New York and London: G.K. Hall & Co., 2003), pp. 121-2. The handbooks, of which at least three were produced, are now lost. See Hanne Bergius, Das Lachen Dadas: Die Berliner Dadaisten und ihre Aktionen (Gießen: Anabas-Verlag, 1989), p. 154.
Johannes Baader, ‘Grüne Leiche: Sonderausgabe’ [front and reverse], 1919, Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich. The name ‘Oberdada’ was coined as a slight by editor of the Weltbühne, Siegfried Jacobsohn, and reappropriated by Baader. See Michael White, Generation Dada: The Berlin Avant-Garde and the First World War (New Haven and New York: Yale University Press, 2013), pp. 225-6.
Hans Richter, Dada: Art and Anti-Art (1965), Michael White (ed.), (trans.) David Britt (London: Thames and Hudson, 2016), p. 126. Richter refers to the title of the handbill as ‘Das grüne Pferd’ (the Green Horse), conflating the two phrases ‘“Grüne Leiche” A.e.’ and ‘im Sattel des weissen Pferdes Dada’. Richter also conflates the intervention in July with the earlier circulation of the handbill at the Haus Rheingold, Berlin, on the day of the assembly’s inauguration on 6 February 1919, an elision replicated in some of the secondary literature.
The action is briefly referenced in, Matthew Biro, The Dada Cyborg: Visions of the New Human in Weimar Berlin (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), p. 63; Adrian Sudhalter, ‘Johannes Baader and the Demise of Wilhelmine Culture: Architecture, Dada, and Social Critique, 1875-1920’, (PhD. diss., University of New York, 2005), p. 250, f. 65; and Hanne Bergius, Dada Triumphs, pp. 57-8.
10 ‘Deutsche Nationalversammlung’, pp. 2-3. During the debate there was, ‘Beifall rechts, Unruhe links, Zuruf: Scharfrichter!’ (Applause from the right, noise from the right, calls of ‘executioner!’). Accusations of government corruption also caused ‘langandauernde lärmende Unterbrechungen’ (long, noisy interruptions).
11 Stephen C. Foster, ‘The Prerequisite Text’, Visible Language 21 (1987): p. 329. References to a ‘ceremony’ are due to a conflation of two separate interventions by Baader, see note 8.
12 Foster, ‘Art Situations’, p. 6.
13 David Hopkins and Michael White, introduction to Virgin Microbe: Essays on Dada, David Hopkins and Michael White (eds.), vol. 36 of Avant-Garde & Modernism Studies (Evanston, IL.: Northwestern University Press, 2014), p. 3.
14 Susan Bennett, Theatre Audiences: A Theory of Production and Reception (Oxford and New York: Routledge, 1997), p. 17.
15 Katharina Hoins, ‘Johannes Baader’s Postwar Plasto-Dio-Dada-Drama and German War Exhibitions during World War I’, Dada/Surrealism 21 (2017): p. 9, accessed 3 March 2021, Michael White, ‘Johannes Baader’s Plasto-Dio-Dada-Drama: the Mysticism of the Mass Media’, Modernism/modernity 8.4 (2001): pp. 590-600.
16 Debbie Lewer, ‘Dada, Carnival and Revolution’, in Regarding the Popular: Modernism, the Avant-Garde and High and Low Culture, vol. 2 of European Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies, Sascha Bru and Peter Nicholls (eds.) (Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2012), pp. 107-11.
17 Richter, Anti-Art, pp. 125-6.
18 Foster, ‘Art Situations’, p. 9.
19 Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, [note 9].
20 Foster, introduction to ‘Event’ Arts, p. xiv; Foster, ‘Art Situations’, p. 5.
21See Hans Baumann (Richard Huelsenbeck), ‘A personal Dada Matter’, in The Dada Almanac (1920), (trans. and ed.) Malcom Green (London: Atlas Press, 1993), pp. 37-43. For Baader’s response, see Johannes Baader, ‘A public instead of a private matter’, Dada Almanac, p. 43. The feud is further discussed in Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, pp. 249-52; and in White, Generation Dada, pp. 228-30.
22 Richard Huelsenbeck to Tristan Tzara, undated letter, February 1919, trans. in White, Generation Dada, p. 229, repr. in Richard Sheppard (ed.), Zürich – Dadaco – Dadaglobe: The Correspondence between Richard Huelsenbeck, Tristan Tzara and Kurt Wolff (1916-1924) (Tayport: Hutton Press, 1982), p. 14.
23 Baumann (Huelsenbeck), Dada Almanac, p. 37.
24 John D. Erickson, ‘The Cultural Politics of Dada’, in Stephen C. Foster (ed.), Dada: The Coordinates of Cultural Politics, vol. 1 of Crisis and the Arts: The History of Dada (G.K. Hall & Co.: New York, 1996), p. 25.
25 Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, p. 134; see also pp. 15-17.
26 Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, pp. 133-6.
27 Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, p. 136.
28 Hopkins and White, Virgin Microbe, p. 6. See Theodor W. Adorno, The stars down to earth: and other essays on the irrational in culture, Stephen Crook (ed.) (New York and London: Routledge, 2001), pp. 172-80.
29 Andréi B. Nakov, ‘Dada ist eine Geisteshaltung’, in Eva Züchner (ed.), Der Deutsche Spiesser ärgert sich: Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971) (ex. cat. Berlinsche Galerie, Berlin, 1994), p. 36. ‘[P]hilosophische Bestrebungen mystischen Charakters [ähnelten] einer philosophisch-mystischen Irreführung des Nationalsozialismus’.
30 Lewer, ‘Carnival’, p. 109.
31 Baader, ‘Lieber Hitler!’, in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, p. 146. ‘Es ist nicht meine Schuld, wenn … Ihres Ministeriums für Volksaufklärung … so mangelhaft aufgebaut ist, dass sie Ihnen nicht melden kann, was wirklich hier … los ist.’
32 Richard Sheppard, Modernism–Dada–Postmodernism, Marjorie Perloff et al. (eds.), vol. 13 of Avant-Garde & Modernism Studies (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2000), p. 280.
33 Sheppard, Modernism–Dada, p. 280.
34 Sudhalter, ‘Baader’; Bergius, ‘Phantastischen Politik’, pp. 181-91; Bergius, Lachen Dadas, pp. 144-65; White, ‘Plasto-Dio-Dada-Drama’, pp. 583-602; Hoins, ‘War Exhibitions’.
35 Bollmeyer, Steinige Weg, p. 204.
36 Hans Wilderotter, ‘Der lange Weg zur Demokratie: Stationen deutscher Parlamentsgeschichte’, in Wolfgang Kessel, Der Deutsche Bundestag im Reichstagsgebäude, Georgia Rauer (ed.) (Berlin: Deutscher Bundestag, 2018), p. 85.
37 Foster, ‘Prerequisite Text’, p. 329. For a contemporary account of the new government’s theatricality, see Brigid Doherty, ‘Figures of the Pseudorevolution’, October 84 (1998): pp. 69-70.
38 Carl Einstein, ‘Pleite glotzt euch an, restlos’, Die Pleite 1, March 1919, p. 1. ‘Nationalversammlung der Wasserleichen, Meeting der bremsenden Jammergreise; quasselnd quollen ihre flinken Münder aus vierjährigem Blutschlamm auf … Brachte euer Wortdrusch uns Brot?’
39 Gaard Kets and James Muldoon, ‘The “Forgotten” German Revolution: A Conceptual Map’, in Gaard Kets and James Muldoon (eds.), The German Revolution and Political Theory (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), p. 5.
40 Bollmeyer, Steinige Weg, p. 202.
41 Bollmeyer, Steinige Weg, pp. 201-2; Kessel, Bundestag, p. 44.
42 Foster, ‘Art Situations’, p. 9.
43 Roy F. Allen, ‘From Energy to Idea: the Origins of “Movement” in the Event’, in ‘Event’ Arts, p. 67.
44 Richter, Anti-Art, p. 125.
45 Seth Taylor, Left-wing Nietzscheans: the politics of German Expressionism, 1910-1920, vol. 22 of Monographien und Texte zur Nietzsche-Forschung, Mazzino Montinari et al. (eds.) (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyer, 1990), pp. 81-2.
46 See Kurt Hiller, ‘Ein deutsches Herrenhaus’, Das Ziel, Jahrbuch 2 (1918): pp. 388; 410-11; 419.
47 Taylor, Nietzscheans, p. 80.
48 Bergius, ‘Phantastischen Politik’, p. 189. ‘… [R]estitution der feudal-monarchistischen Kreise und der nationalen Kräfte.’
49 Baader, Grüne Leiche: Dadaisten gegen Weimar. ‘… Und dann wollen wir uns nicht mehr bloß mit dem Instinkt, der mechanischen Zielsicherheit der unbewußt ahnungsvollen Masse bescheiden, sondern das persönliche Genie (suchen) gehen, das wir in irgend einer Schichte unseres Volkes endlich doch und doch hervorgebracht haben müssen.’
50 Sheppard, Modernism-Dada, p. 255. A postcard sent by Hausmann to Tzara on 2 February 1919, referring to an upcoming ‘Dadaists against Weimar’ soirée on February 6, indicates that Hausmann was at the very least aware of Baader’s plans for an event in the Haus Rheingold. Reproduced in Richard Sheppard (ed.) New Studies in Dada: Essays and Documents (Driffield: Hutton Press Ltd., 1981), p. 108.
51 Simon Richter, introduction to The Literature of Weimar Classicism, Simon Richter (ed.) (Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2005), pp. 3-44.
52 Bollmeyer, Steinige Weg, p. 203. Between 1906 and 1908, the court theatre was rebuilt in a neoclassical style befitting of Weimar Classicism.
53 Friedrich Schiller, ‘The theatre considered as a moral institution’, (trans.) John Sigerson and John Chambless, The Schiller Institute, Washington, date accessed 30 September 2020, These ideas were first expressed in a lecture held in 1784 and subsequently published in a 1785 essay.
54 Friedrich Schiller, ‘The Artists’ (1789), (trans.) Marianna Wertz, Fidelio Journal of Poetry, Science and Statecraft 4.1 (1995): p. 60. President Friedrich Ebert also referenced Weimar Classicism in his inaugural assembly speech on February 6: ‘Now the spirit of Weimar, the spirit of the great philosophers and poets, must once again imbue our lives.’ (Jetzt muß der Geist von Weimar, der Geist der großen Philosophen und Dichter, wieder unser Leben erfüllen.), quoted in Bollmeyer, Steinige Weg, p. 199, n. 67.
55 Johannes Baader, 1919, (trans.) Green, in Dada Almanac, p. 139. Green notes that Baader sent the portrait after the Chancellery refused Baader’s requests for a meeting.
56 Baader, Grüne Leiche: Dadaisten gegen Weimar. ‘Wir werden Weimar in die Luft sprengen … Es wird niemand und nichts geschont werden.’
57 The ‘coup’ is poorly recorded; beyond Baader’s fantastical account, there is no evidence of what took place. See Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, p. 250.
58 Baader, in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, pp. 50-1. ‘Mit ganz Weimar ist auch der Ministerpräsident Scheidemann in die Luft geflogen … Die Beerdigung der am 6. Februar in Weimar verunglückten Nationalversammlung wird auf dem Friedhof Dada unter großem Gepränge erfolgen.’
59 Johannes Baader, letter to Tristan Tzara, 12 December 1920, (trans.) in Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, p. 240.
60 See Constance Bantman, ‘The Era of Propaganda by the Deed’, in The Palgrave Handbook of Anarchism, Carl Levy and Matthew S. Adams (eds.) (London: Palgrave Macmillian, 2019), pp. 371-87.
61 Erickson, ‘Cultural Politics’, pp. 23-4.
62 Erickson, ‘Cultural Politics’, pp. 23-5. On the relationship between Dada and anarchism, see Hubert van den Berg, Avantgarde und Anarchimus: Dada in Zürich und Berlin (Heidelberg: Heidelberg Universitätsverlag, 1999), pp. 157-243; Daniela Padularosa, ‘Anti-Art? Dada and Anarchy’ in Anarchism and the Avant-Garde: Radical Arts and Politics in Perspective, Carolin Kosuch (ed.), Avant-Garde Critical Studies, Hubert van den Berg et al., vol. 38 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2020), pp. 99-126.
63 Richter, Anti-Art, p. 127.
64 Baader, ‘Reklame’, pp. 5-7. ‘… die Präsidentschaft des Weltalls … Der Präsident des Erdballs sitzt im Sattel des weissen Pferdes Dada.’
65 Baader, ‘Reklame’, p. 5.
66 Baader, ‘Reklame’, p. 7. ‘Ich [Baader] lachte über den deutschen Sozialismus, Kommunismus, Nationalismus …’
67 The article is no. 117 in the debate and no. 118 in the final constitution. On 31 July 1919, two weeks after Baader’s action, the Weimar constitution passed into law, and on August 14 these changes came into effect.
68 ‘Nationalversammlung’, pp. 2-3. ‘Redner [Abg. Dr. Cohn, USPD] führt weiter aus, daß der Vorstand der UFA [Universum Film-Aktien Gesellschaft] im engsten Zusammenhang mit der Regierung arbeitet, bei der Reichskanzlerei bestehe sogar ein Filmdezernat, das aus dem Fonds des Reichspräsidenten, einer Art Korruptionsfonds bestritten werde.’
69 ‘Nationalversammlung’, p. 3. For example, Foster comments on how Baader wished to construct a ‘sensational incident to report’ in Foster, ‘Prerequisite Text’, p. 329.
70 Baader, in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, p. 46. ‘“Was darf Satire?” lautete eine Frage, die neulich durch die Presse ging. Die Antwort hieß: “Alles!”’ This press release is also cited in White, ‘Commentary’ in Richter, Anti-Art, p. 267.
71 ‘Nationalversammlung’, p. 3. ‘Ruschke (Dem.): “Zur Bekämpfung der Entartungen der Lichtspiele …” … Könen (U.S.) “… moralischen Niedergang des Volkes.”’ Historian Robert Beachy notes how these suggestions were likely formulated in response to the film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others), which premiered in May 1919. The film depicts the plight of a criminalised gay man, and was produced by the sexologist and gay rights advocate, Magnus Hirschfeld. See Robert Beachy, Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity (New York: Vintage Books, 2014), p. 166.
72 Friedrich Ebert et al., ‘Aufruf des Rates der Volksbeauftragten an das deutsche Volk vom 12. November 1918’, repr. in Michael Kotulla, Deutsches Verfassungsrecht 1806–1918: Eine Dokumentensammlung nebst Einführungen, vol. 7 (Berlin: Springer, 2006), p. 1326. ‘Eine Zensur findet nicht statt. Die Theaterzensur wird aufgehoben. 4. Meinungsäußerung in Wort und Schrift ist frei.’
73 Bergius, Dada Triumphs, pp. 57-8. White, ‘Commentary’ in Richter, Anti-Art, p. 267.
74 Weimarer Verfassung, Artikel 118: Meinungsfreiheit, (trans.) in Sascha Bru, Democracy, Law and the Modernist Avant-Gardes: Writing in the State of Exception (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009), p. 167.
75 Weimarer Verfassung, Artikel 118, in Bru, Democracy, p. 167.
76 ‘Deutsche Nationalversammlung’, p. 3. ‘… [A]uch der Kabaretts und gewisser großstädtischer Presserzeugnisse, die zum Teil einen direkt pornographischen Charakter haben.’
77 Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, in Illuminations, Hannah Arendt (ed.), (trans.) Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), pp. 217-51.
78 Raoul Hausmann, ‘Synthetisches Cino der Malerei’, 1918, in Raoul Hausmann: Bilanz der Feierlichkeit: Texte bis 1933, Michael Erlhoff (ed.), vol. 1, Frühe Texte der Moderne, Jörg Drews et al. (eds.) (Munich: Edition Text und Kritik, 1982), pp. 14-17. Biro, Dada Cyborg, p. 87, f. 56.
79 Biro, Dada Cyborg, p. 88.
80 Andrés Mario Zervigón, John Heartfield and the Agitated Image: Photography, Persuasion, and the Rise of Avant-Garde Photomontage (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), pp. 98-111.
81 ‘Nationalversammlung’, pp. 2-3. These views were expressed by members from the arch-conservative German National People’s Party (DNVP), liberal German Democratic Party (DDP), centrist Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and left-wing Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD).
82 ‘Nationalversammlung’, p. 3. ‘Die Auswüchse der Lichtspiele seien nichts weiter als Auswüchse unserer kapitalistischen Wirtschaftsweise…’
83 Barbara McCloskey, ‘Teach your children well: Hermynia Zur Mühlen, George Grosz, and the art of radical pedagogy in Germany between the world wars’ in Barbara McCloskey, Deborah Ascher and Elisabeth Otto (eds.), Art and Resistance in Germany (New York and London: Bloomsbury, 2019), p. 87.
84 See Sherwin Simmons, ‘War, Revolution, and the Transformation of the German Humour Magazine, 1917-27’, Art Journal 52.1 (1993): pp. 46-50.
85 White, Generation Dada, p. 163.
86 White, Generation Dada, p. 228.
87 Baader, ‘Reklame’, p. 7. ‘Somit fiel der Kapitalismus in sich zusammen … Eine ganz neue Weltordnung erhob sich … und dies dankt die Welt allein … [der] Oberdada … Leiter des Weltgerichts.’
88 Sheppard, Modernism–Dada, p. 271. See Richard, Huelsenbeck, ‘Ende der Welt’, in Phantastischen Gebete (Berlin: Malik-Verlag, 1920), and in Der Dada 2, December 1919, p. 4. Huelsenbeck’s poem was partly inspired by Expressionist Jakob van Hoddis’ 1911 poem ‘Weltende’. For more on Expressionist engagements with apocalypse, see Eberhard Roters, The Apocalyptic Landscapes of Ludwig Meidner, Susan L. Caroselli (ed.) (ex. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1989) and Fredrick S. Levine, The Apocalyptic Vision: The Art of Franz Marc as German Expressionism (New York: Harper and Row, 1979).
89 Sheppard, Modernism-Dada, p. 280.
90 Richard Huelsenbeck, ‘Ein Besuch im Cabaret Dada’, Der Dada 3, April 1920, p. 8. ‘… da begann der große Einzug des dadaistischen Weltgerichts … Unter einem mächtigen Baldachin brachten sie … Baader.’
91 For explicit mentions of the apocalypse in Baader’s collected works, see Baader in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, pp. 34-5; 37; 43; 55-57; 87; 92; 94.
92 Sheppard, Modernism-Dada, p. 276; Bergius, Lachen Dadas, pp. 151-4; Bergius, ‘Phantastischen Politik’, p. 187; Bergius, Dada Triumphs, pp. 122; 260-7. White, ‘Plasto-Dio-Dada-Drama’, p. 587. White, Generation Dada, p. 251. White identified how an apocalyptic vision in the Book of Matthew is used in Baader’s ‘Ak. 12’ document, a clipping of which Baader reused in his self-portrait in Der Dada 2, Das ist die Erscheinung des Oberdada in den Wolken des Himmels (This is the appearance of the Supreme Dada in the Clouds of Heaven). For a transcription of Baader’s ‘Ak. 12’ handbill, see Baader in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, p. 35.
93 Lewer, ‘Carnival’, p. 109.
94 Lewer, ‘Carnival’ p. 107. This statement was itself taken from Baader, ‘Die Acht Weltsätze’ (Eight World Statements) 1919, in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, p. 43. ‘Es hat angefangen ein neuer Akt der göttlichen Komödie und sein Leitspruch lautet: Die Menschen wissen, daß sie im Himmel sind’.
95 Lewer, ‘Carnival’, p. 109.
96 Lewer, ‘Carnival’, p. 109. See note 88.
97See Gesellschaft Freie Erde (Johannes Baader), ‘Offener Brief an den Kultusminister von Berlin’, November 1918, repr. as item 10.112 in vol. 1 of Hannah Höch: Eine Lebenscollage, Cornelia Thater-Schulz (ed.) (Berlin: Argon with the Berlinische Galerie, 1989), pp. 454-7.
98 Van den Berg, Anarchismus, p. 200. ‘Religionen als Fremdbestimmungen des Einzelnen … Souveränität des Ich.’
99 Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, p. 185.
100 Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, pp. 187-9.
101Baader, ‘Ak. 12’, c. October 1919, in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, p. 35. ‘Weiß man, daß das Kreuz aufstieg in Deutschland, riesengroß aus acht Sternen, an jenem vierten September 1912 an dem der gewesene Kaiser in Zürich gefeiert ward als der Bringer des Weltfriedens. Und am zehnten Dezember 1912 erschien in der Mitte die Jahreszahl: 1914. Dann verschwand das Kreuz und an seine Stelle trat … die Pyramide der fünf Fixsterne, durch deren offene Spitze der Same der Neugeburt … strömt.’
102 For his line drawing of this vision, see Baader, Dada Almanac, p. 102.
103 For a contemporary account of the German Monist League, see Otto Herrmann, ‘The Monism of the German Monistic League’, The Monist 23.4 (1913), pp. 543-66.
104 Thomas O. Haakenson, ‘“The Merely Illusory Paradise of Habits”: Salomo Friedländer, Walter Benjamin, and the Grotesque’, New German Critique 106 (2009): pp. 119-147. See also Bergius, ‘Phantastischen Politik’, pp. 185-7.
105 Baader, ‘Die Acht Weltsätze’ (The Eight World Statements), quoted in Lewer, ‘Carnival’, (trans. Lewer), p. 107.
106 White, ‘Plasto-Dio-Dada-Drama’, p. 597-8.
107 Bergius, Lachen Dadas, p. 149. ‘[C]hiliastische Utopien’.
108 Baader, in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, p. 30. ‘Das Ergebnis des jetzt beginnenden Weltkriegs ist seit Millionen von Jahren festgelegt im Rate der Seelen…’
109 White, Generation Dada, p. 260. ‘Nieder die Kunst! … DADA ist GROSS … Und John Hartfield [sic] ist sein Prophet!’
110 Richard Huelsenbeck, ‘Die Dadaistische Bewegung: Eine Selbstbiographie’, Die Neue Rundschau 31.8 (1920): pp. 978-9. ‘Die Armen hörten nicht den Ton des Weltgerichts, der, so paradox das klingt, für den Einsichtigen deutlich aus dem Dadaismus herausbrüllte, schrie und tobte. Die große Relativität der Dinge und Ideen, … der “Untergang des Abendlandes”.’
111 Raoul Hausmann to Johannes Baader, 12 September 1918, quoted in Bergius, Das Lachen Dadas, p. 152. ‘Es stehen in unseren Schriftstücken soviele wirkliche Geheimnisse, Verdichtungen des gesamten Weltgeschehens, soweit es den Menschen betrifft, dass sie auf einmal – nicht verstanden werden können; sie haben aber eine so zukünftige Bedeutung, wie es der Brahmanismus oder Buddhismus oder das Christentum hatte…’ Emphasis mine.
112 Foster, ‘Prerequisite text’, p. 331. Foster’s emphasis.
113Baader to Rector of Berlin University, 21 October 1918, repr. in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, p. 37. ‘Weltgericht, meine Herren, ist Wirklichkeit auf dem Erdball. Aber nicht Wilson, der Amerikaner, ist Richter der Welt, sondern der da wiederkam in den Wolken des Himmels zu richten die Toten und die Lebendigen nach dadaistische Grundsätzen.’ For another reference to apocalypse and the Treaty of Versailles, see Baader, in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, p. 56.
114Baader in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, p. 40.
115Foster, ‘Art Situations’, p. 9.
116Foster, introduction to ‘Event’ Arts, p. xiii.
117Baader, in Bergius (ed.), Oberdada, p. 87. ‘Das Buch ist am 16. Juli in Weimar vom Oberdada selbst der Nationalversammlung zum Geschenk angeboten worden. Der Abgeordnete Friedrich Naumann, der das Geschenk übermitteln sollte, hat sich geweigert und ist deshalb gestorben.’
118Johannes Baader and Raoul Hausmann, Club der blauen Milchstrasse, 1920, photomontage, repr. in Bergius, Lachen Dadas, p. 160.
119 White, ‘Plasto-Dio-Dada-Drama’, 599.
120 Baader, ‘Zirkular zum HADO vom 1. Juni 1919’, repr. in New Studies in Dada, quoted in Bergius, Dada Triumphs, (trans.) Brigitte Pichon, p. 122.
121 Raoul Hausmann, ‘Dada moves, riots and dies in Berlin’, The Twenties in Berlin: Baader, Grosz, Hausmann, Höch (ex. cat. Annely Juda Fine Art, London, 1978), p. 26.
122 2. Rev 6:2 (King James Bible). ‘And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.’
123 John Court, Myth and History in the Book of Revelation (London: Fakenham Press Limited, 1979), pp. 61-2.
124 Court, Revelation, p. 61.
125 Bergius, ‘Phantastischen Politik’, p. 182. ‘[M]onistisch-pantheistisch.’
126 Johannes Baader, ‘Sarrasani, das Nilpferd und das Weiße Pferd Dada’, Neues Berliner 12-Uhr-Mittag-Blatt, 3 November 1920, repr. in Hanne Bergius, ‘Articles about Dada Berlin in Daily Newspapers: Selected Bibliography’, appendix in Hanne Bergius, ‘Dada Berlin and its Aesthetic of Effects: Playing the Press’, in Harriet Watts (ed.), Dada and the Press, vol. 9 of Crisis and the Arts: The History of Dada, Stephen Foster (ed.) (New Haven: Thomson and Gale, 2004), p. 109. ‘Der Präsident des Erd- und Weltballs sitzt im Sattel des weissen Pferdes Dada!’
127 Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, pp. 165-6.
128 Baader, ‘Sarrasani’, pp. 109-110. ‘Das Roß Dada ist ganz weiß, gestrichen, hat grüne Augen und sieht aus wie eine Kreuzung von deutschem Tank und französischen Weihnachtsschaukelpferdchen. Es ist acht Meter hoch, speit Feuer aus Maul und Nüstern … Rings um den Oberleib läuft eine Galerie … Von ihr aus wird der Oberdada seine Dichtungen und Reden … schleudern.’
129 Kate Armond, ‘A Paper Paradise: Ernst Bloch and the Crystal Chain’, in Utopia: The Avant-Garde, Modernism and (Im)possible Life, David Ayers, Benedikt Hjartarson, Tomi Huttunen and Harri Veivo (eds.), vol. 4 of European Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (Berlin and Boston Walter de Gruyter, 2015), p. 260.
130 Baader, ‘Sarrasani’, p. 109.
131 Bergius, Lachen Dadas, p. 148.
132 Ri. [sic], ‘Dadaisten-Ball’, Berliner Börsen-Courier, January 22 1921, p. 7. ‘… Baader von eine Tribüne mitten im Saal sich die Kehle wund schrie, … und das riesenhafte, aus Pappe geschnittene “weiße Pferd” häufig herumgefahren wurde.’
133 David Graeber, ‘On the Phenomenology of Giant Puppets: Broken Windows, Imaginary Jars of Urine, and the Cosmological Role of the Police in American Culture’, in Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion and Desire (Edinburgh, Oakland: AK Press, 2007), pp. 375-418.
134 Ri., ‘Dadaisten-Ball’, p. 7. ‘… eine Tanzveranstaltung … wie tausend andere … Es war banal.’
135 Erickson, ‘Cultural Politics’, p. 23.
136 Sheppard, Modernism-Dada, p. 281.
137 Bergius, Lachen Dadas, p. 150. Sudhalter, ‘Baader’, p. 187.

DOI: 10.33999/2022.90