Kurt Hiller (1885-1972) was a gifted German writer who made his mark in the early twentieth century by attaching himself to the Expressionist tendency. He was born into a Jewish family in Berlin. A strong believer in socialism and pacifism, Hiller’s sharp polemics earned him many enemies.
He had a pronounced gift for aphorisms, declaring in the 1920s that “Fascism has wine in its blood, while German republicanism has beer.”
After legal studies at the University of Berlin, he composed a pioneering work entitled “Das Recht über sich selbst: eine strafrechtsphilosophische Studie” (1908), which argued that victimless crimes such as suicide and homosexuality should not be criminalized. He then became an associate of Magnus Hirschfeld and his Scientific-humanitarian Committee.
When the Nazis came to power Hiller was arrested and confined in several concentration camps. Freed in 1934, he fled to Prague and then, in 1938, to London. In 1955 he returned to Germany. He settled in Hamburg, where he had difficulty reacclimatizing himself. Hiller delighted in flaunting such pseudonyms as Gorgias, Gorilla, Keith, Klirr, Llurr, Lynx, Prospero, Rehruk, Syn, Till, and Torral.
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