Georg Kaiser was born on November 25, 1878, in Magdeburg, Germany. He attended elementary school in Magdeburg from 1885 to 1888 and then entered a Lutheran monastery school, which he left in 1895. During his years in the monastery school, he frequently attended concerts, operas, and plays. In 1895, he worked as an apprentice in a Magdeburg bookstore but gave up after a few weeks because his lofty ideas about literature and books were shattered by his experience of the commercial aspects of the book trade. In 1896, Kaiser worked for a commercial firm and began to study foreign languages. Three years later, he traveled to Buenos Aires, where he found employment as a clerk in the branch office of the General Electric Company (AEG) of Berlin. During that time, he contracted malaria. He returned to his parents in 1901. After having suffered a nervous breakdown, he was treated for half a year in a Berlin sanatorium.
During the years from 1903 to 1907, Kaiser wrote several plays. In 1908, he married Margarethe Habenicht, the daughter of a wholesale merchant. Kaiser was not drafted during World War I because of a nervous disorder. He volunteered, however, to work for the Red Cross in Weimar. The years from 1916 to 1918 brought Kaiser fame as a playwright; many of his plays were performed in German cities such as Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, and Berlin.
In November, 1918, Kaiser moved to Munich, where he befriended the expressionist writer Ernst Toller, who was one of the leaders of the short-lived Soviet Republic in Bavaria. Because of financial problems, Kaiser pawned and sold some furniture and art objects belonging to the owner of a house he had rented in Tutzing, Bavaria. This led, in October, 1920, to Kaiser’s arrest in Berlin. Kaiser was charged with embezzlement. In February, 1921, he was sentenced to one year in prison but was released in April of the same year and placed on probation for six months. In the following years, Kaiser’s plays were staged in major cities all over the...
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