Emil Kläger & Hermann Drawe, Durch die Wiener Quartiere des Elends und Verbrechens (Journey through the Viennese quarters of crime and despair), 1908

Original soft cover back, spine and front


In 1904 journalist Emil Kläger, accompanied by court clerk (later judge) and hobby photographer Hermann Drawe, set out to record the Viennese underworld and working class districts. They were guided by “Kiebitz”, a known Viennese criminal, and equipped with brass knuckles and even guns. Their nightly rounds took them through the Elendsquartiere (quarter of despair), Schlafstuben (dormitories), and canal systems of Vienna.

The resulting images were presented as a slide lecture held at the Wiener Urania. There was a concerted attempt by some politicians, to put a stop these lectures, owing to the obvious negative light in which large areas of Vienna were presented. The lectures however went ahead and were a huge success, with around 300 performances of the magic lantern slideshow between 1905 and 1908. The lecture was reworked, extended and published as book by Verlag Karl Mitschke Wien in 1908 under the title:

Durch die Wiener Quartiere des Elends und Verbrechens, Ein Wanderbuch aus dem Jenseits
The ‘action’ images are necessarily staged, but this neither detracts from the authenticity of the message or the reportage aesthetic of the book as a whole. Obvious illustrations of this are the Messerrauferei (knife fight), Kellereinbruch (cellar burglary), and “Leichenfleadderer” an der Arbeit (stealing from a corpse) sequences. This concept of mixing genuine locations and situations with staged imagery was taken further still by director Robert Land, in his film Durch die Quartiere des Elends und Verbrechens, based on the book and with screenplay by Kläger himself.

The book is similar to Jacob A. Riis’s How the Other Half lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1890.

Owing to the poor-quality of the original paper cover, this book is now almost only ever found rebound.
Published by Verlag Karl Mitschke Wien in 1908 with a print run of 10.000 copies.

Introduction by Regierungsrat (councillor) Prof. Dr. Friedrich Umlauft

Text by Emil Kläger
Photography by Hermann Drawe

Soft cover

14.2 x 20.2cm

186 pages

Title page with portrait of Emil Kläger by Hermann Drawe

Title page with portrait of Emil Kläger by Hermann Drawe

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