Selmanagić finally returned to Germany in 1939. During the war, he joined the resistance movement in Germany. It now became difficult for him, as a Serbo-Croat and Muslim, to find a professional footing in Berlin. Egon Eiermann dismissed him from his architectural office on the grounds that ‘new contracts exclude the employment of foreigners’ (employment testimonial from Egon Eiermann, addressed to Selman Selmanagić, 6 April 1939; Bauhaus Archive, Berlin). Up to 1941, Selmanagić worked in the building department at the UFA film studios, designing the construction and conversion of cinema buildings. Up to the end of the war, he did not design any more buildings and concentrated on film-set architecture, as a way of defending himself against the Nazis’ architectural style.
At the end of the war, a new city council was founded in Berlin, with the architect Hans Scharoun as city councillor responsible for architecture and housing. Scharoun appointed Selmanagić as head of the section for cultural and recreational sites – the two architects already knew each other from the Berlin resistance group, where they had made their first contacts with each other. In his new position, Selmanagić was responsible for the rebuilding of the Humboldt University and the design of the Walter Ulbricht Stadium (not preserved).
At the same time, Selmanagić also worked as an architect for exhibitions and trade fairs. His work was innovative, and he designed the first seats manufactured from compressed wood veneer. The material’s special qualities meant that armrests became flexible, opening up new possibilities in relation to comfort and design in seating.
In 1950, Mart Stam, Director of the Weissensee Art Academy and former master at the Bauhaus, appointed Selman Selmanagić as Professor of Architecture at the Berlin Art School. Stam was a single-minded follower of the Bauhaus tradition of producing industry-oriented design works. The extent to which his period at the Bauhaus had also been formative for Selmanagić can be seen from the study plan he drafted for the Weissensee Art Academy. Until his retirement in 1970, Selmanagic continued to work in accordance with the fundamental principles of the first Bauhaus manifesto: the unity of art and technology and the moulding of individual artists in a collective. In 1956, Selmanagić designed the annexe for the Art Academy at the former Trumpf Chocolate factory. The heart of the building, its auditorium, was reopened after renovation in February 2012.
Employment testimonial from Egon Eiermann, addressed to Selman Selmanagić, 6 April 1939; Bauhaus Archive, Berlin
Hain, Simone, "Gegen die Diktatur des Auges", in: form + zweck, 2005, Heft 21, S. 79-99 (http://bauhaus-online.de/files/selman_hain.pdf)
Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee, Study Plan of the Faculty of Architecture Abteilung, Copy at the Bauhaus-Archive, Berlin
Kunsthochschule Berlin, Beiträge 10, Selman Selmanagić, Festgabe zum 80. Geburtstag am 25. April 1985
Selman Selmanagić, "Selman Selmanagić über das Bauhaus", Aufzeichnung eines Gesprächs, 1979, in: form + werk, 1979, Heft 3, S. 67-68
Letter from Walter Gropius to Selman Selmanagić, Cambridge, Mass., 8. August 1966, Bauhaus-Archive, Berlin
Dr. Anja Guttenberger
Anja Guttenberger (Schädlich) studied art hisotry, English und Spanish Philology at Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, University of Leipizig und Free University of Berlin. At the FU Berlin she did a PhD from 2007 until 2011 focussing on "Photographic self-portraits at the Bauhaus, 1919 bis 1933". At the moment Anja Guttenberger works as the editor of bauhaus-online.de.
For another expert text on Selman Selmanagic by Prof. Simone Hain click here