Livesegments from Karlgeorg Hoefer
Karlgeorg Hoefer’s Memories, Handwritten in May/June 1999

Some of my first memories are of primary school, which I attended in German-Wartenberg (Lower Silesia). My teacher, Cantor John, taught us how to write with just a stylus on a slate board. The letterforms that we learned to write included the English hand. By the light of an oil lamp at home, I practiced my reading, writing, and arithmetic from 1920 until 1924. My father, Otto Hoefer, was the town’s Lutheran pastor. In 1924, he used to bring me by bicycle to upper school (Gymnasium), in the town of Neusalz upon the Oder. In the mornings, it was my job to fill up the bicycle’s carbide lamp.
I had three siblings: Marianne, Martin, and Gottfried. I have no memory of my mother, Helene Dinglinger. She suffered from schizophrenia , and went to a healing spa in Silesia for a time, before she died. Because of this, my father later sent my two brothers and I to boarding school in Hamburg
Apprenticeship and Higher Education

After finishing high school (Realgymnasium), I began a four-year apprenticeship in the agency Rauhen Haus in 1930. My school years had given me the gifts of curiosity and vision; I remain very grateful for my boarding school experiences in the great hanseatic harbor city.

While I was an apprentice, I developed an affection for Prof. Rudolf Koch's typefaces, which carried me into my college education in Offenbach.

But before that, I fulfilled my two-year social service requirement by working at RAD Dejendorf, near Hamburg. Then I worked as an apprentice typesetter for a year in a printing shop. In 1935, I was drafted into the military, where I served in the Second Infantry Regiment, 69 Schwerin, until 1936. From 1936 until 1937, I served in the mounted Eighth Artillery Regiment, 22 Verden a.d. Aller. After this tour of duty, I was free to re-enter civilian life.

Picture from a horsestables with Hoefer's Calligraphy
From 1937 until 1939, I studied typography and calligraphy at the School of Applied Arts in Offenbach. The most important thing that happened to me during this time was meeting Maria Rein, a fellow student, who I married on 1941. Maria was born on March 17, 1913, and died on October 20, 1998.

Georg Lohrer, who I had worked for as an apprentice in Hamburg, hired me in 1939 to work in his Potsdam printing office as a graphic designer and business assistant.

The War Years
I was drafted again in August 1939, before the war began. I served in the 10th Infantry Regiment, Potsdam, from September through November 1939. From then on until May 1942, I was an NCO in the 310th Infantry Regiment’s sapper unit, where I was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. On May 9, 1940, we were deployed out of Bremerhafen with the tank unit “Karlsruhe” for a naval action along the Norwegian coast. The trip took only four and a half hours! That night, I was ordered to take note of the planned troop deployments within the city of Kristiansand. Because of this, our units (like my sapper troop) were informed of our mission ahead of time. While we were unloading from our cruiser, an English submarine destroyed our speed boats, so we had to move overland. After my unit successfully disarmed the Norwegian regiments, and took over a nickel factory, two other sappers and I received the Iron Cross, grades one and two.

My brothers Martin and Gottfried both died in battle, so I was recalled from active service in 1942. I spent June 1942 through March 1943 working on statistical displays for the army, navy, and Luftwaffe at the Wehrmacht headquarters. From April 1943 through February 1944, I served with a military cemetery detail in Reval. There, I was an office Staff Sergeant and grave mover. From March until September 1944, I was stationed along the front as Staff Sergeant and group leader. I was then captured by the Russians, and was held as a prisoner of war for a year. I was listed as “missing in action.” After my release, I was hired as a graphic designer by the advertising consultant K.H. Adam in Berlin.

Offenbach College of the Applied Arts (Werkkunstschule Offenbach)

In 1946, I was hired as a calligraphy teacher in Offenbach. My family began to blossom as well: Margret was born in Uslar in 1947, and Otmar was born in Offenbach in 1953. We moved into a ground-level apartment in Offenbach, on Scheffelstrasse. Later, we moved to Spiessstrasse. After a rent increase, we decided to buy a house along Weilburger Weg. Jochen, Margret, and Otmar all moved out after they finished school. I continued to teach in Offenbach until 1979, when I was given an emeritus professorship.

Karlgeorg with two students in the Werkkunstschule. In the back his layout for a wallcarpet.
After receiving this pension, I spent nine years directing summer courses in California and elsewhere in the US (Los Angeles, San Francisco. Portland OR, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Portland ME, and Washington DC.). I also had an exhibition in New York. I was invited to lead more workshops in Ostmalle, Belgium, at the College of Book Arts in Leipzig, the Basel School of Design, and at the Great Summer Festival in Alden/Biesen, which was also in Belgium. In 1995, I lectured before the „Society for Calligraphiy“ in Los Angeles and for the „Friends of Calligraphy" in San Francisco.

Alan Blackman (in red) as Masters of the show in San Francisco
Founding of the Open Calligraphy Workshop at the Klingspor Museum
In 1982, I presented an the idea for an open calligraphy workshop to both the Mayor and the Minister of Culture in Offenbach. After Maria and I gave a lecture at the Klingspor Museum, in light of the four-week summer course that I held in California, 25 people signed a spontaneous request for a calligraphy course. In 1987, the Schreibwerkstatt Klingspor Offenbach a non-profit foundation for an international calligraphic workshop at the Klingspor Museum in Offenbach was realized. From 1988 onward, this workshop sponsored an annual four-day sommer course on the Schwangberg mountain in Rödelsee/Kitzingen. Multiple exhibitions have been organized by the workshop, including a 1987 exhibition at the Klingspor-Museum, a 1988 exhibition at the German Institute for Educational Research in Frankfurt/Main, and a 1989 exhibition in the Viernheim city hall and the Sprendlingen town hall. In 1991, an exhibition was arranged in Collegno, Turin (Italy). In 1997, another exhbition took place in the Sprendlingen town hall. In 1998 and 1999, the workshop exhibited as part of Linotype's typomedia conferences in Frankfurt/Main’s Palmengarten. In 1996, I was named the workshop’s honorary chairman.

Since 1993, the workshop has had its own archive in Offenbach at Kaiser Street 11. Exhbitions, lectures, and meetings occur there regularly.

The new "Karlgeorg and Maria Hoefer Archiv" in Offenbach Rumpenheim was founded at 8. February 2009. It has more space and shows almost all the works from both artists. There will be enough space for exhibitions, lectures, workshops and meetings. For deatils please contact the Schreibwerkstatt-Klingpor Offenbach.
The Workshop’s International Activities
Many group trips to San Francisco and New York have been organized, during which participants have also exhibited their work. Additionally, the workshop has organized calligraphy courses in Belgium and the Netherlands, which I have been allowed to lead parts of.

Gottfried Pott, a colleague of mine, edited an edition of calligraphic books which included a title from me, “Schriftkunst, Letter Art Karlgeorg Hoefer.” The book contains color pictures, with commentary in German and in English. It was received well internationally.

Gottfried Pott and Herbert Maring also founded a studio in Italy’s Tuscan heights (Cesare del Monte). The studio includes classrooms and guest accommodations. Over the years, many members of our workshop have travelled there to work directly in the vicinity of the original roman inscriptions. Participants, including Maria and I, have had a great time there, enjoying the Tuscan landscape, and its famous cities. During each Tuscan trip, we have always travelled with the same small group. Gottfried also works as a professor at the College in Hildesheim, and over the past few years has he taken over the organization of the American Calligraphy Congresses, as well as other workshops.

Family history