The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Lil Picard in Berlin, 1919 - 1937

In 1919 Lil Benedick joined the former German soldier Fritz Picard in Berlin, in spite of parental disapproval. They were married in 1921. The Picards were involved in the effervescent milieu of writers, artists, composers, filmmakers, actors, and social agitators who had flocked to the German capital after the Great War. In Berlin, Picard described herself as “educated” in the cafés. Performing in cabaret reviews (Der Godel and Der Komiker) she experienced Brecht’s “epic theatre” and the use of critical satire. On a more personal level she learned about class conditions and sexuality. Wrote Picard, “Mr. Fritz Perls, who was the founder of Esalen Institute in California, was one of the eager young psychiatrists, whom I encountered, who preached absolute physical freedom to me, in the corner of the Café des Westerns, and told me: My child you have too many bourgeois inhibitions, you have to lose yourself in life and love. So I did…because I admired everybody of this world of poets, writers, expressionistic painters, like for instance (Max) Pechstein, Hans Meidner, (Paul) Gangolf--and even so they looked unwashed, dirty and had not a penny, I modeled for them, and was fascinated by their lifestyles. From this time on I became an absolute addict to magazines and newspapers, and I read all the avant garde publications in Berlin…and I went to every avant garde gallery in Berlin,where I learned about Picasso, Juan Gris, Modigliani, Kurt Schwitters, and Paul Klee.” Picard also traveled to Paris where she got her “education in the Café du Dome, talking to Kiki of Montparnasse.” In 1928 she and Fritz divorced and Picard lived in Vienna for several years coping with illness and depression. She returned to Berlin in 1933. In the 1930s she was a cultural reporter for Berliner Tageblatt, but her press pass was revoked due to her Jewish heritage. She married Hans Judell (O’Dell) in 1935, and in 1937 they immigrated to Manhattan.