The Preising Legacy

Preising Legacy

Theodor Preising



Theodor Preising was photographer and officer of the German army in World War I prior to his arrival in South America in 1920.

Unquestionably, his esthetic formation and technical knowledge come from the rigorous German school of photography. He was originally from Hildesheim, a small town in northern Germany, moved to Berlin and lived in some other cities until he joined the German army in World War I. He was engaged as a photographer for the German army.

After the war, Germany was absolutely destroyed and in despair. The nation was in ruins. Consequently, the paper money was being used to keep the wood stove burning because of its worthlessness. Poverty, hunger and unemployment became part of their lives. Pornography, prostitution and all kinds of degeneracy going sky high and rising each day. Parents were using their daughters for prostitution to make a little bit of money to pay for food. Radical Marxism along with extremist Bolsheviks, were corrupting and destroying the German identity, mentally, physically and spiritually. Everything that once was holy and beautiful have turned into darkness and hopelessness.

Preising knew that he needed to find a way to continue his works and provide a decent life for his family. Thus, he decided to take a marvelous journey to the New World, more precisely, South America, where he would explore his photograph skills in a place entirely alien from the Vaterland. Firstly, he explored Argentina from north to south. However, Theodor did not secure enough in Argentinean lands, making him travel to the south and southeast of Brazil. In 1923, Theodor moves definitively to São Paulo city, Brazil, where he is hired by Revista São Paulo.

In 1924, Theodor mails a letter to his wife, telling her to bring the whole family to Brazil. Soon after, using the Hamburg-Amerika Linie, they boarded a large ship from Port of Hamburg, Germany, to Port of Santos, Brazil. During long eight weeks sailing across the ocean, more than seven thousand Nautical miles, or thirteen thousand kilometers, they have finally arrived in Brazilian territory.

It is notorious that each group of people want to be with the ones who share the same traditions, culture, that is to say, individuals which feel an everlasting flame for living their beautiful and unique identify. Thus, the same happened to the Preising family. Theodor agreed that the right choice would be to continue practicing their mother tongue, punctuality, hard work, striving for perfectionism and precision, Christianity, hearty cuisine and the natural German lifestyle. Naturally, all of them had to learn Portuguese, the official language of the country. However, adapting to a “new world” did not mean cutting off their precious roots.

When France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany in 1939, seven days before the breakout of the Second World War, immigrants located in Brazil were banned from working on public areas, for now being considered spies or enemies of the State. Germans, Italians and Japanese were the mainly ones included in that list. Therefore, Theodor decided to travel to the countryside of Brazil, including the south of the country, taking photos of cotton, coffee and sugar cane plantations.

During 1939-1945, and even some years after the end of the Second World War, the German immigrants were not allowed to speak any German in Brazil. This rule marked the lives of the Preising family when an older member of the folk was arrested and kept in jail for almost a year simply because this individual forgot the new rules and spontaneously greeted a German friend inside the bus.

As the years went by, Theodor tirelessly taught his son, Karl, everything he knew about photography, thus, the name Preising, the legacy, would be carried on and thousands more people would be touched by the works of gifted men.

Preising’s images show preciseness, technical perfection and the impersonal vision often hailed in German photography. Nevertheless, he is famous known by his aerial photos of the 245-metre Luftschiff Zeppelin Hindenburg, German dirigible, in the city of São Paulo, in 1936.

Theodor’s photography equipment and history: large and medium format cameras with eighteen-by-twenty-four-centimeter and four-by-five-inch-negatives. Preising was among the professionals who introduced small-format German cameras, Leica and Contax, into Brazilian photojournalism.

Karl Preising

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Karl Preising, son of Theodor Preising, born in Berlin, where at the moment was an instable and chaotic city, which was getting ready for a regretful brother against brother War designed and fully controlled by international elements.

For the reason of the First World War, Theodor left his wife and little ones in a safe apartment of their older relatives and joined the German army to be a photographer at the front. Thus, Karl did not have the opportunity to grow up with his father around until he was twelve years old.

In São Paulo, Karl often joined his father during his travels all around the state, taking breathtaking photos of the southeast coast of Brazil for the Revista São Paulo and his Postcards business. As a result, the young Preising did not take long to learn how to take photos and, at the same time, photo printing.

Naturally, at a young age, he knew that his passion was the art of photography. Karl, to such a degree, was truly fortuitous to have a great teacher by his side daily to teach and answer all his doubts about cameras, precise angles, printing and many others.

Karl’s photographer career started with particular projects for farmers located in the countryside of São Paulo. He would take innumerous photos of the activities being executed at cotton, coffee and sugar cane plantations. Therefore, the young Preising was competent to create an admirable portfolio which opened the right doors for safe jobs for Newspapers Business.

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