Georg Trakl

Georg Trakl was born on the 3rd of February 1887 at Salzburg as the son of a hardware dealer. After attending the Gymnasium he started to work at an apothecary. Very early he had began to write poems and stage-plays and his first play "Totentag" had some succés d'estime when it was performed at the Salzburger Stadttheater in 1906 but his next one act play "Fata Morgana" was a flop. The very sensitive young man was completely down and the daily use of drugs like heroin and cocaine lead to some "self-studies" which made him a junky within a short time. From 1908 to 1910 be studied pharmacology at the university in Vienna. As Magister der Pharmazie he did his one year volunteer service for officer candidates with the medicament-branche (pharmaceutical branch) and was promoted to Medikamenten-Akzessist in der Reserve (rank for military officials equal to a Leutnant in the body of reserves) in the k.k. Landwehr infantry regiment number 2 "Linz" on the 1st of December 1911.

The depressive young Magister Georg Trakl did not know what to do with his life and so he decided to made the k.u.k. army his profession and home. On the 1st of April 1912 he was promoted to Militär-Medikamenten-Akzessist in the apothecary of the k.u.k. garrison hospital number 10 at Innsbruck, but being hooked on cocaine caused him fail again. On the 20th of November 1912 he was transferred back to the body of reserves and settled now in Vienna. His friendship with Ludwig von Ficker, the publisher of the magazine "Brenner" gave him the possibility to publish his lyrics in this magazine and to publish 2 small booklets with poems, "Gedichte" (1913) and "Sebastian im Traum" (1914), the only publications during his lifetime. The friendship with von Ficker and others like Karl Kraus, Oskar Kokoschka and Adolf Loos gave him support during the worst times of his growing depression under the influence of cocaine.

When the war started in 1914 Georg Trakl immediately volunteered for the army in the field, perhaps he hoped to get a hold of himself there, but the cruelty of the war was too much for the sensitive young man. Whilst performing his duty in a hospital in Galicia he had to help the wounded soldiers after the battle of Grodek. This he could no longer stand and tried to kill himself during a nervous breakdown. He was brought to the garrison hospital at Craców on the 27th of October 1914 and there he wrote some letters, one to his close friend Ludwig von Ficker in which he said that his sister Grete should receive all his personal goods, and committed suicide with an overdose of cocaine on the 3rd of November 1914. In the following years Ludwig von Ficker published the main part of Trakl's lyrics and prose and took the necessary steps to transport his dead body from Craców to Mühlau near Innsbruck in 1925.

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