Leo Berg (April 29, 1862 - July 12, 1908) was a German philosopher, publicist, translator, theatre and literary critic; he wrote under pseudonyms: Dr. Pascal and Ludwig Gorel. After two more trials Oscar Wilde was convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labour, the maximum penalty, and was jailed from 1895 to 1897. In Paris, the French-American poet Stuart Merrill drew up a petition asking for the sentence to be reduced. Almost everyone refused to sign, including Émile Zola. A British petition, prepared by More Adey, was even less successful. Magnus Hirschfeld had wider aims and a more diverse audience and was consequently more effective. He and his journalist friend Leo Berg sent letters of protest to the newspapers and Hirschfeld set to work on the first of his many books: Sappho und Sokrates, or ‘How can one explain the love of men and women for people of the same sex?’ It was published pseudonymously in 1896 by a young Leipzig publisher called Max Spohr. Spohr had already published two pro-homosexual works and was to prove remarkably resistant to prosecution.
Leo Berg was born on April 29, 1862, in Cempelburg (now Sempulno-Krainsk, Poland). His first literary experiments, which drew the attention of the literary circles of Berlin, were small critical articles by Count shake, Ibsena and Wildenbruch. At the age of twenty, Berg was already in charge of the literary department of Akademische zeitschrift and Deutsche Studentenzeitung, founded by Konrad Kuster to combat classicism in German literature. Thanks to a deep understanding of the problems of modernity, Berg rose to prominence in a small group of German writers of the 1880s who preached extreme realism. Naturalism, as an artistic principle, soon collapsed, but Berg remained true to the ideals of his youth, having managed to combine the basic principles of naturalism with the then nascent individualism, the theoretical development of which is devoted to most of his works. In naturalism, Berg considered it valuable to scrutinize reality, while vigorously rebelling against his tendency to reduce the role of the writer to the role of passiveprotocolist. By nature, more than an artist, Berg was interested in individual literary phenomena only as long as they could be introduced into a cycle of universal problems. With the ability to generalize single phenomena, he brought to the fore two main problems of modern life - sexual question and individualism - and, thanks to the philosophical structure of his mind, he managed to maintain a completely independentpositionamong the tense atmosphere of the struggle of different opinions. In his works on the sexual issue, Berg rises both against Lex Heinze, completely incompatible with the true freedom of art, and against the "feminine tendency" that, seeing in a man's sexuality the only basic beginning of his nature, thereby leading to the suppression of his intellect and character. In the question of individualism, Berg, recognizing Nietzsche's ingenious talent, establishes the continuity of his teachings with Germany's intellectual past. In Bismarck's ideas with his cult of power and contempt for weakness, Berg sees one of the prominent factors of German science's preparation for the perception of Nietzsche. Berg sought to assert the complete independence of art from any outside influences, denying the need to adapt it to the aesthetic level of the masses. Leo Berg has written several major critical works, as well as a number of articles in periodicals, especially cultivating the literary form of the sketch that approaches his aphoristic thinking and his mintedstyle. Berg was the editor of Kultur probleme der Gegenwart, a theatre critic of Das litterarische Echo, and was unanimously recognized by the German critic as one of the most outstanding writers of our time, who set some of the aesthetic criteria on his own. In 1893, together with Konstantin Brunner and Otto Ernst Schmidt, he founded theliterary-critical magazine Der zuschauer. Berg has re-released and published in German several works by Emile Zol. Leo Berg died on July 12, 1908.
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