Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures

Dr. Max Kade

Max Kade (1882-1967) was one of those immigrants for whom the American dream became reality. Having made a fortune in the pharmaceutical industry, he endowed the Max Kade foundation with the goal of promoting the mutual understanding of the people and cultures of Germany and the United States. The eleventh of twelve children, Max Kade left his hometown Schwäbisch Hall at the age of 20 to work with a transatlantic merchant company in Antwerp, Belgium. After two years, in 1904, he crossed the Atlantic to Montreal where he is said to have experimented with the production of a cough medicine. What we know for sure is that in 1907, by now living in New York, he and a friend purchased from a Berlin company the American rights for the manufacture and distribution of a cough medicine, “Pertussin,” a name well known until this day by parents and children all over the country.

 

In 1944, Max Kade and his wife Annette established the Max Kade Foundation. Its primary goal during the early post-war years was to help people in need and to save works of art and other objects of the German cultural heritage. Later, the wider objective became “to sow the seeds of friendship where there had been enmity.” Both in Germany and the United States, he built or helped build student dormitories, libraries, and other meeting places for the young academic community. He provided scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships. And he supported efforts to research and interpret the history and heritage of German immigration to this country. Max Kade died in 1967, a widely honored man. His ideas continue to be furthered by those in charge of the foundation today.


The University of Kansas and Dr. Max Kade

Professor Burzle and Max Kade

To appreciate how much Professor Burzle did for the University of Kansas we must be aware of his success in persuading Max Kade to support German studies and international programs. Fortunately, in a 1971 article we have Professor Burzle's own words describing this productive relationship.
(Reprinted from German-American Studies, 1971, vol. 3, p. 3)

The University of Kansas's relationship with the Max Kade foundation, and our personal friendship with the late Max Kade, extends over the past two decades. It began in the fall of 1949 when my wife and I first visited Dr. Kade in his little office near Battery Place in New York asking for, and receiving, aid for our first exchange scholarships to Germany.

I still remember our conversation with the spry old gentleman; I recall his agile mind, his quick wit, his energetic gestures, and his wide knowledge in the sciences, the humanities, and the arts. Our brief courtesy visit turned into an extended stimulating conversation, particularly when he learned of our interest in art and invited us to view the rare Albrecht Dürer prints which he had just acquired. It was his engaging dry humor, his love for poetry that at once endeared him to us: "I really should not give you any money for Kansas" he replied to my request for aid, "I could never sell my Pertussin there." My wife's retort that "the Kansas climate is so healthy that we don't need much medication for coughs," melted the ice, and brought the first "Max Kade Scholarship" funds to the University of Kansas.

The formula for Pertussin, the cough remedy, which the young Swabian had taken to the New World from little Schwäbisch-Hall on the Kocher at the turn of the century, had brought him fame and fortune, and had enabled him to assemble one of the finest private collections of graphic art in the world.

Our friendship was maintained through the years when he gave our Museum of Art a copy of the splendid facsimile edition of the Weisskunig which the Max Kade foundation had published, when he helped us establish the Max Kade Distinguished Professorship in German, when he aided us with the University of Kansas Junior Year in Germany, donated funds for the annual Max Kade Lectures, and one year ago established the Max Kade German-American Document and Research Center, the only center dedicated to research in German-American studies. His great interest in international education inspired him to build Max Kade Residence halls and libraries in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and on several U.S. campuses. The Max Kadeheim in Munich still reserves space for students from the University of Kansas studying at the University of Munich.

It remained one of the highlights of our trips to the east coast that we could visit with the old gentleman in his New York office, listen to him recite poetry, and chat with him about German literature and the arts.

It was there that we met and became friends of Dr. Erich Markel, then executive vice- president of the Max Kade Foundation, and now its president. We found in Dr. Markel the same wide interest in the humanities and the arts, the same philanthropic spirit that had made Dr. Kade one of the great benefactors of German-American education.

In 1970 the Max Kade foundation gave our Museum of Art perhaps the most generous gift of its long association with the University of Kansas. A collection of ninety-four outstanding master prints, ranging from Albrecht Dürer's Ritter, Tod und Teufel to the twentieth-century from Dr. Kade's personal collection, was added to our museum holdings.

-J. A. Burzle


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