The flashback accurately describes the importance of modern art in Cologne in these years: “A road breakthrough goes west from Neumarkt to the ring. This is where the Ferdinand Möller gallery is located. This is perhaps the most beautiful modern art shop there is on the continent. It was built by the architect Wilhelm Riphahn, honorary doctor, a kind of Cologne Schinkel, not in terms of style, but in terms of rank and influence. Dr. Haubrich, meanwhile, became a meeting point for people interested in art, who often discussed modernity late into the night. In 1922 Haubrich was a widower with two young children. Probably also looking for a mother for the two, he married Dora Anna Amalie Antonie Timmermanns in 1923. The marriage was divorced, however, and in 1929 he married the gynecologist Alice Gottschalk – a Jewish woman with whom he, as a cheerful couple, often formed the center of attention at the legendary artists’ balls. But luck caught up with the course of history and in 1938 his wife was forced to close her doctor’s office. In 1944 she committed suicide in order to avoid being questioned by the Gestapo. Under the impression of private persecution, Josef Haubrich remained loyal to the modern art movement, which was so hated by the National Socialists, despite all the adversities. Because he was married to a Jew, the National Socialists demanded that he leave the Kölnischer Kunstverein. A demand that the Kunstverein never really complied with, and so Haubrich’s influence on the development of the art scene in Cologne remained unbroken. His house emerged as an important center of modernity. Here the paintings were still safe from access by the rulers, who meanwhile sent a commission through the German museums to remove ‘degenerate’ artists. When someone told his chancellor to part with Haubrich, things got tighter for Josef Haubrich. He was now working in his apartment and one day the Gestapo visited him, who eyed the pictures on his walls suspiciously. Since there was still a certain acceptance of French artists at the time, Haubrich came up with a trick: he claimed, for example, that Carl Hofer was French. Charles Hofer! And the Gestapo thugs didn’t have a clue of anything anyway and bought it from him!
In the next few years, however, Josef Haubrich devoted himself more to his work as a lawyer. As a collector, his hands were often tied. Even the beloved Paris trips were hardly possible after the outbreak of war. Towards the end of 1944 he found some consolation in his marriage to Paula Anna Berta Wegelin. The war also left its mark on Haubrich; towards the end his son Karl-Klaus had died. Still, he hadn’t let himself get down. However, the post-war years should not necessarily be easy. Of course, you initially had other concerns than dealing with modern art. But slowly a certain hunger for education, for art and literature grew out of the ruins. And it was quite surprising that Haubrich and his collection were obviously known abroad as well. An American occupation officer, responsible for the field of art, examined the pictures in the collection and hired Haubrich as a lawyer before the military tribunal. When the American front troops were replaced by the British occupying powers on June 21, 1945, the situation worsened for Haubrich and he came under increasing pressure after the confiscation of his private house. That may have been the decisive factor in donating his collection to the city of Cologne. In this way, Haubrich also set a drawing of hope in a city that was destroyed like hardly any other German city. So here you were able to catch up with the spirit of optimism of the early years – with the Sonderbund and Werkbund exhibition, Cologne had risen to become the center for modern art next to Berlin. “Anyone who has seen this collection knows that this is a particularly generous work by an important collector. One can say that not only the foundations of a museum have been maintained here, but that a museum of modern art has been created. ” With these words of Prof. Nipperdey (SPD) in mind on the occasion of the donation, one can understand the disappointment of Haubrich’s daughter, who died a few weeks ago in Argentina, who would have liked to see her father’s name more prominently highlighted in what is now Museum Ludwig. After all, in the redesign of the house after the venerable Wallraf-Richartz Museum moved out, the Haubrich Collection was given a prominent presence. The portrait bust of Haubrich created by Gerhard Marcks also forms a central point at which the biography of the collector and patron is conveyed to the museum public.
In the post-war period, Josef Haubrich played a central role as chairman of the cultural committee in the city council, especially in the construction of the award-winning museum building by Rudolf Schwarz, in which his collection was to be presented in a splendid way from 1957.