Grave Typography

This is a small detail from a war memorial in Weilersbach (49.74320° N 11.12951° E) erected closely following the second World War. The whole plaque lists more than one hundred names. As opposed to the revanchist, glorifying tone of other memorials, which were erected after the first World War, this shows an expressionist harshness.

detail from a german war memorial

The font looks extremely severe. Every shape is reduced to rectangular (except one little diagonal to distinguish D from O). All font features that could remind of a living hand using a pen are removed. Everything that would show the stonemason's art is avoided. The ascenders are short and unadorned as if ducking behind a wall, the primitive g's descender gives it the look of an open jaw. The ch ligature (twice in Urschlechter, once in Hübschmann) is remarkable in its simplicity. The whole design seems to state

Death is real. Life is bleak. Those men are lost.

Tue, 12 Nov 2019
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