List was on board the train spiriting the government under Venustiano Carranza away from the "Agua Prieta" rebellion in 1920 . When the rails were cut by the rebels, he was left behind having not the money nor the clout to commandeer a mount. Germán liked to express, "what would my story be had I been given a horse?" Carranza and many of those who ride off with him are gunned down days later in the small hamlet of Tlaxcalantongo.
Serdán house today. The bullet holes remain (insert). Photos: Ben Tarver.
In 1922, Germán joined the young lawyer poet Manuel Maples Arce in launching Mexico's first native artistic movement: "estridentismo", or Stridentism. The estridentistas brought the recent revolution home to Mexican art blowing out the votive candles to the XIX Century's academic literary forms with a Futurist blast. Rivera, Siquieros, Tamayo and Charlot, names that would shortly shine under the banner of Mexican Muralism, joined the estridentistas -signing their manifestos, participating in their expositions and lending works to be published in the movement's magazine "Horizonte", of which Germán List was its editor.
The hub of estridentismo in Mexico City was the Café de nadie (Nobody's Cafe, the real name was "Cafe Europa") located at avenida Jalisco (today Av. Alvaro Obregón) #100. So called because (according to List in El movimiento estridentista) the place was always unattended. The patrons would just leave on the counter whatever they thought what they had consumed was worth. It was the venue for early expositions by Rivera and Charlot as well as for poetry and literary recitals by GLA, Maples Arce, and where Arqueles Vela read the manuscripts of his novellas Señorita etcétera and El café de nadie.
(Leopoldo Méndez illust for
Zapata, Exaltación by GLA)
In the 1930's List Arzubide was a stalwart against tyranny at home and from abroad. He was a founding member of the League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists (known by its Spanish acronym LEAR) that opposed the fascist ideology making headway in the Americas at the time. List backed the cause of Veracruz female coffee sorters in defying the wealthy coffee magnates, championing their right to unionize.
The resolution of the strike came by way of the timely out break of the
de la Huerta rebellion. The general in the pay of the coffee magnates
joined the conspiracy and was executed before he could see his order to shoot
Germán carried out. This incident further contributed to Germán´s
legacy as a human rights activist, and provided Fate yet another opportunity
to come to his aid.
Germán List is a founder of the National Workers University. He became the long-time editor of the magazine "Tiempo". He brought from Russia puppetry techniques and with Germán Cueto, founded the Mexican "teatro guiñol". Germán continued until the end of his fascinating life to write and publish essays on literary subjects and social causes. Germán passed away on Saturday October 17, 1998, at the age of 100 years and 139 days.
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