Theda Behme – an eye for landscape

With camera and pen, Theda Behme fought against the defacement of the natural landscape. The increasing outdoor advertising was a controversial issue, especially in the 1920s. Many events, including the German Nature Conservation Days, addressed how this “invasion” might be rapidly and sustainably curbed.

Theda Behme (1877-1961) worked as a journalist, traveling often at home and abroad. In 1917 she moved to Berlin and in the following years published numerous articles on local history, art history and the preservation of natural monuments. She maintained close contacts with representatives of the national nature conservation agencies in Prussia, attending their annual conferences.

In 1931 her book “Reklame und Heimatbild” (Advertising and the Image of Home) was published as a ‘guidebook from the National Authority for Preservation of Natural Monuments in Prussia.’ It was generally very well received, and leading national nature conservation representatives recommended it to the authorities as mandatory reading.

In her book Theda Behme detailed the existing conflicts and legal regulations regarding outdoor advertising and looked at the situation in other countries, accompanying her writing with numerous photos, mostly her own.1

Theda Behme succeeded in writing a book not solely from the point of view of nature conservation. She accepted the economic necessity of advertising but called for its ‘artistically sound design and presentation in urban development and landscaping,’ while placing her emphasis on cooperation.  

“Only when artists and conservationists consciously and increasingly turn their attention to outdoor advertising and when they reach an understanding and cooperation with the advertisers – being aware of the economic necessities of our times and the technical options – will meaningful creative design become possible.”

Text: Marlies Dittberner, Roswitha Kirsch-Stracke & Dagmar Krüger (1997)
Translation and Editing: Sabine Dentler (Bonn), Anna Gyorgy (WLOE e.V.,

See for a review in English and her original photos.