The weekend (March 27th) brings the‚ 124th anniversary of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's birth. And we mark it with one of the more‚ obscure chapters in the great architect's life:‚ the time when a suburban business woman with an overactive imagination, an Edward G. Robinson movie, and the hand of fate put Mies under FBI watch for being a suspected Nazi.
Mies was no Nazi, of course. Indeed, it was the Nazis who shut down the Bauhaus and hounded him out of Germany--and to Chicago--in 1938. But‚ that didn't stop the FBI from spending‚ 7 months tracking Mies and‚ developing an FBI file that I've had in my collection since the late 1990s. The file isn't juicy, but it is slightly comical.‚ It begins with a September 1939 letter from a‚ Glencoe businesswoman to a federal judge in Chicago: