As a Brost Foundation scholarship holder, Per Leo is busy in Revier and in Mülheim. He meets university professors, football fans, and other people.
Per Leo actually lives in Berlin, but has now been staying for six months in another city, the Ruhr region. The Proust Foundation selected him as a scholarship recipient – to be its “New Urban Writer of the Ruhr”. The history doctor lives in Mülheim and explores the region in all its aspects from here. He conducts research in universities as well as on football fields.
One of the important goals of the 50-year-old is to shed more light on the so-called “Essen School”. It is a historical research method developed at the University of Essen. Lutz Nethammer and his successors put the examination of contemporary witnesses at the center of their work. “They looked at history from the perspective of different circles – including the environment of workers in the Ruhr region,” explains Per Liu. He would like to write an article about it, A Story about Historians.
The author establishes contacts with an expert on working class and football culture
In addition to meetings with scientists, it is also planned to conduct simple field studies in the area. Daily notes that may provide links to historical research. Per Leo is still busy collecting impressions. So he made an interesting connection during a visit to Schalke. There he met Olivier Kruczynski, “the true expert on the history of Gelsenkirchen”.
“This guy knows the working class and football culture brilliantly. He offers historical tours of Gelsenkirchen and throws new perspectives into the Ruhr region. It points to the green spaces among the coal mine towers or to the fact that mining was a very complex activity”, says the city clerk.
Per Leo already knew from previous visits how far away the Ruhr is from old clichés. But now he’s testing it more intensely. When he recently started running from his home in Mülheim (the former home of Bobo Hombach became available to capital writers) and suddenly stood in front of the Wedau stadium in Duisburg, he was amazed. “Places here are very close together and everything is surprisingly green,” he says.
Per Leo is a fan of Mülheim’s “comprehensive work of art”
Football and history are his passions. The historian and writer is particularly interested in National Socialism and the time before and after it. In his first book “Flut und Boden” he deals with the Nazi past of his grandfather, although he was already dead by that time. “It’s a novel, but it’s based on facts, not fiction,” he explains.
Per Leo would also like to visit the Essen Synagogue soon. In 2017, together with a lawyer and philosopher, he launched the Speak to the Right project, which tackled how to deal with right-wing extremists today. His current novel, currently being written by the family man, has an entirely different – non-political – theme. It’s about a Stradivari trader and a scam.
Fiction and artistry somehow fit into his second essential calling besides writing. Per Leo sells the boxes he made in Morocco according to his own designs. They are noble treasure chests where you can also keep secret items.
The author, who grew up in Bremen, is very impressed with the “Gesamtkunstwerk” from Mülheim. He’s a Helge Schneider fan. “I admire him as an artist. He manages to convey a high level of craftsmanship in a fun and relaxing way. It is not easy. It will be interesting to see how Per Leo will combine his various impressions of the Ruhr region in an article.
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