The story of Anton Kutter (by his son Adrian)
The story of Anton Kutter (by his son Adrian)
As an astronomer with some renown (even in the USA) Anton Kutter developed telescopes during most of his lifetime; in Europe he also helped build a lot of popular observatories and planetariums like that in Laupheim (which was eagerly supported by him). Many of his publications about telescope manufacturing reached a large worldwide audience.
His main telescope design (which he himself called “Schiefspiegler” but which is known in parts of Europe and the US as a “Kutter telescope”) was groundbreaking then and is still being made by ATM’s in Europe and the USA.
On the roof of the “Sternenpalast” film theatre sits an observatory with a rotating dome that was transported from München to Biberach on Anton Kutter’s request. In that still functional but aged personal observatory, the main telescope is a Schiefspiegler telescope of 300mm diameter and 7500mm focal length. With a specially designed construction Anton Kutter was able to use photographic plates to make photos of the planets and the Moon, his favourite target.
Anton Kutter was born in Biberach and der Riss in 1903 and graduated as an engineer in 1925, and developed two careers in parallel: that of film director and scriptwriter on the one hand, and astronomer on the other.
Anton Kutter went to primary and secondary school in Biberach; after finishing secondary school in 1922 he went in to study in Stuttgart were he graduated as a master of science in mechanical engineering in 1925. During these studies he also attended courses in astronomy, and after his studies he firstly became assistant in the popular observatory of Stuttgart from 1923 to 1925.He already had developed a passion for astronomy and optics much earlier: at the age of 12 he had already manufactured his own set of binoculars from parts scavenged left and right, and aged 10 he had made his own photo camera and had since turned into an avid photographer.
In 1926 he started working as a camera man, script writer and film director first in Köln (1926), then Paris (1927), then back in Biberach (1928-1931), and finally from 1931 to 1945 in the film studios of München-Geselgasteig (Emelka/Bavaria).
From 1932 to 1934 he was asked to script and direct the first Swiss sound films “The Golden Glacier” (1932) and “White Majesty” (1934), both Swiss-German co-productions. During the filming of “White Majesty” he could not help railing against the new German regime led by the Nazi Party, and he was snitched on by one of his actors, Carl de Vogt, who told the Minister for Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. That earned him a blanket ban from working in the film industry in 1934, which was later converted to a “mere” interdiction to direct and script feature films. From 1936 to 1945 Anton Kutter was thus forced to work only on scientific, technical, cultural and documentary films.
He became famous with the first serious German attempt at making a science fiction film, “Weltraumschiff Einz Startet” (Space Ship One Launches”). Once the film was finished, Joseph Goebbels first ordered it to be destroyed: the film ended with a long epilogue about rocket technology, complete with images of rocket launches from Peenemünde; obviously, once the Germans began the development of their rocket weapons such information was considered top secret. Anton Kutter barely managed to salvage his film after making a new application and shortening the film, removing the scenes with secret information. The shortened film launched in 1940 and was a success.
At the end of 1943 Anton Kutter’s house burned to the ground after an Allied bombing raid. His family returned to live with his father in law Gottlob Freidrich Erpff, the owner of Biberach’s film theatre. He stayed in München with his friend and astronomy professor Anton Stauss, in the district of Pullach; they had earlier built an observatory there together in 1936.
After the destruction of the film studios in München-Geiselgasteig in 1945, Anton Kutter returned to Biberach, and formally took over the management of the film theater in 1948. Also in 1948, three years after the end of the War, Anton Kutter started to produce films again, and directed six feature films until 1955, four of them German-Austrian co-productions. In 1955 Anton Kutter expanded the Biberach film complex with a second large theatre, which he called “Urania”, and a had the Pullach observatory moved into a dome on top of the theatre.In 1972 he passed on the management of the cinema complex to his son Adrian and devoted himself entirely to astronomy.
Anton Kutter died in 1985 in his native town of Biberach. He was married to Else Kutter, born Erpff (1907-1980) and had three children, Claus (born in 1937), Adrian (born in 1943) and Floriane (born in 1944), to whom he dedicated a telescope mount design (the Flori mount).