Birnbaum was the youngest son of Nathan Birnbaum, a Jewish philosopher, and Rosa Korngut. Reportedly, his art education consisted of only one month at a Berlin art school in 1913. He was severely injured during World War I. He illustrated a number of books, including works of Edgar Allan Poe, Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass (Alice im Spiegelglass, Vienna, 1923), and his own Weltuntergang (1921).
- Timothy O. Benson et al., Expressionist Utopias, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2001; p. 193.
- "The End of the World."
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