Friedrich Wilhelm Schirrmacher, known as “Fritz”, was born in Bartenstein in Eastern Prussia, today Bartoszyce in Poland. Schirrmacher completed a four-year apprenticeship as a painter, then went to Hamburg in 1918. He studied at the School of Arts and Crafts from 1919 to 1927, where his instructors included Julius Wohlers and Willy von Beckerath. In 1925, he took part in the exhibition of the association Die Juryfreien in the Kunsthalle in Hamburg. In 1929, he participated in an art exhibition at the Altona Museum, and in 1930 in the exhibition of Hamburg artists in the Kunstverein.
From 1930 onwards, he worked in a shared studio community with the sculptors Herbert Mhe, Richard Haizmann and Paul Henle and the painter Otto Thämer. He joined the Hamburg Artists’ Association in 1933, and later also joined the Hamburg Art Association. Six of his woodcuts were removed from the Hamburg Art Gallery in 1937 upon being declared “degenerate art”. In 1942/43, Schirrmacher studied mural painting under Otto Brandt at the Hanseatic School of Fine Arts in Hamburg.