The beginning of the end of German Jewry

1933

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25 APRIL 1933 >

Thursday
20 April 1933

Letter from the German Stage Association to Ruth Mühsam

On 11 April 1933 Berlin-born Ruth Mühsam (1912–1993) passed her acting examination at the German Stage Association. The examination certificate issued nine days later was sent with a letter that explicitly pointed out to her just how difficult it would be to find work as an actress. The remarks clearly reflected the troubled times and must have been a bitter disappointment for the young Jewish actress, who was just embarking on a career in Germany.

Earlier, in late January 1933, Ruth Mühsam had secured an engagement for the 1933/34 season at the Landestheater in Darmstadt, with the option of continuing the following year. She was hired for roles as a “young character actress and Salondame [society lady].” However, following the passage of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service on 7 April, this engagement was cancelled.

In September 1933 she was employed by the Théâtre Municipal in Strasbourg and in June 1934 she began working in Vienna—like her father she had Austrian citizenship. In 1935 she attempted to establish herself as an actress in London, but her efforts were unsuccessful. She remained in the Austrian capital until late October 1937 working at the Volkstheater. When Austria was annexed by Germany few months later, in March 1938, Ruth was visiting friends in Los Angeles and she was able to stay on in California. There she met, among others, the famous writer Erich Maria Remarque, with whom she maintained a close lifelong friendship. With Remarque's help she was able to rescue her mother and sister from Germany.

After a law was passed in September 1933 establishing the Reich Chamber of Culture, the German Stage Association was initially incorporated into the Reich Theater Chamber. Then, in 1935 it was dissolved.

Aubrey Pomerance

Categorie(s): artists and writers | associations | Berlin
Letter from the German Stage Association to Ruth Mühsam, Berlin, 20 April 1933. Her examination certificate was enclosed in this letter.
Leo Baeck Institute, Muehsam Family Collection, AR 25021

In America

Ruth Mühsam never managed to break into acting in Hollywood. After working at a variety of jobs, including translator, saleswoman, secretary and model, she served for a time as a writer and assistant in the film industry. In 1950 she settled in New York, where she pursued a career as a publisher’s scout and writer.

Portrait of Ruth Mühsam, unknown photographer, London, 1934/35
Leo Baeck Institute, Muehsam Family Collection, AR 25021 
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