The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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14 August 1933

Postcard from Carl Rössler to Georg Hermann

Describing his escape from Berlin to his native city of Vienna in April 1933, the author and actor Carl Rössler (1864–1948) wrote ironically and bitterly that he had "'emigrated' home." The comment can be found on a postcard sent to his friend Georg Hermann, who had been living in Dutch exile since March the same year. Rössler, who had settled in the German capital in 1928, felt compelled to take this step after the Nazis banned the performance of his works. The experience had proved debilitating for the sixty-nine-year-old, but he remained determined not to be "brought into line."

Carl Rössler began working as a stage actor in Germany in the 1890s. In 1905 he devoted himself almost exclusively to writing and composed several comedies. The play that made him famous was Die Fünf Frankfurter (The Frankfurt Five), which premiered in 1911 and enjoyed great success in its day. Dealing with the Rothschild banking family, it remains Rössler‘s best-known work. In collaboration with writers such as Kurt Tucholsky, Marcellus Schiffer and Ludwig Heller, Rössler wrote libretti for a variety of directors, including Max Reinhardt. He never worked with Georg Hermann and in this postcard expresses his regret about this missed opportunity.

Carl Rössler lived in a retirement home in Vienna until November 1938. His fears that the "brain disease (of Nazism)" could come into government had been far exceeded with the annexation of Austria a few months earlier and he saw no choice but to "emigrate again." He fled to Great Britain in June 1939 and lived in Cambridge, Oxford, and then London until his death in 1948.

Aubrey Pomerance

Categorie(s): artists and writers | Berlin | emigration | occupational ban
Postcard from Carl Rössler in Vienna to Georg Hermann in Laren (northern Holland), 14 August 1933. Rössler addressed the card with his friend‘s real name, Georg H. Borchard(t), not his pen name, Georg Hermann.
Leo Baeck Institute, Georg Hermann Collection, AR 7074