Hilde Marx: Escape to the USA
Hilde Marx (born November 1, 1911 in Bayreuth) was a German-American poet, writer and journalist. She is one of the authors whose writing career…
365 West End Ave.; Apt. 2B
New York City
July 26, 1939
Sehr geehrter Herr Doktor Zuehlsdorff, 11Volkmar von Zuehlsdorff, 1911-2006, Jurist, Diplomat und Publizist, enger Freund und Weggefährte von Prinz Löwenstein, im amerikanischen Exil Geschäftsführer der Deutschen Akademie der Künste und Wissenschaften im Exil, die mit der American Guild for Cultural Freedom eng verbunden war.
ich weiss nicht mehr genau, von wann Ihre letzte Nachricht an mich war. Ich weiss nur, dass Sie mir den Eingang des liebenswürdigen Befürwortungsschreibens von Erika Mann 22Erika Mann, 1905-1969, Schauspielerin, Schriftstellerin, Lektorin, im amerikanischen Exil gegen den Nationalsozialismus engagiert, auch für die American Guild for Cultural Freedom. bestätigten und bin nun sehr neugierig, ob inzwischen auch das von Dr. Max Brod 33Max Brod, 1884-19687, deutschsprachiger Schriftsteller und Kritiker. an Sie gelangte. Ich schrieb ihm nach Palästina und bin sicher, dass er es gern tun wird, da er selbst sich sehr für diese Sachen, um die es sich hauptsächlich handelt, eingesetzt hat; nur die politische Situation in der Tschechoslowakei verhinderte dann das Erscheinen meines letzten Bandes „Die andere Marschmusik“.
Bitte verzeihen Sie, wenn ich Sie also heute schon wieder behellige. Aber ich muss Ihnen bestimmt nicht versichern, wie wichtig mir die Sache ist und wie glücklich ich wäre, wenn die nächste Sitzung für mich einen günstigen Bescheid brächte. Umsomehr, da ich meinen momentanen besonders schweren Job unter keinen Umständen mehr lange halten kann, auf keinen Fall länger als bis September. Mein Verantwortungsgefühl verbietet mir trotzdem, mich bei Ihnen für die emergency-Liste [Notfallliste] anzumelden – es geht mir insofern doch besser als leider vielen andern, da ich immer noch ehrliche Hoffnung in mir trage. Aber was immer Sie in der Linie von Beihilfe und Veröffentlichung, evtl. Übersetzung, für mich tun können, wird mich zu grossem Dank verpflichten.
Ich grüsse Sie mit vorzüglicher Hochachtung und besten Sommerwünschen.
PS: Bis September gilt die oben ausgegebene Adresse.
[handschriftlich]: Der Brief war schon zu, als ich von Dr. Brod die Nachricht erhielt, sein Gutachten sei mit gleicher Post an die Guild abgegangen. Hoffentlich ist es allright!
365 West End Ave.; Apt. 2B
New York City
July 26, 1939
Dear Doctor Zuehlsdorff, 11Volkmar von Zuehlsdorff, 1911-2006, jurist, diplomat and publicist, close friend and companion of Prince Löwenstein, in American exile executive director of the Deutsche Akademie der Künste und Wissenschaften im Exil (German Academy of Arts and Sciences in Exile), which was closely associated with the American Guild for Cultural Freedom.
I do not remember exactly from when your last message to me was. I only know that you confirmed to me the receipt of the kind letter of recommendation from Erika Mann 22Erika Mann, 1905-1969, actress, writer, editor, engaged in American exile against National Socialism, also for the American Guild for Cultural Freedom. and am now very curious whether in the meantime that of Dr. Max Brod 33Max Brod, 1884-19687, German-speaking writer and critic. also reached you. I wrote to him in Palestine and I am sure that he will be glad to do so, since he himself was very committed to these things, which are mainly concerned; only the political situation in Czechoslovakia then prevented the appearance of my last volume “The Other March Music”.
Please forgive me if I bother you again today. But I certainly do not have to assure you how important this matter is to me and how happy I would be if the next meeting would bring me a favorable decision. All the more so, as I cannot under any circumstances hold on to my current particularly difficult job for much longer, certainly not until September. Nevertheless, my sense of responsibility forbids me to register with you for the emergency list – I am better off than unfortunately many others, because I still have honest hope in me. But whatever you can do for me in terms of aid and publication, possibly translation, will oblige me to great gratitude.
I send you my best regards and best summer wishes.
PS: Until September, the address given above is valid.
[handwritten]: The letter was already closed when I received the message from Dr. Brod that his assessment had gone off to the Guild by the same mail. Hopefully it is allright!
Hilde Marx (1911-1968) was a German-American poet, writer and journalist. She is one of the authors whose writing career was only just beginning when the National Socialists came to power in Germany in 1933, and was immediately prevented by them. As a Jew, however, she was already affected by anti-Semitism before that. She already experienced what it meant to be Jewish at the Humanist Gymnasium. After graduating from high school in 1931, Hilde Marx began studying journalism, theater and art history in Berlin. After five semesters, however, she was forcibly de-registered, as Jews were no longer allowed to attend universities. While she was still able to publish for newspapers at “Ullstein,” “Mosse” and the “Berliner Tageblatt,” this was no longer possible after their “Aryanization”. She was left only with Jewish publications, such as “Die Monatsblätter des jüdischen Kulturbundes in Deutschland,” “Die Jüdische Revue,” “Das Jüdische Gemeindeblatt,” and above all the “C.V.-Zeitung”. 11“Central Verein-Zeitung. Blätter für Deutschtum und Judentum. Organ des Central-Vereins deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens e.V. Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums.” The CV-newspaper was one of the most important Jewish weekly newspapers in the German-speaking world and appeared from 1922 until it was banned in 1938.
She did not think about emigration for a long time, but when the Gestapo threatened her with imprisonment in a concentration camp in 1937, she fled to the Czech Republic, and from there she managed to leave for the USA a year later. In November 1938 she arrived in New York. She worked in various jobs: as a nurse for the elderly, a saleswoman, a nanny and a gymnastics trainer. However, in addition to these demanding jobs, she also tried to gain a foothold as a writer in the USA. To this end, she asked the American Guild for German Cultural Freedom for help.
Since she was not yet well known among the anti-Nazi German-speaking intellectuals, it was more difficult for her than for others to obtain the letters of recommendation that were a prerequisite for being granted a work scholarship by the American Guild. These were issued by members of the so-called “European Council” of the German Academy of Arts and Sciences in Exile (Deutsche Akademie der Künste und Wissenschaften im Exil), which was affiliated with the American Guild. In her letter to its executive director, Volkmar von Zuehlsdorff (1911-2006), a lawyer and publicist who was himself in exile, Hilde Marx inquires about the status of her letters of recommendation and her application for a scholarship. At that time, she was working twelve hours a day as a nurse for an old and sick man in order to make a living. Although this hard work left her no room for her writing and for getting her poems published, Hilde Marx, unlike many other applicant:s, did not ask to be placed on the American Guild’s “emergency list.” Even though she did not receive the scholarship and the Guild could only help her publish one of her poems in an American magazine, Hilde Marx managed to establish herself in the USA as a writer and publicist.
In 1943 she received American citizenship. In America she continued to perform as a lecture artist, with her own “One woman show” in which she combined serious with light-hearted, Jewish with Christian traditions.
In 1951, a final volume of poems from 1938 to 1951 was published under the title “Bericht,” which incorporated her experiences as an exile. She became a member of Auslands-PEN and, from the 1960s on, was an editor of “Aufbau”, 22“Aufbau”: In 1934, the first “Aufbau. Nachrichtenblatt des German-Jewish Club, Inc., New York” appeared. Initially more a club and advertising organ, the “Aufbau” soon became a news sheet about the everyday life of German (not only Jewish) emigrants in exile. This meant advice on legal matters, explanations of the New York subway system, language courses and job vacancies, tips on dealing with authorities, etc. Oskar Maria Graf and Nelly Sachs, Lion Feuchtwanger and Thomas Mann, Mascha Kaléko and many others wrote here. for which she wrote primarily theater and film reviews, as well as short biographies of Jewish emigrants. She also worked for other newspapers, such as “This Day from St. Louis,” “The Chicago Jewish Forum,” the state newspaper and “Herold from New York”.
Letter from Hilde Marx to Volkmar Zuehlsforfff, July 26, 1939
Deutsches Exilarchiv 1933-1945, Frankfurt am Main
Translation from German to English: Minor Kontor / We Refugees Archiv.