Liselotte Sperber Collection
Scope and Content Note
This collection documents the life of Liselotte Sperber and her family members. The majority of papers in this collection focus on some of the highlights of her life, such as her pursuit of acting in her younger years, her family life and immigration. The collection is also replete in material relating to the meaningful events in her family members' lives, especially noting their wartime and immigration experiences. The collection consists of correspondence, official documents, educational papers, copies of articles and clippings, and a few photographs.
Material on the noteworthy episodes of Liselotte Sperber's life will primarily be found in the first subseries of Series I. Among the papers in this series are school records for and childhood essays by Liselotte and her older sister Aenne, along with a poetry album inscribed by friends. Her interest in the theater is evidenced by material on various theatrical productions, including a letter from her father referencing her work with the actress Ida Ehre. This series additionally holds papers, primarily congratulations and announcements, on her engagement, marriage and the subsequent birth of her daughter. A few items pertaining to her immigration to the United States are also present in this subseries. Further material on her personal beliefs, especially her political ones, may be found in her correspondence with Reuben ("Rudi") Hecht, located in Subseries 2 of Series II. These letters indicate her early interest in Zionism, as well as in the later politics of Israel and the United States.
Papers that concern Liselotte Sperber's family members, especially her parents, Julius and Margarete Süss, and her husband's parents, Abraham and Malka Sperber, will be found in several locations within this collection. The bulk of Liselotte Sperber's correspondence with family members is located in Subseries 2: Correspondence of Series I. Although a few letters here date from her childhood and earlier years, the majority of letters date from the 1930s and 1940s, when the family members were living in various countries. A prominent theme is the eventual emigration of family members from Nazi-occupied areas of Europe. Some postwar letters of Julius Süss relate to restitution. Other material on family members will be found in Subseries 1 of Series II. This subseries holds papers on various family members, but is especially noteworthy for its material on the immigration of Abraham and Malka Sperber, including their personal correspondence on the topic as well as correspondence with consulates and official paperwork for the acquisition of visas. Another topic addressed frequently in this subseries is the death of Aenne Süss in 1930. Series III comprises papers of and pertaining to Ann Sperber, Liselotte's daughter. Most of this material relates to the creation and publication of her book on Edward R. Murrow, although it also includes some correspondence between herself and her family when she lived for a year abroad.
Series IV contains documentation in the collection that may have been of interest to Liselotte Sperber, but which could not be further separated into the previous series. Much of this material consists of articles and newspaper clippings on various subjects. It includes a few biographies and obituaries as well as documentation on the work of artist Waltraud Suckow.
Series V is an addendum to the collection that comprises material about the cities of Mannheim and Lampertheim as well as correspondence between Liselotte Sperber and the mayors of those cities. It further contains theatre programs of the National Theater of Mannheim mentioning Liselotte Sperber as well as further material of her daughter Ann Sperber and the artist Waltraud Suckow.
- Majority of material found within 1920-1990
- Sperber, Liselotte, 1912- (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is primarily in German and English, with some Hebrew and French.
Open to researchers.
Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.
Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Reserve" button.
There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
Liselotte ("Lisl") Süss was born January 12, 1912 in Mannheim, the youngest daughter of Julius Süss (1878-1976) and Rosa Süss, née Einstein (1884-1940). She attended primary school at Mannheim's Liselotteschule and the Hans Thoma Schule, including two years of finishing school at the Liselotteschule's Frauenschule.
At the age of 15, Liselotte Süss began to study at the Nationaltheater under Hildegard Grethe and later, her successor, Ida Ehre, who became a close friend. At the request of the theater's director, Francesco Sioli, Liselotte Süss gave her first stage performance at 16, taking over the role of an ill performer. Other activities she undertook included participation in the August Lamey B'nai B'rith Lodge, the Liederkranz (a singing group), and gymastics and tennis. She additionally participated in the "Sprech-Chor," directed by Paul Epstein.
In 1925 Max Grünewald became the chief rabbi of Mannheim, where he created the Jugendgemeinde, in which Liselotte Süss became a member. By her late teens Lisl Süss had become a Zionist. At the "Jung-WIZO," which she helped found, she met her future husband, Manfred (Meyer) Sperber ("Fred"). They became engaged on December 4, 1932 and married on January 26, 1933 in Rabbi Max Grünewald's study. In February 1933 they were on their honeymoon in Rome when they learned of Hitler's appointment as Chancellor. On April 1, 1933 (the day of the Jewish boycott in Germany) Fred lost his job in Berlin. Since Fred was an Austrian citizen, and Lisl had become one through her marriage to him, they then left for Vienna. Their daughter Aenne was born on June 20, 1935 in Vienna. She was named for her aunt, Lisl's elder sister, who had died in 1930 due to disease at the age of 22.
In Vienna Fred became comptroller of the Jewish Community. In May 1939 Lisl and her daughter Aenne wanted to immigrate to Cuba by taking the ship Orinoco from Cherbourg. But the ship never sailed, following the situation of the St. Louis, a boat refused arrival in Cuba and the subsequent Jewish immigration ban to Cuba. They were held in Cherbourg for five months but received American visas just before the outbreak of war and left France in October 1939. Fred joined them in 1940 when he found passage on the last trip of the Italian liner Conte di Savoia. In 1942 they learned that Fred’s parents had been deported to Theresienstadt, where his father Abraham Sperber died. Fred's mother Malka (sometimes spelled Malke) Sperber later stayed in Camp Deggendorf for displaced persons.
In 1947 Lisl joined the Riverside group of Hadassah where she served one term as president of the organization. After Fred retired, he joined the Liberty Lodge where he worked as financial secretary until his death. Lisl later became a member of the Liberty Chapter where she served twice as president.
Liselotte Sperber's daughter Aenne, renamed Ann Sperber after her immigration to the United States, achieved fame with the publication of her best-selling book Murrow: his Life and Times, published in 1986. She died in 1994.
2.25 Linear Feet
This collection centers on the lives of Liselotte Sperber and her family members. The collection documents her early life and the major experiences that would shape it as well as the lives or significant life events of several family members, including her sister, parents, in-laws and daughter. The collection contains prolific correspondence, official and educational documents, childhood writings, copies of articles and newspaper clippings, and a few photographs.
This collection is arranged in four series in the following manner:
- Series I: Liselotte Sperber, 1912-2005
- Subseries 1: Personal Documents, 1912-1970
- Subseries 2: Correspondence, 1919-2005
- Series II: Related Families and Friends, 1906-1993
- Subseries 1: Family, 1906-1984
- Subseries 2: 1928-1993
- Series III: Ann M. Sperber (Aenne Sperber)
- Series IV: Other Material, 1928-2003
- Series V: Addenda, 1927-2011
The collection is on five reels of microfilm (MF 1104):
- Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/13
- Reel 2: 1/14 - 1/35
- Reel 3: 1/36 - 2/20
- Reel 4: 2/21 - 2/39
- Reel 5: 2/40 - 2/42
Some photographs were removed to the Photograph Collection (F AR 10251).
Several items were removed to the Audiovisual Collection:
- Two videocassettes: Zusammenleben zwischen Juden und Christen in Mannheim
- An audiocassette: Lisa Sperber: Yehuda Halevy, An Zion; Heinrich Heine: Aus hebräische Melodien
Several items were removed to the Arts and Objects Collection:
- Suitcase of Malke Sperber, Camp Deggendorf
- Bands from Anne Suess's lute as seen on a photo taken in 1925
- Seal given to Liselotte Sperber by Sophie Loewenherz
- A chain ring belonging to Leonore Schulz
Several books have been removed to the LBI Library:
- Einige Erinnerungen der Familie Hecht, vol. I and II
- Murrow: His Life and Times by Ann Sperber
In addition, three prayer books belonging to family members have been removed to the library.
Two books about the Jewish communities Lampertheim and Mannheim have been removed to the LBI Library from Series VI: Addenda.
Much of this collection was arranged in 2001. Further work in 2010 included the integration of addenda based upon the previous arrangement. In addition, description was added to the finding aid.
In March 2017 Series V: Addenda was added to the collection by Julia Schneidawind.
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Emigration and immigration
- Gurs (Concentration camp)
- Haifa (Israel)
- Hecht, Rëuben R.
- Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Germany
- Lampertheim (Germany)
- Mannheim (Germany)
- Official documents
- Programs (documents)
- Sperber family
- Sperber, A. M. (Ann M.), 1935-1994
- Sperber, Liselotte, 1912-
- Sperber, Manfred
- Suckow, Waltraud, 1924-
- Süss family
- Süss, Julius, 1878-1976
- Süss, Änne, 1907-1930
- Guide to the Papers of Liselotte Sperber (1912 - ) 1906-2011 AR 10251 / MF 1104
- Processed by Dianne Ritchey, Julia Schneidawind, and LBI Staff
- © 2010
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- Edition statement
- This version was derived from LiselotteSperber.xml
- June 2011.: Microfilm inventory added.
- February 07, 2012 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.
- March 21, 2017:: Series V: Addenda added to collection. Collection extent, inclusive dates, arrangement, collection-level scope and content note, and access points edited to include new series.
- April 11, 2018:: Added links to Series V: Addenda