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Frederick Ritter Collection

Identifier: LBI-JMB-2014.1

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the work and life of Frederick (Fritz) Ritter, an actor, academic, and writer. It contains extensive correspondence as well as many drafts and clippings of published and unpublished works. The collection also contains documents pertaining to his early career as an actor in Germany, which was cut short due to the rise of National Socialism. In addition, the collection includes material on Constantin Brunner and his circle, including correspondence and diaries, as well as sketches by Ritter’s first wife, the artist Ida Lauinger Ritter.

Material focusing on Ritter’s life, education, and employment will be found in Series I: Personal and Professional, which includes family and official documents, employment contracts, and brief biographical notes. Series II contains correspondence, the bulk of which is addressed to Ritter and pertains to both his personal life and his professional work. Manuscripts and drafts of his published and unpublished writings, in addition to related material such as reviews, will be found in Series III. Also included in this series are documents pertaining to his work in theater and to his public readings and lectures, including event announcements, lecture notes, and reviews. Series IV contains research notes, notebooks, and texts by other writers, including the diary of Lotte Brunner. Series V includes photographs of Ritter, his family and students. Series VI includes sketches and artworks by Ida Lauinger Ritter.


  • 1903-2011
  • Majority of material found within 1915-1987


Language of Materials

This collection is in German, English, and some Italian.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact: Leo Baeck Institute, Juedisches Museum Berlin, 9-14 Lindenstrasse, 10969 Berlin, Germany.

Biographical Note

Frederick (Fritz) Ritter, the son of Moses (Moritz) Ritter (1854-1933) and Charlotte née Steckelmacher (1865-1940), was born on May 20, 1896, in Vienna, where he later studied and received his Matura in 1915. He served as a soldier in World War I from 1916-1918. After the war, Ritter worked as an actor, radio announcer, and contributor to various periodicals, mainly in Berlin and Munich, and was a member of the “Genossenschaft Deutscher Bühnen-Angehörigen” (German Stage Workers Union) from 1921-1928. Most significantly, Ritter was a cast member of the first production of Bertolt Brecht’s Dreigroschenoper (Threepenny Opera) in Berlin. Due to the “Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums” (Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service), his career as an actor in municipal theaters was cut short. Furthermore, as a “non-Aryan,” he was denied admission to the Reichstheaterkammer (Reich Theater Chamber)—the equivalent of an occupational ban. Subsequently, Ritter, as member “no. 181,” was among the first to join the Kulturbund deutscher Juden (Cultural League of German Jews), which was founded in July 1933. He became a well-known figure of the Kulturbund and performed in its production of Shakespeare’s Othello in the Berliner Theater on Charlottenstrasse, as well as at its offshoots in other German cities. In November 1938, his contract with the Kulturbund was terminated because the National Socialist regime ordered the closure of all Jewish institutions—just one day before the November Pogroms.

Like many of his colleagues, Ritter gave up acting. From December 1938 to May 1939, he took part in a training program at the Krankenhilfe der Jüdischen Gemeinde (Healthcare Center of the Jewish Community). He then immigrated to the Bahamas via London with his wife, the painter Ida (Ady) Lauinger (1900-1975), where, expecting to enter the United States, he gave Latin and Greek lessons. In 1944, he immigrated to the United States. Initially employed in a factory, he subsequently worked as a school teacher and studied German philology at the University of Chicago, where he received his M.A. in 1951 and his Ph.D., with honors, in 1955. He was then a professor of German language and literature at the Illinois Institute of Technology and at Indiana University from 1952-1968. During this time, he also frequently gave recitations of German works in the original and, starting in 1947, published several novels. In 1968, he retired from teaching and received a Swiss residence permit through the intercession of Carl Jakob Burckhardt and Emil Staiger; from 1969, he was a freelance writer and lecturer in Minusio, Switzerland (and later Chiemgau). His wife Ida Ritter died on 29 November 1975 in Minusio. He then married Doris née Dulies (born 1916 in Budenigken). Ritter died on 28 December 1987 at age 91 in Riedering. He is buried in the Israelitische Friedhof in Munich (Garchinger Straße).


13 Boxes


This collection documents the life and work of Frederick (Fritz) Ritter, an actor, writer, and academic. Included are manuscripts of published and unpublished writings, articles, reviews, clippings, notes, personal documents, and photographs.

Related Material

The Constantin Brunner Collection (LBI/JMB-2009/2; LBI AR 1024) is available at the LBI in Berlin. Frederick Ritter’s Improvisator seiner selbst is located in the Library of the Jewish Museum Berlin. Hugo von Hofmannsthal und Oesterreich, Julia; oder, der Traum vom vollkommenen Luxus, Schlomoh; oder, Die Absurditaet des Schoenen, and Wie ich zu Constantin Brunner kam are located in the LBI Library in New York.

Published Works: Julia oder der Traum vom vollkommenen Luxus, 1947; Hugo von Hofmannsthal und Österreich, 1967; Wie ich zu Constantin Brunner kam, 1974?;Schlomoh oder Die Absurdität des Schönen, 1976; Die Tode des Bankkassierers , 1983; Der Improvisator seiner Selbst, 1985.

Guide to the Frederick Ritter Collection, 1903-2011  LBI-JMB-2014.1
Processed by Matthew Johnson and Jörg Waßmer
© 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States