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Erich Mühsam Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 1806

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the life of anarchist writer Erich Muehsam and his wife Kreszentia (Zenzl) Muehsam. It consists primarily of correspondence: from Erich to family and friends (including from prison); from Zenzl to family and friends; and between others about Erich and Zenzl. Topics include politics, society, war, and literature; Erich's writing specifically; the circumstances of his death in Oranienburg; Zenzl's emigration to Russia, with the help of Internationale Rote Hilfe (International Red Aid); and her subsequent imprisonment in Siberia.

Family correspondents include Siegfried Muehsam, Charlotte Muehsam-Landau, Leo Landau, and Hans Landau. Other correspondents include R. Cohn, Harold J. Bing, Minjam Michaelis, Erich Drucker, K. F. Ertel, Elly Kruger, Walter Kruger, Paul Kruger, Charles Hochhaeuser-Armony, Ruth Oesterreich, Helene Stassowa of the Internationale Rote Hilfe, Sophie Zinkiewicz, Mally Findling, Sepp and Maria Meier, Siegfriend Elfinger, and Lotte Rautenberg.

The collection also contains a small selection of Muehsam's writings and poems, including a typescript of his short prose piece about Ascona, Switzerland; a few personal items, including an identification card; photographs; and printed materials about Muehsam such as newspaper articles and exhibition catalogs.

Dates

  • 1896-1977

Creator

Language of Materials

This collection is in German, with a small amount of French, English, and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

The first addendum, designated section IX in the original inventory found in folder 1, was marked in 1977 as restricted until the deaths of Gad Landau, Yochanan (Hans) Landau, and Eva Joel. Folders 9, 13, and 15 are thus restricted. The remainder of the collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Biographical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Portrait of Erich Muehsam (1878-1934)" href="http://digital.cjh.org/webclient/DeliveryManager?pid=1303578" linktype="simple" show="embed" title="Portrait of Erich Muehsam (1878-1934)"/>

Erich Muehsam was born in Berlin on April 6, 1878. While his brother Hans became a physician and his sister Charlotte married Leo Landau, a lawyer, Erich chose a different path and became an anarchist author, poet, and publisher. He was imprisoned from 1917-1918 for refusing military service, and from 1919-1924 for his role in the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic.

Muehsam published many anarchist books, plays, and periodicals. He was also successful as a writer and performer in cabarets. An early critic of the Nazi regime, in 1934 he was arrested and sent to the Oranienburg concentration camp, where he was murdered on July 10, 1934. After the death of her husband, Kreszentia (Zenzl) Muehsam fled first to Prague and later to Moscow, on the invitation of the Internationale Rote Hilfe (International Red Aid). Imprisoned in 1938, she was eventually sent to Siberia and released in 1955. She then settled in East Berlin, where she died in 1962.

Extent

0.5 Linear Feet

Overview

This collection documents the life of anarchist writer Erich Muehsam and his wife Kreszentia (Zenzl) Muehsam. It consists primarily of correspondence from Erich and Zenzl to family and friends, as well as some correspondence between others about them. The collection also contains a small selection of Muehsam's writings and poems, including some typescripts, a few personal items, photographs, and printed materials about Muehsam such as newspaper articles and exhibition catalogs.

Arrangement

The collection follows the original archival arrangement, which is reflected in the accurate item-level inventory found in folder 1. Addenda were placed in appropriate intellectual locations and noted as such.

Other Finding Aid

An item-level inventory (in German) for the original archival collection and the first addendum is found in folder 1.

Related Material

LBI holds an archival collection relating to Muehsam's father Siegfried Seligmann Muehsam (AR 7112), a memoir by his sister Charlotte Landau-Muehsam (ME 381), and an essay by Lawrence Baron, Erich Muehsam’s Jewish Identity (MS 11). In addition, the LBI Library holds many of Muehsam's published books and periodicals.

Separated Material

The pocket knife, scissors, and cigar cutter in Muehsam's possession when he was imprisoned in the Oranienberg concentration camp (where he was later murdered) were removed to the LBI Arts and Objects collection.

Most photographs were removed to the LBI Photograph collection. Some have been digitized.

Processing Information

In June 2011, envelopes were removed, and materials were refoldered and placed in inventory order. The original inventory in folder 1 was examined and found to be accurate for the original archival collection and the first addendum. One item, II/7, is missing. Additional addenda were placed in appropriate intellectual locations and noted as such.
Title
Guide to the Erich Muehsam (1878-1934) Collection Undated, 1896-1977 AR 1806
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Kevin Schlottmann
Date
© 2011
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • September 23, 2014 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States