Otto Mainzer Collection
Scope and Content Note
The Otto Mainzer collection documents the life and professional activities of Otto Mainzer, lawyer, writer, and financial consultant; the collection also sheds light on the life of Otto Mainzer
The collection includes correspondence, financial, vital, immigration, and legal documents, notes, photographs, printed materials, and writings, by Otto Mainzer and Ilse Wunsch as well as a small number of manuscripts by other authors.
The collection is divided into two distinct sections, one pertaining to Otto Mainzer and the other to Ilse Wunsch.
The first section, dealing with Otto Mainzer is by far the larger one and includes a wide variety of materials documenting his personal life as well as his activities as a writer and financial consultant.
The bulk of the series consists of correspondence, personal as well as general and writings by Otto Mainzer with a few manuscripts by other authors.
Personal correspondence includes correspondence with friends and family, with the correspondence between Otto Mainzer and his wife, Ilse Wunsch being by far the most prominent.
Additionally there is Otto Mainzer's correspondence with a number of other women that he was romantically involved with.
Other personal materials include an abundance of photographs of his friends and family as well as photographs of nature that were taken by Otto Mainzer himself.
General correspondence includes a large body of correspondence pertaining to Otto Mainzer’s restitution case against Germany. Restitution related materials also include documents and court materials
A much larger portion of the general correspondence includes a very extensive correspondence concerning Otto Mainzer’s attempts to publish his numerous works of fiction, poetry, dramaturgy and other. This correspondence documents the struggles of Otto Mainzer and his final victory when some of his work was eventually published, and consists of correspondence with publishers as well as with literary agents, most notably Karl Ludwig Leonhardt.
Writings constitute another large portion of the section. Most of the works collected here, explore human sexuality as a dominant trend in human behavior and as a result an underlying factor in human interactions. Nearly all the manuscripts collected here belong to the pen of Otto Mainzer with other authors constituting nothing more then a fraction of overall materials.
Writings include fiction, poetry, and plays as well as his non-fiction works.
Some of the works have been rewritten during different periods in the life of Otto Mainzer and can serve as an indicator of the changes in his perception of the world. There is an abundance of Otto Mainzer diaries that he religiously kept during most of his life. Later his diaries served as a base for his autobiographical work entitled Auf die höchsten Sterne will ich zielen: Autobiographisches uund Tagebuchnotizen.
Additionally, there are printed materials consisting of reviews and other publications related to Otto Mainzer and his literary work. These materials give a very good insight into the way his work was received by critics and general public, which in some cases did not share the same views.
The second section includes materials dealing with various aspects of the personal and professional life of Otto Mainzer’s wife, Ilse Wunsch. Materials collected here shed life on her personal life as well as her professional activities as a pianist, teacher, and writer.
The bulk of personal materials consists of Ilse Wunsch’s correspondence with friends and family. Other personal materials include documents, such as personal, immigration, and legal, materials pertaining to her divorce form Max Janowski, Last Will, and materials related to the Otto and Ilse Mainzer Fellowship Fund, and photographs.
Ilse Wunsch’s professional activities are well documented by her correspondence with colleagues, professional organizations, academic institutions, and publishers; a few concert programs; teaching materials such as notes and manuscripts, and materials related to the Münchener Sommerprogramm, an exchange student program that Ilse Wunsch helped organize.
Other materials related to Ilse Wunsch’s professional activities include various magnetic tapes and computer floppy discs with her lessons, draft versions of her book, Mein Leben mit Prometheus, and other media materials.
The bulk of the manuscripts collected in this section relate to Ilse Wunsch’s immediate occupation as a music teacher and explore various aspects of teaching, from practical training to theoretical problems such as grading.
Additionally, there is an autobiographical work, Zurück nach vorn, which was published in 1998 by Stroemfeld Verlag.
And finally, there is a biographical prose-Otto Mainzer and Mein Leben mit Prometheus, dedicated to Ilse Wunsch’s husband, Otto.
- late 1800s-2003
- Majority of material found in 1922-1998
- Wunsch-Mainzer, Ilse (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is in German and English with some Yiddish, Polish, and Japanese.
Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.
Otto Mainzer, lawyer, writer, and a financial consultant was born in 1903 in Frankfurt am Main. He received his basic schooling in Frankfurt am Main and continued his education at Frankfurt, Munich, and Berlin universities, studying jurisprudence. After receiving his degree Otto Mainzer worked as a lawyer at the Berlin Court of Appeals.
He immigrated to Paris in 1933 where he devoted his time to writing. It was in Paris that he began working on his monumental work of non-fiction, Die sexuelle Zwangswirtschaft: ein erotisches Manifest, which he eventually managed to publish in 1981.
In the mid-thirties Otto Mainzer published one volume of poems entitled, Der zaertliche Vorstoss: in sechsundsechzig Gedichten. During the same period he wrote his first novel, Prometheus. He had to wait for forty years before it was published by Stroemfeld/Roter Stern in 1989.
After the outbreak of World War II in 1939 Otto Mainzer was interned at a French concentration camp for over a year before being allowed to leave. He arrived in New York in late 1941.
Shortly after his arrival, Otto Mainzer moved to Chicago to work as a graphologist for the Spiegel of Chicago. It was in Chicago that he met his future wife, Ilse Wunsch. Soon after Otto Mainzer and Ilse Wunsch moved back to New York.
Otto Mainzer devoted the rest of his life to writing and propagating his ideas of human love and sexuality as an underlying stratum for all of the human interactions.
The bulk of Otto Mainzer’s written legacy was never published. This is true in particular in the case of his fiction, dramaturgical works, and poetry, of which very little was published, if at all.
Overall, Otto Mainzer and his work as a writer was never acknowledged or respected and there could be two diametrically polar explanations for that.
Otto Mainzer died in New York in 1995.
Ilse Wunsch was born in 1911 in Berlin, Germany. She started studying piano at a very early age. After graduating from high school, Ilse Wunsch continued her studies at the Teachers Training College. In 1936 she left for Japan, for concertizing and teaching.
She eventually moved to Chicago where she continued her studies at the Chicago Musical College, in due course earning a Master of Music degree.
After meeting Otto Mainzer, the couple moved to New York, where Ilse resumed her post graduate studies.
In New York, Ilse Wunsch was a member of the faculty of the New York College of Music, Stern College for Women, teaching piano and theory. Later she became an Assistant Professor at New York University, School of Education, Music Education Division.
Ilse Wunsch was also an author of a number of books on music theory and pedagogy; she also composed a number of music pieces; and finally she wrote autobiographical non-fiction-Zurück nach vorn, and Otto Mainzer and Mein Leben mit Prometheus, dedicated to her husband, Otto Mainzer.
17.5 Linear Feet
The Otto Mainzer collection documents the life and professional activities of Otto Mainzer, lawyer, writer, and financial consultant; the collection also sheds light on the life of Otto Mainzer’s wife, Ilse Wunsch, a musician and a teacher. The collection includes correspondence, financial, vital, immigration, and legal documents, notes, photographs, printed materials, and writings, by Otto Mainzer and Ilse Wunsch as well as a small number of manuscripts by other authors. The collection is divided into two distinct sections, one pertaining to Otto Mainzer and the other to Ilse Wunsch.
The collection is devided into five series:
- Series I: Otto Mainzer, 1903-2001
- Subseries 1: Correspondence, Personal, 1922-1995
- Subseries 2 Topical, 1903-1997
- Subseries 3: Writings, 1922-2001
- Subsubseries A: Otto Mainzer, 1922-1995
- Subsubseries B: Other Authors, 1929-2001
- Series II: Ilse Wunsch, 1931-2003
- Subseries 1: Correspondence, Personal, 1930s-1978
- Subseries 2: Topical, 1931-2003
- Subseries 3: Writings, undated, 1968-1997
- Series III: Media Materials, undated
- Series IV: Photographs, late 1800s-1990s
- Series V: Printed Materials, 1901-1980s
Some photographs have been removed to the LBI Photo Collection.
Books have been removed to the LBI Library
- Guide to the Papers of Otto Mainzer late 1800s-2003 AR 10342
- Processed by Yakov Illich Sklar
- © 2009
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation
- April 04, 2013 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.
Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States