Joseph Roth Collection
Scope and Content Note
The larger part of the Joseph Roth Collection originates from material saved by his French translator, Blanche Gidon. It mostly contains Joseph Roth's manuscripts, drafts and copies of his newspaper articles and essays. Material is both handwritten and typewritten.
There are a few personal items of Joseph Roth and his wife Friederike in this collection - business cards, Joseph Roth's receipts from several hotels, and articles about Joseph Roth, including published obituaries. The photos of Joseph and Friederike Roth are the most significant part of this series. The theatre programs of Russian and Ukrainian theatres probably relate to Joseph Roth's trip to the Soviet Union in 1926-1927.
The writings of Joseph Roth have the greatest value for researchers of Joseph Roth's work. The manuscripts include several almost complete works, such as the novel Die Hundert Tage (The Ballad of the Hundred Days) and several drafts of an unfinished novel usually referred to as "Trotzki-Roman" that was published after the Second World War under the title Der stumme Prophet. There is a great deal of fragments in this series, including works such as Radetzkymarsch (Radetzky March), Beichte eines Mörders (Confession of a Murderer), and others. Joseph Roth's historical essay Clemenceau can also be found here.
Another significant portion of Joseph Roth's writings consists of essays, short pieces, and newspaper articles. Joseph Roth's articles are often handwritten in pencil or ink or available as blue carbon copies. Typescripts, newspaper clippings of his published articles, and contemporary book reviews of his books are in the collection as well.
The correspondence of Joseph Roth includes letters from family members, letters to Blanche Gidon, and correspondence with publishers. The letters to Blanche Gidon are of particular importance since Joseph Roth did not limit himself only to problems of translation of his oeuvre, but he often strayed into writing about his work, plans, and personal issues. The correspondence with publishers, among them Gustav Kiepenheuer Verlag, Allert de Lange Verlag, Querido Verlag, and Viking Press, is mostly related to international publishing rights.
Series IV: Grubel, Fred and Series V: Zweig, Friderike are pertinent to the post-war fate of Joseph Roth's estate and rights to his works. It mostly consists of letters. Fred Grubel was not only executive director of the Leo Baeck Institute, but also a first cousin of Joseph Roth's. He collected book reviews of Joseph Roth's books published in Germany and in the United States, articles about Joseph Roth, and materials of various exhibitions and conferences that focused on Joseph Roth's work. All this material and a photocopy of a manuscript of Perlefter are part of the collection.
The last series Series VI: Addenda consists of material added to the collection after the collection's initial arrangement. The series holds articles on various aspects of the life and work of Joseph Roth, including programs of conferences and catalogs of exhibitions about Joseph Roth. Copies of several of Joseph Roth's texts were also added to the collection later and are therefore part of this series.
- Roth, Joseph, 1894-1939 (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is in German, English, Polish, French, Russian, Dutch, Italian, Hebrew, and Ukrainian.
Open to researchers.
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
Joseph Roth was born in Brody in Galicia, then part of the Habsburg Monarchy, now Ukraine, on September 2, 1894 in the family of Maria (Miriam) Roth née Grübel and Nahum Roth. He attended Baron-Hirsch Jewish public school and the German grammar school (Kronprinz-Rudolf-Gymnasium) in Brody from 1905 to 1913. After graduation, he started German studies and philosophy at the University of Lemberg (Lwów, now L'viv, Ukraine), but after one semester he transferred to the University of Vienna. Joseph Roth did not finish his studies, for he together with his friend Józef Wittlin volunteered in the Army in 1916. He was sent as a one-year volunteer (Einjährig-Freiwilliger) to the Eastern front. Joseph Roth was always proud of his military service.
In 1918 Joseph Roth returned to Vienna, where he started his journalistic career. He began writing for the left-leaning Der neue Tag and Arbeiter-Zeitung, but soon moved to Berlin where he worked for several newspapers, such as the Neue Berliner Zeitung, Berliner Börsen-Courier, and Vorwärts. In 1922 he married Friederike Reichler. He gradually became one of the best-paid German journalists. In 1923 he started working as a Berlin correspondent for the Frankfurter Zeitung. Joseph Roth wrote in all kinds of journalistic genres - reports, essays, opinions, book and theatre reviews, and serialized travelogues - from his trips to Germany, the Soviet Union, France, Italy and the Balkans. Besides the Frankfurter Zeitung, Joseph Roth contributed to many more newspapers, among them the Prager Tagblatt that published one of his earliest literary attempts during the First World War.
At the end of the 1920s he tried to free himself from his journalistic obligations to focus on his writing. At this time he also wrote his most successful books. However, soon after Joseph Roth left Germany and settled in Paris in 1933, he started again contributing to German exile publications, such as Das neue Tage-Buch, Die Österreichische Post, Pariser Tageblatt, and Pariser Tageszeitung. Joseph Roth wrote over thirteen hundred newspaper articles in the inter-war period. The ideological bias of his writing gradually shifted from the socially-tilted critical articles that were often radical and close to the political conviction of his left-leaning friends to more conservative and monarchistic positions where Joseph Roth gradually appeared in isolation.
However, it was not for his journalistic work Joseph Roth gained most of his acclaim, but for his novels and short stories. Joseph Roth wrote thirteen novels, eight short stories, volumes of essays and numerous articles. His first novel Das Spinnennetz (The Spider's Web) was published in newspapers in 1923. Hotel Savoy and Rebellion were published in 1924. His greatest successes were the later novels Hiob (Job) and Radetzkymarsch (The Radetzky March) published in 1928 and 1930 respectively. Joseph Roth did not have a chance to capitalize on his literary breakthrough. When the NSDAP took power he left for France and lived the life of an political émigré.
Joseph Roth did not stop working on his novels and further contributed both to French and exile newspapers. Joseph Roth published every year at least one new novel, among them Antichrist (Antichrist), Tarabas (Tarabas), Stationschef Fallmerayer (Fallmerayer the Stationmaster), Die Hundert Tage (Ballad of the Hundred Days), and the sequel of the Radetzky Marsch, Die Kapuzinergruft (The Emperor's Tomb).
Joseph Roth died in the Necker hospital in Paris on May 27, 1939. His wife, Friederike (Friedl), who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1928, lived in an Austrian mental sanatorium, where she was killed in the Nazi euthanasia program in 1940.
4 Linear Feet
Joseph Roth was one of the most prominent Austrian writers of the first half of the 20th century. Particularly his novels and newspaper essays gained him the respect of contemporary critics. Joseph Roth's papers at the Leo Baeck Institute Archives consist of handwritten and typewritten manuscripts of novels, novellas, short stories, and essays, including mostly complete manuscripts of his works Die Hundert Tage (The Ballad of the Hundred Days), Büste des Kaisers (The Bust of the Emperor), and his 'Trozki' novel Der stumme Prophet (The Silent Prophet). Joseph Roth's journalistic work is also well represented. There are a few personal items and over one hundred photographs of Joseph Roth and his wife Friederike. The Joseph Roth collection also contains correspondence with family and publishers, clippings about Joseph Roth, and reviews of his work. The addenda mostly consist of invitations to conferences and exhibitions, and scholarly articles on Joseph Roth's work and life.
The collection is arranged in six series.
- Series I: Personal, 1897?-1939
- Subseries 1: General, 1918-1939
- Subseries 2: Material about Joseph Roth, 1933-1939
- Subseries 3: Photos, 1897?-1939
- Series II: Writings, 1922?-1939
- Subseries 1: Novels, 1927-1937
- Subseries 2: Articles, essays, and shorter pieces, 1915, 1922-1939
- Subseries 3: Published articles, 1926-1939
- A) Frankfurter Zeitung
- B) Das neue Tagebuch
- C) Österreichische Post
- D) Prager Tagblatt
- E) Other
- Subseries 4: Reviews, 1926-1940
- Subseries 5: Other, undated, 1926-1939
- Series III: Correspondence, 1906-1939
- Series IV: Grubel, Fred (Frederick Grübel), 1925?-1989
- Series V: Zweig, Friderike, 1935-1957
- Series VI: Addenda, 1973-1995
The collection is on seven reels of microfilml (MF 675):
- Reel 1: 1/0 - 1/31
- Reel 2: 1/32 - 1/45
- Reel 3: 1/46 - 2/21
- Reel 4: 2/22 - 2/75; 3/1 - 3/12 [OS 88]; 2/76 - 2/89
- Reel 5: 2/90 - 2/101; 4/1
- Reel 6: 4/2 - 4/27
- Reel 7: 4/28 - 4/65
The photographs were removed to the Photograph Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute Archives.
Old call numbers earlier associated with the Joseph Roth Collection AR 1836, AR 1837, AR 1838, AR 1839, AR 1840, AR 1841, AR 3805, AR 4011
The collection was first arranged by Ilse Turnheim who followed the original order. She also created an inventory for the collection in July 1971. In 2004 the arrangement of the Joseph Roth Collection was revised. The results of almost four decades of literary scholarship were taken into account. Stray loose pages or portions of manuscripts that were identified by Roth scholars were collated. The arrangement of the series was completely altered, so that all of Joseph Roth's writings were in one series. The character of individual series was more clearly delineated. Staples were removed from the manuscripts. Basic preservation was applied.
- Authors, Austrian
- Authors, German
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Europe -- Emigration and immigration
- Exiles' writings, German
- Manuscripts (documents)
- National socialism
- Netherlands -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 1933-1945
- Roth, Friederike, 1900-1940
- Roth, Joseph, 1894-1939
- Soviet Union
- United States -- Emigration and immigration
- Guide to the Papers of Joseph Roth (1894-1939), 1897-1995 AR 1764
- Processed by Stanislav Pejša
- © November 2004
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- Edition statement
- This version was derived from JosephRoth02.xml.
- 2010-03-23 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl
- May 2008.: Microfilm inventory and access information added.