Guide to the Marianne Jorjorian Collection
circa 1950s-1977

AR 25656

Processed by Alyssa Carver and Leanora Lange

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2015  Leo Baeck Institute
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Leanora Lange in October 2015. Description is in English.
December 2015 Separated materials note added by Leanora Lange. May 2018: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Jorjorian, Marianne, 1922-1977
Title: Marianne Jorjorian Collection
Dates:circa 1950-1977
Abstract: This collection consists mainly of the writings of Marianne Jorjorian (née Willdorff, married Dreifus, 1922-1977). A small portion relates to her death in 1977. After fleeing her hometown of Berlin, Germany in 1939, Marianne married Henry Dreifus, and the couple had Claudia Dreifus, who became a noted freelance journalist. Marianne was a troubled writer, artist, and waitress in New York City. She eventually married Aram Jorjorian and moved to Reno, Nevada. Her writings tend to be autobiographical and frequently deal with Nazi atrocities.
Languages: The collection is in English and German.
Quantity: 2.25 linear feet (2 banker's boxes, one half-manuscript box)
Identification: AR 25656
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Marianne Jorjorian was born Marianne Willdorff on March 13, 1922, the youngest of three daughters of Benno willdorff (1881-1943) and Emma (also Emmy) willdorff née Oppenheimer (born 1884). A middle class merchant family, Benno willdorff ran a haberdashery in Berlin while Emma willdorff ran a millinery business out of their Charlottenburg apartment. In 1939, at the age of 17, Marianne fled Germany for the United States along with her parents. For the first few years, she lived in New York City together with her parents, her sister Inge (later Irene), and Inge’s husband Hans Brenner (later Harold).

Around 1942, Marianne Willdorff married another young Jewish refugee from Germany, Henry Dreifus. At this time, Henry Dreifus was an army mechanic and moved frequently between bases. Marianne usually followed him. Their daughter Claudia Dreifus was born in 1944. Marianne’s mother Emma Oppenheimer Willdorff took charge of raising Claudia as Marianne traveled to be with Henry. In the 1950s, Marianne and Henry Dreifus divorced. Henry remarried and brought Claudia to live with him and his wife Beatrice. An ardent communist, Henry was involved in local New York City politics.

Marianne meanwhile lived in Greenwich Village, as a writer, model, painter, and waitress. In the early 1960s, she suffered a nervous breakdown. She met Aram Jorjorian at the hospital during her recovery and married him in 1963. They moved to Reno, Nevada. There, she painted still lifes and landscapes of the area and her work was exhibited in small venues such as the Reno Little Theater and the Little Gallery in Carson City. In 1964, they were involved in a car accident that left Marianne severely injured. Marianne died in 1977 at age 55, supposedly of a brain hemorrhage. Aram killed himself shortly after Marianne’s death.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains personal papers of Marianne Jorjorian. The bulk of the collection consists of her creative writing manuscripts. These tend to be witty, cutting, and sprinkled with autobiographical details. Her works cover topics such as Greenwich Village and “the American male” in addition to her most prevalent theme, the atrocities of Nazism. Two of the manuscripts, Joan and Renee, are autobiographical novels. There is also a short autobiographical work titled Janne. The largest of Jorjorian’s projects in this collection is a novel she eventually titled The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor, a semi-fictional retelling of the story of Heinrich Himmler’s physical therapist Felix Kersten. It seems that these works were never published.

Jorjorian wrote in both German and English. Generally, the language of the title reflects the language of the manuscript, and the themes of the content tend to remain consistent across English and German manuscripts.

A smaller portion of the collection contains correspondence, poetry, and official papers related to her death in 1977.

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Arranged into two series according to document type.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

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

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

This collection was donated to the Leo Baeck Institute as part of the Claudia Dreifus Collection (AR 25220), which contains the personal and professional papers of Marianne’s daughter Claudia Dreifus, a writer and freelance journalist.

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Separated Material

Two portraits of Claudia Dreifus painted by Marianne Jorjorian were separated to the LBI Art and Objects Collection.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Marianne Jorjorian Collection; AR 25656; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute, New York, NY.

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Processing Information

This collection was donated to the Leo Baeck Institute together with the Claudia Dreifus Collection (AR 25220). Rather than keeping them together with her daughter’s papers, the papers stemming directly from Marianne Jorjorian were separated into this distinct collection. Materials were rehoused into acid-free boxes and folders. Acid-free paper was interleaved around clippings where necessary. Duplicates were removed, but differing versions of the same manuscript were retained.

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection. Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Writings, circa 1950s-1977

Subseries 1: Short manuscripts, circa 1950s-1977


Arranged alphabetically.

21"The American Male"circa 1964-1977
22"Artist Models"before 1964
23"Begegnung mit Georg Grosz"before 1964
24"The Call of the Fatherland" circa 1950s-1970s
25"E Unum Pluribus"circa 1950s-1970s
26"The Emperor's New Clothes"circa 1950s-1970s
27"Home, Sweet Home"circa 1950s-1970s
28"Kuenstler der Emigration"circa 1950s-1970s
29Letters to the Editor1975-1976, undated
210"Mensch, werde Schlank"circa 1950s-1970s
211"Modelle und Kuenstler"circa 1950s-1970s
212"Montmartre in New York: Greenwich Village"circa 1950s-1970s
213"Of Creature Comforts and Glimpses of European History"circa 1950s-1970s
214"Of Education, Money, Sex and Plumbing" circa 1950s-1970s
215The Tale of the Golden Helmet—Introductioncirca 1950s-1960s
216The Tale of the Golden Helmet—p. 1-150circa 1950s-1960s
217The Tale of the Golden Helmet—p. 151-300circa 1950s-1960s
218The Tale of the Golden Helmet—p. 301-402circa 1950s-1960s
219"Umgang mit Menschen"circa 1950s-1970s
220Untitled Draftscirca 1964-1977
221"Von Fruehling, Steuern und der Frau im amerikanischen Leben"circa 1950s-1970s

Subseries 2: Autobiographical Novels, circa 1950s-1977


Arranged alphabetically, then by draft, and then by page number.

222Janne—Untitled (p. 2-50)circa 1950s-1970s
223Joan—Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (p. 1-21)circa 1950s-1970s
224Joan—Of Mice and Men (p. 22-44)circa 1950s-1970s
225Joan—Patterns of the Kaleidoscope (p. 45-62)circa 1950s-1970s
226Joan—Of Human Relations and Holy Matrimony (p. 63-81)circa 1950s-1970s
227Joan—Romance comes to a Forelady (p. 82-92)circa 1950s-1970s
228Joan—Deutschland, Deutschland ueber Alles (p. 93-105)circa 1950s-1970s
229Joan—To the Memory of a European Capital (p. 106-241)circa 1950s-1970s
230Joan—Of Aiding the War Effort, Labor Disputes and Wayward Minors (p. 242-252)circa 1950s-1970s
231Joan—Pro Libertate (p. 253-306)circa 1950s-1970s
232Joan—From Binder—Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (p. 1-21)circa 1950s-1970s
233Joan—From Binder—Of Mice and Men (p. 22-44)circa 1950s-1970s
234Joan—From Binder—Patterns of the Kaleidoscope (p. 45-62)circa 1950s-1970s
235Joan—From Binder—Of Human Relations and Holy Matrimony (p. 63-81)circa 1950s-1970s
236Joan—From Binder—Romance comes to a Forelady (p. 82-92)circa 1950s-1970s
237Joan—From Binder—Deutschland, Deutschland ueber Alles (p. 93-105)circa 1950s-1970s
238Joan—From Binder—To the Memory of a European Capital (p. 106-211)circa 1950s-1970s
239Joan—From Binder—Of Aiding the War Effort, Labor Disputes and Wayward Minors (p. 212-250)circa 1950s-1970s
240Joan—From Binder—Pro Libertate (p. 251-257)circa 1950s-1970s
241Joan—From Binder—Of Peace and Prosperity (p. 258-265)circa 1950s-1970s
242Joan—From Binder—Epilogue in the Ruins (p. 266-304)circa 1950s-1970s
243Joan (German Version)—Zarnkes Ceramikscirca 1950s-1970s
244Joan (German Version)—Von Maeusen und Menschencirca 1950s-1970s
245Joan (German Version)—Von Umgang mit Menschen und Eheglueckcirca 1950s-1970s
246Renee—Hilla (p. 1-44)circa 1950s-1970s
247Renee—1919-1932 (p. 45-99; 110-129)circa 1950s-1970s
248Renee—Still, God's Sky Will be My Cover (p. 130-180)circa 1950s-1970s
249Renee—Untitled (p. 187-271)circa 1950s-1970s
31Renee (Unpaginated manuscript)—1919-1932circa 1950s-1970s
32Renee (Unpaginated manuscript)—And the Day of the Lord shall come like a Thief in the Nightcirca 1950s-1970s
33Renee (Unpaginated manuscript)—The Call of the Fatherlandcirca 1950s-1970s
34Renee (Unpaginated manuscript)—Expenses born [sic] by the Statecirca 1950s-1970s
35Renee (Unpaginated manuscript)—Hillacirca 1950s-1970s
36Renee (Unpaginated manuscript)—Intimate History of a Dynastycirca 1950s-1970s
37Renee (Unpaginated manuscript)—Requiem for Victor Tarrascucirca 1950s-1970s
38Renee (Unpaginated manuscript)—Still, God's Sky will be my Covercirca 1950s-1970s
39Renee (Unpaginated manuscript)—The Thousand Year Reichcirca 1950s-1970s

Subseries 3: Kersten Memoirs / The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor, circa 1964-1977


Arranged by page number.

17Correspondence and Excerpt undated, 1976circa 1964-1977
18Clippings of Individualscirca 1964-1977
19Untitled Draft—Introductioncirca 1964-1977
110Untitled Draft—Complete—p. 1-150circa 1964-1977
111Untitled Draft—Complete—p. 151-249circa 1964-1977
112Untitled Draft—Complete—p. 250-376acirca 1964-1977
113Untitled Draft—Complete—p. 377-508circa 1964-1977
114Kersten Fragment—Untitled—p. 1-145circa 1964-1977
115Kersten Fragment—Untitled—p. 21-97circa 1964-1977
116Kersten Fragment -Untitled—p. 101-192 (with gaps)circa 1964-1977
117Kersten Fragment -Untitled—p. 165-248circa 1964-1977
118Kersten Fragment -Untitled—p. 166-209; 219-225circa 1964-1977
119Kersten Fragment -Untitled—p. 203-303 (with gaps)circa 1964-1977
120Kersten Fragment -Untitled—p. 227-402circa 1964-1977
121Kersten Fragment -Untitled—p. 369-498circa 1964-1977
122Kersten Fragment—The Commitmentcirca 1964-1977
123Kersten Fragment—The Young Man from the Baltic circa 1964-1977
124Kersten—Various Untitled Drafts—p. 5-311 (with gaps)circa 1964-1977
125Kersten—Various Untitled Drafts, Fragments, and Clippings—p. 66-469 (with gaps)circa 1964-1977
126The Ballad of the Corpulent Chiropractor—Fragmentcirca 1964-1977
127The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Untitled Beginning (p. 1-22)circa 1964-1977
128The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Dr. Kersten of the Hague and Intimate Glimpses at the life of a Berlin family (p. 23-41)circa 1964-1977
129The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Some Footnotes on History (p. 42-55)circa 1964-1977
130The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—About Turning down a Colonelship in the SS (p. 56-69)circa 1964-1977
131The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—The Summer of 1939 (p. 70-89)circa 1964-1977
132The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—The Re-incarnation of Henry the Fowler (p. 90-100)circa 1964-1977
133The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Another Favor (p. 101-122)circa 1964-1977
134The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—All About Having a Jewish Grandmother (p. 123-147)circa 1964-1977
135The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—The Foiled Birthday Gift (p. 148-165)circa 1964-1977
136The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Meanwhile, Back in Czechoslovakia… (p. 166-191)circa 1964-1977
137The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—The New Hands of Hartzwalde (p. 192-209)circa 1964-1977
138The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—The Medical File (p. 210-229)circa 1964-1977
139The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Scandinavian Interlude (p. 230-243)circa 1964-1977
140The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—All about Medical Fees (p. 244-286)circa 1964-1977
141The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—The Promise (p. 287-303)circa 1964-1977
142The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Enjoy the War, Kids, Peace is Bound to be Nasty (p. 288-314)circa 1964-1977
143The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Im Namen der Menschlichkeit (p. 314a-322)circa 1964-1977
144The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—The Tale of the Two National Anthems (p. 323-401)circa 1964-1977
145The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—The Goetterdaemmerung (p. 402-415)circa 1964-1977
146The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Tea at Hartzwalde (p. 416-431)circa 1964-1977
147The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Meanwhile, Back in Berlin (p. 432-496)circa 1964-1977
148The Ballad of the Fat Chiropractor—Funeral in the Heath of Lueneburg (p. 497-508)circa 1964-1977
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Series II: Personal, 1975-1977, undated


Arranged by document type.

Scope and Content:

This series contains personal papers of Marianne Jorjorian that are not manuscripts or other writings. The bulk of this series relates to Marianne Jorjorian's death and arrangements made mostly by her daughter, Claudia Dreifus, thereafter.

13Death—Poetry circa 1977

Not digitized due to privacy.

15Death—Medical 1977

Not digitized due to privacy.

16Death—Other Papers 1977

Not digitized due to privacy.

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