Guide to the Rahel Sanzara Collection
circa 1920s-1979
(bulk 1926-1935)

AR 25057

Processed by 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



© 2014  Leo Baeck Institute
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Leanora Lange in February 2014. Description is in English.
April 2015 dao links and digitization information added by Leanora Lange.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Hinze, Klaus-Peter
Title: Rahel Sanzara Collection
Dates:circa 1920s-1979
Dates:bulk 1926-1935
Abstract: This collection consists mainly of correspondence sent from Berlin banker and businessman Walter Davidsohn to his wife, actress and writer Rahel Sanzara, in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The letters discuss the political, economic, and cultural state of Germany, France, and Switzerland at the time along with personal matters. In addition to the couple’s correspondence are letters from notable German writers and editors to Cleveland State University professor Klaus-Peter Hinze regarding the writer Ernst Weiss. Some of these letters discuss Weiss's relationship with Sanzara, who acted in productions of his dramas.
Languages: The collection is in German with a few documents in English.
Quantity: 0.25 linear feet
Identification: AR 25057
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Rahel Sanzara (1894-1936) was the pseudonym for Johanna Bleschke, an actress, dancer, and novelist. She is perhaps best known for her novel Das verlorene Kind (The Lost Child), published in 1926. In 1927, she married the Jewish banker Walter Davidsohn (born 1895). Although they maintained an apartment in Berlin where Davidsohn's business was based, the couple lived apart for extended periods. Davidsohn spent more and more time in France in the 1930s and immigrated to the United States in 1935. Sanzara suffered illnesses during the late 1920s and the 1930s, and she died in Germany in 1936.

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Scope and Content Note

The bulk of this collection consists of correspondence written by Berlin banker and businessman Walter Davidsohn to his wife Rahel Sanzara. There are no letters written from Sanzara to Davidsohn. Most of the correspondence from Davidsohn to Sanzara consists of handwritten or typed letters, with a few small notes, postcards, and telegrams. Throughout his letters, Davidsohn calls himself “Toddy” and Sanzara “Klaus” or variations on Klaus. There are frequent mentions of an illness Sanzara suffered in the 1920s, an injury to her foot in 1932, and more serious illness in 1935. The correspondence from 1926-1928 is sent to Sanzara during her stay in various hotels, while the correspondence sent from 1929 on is sent to her in Berlin while Davidsohn traveled in Italy, Switzerland, France, and England. In addition to personal matters, the letters discuss the political atmosphere, economic crisis, and cultural scene of Europe during the late 1920s and early 1930s, particularly in Germany, Switzerland, and France. The correspondence also reflects a rift in the relationship between Davidsohn and Sanzara. The correspondence suggests that Sanzara was endeavoring to publish a novel in 1932, and that the couple’s separation was at her request. In one of his last letters from 1935, Walter writes that he is boarding a ship that will sail from Le Havre to New York.

Outside of the correspondence from Davidsohn to Sanzara is the correspondence in folder 7, which relates to the author Ernst Weiss, who committed suicide in Paris in 1940. The correspondence in this folder shows that Rahel Sanzara knew Ernst Weiss and had acted in a production of at least one of his dramas. Most of the correspondence in this folder was written to Klaus-Peter Hinze, a professor at Cleveland State University who was conducting research on Ernst Weiss in the 1970s. His correspondents include, in alphabetical order, Elias Canetti, Albert Ehrenstein, Grete Fischer, Friedrich Holzlin, Hermann Kesten, Golo Mann, Hans Werner Richter, Elisabeth Rulf, and Anna Seghers.

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The collection is arranged chronologically.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

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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

The LBI Library holds a copy of Rahel Sanzara's Das verlorene Kind (Berlin: Ullstein, 1926) as well as works by Ernst Weiss, Der zweite Augenzeuge und andere ausgewaehlte Werke, edited by Klaus-Peter Hinze, and The Eyewitness with a postscript by Klaus-Peter Hinze. Also available is Klaus-Peter Hinze's bibliography of Ernst Weiss' works, Ernst Weiss: Bibliographie der Pimaer- und Sekundaerliteratur.

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Digitization Note

The collection was digitized and made accessible in its entirety.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Rahel Sanzara Collection; AR 25057; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Empty, blank envelopes were removed. Photocopies of materials were removed.

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Container List


Rahel Sanzara Collection,  circa 1920-1979

1 1 Undated notes, postcards, and telegrams circa 1920s
1 2 Undated letters circa 1920s-1930s
1 3 Correspondence from Davidsohn to Sanzara 1926-1928
1 4 Correspondence from Davidsohn to Sanzara 1929 February - March
1 5 Correspondence from Davidsohn to Sanzara 1932 February - June
1 6 Correspondence from Davidsohn to Sanzara 1933-1935
1 7 Correspondence regarding Ernst Weiss 1929-1979
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