Udo Dr. Bayer CARL LAEMMLE LAEMMLE`s LIST

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Inhaltsangabe zu „CARL LAEMMLE LAEMMLE`s LIST“ von Udo Dr. Bayer

Udo Bayer Laemmle’s List Carl Laemmle’s struggle for affidavits for Jewish refugees “I am doing what my heart dictates me to do and I do it unstintingly…”first published in FILM HISTORY 4/1998 – Courtesy of S. Wiliams, Indiana University Press, USA Before Carl Laemmle's death on 24 September 1939, one of his great humanitarian deeds was the granting of affidavits for persecuted Jews. He wrote that he had never felt so much sympathy for any one thing in his life, and had only done what his heart had dictated. Until now the only published information on this has been the statement by the former chief executive of the Jewish Oberrat in Stuttgart, J. Wissmann1, who mentions more than three-hundred affidavits. The most important source of documentation is to be found in the National Archives in Washington DC. The discovery of these documents was accomplished toward the end of 1994 thanks to Karin Schick of Laupheim. Her research brought to light 45 documents consisting mostly of Laemmle's correspondence with American officials from November 1936 until May 1939. At times the actual files were not available, only index cards with date and names of the persons concerned; the actual files can be found in a branch of the Archives in Maryland. We could not determine the reason for the gaps in the material stored in the Archives. It is acknowledged that the persecution of Jews in the territories controlled by the Third Reich was unique, and is hardly comparable to the many reasons for migration and asylum seeking today. The one and only reason for their persecution was their ethnic origin, and was completely unrelated to any of their actions; for them this reason was immutable. Emigration was thus their sole option to escape with their lives. In spite of increasing obstacles set up by German authorities, and in spite of increasing restrictions enacted by possible guest countries, emigration was possible to some extent until the second half of 1941. The many American publications regarding the rescue of European Jews are almost completely devoted to administrative actions and the activities of persons in authority, even including those concerned with Jewish organisations. It is remarkable, however, that the difficulties in granting affidavits are neglected, even though they were the main condition for the rescue by flight.CarI Laemmle's correspondence would be of great importance in shedding light on this topic, but the present whereabouts of most of his letters are unknown. Carl Laemmle's son in law, Stanley Bergerman, has donated some memorabilia and a few letters to the City of Laupheim. The Kohner collection in the Stiftung Kinemathek in Berlin owns the letters from Laemmle to Paul Kohner, and now and then some other pieces of the correspondence in this matter also emerge. The fragmentary correspondence from the National Archives must be read against American immigration policies and the political events in Germany about which Laemmle was very well informed. He had first-hand information from his relatives in Laupheim. 1 J.Wissmann,´Zur Geschichte der Juden in Wuerttemberg, 1924-1939`, in P.Sauer, Die juedischen Gemeinden in Wuerttemberg und Hohenzollern (Stuttgart,1966), 204 2F ig.1. Laemmle maintaines contact with a large number of European émigrés, including Thomas Mann, at left, who was a guest at Laemmle´s home on 10 April 1938. Max Reinhardt and Ernst Lubitsch at right (Courtesy of the Mann Archive, Zurich) Germany, some of them from Laupheim; contact with emigrants (one of the most prominent was Thomas Mann); and he made yearly trips to Carlsbad, Switzerland and Paris. Beyond that, Laemmle engaged Joseph Roos, a German-born public relations specialist, who later would conduct an investigation of the Nazis for General Marshall.2 Stanley Bergerman has been able to supply an interesting letter which Laemmle wrote 1936 to his old friend and attorney, Edwin Loeb: “For a long time I have been a subscriber to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency which submits daily confidential reports on the Nazi situation, not only in Germany but in every country throughout the world. These confidential reports are extremely interesting and keep one thoroughly posted as to what is going on.” Beyond that, of course, Laemmle was immediately confronted with the situation of persecution through the letters of petitioners from Germany. After the 1 April 1933 boykott, Laemmle stopped the film production of Deutsche Universal in Germany, and the general manager of the corporation and Laemmle’s representative for Europe, Max Friedland of Laupheim, emigrated. This paper has a threefold aim: first, it sketches, as a part of his biography, an important part of Laemmle's activities during the last four years of his life, beginning in 1936 when he sold Universal. Because Laemmle’s commitment was unique in Hollywood, it is also a contribution to the history of the capital of the film industry. The second purpose is as a case study which reconstructs the possibilities for rescuing European Jews through the correspondence of a wealthy and well-known American Jew with a remarkable philanthropic commitment, and shows what happened when such attempts met with obstacles, allowing us to see what a man like Laemmle could accomplish. The third aim concerns also local history: to present a son of the city of Laupheim, who was not always judged in a friendly manner there, and examine some of the activities which could not previously be studied and appreciated.

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