Specialized Libraries and Archival Collections
AND FRITZ JESSNER
by Robert J. Rohrbacher
Date Completed: 7/13/2001
© 2001 University of Southern California. All Rights Reserved
Marta Mierendorff collection on Leopold and Fritz Jessner, 1910-1986
Mierendorff, Marta, collector.
1 cubic ft.
University of Southern California.
Specialized Libraries and
Los Angeles, California
Donation of Marta Mierendorff; 1986.
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE: Advance notice required for access. Consult
finding aid for additional information.
Rights: All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission
for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner
of the physical material and is not intended to include or imply permission
of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
Citation: [Identification of item], Marta Mierendorff Collection
on Leopold and Fritz Jessner, 1910-1986 (Collection 214 ). Specialized
Libraries and Archival Collections, Information Services Division,
University of Southern California.
born in Charlottenburg (Berlin), Germany in 1911. She received her
doctorate in 1949 from Humboldt University in Berlin. In the 1950s,
she turned to study of the sociology of art and co-founded the Institut
für Kunstsoziologie in Berlin with Heinrich Tost in 1954.
the late 1950s, Marta Mierendorff developed an interest in the study
of German-speaking exiles from the National Socialist regime. She
traveled to Los Angeles in 1964 and there began working on the history
of the Jewish Club of 1933, whose members were German Jewish exiles.
Marta Mierendorff moved
to Los Angeles in 1966. In 1971, she became a professor in the Department
of German at the University of Southern California. Professor Mierendorff
continued her research on German-speaking refugees, who were active
in theater, film, cabaret, and other cultural endeavors, and who came
to the United States in the 1930s and 1940s.
She also collected materials on their life and work. Considered
a pioneer in the study of exiles, Marta Mierendorff was made Emeritus
Research Professor in 1984 at USC.
Jessner was born in Königsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad,
Russia) on 3 March 1878. Before and during World War I, he worked
in theater as an actor and director. In 1919, he was appointed manager
of the Berlin State Theater. As a director, Leopold Jessner was associated
with the German Expressionist theater of the 1920s. He became well-known
for his innovations, which included the use of bare stages with graduated
levels and flights of steps that were used as platforms for different
actions in place of scene changes. In addition, he had his actors
use a simplified and antinaturalistic style of acting. Both a Jew
and a Socialist, Leopold Jessner left Germany in 1933 after the Nazi
seizure of power.
exile, Leopold Jessner directed a couple of plays for the Habimah
Theater in Tel Aviv in 1936. He immigrated to the United States in
1937. In the United States, he only directed two plays. Leopold Jessner
was an active member of the émigré community. From June 1941 to the
summer of 1943, he was president of the Jewish Club of 1933, an organization
of German-speaking immigrants. Leopold Jessner died in Los Angeles
on 13 December 1945.
Jessner was an actor, director, and the brother-in-law of
Leopold Jessner. He was born in Stolp (Pomerania), Germany on 19 August
1889. Fritz Jessner received his law degree in 1912. Afterwards, he
became an actor and worked in Königsberg, Munich, Hamburg and Berlin.
In 1925, he was appointed general manager and director of the Neues
Spielhaus in Königsberg. In 1933, Fritz Jessner became the stage director
for the Jüdischer Kulturbund in Berlin. In the summer of 1936, he
became the stage director at the Stadttheater in Bern, Switzerland.
During World War II, Fritz Jessner worked as a drama teacher in the
United States. He died on 8 June 1946.