Guide to the Papers of the Ellen Otten Family (1909-1999) , 1787-1998
 
AR 25106 / MF 698

Processed by Iris Homann

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305

Email: http://www.lbi.org/ask

URL: http://www.lbi.org

© 2006  Leo Baeck Institute
Finding aid was encoded by Lea Osborne on January 30, 2006. Description is in English.
May 2011 Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Otten, Ellen (1909-1999)
Title: Ellen Otten Family Collection
Dates: 1787-1998
Abstract: This collection details the life of Ellen Otten (1909-1999) and her husband, author Karl Otten (1889-1963). The records span from their childhoods, to their move to Spain at the onset of World War II, and their subsequent moves to both England and, finally, Switzerland. Although the majority of the files narrate the professional and personal life of Karl and Ellen, there is also a fair amount of documentation concerning the lives of Ellen's relatives, including the Kroner, Frenckel, Kastan, and Senger families. Some salient topics covered by this collection include German-Jewish daily life, immigration, and genealogical research.
Languages: The collection is in German, English and Italian.
Quantity: 1 linear foot
Identification: AR 25106 / MF 698
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Ellen Emilie Hedwig Otten (née Kroner) was born on June 28th 1909 to Jenny Kroner (née Kastan) and her husband, lawyer Heinrich Kroner. Ellen grew up in an upper-class household with her older brother Lux Ludwig (born on June 14th 1906). After the early death of her parents in 1928 and 1929, Ellen gave up her academic studies in the field of law and never completed any other professional training. Instead, she was always committed to the work of her business partner, and later husband, Karl Otten (1889-1963) who she met in 1930.

Karl Otten was an expressionist author who had been held in custody during World War I due to his anti-military activities. Throughout the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), he was a co-worker for democratic journals and supported the idea of a revolutionary reorganization of society in the sense of a messianic communism. He had foreseen the political development in Germany as early as 1932 and convinced Ellen to cancel the lease for her Berlin apartment. Karl Otten left Berlin on March 12th 1933 for Paris, a few days before his apartment got searched and all male residents present at the site were arrested. Ellen followed him five days later. Eventually they both moved to the island of Mallorca, Spain.

According to the documents included in this collection, Karl Otten and Ellen Kroner were planning to establish a weaving business. They had already purchased a handloom in anticipation of their potential business. This prospect was shattered, however, by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Ellen and Karl were forced to flee to England in the fall of that year.

On April 8th 1939, Karl Otten and Ellen Kroner married. In England, Karl worked for the Propaganda Department of the BBC. After he went blind, in 1944, Ellen began working for the BBC instead. She was responsible for selecting possible articles and reports that were then translated and offered to foreign radio stations as part of a British propagandist movement.

Both Karl and Ellen were interested in researching and preserving German-Jewish culture, in particular German avante-garde literature, which was effectively eliminated with the rise of Nationalist Socialism. Once Karl had lost his sight, Ellen assisted him in writing his prose and prepared and edited his anthologies of this lost literary genre. The need to save the works of German-Jewish authors drove Ellen to conduct extensive research in second-hand bookstores. She typed, edited and researched biographies of the many forgotten and missing Jewish writers. In addition, she traced their addresses or those of their heirs.

In 1958, Ellen and Karl Otten moved to Locarno at Lago Maggiore in Tessin, Switzerland in order to be closer to a German-speaking community. This move was intended to make communication with German publishers and broadcasting stations easier. Karl Otten died soon after the move on April 4th 1963; however Ellen continued working. In 1965, she edited writings of the author and philosopher Salomo Friedlander (also known as Mynona), while the following year she edited the correspondence of publisher Kurt Wolf, in cooperation with Bernhard Zeller. Other notable publications include a bibliography of Karl Otten's expressionist prose and translations of seven books by writer Isaac Bashevi Singer. She died in Locarno on December 9th, 1999.

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Scope and Contents

The Ellen Otten Family Collection is divided into seven series. The first half of the collection is concerned with Ellen Otten and her husband, writer Karl Otten. Their records are contained in Series I to Series III. Due to Ellen's interest in genealogy, the second half of the collection focuses on the family histories of the Kroner, Kastan, and Senger families. Since the histories of these families are intertwined, records regarding specific individuals are found in more than one series, in particular those materials referring to Jenny Kroner (née Kastan) and Hedwig Kastan (née Senger).

Series I contains personal and professional documents belonging to Karl and Ellen Otten, including birth certificates, academic records, marriage records, and citizenship documents.

Series II, which constitutes one of the larger series in the collection, holds Ellen Otten's correspondence from her childhood up to her inheritance of Karl's literary oeuvre in 1963. There is also correspondence with Ellen Kroner's family members as well as legal correspondence concerning the multiple relocations conducted by Ellen and Karl.

Karl and Ellen Otten's memorabilia may be found in Series III, such as newspaper clippings and cards announcing Karl's death, duplicates from the photograph collection and recipes.

Series IV consists of genealogical material about the Kroner and Frenckel families. The files document the lives of Ellen's paternal grandparents, Moritz and Emilie Kroner (née Frenckel), through marriage records, medical records, photo albums, and genealogical charts. The remainder of the series contains records referring to Heinrich Kroner, Ellen's father, including correspondence to his wife, Jenny (née Kastan). Please note that more material about Jenny Kroner may be found in Series V.

Records of the Kastan family are held in Series V. Some examples are mourning books, correspondence, a photo of the Kastan, Kroner and Senger families and Jenny Kroner's birth certificate.

Series VI contains material concerning the history of the Senger family. In addition to the family chart and a file related to Michaelis and Amalie Senger (née Solmsen), there is a folder for each child: Louis Senger, Louis and Doris Aschkinass (née Senger), Fanny Senger, Hermann Senger, Ferdinand and Hedwig Kastan (née Senger), and Elise (Lieschen) Senger. The largest folder is that of Ferdinand and Hedwig Kastan, Ellen Otten's maternal grandparents. This file holds birth and other certificates, marriage records, citizenship and immigration records.

The last series, Series VII, consists of one folder containing miscelleanous items that refer to the entire collection. There are several pieces of correspondence from unidentified authors as well as photographs of an unidentified man.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged in six series.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Collection is microfilmed (MF 698).

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.

Use Restrictions

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
email: lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org

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Separated Material

Separated material includes an audiotape with a recording of the radio show, Spätfolgen oder: Drei Emigrantinnen. Ellen Otten, Grete Weil und Joy Weisenborn im Portrait by Lisbeth Exner. This particular radio show, dated 1998, presents the biographies of the above-mentioned women and traces the impact of National Socialism on their lives.

Several pieces of realia have also been removed from the collection. These consist of an iron chain, an iron bracelet of a patriotic nature, and an engraved, silver cigarette case.

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Microfilm

Collection is available on 2 reels of microfilm (MF 698).

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known);Ellen Otten Family Collection ; AR 25106; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Container List

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.

 

Series I: Professional and Personal Documents, 1929-1997

This series is in German.
7 folders
Arrangement:

Topical arrangement

Scope and Content:

Series I contains personal and professional documents belonging to Karl and Ellen Otten, including birth certificates, academic records, marriage records, and citizenship documents.

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Birth Certificate (Ellen Kroner) 1909
1 2 Notice of Departure 1929-1965
1 3 Passport (photocopy) 1932
1 4 Academic Records 1933-1934
1 5 Marriage Records 1939
1 6 Immigration Records 1947, 1969-1997
1 7 Financial Records 1963
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Series II: Correspondence, 1916-1967

This series is in German and English.
0.25 linear feet
Arrangement:

Topical arrangement

Scope and Content:

Series II, which constitutes one of the larger series in the collection, holds Ellen Otten's correspondence from her childhood up to her inheritance of Karl's literary oeuvre in 1963. These letters are between Ellen and members of her immediate family, various professional insitutions that she worked with, and organizations that she was involved in.

Box Folder Title Date
1 8 Family Members undated, 1916-1929
1 9 Telegrams undated
1 10 Financial 1936-1939
1 11 Business 1936-1938
1 12 Breitenfeld, Hubert (1 of 2 folders) 1935-1939
1 13 Breitenfeld, Hubert (2 of 2 folders) 1935-1939
1 14 British Broadcasting Company (BBC) 1936-1958
1 15 Income Tax-Related 1940-1958
1 16 Rosner, A. 1954-1959
1 17 Association of Jewish Refugees in Great Britain 1952-1961
1 18 Medical 1963
1 19 Legal 1963-1967
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Series III: Memorabilia, 1960-1966

This series is in German and English.
3 folders
Arrangement:

Topically

Scope and Content:

Karl and Ellen's memorabilia may be found in Series III, such as newspaper clippings and cards announcing Karl's death, recipes, and duplicates from the photograph collection.

Box Folder Title Date
1 20 Karl Otten-Related 1960-1963
1 21 Recipes (photocopies) undated
1 22 Photographs (duplicates) undated
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Series IV: Kroner and Frenckel Families, 1787-1997

This series is in German and English.
0.25 linear feet
Arrangement:

Topical arrangement

Scope and Content:

Series IV consists of genealogical material about the Kroner and Frenckel families. The files document the lives of Ellen's paternal grandparents, Moritz and Emilie Kroner (née Frenckel), through marriage records, medical records, photo albums, and genealogical charts. The remainder of the series contains records referring to Heinrich Kroner, Ellen's father, including correspondence to his wife, Jenny (née Kastan). Please note that more material about Jenny Kroner may be found in Series V.

Box Folder Title Date
1 23 General Genealogical Material 1810-1994
1 24 Moritz and Emilie Kroner 1865-1896
1 25 Klaus Kroner 1996
1 26 Ursula Kay Levy 1997
1 27 Heinrich Kroner-Scans of Book Covers 1873?
1 28 Photoalbum undated
1 29 Photographs (Heinrich and Jenny Kroner) undated, 1894-1906
1 30 Dissertation (Heinrich Kroner) 1897
1 31 Legal Records (Heinrich Kroner) 1892-1918
1 32 Legal Correspondence (Heinrich Kroner) 1901
1 33 Correspondence with Jenny Kroner undated, 1909-1928
1 34 Professional Documents (Heinrich Kroner) 1915
1 35 Correspondence with W. Meiners (Heinrich Kroner) 1927
1 36 Family Registry 1841-1909
1 37 German Students' Songbook (Heinrich Kroner) 1891
1 38 Obituaries (Heinrich Kroner) 1929
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Series V: Kastan Family, 1796-1990

This series is in German.
8 folders
Arrangement:

Topical arrangement

Scope and Content:

Records of the Kastan family are held in Series V. Some examples of files within this group are mourning books, correspondence, a photo of the Kastan, Kroner and Senger families and Jennny Kroner's birth certificate.

Box Folder Title Date
1 39 General Genealogical Material 1796-1990
1 40 Photograph (photocopy) undated
1 41 Mourning Book (Julius Kastan) 1905
1 42 Mourning Book (Rosalie Kastan) 1913
1 43 Fred Kastan 1899-1918
1 44 Birth Certificate (Jenny Kroner, née Kastan) 1883
1 45 Correspondence (Jenny Kroner, née Kastan) undated, 1899-1900
1 46 Mourning Book (Jenny Kroner, née Kastan) 1928
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Series VI: Senger Family, 1837-1925

This series is in German.
7 folders
Arrangement:

Topical arrangement

Scope and Content:

Series VI contains material concerning the history of the Senger family. In addition to a family chart and a file relating to Michälis and Amalie Senger (née Solmsen), there is a folder for each child: Louis Senger, Louis and Doris Aschkinass (née Senger), Fanny Senger, Hermann Senger, Ferdinand and Hedwig Kastan (née Senger), and Elise Lieschen) Senger. The largest folder is that of Ferdinand and Hedwig Kastan, Ellen Otten's maternal grandparents. This file holds birth certificates, marriage records, citizenship and immigration records.

Box Folder Title Date
1 47 General Geneaological Material 1877
1 48 Michälis and Amalie Senger 1837-1884
1 49 Louis Senger 1873-1912
1 50 Louis and Doris Aschkinass 1874-1893
1 51 Fanny Senger (Correspondence) 1878
1 52 Hermann Senger 1873-1919
1 53 Ferdinand and Hedwig Kastan (née Senger) undated, 1860-1925
1 54 Elise (Liescher) Senger undated, 1890-1919
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Series VII: Miscellaneous, undated

This series is in German.
1 folder
Arrangement:

Scope and Content:

Series VII consists of one folder containing miscelleanous items that refer to the entire collection. There are several pieces of correspondence from unidentified authors as well as photographs of an unidetified man.

Box Folder Title Date
1 55 Miscellaneous Documents undated
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