Guide to the Papers of Margarete Kollisch (1893-1979)

AR 25058 / MF 763

Processed by Lydia Burghardt and Dianne Ritchey Oummia

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2007 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey Oummia in July 2007. Description is in English.
2010-03-23  encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kollisch, Margarete, 1893-1979
Title: Margarete Kollisch Collection
Dates:bulk 1939-1985
Abstract: This collection contains the papers of the writer Margarete Kollisch. The main subject of the collection is her life and writing, although material concerning other members of the family are also present. The collection consists of typescripts and manuscripts, correspondence, official documents, articles and clippings, photographs, audiocassettes, and notes.
Languages: The collection is in German and English.
Quantity: 2 linear feet.
Identification: AR 25058
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Margarete Moller was born on December 9, 1893 in Vienna, the daughter of the lawyer Ignaz and Hermine (née Bunzl-Federn) Moller. Margarete had a younger brother, Leopold. She attended the Mädchenlyzeum Schwarzwald in Vienna before studying philology at the University of Vienna. During World War I she worked as a nurse, for which she earned a silver Red Cross medal. Following the war she worked as a secretary and translator for the French Embassy in Vienna, and in 1917 she received her teaching certificate.

In 1923 Margarete Moller married the architect Otto Kollisch. They had three children: Stefan (later Steve), Peter, and Eva. In 1939 the family began to leave Austria. The children left first on a Kindertransport to England in July 1939, while Otto Kollisch emigrated to the United States via England in August 1939 and Margarete Kollisch travelled via Holland, arriving in the U.S. in October 1939. The children followed their parents to America in April 1940, when the family was reunited and settled in Staten Island. To support her family, Margarete Kollisch worked first as secretary to an antiquarian, then as a licensed massage therapist, a profession she would remain in for the next twenty-five years. She also gave private instruction in German and French.

Margarete Kollisch is most well-known for her poetry and prose; some of her poems were published in German and Austrian newspapers and journals, but it was not until 1960 that her first anthology, Wege und Einkehr, appeared. This work was followed in 1971 by Unverlorene Zeit and by Rückblendung, published posthumously in 1981, largely through the efforts of her daughter. Margarete Kollisch gave poetry readings for radio programs in New York and Vienna as well as for the Austrian Institute and Austrian Forum. In 1969 her work earned her a medal for foreign poetry from York College (CUNY). Margarete Kollisch died on October 11, 1979.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the literary work and life of the poet Margarete Kollisch. It also contains material on several of her family members including her daughter Eva Kollisch, brother Leopold Moller, and husband Otto Kollisch. The collection holds official documents, correspondence, manuscripts and typescripts, notes, audiocassettes, clippings, and photographs.

Biographical information on Margarete Kollisch is located in several areas of the collection. Biographical articles, obituaries, and clippings on the poet will be found in Series I: Personal. In addition, Series I holds her official papers, such as school certificates and recommendation letters. This series also contains an interview she gave to Mimi Grossberg in 1976. Margarete Kollisch's letters, in Series II, provide further information. Especially prominent in this series are the letters she exchanged with her husband and chidren during 1939 and early 1940, while waiting for her visa to the United States. Series III, which holds Margarete Kollisch's writing, also includes biographical material in the form of her short stories, some of which describe memorable events in her life. Margaret Kollisch's poems, which often describe her feelings as an exile, and which occasionally focus on political events, provide more personal glimpses into her life.

The literary compostions of Margaret Kollisch and material pursuant to the publication of her works reside in various places within the collection. As mentioned above, Margaret Kollisch's writings are in Series III. This series is mainly comprised of copies of unpublished typescripts and notebooks with handwritten drafts of her German poetry. The second subseries of Series III contains copies of her poetry published in newspapers and journals as well as some reviews of her work. Correspondence concerning the publication of Margarete Kollisch's third volume of poetry and aphorisms, Rückblendung, was carried out with Eva Kollisch, and is located in Subseries 2 of Series IV. The correspondence of this subseries also includes letters exchanged between Eva Kollisch and the publishers concerning the storage of previous volumes of Margarete Kollisch's writing and the copyrights to her works. An audiocassette of the author reading some of her own work is located in Series I. A copy of a poem Margarete Kollisch sent to Albert Einstein, to which he responded with a poem of his own, is in Series II.

This collection holds material on other members of the extended Kollisch family in Series I, II, and IV. Series I includes a notebook belonging to Margarete Kollisch's uncle Arnold Bunzl-Federn and family photographs. Scanned photographs consist of many childhood photos of Margarete Kollisch with her brother Leopold. The correspondence of Series II is also largely with family members, primarily wartime letters from her spouse and children, but also contains her last letter to her brother. Series IV, which is comprised of papers originating from Margarete Kollisch's daughter Eva, incorporates biographical articles on Eva Kollisch as well as sample chapters from her memoir, Girl in Movement, published in various journals. Material on Leopold Moller will be found in the final subseries of the collection, consisting of some of his letters, reminiscences given of him at his funeral, and a biographical article and notes.

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The collection is divided into four series in the following manner:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

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 to reserve 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

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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

Parts of the Margarete Kollisch estate are located at the archives of the State University of New York at Albany. They also maintain an online finding aid for their Margarete Kollisch Papers collection.

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Separated Material

Some books in this collection have been removed to the LBI Library. Among these are:

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Custodial History

The collection was donated by Eva Kollisch in sevaral installments in 2001-2005.

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The collection is on 3 reels of microfilm (MF 763):

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Margarete Kollisch Collection; AR 25058; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

The collection was processed in 2003 by Lydia Burghardt. In 2007 it was reprocessed to reflect the addition of addenda, specifically more personal documents, correspondence, and material relating to Leopold Moller. Similar materials were grouped together to form series and given new numeration, although much of the older processing order remained the same. In addition, series and subseries descriptions were added, as well as a collection-level scope and content note.

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Container List


Series I: Personal, 1882-1997

This series is German and English.
0.25 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Series I contains the personal papers of Margarete Kollisch. Among these papers are articles, photographs, and official papers such as her will and government-issued documents.

Several folders in this series provide biographical information on Margarete Kollisch. These include the brief biographies found in the Biographical Summaries and Obituaries folder. More detailed biographical details, involving a few reviews of her writing, will be found in the folder of Biographical Articles. Some information is located in the speeches given at her funeral. In addition, there is an audiocassette with an accompanying transcript of a short biographical interview with Margarete Kollisch.

Among the official papers of this series are educational documents from officials at the Schwarzwald academy and the University of Vienna. There is also a certificate from the Red Cross announcing the awarding of the Silver medaillon. Letters of reference from a hospital for the wounded attached to the University of Vienna record her service as a volunteer nurse, and those from the hospital and Old Age Home of the Jewish Community in Vienna document her service as a therapist and masseuse. Other documents from the French Legation in Vienna discuss her work there.

Documents pertaining to Margarete Kollisch's estate, such as her will, will also be found among the papers of this series. In addition, there are several folders of photographs, primarily of family members.

11Address Bookundated
13Biographical Articles1941-1997
14Biographical Summaries and Obituariesundated, 1979
15Collected Books1922-1966
16Estate and Inventory1966-1979
17Estate and Will1965-1979
18Funeral Arrangements and Service1979
19Notebook - Arnold Bunzl-Federn1882
110Official Papers and Letters of Reference1911-1939
112Photographs - Leopold and Dorie Mollerundated, 1974-1999
113Photographs - Scanned1924-1938
114Schwarzwald'sche Schulanstalten Wien - Jahrbuch1913
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Series II: Correspondence, 1934-1987

This series is in German and English.
0.25 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Series II holds the correspondence of Margarete Kollisch. It is predominantly comprised of family correspondence, although letters from others, such as friends and a few publishers, will also be found here.

The majority of letters are from Margarete Kollisch's family members to her, especially from her children and her husband Otto during 1939 and early 1940 when the family became separated while attempting to leave Austria. Letters from the children (often written by Eva Kollisch) describe their lives in England and the host families they stayed with while waiting for visas to America. Frequent mention is made of their schoolwork and classes, plans and hopes for the future, holidays, the acquisition of visas, and the children's fears for their parents, especially for their mother who was the last to leave Europe. Several of the earlier letters are addressed to Otto Kollisch; later letters are written to both parents.

Correspondence with Albert Einstein involves a copy of a handwritten letter by Margarete Kollisch to the professor with a poem she wrote for him, "Das himmlische Radio." Einstein wrote back with a poem as his response. A photocopy of the draft of this poem and some mathematical calculations are also in this folder, along with a letter by Helen Dukas, Einstein's secretary.

Some correspondence in this series discusses Margarete Kollisch's poetry. Both Emil Staiger and Frank Zwillinger wrote her with their positive reactions to her writing. The letters between Kollisch and Egon Frey, a fellow writer, give their opinions on each other's works. Correspondence from the publications Aufbau and Literatur und Kritik discuss the possibility of publishing two of her poems.

  • Aufbau
  • Dressler, Rudolf
  • Grossberg, Mimi
  • Mitziel, Levin?
  • Moller, Leopold
  • Schönfeld, Edith
  • Staiger, Emil
  • Zwillinger, Frank G.
116Children (Stephen, Peter, and Eva Kollisch)February 1939-1940
117Einstein, Albert1934-1962
118Frey, Egon1968-1971
119Kollisch, Otto1939-1940
120Kollisch, Otto - Telegrams1939
121Kollisch, Otto - Transcriptions and Translations1939-1940
122Literatur und Kritik1981
123Meyer, Fritzundated, 1953-1963
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Series III: Writings, 1910-1998

This series is in German and English.
0.5 linear foot.

This series contains two subseries:

Scope and Content:

Series III constitutes Margarete Kollisch's writing. The majority of documents in this series are unpublished typescripts, but there are also manuscripts, reviews of her work, and newspaper articles written by her.

Subseries 1: Manuscripts and Typescripts, 1910-1979

This subseries is in German and English.
0.375 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 holds unpublished manuscripts and typescripts of Margarete Kollisch's writings. The vast majority of these papers are typed copies of her poems, although there are also some short stories and aphorisms. Included in this subseries are a few notebooks containing Kollisch's handwritten poetry; these are often dated and appear to be drafts of the typed pieces. Occasional poems include poetry written for Margarete Kollisch's Uncle Stöhr, answers to invitations, and a few other special occasions. A draft copy of the 1934 poem Kollisch sent to Albert Einstein, "Das himmlische Radio," will also be found among the occasional poems. The folder "Rückblendung" contains draft pages of the work.

Several overlying themes can be found throughout the poetry and short stories. Most prominent are the themes of immigration and alienation in society. Other themes include love, politics, nature, relationships between individuals, and comments on daily events. Several of the short stories seem to be biographical, including one that relates Margarete Kollisch's cleaning of a synagogue for the Nazis, and another which describes interminable waits for the mail at several important points in her life. Other short stories encompass reminscences of family members and differences between Austrian and American society and customs. Early poems are dated but not titled.

125Aphorisms and Epigrams1910-1979
126Children's Stories - Englishundated
127Fairy Tales - Germanundated
128Notebooks - Poetry1918-1979
129Poems - pages 1-791910-1949
130Poems - pages 79-1241943-1951
131Poems - pages 125-1991951-1971
132Poems - pages 200-2311971-1979
133Poems and Occasional Poems1930-1934
134Poems and Occasional Poems1937-1974
136Short Stories - English1933-1975
137Short Stories - German1944-1965
138Short Stories - German1966-1977

Subseries 2: Published Works, 1930-1998

This subseries is in German and English.
0.125 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 is largely comprised of reviews of Kollisch's poetry as well as copies of articles. Among the articles are several letters to the editor, found among the papers in the folders on Aufbau and the Badener Zeitung. The remainder of papers here consist of reviews of various pieces of her poetry. Books in this subseries consist of a copy of Wege and Einkehr with handwritten chronological notes and the frontpages for Rückblendung.

139Aufbau - Articles and Poetry1949-1998
140Badener Zeitung - Articles and Poetry1930-1960
142German-American Studies - Reviews and Articles1969-1975
143Literatur und Kritik - Poetry and Prose1974-1978
144Other Newspapers and Journals - Poetryundated
145Reviews - Rückblendung1982
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Series IV: Eva Kollisch, 1952-2003

This series is in English and German.
1 linear foot.

This series is divided into four subseries:

Scope and Content:

Series IV holds the papers of Eva Kollisch. Documents in this series consist of correspondence, notes, articles, material pertaining to Leopold Moller, and material related to her own writing.

The primary focus of Series IV is on Eva Kollisch's efforts to preserve her mother's literary legacy. This is especially clear in the correspondence of Eva Kollisch, where most letters discuss the distribution, publication, and reviewing of her mother's final book Rückblendung or request copyright information for the reprinting of her poems. This subseries also holds letters with individuals who intended to write about her. Some correspondence mentions the establishment of her mother's archival collection at SUNY Albany; a plan describing Eva Kollisch's work on this subject will be found in Subseries 1.

Biographical information on Eva Kollisch is also present in this series. Subseries 1 holds biographical articles, and chapters from Eva Kollisch's memoirs are located in Subseries 3.

Material on the engineer Leopold Moller can be found in Subseries 4. Among these papers are correspondence, including family history, biographical articles, Eva Kollisch's detailed information on Leopold Moller's funeral, and documents given to him from the Institution of Chemical Engineers.

Subseries 1: Personal, 1954-2001

This subseries is in English and German.
0.25 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Eva Kollisch's personal papers consist of a variety of items. Many notes will be found in this subseries, as well as biographical articles and documents pertaining to her mother.

Biographical articles on Eva Kollisch incorporate a brief biographical note and a piece noting the influence of Thomas Mann's writing on her early years. This folder also contains press releases for readings of Girl in Movement, Eva Kollisch's memoir.

Notes in this subseries relate to several topics. Notes on women poets and exile literature contain papers on the work of Patrizia Guida, who was writing a book on women poets in exile (including a chapter on Margarete Kollisch). In addition, these notes hold articles on universities with programs in exile literature. Papers relating to Mimi Grossberg are primarily biographical, involving an autobiographical lecture she gave at the Literarischen Verein in New York, a brief article on the literary circle she created in New York, a few biographies, and a book review. Eva Kollisch's daily calendar appears to list journeys taken by her.

Several papers relating to Margarete Kollisch are in the folder "Other Personal Papers." These include a drawing of Gustav Mahler she kept, information on the gravesite of her father Ignaz Moller, and Eva Kollisch's plans for establishing an archive on her mother at SUNY Albany. There is also a benefit program that mentions a memorial to Margarete Kollisch from her son Peter.

21Biographical Articles and Press Releases1999-2001
22Daily Calendar1966
24Notes - Mimi Grossberg1955-1985
25Notes - Recipients of Margarete Kollisch's Booksundated
26Notes - Women Poets and Exile Literature1986-1997
27Other Personal Papers1954-1986

Subseries 2: Correspondence, 1979-2003

This subseries is in English and German.
0.5 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Correspondence in this subseries usually consists of letters sent to Eva Kollisch, although there are a few letters written by her. The two most frequently encountered topics are the publication of Margarete Kollisch's book Rückblendung, which Eva Kollisch undertook as her mother's literary executor, and the granting of copyright for various publishers to include Margarete Kollisch's poetry.

Biographical details on Margarete Kollisch will be found in several areas of this subseries. Chief among these is the correspondence between Eva Kollisch and Patrizia Guida, who included a chapter on Margarete Kollisch in her work Women in Exile. The correspondence with Guida includes drafts of her chapter with extensive suggestions and corrections by Eva Kollisch, such as commentary on how Margarete Kollisch may have felt as a Jewish Austrian exile. Correspondence with representatives at the Exilbibliothek of the Literaturhaus in Vienna contains a copy of a biographical piece Eva Kollisch wrote on Mimi Grossberg; it accomodates reflections on her mother's relationship to Austria. In addition, the correspondence with the Literaturhaus holds a copy of a questionnaire by Margarete Kollisch with questions about her work, such as her writing process and major themes and influences, as well as providing some general biographical information.

29Individuals - A-K1980-1994

  • Austrian Institute
  • Heintze, Freya
  • Lang, Olga
  • Kempny, Hedy
  • Grave, Lily
  • Kahn, Lisa
  • Knight, Max
  • Pantucek, Peter
  • Kreis, Gebriele

210Individuals - Grossberg, Mimi1980-1988
211Individuals - Guida, Patrizia1993-1994
212Individuals - L-Z1979-2000

  • Lachmann, Vera
  • Lang, Else
  • Mauthner, Franz
  • Margolius, Hans
  • Schmeichel-Falkenberg, Beate
  • Simko, Daniel
  • Zwillinger, Frank

213Individuals - Niers, Gert1976-1993
214Organizations - A-K1979-2001

  • Agens-Werk
  • Herdan-Zuckmayer, Alice
  • Jewish Refugees Committee
  • K.G. Saur Verlag München

215Organizations - Bergland Verlag (Friedrich Geyer)1979-1986
216Organizations - L-R1981-2003

  • New York Public Library
  • New York University
  • Österreichischer Rundfunk
  • Österrichisches Kulturinstitut Warschau
  • Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  • Österreichische Verlagsanstalt
  • Picus Verlag
  • Reclam

31Organizations - Literaturhaus - Dokumentationsstelle für neuere Österreichische Literatur1993-2000
32Organizations - S-W1980-1995

  • Sarah Lawrence Library
  • Simko, Daniel
  • State University of New York at Albany (John M. Spalek)
  • Wilfrid Laurier University

33Organizations - State University of New York at Albany1980-1995
34Organizations - Theodor Kraemer Gesellschaft2000
35Sample Letters - Book Reviews1982

Subseries 3: Writings, 1994-2000

Subseries 3 is in English.
2 folders.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 3 contains Eva Kollisch's own writing or documents relating to it. Documents concerning her memoir Girl in Movement are comprised of reviews of the book and copies of its frontpages (the book was removed to the LBI Library). Additionally, there are several chapters of memoirs used in anthologies, two of which came from Girl in Movement. These describe her early years in Austria, with mentions of the growing anti-Semitism, her parents' reactions to the changes, some of her experiences as a young woman in 1940s New York City, and a reunion with other former Kindertransport children.

36Book - Girl in Movement: a Memoir2000
37Memoir Chapters1994-1999

Subseries 4: Leopold Moller, 1952-1999

This subseries is in English and German.
0.25 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

The material on Leopold Moller ("Poldi"), Margarete Kollisch's brother, primarily chronicles the last years of his life. It includes correspondence, notes and biographical material, and a few photographs and professional papers.

Correspondence in this subseries is between Leopold Moller, who lived in England, and his niece Eva Kollisch as well as two letters sent by Leopold Moller to his nephew Steve Kollisch. Much of the correspondence with Eva Kollisch discusses the family history, such as the occupations of forbearers, and includes a brief family tree. Other letters exchanged with her mention her mother's funeral and last days and the death of Leopold Moller's wife Dorie. Letters to Steve Kollisch largely center on family news, but also mention world events of the early 1990s.

The folder pertaining to Leopold Moller's funeral provides a great deal of biographical information on him. Detailed biographical notes will be found here, as well as a copy of a biographical article on him, and the memorial speeches given at the funeral. A narrative of Eva Kollisch's trip to Bristol for the funeral is also located here. In addition, there are notes on individuals present at his funeral. A copy of Margarete Kollisch's last letter to her brother is also in this folder.

The photographs in this subseries are predominantly group pictures of family members and friends. Two of these contain notes on individuals present in the photographs.

38Correspondence - Birthday Cards1996
39Correspondence - Eva Kollisch1979-1998
310Correspondence - Steve Kollisch1990-1992
312Institution of Chemical Engineers - Rolled1952-1953
313Notesundated, 1999
314Scanned Photographsundated, 1929-1999
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