Artur Strauss

Halle i. Westf., Germany
5. September 1940 Den Haag


Biographical/Historical Information

Arthur Strauss, the main focus of the collection, was a physician, poet, art collector, and painter. He was born in 1864 in Halle, Westphalia, Germany. His father, Abraham Strauss, was a physician. Arthur studied medicine and received his medical diploma in 1888. He specialized in Dermatology and published a textbook on skin diseases in 1895. He settled in Barmen, Germany where he had a successful medical practice. In 1900 Arthur married Lucy Hertz. Arthur and Lucy traveled extensively throughout Europe and also to the east coast of the United States. Many of the letters in the collection were written during these travels.

Arthur and Lucy had one son, Arnold, in 1902 who also became a physician. Arnold worked as a pathologist at a hospital in Berlin. In 1933 Adolf Hitler came into power in Germany and began to implement his policies against Jews. Because the Strauss' were of Jewish ancestry they were subject to these discriminative policies and found it hard to continue to work. In 1933 Arnold and his parents immigrated to the Netherlands. In 1935 Arnold secured a position at St. Vincent's Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia and immigrated to the United States. Arthur who was a very patriotic man and loved Germany greatly, was reluctant to leave Europe. It wasn't until 1938 that he finally gave up hope of returning to Germany and agreed to immigrate to the United States. Thus when Arnold began trying to obtain immigrant visas for them to join him in the United States it was probably too late due to the large numbers of people also trying to leave Europe at the time. He also unsuccessfully tried to obtain an immigration visa for his fiancee, Irmgard Keun, a German author. When the German army invaded the Netherlands in May 1940 the Strauss' became trapped there. Arthur and Lucy Strauss endured four months of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Then after apparently losing hope of being able to join Arnold in the United States they took their own lives in September 1940. Arnold's long-distance relationship with Keun eventually came to an end as well. In 1941 Arnold married an American, Marjory Ware Spindle. Arnold died in 1965.


The collection is arranged chronologically within each series. The postcards, photographs, and calling cards are not arranged chronologically as most of them are not dated.


The collection is divided into four series: Series I-Personal Correspondence, Series II-Publications, Series III-Certificates and Legal Documents, Series IV-Miscellaneous.

Series I: Personal Correspondence ranges from 1863 to 1938. The series includes correspondence between family and friends. All but a few letters are in German.

Series II: Publications ranges from 1844 to 1935. The series includes published articles by Arthur Strauss and Arnold Strauss. Also included are two reprints from "Der Beobachter," a copy of "Bericht 1915- 1917 Nationaler Frauendienst," and "Wieder Liebesbriefe" containing a poem by Irmgard Keun. There are two articles about Keun and other German women writers. Other newspaper clippings are from the Barmen newspaper and the "Women's Page" of the Frankfurt newspaper. All publications are in German.

Series III: Certificates and Legal Documents range from 1839 to 1918. This series includes certificates to practice medicine, documents regarding service in the army as a physician, and certificates of donations to the national treasury. School documents are also included such as grade reports, certificates of graduation and other academic documents. Most of these documents are in German, and a few of the academic certificates are in Latin.

Series IV: Miscellaneous includes undated manuscripts of works by Irmgard Keun, poetry by unknown authors, financial record books, post cards and picture postcards from the early 20th century, photographs, and calling cards.

Related Materials

Keun, Irmgard. "Ich lebe in einem wilden Wirbel: Briefe an Arnold Strauss 1933 bis 1947." Selected and edited by Gabriele Dries and Marjory S. Strauss. Dusseldorf: Claassen, 1988. In German.

This book is not part of the Strauss collection but is held in the Perry Library's general collection. The book tells the story of Arnold Strauss and Irmgard Keun's relationship through their letters.

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