Felix Guggenheim

Felix Guggenheim

Felix Guggenheim


Felix Guggenheim emigrated to the United States in 1940. An influential publisher in Germany, Guggenheim was able to utilize his former contacts to establish a successful business as a literary agent and legal advisor for clients in the U.S. and in Germany after the end of World War II.

Felix Guggenheim (born June 6, 1904, in Constance, Germany; died June 21, 1976, in Beverly Hills, CA) emigrated to the United States in 1940 after short stays in Switzerland and England. Guggenheim, who had been influential in the German publishing field in his position at the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, partnered on a company that manufactured products made from plastic and started a small bibliophile publishing house called Pazifische Presse with his partner Ernst Gottlieb. After the end of World War II, he was able to utilize his former contacts to establish a successful business as a literary agent and legal advisor for clients in the U.S. and in Germany. More a mediator and a consultant than an agent, Guggenheim was fundamental in establishing and expanding a flourishing market for German-speaking writers in the U.S. by mediating and consulting publishers and writers alike in affairs of German and American law in the publishing and movie field. Among Guggenheim’s clients were Thomas Mann, Heinrich Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger, Alfred Neumann, Curt Goetz, Vicki Baum, Erich Maria Remarque, Jürgen Thorwald, Johannes Mario Simmel, Alma Mahler-Werfel, Victoria Wolff, Paul Kohner, and many more.

Family Background, Youth, and Early Career

Felix Guggenheim was born June 6, 1904, in Constance in the state of Baden, Germany, to Alfred Guggenheim and Gisela Guggenheim, née Billigheimer. Felix Guggenheim’s paternal grandparents are recorded to have been founding members of the New Israelite congregation (Neue Israelitische Gemeinde) in Constance in 1862.[1] His father was born in the town of Worblingen but soon moved to Constance where he became a successful merchant. City records show that Guggenheim’s father Alfred owned a store for men’s clothing in the Rosgartenstrasse 26.[2] In 1924, he was one of seven wardens of the Jewish congregation of Constance.[3] Felix Guggenheim had one sister, Lene Guggenheim, who later married Richard Guggenheim (not related) and emigrated to New York.[4]

Felix Guggenheim went to school in Constance where he graduated from a humanistic secondary school in 1922. He was a co-founder of a pro-Zionistic youth association named Blau-Weiss. The association was involved in arranging athletic activities such as hiking but also in sparking interest in Palestine.[5]

Guggenheim went on to study law and economics for two semesters in Munich and then moved to Hamburg where he continued his studies. In 1924 he relocated to Zurich, Switzerland, where he earned his doctorate in economics with his thesis Der deutsche reichseigene Industriekonzern in 1925.[6] After his time abroad, Guggenheim returned to Leipzig University in the fall of 1925 where he earned his doctorate in law with his thesis Verfügungen von Todes wegen zu Gunsten eines nicht rechtsfähigen Vereins (Testamentary Provisions Benefiting a Non-Legal Association).[7] He moved to Berlin and was offered a position as a journalist in economics for the well-known newspaper Vossische Zeitung.[8] He didn’t accept, however, and instead began working at the private banking firm of Schöneberger in 1925. He stayed there until 1931.[9] The Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, one of the leading German book clubs with close ties to the Seydel AG printing house, was one of Schöneberger’s clients. Guggenheim must have made a good impression on his clients because in 1931, he transferred to Seydel and thus laid the groundwork for his career in the publishing field. His expertise in law, economics and literature provided a solid foundation for success. Within a year, in 1932, he received an offer for a leading position in the club and accepted.

In 1936, Guggenheim married the film actress Evelyn Holt. Her successful career in film had ended abruptly in 1933, allegedly because her birth name, Evelyn Sklarz, was considered Jewish.[10] Thanks to her professional training as a singer, she worked as a soubrette for the Komische Oper in Berlin to make a living until she married Guggenheim. She then resigned altogether, never again appearing in another movie or on stage.

After the rise of National Socialism in Germany, Seydel was aryanized but Guggenheim, a Jew, was able to keep his position as a member of the board at Seydel and the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft until going into exile in 1938. He argued successfully before the Reich Chamber of Culture (Reichskulturkammer) that he was in charge of the Seydel AG, the mother organization of the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft which focused on printing and binding, and thus did not belong to the group of people who had to apply for membership.[11]

According to Guggenheim, he managed to ignore the existence of the Third Reich completely as long as he worked at the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft. The book club did not mention the Reich’s existence or its leaders in their magazine Lesestunde and “went on as if nothing had happened.” Until Guggenheim’s departure in 1938, the Lesestunde was the only German magazine which had never mentioned the words Nazism or Hitler and did not print a picture of anything related to the Nazis.[12] (The cover of a 1939 issue depicting a portrait of Adolf Hitler shows, however, that even the Lesestunde soon was not able to escape cooperation with the Nazi regime anymore.)

From Germany to the United States

According to an interview with his son Alfred Kim Guggenheim, Felix Guggenheim first traveled to the United States in 1938.[13] Through his work for the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, Guggenheim had connections to influential people in the government who had warned him very early to leave the country. He boarded the S.S. Bremen in Southampton on August 17, 1938, and arrived in New York on August 22, 1938. During his stay in New York, he probably made preliminary preparations for his later emigration.[14] Guggenheim returned from New York on a German boat but disembarked in England. He had previously phoned his wife and asked her to meet him in Switzerland, where he went from there.

Although Guggenheim had to leave everything behind in Germany, he was able to retrieve some of his belongings from Germany through his collaborators who came to meet him in Zurich. He had also prepared for the escape to Switzerland by buying valuable property in Constance which was highly sought after by Swiss firms. He was now able to exchange that property for property in Switzerland. In early 1939, Evelyn und Felix Guggenheim’s residence permits for Switzerland expired and were not renewed. This forced the couple to leave for England on March 2, 1939, where Guggenheim had friends and business partners who helped them settle.[15]

After arriving in England, Guggenheim spent much time trying to sell his remaining property in Switzerland and transfer the proceeds to a bank in England. He chose to invest in a company producing color copies using the Colorprint procedure. He used machinery and facilities from the existing company Spectrocolour in London of which he then became a partner. Clients for his color copies were photography shops, amateur photographers, printing houses, and professional photographers. But his business operations in England did not yet yield significant profits; on the contrary, they required investments for which Guggenheim relied on the money from Switzerland.[16]

After the fall of France in 1940, Felix and Evelyn Guggenheim left England in August 1940 on a boat which was supposed to take them to Shanghai but stopped over in Vancouver, Canada, on its way there. The Guggenheims disembarked.[17] From Vancouver, they drove down the coast to Seattle and into the United States. Guggenheim’s American friends and family—especially his aunt Anni and uncle Sol as well as his sister Lene and her husband, who had emigrated to the United States earlier—had arranged for American visas in Canada.[18]

Felix and Evelyn continued first to San Francisco and then on to Los Angeles. Often called the Weimar on the Pacific, Los Angeles was the place to go for many German-speaking exiles, especially artists, who hoped to find work in the movie studios of Hollywood. There was also a strong system of support by already established German émigrés such as the European Film Fund, funded by film agent Paul Kohner. The European Film Fund was an organization which assisted European emigrants with getting affidavits, money, and jobs. Among the recipients of help from the European Film Fund were Heinrich Mann, Alfred Döblin, Ludwig Marcuse, Leonhard Frank, and many more. The existence of this support system in Los Angeles and the many acquaintances Guggenheim knew from his time at the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, among them Thomas Mann and Alfred Neumann, certainly contributed to his decision to settle in Los Angeles instead of San Francisco.[19]

Business Development: Finding Ways to Succeed in the United States

Like most exiles, Guggenheim faced the problem of how to provide for his family. Although he had not yet found satisfying employment in the U.S., he was able to earn a small regular income from an apartment building he bought with the money he had brought with him. This small income helped him provide for his family while he was looking for more profitable investments and adapting to the new culture and language.

In 1942, together with his companion Ernst Gottlieb, Guggenheim went back to his literary roots and started Pazifische Presse, a small press focusing on publishing German-speaking immigrant authors in Southern California. Back in Germany, Gottlieb had edited a bibliography of publications by and about the German politician Walter Rathenau, and after coming to Los Angeles became a photographer who took pictures of many of the exiled artists in Los Angeles. He and Guggenheim met and became friends in Los Angeles, sharing a love of books and of the German culture. Pazifische Presse announced its establishment in an advertisement in Aufbau on October 30, 1942. The advertisement offered a subscription to a small amount of publications in the German language:

We invite you to subscribe to a number of small publications which shall be published in the native language of their authors. We would like to be testament to the eminent cultural force which was driven out by Hitler and found a safe haven in America. […] We are indebted to these authors and hope to thank them in this way. They are, after all, the best and most valuable [talent] we have to show for ourselves in our new homeland. Our company—a non-profit—is not based on considerations of business or success and does not pass value judgments on the publications by their selection or sequence.[20]

During the years 1942-1948, Pazifische Presse published works by Lion Feuchtwanger (Wahn oder Der Teufel in Boston, 1948; Narrenweisheit oder Tod und Verklärung des Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1952), Alfred Döblin (Nocturno, 1944), Friedrich Torberg (Mein ist die Rache, 1943), Alfred Neumann (Gitterwerk des Lebens, 1943), Leonhard Frank (Mathilde, 1943), Thomas Mann (Thamar, 1942; Das Gesetz, 1944; Leiden an Deutschland. Tagebuchblätter aus den Jahren 1933 und 1934, 1946), Franz Werfel (Die wahre Geschichte vom wiederhergestellten Kreuz, 1942; Gedichte aus den Jahren 1908-1945, 1946), and Bruno Frank (Sechzehntausend Francs, 1943).

The work for Pazifische Presse during this time laid the groundwork for Guggenheim’s later career as a literary agent. The selection of authors Pazifische Presse published was mainly based on personal relations with the writers. As a rather small press, the Pazifische Presse financed its publications by selling subscriptions prior to printing of the two different versions: a regular half-cloth edition, and a deluxe edition, signed and bound in half-leather. The publishers never published a print run higher than five hundred for a book. The first seven editions were published in print runs of only 250.[21]

But neither Pazifische Presse nor the apartment building provided an adequate income for Guggenheim and his wife. He explored various other business opportunities such as becoming a partner in an orange and chicken farm[22] and in a company called Multi-Plex MFG. Co., which manufactured and distributed plastic articles of all kinds such as frames, lamps, and towel holders.[23]

Multi-Plex was located on 501-503 West Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles and was owned by Max E. Lipman.[24] Lipman and Guggenheim became partners in Multi-Plex toward the end of 1944, and it is obvious from the letters they wrote to each other while on business trips or vacations during their partnership that they shared a very deep friendship and thought highly of each other.[25] The company thrived during the war years and grew quickly:

We shipped Tuesday $1041 but our production that day was only $780. Wednesday our shipping was $2307 (completing Hilo) and our production was $1836. […]The figures so far for this month are as follows: We have shipped $12,626 as against $8,346 for the similar day of last month for a net gain of $4,280. Our bank balance to-day is $17,789.82 which includes $4,000 received from our reserve. The orders come in in greater volume than at any time in our history and we should have a record breaking month.[26]

Guggenheim and his partner were successful in turning the lack of wood and metal during the war years into a flourishing business for Multi-Plex by producing and selling articles that had formerly been fabricated of these materials but were now made of plastic. However, as soon as the war was over, the demand for Multi-Plex’s plastic goods diminished as materials such as wood and metal became available again.

Guggenheim, however, remained optimistic and full of plans. He and Lipman began looking for other business opportunities and on July 22, 1947 extended their partnership by signing an escrow contract in the name of Multi-Plex with the First National Bank for property in San Diego County which included a farm, machinery, and a pumpkin patch. From the correspondence between the two partners, it is evident that Lipman and Guggenheim were involved in producing orange oil, orange pulp, a cattle feeding line, and had a chicken farm on the property at one time. Not having extensive expertise in the field themselves, they leased much of the land to orange farmers, receiving from them the orange peel and part of the harvest as part of the deal. Both Lipman and Guggenheim seemed excited about the farm project and the opportunities it offered, although they ran into many difficulties due to their lack of experience and problems with machinery and their lessees.

In addition to exploring new business opportunities in California, Guggenheim tried to learn more about current affairs and business opportunities in post-war Germany. He asked his friend Frederick A. Praeger, an Austrian immigrant from a book publishing family in Vienna who had returned to Germany in the American army, to keep him posted about upcoming opportunities for export from Germany to the United States.[27] He also inquired about Praeger’s impressions of the publishing situation in Leipzig and the Russian zone in general. Praeger would eventually found a major publishing house in New York in 1950, focusing on international relations, Russian and German history, military science, and art.[28]

In a 1946 letter to Frederick A. Praeger, Guggenheim reveals that he heard from Mr. Semrau, a trusted former colleague at the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, that all his belongings had been seized by the Gestapo and sold at auction. Guggenheim stresses in the letter to Praeger that he does not miss the furniture, the paintings, the carpets, etc. but that he misses his books and all his private notes and letters, and that he hates the thought of some Nazi enjoying his beautiful things.[29]

The End of Pazifische Presse, and New Opportunities

With the end of the war and many writers returning to Europe, the work of Pazifische Presse also came to an end. All in all, Pazifische Presse had published eleven volumes by 1948. The press was revived one last time in 1952 to produce a final work, Feuchtwanger’s novel Rousseau, limited to one hundred copies.[30]

Guggenheim’s partner, Ernst Gottlieb, relocated to Palm Springs in the late 1950s or early 1960s and continued to work as an antiquarian book dealer specializing in books and musical literature.[31] The two friends stayed in touch by writing and visiting each other regularly. In a letter to Guggenheim of February 10, 1961, Gottlieb mentioned a book which he planned to write about their work with Pazifische Presse and his time in Los Angeles. Unfortunately he was not able to realize the project as he passed away later in 1961.[32]

Thanks to Guggenheim’s excellent reputation in the publishing field, his contacts with writers and former business partners in publishing houses, and his expertise in both German and American legal matters, he was able to establish himself successfully as a literary agent and legal advisor to many of the prominent authors he had met during the years of war. His contacts included Feuchtwanger, Werfel, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Vicki Baum, Paulette Goddard, Frederick Kohner, Kurt Marek (Curt Ceram), Alfred Neumann, Erich Maria Remarque, Max Tau, Alma Mahler-Werfel, Victoria Wolff, and Arnold Zweig.

In 1944, Guggenheim reported to his friend Herbert Picard that he had been asked by his friends in Sweden to secure the rights to works by refugee writers, as after the war there would be an immediate need for books that had been unavailable under the Nazi occupancy. Sweden at the time was the only European country able to export paper.[33] From 1950 on, Guggenheim started taking regular trips to Germany. He reconnected with former colleagues and friends, assisted his clients in German-American copyright questions, and provided counseling in legal and financial matters.[34] An art collector and history buff himself, Guggenheim initiated various publications of art history and cultural history. Of his second trip to Europe, Guggenheim wrote to his wife Evelyn:

This trip differs considerably from the one last year: both in a good and in a bad way: while last year everything was a first: greetings, getting to know each other, sentimental experiments, now the “sugarcoating is gone,” which means that everything is more matter-of-fact, down-to-earth, businesslike. On the other hand the objective chances are better, because no one is baffled by the reason for my visits and negotiations and thus much comes to a closing which last year I would have had to leave in a state of prearrangement.[35]

Guggenheim also used his overseas trips to explore business opportunities for Multi-Plex and kept in very close contact with his partner Max E. Lipman about decisions concerning Multi-Plex. By 1951, the company letterhead shows an office on 953 South Grand Avenue in addition to the factory on 501 West Olympic Boulevard. [36] In 1954, the farm they had acquired with Multi-Plex had grown to more than sixty acres[37] and Guggenheim explored opportunities for selling their cattle feeding line made from pressed orange peels during his trips to Europe:

As I already wired you the Swiss cattle are looking forward longingly to eat orange pulp […]. You can imagine my frustration not to be able to promise them anything, but it is a good feeling to know that when ever [sic!] it may become necessary we have an additional outlet, not known to the normal orange pulp producers.[38]

It was around this time when “Export and Import Division” was added to the Multi-Plex letterhead. What exactly happened to the partnership between Guggenheim and Lipman remains unclear but their correspondence toward the end of the 1950s shows that their relationship and their business partnership had grown strained. Lipman seemed to seek new business opportunities by acquiring first a motel in Yuma (in which Guggenheim seems to have partnered with him) and then two additional properties in Escondido and Los Angeles. In a letter of May 27, 1959, Guggenheim expressed his great disappointment with Lipman for not getting back to him and for neglecting obligations such as payments. In May 1959 Guggenheim expressed his wish to dissolve his “Yuma-partnership” with Lipman[39] in a letter to him, and in December of the same year, Guggenheim referred to the final liquidation of Multi-Plex in a letter to Lipman[40].

Meanwhile, Guggenheim’s business opportunities in the literary sector flourished and his trips to Europe and the East Coast often lasted several months. His experience in the literary field and his longtime contacts with many of the prominent writers of the time made Guggenheim a trusted and highly valued advisor. He did not exactly act as a literary agent, as the writers he worked for were successful and established already. His role was rather that of a consultant and negotiator for international affairs who was valued by publishers and authors alike for his expertise in the literary field and his knowledge of legal affairs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sometime during the early 1950s, Guggenheim started to work for the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft again. Minutes of meetings between Felix Guggenheim and the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft evidence his role as a negotiator who was extensively involved in obtaining the rights to works desired by the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, frequently involving negotiations with the Droemer publishing house or other publishing houses.[41] For his involvement with the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, Guggenheim received regular and increasing provisions.[42] Besides the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, the German Knaur publishing house, run by Willy Droemer, was a regular client of Guggenheim’s Internationale literarische Agentur (International Literary Agency).[43] The publishing house had been destroyed during World War II but Willy Droemer managed to receive a new license and founded the Droemersche Verlagsanstalt in 1946. He continued in the tradition of his father, Adalbert Droemer, by producing affordable editions for the German post-war society.[44] Guggenheim worked on a commission basis[45] and was extensively involved in acquiring rights and negotiating terms for international works and co-productions for Droemer.[46]

Through his reestablished contact with Gotthold Müller at the Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt (DVA) in Stuttgart, Felix Guggenheim was given the opportunity to represent the successful author Peter Bamm internationally:

I write to you because of the following, important reason: I recently visited Peter Bamm in his new house in Baden-Baden, Fremersbergstrasse 47a. During our conversation your name was mentioned and Peter Bamm was glad to hear that we are in such good contact. He revealed to me that it is his wish to put the international representation of his works into your hands.[47]

Guggenheim wrote to Peter Bamm right away and met with him and Müller in May 1958 during one of his trips to Germany. As a result of this meeting, Felix Guggenheim became Peter Bamm’s international representative.

Among the many clients whom Guggenheim advised on foreign copyright affairs and who appreciated his legal expertise and counsel was also Paul Kohner, the Hollywood movie agent. Among other projects, Guggenheim was involved in advising Kohner on decisions regarding the film The Emigrants, starring Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann. That his advice was not solely of legal character can be gleaned from a note to Kohner from February 1969:

The role as the leader of the workers may be the more important one, and Max von Sydow may be capable of playing all characters thanks to his acting skills, but one needs to understand the viewpoint of the director who—for the role of the leader of the workers—looks for a proletarian who smells like sweat, while Max von Sydow is a gentleman, a man of character, of social and tasteful niveau […].

Further down in the same note, he also advised Kohner on the importance of Max von Sydow’s part for Liv Ullmann:

Finally it seems important that a man like him, who just appeared in SHAME for an international audience as Max Sydow and Liv Ullman [sic!], should also now not leave Liv Ullman [sic!] alone in her first international film. It is not important if he has a scene together with her, but it is important that the great Scandinavian male star and the up-and-coming Scandinavian female star are to be seen together in the same advertisement and on the same advertising pillar.[48]

Kohner had full confidence in Felix Guggenheim. The latter even served as an advisor to Paul Kohner’s assistant Irene when Kohner was traveling, as shown in a letter of March 27, 1970:

Thanks very much for your letter of March 19th which I received today via Helga. I shall now follow your advice regarding Dr. Staub. […] Thanks also for the other information, by which I can now be guided.[49]

The trust of clients such as Kohner, Bamm, and many others shows the immense impact Guggenheim had in the market of publishing European authors in the U.S. It speaks to his knowledge of legal affairs and to how much his personal opinion was valued by writers, publishing houses, and talent agencies alike.

Social Status, Networks, Family, and Public Life

Besides his work for Multi-Plex and Pazifische Presse, Guggenheim was very active in helping other refugees escape to the United States during World War II. Correspondence between Guggenheim and his cousin Heinz Hagelberg spanning several decades shows Guggenheim’s tireless efforts to provide legal advice, financial assistance, and employment opportunities for others. His vast correspondence with family members and friends, both in the U.S. and in Germany, attests to his reputation and the trust family and friends had in Guggenheim as he was frequently consulted in legal and financial matters of great importance.

Guggenheim was very involved with the Jewish Club of 1933, where he also assisted fellow members with legal advice regarding immigration. The German-Jewish Club of 1933 had been founded by Theo Löwenstein and Lothar Rosenthal with the help of the dentist Dr. Bruno Bernstein. Its function was to help German émigrés find work and assistance in the post-Depression America of 1933 and to familiarize them with and integrate them into the American culture. The members of the Los Angeles based club would ask around to find employment for the newly arrived and assist with legal paperwork.[50] In May 1939, the club had more than 1,500 members. Meetings took place regularly and provided a platform for emigrated artists to showcase their work. Around 1940, a discussion about the term German in “German-Jewish Club of 1933” arose and in August of 1940, the club was renamed “Jewish Club of 1933” under its president Leopold Jessner.

After the United States entered World War II, German émigrés were considered alien enemies. A curfew forced them to stay within five miles of their home and to be at home by 8 pm. Around this time, Felix Guggenheim was the head of the political division of the Jewish Club of 1933 and it was thanks to Guggenheim’s extraordinary skills as a mediator that the Americans recognized the club as an official émigré organization. This, at the time, was a great success.[51]

In 1943, Guggenheim became the president of the Jewish Club of 1933. In this position, he initiated a series of readings for authors writing in German. In 1945, Guggenheim arranged for a reading from Das Gesetz by Thomas Mann which served as a fundraiser for the American Red Cross and the American War Bonds.

From Guggenheim’s private correspondence we learn that he enjoyed living in California and was eager to encourage his friends to come to the United States, especially to California. In a letter to his mother on her 60th birthday, he wrote:

My dear mother: one of the benefits of emigration is that in Constance, a woman of 60 years is considered an old woman, while in America a woman of 60 years is in her prime, and has many years of activity and youthfulness ahead of her—like Sol’s wife and countless others—who on the occasion of her 60th birthday starts to think it might be time to dye her hair a bit darker, that is if she does not think that white hair matches her purple hat with a bright red bird on top a little better. […] We are living in times of limited happiness and if in addition to health you have a roof over your head, a Long Island duck in the pot, and the children, children-in-law and grandchildren are safe, then this is the basis of what one can expect on a 60th birthday in America in 1943. […]. The longer the war keeps going, the more obvious it becomes that emigration was not a banishment (as the Nazis—and often we ourselves—believed), but a rescue before disaster spread across Europe.[52]

In a letter to Frederick A. Praeger he praised the benefits of California, and encouraged Praeger to join him:

California is very tempting. The climate and the way of enjoying life have a great influence on everybody. The population is increasing every month and there are many opportunities. But of course job hunting isn’t an easy business even here. Considering the pro and contra I should say that California would be the right place for you to go if you don’t think that the job you have now is the right thing for you. […] We are very happy here and are grateful to our fate that we are here. And there are so many friends here that you feel at home very soon.[53]

Guggenheim’s enthusiasm for the United States also shows in a fragment of an undated draft for a speech for the Jewish Club of 1933. The speech makes it clear that Guggenheim and other members of the club had no intention of returning to post-war Germany:

In the meantime many of us have become citizens and the rest of us will be sworn in during this year and next year. When the war will be over no alien problem of any proportion will exist among the refugees any longer thanks to their farseeing policy of administration. And let me say it clearly: The refugees organized in the Jewish Club of 1933 have no other aim and intention than to be or become American citizens, fulfilling the duties and exercising the rights this privilege involves. It would be a great mistake to assume – or to conclude from an exceptional single case – that the Jewish refugees from Germany would ever think of returning there.[54]

Toward the end of 1945 Guggenheim’s wife Evelyn became pregnant and the couple bought a three bedroom house on 6259 Del Valle Drive as evidenced in a letter to his aunt Ida Schatz on January 6, 1946:

Special greetings from Evelyn, who will have a baby in late summer […]. In the letter head you will see our new address. We have bought a small house, because the larger family would have not been able to live in the small apartment.[55]

On April 26, 1946, Felix Guggenheim became a U.S. citizen[56] and on July 27, 1946, Felix Guggenheim’s wife Evelyn gave birth to their only son, Alfred Kim Guggenheim, in Santa Monica. Writing from his European business trips to his wife Evelyn, Guggenheim would often ask how der kleine Junge (the little boy) was doing, or ask her to send him a newer picture of Kim in the mail.

Around 1954, the family outgrew the house on Del Valle Drive and Guggenheim bought a four bedroom house with pool on 725 N. Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills.[57]

It was on one of the first trips to Germany after the war that Guggenheim reconnected with his former secretary Margret Horlitz, who used to work for him at the Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft. As Horlitz vividly recalled in an interview,[58] Guggenheim offered her to come with him to Los Angeles and work for his family as a live-in secretary, housekeeper, and babysitter, to which she happily agreed. On May 5, 1952, Horlitz arrived in Beverly Hills and worked for the Guggenheims until her retirement in June 1969. In the interview of 1990, she stated that Guggenheim had “shockingly many friends” and was “the best boss one can imagine.”


For his contributions to re-establishing German-speaking authors in the international book market, Guggenheim was honored with the Order of Merit First Class (Bundesverdienstkreuz) by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1966. In 1969, Guggenheim was part of a delegation from Los Angeles which traveled to Europe from July to August. Guggenheim’s vast correspondence proves that he remained active professionally until suffering from two strokes. He died in Beverly Hills on June 21, 1976.

As we learn from the interview with Margret Horlitz, Guggenheim’s wife Evelyn went into isolation after her husband’s death. She allowed only Kim to visit her and did not want to see anyone else. She passed away on February 22, 2001.

Felix Guggenheim’s son Kim gave his father’s papers to the University of Southern California in 2001. Today, the Felix Guggenheim papers are a treasure trove for researchers working on German-speaking exiles in Southern California, refugee organizations, enemy alien issues, and the history of exile publishing.


[1] Manfred Bosch, Felix Guggenheim – Jurist, Verleger, Literaturagent, Konstanzer Almanach 2012 (Konstanz: Stadler, 2012), 73.

[2] Bosch, 73.

[3] „Konstanz (Kreisstadt, Baden-Württemberg) mit Meersburg, Radolfzell, Singen und Überlingen Jüdische Geschichte/Betsäle/Synagogen bis 1938,“ Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Gemeinde, retrieved from http://www.alemannia-judaica.de/konstanz_synagoge_a.htm#Konstanz (accessed January 09, 2012).

[4] Information provided by Felix Guggenheim’s son, Alfred Kim Guggenheim, via fax to the author on December 29, 2011.

[5] Bosch, 73.

[6] Published by Rascher, Zurich in: Zürcher volkswirtschaftliche Forschungen,1925.

[7] Bosch, 73.

[8] The estimate for the shipment of his belongings from Berlin to Southampton in 1939 shows the address Berlin-Grunewald, Trabenerstrasse 24. Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 167, 2, USC Libraries.

[9] From an interview of Herbert A. Strauss with Felix Guggenheim (January 6, 1972).

[10] Ibid.

[11] The Reichskulturkammer was an institution in Nazi Germany which was established in the course of the consolidation of institutional powers (Gleichschaltung) as a professional organization of all German creative artists. Artists had to apply for membership and present an Aryan certificate. Those unable to present a certificate were banned from their profession.

[12] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Frederick Praeger (undated), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 32,3, USC Libraries.

[13] Interview with Kim Alfred Guggenheim (September 9, 1990), Special Collections, USC Libraries.

[14] Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, Year 1938, Arrival: New York, United States, Microfilm Serial: T715, Microfilm Roll: T715_6202, Line 9, Page Number 16.

[15] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Norbert Einstein (February 28, 1939), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 167, 1, USC Libraries.

[16] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Liese and Ernst Guggenheim (November 17, 1939), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 168, 1, USC Libraries.

[17] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to aunt Anni and Uncle Sol (August 13, 1940), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 170, 5, USC Libraries.

[18] Interview with Kim Alfred Guggenheim (September 9, 1990), Special Collections, USC Libraries.

[19] Roland Jaeger, New Weimar on the Pacific: The Pazifische Presse and Exile Publishing 1942-48 (Los Angeles: Victoria Dailey Publisher, 2000), 65.

[20] “Eine Aufforderung an die Bücherfreunde,” Die Westküste, Aufbau VIII.44 (October 30, 1942), 15. Translation by the author.

[21] Jaeger, 65.

[22] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Franzi and Herbert Picard (March 1, 1948), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 30, 7, USC Libraries.

[23] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Heinz Hagelberg (November 13, 1944), Felix Guggenheim Papers, USC Libraries.

[24] Letter on Multi-Plex letterhead, Felix Guggenheim to Evelyn Guggenheim (undated), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 11,1, USC Libraries.

[25] “My folks here are extremely happy about seeing me + when I told them about you + how I think of you they are more than pleased. I am very anxious to get back home. This life of ease I have been leading the past two weeks is out of my line. In all my life, Felix, believe me, I have never been able to enjoy myself with such ease of mind – thanks to you.” Letter from Max Lipman to Guggenheim (December 17, 1944), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 23,6, USC Libraries.

[26] Letter from Max E. Lipman to Guggenheim (February 15, 1945), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 23,6, USC Libraries.

[27] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Frederick Praeger (August 23, 1946), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 32,3, USC Libraries.

[28] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Frederick Praeger (November 1, 1947), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 32,3, USC Libraries.

[29] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Frederick Praeger (July 8, 1946), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 32,3, USC Libraries.

[30] Jaeger, 20.

[31] Ernest E. Gottlieb, Books & Musical Literature, 855 Regal Drive, Palm Springs, California. From a letterhead of a letter from Gottlieb to Guggenheim (August 27, 1961), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 10,11, USC Libraries.

[32] Letter, Ernst Gottlieb to Felix Guggenheim (February 10, 1961), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 10,11, USC Libraries.

[33] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Herbert Picard (March 21, 1944), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 30,7, USC Libraries.

[34] Jaeger, 67.

[35] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Evelyn Guggenheim (March 4, 1951), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 11,1, USC Libraries. Translation from the German provided by the author.

[36] Letter on Multi-Plex letterhead (February 14, 1951), Felix Guggenheim Papers Box 23,6, USC Libraries.

[37] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Max E. Lipman (January 27, 1954), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 23,6, USC Libraries.

[38] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Max E. Lipman from a trip to Switzerland (March 22, 1954), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 23,6, USC Libraries.

[39] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Max. E. Lipman (May 27, 1959), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 23,6, USC Libraries.

[40] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Max E. Lipman (December 18, 1959), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 23,6, USC Libraries

[41] Memorandum of a meeting from March 3, 1958, Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 58,2 USC Libraries.

[42] Provision payments from Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft to Guggenheim: DM 18.241,42 in 1954, DM 23.615,31 in 1955, and DM 32.153,55 in 1956. Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 58,2, USC Libraries.

[43] Felix Guggenheim tax returns, Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 38,6, USC Libraries.

[44] “Adalbert Droemer oder: Bücher für Millionen,” online at http://www.droemer-knaur.de/pdfs/Droemer-Knaur_Historie.pdf (accessed January 24, 2011).

[45] Provision payments from Droemersche Verlagsanstalt to Guggenheim: DM 2.694,30 in 1968, DM 6.022,31 in 1969, DM 8.437,44 in 1970, Felix Guggenheim Papers, Boxes 121-128, USC Libraries.

[46] Business Correspondence between Felix Guggenheim and Willi Droemer, Felix Guggenheim Papers, Boxes 121-128, USC Libraries.

[47] Letter from Gotthold Müller to Felix Guggenheim (July 23, 1957), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 28,5, USC Libraries.

[48] Note from Felix Guggenheim to Paul Kohner (February 28, 1969), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 116,5, USC Libraries. Translation from German provided by the author.

[49] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Paul Kohner’s office (March 27, 1970), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 116,5, USC Libraries.

[50] Marta Mierendorff, “German-Jewish Club of 1933, Los Angeles. Ein vergessenes Kapitel der Emigration,” transcript of radio program (January 10, 1966), Leo Baeck Institute, MS433.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to his mother (February 22, 1943), Felix Guggenheim Papers, USC Libraries. Translation from German provided by the author.

[53] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to Frederick A. Praeger (August 25, 1941), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 32,3, USC Libraries.

[54] Felix Guggenheim, undated draft for speech at the Jewish Club of 1933, Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 166, USC Libraries.

[55] Letter from Felix Guggenheim to his aunt Ida Schatz (January 6, 1946), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 36,7, USC Libraries. Translation from German provided by the author.

[56] National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Naturalization Index Cards of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Central Division (Los Angeles), 1915-1976 (M11525); Microfilm Serial: M1525; Microfilm Roll: 54.

[57] The address appears on a letter from Felix Guggenheim to Max E. Lipman (January 27, 1954), Felix Guggenheim Papers, Box 23,6, USC Libraries.

[58] Interview with Margret Horlitz (June 29, 1990), Special Collections, USC Libraries.


Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Felix Guggenheim
  • Coverage 1904-1976
  • Author
  • Website Name Immigrant Entrepreneurship
  • URL
  • Access Date April 18, 2024
  • Publisher German Historical Institute
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2018