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Exiled German-speaking intellectuals in Southern California: Gina Kaus

During the 1930s and 1940s, many German Jews and intellectuals fled Nazi Germany. This LibGuide provides information about German-speaking intellectuals who found refuge in Southern California

  Gina Kaus (1894-1984)

Years in Southern California: 1939-1984.


Austrian Gina Kaus was married briefly to the musican Josef Zirner, who died in WWI in 1915. Her literary career began during WWI and her first success was the comedy Diebe im Haus, performed at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Her second marriage to fellow writer Otto Kaus lasted from 1920 until 1926 and resulted in the births of their two sons, Otto and Peter. By the end of the 1920s, Gina Kaus had achieved both literary and financial success; in the 1930s her novels were translated into English. In 1936 she completed an author tour of the United States. She and her family fled Austria immediately in March 1938 on the day of Austria's annexation, going first to Switzerland then to France.

While in France Kaus began writing for the movies and wrote her last novel Der Teufel nebenan (1940). Kaus, her two sons, and Eduard Frischauer (who became Kaus' third husband in California), escaped France on the ocean liner Ile de France in September 1940. Also on board was screenwriter Salka Viertel. Kaus spent her first two months in the United States in New York's Hotel Bedford. She wrote serialized articles for the magazine True Story to finance her trip to Hollywood.

She arrived in November 1939 and rented two small bungelows on the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Laurel Canyon. Kaus acclimated herself quickly to Southern California and with help from her agent, George Marton, she collaborated with Ladislaus Fodor (both of whom she had worked with in France) on a play that was sold to MGM. With these earnings, Kaus could afford to rent a house on Doheny Drive. Later she moved to 262 S. Carmelina in Brentwood. She became the close friend of best-selling novelist Vicki Baum.

She had a successful career in Hollywood. Several of her plays and stories formed the basis of films and she also collaborated on screen plays. The following are a few of the films she contributed to: The Wife Takes a Flyer (1942); They all Kissed the Bride (1942); Isle of Missing Men (1942); The Night before the Divorce (1942); The Red Danube (1949); and The Robe (1953).



Deutsche Exilliteratur seit 1933: Kalifornien. Edited by John M. Spalek und Joseph Strelka. Bern: Francke, 1976.

Kaus, Gina. Und was für ein Leben ... mit Liebe und Literatur, Theater und Film. Hamburg: Albrecht Knaus, 1979.


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Michaela Ullmann
Michaela Ullmann Head, Instruction & Assessment