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Exiled German-speaking intellectuals in Southern California: Felix Salten

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

  Felix Salten (1869-1945)

Felix Salten's years in Southern California: 1930-1931.


Felix Salten (originally named Siegmund Salzmann) was born in Budapest, Hungary. His writing career began unexpectedly when his wrote poems and short stories to relieve the boredom of his job at an insurance agency. He began selling his work to newspapers and publishing them under a number of pseudonyms, one of which he later took as his legal name. He became a member of the Young Vienna group and became good friends with Arthur Schnitzler. In 1902 he married actress Ottilie Metz; their two children, Paul and Anna-Katherina, were born in the two following years. He worked as a journalist in Berlin and Vienna, first as editor for the Berliner Morgenpost, then later serving as theater critic for the Wiener Allgemeinen Zeitung. With the 1938 German annexation of Austria, Salten and his wife emigrated to Switzerland with help from their daughter. They lived in Zurich together until his wife's death in 1942.

He also wrote historical fiction, including Prinz Eugen (1915), and a few plays. He is best known for his stories about animals - his most famous the story of a deer named Bambi. His novel Bambi (1923) was the basis for the 1941/42 animation film by Walt Disney. Unfortunately Salten sold the rights to his book in 1933 so the tremendous success of the film brought him little financial gain.

At the invitation of the Carnegie Foundation, in 1930 Salten and a group of colleagues traveled to the United States. He wrote about his impressions of this country in Fünf Minuten Amerika (Five Minutes America) published in 1931. This is how he described Southern California:  

"Sun, sun, sun. Luscious, green, fertile land, that shines as though polished. Excesses of flowers, revolutions of colors, orgies of stupefying scents. Palms and pines and ash; heliotropes, roses, gladiolas and carnations, everything has exagerated dimensions." p. 89-90.



Autorenlexikon deutschsprachiger Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts. Edited by Manfred Brauneck. Reinbeck bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1991.

Dormer, Lore Muerdel. "Felix Salten." In Major figures of turn-of-the-century Austrian literature edited by Donald Daviau. Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, 1991, pp. 407-40.

Salten, Felix. Fünf Minuten Amerika. Berlin: Paul Zsolnay, 1931.

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Michaela Ullmann
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