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Exiled German-speaking intellectuals in Southern California: European Film Fund

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

The European Film Fund

European Film Fund

The European Film Fund (EFF) was organized in Hollywood before the war broke out by Charlotte Dieterle, Liesl Frank, Ernst Lubitsch, and film agent Paul Kohner. The EFF supported a large number of German exiled writers living in dire conditions by collecting money to help fund positions in the film industry. At the suggestion of Kohner, the European Film Fund began a special operation in October 1939 to save German writers stranded in France. Kohner arranged for Hollywood film studios (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Brothers, in particular) to hire exiles as screenwriters. When the emigres applied to enter the United States, they could verify their employment in this country by showing the studio contract.

The one-year contracts provided a weekly salary of 100 dollars. Heinrich Mann, Leonhard Frank, Alfred Döblin, Wilhelm Speyer and Hans G. Lustig were included among those who were helped by these emergency contracts. In this way Warner Brothers helped four and MGM six refugees. When the contracts expired after a year, the film studios generally did not renew them. Consequently only Lustig, who had previous film experience in Europe, was given a permanent contract with MGM.


Thomas Mann. Tagebücher 1940-1943. Edited by Peter de Mendelssohn. Frankfurt: Fischer, 1982.

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Michaela Ullmann
Michaela Ullmann Head, Instruction & Assessment