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“With a woman like that you can even live in ­Berlin”

Maria Zinfert

Lili Kracauer. A Biographical Sketch

Translated by Michael Turnbull

in: Kracauer. Photographic Archive, p. 79 – 88

“With a woman like that you can even live in ­Berlin,” Ernst Bloch remarked in the summer of 1931 to his friend Siegfried Kracauer.1 The woman in question was none other than Lili Kracauer. She had met Siegfried in the mid-1920s in Frankfurt am Main, and moved with him to Berlin after their wedding in March 1930. Further stages of their life together were spent in Paris and—after fleeing the Germans via Marseille and Lisbon—New York, where Lili Kracauer died on March 30, 1971, having dedicated the remaining years of her life to the literary estate of Siegfried Kracauer. His assistant and colleague since 1930, she remained so after his death on November 26, 1966.

The following pages sketch the life of Lili Kracauer on the basis of various documents from her papers, which are preserved in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach as part of the Kracauer estate. Under the heading of CURRICULUM VITAE a typescript signed “Elizabeth Kracauer” (with a Z) summarizes Lili ­Kracauer’s career until the late 1940s. This short text begins with the established wording “Born at Strasbourg (then Germany” and ends with the statement “I am an American citizen.” Lili and Siegfried ­Kracauer had been American citizens since September 1946. After their “dreadful flight from Paris from the ­Germans [and] eight difficult months hungering in Marseille, with unsuccessful attempts to go through Spain illegally,”2 they finally reached Lisbon in early March 1941 and gained a passage on the completely overcrowded steamship Nyassa, finally landing at New York on April 25 after a ten-day crossing. ­Thereafter April 25 was “a kind of private holiday”3 for the couple, and American citizenship the patiently awaited end of over thirteen years of statelessness. “Yes, it’s really only a year until our zid-tissen-shipp,”4 Kracauer announces in a letter in the spring of 1945. The jokey spelling of the word is a reminder that immigration to the United States was also linked to the learning of a new language. Lili Kracauer had grown up bilingual in Alsace, and Siegfried Kracauer also spoke German and French. English became their third language, and the one in which Kracauer wrote almost exclusively from 1941 onwards.5 He “worked terribly hard” for his “big adventure of becoming an English writer.” And in the same letter: “I don’t want to concern myself with Germany any more. It is over. But we’re still deeply interested in France.”6 The fact that Kracauer jumps to we from one sentence to the next shows that what he says about himself also applies to his wife. She shared their continued interest in France, and certainly their decisive rejection of Germany as well—although as someone born in Alsace this must have had a different kind of emphasis.

The opening words of her résumé, Born at Strasbourg (then Germany), seem strangely indeterminate. The omission of a subject stands out, and the lack of a date of birth even more so. The usual sentence would be I was born at Strasbourg, France, on May 6, 1893.7 The unexpected addition in brackets, (then Germany), covers up a gap—the initial stages of her career not mentioned in the CV—and at the same time marks the first great disruption in the life of Lili Kracauer.

As capital of the imperial land of Alsace-Lorraine, Strasbourg belonged to the German Empire when Elisabeth Ehrenreich was born there on 6 May, 1893, and still did while she attended the city’s college for girls and completed a three-year training as a teacher for girls. From 1912 onwards she worked as a substitute teacher in several small towns in Alsace-Lorraine8 until in early 1917 she was finally appointed, “in the name of the emperor,” to the Municipal College for Girls in Saarburg.9 When the regions of Alsace and Lorraine, which had been ceded to Germany after the Franco-German War of 1870/71, were returned to France as a result of the First World War, Elisabeth Ehrenreich was dismissed from the teaching service by the French school board in June 1919.10 After years in the teaching service she was now out of an occupation at the age of twenty-six. Compelled to adopt a new career, she went in the same year to Leipzig, where she studied violin and piano at the Conservatory of Music and attended lectures in her principal subject of art history at the university. Until she was obliged to give up these studies after only a few years, Elisabeth Ehrenreich was one of the very few women enrolled in a German university at this time. The fact that as a young woman she had spent a decade in the teaching profession is not mentioned in her American résumé. She only records: “Education: College, Universities and Academies of Music at Strasbourg and Leipzig, taking my degrees in art history and philology.11 Her studies in Strasbourg and Leipzig are run together in her summary, but in fact they were separated by a decisive turning point. After the turmoil of the First World War, the country in which Elisabeth Ehrenreich had grown up no longer existed as such. Her decision to leave France meant staying in Germany.

The only relic in Lili Kracauer’s papers from her Catholic Strasbourg family home is a thin notebook in which her father, August Ehrenreich, wrote adages and poems by Goethe, Schiller, and now barely known nineteenth-century authors in ornate handwriting. With poems such as Versailles in the Year of 1870, by Hans Wachenhusen, and New Year 1871, by Julius Rodenberg, this collection of texts testifies to the typical nationalism of the period shared by a man from Rhenish Hesse who must have come to Alsace-Lorraine in the 1880s. He was employed as a secretary by the Imperial Directorate-General of the Railways in Alsace-Lorraine, based in Strasbourg. Born in Mainz in 1848, he married Marie Caroline Vorhauer, née Amann, in January 1891 in Strasbourg. Their first daughter, Franziska Josephine Elisabeth, called Fränze, was born in 1892, followed by Anna Elilsabeth, called Lili, in 1893.12 Lili and her sister Fränze attended a college for girls; Fränze then studied the piano, while Lili trained as a teacher. Lili seems to have been more attached to her father, August Ehrenreich, than to her mother, who was born in Alsace in 1855. Her estate contains no trace of her mother other than an extract from a register of births.13

Following the death of her father in April 1919 and her dismissal from the teaching service shortly afterwards, Elisabeth Ehrenreich went to Germany, that is, to the Weimar Republic being constituted that year. Her move to Germany may have been suggested by the equality of the sexes enshrined in the Weimar constitution, through which women had been given the right to vote and had done so for the first time on a national level in January (in France this took until 1945). But at the same time Lili Ehrenreich had good reason to leave France. The post-war division of the population of Alsace-Lorraine into four categories based on ancestry restricted her civil rights. Because of her mixed background she was assigned to category B: her mother was a born a Frenchwoman, her father a German.

She seems to have had to break off her studies fairly soon, in 1921, and to concentrate entirely on the private tuition in art history, languages and music she had hitherto given on the side. Her earnings from this would have been an increasingly insufficient livelihood during these years, and her inheritance was ultimately swallowed up by the hyperinflation, which was only stopped in November 1923. Compelled once again to put her life on a new footing, Lili Ehrenreich moved from Leipzig to Frankfurt am Main, were she was reunited her with her sister Franziska, with whom she had a very close relationship.14 In 1924 she began to work as librarian at the newly founded Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt.15 Sometime before the end of 1925, and possibly within the sphere of the institute, she met Siegfried Kracauer.16 In the second half of the 1920s the two were already holidaying together, and Kracauer’s novel Ginster, which appeared anonymously in 1928, was dedicated to Lili: “For L. in memory of Marseille 1926 and 1927.” After her marriage in 1930 Lili Kracauer gave up her job as librarian and became her husband’s assistant.17 In April the couple moved to Berlin, where Kracauer took over the editorship of the features section of the Frankfurter Zeitung. Her CV of the late 1940s contains a remarkable lapse here, saying that Kracauer had been an editor of the Frankfurter Zeitung until 1930. This false dating obliterates the years in Berlin, which abruptly ended in February 1933 with the couple’s flight to Paris. Immediately after the Reichstag fire Siegfried Kracauer had been warned that as an opponent of the Nazis he was threatened with arrest, upon which he and his wife immediately left Berlin by different routes.18 They met up again in March 1933 as emigrants in Paris. This biographical break remains as invisible as the flight from Europe in 1941 behind the phrase “From 1930 to 1945 I did extensive research for my husband.” The short résumé is not intended to illustrate existential dislocations but rather to underline professional qualifications. Mention is made of Lili’s work as translator, linked with a vague reference to contributions to newspapers and anthologies. It should be noted that in conclusion she gives precedence to her French side when she writes: “In sum, I am a trained librarian and research worker, with a solid cultural background and an intimate knowledge of Europe, in particular France and Germany. I command three languages: French, German, English.” Through her origins in Alsace, Lili Kracauer was intimately acquainted with the culture and language of France, which was certainly an advantage for her and her husband in their years of emigration. 

In their precarious situation Kracauer set about a project intended to remedy their financial plight. In the fall of 1936 he was able to complete the biography Jacques Offenbach and the Paris of his Time. His wife must have made a not insignificant contribution to the vast collection of material on which this “social biography” was based. At the same time Lili Kracauer began to take photographs, and to read about the history and theory of photography in the Bibliothèque nationale. It is likely that her reading followed an interest in giving her practice a historical and theoretical basis rather than the requirements of her work for Kracauer. But it is not necessary to make a clear distinction between the assistant and the photographer; one can in fact pursue the idea that Lili Kracauer was a photographer in her function as assistant. Photo­graphy was also the area in which she stepped out of her subordinate position to become an author herself. 

After Siegfried Kracauer was interned as an “enemy alien” outside Paris in September 1939, Lili made every possible attempt to obtain his release, finally succeeding two months later. Kracauer’s instructions and Lili’s efforts in this regard are documented in six letters and fifty postcards that the couple wrote to one another in French during these weeks. In his desperate situation, Kracauer was able to rely on his wife entirely: “Je suis si ému de tes efforts inlassables et du courage avec lequel tu téléphone à tout le monde et fais tant de visite. Tu es la meilleure des femmes; je t’adore, mon Toutou, je t’aime. En pensant à toi, je me sens si léger, si confiant, si heureux.19

During the couple’s first difficult years in New York, Lili Kracauer contributed to their livelihood through jobs for which she was overqualified as an academic. The job description research worker in the résumé stands on the one hand for her activities on behalf of organizations looking for displaced persons in Europe during the 1940s,20 on the other for the work she undertook for her husband, the collection and editing of material. She read and extracted, prepared indexes, corrections, and proofs for Siegfried Kracauer. In short, she was involved in his work from its preparatory research to its printing. Kracauer not only mentioned this often in letters but honored it in public, as in the opening remarks to From Caligari to Hitler (1947): “Finally, I wish to thank my wife, though whatever I may say to thank her is insufficient. As always, she has helped me in the preparation of this book, and as always I have benefited greatly from her faculty of perceiving the essential and penetrating to its core.”21 There is a corresponding passage in the acknowledgements to Theory of Film (1960): “Even though I am fully aware that my wife would prefer to remain in the background, I cannot possibly avoid naming her here: the sureness of her judgment and the breadth of her insight were invaluable to me.”22

In their collaboration the couple were obviously a perfect team. The tasks were clearly distributed. Lili ­Kracauer contributed her abilities and points of view to the publications of the author Kracauer. This division of labor followed conventional gender roles, as did the fact that the assistant as such stayed in the background. But this simply describes the outward aspects of the connection. Notes by Lili Kracauer from the years following the death of her husband give another perspective on her role. Small handwritten pieces of paper contain various lists of things to do, codes of conduct and precepts relating to her inner attitude:

Work for books … sort letters … – apartment: tidy books – re-arrange cupboards … – sort photographic material lower drawer – lie down often for 1/4 hr, especially before important tel. conversations. If still tired, then pay attention, very gentle: and above all, short-sweet.

Never think of myself as a single person, who I never was, as I can only exist as 2. This hugely shifts the perspective (Proust) on life and oneself. Continue to live as a unity … Disciplined, Dignified … Now too radiate his aura and love, which nourished me for my whole lifetime.23

One of these many small pieces of paper bears the words “Love is there” in the margin. This love became productive in the couple’s collaboration. This is no idealization but corresponds to reality: Kracauer’s life could only be shared by a woman who was willing and able to contribute to his thinking and writing, as he worked for long periods every day. For friends it was beyond question that Lili Kracauer shared her husband’s “intellectual existence,” and they admired the “clear and calm awareness” with which he was able “to bring about the result of such a connection.”24

Kracauer’s death altered nothing in the central place in Lili Kracauer’s life of her husband’s work. She did not want to conceive of herself as an individual person, and continued to live with Kracauer “in the mind.” Through writing down Kracauer’s figures of speech, such as “Keep well. You’ll do it fine. You always do it fine” or “Take care of yourself, so you can fight for me,” she reminded herself of both his encouragement and his demands. This must have seemed all the more necessary to her, as in her view Kracauer’s work and thought needed defending—also against attacks by friends, above all Adorno: “It’ll suit the T-ies and consorts if I were to break down in pain.” The resolution and skill with which she confronted T[eddie] Adorno is primarily shown in the letters in which she criticized an obituary by Adorno in detail.25 She wrote, for example, about her astonishment at Adorno’s mention of many “handicaps,” as she only knew of his “nervous speech,” and “this completely disappeared during the time in Berlin”; in her reply to Adorno’s subsequent explanation she insisted: “Of course I am in favor of not ignoring anti-Semitic injustices at school … I am simply afraid that these injustices are no longer visible in the words ‘under many handicaps.’ Friends and others ask me in distress about infirmities they had never noticed in Friedel.”26 Courageously speaking up for Kracauer was nothing new for Lili, even though she remained in the background as an assistant. In her notes she says: “We’ll struggle through everything that comes together, and I, as always for T. T.27 like a lioness for her cub … and as always I have to take these reins. I have to find the formula of being for him as he so wants me to be seen by his friends.”

As can be inferred from these notes, Lili Kracauer seems to have acted from a position of strength in her collaboration with her husband, and at times to have set the agenda, even though her role, that is, her outward appearance, was defined according to Kracauer’s wishes. The close connection between the two survived Siegfried Kracauer’s death, and his widow continued to seek her footing there in reminding herself “What would Toutou say if I let my despair weaken me so much that I wasn’t able to take on the responsibility for his work, his legacy to me?”28 Accepting this inheritance meant dedicating her life to the tasks arising from it.

After Kracauer’s death in November 1966 Lili Kracauer worked on his literary estate. This also included sorting through the photographic material, which she labeled and arranged in such a way that it could become the basis of research into a shared photographic practice. But she was primarily concerned with the more weighty, written part of the estate. Kracauer had been unable to finish his last book, the preparation of which she had also been involved in. First she helped Oskar Kristeller edit History. The Last Things Before the Last (1969), and was also involved in preparations for the German edition, published by Suhrkamp in 1971. A few weeks before her death she wrote to Siegfried Unseld: “May I draw your attention to the fact that in the announcement [in Suhrkamp’s spring catalogue] the translation of the subtitle is not correct, to my dismay. It should of course read ‘die vorletzten Dinge.’ The Last Things Before the Last are the essence of the theory, contrary to the last things.”29 This substantial objection seems not to have been considered: the title of all German editions so far has been Geschichte. Vor den letzten Dingen ­[History. Before the Last Things].

In 1970, at the age of 77, Lili Kracauer had again visited Germany for discussions with Siegfried Unseld, among other things. She discontinued the journey with great urgency in September, reminded by the airplane hijacks and events in the Middle East of her “own experiences during the Hitler era and the last world war.”30 In her diary she noted: “Unscheduled quick departure. Everything went well.” Her hurried return to New York was motivated by the fact that there was one thing Lili Kracauer did not want, and that was “to be separated … from [her] husband’s literary estate,”31 which she worked on to the last. Another reason for her journey to Europe had been to pursue “inquiries” in the Frankfurt City Archive and at the former Frankfurter Zeitung “for a possible work about [her] husband.”32 This probably had to do with one of the three books planned by Kracauer before his death, “including an entirely new type and form of an autobiography. Hélas …”33 as Lili Kracauer wrote in a letter in late 1969. Her regret about this no longer coming about may have prompted her to take on something like it herself. Her researches in the Frankfurt City Archive could be an indication of this, even though there is no trace of such a work among her papers—unless an envelope archived with the photographs is interpreted in this context. It is labeled “Curriculum vitae in pictures (Friedel),” but by all appearances entered the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach empty. Yet it strongly suggests that there must at least have been a plan to trace Kracauer’s life in pictures. In the Frankfurt City Archive Lili Kracauer requested photographs of the Philanthropin—the secondary school attended by Kracauer, and run by one of Frankfurt’s Jewish congregations—and the Frankfurter Zeitung building,34 and had prints made of Kracauer portraits in 1970.35 We can only speculate about the project of an entirely new type and form of an autobiography or biography. The portrait photographs were probably intended for a dossier planned by Suhrkamp to announce the German edition of History.36 In late 1970 Lili Kracauer sent some photographs to Siegfried Unseld at his request: “I am sending you five (5) photographs of my husband. They are numbered chronologically.”37 One of these five photographs must have been the one Suhrkamp has used ever since. The portrait still gives the name of Siegfried Kracauer its public face.


1 Extract from a letter found in transcript in Lili ­Kracauer’s papers. KE DLA.

2 Siegfried Kracauer to Friedrich Gubler, translated 
from a letter of September 10, 1945. KE DLA.

3 Lili and Siegfried Kracauer to Marlise and Eugen Schüfftan, letter of April 22, 1944; translated from Helmut G. Asper (ed.), Nachrichten aus Hollywood, New York und anderswo. Der Briefwechsel Eugen und Marlise Schüfftan 
mit Siegfried und Lili Kracauer, Trier 2003, p. 57.

4 Ibid., Kracauers to the Schüfftans, letter of March 31, 1945, p. 60.

5 See von Moltke and Rawson (eds.), Siegfried Kracauer’s American Writings, loc. cit., p. 2.

6 Siegfried Kracauer to Friedrich Gubler, translated from a letter of May 20, 1946, KE DLA.

7 In the preprinted line “I solemnly swear that I was 
born at …” in her passport application of 1956, she wrote “Strasbourg, France, on May 6, 1893.” KE DLA.

8 Her graduation in the summer of 1909 is verified by a school-leaving certificate, her teacher training by an 
examination certificate from June 1912. A tabular overview of her teaching activities in girls’ colleges during these years 
lists the following places: Weißenburg, Dorlisheim, Barr, 
Saarburg, Forbach and again Saarburg. KE DLA.

9 This is verified by a “Letter of Appointment for the Teacher Elisabeth Ehrenreich.” KE DLA. Saarburg is the French town of Sarrebourg, département Moselle, région Lorraine, not the German town in the Rhineland-Palatinate.

10 “As shown in the documents, in September 1915 
I was entrusted with the administration of a teaching 
position at a municipal college for girls in Saarburg; in January 1917 I was officially appointed as a teacher at said college. Following the end of the First World War—in 
mid-June 1919—I was relieved of my position by the French authorities.” Lili Kracauer, “‘Declaration’ to a German 
Public Authority,” typescript, undated. KE DLA.

11 Lili Kracauer, “Curriculum Vitae,” typescript, undated. KE DLA.

12 There was another older sister, Maria Mathilde, born in 1882, from her mother’s first marriage to the train driver Oswald Vorhauer. 

13 The extract was issued on October, 25 1939. KE DLA.

14 Franziska Katz-Ehrenreich (1892–1934) was a pianist and married to the painter Hanns Ludwig Katz (1892–1940). Information about their lives can be found in the exhibition catalogue Hanns Ludwig Katz, Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main, 1992.

15 “Because the inflation caused the loss of the inherited assets that would have enabled the intensive continuation of my studies, in 1924 I took a job as a librarian at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt am Main, which I held until 1930.” Lili Kracauer, “Declaration” to a German Public Authority,” typescript, November 8, 1963. KE DLA. In the “Curriculum Vitae” she names “Professor Max Horkheimer, now affiliated with Columbia University” as a reference for her activity at the Institute for Social Research. KE DLA.

16 The first meeting is not dated exactly, but it must have occurred before the end of 1925: in the Kracauer library there is a first edition of Franz Kafka, Ein Landarzt, with the handwritten dedication “For Lili / Christmas 25. / Friedel.” KE DLA.

17 “On March 5, 1930 I married Dr. Siegfried Kracauer, who in his extensive activities as a journalist on the ‘Frankfurter Zeitung,’ as a social scientist, and as an author was dependent on assistants. Thanks to my long experience 
and varied professional training I was in a position to take over all the work my husband required. My activities for 
him consisted in the search for material, the production 
of excerpts, proof-reading, extensive correspondence, etc.” Lili Kracauer “Declaration to a German Public Authority,” typescript, November 8, 1963. KE DLA.

18 See Belke/Renz, Marbacher Magazin 47/1988, loc. cit., p. 70. It seems that Kracauer had been warned by one of 
the staff of the Frankfurter Zeitung and sent on a working holiday to Paris. While Lili Kracauer traveled directly 
to Paris, Siegfried went via Frankfurt am Main.

19 “I’m very moved by all your unremitting efforts and the courage with which you make phone calls and visits to everyone. You are the best of women; I adore you, my Toutou, I love you. Thinking of you I’m so relieved, 
so confident, so happy.” Siegfried Kracauer to Lili Kracauer, letter of September 30, 1939. KE DLA. Five “declarations 
of honor” were necessary for a release from internment; 
see Belke/Renz, Marbacher Magazin 47/1988, loc. cit., p. 95.

20 Central Location Index from 1945 to 1948; 
United Service for New Americans from 1948 to 1950. 
See “Declaration to a German Public Authority,” typescript, November 8, 1963. KE DLA.

21 Siegfried Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler. A Psycho­logical History of the German Film, Princeton 2004, 
preface p. lii.

22 Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of Film. The Redemption 
of Physical Reality, Princeton University Press 1997 
(first edition Oxford 1960), acknowledgements, p. liv.

23 These and the following handwritten resolutions and reminders are found on several loose pieces of paper 
distributed among Lili Kracauer’s documents. KE DLA.

24 Friedrich Gubler to Siegfried Kracauer, translated 
from a letter of March 9, 1935, quoted from a transcript 
by Lili Kracauer. KE DLA.

25 The letters refer to the obituary for Siegfried Kracauer written by Adorno for a volume of lectures by the Research Group on Poetics and Hermeneutics, including a lecture 
by Kracauer. Theodor W. Adorno, “Nach Kracauers Tod”
in Hans Robert Jauß (ed.), Poetik und Hermeneutik. Die nicht mehr schönen Künste, Munich 1968, p. 6–7.

26 Lili Kracauer to Theodor W. Adorno, letters of 
March 19 and 27, 1967. KE DLA.

27 T.T. or T.t. is the abbreviation for Toutou (in the 
meaning of “one and all”), a term of endearment used 
by Lili and Siegfried Kracauer for one another and frequently found in their papers. In this and the following letters the underlining is by Lili Kracauer. KE DLA.

28 “My life here continues to be work for my husband, and this is … the sole meaning of my life.” Lili Kracauer to Annemarie and Fritz Wahl, translated from a letter of December 25, 1969. KE DLA. She expresses herself similarly in other letters preserved in the estate.

29 Lili Kracauer to Siegfried Unseld, translated from a letter of February 17, 1971. KE DLA.

30 Lili Kracauer to Annemarie and Fritz Wahl, translated from a letter of October 4, 1970. KE DLA.

31 Lili Kracauer to Annemarie and Fritz Wahl, translated from a letter of October 4, 1970. KE DLA.

32 Lili Kracauer to Siegfried Unseld, translated from 
a letter of June 19, 1970. KE DLA. In September 1970 the hijacking of five passenger aircraft—in connection with 
the Jordanian civil war—was a cause of much anxiety.

33 Lili Kracauer to Annemarie and Fritz Wahl, translated from a letter of December 25, 1969. KE DLA.

34 Lili Kracauer to Dietrich Andernacht (then director of the Frankfurt City Archive), letter of February 5, 1970. 
KE DLA. The requested photographs are in the estate.

35 This is indicated by entries in Lili Kracauer’s diary: appointments at her preferred New York photo lab 
Modernage. KE DLA.

36 On November 4, 1970 Siegfried Unseld wrote to Lili 
Kracauer: “Suhrkamp will … publish a so-called ‘dossier.’ This contains the announcement of the edition, a photograph (perhaps various photographs from different years, 
if you could send them to us).” KE DLA.

37 Lili Kracauer to Siegfried Unseld, translated from 
a letter of November 30, 1970. KE DLA.

  • archive
  • photography
  • 1930s
  • exile
  • Siegfried Kracauer
  • 20th century
  • portrait
  • collection
  • biography
  • 1950s
  • History of photography
  • photographic images
  • Paris

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Maria Zinfert

Maria Zinfert

works in Berlin as a freelance writer, publisher and translator. Her doctoral thesis is on the novels of Victor Segalen, and she has translated many of his texts into German. She is currently doing research into archive photos of 20th-century German-language authors and has already published on the photos from Kracauer’s estate.

Other texts by Maria Zinfert for DIAPHANES
Maria Zinfert (ed.): Kracauer. Photographic Archive

Maria Zinfert (ed.)

Kracauer. Photographic Archive

Photographs by Elisabeth Kracauer and Siegfried Kracauer

Hardcover, 256 pages

PDF, 256 pages

The photography book "Kracauer. Photographic Archive" is a collection of previously unpublished photographic material from the estate of the sociologist, journalist and film theorist Siegfried Kracauer. Portrait, city and landscape photographs give insights into the life of the writer and his wife Elisabeth, known as Lili – a life marked by flight and exile. The photographic portraits of Kracauer from the 1930s on were all taken by his wife, while prints, contact sheets, rolls of film and written material reveal that Kracauer took pictures himself, too. Neither Kracauer nor his wife was a professional photographer, yet their photos testify to the aesthetic and technical achievements of their collaborative photographic practice: the eye of the great photography theorist combined with that of the art historian and observant, self-taught photographer Lili Kracauer. The book also tells the story of Lili and Siegfried Kracauer’s close working relationship – from the early 1930s following their marriage in Germany, to exile in Paris and the war and post-war years in the USA.

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