In 1980 Hildegard von Gontard gave the University Libraries a significant collection of books and manuscript collections belonging to her late husband, Gert von Gontard. Gontard studied philosophy, psychology, German language and literature, and theater in Berlin, and from 1929-1932 ran a literary and political magazine called Neue Revue. The periodical was critical of the Nazi party, which led to Gontard’s exile to the United States in 1933.
Gontard worked in Los Angeles with Max Reinhardt’s Workshop for Stage, Screen, and Radio in Hollywood from 1938-1941, then moved to New York. In New York, he became very involved with the theater scene, founding a theatrical company made up of German-speaking exile actors in 1946 called “The Players from Abroad,” and later organized and funded several successful efforts to bring German theater and opera companies for guest performances to the United States.
Gert von Gontard’s collection is composed of Goethiana, which includes several books, manuscripts, and memorabilia relating to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Other collection highlights include books essayists Franz Blei and Karl Kraus, illustrators Heinrich Zille and Frans Masereel, and Expressionist author Mynona (pseudonym for Salomo Friedlaender). Also present is a file of letters from Gontard’s colleagues in the literary and arts communities, including Georg Grosz, Max Reinhardt, Erich Maria Remarque, and Carl Zuckmayer.