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Fritz von Unruh Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: EL
Date: Aug 1978

Biographical History

Fritz von Unruh (1885-1970) was a German army officer and later anti-war expressionist playwright, poet and novelist.

Unruh was born in Koblenz on 10 May 1885 to an aristocratic German family, the son of a general who was a lifelong friend of General Hindenburg. After attending military school at Plon in Schleswig-Holstein, he became a professional soldier in the cavalry and during World War I was an officer, but he later became one of Germany's leading voices of anti-militarism between the world wars.

First in the play Offiziere (1912) and then in works including Der Opfergang (1916) and The Way of Sacrifice (1919, written near Verdun), he questioned the old values of patriotic honor. His confinement in an asylum before the end of the war may have saved him from a battlefield death. His antimilitarist views were further elaborated in the plays Ein Geschlect (1918) and Platz (1920).

During the 1920s he played a wider role in German public affairs. Active in politics, he was a co-founder of the Republican Party, which he represented in the Reichstag, but as Hitler rose to power his position in Germany became less secure. He emigrated to France, where he contributed to the anti-Nazi press, then to the United States in 1940 where he settled in New York. He wrote at least one novel in English during this period ( The End is Not Yet, 1947). In 1957 he published an autobiography, Der Sohn des Generals (The Son of the General), and shortly thereafter he and his wife moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey (1960). Two years later he lost his manuscripts, artwork and personal belongings in a coastal storm and the looting that followed.

Fritz von Unruh died in Diez, Germany on 28 Nov 1970 at the age of 85.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Fritz von Unruh Papers comprises manuscripts, memorabilia, some incoming correspondence, and a few of the author's writings in printed form.

Correspondence contains 21 letters addressed to Unruh. Correspondents include Ernst Feder, Andre von Gronicka, Luc Durtain, and H. V. Kaltenborn. An index of correspondents appears at the end of this inventory.

Manuscripts include a 210-page manuscript of Ein Traum, a novel written in 1959-1960. The manuscripts leaves were numbered in pencil by the library during processing. There is also an annotated carbon typescript of Meine Begegnung mit Trotzki, undated, with a one-page preface, a two-page summary, and revisions that were not incorporated into the text as it appeared in the Sämtliche Werke. The manuscript is incomplete. There are also five smaller manuscripts.

Memorabilia includes clippings about Fritz von Unruh, photographs, a wax imprint of his personal seal, and two typescript carbons (1927 and undated) of reviews of Unruh's work.

A small file of Writings completes the collection. Most significant is a copy of Flügel der Nike with the author's notes and corrections to the text on six of its pages. A larger collection of Unruh's books, most of them inscribed by the author to Syracuse University, is housed in the Rare Books collection.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically; all others series are arranged alphabetically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Unruh, Fritz von, 1885-1970.
Unruh, Fritz von, 1885-1970. Traum.


Dramatists, German.
German literature -- 20th century.
Novelists, German.
Poets, German.

Genres and Forms

Book reviews.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Fritz von Unruh Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Fritz von Unruh, 1964.

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