Erna Adler(Erna Adler-Rabus, Eva Simon)

Erna Adler, photographer
Erna Adler, Belgium, 1937, photographed by Carl Rabus
Erna Adler-Rabus Nachlass, Murnau, © Maurice Adler

Erna Adler(Erna Adler-Rabus, Eva Simon)

Es sind mir also in den Jahren 1938 bis Kriegsende 1945, Emigration, Verfolgung und Versteckt sein, die wesentlichsten Jahre des Aufbaus der beruflichen und Finanziellen Entfaltung genommen worden.

[The years from 1938 to the end of the war in 1945 were a time of emigration, persecution and hiding for me - I was deprived of the most important years in which one builds up a career and establishes oneself financially. (ed. trans.)]

Erna Adler on her career, from an affidavit dated 24 November 1966

Bornon 25 March 1913 in Vienna, Austria
Diedon 7 March 2007 in Murnau, Germany

Erna Adler was just 23 years and an assistant in the photography studio of Trude Geiringer and Dora Horovitz in Vienna when she went into exile. In late 1936 the young photographer had initially planned only a work stay in Antwerp. However, in the summer of 1937 friends advised her never to return following the significant political changes in Austria.

Adler moved to Brussels where she worked under the pseudonym of Eva Simon as a portrait photographer. She made her living from this until September 1940. Erna Adler was then arrested - as a Jew who was involved with a German and was also politically suspect. The Gestapo raided the apartment of the photographer and confiscated all her equipment. After her release Adler was forced to hide in the Belgian underground, which made it impossible for her to work from 1940.

After 1945, Erna Adler continued to live and work as a photographer in Brussels. However, her flight into exile deprived her of the most important years in which an artistic photographer could set up her own studio, get herself onto a secure financial footing, as well as make a name for herself as an art photographer. For this reason she was forced to continue producing classic portrait photography without the benefit of a well-equipped studio. She made portraits e.g. of the Belgian nobility and local politicians. Her husband, the painter Carl Rabus, yearned to return to Germany and live in his homeland; she followed him in 1974 to Bavaria.

Further reading:
Iris Meder/ Andrea Winklbauer (Hg.), Vienna´s Shooting GirlsJüdische Fotografinnen aus Wien, Wien 2012.