Gina Kaus, Writer
The author Gina Kaus, photographed by Trude Fleischmann, presumably in the 1920s.
ullstein bild – Trude Fleischmann

Gina Kaus

Ich konnte mir nicht leisten, darüber nachzudenken, ob es ehrenvoll sei, für den Film zu arbeiten. Ich brauchte Geld, und zwar sofort.

[I couldn’t afford to think about whether it was honourable to work in film. I needed money, and I needed it right away. (ed. trans.)]

Gina Kaus discussing her work as a Hollywood scriptwriter and dialogue writer in her autobiography, 1979

Bornon 21 October 1893 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Diedon 23 December 1985 in Los Angeles, California, USA
ExileGreat Britain (United Kingdom), Austria, France, United States of America

In addition to dramas, poetry and short stories, Gina Kaus also wrote for various newspapers, magazines and literary journals in the 1920s. In Vienna and Berlin, she was well-established in the respective city’s artist networks. Thus she was a member of the literary circle at the Viennese Café Herrenhof with Franz Blei at its centre. The circle included Hermann Broch, Franz Werfel, Robert Musil, Egon Erwin Kisch, Milena Jesenskà and Friedrich Torberg.

She lived in Berlin from 1926, where, in addition to being a feature writer for numerous newspapers, she also published her first novel “Die Verliebten”, 1928 (The Lovers) for the publisher Ullstein Verlag. In 1933, her books fell victim to the book burnings and were banned. She thereby lost a major source of income. She was only able to publish further novels with exile publishing companies, such as Allert de Lange in Amsterdam. After spending some time in London, Kaus returned to Vienna, from which she once more had to flee following the annexation of Austria in 1938. She emigrated with her family to France via Switzerland in March 1938. Here she already received her first offers of work as a scriptwriter. When she emigrated onward to the USA in late 1939, she settled in Hollywood. She continued writing her own works for the film industry and became a successful scriptwriter and dialogue writer. By contrast, her work as a novelist played a less significant role during her exile in the USA.

Although Gina Kaus visited both Vienna and Berlin after the war, she never returned permanently to either Germany or Austria.

Selected works:
Die Schwestern Kleh (Novel, 1933)
Katharina die Große (Biographical novel, 1935)
Der Teufel nebenan (Novel, 1940)
Und was für ein Leben [Von Wien nach Hollywood] (Autobiographie, 1979)

Further reading:
Hofeneder, Veronika: Der produktive Kosmos der Gina Kaus. Schriftstellerin, Pädagogin, Revolutionärin. Hildesheim: Olms 2013.
Kaus, Gina: Von Wien nach Hollywood. Erinnerungen, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1990.