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Tilla Durieux
Tilla Durieux 1905 Foto Jacob Hilsdorf.jpeg
Photograph by Jacob Hilsdorf (1905)
Ottilie Godeffroy

(1880-08-18)18 August 1880
Died21 February 1971(1971-02-21) (aged 90)
Years active1902–1970
(m. 1903; div. 1905)
(m. 1910; div. 1926)
Ludwig Katzenellenbogen
(m. 1930; died 1944)

Tilla Durieux (born Ottilie Godeffroy; 18 August 1880 – 21 February 1971) was an Austrian theatre and film actress of the first decades of the 20th century.

Franz von Stuck's Tilla Durieux als Circe, c. 1913
Franz von Stuck's Tilla Durieux als Circe, c. 1913
Tilla Durieux by Becker & Maass, c. 1915
Tilla Durieux by Becker & Maass, c. 1915

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  • Die Schauspielerin Käthe Gold 1907 1990


Early Years

Born Ottilie Helene Angela Godeffroy[1] on 18 August 1880, she was the daughter of the Austrian chemist Richard Max Victor Godeffroy (1847–1895)[2] and his wife, the Hungarian pianist Adelheid Ottilie Augustine Godeffroy (née Hrdlicka, died 1920), who was born in Romania.[3] After graduating from elementary school, she switched to the public school in Vienna's 9th district. She was baptized in the evangelical parish Augsburg Confession in Vienna.[4][5]


She trained as an actress in Vienna, her native town, and made her debut at the Moravian Theatre in Olmütz (Olomouc) in 1902. Since her mother refused her career choice, she later adopted the stage name Durieux, derived from du Rieux, the maiden name of her paternal grandmother. The next season she got an engagement in Breslau (Wrocław since 1945). From 1903 she worked with Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and with a group of expressionist artists around Kurt Hiller and Jakob van Hoddis. In 1911 Durieux entered the stage of the Lessing Theater where, on 1 November 1913, she became the second actress to perform the role Eliza Doolittle in a German language production of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, half a year before its English premiere on 11 April 1914.[6] From 1915 she performed at the Royal Schauspielhaus Berlin.


In 1904, Durieux married the Berlin Secession painter Eugen Spiro, whose younger sister was Baladine Klossowska. They divorced consensually in 1905, after she had fallen in love with Paul Cassirer.

She started dating the successful art dealer and editor and they got married in 1910. The marriage lasted 16 years, however Cassirer was very affected when Durieux wanted to divorce him. Unfortunately Cassirer had asserted various defamations against Durieux and was obviously not willing to continue without her. When their divorce was declared in 1926, Cassirer committed suicide in a room next to the court room where their hearing had taken place (1926).[7]

Soon after, Durieux married general director Ludwig Katzenellenbogen. In 1927 they were the main financiers of Erwin Piscator's Neues Schauspielhaus project. Durieux was a public character of 1920s Berlin and associated with numerous celebrities like the photographer Frieda Riess.

Escape from Germany

In 1933, Durieux and Katzenellenbogen left Germany for Switzerland to escape Nazi rule. She continued to perform at the Vienna Theater in der Josefstadt and in Prague. In 1937 she moved to Zagreb, Croatia (then in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) where she became a member of the International Red Aid. Durieux unsuccessfully tried to obtain visa for the United States; in 1941 Ludwig Katzenellenbogen was arrested by Gestapo agents in Thessaloniki and deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He died in 1944 at Jüdisches Krankenhaus Berlin.[8][circular reference]

Return and late Years

Durieux managed to return to West Germany in 1952, appearing on stages in Berlin, Hamburg, and Münster. The plays in which she performed included A Dream Play by August Strindberg, The Chinese Wall by Max Frisch, and Atriden by Gerhart Hauptmann.

In 1971 Durieux underwent surgery for a hip fracture and died of post-operative sepsis. Despite the fact that the date on her gravestone is 21 January 1971, she died on the 21st of February 1971, which would have been the 100th birthday of Paul Cassirer.[9]

Art collection

Durieux's marriage to her second husband, Paul Cassirer, brought her into the world of art collecting. In addition to family portraits, the Tilla Durieux and Paul Cassirer Collection included modern works of art. When she and her third husband, Ludwig Katzenellenbogen, emigrated from Nazi Germany in 1933, they took some artworks with them.[10] Katzenellenbogen was arrested by the Gestapo in Saloniki in 1941. Deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, he died in Berlin.

Tilla Durieux’s collection was integrated into the Zlata Lubienski Art Collection. On November 13, 1945, the Commission for Gathering and Protecting of Cultural Monuments and Antiques proclaimed that the Zlata Lubienski Art Collection was a ‘protected’ collection under the Section for Museums of the Department of Art and Culture of the Ministry of Education of the Federal Republic of Croatia. Scholars have emphasized the ambiguous meaning of the word "protection". Zlata Lubienski and Tilla Durieux contested the decision but were denied.[10]

On February 17, 1982, the City Institute for the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage for the City Council in Zagreb gave a permit for the export of the Tilla Durieux Collection. A Commission whose members included Ida Slade Šilović (City Institute for the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage for the City Council in Zagreb), Zdenko Kuzmić and Zdenka Kazmar (City Museum in Zagreb), Dubravka Osrečki (Committee for Public Affairs) and Ljiljana Poljak (from City Administration) was established. The Tilla Durieux Collection was divided, leaving nineteen art works in Zagreb[11][12] as a part of a new Tilla Durieux Collection at the City Museum in Zagreb while 58 items were exported to Germany, where many were sold.[10]

The heirs of Ludwig Katzenellenbogen and his ex-wife Estella have listed fifty artworks with the German Lost Art Foundation.[13]


Year Title Role Notes
1914 Der Flug in die Sonne Helga Steinert
1915 Die Launen einer Weltdame Maud, leading role "lady of the world"
1920 Die Verschleierte leading role
1921 Hashish, the Paradise of Hell Sultanin
1921 Der zeugende Tod Boroka, Malerin
1922 The Blood screenplay by Tilla Durieux
1929 Woman in the Moon Fünf Gehirne und Scheckbücher
1953 The Stronger Woman Mutter der Fürstin
1954 The Last Bridge Mara
1956 The Story of Anastasia Zarenmutter Maria Feodorowna von Russland
1957 Von allen geliebt Frau Avenarius
1957 El Hakim Mutter des Hussni
1958 Resurrection Die Alte
1959 Labyrinth Schwester Celestine
1959 Morgen wirst du um mich weinen [de] Tante Ermelin
1961 Barbara Armgart
1964 Condemned to Sin Die Großmutter
1966 It Die Alte aus dem Osten

See also

The Holocaust in the Independent State of Croatia


  1. ^ Leopold Museum widmet sich Filmstar Tilla Durieux,
  2. ^ Godeffroy,
  3. ^ Tilla Durieux: Meine ersten neunzig Jahre. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek 1976, S. 10 ff.
  4. ^ Melanie Ruff (19 October 2007). "Tilla Durieux - Selbstbilder und Images der Schauspielerin" (PDF). Retrieved 6 December 2022.
  5. ^ Am 31. Mai 1928 trat sie in die katholische Kirche über, vgl. dazu: Sigrid Bauschinger, Die Cassirers, München, Beck 2015, S. 347,
  6. ^ Richard Huggett (1969). The Truth About Pygmalion. Random House.
  7. ^ Durieux, Tilla (1972), Meine ersten neunzig Jahre: Erinnerungen. Die Jahre 1952-1971. (in German), Munich: Herbig, pp. 312–314, ISBN 978-3776608595
  8. ^ "Ludwig Katzenellenbogen".
  9. ^ Oertwig, Bernd (2019), Berühmte Tote leben ewig. Berliner Schicksale (in German), Berlin: Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg, p. 240, ISBN 978-3947215-584
  11. ^ Damjanović, Dragan (2021). "Works of Max Slevogt in the Tilla Durieux Collection in Zagreb". Max Slevogts Netzwerke. Kunst-, Kultur- und Intellektuellengeschichte des späten Kaiserreichs und der Weimarer Republik: 69–88.
  12. ^ "Tilla Durieux and her art collection in Zagreb". Retrieved 2023-02-07.
  13. ^ "Suche | Lost Art-Datenbank". Retrieved 2023-02-07.

External links

This page was last edited on 17 May 2023, at 15:59
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