Elisabeth Springer

Elisabeth Springer working on a mural, undated
© Rosenthal-Springer-Archiv
1904 – 1941 / German-Jewish painter, sculptor and actor
Training as an artist and actor

Elisabeth Springer was born in Munich, Germany on March 2, 1904, the second daughter of David and Dorline Springer. She lived in Munich most of her life. After completing school she studied mural painting and ceramics at the Municipal Painting School on Westenriedstrasse and trained as a kindergarten teacher at the Municipal Kindergarten Seminar. She took private lessons in acting and in 1931 passed the German Stage Association’s acting examination.

Elisabeth Springer in a costume, undated
© Rosenthal-Springer-Archiv
“She is dainty in appearance and has a voice that is oddly husky yet surprisingly nuanced.”
Review of a production of the comedy “Warum lügst Du, Chérie”, Central-Verein-Zeitung 1937
Elisabeth Springer on stage, undated
© Rosenthal-Springer Archiv
Artistic activity

In the late 1920s and 1930s Springer belonged to the progressive German artists’ association “Die Juryfreien” (The Juryless) and the Munich chapter of the Jewish Cultural Association of Bavaria and exhibited her work at the Munich Glaspalast and elsewhere. From 1935 to 1937 she was one of the youngest members of the Puppet Theater of Jewish Artists in Munich.

Elisabeth Springer, Seated woman, Teracotta, around 1936, Photo by Abraham Pisarek

In 1936 she exhibited sculptures, playing cards, and masks in the “Reich Exhibition of Jewish Artists” at the Jewish Museum of Berlin. The following year, she left Munich to become a tenured member of the acting ensemble of the Jewish Cultural Association of Hamburg. Throughout the 1930s she received frequent accolades for her work as an artist and actor in the Central-Verein-Zeitung and the Bayerische Israelitische Gemeindezeitung

“With its blocklike self-containment, the close embrace of the two bodies, the sober, unaffected earnestness of this woman with her child, the terracotta sculpture Mother and Child by Elisabeth Springer bears witness to the artist’s strong talent.”
Dr. Lotte Pulvermacher, review of the 1936 “Reich Exhibition of Jewish Artists” at the Jewish Museum of Berlin, Bayerische Israelitische Gemeindezeitung 1936
Mother and child
© Rosenthal-Springer Archiv
The End

Having returned to Munich in 1939, she had to perform forced labor at the Opacher printing company. She was issued a visa for the U.S. on July 7, 1941. Her brief marriage with the writer Joseph Weiss around 1940 might have been connected to her late efforts to escape Germany. Other than that she remained single. After the war her sister learned that Lisl was lesbian. She had never told her family.


Elisabeth Springer was one of 1,000 Jewish men, women, and children deported from Munich to Kaunas, Lithuania later that year and shot to death on November 25, 1941.

Head, Teracotta, undated
© Rosenthal-Springer Archiv

Of her artistic work nothing but a small terracotta head, a watercolor painting, and a drawing of a boy with horses remain. An unfinished mural and several sculptures are known only from photographs.

“Dear John! Happy Birthday! Since I don’t have any paint here, I drew this for you with ink and toothpaste.”
Elisabeth Springer, birthday greetings on the verso of a drawing for her nephew, ca. 1940
Elisabeth Springer, Boy with horses, Birthday present to her nephew in Chicago, Ink and Toothpaste, around 1940
© Rosenthal-Springer Archiv

Thank you to Judith Rosenthal for supplying this text.

The short film The family was jewish… tells the stories of families Springer and Rosenthal.