Mona and Frederick Wollheim
Mona and her husband Frederick were introduced to Ernst Weiß by mutual friends, in 1936, when they were living as emigrants in Paris. They already knew of him as the author of Der Gefängnisarzt oder Die Vaterlosen. The couple, who were in their early twenties and from the “Mittelrhein” region of Germany, had completed their studies shortly before Hitler came to power. Frederick was a lawyer while Mona, who had studied for a term at the Sorbonne, was a philologist. At that time Frederick worked as a translator for the “Institut de Droit Comparé’ and as a lawyer for the “Internationale Organisation zur Förderung des Welthandels” To help the family finances Mona gave private lessons in German, French and English.
Sometime after that first meeting they received letter from Weiß asking Mona if she would like some paid working typing the manuscript of a new book. Later she worked for nothing on the manuscript of Der Augenzeuge.
By that time with most French publishers unwilling to publish works by a Jewish émigré, Weiß was almost penniless and in considerable pain from a stomach ulcer. Of this book, her only written comment was: “Ich bewunderte die entscheidenden Szenen des Werkes und hielt und halte noch heute die Gegenüberstellung von Arzt und Patient in diesem besonderen Fall für eine großartige Findung.”
Mona and Frederick were also on friendly terms with the secretary to Konrad Heiden, a former employee of “Die Frankfurter Allgemeine”, whose “Hitlerbuch” proved a considerable publishing success. Mona and Weiß had, despite his poor health and the thirty year age difference between them, become lovers. But in the autumn of 1938, Weiß issued her with an ultimatum: “Either you get divorced, or we will never see us again!”
Mona refused to leave her husband and so she and Weiß parted although remaining on good terms. Weiß handed over some of his diaries, covering the years between 1928 and 1935 to Mona for safekeeping describing them as his “literarische Testamentsvollstrecker”.
After the Germans invaded Paris, they raided Mona’s apartment and removed all Weiß’s papers, books and diaries. She managed to escape to the United States and died in New York in the late seventies. Frederick was less fortunate being sent to an internment camp in 1939.
I have no further information about him after this time – and would welcome any information about his eventual fate.