Bernstein, Elsa

BORN 29 Oct 1866, Wien - DIED 12 Jul 1949, Hamburg-Eimsbüttel
BIRTH NAME Porges, Elsa
GRAVE LOCATION München, Bayern: Ostfriedhof, St.-Martins-Platz 1 (left wall 94 (ashes))

Daughter of musician and composer Heinrich Porges (1837-1900). Her mother was Wilhelmine Merores (1842-1915). She grew up in Munich. She wored as an actress for a while in Magdeburg and Braunschweig before she married the lawyer and author Max Bernstein. After her marriage she wrote plays, among them "Wir Drei" (1893), "Dämmerung" (1893) and "Die Königskinder" (1895). Under the name of Ernst Rosmer she also wrote poetry and fairytales. Elsa and her husband had a literary salon in their home at the Briennestrasse 8a in Munich. They befriended Gerhart Hauptmann and their daughter Eva married Hauptmann's son Klaus in 1919.

Because of her Jewish descent she was in danger during the nazi era and Winnifred Wagner helped her get the necessary papers to leave Germany. But she didn't want to leave her sister Gabriela Porges behind and in 1942 they were taken to Theresienstadt. Elsa was almost blind at that time and her sister soon died after their arrival. Elsa was soon moved to a special house for prominents, probably because of her relations to the Wagner family or her friendship with Gerhart Hauptmann. There she befriended Franziska Schneidhuber (1892-1978), who had been married to the former police president of Munich, August Schneidhuber.

She survived Theresienstadt and after the war she lived at the Gustav Leostrasse 4 in Hamburg together with her daughter. She wrote down her experiences on a typewriter for blind people (they were published as "Das Leben als Drama" in 1999). After her death in 1949 her ashes were buried in the grave of her parents in Munich.

• Father: Porges, Heinrich

28/12/1910Premiere of "Königskinder" by Engelbert Humperdinck at the MET in New York. It was a Märchenoper with a libretto by Ernst Rosmer, the pen name of Else Bernstein-Porges. Alfred Hertz was the conductor. Among the singers were Geraldine Farrar (as the goose-girl), Louise Homer (as the witch), Herman Jadlowker, Adamo Didur, Albert Reiss and Florence Wickham. [Humperdinck, Engelbert]


The grave of Heinrich Porges at the Ostfriedhof, Munich.
Picture by Androom (19 Jan 2004)


Elsa Bernstein – Wikipedia
Königskinder - Wikipedia

Bernstein, Henry

Published: 11 Oct 2009
Last update: 20 Sep 2023