Harriet von Rathlef

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Harriet Ellen Siderowna von Rathlef-Keilmann
Photo of Harriet von Rathlef.jpg
Harriet Keilmann at the age of 18 in Riga
Harriet Keilmann

(1887-01-03)3 January 1887
Riga, Latvia
Died1 May 1933(1933-05-01) (aged 46)
Berlin, Germany
Known forSculpture, Writing
Harald von Rathlef (m. 1908–1922)

Harriet Ellen Siderowna von Rathlef-Keilmann, (3 January 1887 – 1 May 1933), was a German sculptor and writer of children's books.[1]

Keilmann was born to a prominent Jewish family in Riga, Livonia, a province of the Russian Empire.[2] In 1908 she married in Riga Harald von Rathlef[1], a lieutenant in the Czarist Regiment of the Alexander Hussars. The couple had four children. The family fled to Germany on December 28, 1918, in an effort to escape from revolutionary Russia. The family settled near Weimar, Germany, where Harriet studied under Walter Gropius at the Bauhaus until 1921.[2] She divorced her husband in 1922 and supported her children with the income from her sculptures, graphics and illustrations.[3]

In 1925 Rathlef became a major proponent of Anna Anderson's claim to be Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. She befriended the claimant and wrote a series of articles about her.[4] In the same year she converted to Roman Catholicism.

Rathlef, who was involved in artistic circles and social causes in Berlin, was forced to resign from the Society of Berlin Women Artists when Adolf Hitler rose to power. Alarmed by the political developments in Nazi Germany, Rathlef hoped to leave the country. Before she could make definite plans, Rathlef died in Berlin on 1 May 1933 of a burst appendix.[5][6]

In Falk Harnack's 1956 film, The Story of Anastasia, Rathlef-Keilmann was portrayed by German actress Käthe Braun.


  1. ^ a b Dupuis, Robert; Usdin, Christine. "The sculptor Harriet Ellen von Rathlef-Keilmann". The Riga Rabbinate vital records. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b Stonge, Carmen (2013). "Erasing Identity: Harriet Von Rathlef-Keilmann". Art History and Theory. 16: 51 – via Central and Eastern European Library Online.
  3. ^ Kurth, Peter, Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson, Back Bay Books, 1983, p. 65
  4. ^ Kurth, pp. 74-75
  5. ^ Kurth, p. 275
  6. ^ Bodenstein, Joe F. "The sculptor Harriet Ellen von Rathlef-Keilmann". West-Art, Prometheus. Retrieved 9 May 2018.