Hedwig (Vicki) Baum (Hebrew: ויקי באום; January 24, 1888 – August 29, 1960) was an Austrian writer. She is known for Menschen im Hotel ("People at a Hotel", 1929 - also known as "Grand Hotel"), one of her first international successes. It was made into a 1932 film and a 1989 broadway musical.
Life and career
Baum was born in Vienna into a Jewish family. She began her artistic career as a musician playing the harp. She studied at the Vienna Conservatory and played in an orchestra in Germany for three years. She later worked as a journalist for the magazine Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, published by Ullstein-Verlag in Berlin. She was married twice: first, from 1914, to Max Prels, an Austrian journalist who introduced her to the Viennese cultural scene; and, from 1916, to Richard Lert, a conductor and her best friend since their childhood days. Richard was the brother of stage director Ernst Lert. During World War I she worked for a short time as a nurse.
Baum took up boxing in the late 1920s. She trained with Turkish prizefighter Sabri Mahir at his Studio for Boxing and Physical Culture in Berlin. Although the studio was open to men and women, Baum writes in her memoir, It Was All Quite Different (1964), that only a few women (including Marlene Dietrich and Carola Neher) trained there: “I don’t know how the feminine element sneaked into those masculine realms, but in any case, only three or four of us were tough enough to go through with it.” Positioning herself as a “New Woman,” she asserted her independence in the traditionally male domain of boxing and challenged old gender categories. She writes that “Sabri put one limitation on women – no sparring in the ring, no black eyes, no bloody noses. Punching the ball was okay, though, to develop a pretty mean straight left, a quick one-two; a woman never knew when she might have to defend herself, right?” While training with Mahir, Baum mastered a rope jumping routine that was designed for German heavyweight champion Franz Diener. She later credited her strong work ethic to the skills instilled in Mahir’s studio.
Baum began writing in her teens. Her first book, Frühe Schatten, was published when she was 31. She is most famous for her 1929 novel Menschen im Hotel which was made into an Academy Award winning film, Grand Hotel. She emigrated to the United States with her family after being invited to write the screenplay for the film. Her literary works were banned in the Third Reich. She became an American citizen in 1938. Her memoir, It Was All Quite Different, was published posthumously in 1964. She wrote more than 50 novels, and at least ten were adapted as motion pictures in Hollywood. Her post-World War II works were written in English, rather than in German.
Baum visited Bali in 1935 and became close friends with Walter Spies. With historical and cultural input from Spies, she wrote Love and Death in Bali (Liebe und Tod auf Bali, A Tale from Bali) which was published in (1937) and later republished in English as "Love and Death in Bali". The book was about a family that was caught in the massacre in Bali in 1906 at the fall of the last independent kingdom in Bali to the Dutch.
- 1919 Frühe Schatten (Early Shadow)
- 1920 Der Eingang zur Bühne (The Entrance to the Stage)
- 1921 Die Tänze der Ina Raffay (The Dances of Ina Raffay, republished as Kein Platz für Tränen in 1982)
- 1922 Die anderen Tage (The Other Days) -- novel
- 1923 Die Welt ohne Sünde (The World Without Sin)
- 1924 Ulle der Zwerg (Ulle the Dwarf)
- 1926 Tanzpause (Pause in the Dance)
- 1927 Hell in Frauensee (Martin's Summer)
- 1927 Feme
- 1928 Stud. chem. Helene Willfüer (Helene)
- 1929 Menschen im Hotel (Grand Hotel)
- 1930 Zwischenfall in Lohwinkel (Incident in Lohwinkel, Results of an Accident)
- 1930 Miniaturen (Miniatures)
- 1931 Pariser Platz 13 ("13 Paris Square")
- 1932 Leben ohne Geheimnis (Published in the UK and US as Falling Star, 1934)
- 1935 Das große Einmaleins / Rendezvous in Paris (The Great Multiplication / Rendezvous in Paris)
- 1936 Die Karriere der Doris Hart (The Career of Doris Hart)
- 1937 Liebe und Tod auf Bali (Love and Death in Bali)
- 1937 Hotel Shanghai
- 1937 Der große Ausverkauf (The Big Sell-Off) Querido, Amsterdam.
- 1939 Die große Pause (The Big Break)
- 1940 Es begann an Bord (The Ship and the Shores or It Began On Board)
- 1941 Marion lebt (Marion Alive; republished as Marion in 1954)
- 1943 Kautschuk / Cahuchu, Strom der Tränen (The Weeping Wood)
- 1943 Hotel Berlin/ Hier stand ein Hotel (Hotel Berlin/ Here Stood A Hotel)
- 1946 Verpfändetes Leben (Mortgage on Life)
- 1947 Schicksalsflug (Flight of Fate)
- 1949 Clarinda
- 1951 Vor Rehen wird gewarnt (Deer Warning)
- 1953 The Mustard Seed
- 1953 Kristall im Lehm (Krystal Clay)
- 1956 Flut und Flamme (Written on Water)
- 1957 Die goldenen Schuhe (Theme for Ballet)
- 1962 Es war alles ganz anders (It was all quite different) -- memoir
- "A woman who is loved always has success".
- "Fame always brings loneliness. Success is as ice cold and lonely as the North Pole".
- "Marriage always demands the greatest understanding of the art of insincerity possible between two human beings".
- "Pity is the deadliest feeling that can be offered to a woman".
- "To be a Jew is a destiny".
- "There are shortcuts to happiness and dancing is one of them".
- Baum qtd. in Gammel, Irene. “Lacing up the Gloves: Women, Boxing and Modernity.” Cultural and Social History 9.3 (2012), 372.
- Baum qtd. in Gammel, 375.
- Gammel, 373
- Gammel, Irene. “Lacing up the Gloves: Women, Boxing and Modernity.” Cultural and Social History 9.3 (2012): 369-390.
- Baum biography
- Vicki Baum at the Internet Movie Database
- Vicki Baum Collection, AR 5130 Archival Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute, New York