Eva von Sacher-Masoch

Eva Hermine von Sacher-Masoch, Baroness Erisso, was born into Austrian aristocracy in Budapest in 1912. She spent her early years with her parents, Artur and Flora, and brother Alexander on the family estate in what is now Romania.

Her great uncle was the esteemed writer and journalist Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, author of Venus In Furs, and from whom the term Masochism is derived.

(pic: the genealogist.co.uk)

The family moved to Vienna in 1918 and then on to Berlin in the early 1920s where they settled in Wittelsbacherstraße 17 in the Charlottenburg district of the city. Close neighbours would have been the dancer Anita Berber and the actor and comedian Siegfried Arno.

Eva enrolled in the Max Reinhardt Theatre School to study classical ballet, but was soon drawn to the vibrant and edgy cabaret scene in the city.

Together with her dance partner Hede Merman, they were a regular feature of the Barberina Cabaret at the Kakadu on the Kurfürstendamm  where they performed sexually ambiguous  ‘mirror dances’ playing with gender roles and sexuality. They were also part of the Ping Pong cabaret collective and had performed in productions by Brecht and Weill.

In the early 1930s, Eva and Hede’s performances had become increasingly political to reflect the current climate but after the events of early 1933, Eva felt compelled to move into legitimate theatre and was cast in ‘Der Bauer als Millionaire’ at the Volksbühne Theatre. This was to be her last stage role.

By 1934, the family had fled to back to Vienna, and in the face of increasing threats from the Nazis, by 1937 had claimed political immunity in the Hungarian embassy. By the time of the annexation of Austria in March 1938, the family had some degree of safety as Artur and Flora were deemed to be in a ‘protected marriage’. Eva, however was a ‘half-Jew’ and forced to add the name Sara to her identity papers.

Artur was arrested and interrogated five times by the Gestapo on suspicion of being involved with the Austrian resistance and both Flora and daughter Eva were raped by the liberating Russian Army in April 1945.

Early in 1946, Eva met and married a British army officer, Major Robert Glynn Faithfull and later that year had a daughter, Marian.

 

The family moved to Oxfordshire in England but the marriage did not last and they separated in 1952.

Eva was now living a very modest life with her daughter and occasionally teaching dance at a boarding school for disabled children but she was also drinking heavily and was dependant on prescription drugs.

 

She died in 1991 at the age of 79 and is buried in St Mary’s churchyard in Aldworth, Buckinghamshire. She is survived by her daughter, the actress, singer and 1960s icon, Marianne Faithfull.

 

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2 Responses to Eva von Sacher-Masoch

  1. Frank Garrett says:

    Thanks for this interesting post. I’m a big fan of both Marianne Faithfull and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. I knew from Marianne’s autobiography that she was distantly related to Leopold, but you made the intervening generations just as interesting as those two famous ones. Or, I guess they were just as famous in their own ways, just not to an American in the 21st century. I lived in L’viv, Ukraine, for a couple of months in 2000, and I always enjoyed walking past where the Sacher-Masoch house once stood. Cheers.

  2. Brenda O'Connell says:

    I worked for Marianne in the 60′s and got to know dear Eva well.Been to her little house in Reading but knew her mostly when she stayed at Mariannes flat in Knightsbridge. She was a real sweetheart. And had a heartbreaking past in the war. I also knew Mariannes Grannie Faithfull (her fathers mother). She lived in Hampstead.Visited her at her little flat and had tea with her.

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