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Lisa Tetzner (1894–1963) Biography

Personal, Career, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

Born 1894, in Zittau, Germany; immigrated to Switzerland, 1933; naturalized Swiss citizen, 1948; died July 2, 1963, in Corona, Switzerland; father a physician; Education: Attended Social Women's School (Berlin, Germany); studied acting with Max Reinhardt.


Writer and broadcaster. Berlin Broadcasting Service, Berlin, Germany, founder and producer of Children's Hour, beginning 1924.


Im Land der Industrie zwischen Rein und Ruhr: ein Buntes Buch von Zeit und Menschen, E. Diederichs (Jena, Germany), 1923.

(Compiler) Die schunsten Marchen der Welt für 365 und 1 Tag, E. Diederichs (Jena, Germany), 1926.

Hans Urian: The Story of a Journey around the World (in German), [Berlin, Germany], 1929

Was am See Geschach; die Geschichte von Rosmarin und Thymian, H. Stuffer (Baden-Baden, Germany), 1935.

(With Kurt Held) Die schwarzen Bruder: Erlebnisse und Aventeuer eines kleinen Tessiners, Maier (Ravensburg, Germany), 1941, reprinted, 1980, published as Die Schwarzen Bruder: Roman in Bildern, edited and illustrated by Hannes Binder, Sauerlander (Duüsseldorf, Germany), 2002, translated by Peter F. Neumeyer as The Black Brothers: A Novel in Pictures, Front Street Books (Asheville, NC), 2004

Der Gang ins Leben; die Erzahlung einer Kindheit, H.R. Sauerlander (Aarau, Germany), 1954.

Das Madchen in der Glaskutche, illustrations by Horst Lemke, C. Dressler (Berlin, Germany) 1957.

Das Fuchslein und der Zornig Lowe; Tiermarchen aus aller Welt, H.R. Sauerlander (Aarau, Germany), 1958.

Marchen, Gesammelt und Nacherzahlt, illustrations by Regina Ackermann-Ophuls, Fischer Bucherei (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1958.

Das War Kurt Held; vierzig Jahr Leben mit Ihm, H.R. Sauerlander (Aarau, Germany), 1961.

Das Marchen und Lisa Tetzner, H.R. Sauerlander (Aarau, Germany), 1966.

War Paul schuldig?: Kindheit und Jugend im Dritten Reich, with material by Dagmar Grenz, E. Klett (Stuttgart, Germany), 1982.

Tetzner's books have been translated into eight languages.


(With Kurt Held) Erwin kommt nach Schweden, H.R. Sauerlander (Aarau, Germany), 1944.

(With Kurt Held) Als ich Wiederkam, H.R. Sauerlander (Aarau, Germany), 1946.

(With Kurt Held) Erwin und Paul, H.R. Sauerlander (Aarau, Germany), 1947.

(With Kurt Held) Das Madchen aus dem Vordenrhaus, H.R. Sauerlander (Aarau, Germany), 1948.

(With Kurt Held) Der Neue Bund, H.R. Sauerland (Aarau, Germany), 1949.

"Children from No. 67" series originally published in 9 volumes, 1933–49, volumes 1-8 reprinted in several editions, new editions, including all 9 volumes, 1990.


"The Children from No. 67" series was adapted for film in Germany, 1979.


Born in 1894, Lisa Tetzner was a German writer who was raised in a secure, middle-class family and spent much of her life collecting and promoting interest in fairy tales. An author, she also worked in radio, producing the program Children's Hour for the Berlin Broadcast Service during the late 1920s. The author of fairytale collections as well as of original tales, she is best known for her nine-volume "Children from No. 67" series, which reflects her worries over the rising tide of National Socialism in her native country following First published in 1940, The Black Brothers, Tetzner's story of a Italian boy who is sold into a dangerous servitude as a chimney sweep, is brought to life through woodcut illustrations by German artist Hannes Binder.World War I. Ultimately persecuted by the Nazi party, Tetzner and her husband, fellow children's writer Kurt Held, immigrated to Switzerland, where they lived for the remainder of their lives. While many of Tetzner's books have since fallen out of print, her "Children from No. 67" books have remained in print in Germany and have also been translated into eight languages. The series, coauthored by Held, follows a group of children who live in a Berlin tenement as their lives change as a result of the rise of Adolf Hitler's Nazi government, then make their separate escapes from Germany, traveling throughout the world until they are reunited in Switzerland. Because of the somewhat dated nature of the final volume, which presents a dated and overly idealized view of European society, the series was reprinted as volumes one through eight until 1990, when the concluding volume was re-added.

Another of Tetzner's books to receive interest among more modern readers is The Black Brothers: A Novel in Pictures. Also coauthored with Held and originally published in 1941, the book was edited and re-illustrated with woodcuts by artist Hannes Binder in 2002 and translated for English-speaking readers in 2004. Taking place in Italy during the 1800s, the book introduces thirteen-year-old Giorgio, a poor boy who is traded to a chimney sweep in need of an assistant in exchange for the cash needed to pay his ill mother's doctor bills. Moving to Milan, he faces the brutal life of the city, mistreatment at the hands of his employer, and the danger of his job climbing down chimneys. Ultimately, he becomes involved in a secret club, the Black Brothers, and this association helps Giorgio in changing his life for the better. Describing the book as "an industrial novel," a Kirkus Reviews writer praised the book as a "haunting, praiseworthy effort that deserves recognition." Praising Binder's artwork, Booklist contributor Francisca Goldsmith noted that Tetzner and Held's text "has much to offer readers interested in how a writer uses fiction to increase social awareness."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, September 1, 2004, Francisca Goldsmith, review of The Black Brothers: A Novel in Pictures, p. 109.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of The Black Brothers, p. 970.

School Library Journal, November, 2004, Karen T. Bilton, review of The Black Brothers, p. 154.

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