Online-Lecture with Gregorij H. von Leitis and Michael Lahr | July 6, 2020

Lew Nussimbaum, alias Essad Bey, alias Kurban Said: Border Crosser – Cosmopolitan – Jewish Muslim – Orientalist in Exile

Gregorij H. von Leitis, founding director of Elysium and winner of the New York Theater Club Prize and the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, reads from the fantastic work of Lew Nussimbaum.

Introduction: Michael Lahr, Program Director of Elysium / Director The Lahr von Leitis Academy & Archive

In his short life, the Russian Jewish writer Lew Nussimbaum (1905 – 1942) came into contact with all the movements of the early 20th century: communism, fascism and National Socialism. Having fled to Berlin from Baku, which was gripped by the October Revolution, he converted to Islam there in 1922 and changed his name to Essad Bey. He began to write, especially for The Literary World by Willy Haas. His first book Oil and Blood in the Orient immediately became a bestseller. In rapid succession he wrote 13 other books, including biographies of Mohammed, Stalin and Nicholas II. In 1936 he published the novel Ali and Nino under the pseudonym Kurban Said, a Romeo and Juliet story set at the interface between Islam and Christianity. He fled from the Nazis to Vienna, and finally after the “Anschluss” to Italy, where he died of a rare disease in Positano in 1942.

The Lahr von Leitis archive has been part of the Centre of the mdw since 2018.