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Klinger (Walter A.) papers
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  • Biographical note
  • Scope and Content
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation

  • Language of Material: German
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Title: Walter A. Klinger papers
    creator: Klinger, Walter A.
    creator: Klinger, Hertha Bley
    Identifier/Call Number: 6044
    Physical Description: 6.67 Linear Feet 13 boxes
    Date (inclusive): c. 1631-2002
    Date (bulk): bulk
    Abstract: The Walter A. Klinger (1912-2003) papers consists of photographs, correspondence, clippings, and typescripts that document the pre-war Austrian lives of Walter, his wife Hertha, and father Adolf; their emigration via Trinidad in the early 1940’s; and from their lives in the United States. Walter A. Klinger was born May 12, 1912 in Vienna, Austria. In 1929, he began working for Warner Bros. in Vienna, and subsequently spent his entire career working in some aspect of the film industry. He and his family emigrated to the United States in 1940, settling in Los Angeles. He died on March 15, 2003 in Camarillo, California.

    Biographical note

    Walter A. Klinger was born May 12, 1912 in Vienna, Austria to Adolf Klinger and his wife Julia Bellak Klinger. He attended the Academy of Commerce, followed by business school. From school age, he worked toward fluency in French and English in addition to his native German, skills that would proved to be useful to him in his later work. Beginning in 1929, Klinger moved from his job for Warner Bros. in Vienna to Berlin and worked for the American Film Industry, and later Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. On 1935 September 22, Klinger married Hertha Bley, daughter of Paul Bley and Josefine Koffler Bley, in Vienna. Hertha had attended the Wiener Handelsakademie fuer Maedchen and graduated in 1930.
    In about 1933, Klinger fled Berlin, which by then was under Nazi control. In a later short essay he composed about his life, he claimed that a threatening phone call from a Nazi official caused him to leave; he traveled first to Switzerland and then to Nice, France, where he was began writing anti-Nazi propaganda for the Ligue Contre L'Antisemitism. But because he worked for M.G.M., they were able to transfer him to Vienna, where he worked until about 1937. At this time, he moved to a similar position at Warner Bros., also in Vienna.
    In 1938 March, Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, and the Klingers fled in June, taking with them their only living relatives, Walter's father (Adolf Klinger) and Hertha's mother (Josefine [Josephine] Bley). Stopping first in Amsterdam, the group eventually made it to Trinidad, then a part of the British West Indies. While in Trinidad, Klinger used the time to continue to work for Warner Bros. as well as to establish his own screen advertising company. He also began to learn Spanish, eventually becoming nearly fluent. Walter and Hertha remained in Trinidad until about 1940; after the fall of France in 1940, they were declared enemy aliens and placed in internment camps. Hertha and Walter were able to emigrate to the United States in 1941 and eventually became citizens. Adolf and Josephine remained in Trinidad. Adolf was not able to emigrate to the U.S. until 1947.
    Going by way of St. Louis, Missouri and Portland, Oregon, Walter and Hertha made it to Los Angeles by 1941 May 27. He soon after found a position within the Foreign Department of Warner Bros. Studios. Walter worked there until 1943, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. A member of the 4th Armored Division Artillery, he started as a Private and rose to the rank of Master Sergeant (Grade 1). He was also a part of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) headed by Dwight Eisenhower. Within SHAEF, Walter worked under the Psychological Warfare Division, particularly in the Film Control and Distribution Sections, serving in England, France and Germany. He was a part of the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) and Office of War Information (O.W.I.), the former of which eventually became the peacetime C.I.A.
    After the German surrender, Walter was placed in charge of Arts in Bavaria. When his military service ended in 1946, Walter was honorably discharged and returned again to Warner Bros. to work on pro-American propaganda being sent to Latin American countries. After leaving Warner Bros. in 1949, he sold motion picture production equipment for twenty years before retiring. He continued to be involved in the motion picture industry in some way or another before retiring in 1972; he was highly involved in negotiations to bring the story of Austrian family singers the Von Trapps to the stage in 1963, in a production eventually known as "The Sound of Music." Walter Klinger died on March 15, 2003 in Camarillo, California.
    [Information about Walter Klinger's life was compiled partially through his own testimony in a short essay he wrote to account for his immigrant status upon being drafted into the U.S. Army. Other sources for information were his official army file, his resumes, and other documents, including birth and death certificates.]

    Scope and Content

    The Walter A. Klinger (c. 1631-2002) papers consists of photographs, correspondence, clippings, and typescripts that document the pre-war Austrian lives of Walter, his wife Hertha, and father Adolf; their emigration via Trinidad in the early 1940’s; and from their lives in the United States. The majority of the papers are personal, and are predominantly composed of photos of the Klingers with family and friends from the 1920s through the early 2000s. These photos range in subject from Walter and Hertha's travels, to documentation of their personal lives from their childhood to retirement, to distant relatives sending snapshots to keep in touch. There are also photo slide versions of many of these photo prints. For the most part, they were found completely mixed and loose in a flatbox, and have since been organized by year in envelopes. While some photos are unidentified, many of them have captions written on the back, often by Hertha. There are also a few professional photos and portraits from important points in the Klingers' lives, such as upon Walter's army enlistment and their marriage. A small number of photos are from Warner Bros. Pictures and have been organized together; they were taken professionally by a photographer working for the company, and those retained by Klinger are related to him or his work there.
    The papers also include personal correspondence between the Klingers and their family and friends and some business correspondence. Much of the personal correspondence that has been saved is from their time in America, starting from about World War II and on. The business correspondence also dates from this same era, and briefly tracks Walter Klinger's own entrepreneurial work in the United States. Much of the correspondence is regarding the political and social causes of the Klingers, which includes the WWII movement for an independent Austria and membership in an anti-slavery society.
    The papers include some typescripts written by Klinger for a class he took in the 1960s regarding adult education. They range in subject but are often creative and brief. In addition, there are articles from and full copies of publications Klinger worked on, often about the entertainment industry in the 1940s-1960s written in English, German and Spanish. As someone with international film experience and fluency in a number of languages, his role in these publications was often that of representative advocate for Warner Brothers while abroad.
    Within the papers, there are also a number of artifacts, starting with Walter's army insignia and other such materials from his army service. Also in this section is a series of cassette audio tapes sent as correspondence between Walter and Hertha Klinger and their friends Mr. and Mrs. Kurt Wittler; this seems to have been a substitution for written correspondence. On the other hand, there is also a series of 17th century original prints of assorted French scenic and architectural landscapes by Israel Silvestre, an artist whose work the Klingers appear to have collected.

    Conditions Governing Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder no. or item name], Walter A. Klinger papers, Collection no. 6044, [Repository], Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Germany -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 1933-1945 -- Archival resources
    Immigrants -- America -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Immigrants -- Trinidad and Tobago -- History -- Archival resources
    Motion pictures, American -- Germany -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Motion pictures and globalization -- Argentina -- Archival resources
    Motion pictures -- Argentina -- Periodicals
    Motion pictures -- Germany -- Periodicals
    Motion pictures -- United States -- Periodicals
    United States -- Armed Forces -- History -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Legal documents
    Klinger, Walter A.
    Klinger, Hertha Bley
    Klinger, Walter A. -- Archives
    Klinger, Hertha Bley -- Archives
    Warner Bros. Pictures (1923-1967) -- Archives