The family escaped
revolutionary Russia from Riga to Berlin on Dec. 28, 1918. That way she was
able to escape the consequences of the Bolshevik
Revolution. Already in 1919 she studied at the Weimar Art
University, and was student in the art class of German-Jewish sculptor, Prof. Richard
Prof. Richard Engelmann and a sculpture of him made by Harriet Ellen von Rathlef-Keilmann in 1919
In 1922 she got a divorce from her husband, because she
saw no future with him for her artistic carreer. The following decade
till her death was filled with activities, urges to create and social
and cultural engagements.( source
Pair of young rabbits sculpture made in ceramic by Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann
in porcelain by Rosenthal Selb, 1921
Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann into her Sculpture Workshop
1929 and a wooden Sculpture:
“Lovers”, Berlin, 1927
Before that she received, on the recommendation of Walter Gropius, a
tuition-free place at the school. But since her Professor Engelmann,
together with some other old professors withdrew from the Bauhaus, she
also left with them. In the year 1923 she went to
Berlin-Charlottenburg. She moved there into an attic atelier of a large
house with a garden, in the Kantstrasse 77.
Harriet sculpting " Mädchen mit Ball" in her atelier. 1932
This place became her
starting point for her new artistic work, with taking part in
exhibitions in many cities.( source
on this photo" Sitzendes Mädchen"( "Sitting girl")
to see the lost artworks from Harriet.
Some of her sculptures and grafiks were served by her two daughters Monika and
Liselotte and by some artist friends after her death. Some were sold by the
bailiff (Gerichtsvollzieher), cause Harriet had Rent arrears. After Jan. 30, 1933 she
couldn't sell her works
of art. She was also expelled from the Association of Berlin female artists, because of
her Jewish ancestry.
She also was a
writer and illustrator of children's books and painter.
Rathlef became a major proponent of Anna Anderson's claim
to be Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. She befriended the
claimant and wrote a series of articles about her.
Anna Anderson (Left) with Harriet Rathlef Keilmann in the mid
The false Anastasia and Harriet at the Mommsen-Sanatorium in Berlin, 1925 (1926?) and
at the door of a Hotel in Lugano
von Rathlef-Keilmann and a wooden sculpture "lying girl”, 1928 Berlin
Photographed in Berlin around 1927/1928
Harriet had all the time trying to
hide her Jewishness. In 1925, she
even went on to the Catholic Church.
It did not help her. The manager of the apartment building Count von
Dellinghaus, where she had her studio, came from Latvia and knew her family. Other Baltic emigrants
who had close contacts with the Nazis knew the
family Keilmann and knew of their Jewish roots.
Alarmed by the political developments in Nazi Germany, Rathlef hoped to
leave the country. Before she could make definite plans, Rathlef died in
Berlin on 1 May 1933 of a burst appendix.( source
Wood Sculpture “sitting girl”, Berlin 1930
Mark on Harriet's sculptures
Photos and info submitted by Robert Dupuis,Harriet Ellen von Rathlef-Keilmann's greatnephew. Germany
Done in November 2012 by Christine Usdin