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Olga Lang Papers

Identifier: SFHL-RG6-L8-007

Scope and Contents

This collection contains Lang’s unpublished memoir “My Life in Germany Before and After January 30, 1933,” along with a few letters regarding the editing of the manuscript, and some additional miscellaneous documents. The work describes Lang’s experiences as a Communist in Germany during the rise of the Nazi regime.


  • Creation: 1940 - 1980


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Friends Historical Library 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 by reader.

Biographical / Historical

Olga Lang was born Dec. 11, 1897, in Russia to Jewish Communist parents. She was educated in Women’s University in Petrograd and became an active member of the Left Socialist Revolutionary Party before the 1917 Revolution. Not long after, she moved to Berlin with her first husband whom she later divorced and joined the German Communist Party. Her second husband, Karl August Wittfogel, was a prominent German intellectual and an outspoken critic of the Nazi regime which was just coming into power. He was arrested by the Nazis and thrown first into prison and then into concentration camps where he spent 8 months. Despite the fact that she was Jewish and a foreigner, Lang spent this time doing everything she could to get him out. Eventually she succeeded, and the couple escaped to China, where Lang learned the language and studied the culture. When Japan invaded China, she fled again, this time to the United States, where she began graduate study in Chinese.

She divorced her second husband. He subsequently renounced Communism and named her at the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. She eventually came to Swarthmore College in the 1960s and taught Russian because Swarthmore had no Chinese department. After retiring from Swarthmore, she returned to New York and affiliated with Columbia University. She died in 1992. See also:

Swarthmore College Bulletin December 2002 Feature piece on Olga Lang;


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)




Olga Lang (1897-1992) was a Russian Jew and Communist who lived in Nazi Germany, China, and, eventually, the United States. She taught Russian at Swarthmore College in the 1960s. After retiring from Swarthmore, she affiliated with Columbia University. The collection contains two versions of her unpublished manuscript “My Life in Germany Before and After January 30, 1933,” and correspondence pertaining thereto, with some additional miscellaneous documents.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The manuscript and related documents (series 1) were received as accession # SCA-95-014.

Olga Lang Papers, ca. 1945-1970
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