Maurice Sachs

Maurice Sachs (born Maurice Ettinghausen, 16 September 1906, Paris - 14 April 1945, Germany) was a French-Jewish writer.


Sachs was the son of a Jewish family of jewelers. He was educated in an English-style boarding-school, lived for a year in London and worked in a bookshop, and returned to Paris.[1]

In 1925 he converted to Catholicism and decided to become a priest, though this didn't last upon meeting a young man on the beach at Juan-les-Pins.

After involvement in a number of dubious business activities, he traveled to New York City, where he passed himself off as an art dealer. Returning to Paris, he associated himself with leading homosexual writers of the time - Cocteau, Gide, and Max Jacob - with all of whom he had stormy relationships whose precise nature is unclear. At various times he worked for Jean Cocteau and Coco Chanel, in both cases stealing from them.

He associated with Violette Leduc who describes her friendship with him in her autobiography La Bâtarde.[2] She describes the writing, and her reading of the first version of Le Sabbat in La Batarde (pages 380-400) and how she tried to get him, unsuccessfully, to remove harsh references to Jean Cocteau.

Sachs was mobilized at the start of World War II, but was discharged for sexual misconduct. During the early years of the Occupation, he made money out of helping Jewish families escape to the Unoccupied Zone. He may also have been an informer for the Gestapo. He was later imprisoned in Fuhlsbüttel.


In 1945, before the advance of British troops, the prison of Fuhlsbüttel was evacuated and its inmates moved to the city of Kiel. The evacuation consisted of a long march that took many days to complete. On the third day of the journey, April 14, 1945, at 11:00 in the morning, Sachs became too exhausted to continue the march. He was killed by a bullet through his neck, and his body was abandoned at the side of the road with the body of another "companion of the same misfortune." Said Emmanuel Pollaud-Dulian about Sachs, "He does not show much compassion for the Jewish people, and deplores their resignation, which seems to be the dominant feature of their character. On the countryside, when passing a herd of sheep, he sighs sadly saying, 'the Jews...' The drama he plays does not escape him. But, trapped in his state of amorality, Sachs does not believe in the existence of innocent victims."



A shot of the cover of Sachs's novel Abracadabra (1952) momentarily occupies the entire screen during a crucial episode of Breathless, a classic film by Jean-Luc Godard.


  1. "Maurice Sachs",, 2003-06-23, archived from the original ( Scholar search) on August 11, 2007, retrieved 2007-08-24 .
  2. Leduc, Violette (1964). La Batarde. Peter Owen. pp. 260–7.

External links

This article draws heavily on the fr:Maurice Sachs article in the French-language Wikipedia, which was accessed in the version of March 27, 2006.
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