Martin Miller and Hannah Norbert-Miller Archive

Scope and Content

This collection contains photographs, publicity material, press reviews, correspondence and audio recordings, as well as scripts, poems and source material created or collected by Martin Miller (MM) and Hannah Norbert-Miller (HNM) in the course of their work in theatre, film, television and radio. A substantial amount of the material relates to the theatrical and radio work of the German-speaking exile community in London during the Second World War, above all those by the Austrian exile theatre company, the Laterndl, of which there are photographs, scripts, reviews and theatre programmes (although most of the latter are photocopies). This material includes multiple draft scripts of MM's Hitler parody sketches, written for the Laterndl and BBC radio, as well as scripts by other Laterndl writers in exile in the UK and by Jura Soyfer, an Austrian cabaret writer who died in Buchenwald in 1939.

There are also photographs, scripts, press reviews and publicity material relating to other aspects of the careers of MM and HNM in the performing arts and broadcasting. In the case of MM this material consists mainly of newspaper cuttings and a small number of photographs of his early acting and directing work in theatres in Czechoslovakia and Austria in the 1920s and 1930s; programmes and photographs from his four-month engagement at the Jüdischer Kulturbund in Berlin in 1938-1939; and a larger number of photographs, publicity material and press reviews relating to his wartime and post-war career in theatre, film, television and radio broadcasting mainly in the UK. In the case of HNM, the material is weighted towards her early career success in theatres in Vienna, Innsbruck and Biel-Solothurn in Switzerland, and includes press reviews, programmes and photographs. From the wartime and post-WW2 period there are scripts relating to HNM's career in radio broadcasting, as well as a large number of studio photographs.

Amongst the correspondence (most of which is incoming) there are letters from notable British theatre and television actors and directors, including Richard Attenborough and Michael Redgrave, and from Austrian and German exiles known for their cultural or intellectual achievements, such as Erich Fried, Hugo Garten and Franz Theodor Csokor. The audio recordings are mainly of BBC German Service programmes featuring MM or HNM, and include the first of MM's Hitler parodies, broadcast in April 1940, as well as an episode of the anti-Nazi "Kartenstelle" series. There is also a recording of a public reading by MM in 1957 of Karl Kraus's "Die letzten Tage der Menschheit", and a small number of miscellaneous recordings, including a copy of a gramophone recording of the Austrian actor, Josef Kainz, from 1902.

The collection also contains a small number of personal documents and personal photographs, and various miscellaneous items. Amongst the latter is a set of autographed photographs of mainly late 19th- and early 20th-century German and Austrian actors and singers, as well as a series of watercolours inscribed and signed by Hermann Hesse.

One item, a fifteenth-century parchment manuscript leaf, is of a substantially earlier period than the rest of the material, and a few items dating from the later 19th and early 20th century (the Kainz recording, some of the autographed photographs, and one of the personal documents). The rest of the material, pertaining to the lives and careers of the Millers themselves, dates from between 1921 to 1969 in MM's case (of which the 1920s material is mainly photocopies), and 1935 to 1996 in HNM's case.

Administrative / Biographical History

Martin Miller (MM), actor and director, was born Rudolf Müller in Kremsier, Moravia in 1899. He trained in Vienna and Prague and spent the early years of his career acting and directing in theatre and cabaret in Austria and Czechoslovakia. From 1938 to 1939 he was a member of the Jewish League of Culture in Berlin before emigrating to Britain in March 1939. In London he was a co-founder of the celebrated emigre cabaret and theatre at the Austrian Centre, the 'Laterndl'. Here he made his name above all through his Hitler parodies which he was soon asked to repeat for propaganda purposes for the BBC German Service. In addition, he made his English film debut in 1940 in the comedy 'Let George Do It', a film featuring George Formby. Not long after, MM also made his debut on the English stage, in Alec Clunes's 'Awake and Sing' (1942), following that up the same year by playing the leading role of Dr Einstein in 'Arsenic and Old Lace' which ran until 1946. Thereafter, MM was firmly established in British theatre and film (as few other emigre actors were), enjoying a highly successful theatrical career here. As well as his English-language work, however, he also continued his work in the German language for the BBC's German and Austrian services for which he served as author, actor, presenter and producer for the rest of his life.

Hanne (later Hannah) Norbert (originally Nussbaum), later known as Hannah Norbert-Miller (HNM), studied acting at the renowned Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna from 1933-1935 and embarked on a promising acting career in Austria that was interrupted by the German 'Anschluss' (annexation) of Austria in March 1938. She left Austria immediately, spent a year in Paris and arrived in Britain just before the outbreak of war. Here she joined the 'Laterndl' theatre company at the Austrian Centre and was also soon employed by the BBC German Service in propaganda broadcasting. She married the Austrian-British actor/director Martin Miller in 1946. In the post-war years, HNM made a distinguished broadcasting career for herself in the BBC World Service as well as performing in a number of radio and television plays and films (among them 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday').


When the collection was transferred to the Institute of Germanic Studies in 2001, the correspondence, photographs and exile-related material (including the records of the Laterndl theatre company) were extracted from the rest of the collection and filed in separate boxes. The present system loosely follows this arrangement. There are separate series for each of the following types of material: scripts, plays, source material and production notes (series 1); correspondence (series 2); photographs (series 3); personal documents (series 4); publicity material and publications (series 5-7); audio recordings (series 8) and professional agreements and financial documents (series 9). Publicity material and publications have been arranged into three series: series 5 relates to the activities of the exile community as a whole (most notably including those of Das Laterndl); series 6 relates to the work activities of Martin Miller (other than those undertaken with the exile community) and series 7 to those of Hannah Norbert-Miller (other than those undertaken with the exile community).

Access Information

Open. At least 48 hours' notice is required for research visits.

Acquisition Information

Professor Charmian Brinson of the Centre for Austrian and German Exile Studies organised the transfer of the collection from the Millers' former home in London to the Institute with the permission of the Millers' son, Daniel Miller. A loan agreement was completed October 2015.


This archive forms one of the Exile Studies collections acquired through the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies at the Institute for Modern Languages Research.

Some of the material in the Miller Archive is still in copyright; responsibility for gaining permission to use such material rests with the user.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued online (click on the "contains" icon below). A pdf copy is attached to this description.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made subject to an assessment of the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Special Collections Reading Room staff, who will need a minimum of 48 hours to process requests. Some of the material in this collection is still in copyright; where there is no waiver and the copyright has not been assigned to the University, responsibility for gaining permission to use such material rests with the user.

Custodial History

The collection was deposited at the Institute of Germanic Studies at 29 Russell Square, London in early March 2001. It was transferred there from the Millers' former home in Decoy Avenue in north London, where it had been left since Hannah Norbert-Miller's [HNM] death in late 1998. The collection was gathered by the Millers over the course of their lives, and includes some material originating in the Millers' pre-emigration lives in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Berlin (in the case of Martin Miller), and Austria, Switzerland and France (in the case of HNM. Some of the material (especially the scripts of Jura Soyfer) may have been smuggled out of Austria by other emigrés after the German annexation of Austria in March 1938, but it is not known whether the relevant papers in the collection are the smuggled documents themselves or copies of them. In HNM's later years (1980s and 1990s) she allowed a number of academic researchers to view material from it and to borrow items from the collection. Notes to these researchers which she she wrote and added to the material have been left with the material.

Related Material

There are some papers relating to Martin Miller's work for the Jüdischer Kulturbund (1938-1939) in the Jüdischer Kulturbund collection at the Akademie der Künste (AdK), Berlin. An overview of the collection of the Jüdischer Kulturbund is available on the AdK website (at Some records of the Laterndl theatre (including a small number not in the Miller papers at the University of London) are available to view on microfilm at the Wiener Library ( in London. Further material (including Laterndl programmes and a recording of Matin Miller's Hitler parody on BBC radio) is held at the Deutsches Kabarettarchiv in Mainz. Additional material on the activities of the Laterndl, particularly relating to Jura Soyfer, is held at the Jura Soyfer Archiv ( and the Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes ( in Vienna. Additional material deposited by Hannah Norbert-Miller from Fritz Gross to Martin Miller is in the University of London's Exile Studies Archive (reference EXS).