Friedhof Gadeland Gadeland, Stadtkreis Neumünster, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Maurice Sachs (September 16, 1906 - April 14, 1945) was a French writer. Max Jacob once proposed to Violet Trefusis, despite being the lover of Maurice Sachs at the time.
Born Maurice Ettinghausen, half-Jewish and with a multiplicity of nationalities in his family tree, Sachs was educated in an English-style boarding-school, where he early learnt to give free rein to his interest in his own sex. In 1919 he lived in London for a year with his mother and worked in a bookshop, but the following year he returned to Paris and gravitated to the Boeuf sur le Toit group of young artists which centred on Jean Cocteau. In 1925 he converted to Catholicism under the influence of the fashionable Catholic thinker Jacques Maritain, with Cocteau acting as his godfather at the baptism. He then decided to become a priest and entered a seminary in 1926, a vocation which melted away swiftly when he met an amenable young man on the beach at Juan-les-Pins. After involvement in a number of dubious business activities, he fled to New York, where he passed himself off as an art dealer. Returning to Paris, he haunted leading homosexual writers of the time – Jean Cocteau, André Gide and the aging Cubist poet Max Jacob – with all of whom he had stormy relationships whose precise nature is unclear. His lifestyle became increasingly extravagant and his means of supporting it increasingly uncertain. In the late 1930s he became friendly with Violette Leduc, who seems to have been fascinated by Sachs's capacity for unrequited passions, a capacity which matched her own. In 1932 Sachs married Grace Gwladys Matthews, divorced and returned to France in 1935.
Sachs was mobilised at the start of the war 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. To avoid the numerous enemies he was making, and to escape investigation into his own racial background, in 1942 he retreated to Ancenis in Normandy, taking Leduc with him. There they ran a profitable black-market trade in fresh food and other scarce commodities. Eventually Sachs was drawn back to Paris, where he disappeared. He resurfaced in prison in Hamburg, and seems to have died there in 1944 or early in 1945, though the circumstances of his death are still unclear. Imprisoned (Nov. 16, 1943) at Fuhlsbuttel Concentration Camp, Hamburg, he was shot in nape by an SS officer after being unable to walk from exhaustion during a 3 day march to Kiel from Fuhlbuttel.
Although Sachs had published translations, a book on André Gide and a roman-à-clef, Alias, before the war, his bestknown works, the selfconsciously scandalous but powerful autobiography Le Sabbat (The Sabbath, 1960), another roman-à-clef, Chronique joyeuse et scandaleuse (A Gay and Scandalous Chronicle), and two sets of wittily analysed but cruel chronicles of French society between the wars, La Décade de l'Illusion (The Decade of Illusion) and Tableaux et moeurs de ce temps (Pictures of Today's Contemporary Manners), were all published postumously between 1946 and 1952. In his writing, as in his life, his sexuality is very much to the fore.
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