The Leo Baeck Institute is a research library and archive that contains the most significant collection of source material relating to the history of German-speaking Jewry, from its origins to its tragic destruction by the Nazis and continuing to the present day. Dating back almost 2,000 years, when Jews first settled along the Rhine, the Jewish communities of Germany, Austria, and other German-speaking areas of Europe had a history marked by individual as well as collective accomplishments. To appreciate the impact of German-speaking Jewry in modern times, one need only recall such names as Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and Franz Kafka.
Founded in 1955, the LBI was named for the rabbi who was the last leader of the Jewish community in Germany under the Nazis. Rabbi Leo Baeck survived the concentration camp of Theresienstadt to become the first president of the Institute. The Institute was set up with offices in New York, London and Jerusalem, with New York the site of the LBI library and archives. Since the opening of the Jewish Museum Berlin, LBI NY also maintains a branch of its archives there.