Highlights from the Archives

Albert Einstein Photographs and Personal Effects

Click the image to view all (635) images of Albert Einstein.

LBI has preserved and Digitized the personal effects of Albert Einstein, including the guestbook from his summer home in Caputh, Germany (1929-1932) and more than 600 candid photographs as well as correspondence on topics ranging from art and music to the future State of Israel.

20th Century Philosophers

Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929), philosopher and theologian, was an important personality in post-World War I German-Jewish intellectual life. He established the Freie Juedische Lehrhaus where he taught Jewish tradition and culture as part of real life experience to bring them closer to assimilated German Jewry. He wrote several philosophical works and translated the Hebrew Bible with Martin Buber.

LBI has digitized the complete diaries and correspondence of philosopher and theologian Franz Rosenzweig, including writings related to his landmark translation of the Hebrew Bible into German with Martin Buber (1926-1929) as well as the entire estate of the philosopher Constantin Brunner.

Joseph Roth Collection

Joseph Roth was born 1894 in Brody, a small, mostly Jewish, community at the margins of the Habsburg Monarchy, now in the Ukraine.  He left his provincial home for Vienna and became one of the most celebrated journalists and novelists of his day.

LBI has digitized the original manuscripts of the Austrian-Jewish author Joseph Roth’s (1894-1939) most important works. Best known for his elegiac novel on the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Radetzkymarsch, Roth now stands aside Kafka, Mann, and Musil in the canon of world literature.

Memoirs, Diaries, Scrapbooks, and Correspondence

manuscript

Digibaeck includes thousands of unpublished memoirs that chronicle Jewish life in Germany and in emigration. These documents offer first-hand accounts of experiences as diverse as the revolutions of 1848, emigration to Shanghai, the Kindertransport, and the participation of German Jews in the American civil rights movement of the 1960’s.

Mendelssohn Family

Moses Mendelssohn

Collections representing four generations of the Mendelssohn family, the quintessential German-Jewish dynasty. These range from personal effects and correspondence of the patriarch, enlightenment philosopher Moses Mendelssohn to letters written by his grandson, the composer Felix-Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.

Art and Objects Highlights

Impressionists – Max Liebermann and Lesser Ury

The painting shows a figure bending over to attend the plants in a cabbage field, probably planted during WWI at the artist's summer house in Wannsee outside Berlin.  The handling and colors are close to Impressionism, but the brushstrokes are wider than French impressionism.

DigiBaeck includes many original works and rare prints of works by Max Liebermann an important German impressionist, and founder of the Berlin Secession. Lesser Ury (1861-1931), another Berlin impressionist who had a complicated relationship with Liebermann, is also represented in DigiBaeck.

Expressionists – Ludwig Meidner

Meidner, Ludwig, Prophet (1915)

Exponents of German Expressionism, an early 20th century movement that shaped many other avant garde movements over the course of the century, and artists influenced by it are well-represented in DigiBaeck, from Ludwig Meidner to Peter Lipman-Wulf.

Illustrators – Hermann Struck, Hugo Steiner-Prag, E.M. Lilien

Czech-born painter and illustrator Hugo Steiner-Prag, who was partial to tales of the fantastic, illustrated the Gustav Meyrink novel, "The Golem", published in a luxury edition in Leipzig by Kurt Wolff, 1916. In most of the illustrations of the old Jewish quarter of Prague is the protagonist as much as the Golem. In this later drawing, however the bulky figure of the Golem looms on the page in isolation accompanied only by what appear to be a double shadow.

Among the many art books in DigiBack are limited edition volumes containing most of the major works of the illustrators E.M. Lilien, Hugo Steiner-Prag, and Hermann Struck.

Persecution, Deportation, and Emigration

Born in Brünn, Austria-Hungary (now Brno, Czechoslovakia) in 1896, Norbert Troller served as a soldier in World War I. After the war he studied architecture in Brno and Vienna. He was deported to Theresienstadt in 1942, where he worked as an architect for the Jewish self-administration of the camp, and produced works of art as well. In 1944 he was imprisoned by the Gestapo and then sent to Auschwitz.  He survived and emigrated to the United States in 1948 where he designed many Jewish Community Centers.

Among the artworks in DigiBaeck are many works that attest to the experience of German-speaking Jews under the Nazi regime. These include works secretly created in Theresienstadt by architect Norbert Troller, depictions of refugee and internment camps by Samson Schames, and David L. Bloch’s extensive body of work documenting the Shanghai Ghetto.

Book Highlights

Children’s Literature

AM Silbermann and Emil Bernhard Cohn edited this “Children’s Haggadah” in Berlin in 1933. Intended to involve children in the seder, it features “moving picture” illustrations by Erwin Singer. Children are invited to “pull slowly” on tabs connected to inserts in the illustrations, which move to reveal hidden elements of the pictures. The book also contains songs by the composer Arno Nadel (who served as Choir Director of the Jewish Community in Berlin) and other contemporary artists.

Children’s literature digitized by LBI reflects efforts by German-Jewish communities to educate children about Judaism, and even Zionism, an increasingly relevant topic following the Nazi seizure of power in 1933. Some, like the illustrated “Childrens’ Haggadah” remain enduring favorites today.

Augenspiegel (Recommendation on whether to confiscate, destroy, and burn all Jewish books) (1511)

Reuchlin, Johann. Augenspiegel (1511).

This early defense of religious tolerance was written by the Christian Hebraist Johannes Reuchlin in rebuttal of a widely discussed proposal to ban all Jewish books.

Jüdisches Ceremoniel (1726)

Jewish Customs and Accoutrements - from Juedisches Ceremoniel

Jüdisches Ceremoniel (1726), a beautifully illustrated description of Jewish religious ceremonies, rites of passage and feast days intended as a primer on Judaism for 18th century German audience. Its author, Paul Christian Kirchner, was a convert from Judaism who sought to persuade other Jews to follow his example and believed that an informed German public would be more effective at winning converts.

The Complete Horse Connoisseur (1764)

Der Vollkommene Pferdekenner, Tab IV

What is extraordinary about this veterinary work designed for equestrians, “Der Vollkommene Pferdekenner”, is the “Anhang” or Appendix, which consists of 36 pages of Hebrew words and phrases which were used by Jewish horse-traders, transliterated into Gothic letters and provided with German definitions. It was intended to give German horse buyers an extra edge in negotiations in an era when many horse dealers were Jewish.

Multimedia Highlights

Jewish Liturgical Music

Chief Cantor Aron Weiss of Berlin sings "Ato Zodea" (only you know when the world will end) as part of the Yom Kippur service. This recording comes from a small collection of rare German records of Jewish liturgical music from the early era of recorded sound.

DigiBaeck includes a number of rare recordings of Jewish liturgical music from the 1920s. These shellac 78 rpm records are documents of Jewish religious life as well as the history of the recorded sound industry.

Oral History Interviews

Joachim Prinz was a charismatic young rabbi from Berlin who spoke out against the Nazis and emigrated to the US with the aid of Stephen Wise in 1937.  As the rabbi of Temple B'nai Abraham in Newark, NJ and president of the American Jewish congress, he criticized racial discrimination in America and spoke just before Martin Luther King at the March on Washington in 1963.  he reflected on these experiences in his oral history interview with LBI.

Hundreds of Oral History Interviews are available through DigiBaeck that record the experience of German-Jewish refugees who settled in the United States. They include interviews conducted by the Research Foundation for Jewish Immigration, New York, 1971-1981 as well as interviews conducted by conscientious objectors from Austria who spend a year conducting interviews with former refugees from Austria in lieu of military service.

Home Movies

When public beaches were closed to Jews in 1935, the Jewish community board in Berlin put pressure on the Korngold family to open their estate on the nearby lake Scharmützelsee to the Jewish public; at the same time, profits for Jewish business owners were heavily curtailed by Nazi authorities. In order to keep up a certain standard of living, the Korngolds moved from the ‘mansion to the servants’ quarters’ and opened the estate to Jewish paying guests for the summers of 1935-1938.

Amateur films from the 1930’s in a handful of LBI collections offer a unique glimpse of various aspects of daily life in Germany. They include footage of vacationers at a Jewish resort outside Berlin, the 1932 German Championship Soccer match, and family vacations to the Alps and even Palestine.