Collections

Listening to Records—The Jacob Jacobson Collection in Research

Jordan Katz, a fellow at the Center for Jewish History and a member of the Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme in 2016–2017, has been making use of the Jacob Jacobson Collection at the LBI for her doctoral research. The fourth-year Ph.D. student in Early Modern Jewish history at Columbia University explores the role of Jewish “wise women” and midwives in communities in the early modern Ashkenazic world.

Research, Exploitation, and Survival: The Story of Jacob Jacobson, a Jewish Archivist in Nazi Germany

One of the largest and most-used collections in the LBI archives is named for a little known historian and archivist who, like Leo Baeck, survive Theresienstadt. The Jacob Jacobson Collection spans 16 feet of archival boxes plus oversized materials, encompassing birth, death, marriage, and circumcision registers dating back as far as 1671. How could this enormous body of materials survive the Nazi period? When archivist Michael Simonson began reconstructing its provenance, he encountered a complex drama that hinged on the ethical dilemma of a scholar trapped between collaboration and survival.

“We have wandered together a long, long way”—The Hans and Eleonore Jonas Collection

In summer 2016, Ayalah Jonas, the daughter of the philosopher Hans Jonas, donated part of her parents’ library and personal papers to the LBI. The archival collection contains unpublished manuscripts, poems, and drawings by the philosopher Hans Jonas (1903–1993) as well as documents related to the history of the family and a circle of friends including Hannah Arendt.

History by the Foot: Processing Archival Collections at the LBI

It is not unusual for suitcases, banker’s boxes, and even plastic bags containing historical material to be opened for the first time in decades at the LBI. With this article, we take you on a short trip alongside two such suitcases. Adventures in archival processing await!

A Voice Still Heard—Music and Musicians in LBI Collections

A new website highlights the stories of German-Jewish musicians, conductors, and composers based on items in the LBI’s art, archival, and library collections.

The Jewish Liturgical Year: Calendars in LBI Collections

The LBI library holds hundreds of calendars in German and Hebrew that lay out the same annual rhythms of life and prayer according to the lunisolar calendar for centuries.

The Roedelheim Mahzor Collection: Change and Continuity

Recently Moriah Amit, a librarian at the LBI and the Center for Jewish History, finished cataloguing a unique collection of mahzors published in Roedelheim. These editions, comprising 15 complete sets of the prayer books, were published between 1800 and 1923 in Roedelheim, Germany. Over more than 140 hours, Amit cataloged 304 volumes of 77 editions that are preserved in the LBI library collection. Their appearance—the change in printed layout and language chosen by the publisher, as well as notes and inscriptions by the owner, or generations of owners—reflect the interplay of continuity and change that mark all religious-cultural traditions.

Tarnschriften: Camouflaged Publications in Resistance Against the Nazis

Tarnschriften, or camouflaged publications, were one way to avoid censorship in Germany between 1933 and 1945: Texts that were forbidden by the Nazis were hidden between inconspicuous cover pages. The LBI holds two of these publications in its collection.

Final Sale in Berlin—Database of Jewish-Owned Businesses in Berlin Now Part of LBI Collections

Christoph Kreutzmüller On September 30, 2015, historian Christoph Kreutzmueller presented the new English translation of his study on the destruction of Jewish commercial life in Berlin and formally donated a remarkable database of Jewish businesses to Leo Baeck Institute. Since 2005, I have been studying how the National Socialist regime systematically destroyed and looted businesses…

Meine Liebe Käthe—A trove of century-old letters adds fuel to WWI debate

Engagement letters from a young Bavarian Catholic aid to the German Chancellor and the daughter of one of early 20th century Germany’s most famous painters speak volumes about the German-Jewish milieu in Wilhelmine Berlin and may also shed light on the origins of World War I.