Reiss Family Collection
Scope and Content Note
The Reiss family collection documents the life and work of the Reiss family (circa 1848-1995). The collection is divided into three series.
Series I, Personal Documents, 1902-1995, includes Documents such as photos, passports, birth and death certificates. The last folder is "The story of the Reiss family", a short biographical note on the family, written by Nora Reiss.
Series II, Correspondence, 1930-1981, includes private as well as business correspondence of Moritz, Herbert, Kurt and Flora Lotte "Lola" Reiss. To some extant it also documents professional correspondence of Kurt Reiss with publishing houses, patent offices and business partners. However, the bulk of the material is about the family business of the Reiss family. Among it there is some correspondence with breweries and banks.
Series III, Kurt Reiss' Works, 1920's-1940, is material related to Kurt Reiss. Subseries I is composed of drafts and manuscripts related to his works. There are some copies of his pamphlets, too. Subseries II is made up of Newspaper clippings. Of particular interest are clippings from prewar anti-Semitic newspapers, local bohemian newspapers and some issues of "Der Stuermer". Subseries III is comprised of Kurt Reiss' notebooks. They are divided into numbered and not numbered exemplars. The bulk of it is unreadable.
- Freund, Nora (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is in German, English, and French with some Czech.
Closed for microfilming
There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011
Josef Reiss (1847-1917) was the son of a butcher. He lived successively in the western Bohemian towns of Horosedl; Dekau; and finally-from the late 1880s on-in Saaz. Josef Reiss married Charlotte Stein (1858-1886) in about 1875 and she gave birth to seven children. After Charlotte's death, Josef married Adele Mann (1870-1937). Josef Reiss' family business prospered: they had large land holdings and engaged in many aspects of general farming, in the growing and exporting of hops. In 1938, Sudetenland was annexed by Germany and all Jews had to leave within hours. The Reiss family went to their Konau property, which was in the remaining part of Czechoslovakia, where they could continue their business.
Moritz Reiss married Olga Kohn (1879-1950s), daughter of Adolf Kohn from Drahomischl, in 1904. They had four children: Herbert (1905-ca. 1980), Kurt (1906-1996), Walter (1908-1937) and Flora Lotte, called Lola (1910-1995).
Herbert attended four years of Commercial High School, than worked for a bank. He spent a year in France and into the hops business upon his return. Herbert was also an accomplished musician and did some compositions. In the 30s, Herbert left Saaz and moved to Paris to work for a Jewish Aid Association. He married Trude Loewy and they left for London before the Nazis arrived, settling in Ontario, Canada.
Kurt left school at the age of 15 and developed an interest in religion. He believed that the Jews should recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah. He also attempted to secure patents for mechanical inventions. Kurt convinced the family to emigrate to Canada. According to a family member Kurt suffered from mental illness. He was unable to work and spent his days writing notes about his daily activities and his religious ideas. His sister Lola always took care of him.
Walter died after a tonsillitis infection at the age of 29.
Flora Lotte, called Lola, was sent to a Swiss finishing school after her elementary education. She spoke English, French, German and some Czech. Before the emigration to Canada, Lola had a gentile boyfriend. After moving to Canada she devoted her life to her family. She never married.
In March of 1939, Germany occupied the rest of the country. Moritz, Kurt, Herbert and his wife Trude were able to get to London and from there to Canada. Lola and Olga joined them after much hardship via Poland, Finland, Norway and London.
In order to settle in Canada at the time, it was necessary to buy and cultivate a farm, which they did in the Niagara peninsula. After the war they moved to Toronto. Herbert and Trude moved to Hamilton, where they had one son, Walter, born in the late 1950's.
David married Else Gottlieb (1887-1967). They had three children: Hans (1909-ca. 1985), Lotte (1910-1944) and Joseph (born 1919). Hans received a Doctor of Law degree in 1933, but joined the family business in 1937. He changed his name to John Hanus Reese in 1943 while he served in the US army. John wrote the family memoir "Reiss Roots". He married an American, Vivien Joseph. They had two children: Susan (*1946) and Peter (*1944).
3 Linear Feet
The Reiss Family Collection deals with the lives of two brothers, Moritz and David Reiss, sons of Josef.
This collection has been arranged in three series.
- Series I: Personal Documents, 1902-1997
- Series II: Correspondence, 1887-1987
- Subseries 1: Personal, 1902-1949
- Subseries 2: Professional, 1887-1987
- Series III: Kurt Reiss' Works, 1920's-1940
- Subseries 1: Drafts, Manuscripts, Pamphlets, 1920's-1930's
- Subseries 2: Newspaper Clippings with notes, 1920's-1940
- Subseries 3: Notebooks, 1930's
The collection is on 14 reels of microfilm (MF 752):
- Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/12
- Reel 2: 1/13 - 1/22
- Reel 3: 2/1 - 2/4
- Reel 4: 2/5 - 2/7
- Reel 5: 2/8 - 2/17
- Reel 6: 2/18 - 2/25
- Reel 7: 3/1
- Reel 8: 3/2
- Reel 9: 3/3
- Reel 10: 3/4
- Reel 11: 3/5
- Reel 12: 3/6
- Reel 13: 3/7
- Reel 14: 3/8
Photographs have been removed to the Photograph Collection. Books (116 titles) have been removed to the Leo Baeck Institute library. The bibliography of removed books is located at the very end of Folder 4, Box 1.
- Guide to the Reiss Family Collection 1848-1995 AR 10318 / MF 752
- Processed by Dana Brueller
- © 2007
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- 2010-05-17 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl