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Frank L. Herz Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 25386

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains materials from Frank L. Herz, primarily his correspondence about his birthplace of Heilbronn, Germany, and correspondence concerning his uncle, noted Communist and Social Democrat Paul Levi. It also contains correspondence with East German writer Ludwig Renn, some clippings and printed materials about Heilbronn, a small amount of miscellaneous personal correspondence, and four photographs.

Dates

  • 1960-1998

Creator

Language of Materials

This collection is in German and English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Biographical Note

Biographical summary written by Dr. Sibylle Quack, New York, 2008

Frank L. Herz (1908-2006) was born in 1908 in Heilbronn, a Swabian town in Germany, where his father was a merchant. Frank Herz grew up in a German-Jewish family. He had one brother, Kurt. His mother, neé Levi, came from the nearby town of Hechingen. She was the sister of Paul Levi, a close friend and lawyer of Rosa Luxemburg. After Luxemburg´s murder in 1919, Paul Levi was head of the German Communist Party until he criticized Lenin in public, and in 1921 was expelled from the party. Levi later became a leading figure of the Social Democrats being a member of the German parliament (the Reichstag). He was also one of the best known political lawyers of the Weimar Republic. Paul Levi died an untimely death in 1930. Frank Herz studied law at the Universities of Tübingen, Heidelberg, and Berlin. In Berlin, he would meet his famous uncle whom he admired and with whom he shared liberal political ideas. When Paul Levi fell out of a window in 1930, this was a great tragedy for the whole family.

In 1933, when Hitler came to power, Frank was a lawyer and temporarily worked in Toulouse, France. His mother early on made the decision for the whole family to leave Germany, and was able to transfer some money via Switzerland to the United States. They all arrived in New York in 1935. In the US, Frank and his brother both worked in the family owned business of leather goods “Herz Speciality Products”. In 1940, Frank Herz married Susanne Simon, a German Jewish emigrant from Berlin, and in 1946 their son, David was born. During the Second World War, Frank Herz served his new country and worked for the military service in Washington, D.C. Frank Herz never quite felt like a business man, and would have preferred to be a lawyer. But unfortunately, the law he had been trained for in Germany did not apply to the American system. Frank always was interested in history and philosophy. When he retired, he became devoted to humanism, especially Renaissance humanism.

He focused on the life and thoughts of Johannes Reuchlin, the famous German Humanist who in the early 16th century with his epoch-making “De rudimentis hebraicis" (1506), introduced the study of Hebrew to Germany. Frank Herz read Reuchlin in Latin, and was particularly interested in the question of how Reuchlin defended Jewish rights, and fought against anti-Semitism of the Christian church. Herz also wrote a whole book manuscript on the subject which is now in the possession of the Leo Baeck Institute, New York. Frank Herz was a book lover, and a passionate collector of books from the Renaissance. He was very well educated, had a classical “Bildung”, and was highly interested in art history. He and his wife loved to travel all over Europe – especially Italy and France, where they would visit churches and museums. They also went back to Germany several times, kept in touch with German friends, and were interested in the development of a democratic society in their former home country. Frank Herz, whose wife Susanne had passed away in 1994, is survived by his son David Herz, his daughter in law Janet Stahl, who is a great granddaughter of Heinrich Stahl, and two grandchildren, Jay and Dana Stahl-Herz.

Extent

0.25 Linear Feet (one box)

Abstract

This collection contains materials from Frank L. Herz, primarily his correspondence about his birthplace of Heilbronn, Germany, and correspondence concerning his uncle, noted Communist and Social Democrat Paul Levi. It also contains correspondence with East German writer Ludwig Renn, some clippings and printed materials about Heilbronn, a small amount of miscellaneous personal correspondence, and four photographs.

Arrangement

The folders are in alphabetical order, except for the Photographs folder, which was placed at the end.

Related Material

The Rare Book Collection of Frank L. Herz focuses on the famous Renaissance controversy between the Christian Hebraist Johannes Reuchlin and the anti-Jewish agitator Johannes Pfefferkorn, who was trying to lobby for the destruction of all Jewish books. The core of the collection is 42 titles which are directly related to the controversy between Reuchlin and Pfefferkorn. Most of the books were published in the early 16th century (the earliest 1501, the majority around 1511/14 and later), with some commentaries and reprints from the 17th century. The German historian Dr. Sibylle Quack inherited the book collection from Frank L. Herz and generously donated it to the Leo Baeck Institute.

A catalog was prepared for the 2009 exhibition based on the collection.

The LBI Archives also holds a manuscript of Herz's, entitled "Johannes Reuchlin's 'Opinion on Jewish Literature', a Landmark on the Road to Toleration" (MS 262, digitized). The work concerns Reuchlin's legal opinion regarding the study of Jewish literature submitted to Emperor Maximilian I in 1510, and includes chapters on Reuchlin's biography.

Separated Materials

The following printed materials were removed to the LBI Library:
  1. "Das Schicksal der jüdischen Juristen in Wuerttemberg und Hohenzollern, 1933-1945" (1965)
  2. Schaber, Will. "Weltbürger aus Heilbronn" (1986)
  3. "Woche der Begegnung 1985: Besuch ehemahliger jüdischer Mitbürger aus Heilbronn" (1985)
  4. Two issues of the journal "Simpl" with Nazi caricatures (1935)

Processing Information

Envelopes were discarded if address and date information were duplicative. Photographs were rehoused in Mylar sleeves.
Title
Guide to the Frank L. Herz Collection Undated, 1960 - circa 1998 AR 25386
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Kevin Schlottmann
Date
© 2012
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • April 01, 2015 : dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States