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Liepmann Family Collection

Identifier: AR 7021

Scope and Content Note

The Liepmann Family Collection holds the personal letters of members of the Liepmann Family, especially of Hugo and Agathe Liepmann. Correspondence of other family members, specifically letters from their parents to them, are also prominent. Details of family members' daily lives and their relationships and interconnection with each other are the most prevalent subjects of the collection.

Series I holds letters sent between Hugo and Agathe Liepmann themselves, and includes letters they exchanged prior to their marriage. These letters demonstrate their closeness and affection toward each other while providing details of their and their children's activities. Some of Hugo Liepmann's letters mention in passing his work at mental hospitals, his study of apraxia and the response of others to his lectures. Agathe's letters home from trips abroad, especially Egypt and Italy, include a few details on her experiences away from home.

Letters between other family members comprise Series II. This series includes two generations of parental advice, with many letters from Adelheid Bleichröder to her daughter Agathe and from Fanny and Louis Liepmann to their son Hugo in Subseries 1, while Subseries 2 consists entirely of Agathe and Hugo's advice to their own children, especially their middle daughters Lotte and Dorothee. The first subseries additionally holds many letters from Agathe and Hugo to their parents.

Correspondence of non-family members is located in Series III. The bulk of this series consists of Agathe Liepmann's extensive letters to her close friend Annie Löwenberg née Gossmann, located in Subseries 1. Such letters hold many details on her own worries as well as Agathe's advice to Annie about her own affairs. The second subseries holds a few folders of letters from other individuals; most notable are the letters about Hugo Liepmann and his work, including some congratulatory letters and an obituary that mention his professional accomplishments.

Users of this collection should note that, aside from a handful of documents, the entire collection is in handwritten Kurrentschrift.There are notes throughout the collection, often attached to letters, that appear to note which documents pertain to specific pages in Charlotte Hamburger's history of the Liepmann family (usually noted as "F.G.S." and a number, which likely stands for "Familiengeschichte, Seite" and the applicable page number).


  • 1865-1933
  • Majority of material found within 1890-1917


Language of Materials

The collection is in German.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Use Restrictions

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


Biographical Note

Louis Liepmann was the son of the businessman David Liepmann and his wife Adelheid née Friedlander, who lived in Berlin. Louis Liepmann married Fanny Plaut, and they had two sons: Paul and Hugo.

Hugo Carl Liepmann was born in Berlin in 1863, not far from Unter den Linden. He studied chemistry as well as philosophy at the Universities of Freiburg and Leipzig, and in 1885 received his doctorate, his dissertation on the "Leukipp-Democrit Atoms." The following year he returned to Berlin where he continued to study chemistry. From 1889-1890 he served in the army. After his return to Berlin, he found himself dissatisfied with philosophy, specifically the ideas of Neo-Kantians and decided to study medicine, with a concentration in psychiatry. In 1894 he completed his studies in medicine, and in 1895 became junior doctor at the psychiatric clinic at the University of Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) under the psychiatrist Carl Wernicke. In 1896, on a vacation to Baden-Baden with his parents and other family members, he met Julius and Adelheid Bleichröder and two of their daughters, who were staying at the same hotel.

Julius Bleichröder was the younger brother of the influential banker Gerson von Bleichröder. Julius continued in the family business and eventually opened his own firm. In 1860 he married Adelheid Salomon. They had seven children, although two sons died early, and the family had an estate in Pankow, an outlying borough of Berlin.

Agathe Bleichröder was born in 1871. She enjoyed traveling, and first visited Italy in 1890. She would later travel to Egypt with her sister Gertrud (Trudchen) Arons. At the suggestion of her best friend, Annie Gossmann, Agathe joined the Ethical Society. In December 1896 Hugo Liepmann joined Agathe Bleichröder and a number of her friends to go ice skating and a relationship developed between them that led to their engagement.

Hugo Liepmann and Agathe Bleichröder married on March 21, 1897. They spent their first years in Breslau, where Hugo was assistant at the University of Breslau's psychiatric institution under Carl Wernicke. He was often required to stay overnight at the institution. Hugo and Agathe had four children: Kaethe (born 1898), Charlotte (born 1899), Dorothee (born 1900) and Hans (born 1902). In April 1899 the family moved to Berlin, where Hugo found a position at the Städtische Irrenanstalt zu Dalldorf (Municipal Asylum at Dalldorf, renamed in 1957 the Karl-Bonhoeffer-Nervenklinik). They had an estate in Pankow, near Agathe's parents, as well as a house in Berlin proper.

It was in 1900 that Hugo Liepmann first discovered the disorder apraxia, a condition involving miscommunication between the nerves in the brain and the limbs. In March 1900 he began giving lectures on these findings at the Psychiatric Society in Berlin, and would publish a number of papers on the topic. He also gave weekly lectures at the University of Berlin on the mentally ill in addition to smaller lectures at Dalldorf. In 1906 he became head physician at Dalldorf.

In 1905 Agathe Liepmann became extremely ill from influenza and on doctor's orders spent the winter in Aswan, Egypt with her daughters and other relatives, joined later by Hugo. In 1914 Hugo Liepmann accepted the post of director of the Städtische Irrenanstalt zu Lichtenberg (Herzberge) (Municipal Asylam at Lichtenberg (Herzberge) in Berlin. During World War I the family hosted refugees from East Prussia in their home and Agathe volunteered with the Charlottenburg Commision for Assistance, created to aid women whose husbands had been drafted. She used her own funds to set up a sewing workshop for such women, which created clothes out of surplus fabric. She later assisted in a committee of the Frauendienst. Hugo Liepmann's administration of the Herzberge institution became more difficult due to the wartime shortages. Their eldest daughter, Kaethe, became a nurse's assistant for the Red Cross. Hugo Liepmann died on May 5, 1925, Agathe Liepmann in 1933.


2 Linear Feet


This collection documents the daily lives of the psychiatrist Hugo Liepmann and his wife Agathe Liepmann née Bleichröder through their extensive personal correspondence. Details on events in the lives of their closest family members, including their parents and four children, are also included. The collection consists almost entirely of handwritten correspondence.

Related Material

Closely related to this collection is Charlotte Hamburger's memoir "Geschichte der Familien Liepmann und Hamburger" [ME 395a] and its translation by her daughter Adelaide Flatau, "History of the Bleichroeder and Liepmann families including a chapter on the Hamburgers" [MS 613].

Other related material in the LBI Archives includes Charlotte Hamburger's "Die Familie und das Leben des Hans Hamburger" [ME 1504]; the Bleichroeder Family Trees Collection [AR 6410]; and Louis Liepmann's memoir "Familien-Erinnerungen. Wahrheit ohne Dichtung." [ME 395b].

All of the memoirs listed above are available online.

Processing Information

The collection was rearranged during processing of the collection in 2012. Folders with letters by the same correspondent were brought together to form series and overfilled folders were subdivided into multiple folders.

Guide to the Papers of the Liepmann Family 1865-1933 AR 7021
Processed by Dianne Ritchey and LBI Staff
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from LiepmannFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • September 2016:: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States