Series V: Audiovisual Materials
Scope and Content Note
The Leo Baeck Family Collection documents the lives of the Rabbi Leo Baeck, his daughter Ruth and her husband Hermann Berlak, and his granddaughter Marianne and her husband Rabbi A. Stanley Dreyfus. Much of the collection centers on Leo Baeck's life, and shows how the younger generations of the family were associated with his legacy. The collection contains a large amount of correspondence, including personal family correspondence. Other materials include numerous articles and newspaper clippings which largely relate to Leo Baeck, unpublished manuscripts and drafts of published works, personal and official papers of family members, notes, and a few photographs.
Of primary interest in this collection is the large amount of correspondence of family members, which often displays the interconnectedness of the family. Series I holds Leo Baeck's papers; its first subseries contains his correspondence, including letters exchanged with family members such as his wife, daughter, and granddaughter. This correspondence consists of some earlier letters from World War I to his daughter and later letters documenting his life after World War II. Series II, which comprises papers of members of the Berlak family, includes a few letters to Ruth Berlak from her father as well as a number of postcards and other family correspondence in Subseries 3. Much of the family correspondence consists of general greetings, news or travel plans, although Leo Baeck's correspondence includes his reports home to family members of trips taken in the United States, including personal anecdotes and opinions on his travels. Series III and Series IV include photocopies of some of his correspondence from the late 1930s and 1940s prior to his departure to Theresienstadt. These photocopies were gathered together as part of an exhibition in Frankfurt on Leo Baeck's life and as part of the research used by the author Michael A. Meyer.
The correspondence of Hermann Berlak is another prominent portion of this collection, located in Series II with the other papers of Berlak family members. This series contains a copious amount of letters sent to and from him during his time in the German army in World War I. Most of these letters and postcards were exchanged with family members, including not only his parents and sisters, but also cousins, uncles and aunts as well as friends. Although many of these letters impart family news, some provide details on life during the war in Germany, specifically in Posen, where Hermann Berlak's parents and sister resided. Related to such correspondence are several folders on his war experience among his personal papers. Hermann and Ruth Berlak's educations are also evidenced in their personal papers along with Hermann Berlak's professional endeavors.
Material on the experience of family members during World War II and the Holocaust is additionally present in this collection. Although the collection does not include any letters from Leo Baeck to family members during his time in Theresienstadt or detailed descriptions of his experience, there are some materials documenting these years. Among the correspondence sent to Leo Baeck (Series I, Subseries 1) will be found Ruth and Hermann Berlak's response to the news of his survival and the death of other family members there as well as many requests by others searching for news of lost family members. Telegram messages by others deported to Theresienstadt and looking to emigrate will be found with Leo Baeck's personal papers (Series I, Subseries 2). In addition, among the numerous articles on Leo Baeck in Series IV are many that recount his time in Theresienstadt, including radio scripts, newspaper clippings and journal articles. Hermann Berlak's correspondence includes documentation of his time spent in the Onchan Internment Camp on the Isle of Man, with letters home that portray his experience and worries for his family during the bombardment of London. Other documentation of this time period includes Leo Berlak's financial papers indicating the enforced sale of his hat business (Series II, Subseries 3).
Leo Baeck's rabbinical teachings and musings on Jewish and philosophical themes are present in several areas of the collection. Although these themes are apparent in correspondence with individuals such as Hans Hasso von Veltheim, with whom Leo Baeck exchanged frequent discussions of such topics, brief evidence of his role as rabbi occasionally glints through in the pages of routine letters sent to family members or in anecdotes of Ruth Baeck about her father. But it is in Leo Baeck's own writings, articles and lectures that his teachings are most clearly delineated. Manuscripts of his works and his notes are located in Subseries 3 of Series I, and include drafts for some of later works. Series III includes A. Stanley Dreyfus's notes on Leo Baeck's lectures at Hebrew Union College. Copies of articles written by Leo Baeck are present among the publications and articles of Series IV, and analyses of his writings are among the articles about him in the same series. Some discussion of his works or life is present among the correspondence of Ruth Berlak and Marianne Dreyfus, in Series II and III respectively.
The adoration and respect of others for Leo Baeck is an undercurrent that pervades this collection. This is most blatantly demonstrated by the mountain of congratulatory letters sent to him for his eightieth birthday in Series I and the number of obituaries and memorials upon his death in Series IV. Other evidence includes the correspondence of Ruth Berlak and Marianne Dreyfus concerning the publications and museum exhibitions about him, the organizations, buildings and events named for him, and the numerous articles written about him in Series IV.
- Creation: 1771-2011
- Creation: Majority of material found in 1914-1956
- From the Collection: Dreyfus, Marianne, 1925- (Person)
Language of Materials
The collection is primarily in German and English, with smaller amounts of Hebrew, Czech, Russian and French.
Open to researchers.
Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.
From the Collection: 7.5 Linear Feet