Skip to main content

Trude Kersten Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25304

Scope and Content Note

The Trude Kersten Family Collection documents the life of Trude Kersten and her family, starting around 1900, the time when her parents began their university studies. The material primarily consists of photo albums and correspondence between the several family members, who lived on various continents. In addition, the collection contains personal documents regarding their family history. The majority of the records are original papers. The bulk of the collection pertains to family correspondence and especially business papers. Particularly the numerous photographs and the letters between the family members give an impression of the family history.

Series I mainly contains personal documents like family correspondence, educational documents, a diary, passports and U.S. citizenship papers of Jenny and Ewald Brinitzer. The letters are predominantly a mixture of information on familial happenings, such as marriages and daily life. Educational papers and diplomas of Walter Brinitzer are to be found in Series II. There is a personal letter from the BBC to his older brother Carl Brinitzer and a photograph of himself. In addition to the educational papers of Trude Kersten, Series III largely holds business papers of her husband Ewald Kersten. Many photo albums, especially those showing members of the Kersten family are to be found in Series IV.


  • 1899-1989
  • Majority of material found within 1930s-1940s


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the Reserve button.

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

Jenny Brinitzer, née Kaplan, was born in Riga, in present day Lativia, on July 15th,1884. At the age of 14 she started to study to become a doctor. Focused on this profession she began to study medicine at the University of Bern, Switzerland in 1901. As a 17-year-old she was one of the youngest students of the faculty of medicine. Due to her intelligence and her medical talent she stood out from her fellow students in her first semester and attracted the attention of her professors. After a very brief time she became friends with Professor Strasser (anatomist and physiologist) and his family, who invited her frequently to his home. This friendship continued until her departure from Bern in 1906.

In April 1905 Jenny met Eugen Brinitzer at a Russian Ball. He was born in Neisse [now in Poland] on March 10th, 1879. In her memoirs she remembered their first encounter as love at first sight. From that day on they had maintained a serious relationship. In 1905 Eugen Brinitzer came to Bern in order to work as an assistant in the dermatology department of the University. When Jenny Brintzer became pregnant in 1907 (and gave birth to her first son Carl in 1907), she withdrew from her university studies and moved to Hamburg Altona. Eugen Brinitzer received the opportunity to take over a doctor's practice in Hamburg. She enrolled and finished her last year of medical study at the University of Berlin. In 1908 Jenny Brinitzer had to move to Switzerland and Southern France in order to cure her tuberculosis. During this period Eugen Brinitzer stayed in Hamburg to run his very successful medical practice. When she returned to Hamburg Altona she was confronted with the fact that she wasn't accepted for the state examination at the University in Berlin. In her memoirs Jenny Brinitzer vividly described how she nevertheless became established as the first female doctor in Hamburg Altona. 'The fate was gracious to me', she recalled in her memoirs. During her studies in Kiel she gave birth to her second son Walter in 1910. Finally in December 1911 she passed her exams after many interruptions. In the following years she gave birth to two more children. Her first and long-awaited daughter Gertrude was born in 1916. Jenny and Eugen Brinitzer worked a lot but also enjoyed their life, she recalled. Eugen Brinitzer founded the Dermatological Society of Hamburg.

In 1938 they decided to flee from the Nazi regime, so they left Germany. Before Trude Kersten moved with her husband from Germany to the U.S. in 1938 she trained to be a chicken farmer. The couple moved to Bangalore, in southern India, and established a practice there. Jenny Brinitzer became a physician treating many leading members of British and Indian society. In 1947, after India gained independence from Great Britain, the Brinitzers decided to move to the U.S. and determined to live in Great Neck, New York, to be close to their daughter, Trude Kersten. In Great Neck they established their third practice. In 1965 Eugen Brinitzer passed away.

While their second son Walter Brinitzer established his own practice in Bangalore and followed his parents to the U.S. as well, their first son Carl Brinitzer moved to Great Britain in 1938. He, who held a doctorate in law, worked as a correspondent for the BBC during and after the war. Carl Brinitzer also published numerous books (including a biography of Heinrich Heine) and wrote frequently for German and British newspapers (e.g. Welt am Sonntag, London Times, Daily Telegraph etc.). He died on October 24th, 1974 in Sussex, England and left a widow, Vienna-born Berthe Grossbard, who became known throughout Europe as a radio singer. Ewald Kersten held a doctor in law and attended the Institute for World Commerce in Hamburg to specialize in International Traffic Management. From 1933 until 1938 he worked in the freight forwarding and shipping business, and later he became a branch manager of an International Shipping Company in Hamburg. In January 1940 he established the Kersten Shipping Agency in New York.


3.5 Linear Feet


The Trude Kersten Family Collection documents the family history of the Brinizters', who lived in the Altona district of Hamburg, Germany from the late 1920s until 1938. When the situation for Jews in Germany became increasingly threatening they decided to emigrate to India, Great Britain and to the U.S. Jenny Brinitzer worked as a female doctor, Eugen Brinitzer as a dermatologist, their oldest son Carl Brinitzer became famous as an author and correspondent and Ewald Kersten established an international shipping agency. Theír diverse paths of life are illustrated in several photo albums, memoirs, letters and official documents.

Separated Material

Further photographs and art works were separated to the LBI Arts and Objects Collection and books were removed to LBI Library from the estate of Trude Kersten, née Brinitzer, pertaining primarily to the Brinitzer family and to a lesser degree to Trude Kersten's husband, Ewald Kersten.

Guide to the Papers of the Trude Kersten Family 1899-1989 AR 25403
Processed by Ira Fiona Sebekow
© 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from TrudeKerstenFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • May 2011: Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States