Skip to main content

Paul Proskauer Collection

Identifier: AR 25641

Scope and Content Note

The Paul Proskauer Collection contains the correspondence and some family papers of Paul Proskauer and his family members, especially his immediate family. In addition, some of his professional writing, as well as some of his brother Henry (Hans) Proskauer's, is also present, along with research materials. The collection includes correspondence, official documents, articles and their unpublished drafts, newspaper clippings, photo albums, and some programs.

Correspondence between Paul Proskauer and his immediate family, his parents Curt and Erna Proskauer and his brother Henry (Hans) Proskauer, comprises most of Series I and a portion of the first subseries of Series II. This extensive correspondence provides information on the family's private life and daily activities as well as their opinions on numerous topics. A significant portion of the correspondence derives from Paul and Henry (Hans) Proskauer's trips to Europe, and provides their comments and their activities and experiences, especially of their trips to Switzerland and Italy. Series II additionally holds a diary of Henry (Hans) Proskauer's, documenting the year 1935-1936, when he lived in Zürich, Switzerland. Paul and Henry's trips are also documented through the photo and postcard albums of Series V, one of which includes identified photographs of family members and friends.

Another well-represented topic of this collection is the writings of Paul and Henry Proskauer, who both wrote reviews and articles on literature, art, theater, and other subjects for newspapers, especially the German-language newspaper Aufbau. Their writings and associated research material will be found in Series IV. The final subseries of the collection, Series VI, contains other research files that may have been used for these or other writings. Other material related to Henry (Hans) Proskauer's professional work as an architect may be found in the second subseries of Series II.

Information on the Proskauer family's emigration experiences, as well as more general information on the family, may be found in Series III. Emigration papers include correspondence from American consulates, official documents, and several versions of the family's affidavits of support used in acquiring an American visa. This series also holds some documentation of their residence in Italy prior to leaving for the United States. Notable is also the information on the deaths of Willy Cohn and his family, with material relating to the published excerpts of his diary and to the fate of Breslau Jews. Later documents of the family include letters to Curt and Erna Proskauer from friends in Germany and Italy that tell of the postwar situation there.


  • 1926-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1943-1980


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in German and English, with a small amount of Italian.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Part of the collection is digitized. To access the full collection, make an appointment with the Leo Baeck Archivist. 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

Paul Proskauer was born in 1921 in Breslau (today Wrocław, Poland), the younger son of the well-known dentist Curt Proskauer and his wife Erna (née Cohn). His brother Hans (after immigration Henry) had been born in 1915. Among Curt Proskauer's patients was the expressionist painter Otto Mueller. In Breslau Paul attended the Johannes-Gymnasium, but had to leave school in November 1938, half a year before he would have completed his secondary education.

Hans Proskauer, who had been studying architecture in Zürich at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule since 1935, was able to leave Breslau for the United States in April 1940. Following Kristallnacht Curt Proskauer was incarcerated in Buchenwald. After his release in July 1939, he, Erna, and Paul fled to Italy. There Curt Proskauer, who had received permission to research the history of dentistry at the Vatican Library due to his acquaintance with the Pope's dentist and his former work in this field, received aid from the Vatican Library in procuring passage for himself and his family to the United States in May 1940. The family settled in an apartment in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, where Paul and Henry continued to reside for the rest of their lives.

After completing high school, Paul studied business at the College of the City of New York, graduating in 1945. From 1943 through 1959 he worked during the summers at the Ausable Club, a resort in the Adirondack Mountains. In 1955 and 1958 he and his brother traveled to Europe. He later continued graduate studies in German Literature at Hunter College, receiving his doctorate in 1966 from Columbia University. Afterward, he taught in the German Department at Lehman College until he retired as Professor Emeritus. He often traveled to Europe, both alone and with his brother.

Henry (Hans) Proskauer died in December 2006. Paul Proskauer died on August 9, 2014.


3.75 Linear Feet


This collection holds the correspondence and papers of the professor Paul Proskauer, his brother Henry (Hans) Proskauer, and to a lesser extent, his parents. Although personal correspondence comprises the bulk of the collection, an additional focus is his and his brother's professional reviews and articles. Further materials include official documents, photo and postcard albums, programs, a diary and newspaper and magazine clippings.

Digitization Note

The collection was digitized, but due to issues of copyright and medical privacy, some material is not available online.

Related Material

The LBI Archives include the Curt Proskauer Clippings Collection, AR 4004 C.

The LBI Library includes an offprint about Curt Proskauer, Dental scholar; the life and work of Dr. Curt Proskauer (q RK 43 P7).

The Kantonsbibliothek of Kanton Schwyz in Switzerland holds a large collection of books and artwork given by Paul and Henry Proskauer, the Sammlung Henry & Prof. Paul Proskauer, Breslau/ New York.

Separated Material

Publications, including issues of periodicals and catalogs, were removed from the archival collection to the LBI Library. Photocopies of their title pages and publishing information were retained in the collection.

Processing Information

During the initial overview of the collection, little original order was observed, although the existence of alphabetical files of writings and chronological files of correspondence was noted and retained in the establishment of series and subseries during the processing of the archival collection. Duplicate photocopies of articles were removed from the collection. Books or entire issues of journals were also removed to the LBI Library, with photocopies of the works' titles kept in the collection.

Guide to the Papers of Paul Proskauer 1926-2009 AR 25641
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2015
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from PaulProskauer.xml

Revision Statements

  • February 2017: dao links and digitization information added.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States