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Alexander and Marianne Selinger Collection

Identifier: AR 25016

Scope and Content Note

The Alexander and Marianne Selinger Collection provides information about Alexander Selinger's Café Éclair, and also contains documents relevant to the Winter family. The collection consists of newspaper clippings, academic papers and other personal and legal documents.

A major portion of the collection is devoted to the former Café Éclair on the Upper West Side of New York City. The café's role as a Wiener Kaffeehaus (a Viennese coffeehouse) is discussed, serving as a place of comfort and nostalgia for Austrian intellectuals in New York City. The newspaper clippings record the café’s expansion from a small neighborhood bakery to a corporate chain, chronicling the development of the business. The articles also contain rich descriptions of the café, and provide biographic details about Alexander Selinger as a manager and individual.

The collection also documents the lives of the Winter family in both Austria and America. The life of a middle-class, secular Jewish family in Vienna is recorded in certificates from banks, high schools and local clubs. Newspaper clippings about the Winters' arrival in Reading, Pennsylvania cover the topic of emigration to the United States. The articles also describe Jewish refugee absorption into American society, as explained by the story of the Winter family.

Folder 1 contains various documents related to Alexander Selinger. Included are Alexander's driving licenses and an 1899 postcard addressed to Alexander’s mother, Victoria Friess, from her cousin Alfred. The folder also has a letter from Marianne's correspondence with LBI about the collection. Folder 2 contains clippings about Café Éclair published from 1970-2000. The bulk is newspaper and magazine reviews of Café Éclair. Also included is a New York Times obituary of Alexander Selinger (from January 1, 1998).

Folder 3 contains documents related to the Winter and Federmann families. Max Winter's academic and work certificates are enclosed, as is a teaching certificate for Anna Winter. Marianne Winter's school report cards are contained in this folder, ranging from 1928-1938. Genealogical information includes a family tree and Reinhard Federmann's research into the lineage of the Federmann family. Folder 4 contains documents on the Winter Family's life in the United States. Several clippings from local Reading newspapers give an account of the family's arrival in Reading, Pennsylvania. Additionally, two separate documents announce Stephen Winter's commencement at Columbia in 1953 and retirement from Tufts University in 1991.

Also included in the collection is a guestbook from Café Éclair of over 200 pages, signed between 1940-1992, along with loose papers. Notable signatures include Joan Rivers, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Bruno Walter, Max Reinhardt, Klaus Mann and Franz Werfel. Many inscriptions can be attributed to Austrian refugee intellectuals and artists, and several signatures are accompanied by small musical staff lines or sketches of Alexander Seligman. The loose papers consist of clippings of profiles of belles and singers, and Christmas cards from Austrian composer Robert Stolz and actor Walter Slezak.

Folders 1 and 2 also contain inventories of the collection from the Austrian Heritage Collection at LBI, although there are several omissions and incorrect dates inside. The inventories include listings of the photographs that are presently located in the LBI Photograph Collection.


  • 1899-2000
  • Majority of material found in 1920s-1930s, 1970s-2000


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.

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

Alexander Mario Selinger was born on August 26, 1906 in Lendinara, Italy to Victoria Friess and a Czech father who owned a sugar factory. The Selinger family moved to Austerlitz (today Slavkov in the Czech Repiblic) in 1909, and Alexander was educated in Brünn (today Brno). After graduating, Alexander worked for the sugar broker Borowitzer Zuckerfabrik, travelling frequently between Czechoslovakia, Austria and Italy. Alexander immigrated to New York on an Italian passport in June 1939 and that same year opened Café Éclair on 141 West 72nd Street in New York City. Café Éclair resembled old Viennese cafés, serving Austrian delicacies to a clientele of mostly European Jewish refugees. Over time, Café Éclair expanded into a wholesale chain, with a factory and additional bakeries in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The business had many prominent clients, such as Bob Hope, Jackie Kennedy, Ed Sullivan and others. Notably, Selinger purchased America’s first croissant-making machine in America for the café's use. The business was sold to a new owner in 1993 and Alexander retired in 1995. He died in Florida on June 12, 1998.

Max Winter (born September 18, 1893 in Ebreichsdorf, Austria) was a banker and his wife, Anna Federmann (born May 2, 1893 in Heidenreichstein) was a certified music teacher. After Max's army service in World War I, he married Anna, a recent graduate of a music conservatory. They had two children, Marianne and Stephen.

Their daughter, Marianne Doris Selinger née Winter was born on September 24, 1921 in Vienna, Austria. She was a fine student and a member of the local sports club "HaKoah". Marianne's correspondence with Jane Bromberger, a Pennsylvanian student, helped her family secure affidavits for emigration to the United States. In the summer of 1938 the family obtained passage to Czechoslovakia, and in 1939 they immigrated to Reading, Pennsylvania. The children graduated from Reading High School. Stephen Winter attended Albright College and received a PhD in Chemistry at Columbia University. He taught as a professor of chemistry at several universities, and also studied the sociology of education. In 1991, he retired from the position of Chairman of the Department of Education at Tufts University.

Marianne sewed dresses for a shop and then a manufacturer in both Reading and New York. She married David Rosenthal in 1946 and they had two sons. Marianne and David retired to Florida in 1978, and later spent six years in Vienna before returning to the United States. Alexander Selinger's first wife died in 1988 and Mr. Rosenthal passed away in 1989. Marianne and Alexander married in 1991 and lived together in Palm Beach until Alexander's death in 1998.


0.25 Linear Feet


This collection documents the business of Café Éclair and the lives of the Winter family. The collection contains reviews of the café, and a guestbook with signatures of Austrian and American intellectuals and artists. The collection also includes the Winter family's documents from Austria (work and academic records) as well as clippings from their arrival and residence in the United States.


The collection is arranged into one series with 4 folders.

Related Material

The guestbook contains many signatures of notable Austrian-German figures. Among them is the signature of Hugo Steiner Prag, whose papers can be found in the LBI Archives (AR 1723).

An audio file and transcript of an interview with Marianne Selinger from September 18, 2000 is available in the LBI Archives (AHC 1771).

Separated Material

Photographs of the Selinger Family and Café Éclair have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection. An inventory of the photographs can be found in Folder 1 of this collection.

Processing Information

The collection was processed in 2012. The old arrangement still applies for Folders 1 and 2. The original third folder was divided into Folders 3 and 4, containing documents of the Winter family from 1909-1938 and 1939-1991, respectively.

Guide to the Papers of Alexander and Marianne Selinger 1899-2000 AR 25016
Processed by Dalia Wolfson
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Alexander_and_MarianneSelinger.xml

Revision Statements

  • September 24, 2014 : 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