Skip to main content

Enrique Lerdau Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25726

Scope and Content Note

The Enrique Lerdau Family Collection consists of documentation that centers on the lives of Barbara (née Elkan) and Fritz Lerdau, including their papers that describe their childhood, courtship, marriage, children, emigration, and later lives. In addition the collection also has a large focus on the Elkan family and the related Rée family, which provide many details of life in an upper middle-class family in Hamburg. Some information is available on the history of the hops industry in Germany. Genealogical information on the related Lerdau, Elkan, Rée and related families is also present.

Barbara and Fritz Lerdau and the life they built together are the main focus of this collection, documented in each series of the collection. Their official documents, such as birth and identification papers, will be found in Series I, along with financial, educational, legal, and military documentation for them, in addition to a few official documents of their daughters. Included are both German and Peruvian official documents. Series I also holds papers pertaining to their wedding and eulogies for both of them. Much of Series II consists of their correspondence to one another, with their letters clearly displaying their affection for one another, in addition to providing details of their daily lives and Fritz Lerdau's travels in Europe and South America. Series II also includes a small amount of correspondence with their children and annual letters sent by Barbara in her later years that document some of her activities. The writings in Series III include memoirs by both Barbara and her son Enrique (born Heinz) as well as childhood remembrance books created by Barbara for her two eldest children; these provide numerous details of the lives of Barbara and Fritz and their children, including their lives in both Hamburg and Peru and the tragic loss of their eldest daughter. Series IV, which contains the collection's photographs, includes many pictures of Fritz and Barbara Lerdau and their children.

The history of the Elkan and Rée families, from which Barbara Lerdau descended, and the lives of their members are another topic well-documented in this collection. Among the many eulogies and obituaries for family members in Series I, most are for members of the Elkan and Rée family. In addition, Series I holds some official documents and other papers for family members. Included are official documents for Barbara's father Otto Eduard Elkan; identification, professional, and educational documents for her brother Edward Elkan; and official and legal documents for her mother, Ingeborg Bandler. Documentation on the deaths of her stepfather and half-sister are also present in Series I. A small amount of correspondence between Barbara and other members of the Elkan family is present in Series II, as is some genealogical research correspondence and letters concerning the Elkan family gravesite.

Less documentation is present on the family of Fritz Lerdau, previously the Levy family of Hamburg. Included in Series I is some documentation of his grandfather, Alexander Martie Levy, and a eulogy for his sister, Emmy Hamberg. Documentation of the change to the family's surname will be found in a note on the birth certificate of Fritz Lerdau in Series I. Series II includes a few letters and postcards sent by Rudolph and Elsa Lerdau to their children.

Some information on the hops industry in Germany prior to World War II, and about the company J.F.U. Scheibel, bought by Fritz Lerdau's grandfather, may be found in this collection as well. Some letters from Fritz Lerdau in Series II briefly mention customers or interactions he had while on business trips, with his frequent travel showing the range of customers of the company. In addition, the memoirs of Barbara Lerdau and of Enrique Lerdau in Series III discuss the hops industry in general, the history of J.F.U. Scheibel, and Fritz's duties in particular.

A small amount of material on the family genealogy is also present in this collection. Several folders in Series II contain correspondence regarding the history of the family, and Series III includes a family tree for the Danish businessman Hartvig Philip Rée. The memoirs in Series III also discuss the background of the Elkan, Rée, and related families.


  • Creation: 1849-2011
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1924-1940


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, English, and Spanish, with a small amount of Danish.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Access

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<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Photograph of Nora, Fritz and Heinz (Enrique) Lerdau" href="" show="embed" title="Photograph of Nora, Fritz and Heinz (Enrique) Lerdau"/>

Barbara Elkan was born November 2, 1902 in Hamburg, Germany, the third child of Ingeborg Marie Elkan (née Rée) and the lawyer Otto Eduard Elkan. She had an older sister, Nora, born in 1897 and a brother Rudolf Eduard (later called Edward after his emigration to England), born in 1895. Ingeborg Rée had been the youngest child of an assimilated Jewish family from Denmark who had moved to Hamburg. In 1904 Barbara's father Otto Elkan died and she lived for a time in the household of her grandmother Olga Rée. In 1908 Ingeborg married the businessman and violinist Arthur Bandler. In 1909 Barbara's elder sister Nora died of septicemia; the following year Barbara's half-sister Hildegard Bandler was born. Arthur Bandler died of pneumonia and heart problems in 1932. Hildegard Bandler died in 1934.

On February 27, 1897, Fritz Levy was born in Hamburg, the son of businessman Rudolph Levy and his wife Elsa Levy née Löwenstein. He had two siblings, Otto and Emmy, and attended the Realgymnasium des Johanneums zu Hamburg. In 1907 Fritz was baptized Lutheran. In 1916 his father had the family surname changed to Lerdau. Fritz Lerdau served in World War I from June 1915 through the end of 1918, where he fought in the marine artillery as an air force bomber in Belgium and France. By the end of the war he had been promoted to the rank of Leutnant. He was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class for saving the life of his pilot when their plane crashed into the North Sea, and also received the Hamburg Hanseatic Cross and the Marine Observer Badge.

After the war Fritz Lerdau became a junior partner in his family's firm, J.F.U. Scheibel, a thriving hops and malt business that sold hops processed in Nuremberg to breweries both in Germany and internationally.

After completing her primary schooling in Hamburg, Barbara Elkan attended the Froebel Seminar in Kassel to train in childhood education and later worked at a daycare center in Hamburg. At some point while she worked at the daycare in the early 1920s she met Fritz Lerdau, who often took her to the countryside on his motorcycle on weekends. The couple married on March 29, 1925, and had three children: Leonore Elsa (called Nora, born 1926), Heinz (born 1928, later called Enrique after the family's emigration to Peru), and Ruth (born 1930).

Fritz Lerdau, who knew Danish and English and often traveled to meet his firm's customers, had made extensive international connections through his business and was able to smuggle money out of Germany with their aid. During the winter and spring of 1935 he journeyed to South America, traveling through the countries of Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile, to investigate future business possibilities there. In August 1938 the Lerdau family left Hamburg. While Barbara took the children to England where they stayed with her brother, Fritz went on a last business trip before establishing a home for the family in Lima. By 1939 the family had settled in the Miraflores district of Lima, and was eventually joined by Barbara's mother.

After a first unsuccessful business venture, Fritz then found a Russian Jewish immigrant who was looking for a partner for his business, the Hole in the Wall (El Hueco en la Pared). The Hole in the Wall was a shop that provided imported foodstuffs for the growing foreign community in Peru.

In June 1940, the Lerdaus lost their eldest daughter Nora, who drowned during a school excursion.

Shortly before the end of World War II, Fritz Lerdau's partner died, and Barbara joined the business. Heinz (Enrique) studied at the University of San Marcos in Lima and later at the University of Wisconsin. He became an economist, worked for the Organization of American States, and became a department head at the World Bank.

Fritz Lerdau died in a car accident in 1965. After his death Barbara Lerdau worked for a while at a travel agency in Lima. In 1978 she left Peru and settled in Washington, D.C., where her son and daughter lived. In addition to spending time with her family, she also volunteered as a Spanish interpreter at the National Institute for Health for patients from South America. She died in 1989.


1.75 Linear Feet


The Enrique Lerdau Family Collection focuses on documentation of the lives of Fritz and Barbara (née Elkan) Lerdau and their children, including their early years, marriage, and emigration to Peru. In addition the collection provides material on the Elkan and Rée families and their members, and to a smaller extent on the Lerdau (formerly Levy) family, including some genealogical information. The history of the hops industry and of the company J.F.U. Scheibel is also mentioned among the documents of this collection. The collection includes an assortment of documents, including extensive correspondence; several memoirs; official, legal, educational, financial, and military documents; many photographs; and family writings including poems, notebooks, and eulogies.

Separated Material

Duplicate copies of items in the collection were removed during the processing of the archival collection. These included duplicate photocopies of documents, and duplicate copies of memoirs.

Published materials were also removed from the collection. These included two books from Series II, with copies of the books' title pages retained in folders 2/7 and 2/8:

  1. Hartvig Philip Rée og Hans Slægt by Josef Fischer (and duplicate photocopies of it)
  2. Die Meisterfahrer von Hamburg: Festspiel zum siebzigsten Geburtstag von Frau Marie Rée am 26. Juli 1907 by Paul Johannes Rée

Processing Information

The collections was arranged in series during the processing of the archival collection.

Guide to the Papers of the Enrique Lerdau Family 1849-2011 AR 25726
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from EnriqueLerdauFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • May 17, 2018 : dao links added.
  • August 2, 2018 : dao links added.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States