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Richard Koch Family Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 3744

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains material by and about the family of physician Richard Koch, collected by his daughter Naomi Laqueur. In the 1930s her parents and four siblings left Germany for a variety of places, including the Soviet Union, Israel, England, and the United States. The bulk of the collection consists of letters received by Naomi Laqueur, primarily from her parents and siblings, but also from friends and extended family.

Spanning the 1930s to the 1970s, this correspondence paints a rich portrait of the differences in mid 20th-century life in the Soviet Union, Israel, England, Germany, and the United States. The collection also contains correspondence collected by but not addressed to Naomi Laqueur, chiefly from her father Richard Koch and between her immediate family. The correspondence primarily contains information about daily life: relationships, children, health, money, jobs, and the weather. There is also discussion of politics, emigration, rel igion, literature, family history, and restitution.

The collection also contains materials related to Richard Koch such as Koch’s personal and professional writings, including a few medical publications, as well as published and unpublished biographical information about Koch and his family. Additionally, it contains other materials saved by Naomi Laqueur, including love poems and correspondence written by her uncle Alfred Koch to his girlfriend Edith Floersheim. The collection also contains materials relating to her family and friends, such as clippings, obituaries and eulogies, off-prints, genealogical materials, and printed material. It also includes some items from Laqueur’s time in Palestine.

Finally, the collection also contains photographs of the family of Richard Koch, mostly of the families of his children, which were probably enclosed with the copious correspondence mentioned above. There are also portraits and family scenes of Richard Koch, alone and with his children.

This collection contains very little material from Naomi Laqueur herself, and it also has little from or about her husband, well-known historian Walter Laqueur.

Dates

  • 1890s-1993
  • Majority of material found within 1933-1970

Creator

Language of Materials

This collection is in German and English, with some French, Hebrew, and Russian.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers. There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection.

Access Information

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

Biographical Note

Richard Koch (September 3, 1882–July 30, 1949) was born to Fritz Koch and Auguste (born Epstein) in Frankfurt. His siblings include Alfred (1893-1918), Emma, and Hedda. After medical studies in Munich, Lausanne, Heidelberg, and Berlin, he served in a reserve military hospital during World War One. He married Maria Rosenthal in 1914. In Frankfurt, he had a successful career as a doctor, a professor of medicine and medical history at the Goethe University, and as the medical editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. His areas of medical interest included infectious disease, history of medicine, and balneology. In 1933, with the Nazis' ascent to power, Koch was removed from his university post and h is medical practice was boycotted. In 1936, he left Germany, first for Brussels and, after obtaining Soviet citizenship, for Moscow. In 1937, he was assigned to a medical post in Essentuki, in the Caucasus. With the exception of a year during the war when he was evacuated to Tsqaltubo, Georgia, Koch remained in Essentuki until his death in 1949. Maria Koch remained in Essentuki until her death in 1973.

Koch had five children, all born in Frankfurt: Naomi Laqueur (1920-1995; born Barbara Koch; married to Walter Laqueur), Helen Elder (born Hanna, married to Robert Elder), Eva (Chava) Weiss, Gertrude Koch, and Friedrich Koch. All left Germany between 1936 and 1938. Gertrude and Friedrich joined their parents in Essentuki, while Naomi and Eva left for Palestine and Helen went to the United States. With the exception of Naomi, who after 1955 lived in England with stints in Israel and the United States, all of the children settled in the countries to which they fled.

Extent

4 Linear Feet (8 manuscript boxes)

Abstract

This collection contains material by and about the family of German-Jewish physician Richard Koch, collected by his daughter Naomi Laqueur. In the 1930s Richard and Maria Koch and their five children left Germany for the Soviet Union, Israel, England, and the United States. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence sent to Laqueur from her parents and her siblings. Spanning the 1930s to the 1970s, the letters paint a rich portrait of the differences in mid 20th-century life in the Soviet Union, Israel, England, and the United States. Additional correspondence includes letters from Laqueur’s friends and extended family, and correspondence between other family members. The collection also documents Richard Koch’s professional activities as a physician, and additionally contains some of his poems and portions of a memoir. It also has materials about friends and relatives, a collection of Alfred Koch’s love poems from the 1910s, and photographs.

Related Material

LBI holds Richard Koch’s memoirs, in both German and English (ME735 and ME1512). It also holds a memoir and additional materials relating to Richard’s brother Alfred Koch (ME1568 and AR5153).

Processing Information

The majority of the materials were sent to LBI New York from LBI London in 1997. These materials were combined with the pre-existing Richard Koch collection AR3744, also assembled by Naomi Laqueur. Materials were transferred to acid-free folders and reboxed. Duplicate materials were removed. Photographs were placed into separate sleeves.
Title
Guide to the Richard Koch Family Collection 1890s-1993 (bulk 1935-1970) AR 3744
Status
In Progress
Author
Processed by Kevin Schlottmann
Date
© 2011
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • May 22, 2013 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States