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Josef Kastein and Shulamith Kastein Collection

Identifier: AR 7227

Scope and Content Note

The Josef Kastein and Shulamith Kastein Collection primarily details the life and literary work of the author Josef Kastein. Born as Julius Katzenstein, nearly every document in this collection refers to the author as Josef Kastein, including his own letters, and so it is by this name that he is referenced in this finding aid. The collection primarily consists of correspondence and typed manuscripts, but also includes some clippings and articles on Josef Kastein, and a very few photographs.

Josef Kastein's writing is the dominant subject of this collection. Papers related to this topic include those of Series II, which holds manuscripts of some of his published and unpublished works, both fiction and non-fiction. Most of the manuscripts appertain to Jewish motifs, with two works focusing on Theodor Herzl (Das neue Pantheon) and Stefan Zweig (Das Schicksal des Stefan Zweig). Although most of these are in German, his untitled children's story was translated into English by Shulamith Kastein and given the title Michael and the Book. Kastein's writings are also frequently mentioned in his letters to Shulamith Kastein, in Series I, where he discusses his progress on various pieces as well as giving his opinion on themes mentioned in the works. Others' opinions on Josef Kastein's writing will be found among the correspondence to Shulamith Kastein from the biographers Alfred Dreyer and Friedrich Gläbe and in the published articles on him, found in Series III.

Another prominent topic in this collection is the biographical information on Josef Kastein, which may be found in nearly every series of the collection. Series I: Correspondence contains a great deal of information on his later life in Haifa, with details on his residence, employment and health. These letters additionally include descriptions of life in 1930s and 1940s Palestine, with mention of the turmoil in the development of the nation. Letters to Shulamith Kastein from Alfred Dreyer and Friedrich Gläbe also hold some biographical information on Josef Kastein; Alfred Dreyer's biographical sketches in Series III provide further details.

Some items have been removed from this collection, including some photographs and an audiocassette of a radio interview with Alfred Dreyer on Josef Kastein. These will be found in the LBI Photograph Collection and Audiovisual Collection, respectively.


  • 1935-1988
  • Majority of material found within 1935-1946


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

Julius Katzenstein was born on October 6, 1890 in Bremen, the son of Manus Katzenstein and his wife Karoline Katzenstein née Aschenberg. He had a younger brother, Leopold. In 1911 he began studying law at the University of Munich, where he became a member of a student Zionist movement. He continued his legal studies at universties in Freiburg im Breisgau, Berlin, and Göttingen, with his first trip to Palestine taken during this time, in 1913. In 1916 he returned to Palestine with Ilse Mengers, who would later become his first wife. After completing his studies he worked as a lawyer in his hometown, Bremen. In 1919 his eldest son was born; a second would follow in 1921.

In addition to his legal work Julius Katzenstein also began to write under the name Josef Kastein. His first pieces were some poetry and the play Arbeiter, about Eastern European Jews, which was published in 1921. In 1922 his first novel Die Brücke was published. In 1926 he and his first wife separated, but he continued to write; in the following year he produced the novels Melchior and Pik Adam.

In 1928 Kastein gave up his legal career, left Bremen, and settled in Switzerland, first in Ascona and then later in Moscia, where he was a neighbor of the popular biographer Emil Ludwig. At this time he began to contribute to publications as well as continue to write longer works. In 1932 he resettled Palestine, first in Tel Aviv and then later in Haifa, where he would remain for the rest of his life. These years in Palestine proved to be his most prolific, and he produced a number of works during this time. To supplement his income Josef Kastein also gave lectures and taught Hebrew. It was also at this time that he met his second wife Shulamith Kastein, born as Margarethe Vogl.

Josef Kastein died in Haifa on June 13, 1946.

Published Works

Logos und Pan
Arbeiter: eine dramatische Szene
Die Brücke
Melchior, ein hanseatischer Kaufmannsroman
Pik Adam
Sabbatai Zwi: der Messias von Ismir
Uriel da Costa: Tragödie der Gesinnung
Eine Geschichte der Juden
Süsskind von Trimberg oder die Tragödie der Heimatlosigkeit
Juden in Deutschland
Theodor Herzl, das Erlebnis des jüdischen Menschen
Jüdische Neuorientierung
Das Geschichtserlebnis der Juden
Herodes, die Geschichte eines fremden Königs
Jerusalem, die Geschichte eines Landes
Jeremias, der Bericht von Schicksal einer Idee
Eine pälastinenische Novelle
Wege und Irrwege: drei Essays zur Kultur der Gegenwart


0.5 Linear Feet


This collection documents the literary life of the writer Josef Kastein, born Julius Katzenstein. His literary work and his biographical details are the main features of the collection, which includes some of his manuscripts and personal correspondence with Shulamith Kastein. Other materials include the correspondence of Shulamith Kastein with publishers and individuals researching her husband's life and articles and clippings about him.

Related Material

The LBI Library has a number of books by Josef Kastein. In addition, a biography (offprint) written by Alfred Dreyer is also available, "Josef Kastein, ein jüdischer Schriftsteller (1890-1946)" [PT 2621 A88 Z6].

Josef Kastein's memoirs of his early life, entitled Mosaiken, are also available at the LBI [ME 354].

Separated Material

An audiocassette containing a radio interview with Alfred Dreyer speaking on Josef Kastein was removed from folder 1/18 and placed in the Audiovisual Collection. Some photographs have been removed to the Photograph Collection; a list of these is present in the abovementioned folder.

Processing Information

During preparation of the EAD finding aid the collection was reorganized to gather folders with similar material together to create series and to provide miscellaneous folders with more precise titles. Description was also added to the finding aid at this time.

Guide to the Papers of Josef Kastein (1890-1946) and Shulamith Kastein (1894-1983) 1935-1988 AR 7227
Processed by Dianne Ritchey and LBI Staff
© 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from JosefKastein.xml

Revision Statements

  • December 2015:: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States