Skip to main content

Hellmann and Kromwell Families Collection

Identifier: AR 6436

Scope and Content Note

The Hellmann-Kromwell Family Collection includes a variety of documents of genealogical interest, including wedding, birth, and death announcements and family trees. Additional materials include personal papers of several members of both the Kromwell and Hellmann family, with a particular emphasis on Dr. Johanna Hellmann's life and work. Other family papers include a few real estate contracts dating to the first half of the 19th century, several vital records documents (birth certificates, etc.) from the 19th and 20th centuries, and auction catalogs for the sale of Carl Kromwell's art collection. Included in J. Hellmann's correspondence are letters from the noted physicist Dr. Lise Meitner and from Helene Lange, the German women's rights advocate and educational reformer. A number of photos document both the Hellmann-Kromwell family life, as well as the milieu of the medical and nursing professions in Germany during the first half of the twentieth century.


  • Creation: 1778-1982


Language of Materials

This collection is in German, Swedish, and English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is 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

Johanna Hellmann was born in Nuremberg in 1899. From 1912 until 1925 she completed medical training first in Berlin with Hans Virchow and later in Kiel in order to specialize as a surgeon. Remaining in Kiel during World War I, she assisted in the care of soldiers sent from the front. In 1916 she adopted a child, Irmgard Ahrendt, whose mother had died while pregnant and whose father was recuperating from a war injury. In 1921, the father began legal proceedings to have his daughter returned to his custody, and he eventually won. From 1929-1938 she worked as surgeon, urologist, and radiologist at the Charité clinic in Berlin, through which she oversaw the restructuring of a Salvation Army maternity ward to include a full surgical division. In 1938 she was forced by the Nazi government out of her position as head doctor and emigrated to Stockholm. During the time period from 1938-1947 she faced bureaucratic difficulties in obtaining regular work as a surgeon in Sweden. Also during this period she adopted a patient's daughter; this adoption became official, however, only in 1966. From 1947 onwards she was permitted to operate a private practice as an abdominal surgeon at the Red Cross Hospital in Stockholm, and she also authored papers with former mentor and German colleague Dr. Willy Anschütz on radiation treatment of breast cancer. She died in 1982 in Stockholm. Folder 6 contains a detailed curriculum vitae and autobiographical essay.

Sophie Hellmann was born in 1894 in Nuremberg. Her father was the merchant David Hellmann, her mother was Fanny née Kromwell. She served as a nurse in World War I and worked as a secretary in Belgium until 1918. She returned to Germany and worked in Berlin and Munich, where she became the private assistant to the economist Hanns Dorn, a position she held until his death in 1934. Since it was difficult for her to find employment, she emigrated to Denmark in 1935, where she was hired as Niels Bohr's private secreatry. In 1943, she fled to Sweden and worked as a secreatry and translator for J. Runnstrom. She returned to Demark and her work for Niels Bohr in 1945. After his death, she continued to work as translator and editor for scientific publications until her retirement at age 70. She died in 1979.

The Kromwell family of Gunzenhausen, Middle Franconia, is related to Sophie and Johanna Hellmann through their mother Fanny Hellmann née Kromwell.


0.5 Linear Feet


The Hellmann-Kromwell Family Collection includes a variety of documents of genealogical interest, including wedding, birth, and death announcements and family trees, with a particular emphasis on Dr. Johanna Hellmann's life and work. Some correspondence from the physicist Lise Meitner and the education reformer Helene Lange is also present.

Other Finding Aid

An earlier inventory is available in folder 1.

Separated Materials

Some photographs have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

Guide to the Hellmann and Kromwell Families Collection, 1778-1982  AR 6436
Processed by LBI Staff and Timothy Ryan Mendenhall
© 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • December 09, 2011 : 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