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Willy Wertheimer Collection

Identifier: AR 798

Scope and Content Note

The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence relating to his efforts as the committee chairman of the Forest of the Jews Formerly from Central Europe and of the Martyrs' Forest, both under the umbrella of the Jewish National Fund Trees for Israel project. Much of these trees were planted near Haifa, and are dedicated to German and Central European Jews, especially to those who served in World War I and to the victims of the Nazi dictatorship. Wertheimer wrote a substantial number of letters to mayors and community figures in German towns, especially in his native Baden-Württemberg, as part of these and other reconciliation and research efforts. In addition, Wertheimer corresponded with members of the emigré community in New York. The other series encompass his research into his own family history and genealogy, his autobiographical and other writings, and his involvement with congregations in New York. In addition to correspondence and writings, the collection contains a number of photos, a substantial number of printed posters and brochures for the Jewish National Fund, newsletters and bulletins of several German and New York City congregations, family trees, and personal documents.


  • 1892-1980


Language of Materials

This collection is in German, English, and Hebrew.

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

Born in Hardheim on March 26, 1897, Willy Wertheimer emigrated to the United States circa 1939 and lived in New York City. He served in the German army during World War I, for which he received honors and medals from both the German and Austrian governments, and later he served in United States Army during World War II. He was cantor and religion teacher for the general region of Odenwald from 1918-1938, with tenures first in Buchen and then in Hardheim, where upon his father Emanuel's death he inherited his position as religious instructor. After emigrating to the United States, he remained deeply tied to the German Jewish community in New York and in Europe, and continued work as a cantor and religious instructor at various Brooklyn German-Jewish congregations. Shortly after the end of the second World War, he began working in his free time on two major projects: German-Jewish reconciliation, and the planting of memorial trees in Israel dedicated to the memory of the fallen German-Jewish soldiers of the first World War. During his final decades, especially during the 1970s, he devoted an increasing amount of time to these projects. He also became interested in genealogy during these years. In 1976 he self-published an autobiography entitled Zwishen zwei Welten; der Förster von Brooklyn. Lebenserinnerungen des ehemaligen jüdischen Lehrers in Eubigheim und Buchen in Baden (Between two worlds: the Brooklyn forest ranger). William Wertheimer died in New York in 1980.


0.75 Linear Feet : + oversized materials


The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence relating to his efforts as a committee chairman for tree-planting efforts in Israel. Other materials concern his genealogy and his memoirs.

Other Finding Aid

The original German-language inventory is available in folder 1.

Separated Material

Clippings and copyrighted materials have been removed to the Willy Wertheimer Clippings Collection AR 798 C .

Some photographs have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

JNF Tree Fund Ashtrays (items 203, 204, and 205 in card inventory) have been removed to the LBI Art and Objects Collection.


Several items in this collection are photocopies of less-than-optimal legibility; some segments of text are cut off.

Guide to the Willy Wertheimer Collection, 1892-1980  AR 798
Processed by LBI Staff and Timothy Ryan Mendenhall
© 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • November 28, 2011 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.
  • March 24, 2012 : 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