Skip to main content

Herbert Jonas Collection

Identifier: AR 6279

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of a large amount of private correspondence of the Jonas and Danzig families, which can be found in Series I. In the 1930s, after Herbert had emigrated, he and his family held an extensive correspondence. Herbert told his family in great detail about his experiences as an immigrant and his new life; the family kept him updated about their lives and their plans on following him to the States. Most correspondence from the late 1930s and the 1940s is between Erna Jonas and her brother Walter Danzig, and after Walter's death between Erna and his widow, Emmy until 1953. Walter and Erna had a conflict about a real estate property in the late 1930s, a great part of which is documented in their and their respective lawyers' correspondence.

Series II holds personal documents like certificates, membership cards, passports and notebooks with school work. They belonged to Erna, Herbert and Rudolf Jonas, as well as Walter Danzig.

Series III: Writings, contains Herbert's diaries which he started as a teenager, a patriotic screenplay about German rearmament and two poems written by Walter, and photocopies of articles about theater in Germany published by Rudolf in the 1930s.

Three photographs are located in Series IV.

Series V holds three scrapbooks with pictures and newspaper clippings, mostly focused on Jewish themes and Israel, created by Herbert in the 1930s.


  • Creation: 1902-1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1933-1968


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

Herbert Jonas was born on May 15, 1915 to businessman and journalist Rudolf Jonas (November 30, 1882 – September 8, 1946) and his wife Erna (née Danzig, January 25, 1887 – May 5, 1963).

Rudolf Jonas was a production engineer in World War I and ran a publishing business in Düsseldorf until it went bankrupt in 1929. After this, the family moved to Berlin in 1930 and Rudolf worked as an editor at the Berliner Tageblatt newspaper. When he lost his job due to Nazi repressions, he worked illegally for a Dutch publisher. Erna was a nurse. Herbert had one sister, Gertrud (later Gertrude), born in 1918.

Herbert Jonas left Germany in June 1934 on a ship to San Francisco. Erna's uncle Carl Steinhart (formerly Steinhardt) lived in Stockton, California with his wife Hattie and their family. Herbert wanted to move to Palestine and therefore went to the California Polytechnic School to study agriculture. Later he studied agricultural economics and horticulture at the University of California in Davis and Berkeley. He never moved to Palestine/Israel.

Gertrud Jonas arrived in California in 1938. She studied music in Berkeley and became a violinist in Los Angeles and later taught in Boston. She also played the piano and the viola.

Their parents, Erna and Rudolf Jonas also managed to leave Germany and arrived in California in Summer 1941. Rudolf worked as a mechanic and in other physically challenging jobs. He died in September 1946.

Herbert Jonas was married to Charlotte Hoffmann on May 24, 1942. He worked in different jobs and obtained a doctorate in Berkeley in 1950 in the field of plant physiology. In the 1950s and 1960s, Herbert made his way to a position as Professor at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He also spent a semester teaching as a guest professor in Berlin at the Freie Universität in 1964. He worked at the University in Minneapolis until his retirement in the 1980s.

His wife, Charlotte ("Lotti") was born in Kassel, Germany on May 27, 1918 to Simon and Emma Hoffmann. She studied dietetics.

Erna's brothers Ernst and Walter Danzig were not able to escape the Nazis. Ernst, a chemist who was never married, committed suicide with sleeping pills in June 1942 when the Jews in his home town Bergisch-Gladbach were going to be deported. Walter and his wife Emmy (née Beek), lived in Cologne and remained in hiding until Walter was arrested in December 1944 and was eventually brought to Buchenwald, where he was murdered. Emmy survived and stayed in Cologne.


2 Linear Feet


The collection mainly consists of Herbert Jonas' and his family members' private correspondence and personal documents. There are also some writings, photographs and a collection of newspaper clippings.

Related Material

Related is the Rudolf Jonas Collection, AR 4171.

Separated Material

12 copies of the Allgemeine unabhängige jüdische Wochenzeitung, June 1967-March 1968 and other clippings were deaccessioned.

One copy of Franz Böhm, Friede für Israel, Sonderdruck aus Zeitwende. Die Neue Furche, Jahrgang 28, Heft 2, 1957 was removed to the library.

Processing Information

Philipp Thater worked on this collection prior to its final processing.

Guide to the Papers of Herbert Jonas 1902-1994 AR 6279
Processed by Ulrike Schäfer
© 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from HerbertJonas.xml

Revision Statements

  • 2011--December--19:: TRM - Incorporated materials in folder 3A "Genealogical tables", previously filed and catalogued as a separate collection
  • July 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