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Fritz Kaufmann Collection

Identifier: AR 244

Scope and Content Note

This series predominantly presents different elements of Kaufmann's professional life between the years of 1934 and 1936. During this period Kaufmann faced increasing professional restrictions under the Nazi Regime. Consequently he saw himself forced to look for new alternatives within his profession and discovered them by becoming involved in several adult education programs in cooperation with the Oberrat der Israeliten and different city rabbinates. The relating correspondence is contained in Folder 3, in addition to correspondence concerning financial issues, primarily conducted with the Zentralstelle für jüdische Wirtschaftshilfe.

Fritz Kaufmann's lectures were announced in the Israelitisches Gemeindeblatt (Folder 1). Also present is correspondence conducted with the Baden magazine's editorial office. In the same period, Kaufmann got involved more intensely in two learning circles in Stümpfelbrunn and Bad Dürrhheim, where he began giving courses regularly. Correspondence associated with the two learning circles, as well as minutes of a lecture convention in Stümpfelbrunn of August 1934 are documented in Folder 4.

Folder 2 offers a non-focused general insight in the life of Fritz Kaufmann. It comprises diverse documents, such as a self-written curriculum vitae, a list of Kaufmann's published works, two lecture texts, and obituaries of Fritz Kaufmann taken from different newspapers. Furthermore, shorthand notes of Kaufmann, made on the last day of his life concerning his project at the time, the introduction to Leo Baeck's Aus drei Jahrtausenden, as well as the longhand transcription of the notes by Robert Weltsch, are included.


  • 1934-1958
  • Majority of material found within 1934-1936

Language of Materials

The 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.

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Reserve" button.

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

Professor Fritz Kaufmann was born on July 3rd in 1881 in Leipzig, where he spent his early years. After graduating there, he continued his studies at universities in Berlin, Goettingen and Freiburg, where he took a variety of courses, from mathematics and the sciences to the humanities until 1914. Kaufmann was one of the early disciples of Edmund Husserl, lecturer in Freiburg and founder of the phenomenological movement. During his studies he not only became very close to the phenomenologist school and its ideas, but became close friends with his professor and advisor, Husserl. Kaufmann's experiences serving in the army during World War I intensified his connection to Judaism.

After the war he became an adjunct professor at the University of Freiburg, where he gave courses concerning different fields of philosophy. Deprived of his lectureship by the Hitler regime in 1935 he participated in Jewish adult education programs and gave courses and seminars at the Hochschule fuer die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin, where he cooperated with Martin Buber and Leo Baeck, who was head of the Hochschule by that time. In 1938, Kaufmann left Germany. After a short stay in Great Britain, he came to the U.S, where he became lecturer at the University of Buffalo. In Buffalo he married Alice Lieberg, with whom he later had two children.

Religion and philosophy being the fundamental pillars in his life and work, he applied himself to different fields of philosophy. The correspondence related to his works on Dilthey and Lord York von Wartenburg turned out to be fundamental for the development of Husserl's philosophy of phenomenology. Kaufmann reflected on modern conceptions of the philosophy of history and was also involved in the philosophy of arts, for example publishing a book about Thomas Mann.

Besides his philosophical profession he was always dedicated to his Jewish faith. Kaufmann was coeditor of the magazine Judaism. He retained his strong religious belief and faith, even when faced with new adversities in the death of his wife in 1953 and the loss of his son, who perished soon after in a mountaineering accident. In 1954 he married his second wife Dr. Louise Frankenstein. Fritz Kaufmann was one of the early members of the Leo Baeck Institute's advisory board in New York and participated until his retirement to Zurich in 1958. Here he began work on the introduction to a new edition of Leo Baeck's book Aus drei Jahrtausenden, but died before its completion.


0.25 Linear Feet


This collection offers an insight into the life of Fritz Kaufmann, philosopher and early disciple of Edmund Husserl and the phenomenologist movement. He lectured in philosophy at the Universities of Freiburg and Berlin until forced to leave the country and immigrating to the United States in 1938. The bulk of the collection focuses on Kaufmann's professional responses to the increasing restrictions of the Nazi Regime between the years of 1934 and 1936. Furthermore, the collection includes lecture scripts and a shorthand manuscript of Kaufmann relating to his last unfinished work, the introduction of Leo Baeck's book Aus drei Jahrtausenden.


The collection comprises one series.

Processing Information

The documents have been slightly different arranged within the last processing. Numbers on the backsides of the documents refer to the former order.

Guide to the Papers of Fritz Kaufmann, 1934-1958 AR 244
Processed by Anna-Charlotte Lipp
© 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from FritzKaufmann

Revision Statements

  • February 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