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George H. Asher Collection

Identifier: AR 6555/MF 766

Scope and Content Note

The George Harry Asher collection consists of six series, holding documents, correspondence and writings related to George Harry Asher. The last two series are devoted to specific persons from Asher's life: his wife Esther Lea Asher and his close friend, the famous German writer Oskar Maria Graf.

The collection documents the work and life of Asher in several ways. Advertising proofs, as part of his professional career in Czechoslovakia and the U.S. can be found in Series I. Documents regarding his career are also part of Series IV; their focus is on Asher's first jobs in Czechoslovakia, i.e. employment contracts, as well as some documents concerning his career in the U.S.

Private information can be found in his autobiographical draft in Series II, along with poems, essays and the record of a dream. Most of the private information found there and in the documents of Series IV shed a light on Asher's time in Czechoslovakia, his escape from France and first years in the U.S. Notable expectations are several of his college papers, which he kept from his time at Brooklyn College. There are many essays and poems in the collection, but they are mostly undated. Series I also contains watercolor drawings by Asher, along with photographs.

Prominent among the documents in the collection is the correspondence with his mother in 1941, before she was deported and killed. It can be found in Series III. The other correspondence gives a good impression of Asher's later life, including both personal information and his political views.

Due to the original order, established by George Asher himself, the collection holds two series solely concerned with specific persons. These series deal with personal matters of the specific person, but they also have a strong emphasis on the person's relation to Asher.

Series V is dedicated to Esther Lea Asher. Prominent in this section is official correspondence from the period, when she was trying to leave Germany between 1939 and 1940. There is little material documenting her later life.

Original writings by Asher’s close friend Oskar Maria Graf as well as their correspondence can be found in Series VI. After Graf's death, Asher was contacted by various researches seeking information about the writer; most of this correspondence is also in Series VI. Asher's Correspondence with Gerhard Bauer about Graf, however, has been kept in Series III, in keeping with the original order of the material.


  • 1907- 1996


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, German, Czech, and French.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

Collection is microfilmed - MF 766.

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 "Request" 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

George Harry Asher (Georg Harry Ascher) was born on November 18, 1907 in Vienna. After studying advertisement and graphic design in Prague, he stayed in Czechoslovakia working in advertising and as a commercial traveler. When the Germans marched into Prague, he found asylum in the French Embassy and, after having been arrested and released by the Gestapo, he fled to France, where he was interred in several French camps. The writer Oskar Maria Graf put Ascher's name on a list of a visa program for intellectuals, and he obtained a visa to the U.S. Coming from Lisbon, he arrived in New York, where - from 1941 to 1947 - he held various blue-collar jobs. In 1942 he married Esther Lea Lewin (she was born 1907 in Nevel, Russia, escaped Germany via London, settled in New York in 1940 and died in 1992). In 1947, Asher started his career as an art director in the advertising industry. He was a regular member of Oskar Maria Graf's Stammtisch in New York, which he hosted after Graf's death in 1967. From 1969-1974 Asher studied at Brooklyn College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in General Studies. George H. Asher died in 1998.


1 Linear Feet


The collection holds the professional and private documents of George Harry Asher. The emphasis is on correspondence, writings and official papers. Advertising proofs reflect Asher's work and career. Prominent among the material is an autobiographical sketch and correspondence between Asher and his mother, shortly before her deportation in 1941. The collection also holds material, such as correspondence, manuscripts and articles about Oskar Maria Graf, a close friend to Asher.


Collection is available on five reels of microfilm (MF 766).

  1. Reel 1: OS5/1-OS5/2
  2. Reel: OS5/2-1/6
  3. Reel: 1/6-1/19
  4. Reel: 1/20-1/31
  5. Reel:1/32-1/45

Separated Material

An interview with George Asher on videotape has been removed to the audio-visual collection. It is available for viewing. The interview appears to have been made by the staff of "Self-Help" in New York for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. The interview focuses on George Asher's first years in the United States, and the fate of family members who stayed in Europe.

Photographs removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

Guide to the Papers of George Harry Asher (1907-1998) 1907-1996 AR 6555 / MF 766
Processed by Michael Aldinger
© 2007
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from GeorgeAsher.xml

Revision Statements

  • 2010-12-17 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States