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Ernst C. Stiefel Collection

Identifier: AR 5230 / MF 744

Scope and Content Note

The Ernst C. Stiefel Collection documents the work of this lawyer and researcher, particularly his work on the book Deutsche Juristen im amerikanischen Exil (1933-1950). Although a large portion of this collection is made up of research materials, particularly copies of archival records, articles, and offprints, the collection also holds some notes and correspondence, as well as drafts of potential chapters. The two largest areas of the collection are Series II, which focuses on the production of the book, and Series III, which contains research materials.

The bulk of the records in this collection describe the situation and work of German Jewish jurists who left Nazi Germany and settled in the United States. Material concerning this topic will largely be found in Subseries 1 of Series II, in the form of correspondence with other researchers on the fates of these individuals, as well as in Subseries 2, which holds extensive biographical articles on various refugee jurists. A smaller amount of articles on this topic will also be found in the accumulated research material in Series IV.

Documents relating to post-war Germany are also located in several places in this collection. Many of the archival records found in Subseries 2 of Series II discuss the situation in Germany after the war. Published material on this topic will additionally be found in Series IV, along with articles on the Nuremberg Trials. Material on National Socialism and the Holocaust in general are also located in Series IV.

Series I contains a small amount biographical articles on Ernst C. Stiefel. Series III holds documents deriving from lectures given by Stiefel, and include planning correspondence, publicity, and lecture texts.


  • 1913-2001


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in English and German.

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 744.

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

Ernst C. Stiefel was born in 1907, in Mannheim, Germany. The son of Karl Stiefel, a religion teacher, he had two siblings, his brother Rudy and sister Luise. Ernst Stiefel studied law in Heidelberg and Berlin, and was admitted to practice law in Germany in 1933, two weeks before Jewish lawyers were disbarred. He emigrated to Strasbourg, France, and worked for a French insurance company while studying for his French license to practice law, which he received in 1934. In 1938, Stiefel went to England, where he was admitted as a barrister to the High Court in London. Ernst Stiefel emigrated to the United States in 1939.

In spite of his law degrees, Stiefel found it difficult upon his arrival in the United States to procure work in the legal field, and worked as a dishwasher and a chaffeur before becoming a clerk in a law office in 1940. During World War II Ernst Stiefel worked in the Office of Economic Warfare, where he analyzed insurance company records to identify potential German industrial targets. In 1943 Stiefel was drafted into the army, and served in the Office of Strategic Services, later working for the U.S. military government in Germany. His work there helped found the system of restitution and reparation for Jewish victims of the Holocaust. He became an American citizen in 1944.

Ernst Stiefel returned to the United States in 1947, and was admitted as an attorney to the Southern District of New York. At first he worked with the legal firm Cleary & Gottlieb, and from 1971 onward with the firm of the Coudert Brothers. Beginning in the 1950s, he began advising business enterprises interested in investing in Europe. Since his legal work often focused on German-American concerns, he maintained an office in Düsseldorf. In 1995 the German government decorated him for his contributions to German law and German-American understanding.

In addition to his legal work, Ernst Stiefel was active in academia and research. He wrote several books and articles on legal issues, and taught comparative law and related topics at the New York Law School for twenty years. Stiefel also endowed the school with a professorship in comparative law as well as restoring a reading room on its campus. Another area of his research was the work of Jewish lawyers who fled Nazi Germany; he co-authored the book Deutsche Juristen im amerikanischen Exil (1933-1950), which documents the activities of these individuals.

Ernst C. Stiefel died in 1997 while in Baden-Baden, Germany.


13 Linear Feet


This collection documents the work of the lawyer and researcher Ernst C. Stiefel, especially the research pertaining to his book Deutsche Juristen im amerikanischen Exil (1933-1950). Included here are articles and offprints, correspondence, notes, and copies of archival records from several institutions. Although the major focus of the collection is on Stiefel's research on German Jewish refugee jurists, other topics found here include National Socialism, post-war Germany, and various legal topics.

Custodial History

The collection was donated by Ernst Stiefel, with additional donations arriving at a later date.


This collection is available on 33 reels of microfilm (MF 744).

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 – 1/14
  2. Reel 2: 1/15 – 1/34
  3. Reel 3: 1/35 – 2/3
  4. Reel 4: 2/4 – 2/10
  5. Reel 5: 2/11 – 2/17
  6. Reel 6: 2/18 – 3/7
  7. Reel 7: 3/8 – 3/22
  8. Reel 8: 3/23 – 4/9
  9. Reel 9: 4/10 – 4/26
  10. Reel 10: 4/27 – 5/10
  11. Reel 11: 5/11 – 5/28
  12. Reel 12: 5/29 – 5/38
  13. Reel 13: 5/39 – 6/5
  14. Reel 14: 6/6 – 6/13
  15. Reel 15: 6/14 – 7/7
  16. Reel 16: 7/8 – 7/26
  17. Reel 17: 7/27 – 8/8
  18. Reel 18: 8/9 – 8/13
  19. Reel 19: 8/14 – 9/1
  20. Reel 20: 9/2 – 9/8
  21. Reel 21: 9/9 – 9/14
  22. Reel 22: 9/15 – 10/1
  23. Reel 23: 10/2 – 10/9
  24. Reel 24: 10/10 – 10/18
  25. Reel 25: 10/19 – 11/6
  26. Reel 26: 11/7 – 11/16
  27. Reel 27: 11/17 – 11/24
  28. Reel 28: 11/25 – 12/5
  29. Reel 29: 12/6 – 12/14
  30. Reel 30: 12/15 – 12/23
  31. Reel 31: 12/24 – 13/9
  32. Reel 32: 13/10 – 13/18
  33. Reel 33: 13/19 – 13/28

Related Material

A biography of Ernst Stiefel by Otto Sandrock is available in the LBI Library. In addition, the library holds the following two works by Ernst Stiefel, co-authored with Frank Mecklenburg:

  1. Deutsche Juristen im Amerikanischen Exil (1933-1950)
  2. Über die Kriegsarbeit deutscher emigrierter Juristen in den USA während des zweiten Weltkrieges.

Processing Information

The collection was found with many labeled folders and some unlabeled. During processing, most folder titles were retained, and some very large folders were broken down topically or by type of material. Excessive amounts of duplicate articles were removed from the collection.

Guide to the Papers of Ernst C. Stiefel (1907-1997) 1913-2001 AR 5230 / MF 744
Processed by Dianne Ritchey Oummia
© 2006
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from ErnstStiefel.xml

Revision Statements

  • August 2010:: Edited Container List.
  • 2010-11-29 : 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