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Pinkus Family Collection

Identifier: AR 7030

Scope and Contents

The collection contains papers including vital documents, membership cards, awards, medals, diaries, travel journals, legal papers, tax records, wills, genealogical tables and family histories, along with supporting documents regarding the Pinkus family and related families, including the Deutsch and Fraenkel families and the Eger-Gans-Gansmann family. Family correspondence is supplemented by several memoirs and diaries. The family history is also greatly enriched by the presence of hundreds of photographs of family members, their friends and associates, of the family art collection, and of their factories, homes, travels, and other activities.

Both Max Pinkus and especially Hans Hubert Pinkus were interested in genealogy, and series VII documents their research efforts, which encompass not just close relations but a broad array of families, primarily in the region of Upper Silesia. A separate series documents Hans Hubert Pinkus’s research efforts into the history of the Jewish community of Silesia, and includes official proclamations, documents, and records stretching back to the 18th century, as well as photocopies, clippings, and other research material. Finally, Series V, Felix Pinkus, contains research materials and manuscripts on Paul Ehrlich, Max Pinkus’s brother-in-law. Hans Hubert Pinkus’s papers include some documents on the Paul Ehrlich Stiftung (foundation) as well.

The collection also contains records of businesses owned by the Pinkus family from the mid-nineteenth century through the period after World War II, including correspondence, manuscripts, business reports, tax and financial records, legal, advertising material, and newspaper clippings from the firms of S. Fraenkel Neustadt, Spinnerei Vorwärts Brackwede, Schlesische Flachs-Werke Kaundorf, Süddeutsche Leinenweberei Augsburg, Schlesische Feinweberei, S. Fränkel Augsburg, S. Fränkel Garnbleiche Schönwalde (Kreis Neiße), and Hronover Baumwollspinnerei. Two manuscripts on the history of the textile industry in Silesia and on the history of the firm S. Fraenkel add to the documentation. The final series also contains oversized materials, including sample books, ticket stubs, building plans, scrapbooks, and a ledger, almost all of which relate to the family businesses. Although materials on the family businesses are scattered throughout the first four series, the papers of Hans Hubert Pinkus (series IV) are of especial note because they contain several appraisal reports, audit reports, balance sheets, and inventories of the family businesses used during the process of filing restitution claims after the war. Hans Pinkus's papers also contain materials documenting his attempts to revive the family business in Bavaria after the war.

The Pinkus family was actively involved in the civic and cultural life of Breslau, Neustadt, and Upper Silesia and Prussia in general. Max Pinkus was noted as an avid collector of books and materials on local history; an inventory of his personal library, dispersed after seizure by the Nazis, is available in Series III, subseries 5. As a patron of the arts, he also corresponded with notable literary figures like Hermann Stehr and the family of Gerhart Hauptmann. Although there are few items of correspondence with Hauptmann himself, the presence of a few poems he dedicated to Max Pinkus attests to their friendship. Max Pinkus was also active in Jewish community affairs, in the local chamber of commerce, and with various local charities. A substantial amount of his personal correspondence also documents his efforts to benefit German prisoners of war during World War I, spurred on by the capture of his son Hans Hubert. Finally, a substantial amount of Max Pinkus’ documents, maps, and official correspondence pertain to issues surrounding the family estate Deutsch Krawarn, near Ratibor (Racibórz).

Max’s son Hans Hubert Pinkus carried on his father's tradition of civic involvement, with an especial emphasis on Jewish community affairs and on his role as an advocate for former prisoners of war. Other materials from before World War II include various manuscripts and diaries, including the diary he kept as a prisoner of war in France, a large postcard collection depicting artworks, business correspondence relating especially to the Hronover Baumwollenspinnerei. Further personal materials document his university career, including membership in the fraternity Sulfuria and a trial for dueling, as well as his three marriages and amicable divorce from Elfriede von Vietinghoff (née Hess). Also in his personal correspondence are various awards amd letters of recognition for his service during World War I, including several from the Nazi government. Hans Pinkus oversaw the family business until he was forced to resign after its forced Aryanization in the late 1930s. Thereafter he fled to England, and many of his papers, including passports, visas, various identification cards, and official correspondence, document his family’s emigration to England and their naturalization as English citizens.


  • Creation: 1500s-1994,
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1725-1994


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, English, and Czech.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

The copyright holder is to be notified when research is carried out on collection material.

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 "Request" button.

Use Restrictions

Copyright and literary property is retained by the donor.

The collection is on extended loan; commercial genealogists may not copy materials without permission.

For more information, contact:

Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

The Pinkus family were textile manufacturers. The factory in Neustadt, Upper Silesia (now Prudnik, Poland), was one of the largest producers of fine linens in the world. Joseph Pinkus became a partner in the firm S. Fränkel when he married Auguste Fränkel, the daughter of the owner. Their son Max Pinkus (1857-1934) was director until 1926. Their daughter Hedwig married Paul Ehrlich, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1908.

Max Pinkus was a noted patron of the arts and literature and of commercial, political, and civic life in Neustadt and Upper Silesia generally. He was noted for amassing a large library of books by Silesian authors, both known and obscure, as well as several document collections pertaining to Silesian history. He wrote manuscripts on these topics and on the textile trade in Silesia. His library was eventually dispersed to different repositories within Silesia after its confiscation by the Nazis in the late 1930s. Attesting to the importance of Max Pinkus to cultural affairs in Silesia are his relationships with Gerhart Hauptmann, Hermann Stehr, and many other notable figures. Stehr dedicated the story Der Geigenmacher to Pinkus; Hauptmann was present at Max Pinkus's funeral in 1934 and reportedly modeled the protagonists of Vor Sonnenuntergang and Die Finsternisse after Pinkus.

Max Pinkus's son Hans Pinkus (1891-1977) managed the family company from 1926-1938 until he was forced out after the company's total aryanization in the wake of Kristallnacht. During the period from 1934-1938 he had successfully defended his family's interest in the company against an increasingly hostile board, which had been introducd after the company went public in 1934. Hans Pinkus, like his father, was very active in civic and cultural affairs, notably as an advocate for former prisoners of war. He had spent part of the first World War in internment camps for prisoners of war in France and Switzerland. Like his father, he was interested in local history, and he devoted much of his spare time to genealogical research. Hans Pinkus was able to remain in Germany until a relatively late date, but owing to the increasingly hostile climate he left Germany at the end of 1938 and emigrated to the United Kingdom with his family in 1939. During the 1950s, he unsuccessfully attempted to rebuild the firm in Bavaria, and he died in Britain in 1977.


18.5 Linear Feet


The collection contains papers including vital documents, membership cards, awards, medals, diaries, memoirs, diaries, manuscripts, legal papers, correspondence, business records, wills, genealogies and family histories regarding the Pinkus family, notable textile manufacturers in Neustadt (now Prudnik, Poland) in Upper Silesia, and their personal and business affairs. The family was also highly regarded for its support of civic and cultural affairs in the area, and corresponded with several notable cultural figures.


This collection is arranged in 9 series.

  1. Series I: Papers of the S. Fränkel Company; 1826-1944
  2. Series II: Papers of Joseph Pinkus; 1859-1894
  3. Series III: Papers of Max Pinkus; 1861-1966
  4. Subseries 1: Personal materials, including correspondence; 1881-1939
  5. Subseries 2: Memoirs, manuscripts, and speech; undated, 1906-1923
  6. Subseries 3: Personal and official correspondence; undated, 1861-1939
  7. Subseries 4: Business correspondence; 1910-1934
  8. Subseries 5: Inventory of library and correspondence with the Hauptmann family; 1921-1955
  9. Subseries 6: Official correspondence and materials related to the estate Deutsch Krawarn; 1897-1916
  10. Subseries 7: Obituaries, memorials, and clippings; 1912-1966
  11. Series IV: Papers of Hans Hubert Pinkus; undated, 1890-1976
  12. Subseries 1: Personal materials; 1890-1975
  13. Subseries 2: Writings and diaries; 1909-1938
  14. Subseries 3: Postcard collection and notes; circa 1900-1970
  15. Subseries 4: Business correspondence -- Hronov Cotton Mill; 1911-1931
  16. Subseries 5: Correspondence -- prisoner of war affairs; 1914-1937
  17. Subseries 6: Activity on committees and boards; 1921-1940
  18. Subseries 7: Correspondence -- Jewish community affairs; 1920-1938
  19. Subseries 8: Personal correspondence -- 1911-1960
  20. Subseries 9: Business and personal correspondence; 1931-1976
  21. Subseries 10: Emigration; 1938-1970
  22. Subseries 11: Restitution; 1939-1976
  23. Subseries 12: Clippings; undated, circa 1900-1970
  24. Series V: Felix Pinkus; undated, 1950s-1994
  25. Series VI: Materials on the Jewish community of Silesia; 1699-1974
  26. Series VII: Genealogical and historical materials; undated, 1500s-1992
  27. Subseries 1: Deutsch family; 1814-1842
  28. Subseries 2: Fränkel family; 1851-1973
  29. Subseries 3: Pinkus and other families; 1500s-1992
  30. Subseries 4: Index cards for family trees; undated
  31. Subseries 5: Additional materials on the Pinkus family and other families; undated, 1847-1971
  32. Series VIII: Photographs; undated, 1893-1974
  33. Series IX: Oversized materials; undated, 1789-1954

Microfilm and Digital Objects

Selected memoirs and diaries are available on microfilm, call number MM 128.

This microfilm has been digitized and contains:

  1. Max Pinkus's Reminiscences,
  2. Hans Hubert Pinkus's War Diaries,
  3. Hans Hubert Pinkus's Travel Diary, and
  4. Joseph Pinkus's memoir 6 Tage Unterwegs.

This collection is on twenty reels of microfilm (MF 1046):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/10
  2. Reel 2: 2/1 - 3/4
  3. Reel 3: 3/5a - 4/2
  4. Reel 4: 4/3 - 5/2
  5. Reel 5: 5/3 - 6/2
  6. Reel 6: 6/3 - 9/1
  7. Reel 7: 9/2 - 10/5
  8. Reel 8: 10/6 - 11/4
  9. Reel 9: 11/5 - 12/1C
  10. Reel 10: 12/2 - 14/2
  11. Reel 11: 14/3A - 15/3
  12. Reel 12: 15/4 - 17/12
  13. Reel 13: 29; 18/1- 19/3
  14. Reel 14: 19/4; 30 - 20/2
  15. Reel 15: 20/3 - 21/11
  16. Reel 16: 22/1 - 24/5
  17. Reel 17: 27
  18. Reel 18: 25
  19. Reel 19: 26
  20. Reel 20: OS 31; OS 33/1 - OS 33/4; OS 34/1- OS 34/2; V 1/1/2 - V1/1/4

Related Material

See also:

  1. Neustadt (Upper Silesia) Jewish Community Collection (AR 11463),
  2. Max Pinkus's Reminiscences,
  3. Hans Hubert Pinkus's War Diaries,
  4. Hans Hubert Pinkus's Travel Diary, and
  5. Joseph Pinkus's memoir 6 Tage Unterwegs.

Separated Material

Some photographs have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.


Pinkus Family Collection 1500s-1994 , (bulk 1725-1994)   AR 7030 / MF 1046
Processed by LBI Staff and Timothy Ryan Mendenhall
© 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Revision Statements

  • May 22, 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