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Berthold M. Herko Collection

Identifier: AR 25834

Scope and Content Note

The Berthold M. Herko Collection consists of papers of this artist as well as his family. Included is documentation related to his personal life and family, such as family photographs and official documents, but also papers that pertain to his work as an artist in Germany, Venezuela, and New York. Such material includes announcements of his exhibitions, lists of his artwork, and professional correspondence and photographs.

Papers about Berthold Herko's family members and his life will be found in Series I. This series includes many family photographs, family papers including a partial family tree and Cohn family register, and German and American official documents for Berthold and Ilse Herko and Paul and Emma Bock. It also contains an article about Berthold Herko's family, the Cohn family of Mittweida, Germany, and the family business there.

Berthold Herko's professional work as an artist and illustrator is evidenced in Series II. It includes published examples of his work as well as a number of invitations, programs, and newspaper clippings related to exhibits of his work. Professional photographs, including of his school, and professional correspondence are also present in this series.


  • 1915-2017
  • Majority of material found within 1915-1988


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in English and German.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Berthold Martin Herko was born as Berthold Martin Herbert Cohn on October 10, 1896 in Chemnitz, Germany, the youngest child of Gustav Cohn and his wife Franziska (née Hirsch). In 1883 Gustav Cohn's elder brother, Adolf Cohn, had established a family business in linens and notions in the city of Chemnitz, which Gustav had joined in 1885. In March 1888 Adolf moved the business to the nearby town of Mittweida, where the firm expanded to sell clothing and bedding as well.

Berthold studied at the Akademie der Kunst in Berlin. He studied etching and drawing with Kaethe Kollwitz and Wilhelm Oesterle; expressionism painting under Georg Tappert (a member of the "Blaue Reiter Gruppe"); and watercolor painting under August Macke. He also studied with Walter Kurau and etching under Johanne Walter in Dresden. During World War I he painted watercolors while stationed in France and later, Russia.

As an artist he used the name Berthold M. Herko, which later became his official name. In Berlin he was featured in a one-man show in 1923 at the Reuss and Pollack Gallery, featuring etchings from Italy. In 1924-1928 he participated in group shows at the Grosse Berliner Ausstellung. In 1934 he participated in a group show at the Salon d'Autonne in Paris. While in Berlin he made portraits of many actors in Max Reinhardt's theater. He also illustrated many books as well as illustrations for the newspapers Die Welt and Mitropa. In 1935 he founded his own art school in Berlin, the Herko School, which taught his technique of painting.

On July 26, 1938 Berthold Herko married Ilse Bock from the Neukölln district of Berlin. Ilse had been born on August 24, 1912, the daughter of Paul and Ella Bock. After having been unable to pursue medical studies in Berlin due to being Jewish she met Berthold while a student at his commercial art school in Berlin, where she had been learning fashion and advertising drawing.

In 1939 or 1940 Berthold Herko left Germany with his family, leaving from the Italian port of Genoa and landing at La Guaira, Venezuela, where they first stayed. The family then moved to Caracas, where Berthold met the Swiss artist Franz Raderer. In 1940 he was part of a group show in Caracas at the Escuela del Bella Artes.

In 1941 Berthold Herko and his family came to the United States, where he resided in New York City until 1974, when he moved to the town of Yorktown Heights in Westchester County. He and his wife became American citizens in 1946. In his later years Berthold had a number of one-man shows, including two at the New York Public Library in 1965 and 1970; in 1971 at the Villa Engadine in Vulpera, Switzerland; in 1977 at the Nena Gallery in White Plains, New York; and in 1978 at the Van der Straeten Gallery in New York City's Hotel Carlyle. He participated in group shows with the Knickerbocker Artists from 1950-1957 and twice at the Sculpture House Gallery in 1966 and 1974. From 1975-1980 he also created holiday window displays at some Fifth Avenue stores in New York City.

His paintings are included in the collections of museums such as the Berlin Museum and in the Museo del Bellas Artes in Caracas, Venezuela. Organization to which he donated his work include the New York City Public schools in 1962, Sohmer Medical in New York City in 1963, and posthumously at the Westchester Medical Center in Hawthorne, New York in 2002. Berthold M. Herko died in January 1988 in Sarasota, Florida.


1 Linear Feet


This collection holds documentation about the personal and professional life of the artist Berthold M. Herko. It also includes some material about his family members, including members of the Cohn and Bock families. The collection includes many family photographs, official documents, documentation related to exhibits of his work, examples of his work, professional correspondence, and other papers.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I: Personal and Family Papers 1915-1988, 2017
  2. Series II: Professional Papers undated, 1925-2011

Related Material

The LBI Arts and Objects Collection includes a number of paintings by Berthold Herko.

Separated Material

A few duplicate photocopies of documents were removed from the archival collection during processing. Photographs were removed from photo albums, with copies of album pages retained in the collection.

Processing Information

A few duplicate photocopies of documents were removed from the archival collection during processing. Photographs were removed from photo albums due to preservation concerns, with copies of album pages retained in the collection to reflect their original order within the albums and to record information from the pages. The folders of the collection were arranged to form series.

Guide to the Papers of Berthold M. Herko AR 25834
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Berthold_M_Herko.xml

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States