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Eric Kruh Collection

Identifier: AR 25816

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the papers of Eric Kruh, who was a professor of literature and history. Included in the collection are his personal papers and correspondence, his professional papers, and documentation about his restitution from Austria for persecution during the 1930s and his Austrian pension.

Information on Eric Kruh's early life in Austria will be found in each series of this collection. Series I, which holds his personal papers and correspondence, includes some copies of his early letters and postcards sent to friends from 1938-1941. It also includes later correspondence to friends that reflects on his early years as well as newsletters related to his internment in Canada as an Austrian-born refugee. In addition his correspondence during his participation in the A Letter to the Stars (Briefe in den Himmel) program also references some of his early experiences. Further information on his life may be found among the forms and correspondence of his restitution claims, found in Series III, which additionally contains documentation related to his Austrian pension.

Series II consists of the papers that relate to Eric Kruh's professional work as a professor at Southampton College and elsewhere. Included are notes he used during lectures on topics such as German literature and history. Series II also includes several folders of correspondence related to his work as a faculty member at Southampton College.


  • Creation: 1938-2012
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1968-2010


Language of Materials

The collection is 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

Erich Kruh was born in Vienna, Austria on February 19, 1922, the son of Isak Kruh and his wife Anna, née Schaerf. The family lived in an apartment in Vienna's first district along with one of Anna Kruh's sisters. Isak Kruh owned a wholesale textile business. From 1932 to 1939 Erich attended the nearby Franz Josef Realgymnasium (also called Realgymnasium I Stubenbastei), until he was expelled from school in June 1938 after the 1938 Anschluss (annexation) of Austria. Erich and his parents were forced to scrub off signs near their home. His father's business was taken over and in January 1939 Erich went to England.

In England Erich Kruh lived with a Jewish family in Leeds and worked in a textile factory. Due to being an "enemy alien" in May 1940 he was placed in a British internment camp in Huyton, England, then sent to a camp on the Isle of Man and later, to Sherbrooke, Canada. He was interned until July 1942. After having passed Canada's university entrance examination, he then studied at McGill University in Montreal and later, at the University of Toronto. While in Canada he became a Canadian citizen.

In 1946 he graduated from the University of Toronto with First Class Honors, the Van der Smissen scholarship for the student with the highest standing in German, and a Bachelor of Arts in Language and Literature. He continued his education in the United States at the University of Chicago; after his emigration to the United States he changed his given name to Eric. In 1947 he received a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago in Modern Language and Literature and completed examination requirements for doctorates in Modern European History at the University of Chicago and in Germanic Literature and Philology at the University of Pennsylvania.

In his early academic career Eric Kruh taught at several universities. He taught modern languages at the University of Chicago as a teaching assistant and examiner from 1947-1949 and was examiner in German reading for doctoral candidates from 1948-1950. From 1947-1953 he was an instructor and assistant professor in modern languages and literature at Roosevelt University in Chicago, teaching German, French, and European Literature. At Indiana University he was adjunct instructor in German during summer semesters from 1948-1950. From 1953-1959 Eric Kruh left academia to be an advertising writer and advertising manager for the Allstate Insurance Company's head office in Chicago. In 1959 he took a position as associate professor in modern languages and European history at New England College in New Hampshire, where he taught German and French language and literature as well as modern European History. He was also Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences. From 1960-1962 he was an adjunct instructor in the Department of Germanic Literature and Philology at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Concurrently he was an assistant professor of modern languages at Villanova University from 1960-1964, where he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in German language and literature.

In 1948 Eric Kruh was able to bring his parents from Switzerland, where they had fled, to Toronto. There his father opened a jewelry shop. While Eric was teaching at the University of Chicago, he met Elizabeth (Betty) Ant, a librarian at the university's Harper Library. They married on March 10, 1953.

In 1964 Eric Kruh began teaching at Long Island University's Southampton College in New York, where he would remain until his retirement. Eric and Betty lived in East Hampton, New York. From 1964-1968 he was assistant professor of modern languages and literature. In 1968 he became associate professor. He taught courses in German and French language and literature, European literature survey courses, modern Russian literature and culture, contemporary German literature, Faust, eighteenth and nineteenth-century European history, modern German history, and other subjects. From 1979 to 1987 he conducted travel courses in European countries for Southampton students. While at Southampton College he participated in various faculty committees and held several administrative positions, including chairman of Modern Languages and Literature department from 1964-1971, President of the Long Island University Senate from 1973-1974, and Director of the Division of Humanities from 1980-1992.

In September 1992 Eric Kruh became Professor Emeritus. Although in his retirement he continued to give lectures in German literature and history at New York University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and at the Amagansett Free Library. He also gave lectures on German and French literature at the Center for Creative Retirement.

Elizabeth (Betty) Kruh died in April 2000. Although she and Eric never had children, the couple were animal lovers and had multiple rescued cats and dogs during their years in East Hampton. They also frequently travelled to Europe. After Betty's death Eric met Jean Hoffmann at the organization Community without Walls.

In the late 2000s Eric participated in the second phase of the Austrian program, A Letter to the Stars (Briefe an den Himmel), the largest Holocaust research project in Austrian schools. In the second phase Austrian students corresponded with former Austrian Jewish residents to have personal encounters from which they would write life stories of their subjects.

Eric Kruh died in 2011 in East Hampton.


1 Linear Feet


The Eric Kruh Collection contains documentation on the life of Eric Kruh, including his early years in Austria, his life in England, Canada. and New York, his work as a professor in New York, and his restitution claims for the persecution that led him to flee Austria in 1938. The collection includes personal and professional correspondence, official documents, curricula vitae and résumés, lecture notes for courses he taught, course exams, and correspondence and forms related to restitution and pension payments.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I: Personal Papers and Correspondence, 1938-2012
  2. Series II: Professional Papers, 1964-2010
  3. Series III: Austrian Restitution and Reparations, 1977-2011

Related Material

A related collection in the LBI Archives is the Eric Kruh Collection 2003 (AR 11444), which features his Ehrenmatura (honorary diploma) issued by his school in Vienna, the Bundessgymnasium Wien I. In addition, the Austrian Heritage Collection (AHC 10378) at the LBI Archives includes an oral history questionnaire of Eric Kruh.

The LBI Library includes a book about the "A Letter to the Stars" program: A letter to the stars = Briefe in den Himmel (call number st 6647)..

Separated Material

Three DVDs were removed to the LBI Audiovisual Collection. The first consists of an interview of him in 2005. The other two DVDs relate to an event for the A Letter to the Stars (Briefe in den Himmel) program, which documented a return of former Viennese Jewish residents to Vienna and their interaction with local students. The DVDs include one film of the event and a DVD of photographs from the event; Eric Kruh was featured on both DVDs.

Processing Information

During processing of the archival collection, folders were divided into series by topic. Most folders were previously assigned titles, which were used in the processing of the collection.

Guide to the Papers of Eric Kruh 1938-2012 AR 25816
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2019
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from EricKruh.xml

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States