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Renate Bridenthal Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25810

Scope and Contents

The Renate Bridenthal Family Collection consists of the papers of the family of Renate Bridenthal, especially her mother, father, and brother, but including materials related to her extended family. The collection consists of extensive correspondence, especially from Irene Rubin, but also including many documents and some writing of family members.

Papers pertaining to Irene Rubin, the mother of Renate Bridenthal, will be found throughout the collection. Series I contains her official documents, such as birth and marriage certificates and identification papers, along with documents used in the emigration process and in her later return to Germany. It also includes many letters sent from her to her children during her 1960-1961 stay in Germany. Her writing will also be found in Series I, consisting of short memoirs and autobiographical writing as well as writing that portrays her thoughts on religion, psychology, and other topics. Series II contains albums that belonged to her, including one from her childhood during World War I. Series III holds her restitution correspondence with lawyers about her restitution from the German government for her losses during the 1930s. Some information on the business owned by Irene's second husband Eichunon Rubin and herself in Leipzig, is documented in both Series I and Series III.

Papers of Renate Bridenthal and her brother Abraham Harribald Salata are also present in the collection. Series I includes folders with some of their early official documents. It also includes a folder of family history material that includes biographical sketches by both regarding their emigration experiences and life in their family. Series II contains albums with some poetry and literature quotes collected by Irene for her son Harribald that also includes a few diary entries by him. The last series of the collection includes correspondence with Renate Bridenthal about restitution from Germany for her.


  • Creation: 1891-2016
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930-1963


Language of Materials

This collection is primarily in German and English, with small amounts of Spanish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Czech, Polish, and French.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Visit the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History.

Conditions Governing Use

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 / Historical

Irene Quittner was born on February 22, 1902 in Budapest, Hungary. She was the daughter of Theresia (also spelled Therezia) Quittner and Stefan Weinert; although they were married by a rabbi, they were never legally married, and Stefan Weinert left his wife and children when Irene was an infant. Irene was placed with a Catholic foster family until she was almost six. Meanwhile, her mother Theresia Quittner had moved to Vienna, where she met Abo (called Albert) Spur, a widower. They married in 1906 and took Irene and her brother Armin with them when they moved to Leipzig in 1908. There Abo established a business as a processor of badger hair for men's shaving brushes, while Theresia, a talented seamstress, made both men’s and women's clothing.

Irene had an apprenticeship as a finisher in a fur business. In 1921 she became engaged to David Chaim (called Heinrich) Salata; they married in 1923 in Franzensbad, Czechoslovakia (today Františkovy Lázně, Czech Republic) and had one son, Abraham Harribald Salata (called Harribald). In 1929 the family moved to Berlin in an attempt at better financial prospects, which failed, so they moved to Piěstany in Czechoslovakia in 1930, to live with Irene's extended family. In 1931 Irene and Heinrich went to Rostock and Harribald was sent to a boarding school until 1933, when Irene and Heinrich Salata separated; their divorce was not finalized until 1935. Irene and her son lived with her parents in Leipzig while she supported them by working as a fur finisher. In 1934 Irene married Eichunon Rubin in a rabbinical ceremony; they had a daughter, Pesi Resi Renate Salata, in 1935, and their marriage was later legally legitimized. Irene and Elchunon had a store that sold tobacco products in Leipzig and maintained a large apartment with servants.

In 1938 the family realized they needed to leave Germany and planned their escape. Renate was smuggled out of Leipzig to Czechoslovakia; two weeks later the rest of the family fled illegally over the border to join her. In January 1939 they fled to Paris via airplane. Four months later, in April, they left Europe aboard the ship Reina del Pacifique for Panama, where they remained for a year-and-a-half and narrowly avoided being sent back to Europe, until they arrived penniless in New York in October 1940. They were assisted by the refugee agency HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) and were able to secure a small apartment. For health reasons HIAS sent Irene and Renate to the countryside. For the first few months in America, Harribald found work in a factory in Miami. Due to the stress of being a refugee, alone and without funds, employment or support, Eichunon suffered a nervous breakdown and on July 18, 1941 committed suicide. Irene established herself as a fur finisher in order to support the household. In 1946 Renate and her mother became American citizens, at which point Renate took her deceased biological father's surname.

Meanwhile, Renate was a successful student, graduating near the top of her class in high school, with awards in mathematics and physics. She had begun learning the piano when she was nine, and with the assistance of her music teacher, planned a career as a pianist. In 1951 she performed for the local New York radio station WNYC. After the end of World War II Irene and Renate decided to return to Germany, first going to Munich and later to Frankfurt am Main. In Frankfurt Renate attended the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik from October 1951-April 1953, supported by her mother, who continued to work as a fur finisher. However, by April 1953, they had exhausted their funds and returned to New York.

In New York Renate found work in the offices of Time Magazine and began attending evening courses at City College to further her education, with the intention of getting a doctorate in history. In 1960 she married Kenneth Bridenthal. Renate Bridenthal became a professor of history and women's studies at Brooklyn College.

In October 1960 Irene Rubin returned to Germany. After visiting various locations from her past, she attempted to settle in different areas, including Freiburg im Breisgau, but by June 1961 had returned to New York. In January 1963 she was attacked at a subway station in the Bronx; she later died in the hospital from her wounds.


1 Linear Feet

1 Folders (1 oversized folder in shared oversize box)


The Renate Bridenthal Family Collection primarily documents the lives and especially the emigration experiences of Renate Bridenthal's parents, Elchunon and Irene Rubin. Papers of Irene Rubin are prominent in the collection and include restitution correspondence and her writing. Documents related to Renate and her brother Harribald's early lives and emigration is are also present. The collection consists of extensive personal and restitution correspondence, official documents, newspaper clippings regarding Irene Rubin's death, drafts of her writing, and three albums.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I: Documents and Correspondence, 1891-1963, 1982
  2. Series II: Albums, 1915-1943, 1975-1985
  3. Series III: Restitution Correspondence, 1956-1969

Related Materials

A memoir by Abraham Harribald Salata, Renate Bridenthal's half-brother, is part of the LBI Archives Memoir Collection: ME 547. The LBI Library includes a book by Renate Bridenthal: When biology became destiny; women in Weimar and Nazi Germany [call number HQ 1623 W44].

Separated Materials

A few duplicate photocopies of documents and a duplicate newspaper clipping were removed from the archival collection processing.

Processing Information

During processing of the archival collection, its folders were rearranged by subject to form series. Folders were given more specific titles regarding their contents.

Guide to the Papers of the Renate Bridenthal Family
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States