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Harriet Hermine Spielberg Collection

Identifier: AR 25880

Scope and Contents

The Harriet Hermine Spielberg Collection consists of various official documents; certificates; reference letters and identity cards. It also includes personal items like photographs and two notebooks with handwritten recipes and comments. Another part of the collection includes reports and correspondence, mostly written by Eric (Erik) Schwarz.

Folder 1\1 contains official documents, including Harriet’s original birth certificate, which was issued beginning of February 1900. Furthermore, the folder contains the wedding certificate from her marriage with Max Schwarz. Five years after her marriage with Max she became a widow. His death after a botched operation (intestinal paralysis) on May 9th, 1927 is confirmed by a death certificate translated into English, issued July 6th, 1945. The collection contains several reference letters that provide proof of Harriet’s employment at the companies “Mazowia” (October 27th, 1927 – June 30th, 1937) and “Jarnex Holzwaren” (December 1st, 1937 – June 30th, 1938). The collection includes her German passport (Deutsches Reich Reisepass), her British national registration identity card, as well as her certificate of naturalization for the U.S., which was given to her on December 3rd, 1945. After her arrival in New York City, Harriet married Hans (John) Spielberg on April 11th, 1941. Their certificate of marriage and John Hans Spielberg’s certificate of naturalization from August 23rd, 1945, are also included in this folder. Additionally, this folder contains two other documents that concern the graduation of Edward Schottländer.

Folder 1\2 contains personal items belonging to Harriet’s family: six photographs and two notebooks with handwritten recipes and comments. The photographs depict mostly unidentified persons, as well as Harriet on four of them. There is one other photograph, showing three men wearing uniforms and one showing a middle-aged man. The notebooks are mostly written in German and include a mixture of different recipes and extra notes. One of them contains the name “Erik Schwarz” written with a pencil and other various personal notes. The second notebook contains only recipes, arranged alphabetically. Most of them are typically Austrian food, written in German but also in English.

Folder 1\3 contains correspondence mostly between Eric Schwarz and his cousin Ingeborg Rosalia Sonn, in which he writes about the history of his family and individual family members.

Folder 1\4 contains typed reports mostly given by Eric Schwarz. They all are one or two pages long. One is called “My mother speaks” and provides insight into the life of Harriet, written in first perspective. One report is about the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht). Another untitled two pages, which describe the situation of Eric and his mother living in Austria in the late 1930s, were written by Eric himself.


  • 1900-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1900 - 1968


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English with a small amount of Polish and French.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Biographical Note

Harriet Spielberg was born as Hermine Schottländer in Brody, Galicia (today Ukraine) on January 31st, 1900, the daughter of Jakob Josef Schottländer and Feige (Fanny) Lea Schottländer (née Garfunkel); she had an older brother, Edward, called Dunio and a younger sister, Klara.

At the beginning of World War I, Harriet and her family fled from the Russian Cossacks-militia to Vienna where they settled. On April 2nd, 1922, Harriet married Max Schwarz (Meier Abraham Pipes – Schwarz), the son of Hermann and Reisel Schwarz (née Pipes). Max was born in Weldzirz, Galicia (today Ukraine) on July 8th, 1891; he served in the Austrian army in World War I and died after a botched operation on May 9th, 1927 at the age of 36. Harriet and Max had a son, Eric (Erik) Schwarz, who was born on February 14th, 1924.

Harriet and her son lived at Breitenfeldergasse 22\12 in Vienna’s 8th District. She worked for two companies from October 1927 to June 1938. Eric left Austria and arrived in the U.S. on March 1939, staying with his Uncle Edward Schottländer. Harriet went to Brighton, England, in 1939 and one year later to the U.S., where she settled on the Upper West Side in New York City. On April 11th, 1941, she married John (Hans) Spielberg, whom she had met in Vienna; their son William Steven Spielberg was born in 1942.

Harriet’s parents and their youngest daughter Klara, together with her husband Dr. Goldenberg perished in the Holocaust. Harriet’s brother Edward graduated with a dissertation about the aluminum industry in the United States and eventually immigrated to the U.S.

Harriet’s older son Eric Schwarz was married to Bella née Freudenthal, who died of ovarian cancer in 1980; their son Peter Martin Schwarz became a Professor of Economics at the University of Charlotte, North Carolina. - Harriet’s second son, William Spielberg was a principal of a middle school in Darien, Connecticut.

Harriet died on September 1st, 1994.


0.25 Linear Feet


The Harriet Hermine Spielberg Collection documents the early life of Harriet Spielberg (née Schottländer, widowed Schwarz). Most of the collection includes official documents; certificates; testimonials; passports and other personal items like photographs; and two notebooks with handwritten recipes and comments. It also contains correspondence and reports provided by her son, Eric (Erik) Schwarz.


The collection is arranged in one series. Folders are arranged by format.

Processing Information

The collection is organized in one series. Photographs, two notebooks and other official documents were placed in acid-free envelopes.

Processed by Melanie Litta
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