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Kern-Martin Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25815

Scope and Content Note

The Kern-Martin Family Collection documents the lives of members of the related Temple, Kern-Martin, and Kern families and their efforts to maintain contact with each other while the family was separated across multiple continents. The bulk of the collection consists of personal correspondence –- primarily correspondence exchanged between family members -– and family photographs. Other documentation includes official documents, notebooks and a diary, genealogical research and writing, educational documents, poems, and recipes.

Most of the major family members of this collection had the same or similar names as other family members,; therefore they will be referred to throughout this finding aid by their nicknames as identified in the biographical note. Much of the collection's papers focuses on the three Temple siblings, children of Rudolf and Thesi (Therese) Temple: Susan, Rudi (Rudolph), and Gucka (Therese). Susan Temple's papers comprise the largest series of this collection, Series I. Among the papers of this series is her extensive personal correspondence that forms the first subseries of Series I. Her correspondence primarily consists of letters and postcards sent to her, especially from her mother, sister, and brother, but also from other family members and friends, including close friends as well as colleagues. The correspondence from her family members provides many details of her family members' individual lives and experiences and news once the family had separated, and Susan and Rudi were sent abroad. Postwar letters from Gucka, who survived the war in Vienna, provide details of the fate of their mother, Thesi and aunt, Marie Kern, who were deported to Theresienstadt. Letters from Susan’s large circle of friends as well as her colleagues and a small amount of professional correspondence to Susan Temple provide some evidence of her work for the BBC and interest in acting. Documentation in this series especially pertains to her education in Vienna and England and her creative interests.

Correspondence of Susan Temple's sister Gucka as well as their mother will be found in Series III: Other Family Members. This series holds the papers of various family members, including Gucka Temple's many postwar letters to her sister. This series also contains multiple folders of correspondence sent to Thesi Temple by friends and other family members, including correspondence and postcards from World War I and the 1920s.

Papers of Susan Temple's cousin, Richard Kern-Martin, form the second series of this collection. This series also consists largely of correspondence, including numerous letters from his mother, Marie Kern-Martinek, but also including many letters he sent to Susan with details of his life at school in England. Notable are also his school notebooks from Vienna, filled with essays he wrote as a boy about local sites, history, and school subjects, and his diary kept at his English school, including many details of boarding school life.

The final series of this collection consists of a large amount of photographs, including group photos of Temple and Kern-Martin family members. Many photos feature the three Temple siblings, both together and separately. Many other photos remain unidentified.


  • 1863
  • 1903-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1936-1969


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection.

Biographical Note

In 1886 Robert Kern founded the iron trading business, Kontinentale Eisenhandels-Gesellschaft Kern & Co. GmbH, in Vienna, Austria. Three years later he married Elise Engel; they would have five children: Therese Johanna Maria (also spelled Theresia, called "Thesi"), Marie Therese Hermine, Paul Jakob August, August Jakob, and Gustav.

Thesi Kern married Rudolf Anton Alois Temple in February 1916. They lived in Vienna and had three children: Therese (called "Gucka," born 1916), Rudolf Paul (called "Rudi," later spelled Rudolph, born 1918), and Susanne (later spelled Susan, born 1922). By 1926 Thesi and Rudolf had divorced and were living separately. Gucka Temple had an interest in theater. Susan Temple attended the Privat-Mädchenschulrealgymnasium des Vereins für erweiterte Frauenbildung in Vienna from 1932 until 1938. In 1939 Susan was also sent to England, where she studied and resided at St. Mary's Convent boarding school in Hempstead, England. She also took classes at Brechin High School from 1939-1940. Susan also had an interest in acting and performed in various local plays in England and later found work at the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). Rudi Kern was sent to England in July 1936, where his uncle Paul Kern lived. He later went to the United States, where he lived in Denver, Colorado.

Marie Kern married Richard Martinek, with whom she had two children: Elizabeth (called "Sissy") and Richard, who would later change his surname to Kern-Martin. By 1939 Richard Kern-Martin had been sent to England, where he attended the Bloxham School in Banbury, England. His sister Sissy later joined him in England.

Back in Vienna, the sisters Thesi Temple, Marie Kern-Martinek, and Gucka Temple resided together , and received financial support from Paul and Gustl Kern, who lived abroad in England and the United States, respectively. Both Thesi and Gucka often suffered from ill health. During the Second World War, the family members abroad lost touch with those in Austria due to the interruption in the exchange of mail. At some point in 1942 both Thesi and Marie were sent to Theresienstadt; Thesi died there in May 1944. Her sister Marie was deported to Auschwitz in July 1942, where she died.

Rudolph Temple served in the U.S. Army during World War II, when he was stationed in the South Pacific, and during the 1950s he was part of the U.S. forces in occupied Europe. In 1964 he married and found a position at the Atomic Energy Agency.

Richard Kern-Martin married Caroline Varley in London in 1960; in 1964 they had a son, Guy. Richard had another son from a second marriage. Richard traveled frequently and resided in several countries; he died in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1999. Richard's sister, Sissy (Elizabeth) married Gerry (Gerhart) Ettinger in 1951.


2.5 Linear Feet

1 Folders (1 oversized folder)


The Kern-Martin Family Collection contains extensive family correspondence and documentation of members of the related Kern-Martin, Kern, Temple, and other families. Correspondence with friends, colleagues, and more distant relatives is included. Other family members' papers include many family photographs, education documents, writings and diaries, official documents, obituaries, and other papers.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I: Susan Temple, 1915-1989, 2000-2003
  2. Subseries 1: Correspondence, 1915-1928, 1936-1989, 2000-2003
  3. Subseries 2: Documents, 1929-1945, 1967-1968
  4. Series II: Richard Kern-Martin, 1920, 1932-1944, 1960-1970, 1999
  5. Series III: Other Family Members, 1863, 1903-2000
  6. Series IV: Photographs, undated, 1903, 1918-1990

Processing Information

During processing of the archival collection it was rearranged to form series. The voluminous correspondence was also examined and rearranged to bring together correspondence of major individuals of the collection. Some of Susan Temple's correspondence was organized chronologically, and her correspondence was also divided into three sections.

Guide to the Papers of the Kern-Martin Family
Processed by Dianne Ritchey and Katharina Menschick
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