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Deutsch-Edel Family Collection

 Collection
Identifier: AR 25826

Scope and Contents

This collection contains papers of the Deutsch family. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, dating from Thomas’s life as a student in Boston up until close to his death in 2006. He mostly corresponded with his parents, George and Sabina; the letters show the closeness of his relationship with them. Another portion of the collection is a series of biographical manuscripts authored by George Deutsch, describing his childhood in Vienna, his family, and the flight of the family to the United States via France. There are also vital records of the family that date back to 1895. Other materials in the collection focus on others outside the nuclear family, such as Sabina’s brother Max Edel, who was a physician and sculptor who immigrated to the United States. There is also a memoir by Charles (originally Karl) Deutsch describing the flight of his family to the United States following the Anschluss in 1938. Charles was the cousin of George.

Of particular interest in the collection are the biographical memoirs of George Deutsch, in which he reiterates many personal stories about his childhood and life in Vienna, as well as his flight to the United States with his family in the Nazi period. These essays provide a closer look at the lives, relationships, and personal interests of the family, as well as their persecution “racial Jews” with the Nazi annexation in 1938, and subsequent flight from Austria. These memoirs are handwritten in English. Another folder of interest are letters from Liba Edel, Sabina’s mother, written between 1938 – 1941. Besides personal information, they document attempts by her daughter’s family to rescue her from Vienna and bring her to France or the United States.

Dates

  • 1895-2006
  • Majority of material found within 1950-1980

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, German, and French.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical Note

Georg Deutsch (1901 – 1982) was born in Vienna to Alice Deutsch née Spieler (1872-1932) and Gustav Deutsch (1869-1911). Gustav Deutsch was an engineer. Georg also had an older sister, Maria Glas nee Deutsch (1897-1983).

In the 1920s Georg studied medicine at the University of Vienna, where he graduated as a physician for gynecology and obstetrics. He worked at a number of clinics and hospitals before starting in private practice. In 1929 he married Sabina Edel (1902-1992). She had also attended the University of Vienna, where she studied the natural sciences (biology, zoology) as well as education. After completing her studies, she worked as a teacher. The couple had two children, Thomas (1932-2006) and Elizabeth (born 1937). The couple attended cultural events, enjoyed hiking summers in the Alps, and had successful careers. Georg became interested in anthroposophy, and the couple identified politically as socialists. They were not religious. Both had been baptized by their parents to Christianity, and they had their children baptized as well.

In 1938, Georg, Sabina and their children fled first to Paris, and then to the United States. George’s sister, Maria Glas, meanwhile escaped with her family to England. Sabina’s mother, Liba Edel, was unable to escape Vienna despite attempts by the family and was murdered in the Kovno Ghetto in November 1941. Georg and Sabina settled in Shaker Heights, Cleveland, Ohio. Beginning as a substitute teacher, Sabina taught at the Shaker Heights High School for nearly 30 years. Despite her education in biology and zoology, she ended-up teaching German, French, and Latin. After retiring, she spent time traveling to Europe and maintained an interest in French culture.

Georg Deutsch (who anglicized his name to George) also had to start his career over again as a physician, attending university in the United States. He then worked as a physician until his own retirement in Shaker Heights.

Thomas Deutsch received a degree in physics at Cornell University in 1955, followed by a master’s degree from Harvard in 1956 and a doctorate in 1961. He worked as a physics engineer beginning in 1960, becoming a senior scientist with Raytheon. From 1974 to 1984 he was at the Lincoln Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), then at the Wellman Laboratory of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Beginning in 1987, he was also an Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School, teaching and exploring medical laser applications for dermatology.

Elizabeth Deutsch married Clifford Earle in 1960. The couple had two children. Elizabeth attended Swarthmore College, followed by Radcliffe College from where she graduated in 1960. She then became a Doctor of Philosophy at Harvard University in 1964. She became a professor of plant breeding, following her mother’s interest in botany, at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. From 1983 to 1989 she worked at Cornell as Director of the Plant Tissue Culture Facility.

Extent

1.25 Linear Feet (1.25 linear feet (2 record cartons))

1 Folders (1 oversized folder)

Abstract

This collection contains the papers of the Deutsch-Edel family, originally from Vienna, and in particular the family of Georg and Sabina Deutsch and their children. The bulk of the collection – dating 1940 to 1990 -- is correspondence, but there are also large sections of educational and immigration records, as well as memoirs documenting the history of the family authored by George Deutsch. The collection documents the lives of family members in Vienna, including their educational and professional lives, up to the time of the Nazi annexation of Austria and the flight of different members of the family to England and the United States. Post-World War II materials (the largest portion) consist mostly of correspondence between Thomas Deutsch and his parents, and material pertaining to Thomas’s academic career and travel.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into four series.
  1. Series I: Diaries and Memoirs, 1926-1982
  2. Subseries 1: Diaries of George Deutsch, 1926-1970
  3. Subseries 2: Memoirs of Charles Deutsch, undated
  4. Subseries 3: Memoirs of George Deutsch, 1970-1982
  5. Subseries 4: Michael Glas, 2006, 2016
  6. Series II: Correspondence, 1950-1992
  7. Subseries 1: Libe Deutsch, 1939-1942
  8. Subseries 2: Thomas Deutsch, 1950-1995
  9. Series III: Vital Records and Documents, 1891-1992
  10. Series IV: Visual Material, 1923-1995

Separated Materials

A copy of the book of Psalms, in German, Psalmen, published in 1920 by Knorr and Hirth Verlag, Munich, was removed to the LBI library.

Processing Information

The collection was donated by Elizabeth Edel Earle in 2019. Materials were rehoused and the collection was arranged and described by Michael Simonson, Archivist at the Leo Baeck Institute.
Title
Guide to the Deutsch-Edel Family Collection
Author
Michael Simonson
Date
2020
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

Contact:
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New York NY 10011 United States