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Kurt and Grete Goldsmith Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25681

Scope and Contents

The collection contains materials that pertain to the life and work of Kurt and Grete Goldsmith. Series I consists of Kurt and Grete’s documents, correspondence, and professional photographs taken by Kurt. A large part of Series I is made up of affidavits and immigration documents that map the journey of the Goldsmith family in seeking asylum during the late 1930s. Included in the series are also materials pertaining to the Goldsmith’s family life in America, especially Kurt’s work as a photographer. The collection contains numerous portraits taken by Kurt in his photography studio. However, the bulk of the series is made up of letters to and from Kurt and Grete Goldsmith. The letters are mainly from the late 1930s and early 1940s and describe day-to-day matters and the looming war.

Series II consists of materials of the Goldsmith/ Goldschmidt and Lendt families. The bulk of materials that make up the series are genealogical trees and family histories compiled by the descendants of the two families. This series contains a wedding telegraph album from the wedding of Georg and Mathilde Lendt in 1903, as well as research about the album. Included are also documents pertaining to specific family members, as well as correspondence between the family members of the Goldsmith/ Goldschmidt and Lendt families. Family photographs are included in Series II and span the years 1890s to 1990s. Most of the earliest photos are of Kurt and Grete's ancestors, as well as direct family members, including many photos of Irma as a nurse during World War I. The most recent photos are of Kurt and Grete’s son, Steven J. Goldsmith, and his family.


  • Creation: 1880s- 2010s


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.Folders 1/11 and 1/24-1/27 are restricted.

Use Restrictions

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

Biographical Note

Kurt Goldsmith (Goldschmidt) was born in Stolzenau, Germany on January 9th, 1901 to Leo and Dina Goldschmidt, née Levy. He was the oldest of five siblings: Grete (married Rosenstein and Weinberg), Anni (married Meth and Josephs), Max, and Lore (married Streat). Leo and Dina operated a small dry-goods shop in Stolzenau, and later in Hohenbostel. Dina Goldschmidt died in 1919, and in 1921 Leo Goldschmidt married Irma (Jenny) Appel. Irma was a nurse during World War I and served on the Western Front. She was considered a beloved stepmother to the children and remained an integral part of the family even after Leo’s death in 1936.

In 1931, Kurt married Margarete (Grete) Lendt, born on October 1st, 1904. Her parents Georg and Mathilde, née Dahlberg, owned a large department store in Göppingen, which they were forced to sell after financial and material damages sustained during the Kristallnacht in 1938. During the night of November 9th to 10th, 1938, the Lendt department store was attacked by SA-Obersturmbannführer Otto Schraag, who tore his way through the store and into the private living quarters of the family. Grete, who by then was living with Kurt in Cologne, was visiting her parents that day and witnessed these horrible events take place. Grete also had a sister, Gertud (Trude) Rohrbacher, with whom she was very close and frequently corresponded. Mathilde passed away in 1940 from cancer and Georg Lendt was murdered in Mauthausen concentration camp on August 24, 1942.

Kurt and Grete fled Germany in 1939 with their six-year-old son, Hans Stefan (later known as Steven James). They first fled to England, and after several months they were able to continue their journey to the United States. Kurt and his family finally settled in New York City, specifically in the Washington Heights neighborhood. Kurt opened a successful photography studio in their apartment, while Grete worked as a cleaner, and later in sales at the Gimbels department store. They were members of Congregation Beth Hillel, and Kurt was active with the Leo Baeck Lodge of B'nai Brith. After Grete’s death in 1972, Kurt married Thea Berliner, née Hirschfeld. Kurt died on August 12th, 1994.

Steven James grew up in Washington Heights and attended local public schools. He received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and then a law degree from Columbia University. In 1965, he married Judith Svirsky and soon after moved to White Plains, NY. Steven practiced as a labor lawyer, and later as a labor arbitrator. He died on June 28, 2016 in Mount Vernon, NY.


2 Linear Feet

1 Folders (1 oversized folder in a shared box)

1 Boxes (1 oversized box)


The collection contains materials relating to Kurt Goldsmith, a New York-based photographer, and his wife Grete née Lendt. Kurt and his family escaped Nazi Germany to ultimately settle in New York City. The materials trace the journey that they and their family took to seek asylum in the United States. The collection is made up of personal documents, correspondence, photographs, and other archival materials.


The collection had been arranged thematically. Original order when applicable was preserved.

  1. Series I: Personal Materials, 1904- 1988
  2. Series II: Materials of Goldsmith/ Goldschmidt and Lendt Families, 1880- 2016

Separated Materials

The book Rede am Beisetzungstage Sr. Majestät des in Gott ruhenden deutschen Kaisers und Königs von Preussen Wilhelm I. gehalten in der neuen Synagoge by Rabbi Dr. Manuel Joël was moved to the LBI Library.

A challah cover was removed to the LBI Arts and Objects Collection.

Processing Information

During processing, folders were grouped to form series and subseries. Original order when applicable was preserved.

Guide to the Papers of Kurt and Grete Goldsmith
Processed by Agata Sobczak
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