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Erich Drucker Collection

Identifier: AR 3176

Scope and Contents

The collection contains papers of Erich Drucker, consisting to a great extent of his own writings, along with a small amount of correspondence.

The correspondence (Series I) includes both personal and business correspondence. The personal correspondence includes Drucker's exchanges with the Leo Baeck Institute about his collection; his edited copies of letters written to him by his friend Elise Tilse, of Berlin, in 1946-1947; and a circular letter that he wrote to friends in 1976, on the occasion of his move to a new apartment. The business correspondence consists of letters written in 1933 to and from the firm that Drucker headed in Berlin before his emigration – Drucker & Gotthelf, a representative of clothing manufacturers.

Drucker's writings (Series II) comprise notebooks of poetry and prose dating from his youth in Germany, including one that he kept during his imprisonment in Tegel prison in 1935; and writings in typescript form, including copies of and selections from earlier writing, as well as newer poems, prose and diaries that he produced in the United States, mainly in the period 1968 to 1981.


  • 1918-1981


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, with occasional English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical Note

Erich Arthur Drucker was born in Berlin, Germany, on 25 January 1905, the only child of the businessman Isidor Drucker and his wife Paula Sophie Drucker (née Siegel). His father headed the firm Drucker & Gotthelf, a wholesaling firm founded in 1892, which represented clothing manufacturers from outside of Berlin selling goods to stores in the city. Erich's mother was born 1876 in Meiningen, the daughter of Moritz Faibel Siegel and Rosalie Siegel (née Gosser); Moritz Siegel was the author of a historical work about the town of Walldorf in Thuringia, where his ancestors settled in the 17th century.

Erich Drucker joined his father's firm in 1924; after his father's death, in 1926, he ran the business on behalf of his mother, until late 1933. The firm's principal clients were Brehme & Siegel, a glove manufacturer based in Arnstadt (Thuringia), whom the firm had represented since 1892; and C. F. Lohs, a hosiery manufacturer based in Einsiedel (Saxony), a newer client taken on by Drucker in 1927.

Following the rise to power of the National Socialists, Drucker was active in the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, SAPD, or SAP). At the end of November 1933 he was arrested, and detained and imprisoned for 27 months. He was held at first in the Oranienburg Concentration Camp; for the last 15 months of his imprisonment he was held in Tegel prison. In Tegel he became acquainted with Harald Poelchau (1903-1972), the prison chaplain.

After his release from prison at the end of 1935, Drucker continued his secret political activities for nearly two years until finally making the decision to emigrate from Germany. He went first to Prague and then, in 1938, to Paris, where he spent approximately two years, before immigrating, by way of Portugal, to the United States, sailing from Lisbon in May 1941, and arriving in New York Harbor on 3 June.

One of Drucker's colleagues in the SAP, Elise Tilse (1910-2005), was also arrested and imprisoned around the same time that he was, and released the following year; Tilse remained in Berlin and lived out her life there.

Drucker's mother Paula, who remained in Berlin, took her own life in March or April 1942. In his early years in New York Erich Drucker worked at various jobs such as clerk and cashier. In 1950 he established himself as a book dealer. In December of that year he became a naturalized American citizen.

In New York Drucker met his future wife Liselotte (née Muehe; 1907-1997), who arrived in the United States from Germany in 1949. They married on 10 February 1950. Drucker's apartment on the Upper West Side, at 44 West 85th Street (just west of Central Park), where he had lived since January 1947, became their home for the next 29 years; in May 1976 the couple moved to a new apartment, in a building at the corner of West 90th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. From 1968 to 1981 they spent most of their summer vacations in Vermont. In the years 1968 to 1976, they spent their stays in Vermont at a farm in Mad River Valley owned by the poet Ann Day and her husband Frank Day (who died summer 1970). (These trips are detailed in Drucker's Vermont diaries.)

The Druckers made trips to Germany in 1963 and 1965; in Erich Drucker's reminiscences about Harald Poelchau, he mentions that they visited Poelchau in Berlin in those years. In 1963 they also visited Israel. In 1973, they spent the summer in Europe, where they visited with various friends, spending three weeks in Germany (Oberreiffenberg, Frankfurt am Main, Bremen) – and then six weeks in the town of Olang, South Tyrol, Italy, in the Dolomite mountains. (That trip is recorded in Drucker's European diary.)

Throughout his life Erich Drucker was an avid reader and deeply interested in literature, philosophy, history, and politics; he regarded these intellectual pursuits as his actual vocation. In his free time he was a prolific writer of poetry and prose, and regularly kept diaries. In his writings he engaged with books; articulated philosophical and political perspectives; and reflected on his past and present, sometimes conveying memories and observations about family members, friends and acquaintances.

Erich Drucker died in New York in September 1986; his wife Liselotte died in November 1997.


1 Linear Feet


The collection contains writings, along with a small amount of personal and business correspondence, of Erich Drucker, a German businessman and active member of the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany, who immigrated to the United States from Nazi Germany in 1941 and subsequently became a book dealer in New York City. A prolific writer throughout his life, Drucker regularly kept diaries, and wrote poems, essays, sketches, reflections, and aphorisms. The materials include notebooks dating from Drucker's youth in Germany; typescripts of poems, prose and diaries that he produced in the United States; business correspondence from the year 1933 of the firm Drucker headed in Berlin before his emigration – Drucker & Gotthelf, a representative of clothing manufacturers; and Drucker's edited copies of letters written to him by his friend Elise Tilse, of Berlin, in the years 1946 to 1947.


Arranged in two series:

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1933, 1946-1947, 1967-1979
    • Subseries I.1 Personal correspondence, 1946-1947, 1967-1979
    • Subseries I.2 Business correspondence of Druck & Gotthelf, 1933
  • Series II: Writings, 1918-1981
    • Subseries II.1 Poems, 1918-1981
    • Subseries II.2 Notebooks and Diaries, 1923-1928, 1935, 1957-1981
    • Subseries II.3 Other writings, 1921-1947, 1968-1979

Other Finding Aids

Folder 1 includes a photocopy of typed catalog cards detailing, in German, items originally donated by Erich Drucker. (Some items in the collection, including notebooks of early writings and some of the diaries of the 1970s, were donated at a later point and are not listed on the cards.)

Related Materials

See also the Erich Drucker Collection (ME 728), which contains additional writings of Drucker, as well as some of the same writings found in the present collection. The Leo Baeck Institute also holds two items related to Drucker's maternal grandfather, Moritz F. Siegel: one is a historical work, Der Walldorfer Lehmkrieg: Gedenkblatt zum 100jährigen Anfall Walldorfs an das Herzogtum Sachsen-Meiningen (1906), concerning the locality Walldorf in Thuringia; the other is a family memoir ("Meine Familiengeschichte"), about the Siegel and Holländer families, who came from the Netherlands and settled in Walldorf in the 17th century.

Processing Information

The materials have been placed in acid-free folders and arranged broadly according to type of material, as well as genre of writing.

Guide to the Erich Drucker Collection
Processed by Violet Lutz
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