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Wulkan-Berger Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25947

Scope and Contents

The Wulkan-Berger Family Collection gives an insight into the life of the two families as well as some friends. The material includes family trees, official documents, creative work, and photographs as well as extensive correspondence. Due to his work, Herman traveled frequently and often wrote home daily. The collection is divided into three series with six subseries.

Series I holds official documents of members of the Berger and Wulkan families including documents on the restitution claims of Peter Wulkan and his daughter Hannah. Moreover, the series contains material from the travels of Lisl Berger throughout Europe, recipe books (written by Magda and Lisl) as well as family trees of the Berger, Wulkan, Spitz, Bachrich, Bellak, Bruell and Wolkenberg families.

Subseries 2 of Series I consists of an autograph book of Lisl Berger, poems by Willi and Herman Berger, the diary of Fritz Wulkan written during his time in Kenya, and some creative work by Oskar Jellinek.

Series II holds the correspondence of the collection, which is further divided into four subseries. A large part consists of letters and postcards sent between Herman, Magda and Lisl Berger. Additionally, there are letters sent to Lisl which provide a glimpse into the life of her friends, especially after many of them emigrated to different parts of the world due to the growing pressure of the Nazi regime.

Subseries 1 holds the correspondence of Lisl. Most of the letters and postcards are from her parents who wrote her on their trips throughout Europe or during the times Lisl was abroad herself. Moreover, there are letters from friends including Paul Rotter, Erich Marmorek, and Grete and Kurt Lion. Subseries 2 mostly consists of Herman Berger’s correspondence with Magda and Lisl. Many of the letters were sent while Herman was in Cetinje (Montenegro) in 1917 and 1918. More correspondence of the Berger-Wulkan family can be found in Subseries 3 which contains letters from and to Peter Wulkan, Salomon Berger, Herman, Magda and Lisl Berger as well as several friends. Subseries 4 holds additional correspondence including more letters from Herman, Magda and Lisl.

The photographs of the collection can be found in Series III. They show among others the Berger, Wulkan, Guth and Bachrich families throughout the 20th century including family photos and pictures from trips in the Austrian mountains and other vacations. Several photo albums are part of the material. The series also includes pictures from the emigration of Fritz and Herta Wulkan in 1939 and show their life on a farm in rural Kenya.


  • Creation: 1848-2020
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1910s-1950s


Language of Materials

The collection is in German, English, French, and some Slovakian.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact: Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 email:

Biographical Note

Herman Berger was born on August 3rd, 1873 in Vienna, where he graduated from business college in 1891. Starting in April 1895, he worked for over forty years at the Spinnerei und Wirkwarenfabrik M. Honig, one of the biggest textile businesses in Austria. Between 1900 and 1907, he worked in Heidenreichstein close to the Czech border before returning to Vienna. He earned the title of a “Kommerzialrat” through his successful business activities.

Herman married the niece of his employer, Magda (Mitzi), née Guth, in 1905 and they had their daughter Elise Flora (Lisl) the following year. He served during the First World War in 1917 and 1918 and spent most of that time in Cetinje (Montenegro). The family lost most of their fortune after the Anschluss. Herman and Magda followed Lisl to New York in April 1939. He received American citizenship in 1944 and died in 1961.

Magda Guth was born in 1882 as the daughter of Bernhard and Clothilde Guth (née Bachrich). Magda had four siblings: Richard, Hans, Stefan, and Kaethe. Through her uncles and aunts from her mother Clothilde’s side of the family, Magda was also related to the Jellinek and Wolkenberg families of Vienna. Magda received a basic education at a Handelsschule or commercial school in Vienna.

Friedrich (Fritz) Peter Wulkan was born on May 25th, 1898 in Szobotist (Slovakia). He graduated from commercial school and started working in a chemical manufactory. In 1929, Fritz married Herta Loew. He worked on the farm (Gut Markgrafneusiedl) of her father. They hosted many Chaluzim between 1920 and 1938 there and taught agricultural basics to them in preparation for their emigration to Palestine. The couple emigrated to Kenya in 1939 where Fritz first managed and later owned a farm. After the death of his wife in 1944, he emigrated to the United States in 1945. Fritz and Lisl Berger married in 1946. He died in 1968.

Elise (Lisl) Berger was born on July 10th, 1906 in Heidenreichstein and later trained as a dressmaker. After she finished her training in 1937, she worked in the business of her mother in Vienna. In her free time, Lisl traveled a lot through Europe. She emigrated to New York in November 1938 where she continued working in the dressmaking business. She kept in contact with many of her Austrian friends after most of them emigrated, among them Fritz and Herta Wulkan. Lisl married Fritz Wulkan in July 1946 after he moved from Kenya to the United States following the death of his wife. Their son Peter was born in 1948.

Peter Wulkan was born as the only son of Lisl Berger and Fritz Wulkan in 1948 in New York. Both Fritz and Lisl had grown up and lived the first half of their lives in Vienna, Austria. While the parents of Lisl Berger, Herman and Magda (Mitzi) Berger, were able to escape their persecution in Austria through emigration to the United States, large parts of the Berger family weren’t as lucky. Three of Herman Berger’s four siblings died in the Shoah while the Berger family was scattered all over the world, some in Mauritius, others in Brazil, Israel, and the United States.


5 Linear Feet

1 Boxes (1 shared oversized folder in a shared oversized box.)


The collection holds the personal documents of both the Wulkan and Berger families from Vienna. While most of the documents cover the time of emigration to the United States and Kenya, the collection also holds documents on the family’s life in Vienna before World War II. Much of the correspondence was written during the 1910s, 1920s, and early 1930s.


The collection consists of three series:

  • Series I: Personal, 1848-2020
    • Subseries 1: Individuals, 1848-2020
    • Subseries 2: Creative Work, 1875-1967
  • Series II: Correspondence, 1879-1960
    • Subseries 1: Herman Berger, 1905-1956
    • Subseries 2: Lisl Berger, 1889-1960
    • Subseries 3: Wulkan-Berger Family, 1879-1959
    • Subseries 4: Additional Correspondence, 1905-1938
  • Series III. Photographs, 1875-2013

Separated Materials

The following published materials have been removed from the collection:

  • Author unknown, Atlas der Bäume und Sträucher, ca. 1920s.
  • Author unknown, Blumen Nacht Kuenstlerhaus, Wien 1921.
  • Hoffmann, E.T.A., Maerchen. Der goldene Topf. Nussknacker und Mausekoenig. Klein Zaches. Die Koenigsbraut, Berlin.
  • V. Scheffel, J.S., Lieder aus dem Trompeter Saekkingen, Wien 1922.
  • Moerike, Eduard, Gedichte. Geschrieben und auf Stein gezeichnet von Ida Berisch, Carl Konegen Verlag, Wien, Undated.
  • Karl Weiss, Geschichte der Stadt Wien, Wien 1872.
  • Bierbaum, Otto Julius, Ausgewaehlte Gedichte, Wien 1921.
  • Cassell, Faris, The Unanswered Letter. One Holocaust Family’s Desperate Plea for Help, New Jersey 2020.
  • Schiller, Friedrich, Jungfrau von Orleans, Leipzig 1907.
  • Goethe, Johann Wolfgang, Hermann und Dorothea, Leipzig 1907.
  • Keller, Gottfried, Sieben Legenden, Wien, Undated.

Processing Information

An original order was created by the donor, from which the collection's series and subseries were derived by archivists during the processing of the archival collection.

Guide to the Papers of the Wulkan-Berger Family
Processed by Mareike Hennies and Moritz Rinaldo
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