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Budge-Palais Collection

Identifier: AR 25779

Scope and Contents

The collection holds mostly material related to the Budge-Palais in Hamburg and gives an insight into the research of Peter Kahn regarding the history of the building, including his correspondence with various people based in Hamburg.

Folder 1/1 holds two letters to Peter Kahn written by Ernst Kubin who was researching the whereabouts of the Reichskleinodien (the Imperial Regalia of the Holy Roman Emperor including the crown, the orb, the sword etc.) during the Third Reich and their return to Vienna. A detailed description of Peter Kahn is included. Ernst Kubin worked as an interpreter for the US army in Nuremberg and recalled the reappearance of the Reichskleinodien after the war.In addition, the folder contains many photocopies of newspaper articles from the spring of 1945 with news about the war and the surrender of the Third Reich, as well as the following months. Also included is a letter from Livia Gleiss who described her research and subsequent presentation at the university (which resides today in the Budge-Palais) in remembrance of the Budge family.

Folder 1/2 contains a photocopy of the book “But’n Dammdoor. Aus der Vergangenheit des hamburgischen Stadtteiles Harvestehude-Rotherbaum“ published in 1928.

Folder 1/3 holds most of the correspondence of the collection. Most of the letters are from the 1980s and provide details related to the history of the building and the plans for the dismantling and rebuilding of the room, as well as the installment of a plaque with a short history in 1993. In her letters, Elisa Hamburger argued for renaming parts of the university in the Budge-Palais to remember Emma and Henry Budge. Also included are several letters from Ines Behrends who was invested in the history of the building and the remembrance of the Budge family. One is addressed to Jan Philipp Reemtsma talking about Peter Kahn and the Budge-Palais. She also wrote to the newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt asking them to make the background of the building during the Third Reich public. Other letters are addressed to Peter Kahn and provide details of the people she contacted in order to get more information regarding the future plans for the building.

Folder 1/4 holds a booklet with the invitation for the ceremony for the renaming of the building to Budge-Palais in 1993 including some historic background and copies of the speeches that were held. In addition, there are some photographs showing the ceremony for the Stolpersteine which were laid in front of the building for Siegfried and Ella Budge in 2007.Moreover, the folder contains several letters, most of them from and to Peter Kahn. Some letters from Ines Behrends provide some details and names related to the Palais. She also described the responsible people in the government of Hamburg to Peter. In a letter to Dr. Roenke, Peter described his research about the history of the Palais while he worked for Cornell University in Hamburg in 1985/86.

Folder 1/5 holds photographs from a model of the Palais as well as the interior. Included are also two newspaper articles about the move of the mirrored ballroom from the Palais to a museum in Hamburg and a letter from Peter Kahn explaining his misunderstanding about the eagles in that room. He originally thought the eagles, which held the Nazi swastika in their claws, were put there by the Nazis but changed his mind after looking at them closer.

Folder 1/6 holds newspaper clippings relating to the Budge-Palais. Included are articles about the discussion concerning the planned destruction of the mirrored ballroom, its dismantling and the rebuilding in the Museum fuer Gewerbe and Kunst in Hamburg in 1987. In addition, it holds several articles called “Haeuser, die Geschichten erzaehlen” (Houses which tell stories) that describe the history of various houses in Hamburg.

Folder 1/7 contains research material concerning the building. Included are photocopies of publications, newspaper articles, and a description of the mirrored ballroom along with photographs, as well as a plan of the estate.


  • 1945-2008

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, German, and some Italian.

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:

Historical Note

The Budge-Palais is a villa located at Harvestehuder Weg / Milchstrasse in Hamburg overlooking the Aussenalster Lake. The Budge-Palais was built in 1884 by Martin Haller.

Henry Budge (1840-1928) was a German-American businessman who bought the building in 1900 after returning to Germany. He ordered Martin Haller to do the changes that his wife Emma Budge (1852-1937) had in mind. The couple moved to the Palais in 1903, the remodeling was finished in 1913. Newly added was the Spiegelsaal (mirrored ballroom) which was used for music and theatre events. They used the spacious house for the display of their art collection.

In his last will, Henry decided to give the house and the art collection to the city of Hamburg. Due to the rise of the Nazis, Emma changed their will several times after the death of her husband. In the end, she wanted to give their property to the United States government or — if they declined — to the Jewish community. After her death in 1937, Henry's nephew , Siegfried Budge, and his wife Ella shortly lived in the house before it was appropriated by the Nazis in the same year. The last will was ignored when the building was sold (under unknown circumstances) to the city for a very low price. A few months later, the Gauleiter of Hamburg moved in.

Since 1959, the Budge-Palais has been the home of the Hochschule fuer Musik und Theater Hamburg. The Spiegelsaal was dismantled during a renovation in 1980 but, thanks to a generous donation from Gertrud Reemtsma, the interior was saved and rebuilt at the Museum fuer Kunst und Gewerbe in 1986/87. In 1993, the university renamed the building Budge-Palais and installed a plaque in memory of its history.

Peter Kahn (1921-1997) was a grandnephew of Henry and Emma Budge and spent some time as a child in the Budge-Palais. He later worked as an art historian at Cornell University and spent a semester abroad in Hamburg in 1986/87. He used that stay to conduct research about the house and published his findings called "Eine Wiedergutmachungsangelegenheit: Das Budgehaus, Harvestehuderweg 12, Hamburg."


0.5 Linear Feet

1 Folders (1 oversized folder in a shared oversized box)


The collection mostly holds research material related to the villa Budge-Palais in Hamburg including newspaper clippings, correspondence of the descendant of the former owners, and some photographs.


The collection is arranged in one series: Series I: Budge-Palais, 1945-2008.

Guide to the Papers of the Budge-Palais Collection
Processed by Mareike Hennies
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