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Kurt Safranski Collection

Identifier: AR 25957

Scope and Contents

The collection is arranged into four series in three boxes. Series I documents the personal lives of Kurt Safranski and his daughter, Tina, and also includes information about the family’s genealogical history. Series II surveys Kurt Safranski’s career as an editor of illustrated magazines and mostly includes written correspondence relating to his professional activities, but also includes pieces he wrote about his field. Series III includes professional projects – book design, film, and photography projects – that Kurt Safranski completed by himself and with others throughout his career. Series IV includes an album, travel notebooks, and notecards relating to Kurt Safranski’s personal and professional activities.


  • 1890s-2017
  • 1935-1955


Language of Materials

The collection is in English and German.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

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

Kurt Safranski was born in Berlin in 1890 to Hermann and Anna (née Aaron) Szafranski. After studying with Lucian Bernhard, Kurt achieved early success in the graphic arts by creating illustrations for the romance novel Rheinsberg (1912), written by Kurt Safranski’s friend, Kurt Tucholsky. Thereafter, Kurt Safranski became the director of the magazine division of the Ullstein publishing company, where he worked closely with Herman Ullstein and Kurt Korff. Kurt Safranski married Mania Welkanoz in 1914, and together they had one daughter, Tina, born in 1922. The family left Germany in 1934 and settled in New Rochelle, New York, although Tina had previously spent some time in England and briefly went to a school for Jewish refugees in Wimbledon. Upon arriving in the United States, Kurt changed his last name’s spelling from Szafranski to Safranski, and he co-founded the photography agency Black Star, alongside fellow Berliners Kurt Kornfeld and Ernest Mayer. The agency became highly successful and sold many photographs to leading American magazines. Kurt Safranski died in Kingston, NY, in 1964.


2.5 Linear Feet

1 Linear Feet (1 oversize folder in a shared oversize box)


This collection documents the personal life and professional career of art director, editor, and photographer Kurt Safranski (1890-1964), who co-founded the photo agency Black Star in 1935. The collection also includes information about the career and life of Kurt’s daughter, Tina Fredericks-Koch, née Safranski (1922-2015), who worked as an art director for magazines and in real estate.


This collection is arranged in four series:

  • Series I: Kurt Safranski and Tina Fredericks-Koch née Safranski, 1883-1972
  • Series II: Kurt Safranski Professional Correspondence and Writings 1920-2017
  • Series III: Kurt Safranski Professional Projects 1920s-2013
  • Series IV: Album, Notebooks, and Notecards 1910-1956

Related Materials

For more information on Kurt Safranski, see the Time Inc. Records Overview at the New-York Historical Society, 1853-2015, MS 3009.

Books with illustrations by Kurt Safranski and a book by Phoebe Kornfeld, “Passionate Publishers: The Founders of the Black Star Photo Agency,” c2021, are available at the LBI Library.

Processing Information

This collection has been processed for the first and so far, only time; there are no previous inventories or finding aids describing the collection. The materials arrived in four boxes, with descriptions and labels on almost all folders, and with dates on some folders as well. Some of the original order has been kept; in many cases, materials from different folders have been combined when they relate to the same topics. Items are placed together according to chronology and document type.

Guide to the Papers of Kurt Safranski
Processed by Matthew Hauptman
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