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Gerson von Bleichroeder Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25234

Scope and Content Note

The bulk of material in this collection comprises legal correspondence documenting claims to the Bleichroeder heritage by various members of the family after World War II. Most of the correspondence pertains to research conducted by the creator of the collection and distant relative of the Bleichroeder family, Lew Franciszek de WR Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz, on behalf of these individuals. Included are genealogical documents, testaments, restitution papers, birth and death certificates, juridical protocols, power of attorneys, certificates of inheritance, invoices, and several handwritten notes by Chudzikiewicz. Some translations are included. In addition to legal documents, the collection contains a few newspaper clippings and personal documents of the Bleichroeder family such as photographs, wedding telegrams or calling cards.

The material is clustered around individual family members and the respective legal cases, as indicated on the container list below. In additional to documents pertaining to heritage claims, supplementary family documents can be found in the following folders: A handwritten family tree and some genealogical information can be found in Folder 1. Folders 7 and 10 contain photographs of Gerson, James and Curt von Bleichroeder. Of some curiosity is a clipping from a newspaper article on Hans jr. von Bleichroeder and his affair with early 20th century actress Maria von Orska, contained in Folder 6.


  • 1878-2002
  • Majority of material found within 1935-1980


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

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


Biographical/Historical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Portrait of Gerson von Bleichroeder (1822-1893)" href="" linktype="simple" show="embed" title="Portrait of Gerson von Bleichroeder (1822-1893)"/>

The story of the Bleichroeder family is generally associated with the S. Bleichroeder bank and its political role in 19th and early 20th century Germany. Founded in 1803 in Berlin by Samuel Bleichroeder (1779-1855), the private bank gained significant political influence in Prussia in the mid-19th century under Bismarck, suffered a severe decline during the depression in the 1920s and 1930s and was annihilated in the process of Aryanization under Hitler. In 1938 the bank ceased to exist in Germany, and a new firm bearing the name Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder came to be established first in London and then in New York. Paralleling the course of their firm, the Bleichroeder family went from the nobility and prestige they had gained under Bismarck to gradual social decline to political persecution during the Holocaust. Being scattered over Europe and the United States after the end of World War II, various members of the family fell into a dispute about the disposition of the Bleichroeder heritage, which, entangled with restitution claims, remained a difficult issue to resolve.

Through close contacts to the Rothschild family, Gerson (von) Bleichroeder (1822-1898), eldest son of Samuel Bleichroeder, was introduced to Otto von Bismarck and became his banker and close consultant, both economically and diplomatically. With Bismarck’s rise to power in the 1860s, the S. Bleichroeder bank assumed an increasingly significant role in Prussian politics, particularly through providing loans for Bismarck’s wars in Europe. In 1872 Gerson was ennobled.

After Gerson's death in 1898, his three sons, Georg (1854-1902), Hans ( -1917) and James (1860-1937) only played a marginal role in the bank as silent partners, while the core business was carried on by Julius von Schwabach and later by his son Paul von Schwabach. After a severe economic decline in the mid-1920s and a series of lawsuits, the Bleichroeder heirs were mostly eliminated from the family business.

Hans von Bleichroeder had two children, Hans jr. von Bleichroeder (1886- 1938) and Werner von Bleichroeder (-1927). Hans’s brother, James von Bleichroeder, was married to Harriet von Bleichroeder (née Alexander) (1869-1946), with whom he had four children: Curt (1889-1958), Edgar (1897-), Ellie (1894-1989) and Harriet von Campe (née Bleichroeder) (1892-1942). Wolfgang von Bleichroeder (1918-1984) is James von Bleichroeder’s son of his second marriage with Maria von Bleichroeder (née Seidt).

During the Holocaust, James von Bleichroeder's sons, Curt and Edgar, who had both served in World War I, fled to Switzerland in 1942, after their petitions on grounds of their military service and political support had been turned down by Nazi officials. Their sister Ellie was deported to Theresienstadt in 1942 and liberated in 1945. Harriet von Campe, was deported to Riga in 1942, where she died.


0.5 Linear Feet


This collection contains an abundance of legal correspondence documenting claims to the Bleichroeder heritage by various members of the family. Included are genealogical documents, testaments, restitution papers, birth and death certificates, juridical protocols, power of attorneys, certificates of inheritance, invoices, and several handwritten notes. A few translations are included, as well as some clippings and personal family documents such as photographs, wedding telegrams, etc.


By person. Original order maintained.

Related Material

Stern, Fritz. 1977. Gold and Iron - Bismarck, Bleichroeder, and the Building of the German Empire. LBI Library, [DD 218.2 S85]

Processing Information

Material in Folder 8 has been removed from plastic casings.

Guide to the Papers of the Gerson von Bleichroeder Family 1878-2002 AR 25234
Processed by Florian Siedlarek and LBI staff
© 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Gerson_von_BleichroederFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • December 16, 2013 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States