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Joseph Schmidt Collection

Identifier: AR 2604

Scope and Content Note

The first folder contains French and Belgian identification and registration papers, professional correspondence regarding various concerts and appearances and potential recording contracts, and some legal correspondence. There is also a condolence letter from the director of the Swiss work camp where he died, and some papers regarding his burial and gravesite.

There are 4 handwritten, signed letters by Schmidt in the second folder. These include a letter to his family in Romania and a letter to the Cuban consulate in France concerning a visa. The remaining letters were sent to Schmidt from friends and family, including one letter from a man interned at Camp de Noe. Correspondence dating to the postwar period largely concerns Schmidt's estate and some of the personal effects he left behind; in this group of correspondence are several letters exhanged between the executors of his estate in Vienna, his impoverished family in Romania, and various offices of the Verband Schweizerischer Jüdischer Flüchtlingshilfen. Later correspondence from the 1950s and 1960s documents growing interest in Schmidt's career and legacy, and includes some short recollections written by acquaintances.

Finally, the addendum includes various commemorative materials, including a memorial concert program, and a discography and list of publications distributed by the Joseph-Schmidt-Archiv in Switzerland.


  • 1939-1996
  • Majority of material found within 1939-1968


Language of Materials

This collection is in German, English, and French, with some Yiddish and Romanian.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Use Restrictions

Audiocassette The Vocal Scene with George Jellinek may not be reproduced or copied.

For more information, contact:

Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

Joseph Schmidt was born in Davideny (Davydivka) near Czernowitz in 1904. He started singing early on in life and joined the local synagogue's children's choir. In 1925, he went to Berlin to continue his training. Since he was very short, he was not suitable for the operatic stage. Instead he starting recording and his works were broadcast on the radio with tremendous success. Between 1929 and 1933 he enjoyed an unparalleled following as one of the nation's most celebrated tenors. In 1933, he starred in his first major film, Ein Lied geht um die Welt, and later moved to Vienna. He completed two more films in London and performed in Holland, Belgium and New York in 1937. In 1938, he left Vienna and lived in Belgium, Holland, and France. In 1942, he was interned in the Girenbad concentration camp in Switzerland, where he died from a heart attack while singing.


3 Folders


This collection contains personal, professional, and legal correspodence of the famous tenor Joseph Schmidt and some of his family members, as well as some personal papers including several identification cards. Two audio recordings are filed separately in the LBI A/V Collection.

Other Finding Aid

The original inventory is available in folder 1.

Separated Material

Clippings, materials photocopied from the Joseph-Schmidt-Archiv have been removed to the Joseph Schmidt Clippings Collection AR 2604 C .

A portrait photograph (inventory number I1)has been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

The Vocal Scene with George Jellinek (audiocassette)and Gottesdienst der jüdischen Reformgemeinde (Berlin): Selections by Joseph Schmidt, Tenor (audiotape and audiocassette) have been removed to the the LBI A/V Collection.

Guide to the Joseph Schmidt Collection, 1939-1996,  bulk 1939-1968 AR 2604
Processed by Turnheim and Timothy Ryan Mendenhall
© 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • December 07, 2011 : 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