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Kurt Schwerin Collection

Identifier: AR 121

Scope and Content Note

The papers of the Kurt Schwerin Collection are largely composed of personal and family documents along with his writings and research notes. Since he was an active board member of the Leo Baeck Institute and head of its Chicago Chapter, the correspondence of himself and his fellow member Martin Mainzer relating to this subject are included as well.

While the correspondence with the Leo Baeck Institute, held in Series III, covers the years 1978 to 1993, other parts of the collection go back to his time in Germany also covering his first years in the United States. These documents mainly relating to his attempt to organize the immigration of his family and to settle down in the United States and are contained in Series I. Writings including many unpublished manuscripts and research notes dealing with several persons and events mostly regarding German-Jewish history are held in Series II.


  • 1841-1993
  • Majority of material found within 1931-1993


Language of Materials

The collection is in English and German.

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 Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Portrait of Kurt Schwerin (1902-1995)" href="" linktype="simple" show="embed" title="Portrait of Kurt Schwerin (1902-1995)"/>

Kurt Schwerin was born in Beuthen, Upper Silesia (then Germany, now Bytom, Poland), on April 17, 1902. After he attended public and high school he started working at a bank and a bookshop. During this time he also participated in several courses at the University of Breslau; after passing his Reifeprüfung als Nichtschüler (examination of maturity as non-school student) in 1930 he started studying history, German, art and civics as a fulltime student. However, due to Anti-Jewish legislation, he was not allowed to finish his doctoral dissertation after 1934.

During his time in Germany Kurt Schwerin also passed an examination for teachers of stenography and afterwards worked in that profession while writing articles for several newspapers. Moreover he had a job as a research assistant at the Press Bureau of the University of Breslau but he was forced to leave after the Nazis came to power. In 1937 he married Hertha Schwerin, née Bernstein; a year later he traveled to the United States in order to prepare for the quota immigration of his wife, his mother and himself. The events of the Kristallnacht prevented him from going back to Germany.; Hhe was unable to help his wife and his mother emigrate from Germany, and they perished during the Shoah.

In the United States, Kurt Schwerin succeeded in getting a tuition scholarship at the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science, New School for Social Research where he received a master's degree of social science. He also completed a bachelor in library science in 1943. In the following years he worked in several university law libraries, married Gertrude Dosenheimer and eventually finished his Ph.D. in history in 1955. At the same time he was author of several articles and worked as a lecturer on different subjects. Finally, after various teaching assignments, he was designated as professor of law. In these years he also became a very active board member of the Leo Baeck Institute and head of its Chicago Chapter until he died on December 21, 1995.


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This collection documents the life and work of Kurt Schwerin. Kurt Schwerin immigrated to the United States in 1938 where he became a librarian and professor of law. Contained are several of his writings, research notes and other papers mainly related to his attempts to organize the immigration of his family, to settle down in the United States and regarding to his function as board member and head of the Chicago Chapter of the Leo Baeck Institute.

Other Finding Aid

A previous handwritten inventory exists for this collection.

Related Material

The LBI Archives maintains an interview conducted with Kurt Schwerin (AR 25385) as well as the memoirs of his second wife Gertrude D. Schwerin, née Dosenheimer (ME 903).

In addition, a number of published works by Kurt Schwerin are available in the LBI Library:

  1. Bibliographie rechtswissenschaftlicher Schriftenreihen. A bibliography of German language legal monograph series (Z 6458 G3 S34)
  2. German compensation for victims of Nazi persecution (JX 698 W52 S394 G4)
  3. Max Pinkus, seine Schlesienbuecherei und seine Freundschaft mit Gerhart Hauptmann (CT 1098 P53 S3)
  4. The synagogue at Worms: symbol of a thousand years. A lecture in connection with the exhibit "Jews in Germany under Prussian rule" at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Jan. 2-31, 1985 (DS 135 G3 S37)

The Northwestern University Archives also includes material on Kurt Schwerin in their Kurt und Gertrud Schwerin Papers.

Processing Information

The collection was processed in 2011 in preparation of the EAD finding aid, with the creation of series and addition of description. In that regard the folders were arranged topically maintaining the original order of the documents.

Guide to the Papers of Kurt Schwerin (1902-1995) 1841-1993 AR 121
Processed by Christian Zech
© 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from KurtSchwerin.xml

Revision Statements

  • July 19, 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