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Adolf Leschnitzer Collection

Identifier: AR 25320 / MF 897

Scope and Content Note

The Adolf Leschnitzer Collection documents the life and professional activities of Adolf Leschnitzer, researcher, historian, and teacher. The collection includes brochures, booklets, clippings, correspondence, financial, vital, and immigration documents, minutes, notes, photographs, printed materials, and writings, by Adolf Leschnitzer as well as other authors.

Materials constituting this series shed light on various aspects of Adolf Leschnitzer's personal and professional life, teaching, research and writings in the fields of German-Jewish history, culture and relations, Anti-Semitism and languages.

Most of the personal and related materials are grouped in Subseries 1: Personal, 1921-1980 but can also be found throughout the collection, in particular in Subseries 2: Professional, 1921-1986, due to the fact that in many cases Adolf Leschnitzer was involved with many of his colleagues personally as well as professionally. In such case professional and personal correspondence was difficult to separate and was put in either the Personal or Professional section of the correspondence, depending on notes and professional judgment.

In many cases folders consists of both, incoming correspondence and copies of Adolf Leschnitzer's responses.

Series I: Leschnitzer, Adolf is the largest one and includes such personal materials as correspondence, financial, official, immigration, and family documents, and materials pertaining to his and his wife’s, Maria Leschnitzer, restitution case. There is an abundance of correspondence between Adolf Leschnitzer and his acquaintances as well as with family members.

In addition to correspondence with friends and family, personal materials also include the Leschnitzer family’s restitution case and their immigration. It also consists of correspondence with German, American, and British authorities and organizations, lawyers, as well as German banks.

Adolf Leschnitzer’s professional activities are well documented by materials such as professional correspondence, printed materials, that include his articles and reviews, and his writings. In many cases manuscripts found in this collection are fragmentary, with complete manuscripts constituting just a small portion of the Subsubseries E: Writings.

In many cases these are drafts of just a few chapters of his works. His writings include drafts of articles, reviews, and books. There is a considerable amount of notes and some correspondence regarding Dr. Leschnitzer’s publications. Additionally, there are some unpublished manuscripts, such as Die deutsch-jüdische Symbiose .

Most of the correspondence regarding Leschnitzer’ publications can be found in Series I: Leschnitzer, Adolf, Subseries 2: Professional, Subsubseries B: Correspondence.

Furthermore, there are manuscripts by other authors, including Leschnitzer’s students from the Freie Universität. These writings cover such topics as German-Jewish relations, Anti-Semitism, as well as Psychology and Social Services.

General professional correspondence consists of communication with organizations and individuals and covers such topics as academic research, publishing of Leschnitzer’s works, the American Institute of Modern Languages, charitable work (in particular helping foreign scholars in the US), job search at American universities, and grants. There are also materials dealing with Leschnitzer’s involvement with City College of the City University of New York, where he taught from 1946 till 1966, and Freie Universität Berlin, where he was a visiting professor one term each year, starting in 1952 and until 1972. These materials are represented by correspondence with colleagues, various departments of the Universities, correspondence with the Fulbright Commission regarding grants for teaching in Germany as well as correspondence with other grant giving organizations.

There are also materials pertaining to the Leo Baeck Institute, of which he was a founding member, and for which - for many years - he served as a member of the Board. These consist of correspondence concerning exhibitions, publication and various LBI projects, financial documents, such as reports and statements, minutes of meetings, beginning with the very first meeting of the LBI in 1956, and by-laws.

There is also a considerable amount of notebooks, belonging to both, Adolf and Maria Leschnitzer.

In addition to the materials directly dealing with Adolf Leschnitzer’s personal and professional life, there are also materials pertaining to the members of the Leschnitzer family and their friends. These materials include materials pertaining to Leschnitzer’s mother-in-law, Elly Bratz, née Michael, his wife, Maria Leschnitzer, née, Bratz, their son Michael Lesch (also known as Michael Leschnitzer) and the friends of the Bratz family, Adolf and Albert Frank, who were renewed chemists.

Materials dealing with Elly Bratz include correspondence with friends and family, and immigration authorities in England and the United States, and also include various documents and property reports.

Materials dealing with the Frank family include correspondence, both personal and professional, family papers, minutes, notes, patents, a guest book, and materials dealing with the Frank family’s immigration efforts.

Materials dealing with Maria and Michael Leschnitzer include school materials and correspondence, with personal one constituting the larger portion ,. In addition, there are legal, court, travel, and vital documents, and materials pertaining to Maria Leschnitzer’s efforts to collect compensation from the German government. Other materials include Sag es auf English, a book written by Maria Leschnitzer, and student and teaching materials, including a copy of Maria Leschnitzer’s dissertation.

There is also a small amount of printed materials that include clippings, publications by Adolf Leschnitzer and by others, reviews of Leschnitzer’s work and reviews written by Leschnitzer.


  • Creation: 1886-1986
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1937-1973


Language of Materials

The collection is in German and English with some Hebrew and Spanish.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Collection is microfilmed - MF 897.

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

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

Adolf Leschnitzer, scholar, historian, and teacher was born on February 3, 1899 in Posen, Germany (now Poznań, Poland). He was the son of the pharmacist Dr. phil. Oscar Leschnitzer and Natalie Leschnitzer, née Fuchs.

He began his schooling at the Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium in Posen. He then continued his studies at the Kaiserin Auguste Gymnasium, Berlin, Charlottenburg, which he graduated with honors in 1917. Upon graduation Leschnitzer served in the German Army until 1918

He resumed his studies in 1918 at the Universities of Berlin and Heidelberg, concentrating on German philology, history, philosophy, and education and in 1923 received his Doctoral degree from the University of Heidelberg. By 1926 Leschnitzer also passed First and Second State Examination for High School Teachers. Between 1925 and 1933 he was an instructor, and later a professor in a number of municipal high schools in Berlin.

IIn 1933 Adolf Leschnitzer was asked by Leo Baeck, then the head of the Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland (National Federation Of Jews in Germany), to head the Department of Education, one of the most important positions there. The following six years, until his immigration in 1939, Leschnitzer dedicated his work to organizing and supervising Jewish schools throughout Germany in addition to collaborating with other agencies involved in organizing teacher’s seminars and adult education.

In 1939, Adolf Leschnitzer and his wife Maria Leschnitzer, née Bratz left Germany and after a brief stay in England arrived in the United States in 1940.

Upon arrival to the United States, Prof. Leschnitzer organized the American Institute of Modern Languages, an organization aimed at helping immigrants from Central Europe, mostly from Germany, to learn the language and to get acclimated to the new environment. In 1943 he became an instructor in the German Section of the Foreign Area and Language Curriculum of the Army Specialized Training Program at Rutgers University and in 1944 he got a position of a field representative of the Office of the War Information and also became a consultant to the War Department.

In 1946 Dr. Leschnitzer became an instructor at the Department of German and Slavic Languages at City College of New York, of which he was elected chairman in 1958. He retired from City College in 1966.

In addition to his work at City College, starting in 1952 and until 1972, Prof. Leschnitzer taught one term each year at the Freie Universität Berlin. As it was said, Prof. Leschnitzer was trying to bring his mostly Jewish students at City College closer to German literature and culture, whereas he was concerned with exposing his German students at the Freie Universität to Jewish history and culture and making them understand better German-Jewish culture and life. During his lengthy professional career, Prof. Leschnitzer was awarded numerous honors and awards, among them a Bollingen Fellowship (1951-1953), a Fulbright Fellowship (1961-1962), the Order of merit of the German Federal Republic, and an honorary Ph. D. degree from the Freie Universität, all to acknowledge his efforts in improving German-Jewish relations.

Additionally, to commemorate Leschnitzer’s 60’s birthday in 1959, a Festschrift, edited by Drs. Erich Fromm and Hans Herfeld, as well as by Kurt Grossman, was published in Heidelberg.

Adolf Leschnitzer was a member of a number of professional organizations and served as President of the New York Society of Teachers of German, (Verein deutscher Lehrer von New York, 1950-1956) and was a founding member and a member of the Board of Directors of the Leo Baeck Institute, New York.

Prof. Leschnitzer wrote a number of works on German-Jewish history, Anti-Semitism, Heinrich Heine and other German-Jewish writers, as well as on Goethe. His works include Das Judentum im Weltbild des Mittelsalters (1935), Die deutsche-judische Symbiose, Goethe and the Myth of the Birth of the Hero and other essays and articles on Goethe. His major work, The Magic Background of Modern Anti-Semitism, a study that examines the causes of modern Anti-Semitism, was first published in Germany in 1954 under the title Saul und David; die Problematik der deutsch-jüdischen Lebensgemeinschaft. Additionally, Prof. Leschnitzer was a regular contributor to the New York Aufbau and other professional and other newspapers and journals. He also contributed to a number of Festschrifts as well as to the Handbuch zur Geschichte der deutschen Juden, that was published in cooperation with the Historische Komission zu Berlin.

Professor Leschnitzer was one of the first German-Jewish academicians to realize the importance of the dialogue between the new post-war Germany and the German Jews, who lived in Germany as well as those who were forced to leave. He was immediately involved with the reconstruction of the German school system right after the war ended and authored, in 1945, a memorandum entitled An Immediate Program for the Reconstruction of the German School System. He recognized the importance of bringing the next generation of German students closer to understanding German history in relation to Jewish history and culture as a way for bringing the two peoples together.

Adolf Leschnitzer died on July 24, 1980, in Centerport , Long Island, NY.


20 Linear Feet


The Adolf Leschnitzer Collection documents the life and professional activities of Adolf Leschnitzer, researcher, historian, and teacher. The collection includes brochures, booklets, clippings, correspondence, financial, vital, and immigration documents, minutes, notes, photographs, printed materials, and writings, by Adolf Leschnitzer as well as other authors. Additionally, there are materials dealing with other members of the Leschnitzer family, namely his wife, Maria Leschnitzer, née Bratz, her mother, Elly Bratz, née Michael, Adolf and Maria Leschnitzers' son, Michael Lesch, also known as Michael Leschnitzer, and Adolf and Albertt Frank.


Collection is available on forty seven reels of microfilm (MF 897):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1-1/36
  2. Reel 2: 1/37-1/72
  3. Reel 3: 1/73-2/47
  4. Reel 4: 2/48-2/65
  5. Reel 5: 2/66-3/6
  6. Reel 6: 3/7-3/22
  7. Reel 7: 3/24-4/15
  8. Reel 8: 4/16-4/28
  9. Reel 9: 4/28-5/9
  10. Reel 10: 5/10-5/59
  11. Reel 11: 5/60-6/14a
  12. Reel 12: 6/14b-6/45
  13. Reel 13: 6/46-7/12
  14. Reel 14: 7/13-7/52
  15. Reel 15: 7/53-7/85
  16. Reel 16: 8/1-8/20
  17. Reel 17: 8/21-8/43
  18. Reel 18: 8/44-9/18
  19. Reel 19: 9/19-9/34
  20. Reel 20: 9/35-9/44
  21. Reel 21: 10/1-10/16
  22. Reel 22: 10/17-10/39
  23. Reel 23: 11/1-11/31
  24. Reel 24: 11/32-11/55
  25. Reel 25: 12/1-13/10
  26. Reel 26: 13/11-13/43
  27. Reel 27: 13/44-13/59
  28. Reel 28: Notebooks Part 1
  29. Reel 29: Notebooks Part 2
  30. Reel 30: Notebooks Part 3
  31. Reel 31: Notebooks Part 4
  32. Reel 32: Notebooks Part 5
  33. Reel 33: Notebooks Part 6
  34. Reel 34: Notebooks Part 7
  35. Reel 35: Notebooks Part 8
  36. Reel 36: Notebooks Part 9
  37. Reel 37: Notebooks Part 10
  38. Reel 38: Notebooks Part 11
  39. Reel 39: Notebooks Part 12
  40. Reel 40: 17/1
  41. Reel 41: 17/2-17/3
  42. Reel 42: 17/4-17/5
  43. Reel 43: 17/6-18/12
  44. Reel 44: 18/13-19/14
  45. Reel 45: 19/15-19/48B
  46. Reel 46: 19/50-20/20
  47. Reel 47: 20/21-20/31

Separated Material

Photographs have been removed to the LBI Photo Collection. Books have been removed to the LBI Library.

Guide to the Papers of Adolf Leschnitzer (1899-1980) AR 1886-1986 AR 25320 / MF 897
Processed by Yakov Sklar
© 2008
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • 2010-12-10 : encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States