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Ernst Mueller Collection

Identifier: AR 6736

Scope and Content Note

The Ernst Mueller Collection documents the life and writing of this mathematician, philosopher, writer and librarian. Notable in this collection are his autobiographical writings, work on the Kabbalah and material on the anthroposophical movement in Vienna of which he was a member. Found in this collection are his diaries and memoirs, correspondence, unpublished articles and their drafts and notes, notebooks, poems and a few official papers and biographies on him.

Biographical details on Ernst Mueller's life exist in each series of this collection. The bulk of such information is present in the memoirs and diaries that comprise Series I. These are handwritten notebooks and loose papers recording the significant details of his life, with the memoirs primarily focusing on the years prior to World War I. Many of the diaries' entries are recorded in shorthand. Both the diaries and memoirs provide material on the daily events of Mueller's life. In addition, the second series of the collection includes a handwritten curriculum vitae as well as a few copies of published biographies of Ernst Mueller. Series II additionally holds some letters from family members to Mueller, noting some of his activities as well as his own. Series III contains some articles reflecting on Mueller's health and the effects of it upon his life. These include an essay that compares British and Austrian hospitals, while another "Gesundheit und Krankheit" (Health and Sickness) provides some biographical information. Related is the memorial he wrote after the death of his brother Edmund, also in Series III.

Mueller's interest in the Kabbalah and especially his translation of the Zohar is likewise located in various areas of the collection. The memoirs reflect on his interests in religion, as do some of the entries in his diaries in Series I. Series II includes correspondence with his wife Frieda that mentions his translation of the Zohar and its publication. But it is in Series III, the core of the collection, that his interest in Kabbalah, Jewish studies and related subjects, will be found. Three folders contain drafts of writings on the Zohar, including an extensive handwritten draft of a translation of it. In addition, there is a lengthy unpublished manuscript on the Kabbalist Isaac Luria. Related essays discuss relations between Jews and Gentiles, especially Germans, as well as the Holocaust and Mueller's reflections on diverse religious subjects.

Anthroposophy, the philosophical movement begun by Rudolf Steiner, is also frequently encountered in this collection. It is mentioned among the entries of the diaries and memoirs of Series I, including in one diary that consists of notes on the West-East Congress of Steiner's Anthroposophical Society. Much of the correspondence with Frieda Mueller in Series II are from fellow members of the British Anthroposophical Society, and Ernst Mueller's own letters in this series also mention meetings of this group. However the bulk of material on anthroposophy, including explanations of its themes and theories, is located in the writings of Series III. These include two published essays that discuss how anthroposophy functioned as a bridge between Judaism and Christianity as well as how the shift in Jewish consciousness in the nineteenth century led to the development of anthroposophy. Among Mueller's eulogies and memorials are a number of brief remembrances of friends who disappeared during the 1940s; many of these people were active in the anthroposophical movement in Vienna. A handful of other manuscripts explain the concepts of the philosophy in detail, including excerpts from a lecture by Steiner, and two articles on the worldview and major motifs and concepts of anthroposophy (Die Weltanschaung der Anthroposophie (The Worldview of Anthroposophy) and Vor dem Tor der Theosophie (Before the Gate of Theosophy)).

Finally, the collection is concluded with a collection of poems written by Ernst Mueller along with some by his brother Edmund.


  • 1891-1994
  • Majority of material found within 1919-1954

Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in German and English, with some Hebrew, Greek and French.

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

Ernst Müller was born on November 21, 1880 in Misslitz (now Miroslav, Czech Republic), the son of the local doctor Isidor Müller and his wife Johanna née Brüll. Both of his parents were children of rabbis. His final year of schooling took place in the nearby town of Brünn, and he graduated in 1898. Soon thereafter his family moved to Vienna, where he became involved in the city's Jewish communal life at the same time as he began his university studies, attending many philosophical lectures.

A prolific writer, Müller published his first articles for the Zionist newspaper Die Welt, edited by Martin Buber. This led to other articles covering numerous subjects for other Jewish newspapers. In 1903 Ernst Müller passed the teaching exam for middle-school in mathematics, physics, and philosophy. After one year of military training he completed his dissertation "Bewußtseinsprobleme" and received his doctorate in philosophy. For a brief time he taught in Moravia.

In 1907 Müller decided to take a teaching position at a high school in Jaffa, Palestine. Although this position only lasted six months, he would remain in Palestine for the next two years. While there he spent Passover 1909 in Safad, where he discovered an interest in Kabbalah. After contracting malaria, Ernst Müller was forced to return to Vienna. In Vienna his brother Edmund, who belonged to the Anthroposophical Society of Vienna, introduced him to the philosophy. Eventually Ernst Müller would meet with Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, and provide lectures for the society.

In 1911 he found a position at the library of the Vienna Jewish community. From 1914-1918 he served in the military as a clerk. Following the war he returned to the library, where he continued his philosophical research, working on his translation of the Zohar as well as continuing his work in anthroposophy.

On November 10, 1938 the library of the Jewish community was closed by the Nazis and he was retired the following January. In June 1939 he immigrated to England and worked there from 1940-1941 on the cataloging of the library of the Chacham Moses Gaster. In 1941 Mueller married his wife Frieda. Much of this time he spent writing, although both he and his wife suffered from poor health exacerbated by their lack of funds. They had no children. Ernst Mueller lost many friends from Vienna as well as his brother, most of whom disappeared during the Holocaust.

Ernst Mueller died in London in 1954.


1.5 Linear Feet


This collection contains the papers of Ernst Mueller: mathematician, writer, philosopher and librarian. The most prominent material here are his unpublished writings, including autobiographical items such as diaries and memoirs along with essays, articles and drafts of longer works. Major themes of the collection reflect Mueller's interest in Kabbalah and anthroposophy, in addition to a number of works relating to various areas of Jewish studies. Other materials in this collection include correspondence of Ernst Mueller and his wife Frieda, notes, many poems of himself and his brother Edmund, and a few biographical articles and official papers.

Related Material

Two memoirs of Ernst Mueller are included in the LBI Memoir Collection. These memoirs have already been digitized and are viewable online:

  1. Geistige Spuren in Lebenserinnerungen [ME 452a]
  2. Wiener Universitaetsjahre [ME 452b]

The LBI Library contains books by Ernst Mueller:

  1. Der Sohar und seine Lehre; Einleitung in die Gedankenwelt der Kabbalah [BM 525 A59 M84]
  2. History of Jewish Mysticism [BM 723 M82 H5]
  3. Spinoza Literatur: zweite Folge: zum 300. Geburtstag Spinoza's am 24. November 1932 [Z 925 V54 A52]
  4. The Department of Archives at the National Library of Israel includes an Ernst Müller Archive (Ms. Var. 562 (L)).

Processing Information

The collection was first inventoried by Arthur Rath. When the collection was processed in August 2011 in preparation of the EAD finding aid, folders with similar materials were grouped together. Some folders were assigned more specific titles and description was added to the finding aid.

Guide to the Papers of Ernst Mueller (1880-1954) 1891-1994 AR 6736
Processed by Dianne Ritchey
© 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from ErnstMueller.xml

Revision Statements

  • April 20, 2015 : dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States