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Bernhard Witkop Collection

Identifier: AR 6424

Scope and Content Note

The documents in this collection describe the personal and professional life of Bernhard Witkop. They consist of official papers, correspondence, clippings and newspaper articles.

The correspondence contains letters from prominent German individuals, including President Carl von Weizsaecker and Guenther Schwerin, among others. The letters in this collection deal with a lot of different subjects, including book reviews, information about relatives and genealogical information about Jewish individuals or families. Also of note are letters including information about German Jewish emigration to Uruguay. Users should note that most of the correspondence is handwritten.

The collection also contains newspaper articles and small biographies of scientists. The articles primarily mention the professional activities of Bernhard Witkop, Jacques Loeb and Rudolf Schoenheimer, such as writings and teaching. The prominent topics in this section are biochemistry, synthetic and organic chemistry and reaction mechanisms. There is also biographical information about the life of the scientists within the articles as well. However, the primary focus is on their professional work as biochemists.

One individual often mentioned in the Bernhard Witkop Collection is Paul Ehrlich. The collection contains Paul Ehrlich genealogy and letters and lectures by Bernhard Witkop in reference to him. Additionally there are articles about Paul Ehrlich such as "Der unbekannte Paul Ehrlich" and "Eulogy by Bernhard Witkop at the grave of Paul Ehrlich."


  • 1859-2007
  • Majority of material found within 1898-2004


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.

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

Bernhard Witkop, an American chemist of international repute, was born on May, 9, 1917 in Freiburg i. Breisgau. His father, Phillip Witkop, was a professor of German literature, who counted Thomas Mann among his friends. His mother was Jewish and had to flee to Holland; his siblings fled to Switzerland and Venezuela. In the fall of 1935 he started his first semester at the University of Munich. Despite the fact that Witkop was half Jewish, he remained at the University of Munich during the war working towards his degree in chemistry under the tutelage of Prof. Heinrich Otto Wieland. In 1940 Witkop completed his Ph.D. thesis.

After the war was over, Witkop immigrated to the United States and joined the Chemistry Department at Harvard University. In 1950 he started to work at the newly established National Heart Institute. Beginning in 1957 Bernhard Witkop was the Chief of the Laboratory of Chemistry at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases.


1 Linear Feet


This collection documents the personal and professional life of Bernhard Witkop. Even though the major focus of the collection is on Witkop himself, there is a lot of correspondence between him and other Jewish friends, as well as material about other Jewish families like Levy-Salomonsohn and Ehrlich. The collection is composed of official documents, family trees, correspondence and newspaper articles.


This collection has been kept in its original order, as arranged by the donor. Therefore, folders are individually described.


The collection is on three reels of microfilm (MF 991):

  1. Reel 1: 1/1 - 1/30
  2. Reel 2: 1/31 - 1/41
  3. Reel 3: 1/42 - 1/63

Related Material

Of related interest to the Bernhard Witkop Collection is the Paul Ehrlich Collection [AR 339].

Separated Material

A DVD has been removed from this collection from folder 1/56 and placed in the Audiovisual Collection. The DVD contains a panel discussion between Dr.Witkop, Dr. Nirenberg and Dr. Axelrod in which the professional work of Dr. Axelrod is discussed.

A book was removed to the LBI Library from folder 1/22: Litten, Freddy. Der Ruecktritt Richard Willstaedters 1924/25 und seine Hintergruende: ein Muenchener Universitaetsskandal. Muenchen, 1999.

Several books by Bernhard Witkop about Paul Ehrlich, Heinrich Wieland and his own life have been removed from the archival donation and placed in the LBI Library.

Processing Information

This collection has been kept in its original order, as arranged by the donor. Therefore, folders are individually described. Folders have not been organized into series due to the original order of the donor. Each folder includes a detailed letter describing the interrelation of the documents contained in the folder.

Guide to the Papers of Bernhard Witkop 1859-2007 AR 6424 / MF 991
Processed by Timo Neumann
© 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from BernhardWitkop.xml

Revision Statements

  • November 2009.: Microfilm inventory added.
  • January 27, 2012 : 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