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Edith and Herbert Feist Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25468

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains materials relating to Edith and Herbert Feist and family.

Personal and professional materials from Edith and Herbert include courtship correspondence in the early 1930s, other correspondence, and wedding and immigration materials. Herbert Feist's professional materials relate to his work in Germany as a sketch artist, primarily for magazines about radio, as well as some papers concerning his businesses in the United States, primarily his art gallery. Some material about his painting career in the United States, such as correspondence with artist organizations, printed material, and some photographs, is also included. A handwritten diary of Feist's musical performances, primarily in a string quartet, is also found here. Written in German and English, it contains notes on performances, sketches, and photos.

This collection also contains materials about the Feist's relatives. Herbert's maternal grandfather, Max Herschel, a leader in the Jewish community of Bonn, was a writer and translator. Materials here include manuscript and printed poems and translations (religious and secular), as well as other papers. Personal papers relating to Herbert's parents Walter and Auguste Feist, such as wedding materials and correspondence, as well as two handwritten cookbooks from Auguste Feist, are also found in this collection.

Items from and about Edith Feist's family, the Silbersteins and Gruenthals, relate to Edith's mother, aunt, and uncle: Nelly Gruenthal (née Silberstein), Alice Fink (née Silberstein), and Arthur Silberstein (who changed his surname to Stein in the United States). Arthur managed to survive the war in Berlin, and materials include his Arbeitsbuch (employment record) for 1940-1945. Other items in this folder include vital documents and passports, and a variety of personal papers. The collection includes a few items relating to Herbert's twin brother, Hellmut, who was murdered during the Holocaust.

Older and genealogical materials include marriage contracts for ancestors David Cohn (1849) and Shlomo Zvi ben Rav Moshe (1834), and genealogical research notes, correspondence, and tables about the Feist, Herschel, Firnheim-Schloss, Gruenthal, Herschel-Wolffberg, and Otterbach-Kaemmerer families.

Finally, the collection includes a wide variety of photographs of the Feists and their family, including posed card-mounted photographs, more informal silver gelatin prints, and a variety of albums.


  • 1834-2011
  • Majority of material found within 1898-1981


Language of Materials

This collection is primarily in German and English, with some Dutch and Hebrew.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Biographical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Herbert Feist (1903-1981)" href="" show="embed" title="Herbert Feist (1903-1981)"/>

Herbert Feist (1903-1981) was born in Mannheim, Germany to Dr. David Walter Feist (1864-1921) and Auguste Feist née Herschel (1878-1930). According to genealogical materials found in this collection, the Feist family had been in Mannheim for many generations, since at least the 18th century.

Herbert was an artist in Germany, selling his sketches of people to various publications. In 1934, he married Edith née Gruenthal (born 1912). After their immigration to the United States in 1936, Herbert started a business (Polytect Corporation). In the 1960s, Feist started an art gallery on the upper east side of Manhattan, where he remained until his death in 1981. Herbert and Edith had two children, Thomas and Carol Ann.

Herbert Feist expressed his life-long love of music not only in his many sketches of musicians, but as an amateur musician – he played viola in a string quartet. He also painted, creating many abstract works during his years in the United States.

Herbert's older brother was Kurt Feist (1899-1957), who married Ilse Feist née Gruenthal (1903-1972), Edith's cousin. Herbert's twin brother, Hellmut Feist (1903-1945), was married to Rita née Gutmann (1910-1943). They had a son, Michael (1937-1943). Hellmut and his family fled to Holland in the late 1930s, and were deported via Westerbork in the early 1940s. All three were murdered during the Holocaust, Rita and Michael at Sobibor and Hellmut at Mauthausen.

Herbert's maternal grandfather was Max Herschel (1840-1921). He married Zilli (Cilli) née Cohn (1851-1910) in 1872. Herschel was bookbinder, stationer, and printer. He was also a prominent member of the Jewish community in Bonn, and was the leader of the congregation for many years. After a successful business career, he turned his efforts toward writing. In addition to original poetry in German, Herschel specialized in free translation of Hebrew texts into German.

Edith Feist was born in Berlin in 1912, to Benno Gruenthal and Nelli Gruenthal née Silberstein. Edith's brother, Guenter Gruenthal (1920-1970), appears to have been mentally handicapped, according to the collection materials, and spent his life as a ward of the Swiss state. Both Edith's maternal aunt, Alice Silberstein Fink, and uncle, Arthur Silberstein (who changed his name to Stein post-war), immigrated to the United States. Arthur managed to survive the war in Berlin.


2 Linear Feet


This collection contains materials relating to Edith and Herbert Feist and family. It includes personal papers from Edith and Herbert, such as courtship correspondence in the early 1930s. Herbert Feist's professional materials relate to his work in Germany as a sketch artist, as well as to his businesses in the United States, primarily his art gallery. The collection also includes materials about the Feist's relatives, particularly Herbert's maternal grandfather Max Herschel. A leader in the Jewish community of Bonn, Herschel's papers here include manuscript and printed poems and translations (religious and secular). Photographs and genealogical research are also found in this collection.

Related Material

Photographs of Herbert's maternal grandfather Max Herschel and of Herbert and his brothers Hellmut and Kurt have been digitized.

Published versions of Max Herschel's manuscripts Die Hagadah; Erzaehlung von dem Auszug der Kinder Israels aus Aegypten, nebst den Psalmen 113-118, den Gebeten und Liedern der Hagadah in freier poetischer Uebertragung, and Die Sprueche Salomos are held by the LBI Library, in addition to other publications by Herschel.

Separated Material

Printed materials, including a Trauer Album (Yahrzeit calendar) for Gustav Silberstein, published by Erwin Singer, were removed to the LBI Library. Herbert Feist's paintings were removed to LBI Arts and Objects.

Processing Information

Articles in complete journals were photocopied, and journals either discarded or provided to the LBI Library, as per processing guidelines. Folders were photocopied and discarded. Photographic slides were removed from carousels. Photographs were rehoused. A poem typed on unbroken roll of toilet paper was wrapped around acid-free board and placed in a folder.

Folders 1/16 to 1/21, materials by and about Max Herschel, formerly comprised AR 4333 and were integrated into this collection. The material remains in the order in which it was found in the original archival collection.

Guide to the Edith and Herbert Feist Family Collection Undated, 1834-2011 , bulk 1898-1981 AR 25468
Processed by Kevin Schlottmann
© 2011
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

  • 2013-10-30.: Biographical note edited.
  • December 13, 2013 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.
  • May 8, 2017 : Links to digital objects added to OS145 in Container List.

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States