Skip to main content

Isaac Z. Zieman Collection

Identifier: AR 25448

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the life of Isaac Zelig Zieman. The bulk of the material relates to Zieman's professional activities. From the late 1960s until his death, he was deeply committed to peace and understanding as facilitated through group encounters, and he embraced the method developed by Ruth Cohn called "theme-centered interaction" (TCI). Zieman also lectured extensively about his life and experiences in the Holocaust, both in the United States and abroad. The materials include lecture notes, audio recordings of his presentations, dozens of pocket notebooks and letter-size notebooks, and four boxes of papers concerning his professional affiliations and his extensive TCI work.

The collection also includes materials from Zieman's post-war experience in Germany, as a Zionist training survivors in DP camps for emigration to Palestine, and as a student of psychology in Munich. The materials include handwritten Yiddish notes and correspondence, some clippings and printed material, as well as over 200 notebooks and various loose notes from the classes Zieman attended. In addition, the collection includes a draft of his unedited memoir, as well as other personal documents such as journals, address books and appointment books, some correspondence, and a few vital documents and photographs.

The collection does not contain materials from Zieman's youth in Latvia or his wartime experience in the Soviet Union and Poland.


  • Creation: 1945-2011


Language of Materials

This collection is in English and German, with some French, Hebrew, Latvian and Yiddish.

Access Restrictions

Box 1, Folder 1 is restricted. The remainder of the collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Biographical Note

Isaac Zelig Zieman (May 6, 1920-April 2, 2007) was born in Riga (Latvia). He grew up in an Orthodox household in the Latvian town Līvāni (Lievenhof). In his early teens, he joined Gordonia, a Zionist youth organization. When the German Army invaded Latvia in 1941, Zieman joined an antifascist militia and escaped to Kazakhstan in the Soviet Union, where he joined the Red Army. However, because of his Latvian origin, Zieman was later arrested and deported to Novosibirsk (Siberia), where he was interned in a forced labor camp. Upon his release he went to Kyrgyzstan and then to Poland, where he worked for the Polish Red Army. After the war, Zieman continued to do political work for Gordonia in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Later he helped Jewish Holocaust survivors with their emigration to Palestine in Austria, at the DP camp in Braunau am Inn, and with the socialist-Zionist group Nocham in Germany.

In 1945, Zieman learned that all the Jews of Līvāni, including his entire family (father, mother, two sisters, and brother), had been shot by Latvian fascists shortly after the German invasion.

Zieman remained in Germany and in 1949 began studies in psychology in Munich. In 1957 he immigrated to the United States and settled in New York City, where he became a practicing psychotherapist. In the late 1960s, Zieman became interested in the group therapy approach "theme-centered interaction" (TCI) and for the rest of his life led workshops focused on peace and understanding using this method. From 1973 to 1999, he conducted TCI workshops in Germany every summer. Zieman also lectured and wrote extensively about his experiences in the war, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and race relations.


11 Linear Feet


This collection documents the life of Isaac Zelig Zieman (1920-2007). Born into an Orthodox family in Riga, Zieman managed to escape Latvia in 1941 and spent much of the war in the Soviet Union. In Germany from 1945-1956, he worked with displaced persons and studied psychology, after which he emigrated to the United States. In New York City, he dedicated the remainder of his life to facilitating dialogue between groups with historical enmities. The bulk of the material relates to this work, from the 1970s-2000s, as a lecturer and group therapist focused on peace and understanding between groups such as Germans and Americans, blacks and whites, and Israelis and Palestinians. The collection also includes materials from Zieman's immediate post-war experience in Germany working with displaced persons and as a student in Munich.

Related Material

An oral history was recorded with Zieman in 2007, as part of LBI's Austrian Heritage Collection. The digital audio file is available online (AHC 3977).

Separated Material

Books and periodicals were removed to the LBI library.

Processing Information

Boxes 1-10 were rehoused in acid-free folders. Boxes 7-10 were originally described at the box level, but folder-level titles were added in October 2011. Most titles were transcribed from exisiting folders, and little arrangement was performed within the folders. Oversize material was separated and rehoused in acid-free folders. Throughout, duplicates were removed, as were envelopes, large metal fasteners, plastic sheets, and rubber bands. Folders with extensive written information were photocopied before being discarded. A wide range of printed material, including a large number of psychology off-prints, was removed to LBI library. Boxes 11 and 12 are found in the AV collection.

Guide to the Isaac Zieman Collection Undated, 1945-2011 AR 25448
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

  • October 24, 2014 : 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