Skip to main content

Hugo Knoepfmacher Collection

Identifier: AR 7172

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the personal and professional life of the lawyer and librarian Hugo Knoepfmacher. Among the papers in the collection are personal and official papers, correspondence, manuscripts, and a small amount of clippings and published material.

Documents stating Hugo Knoepfmacher's personal experiences and providing biographical information on him will be found mainly in Series I, which holds Knoepfmacher's personal papers, such as educational, emigration, immigration, identification and other official or government-issued documents, personal notes from various periods of his life, some correspondence, clippings, and material relating to his World War I and prison camp experiences. Other biographical data or information about Knoepfmacher's personal experiences can be extracted from his personal correspondence with family members and friends, which is represented in Series III. Knoepfmacher's restitution claims, which also recount the course of his emigration to the U.S., are located in Series IV, Subseries 1.

Papers that focus on the professional life of Hugo Knoepfmacher are located in two different areas of this collection. Series I holds professional documents from Austria and the U.S. The Austrian papers document the time from his first steps as a lawyer until his ban from profession by the Nazis, including references from Viennese lawyers, some correspondence, and business records. The U.S. papers concern Knoepfmacher's professional restart as a librarian, including correspondence with employers, job offers, appointments, and certificates from the C.I.A. The professional correspondence in Series III originates also from the period of Knoepfmacher's emigration. It is of particular interest, since it contains many letters of Hans Kohn exercising his influence on his friend's behalf and recommending him for various professional positions in the U.S. Other more personal correspondence with Hans Kohn documenting the life-long friendship will be found in the personal section of Series III. In contrast, Knoepfmacher's collected material on Hans Kohn resides in Series VII, consisting of as articles and reviews concerning the historian's work, course outlines, published essays of Kohn, and Knoepfmacher's recollections of his encounter with Kohn.

Hugo Knoepfmacher's manuscripts are represented in Series V; the ones on Freud in Subseries 1 are based on family memories and provide a few interesting details about Freud's schooldays and his membership in the Jewish association B'nai B'rith. The essays on historical and political developments after 1945, such as the Soviet occupation of Austria, the policy of the Soviet Union, and the ideology of communism in general, will be found in Subseries 2 and Subseries 3. Series VI holds Knoepfmacher's published texts, including encyclopedia entries, articles, reviews and specialized texts. The manuscripts of Knoepfmacher's translations of Saul Tschernichowski's and Gershon Shofman's Hebrew poetry are located in Series VIII.

In addition to papers to Hugo Knoepfmacher, this collection also holds documents pertaining to his family members. These will be found in Series II, which holds papers of his wife Juliana Knoepfmacher, his father Wilhelm Knoepfmacher, and the family of his sister Hedwig Stern. Most documents here are official documents, such as certificates of birth, residence, military service, marriage, and death. The documents of Juliana Knoepfmacher contain also papers from the period of her first marriage to Johann Swarowsky, including judicial papers concerning their divorce. Other documents relating to family members will be found in the family correspondence of Series III, which also contains letters of Juliana's brother Wolf Laszky. Documents pertaining to Hedwig Stern's restitution claims will be found in Series IV, Subseries 2, while the poems she wrote for her brother Hugo are located in Series I.


  • Creation: 1865-1979
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920-1979


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily in German and English, with some French, Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian.

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

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

Hugo Knoepfmacher was born on June 1st, 1890 in Vienna, the son of Dr. Wilhelm Knoepfmacher and his wife Selma (née Grabower). Wilhelm was a successful attorney, an active member of the Jewish community, and a childhood friend of Sigmund Freud. Hugo had a younger sister, Hedwig. He attended the Erzherzog Rainer-Gymnasium in Vienna before studying law at the University of Vienna. During World War I he had to interrupt his studies in order to serve as a soldier for Austria. In 1916, Knoepfmacher was taken prisoner by the Russians and sent to a war prison camp in Siberia. There he met Hans Kohn, the future historian of nationalism, and started what became a life-long friendship. Together with a group of other Jewish prisoners Knoepfmacher and Kohn began to study Hebrew, translate Hebrew poetry, and form a Zionist group. Even after the end of the war, the prisoners of war were trapped in Siberia by the Russian Revolution and ensuing Civil War. Knoepfmacher eventually escaped in 1920, via Outer Mongolia and China. When he returned to Vienna he took up his legal studies again, receiving his doctoral degree in 1921.

Beginning in 1924, Knoepfmacher practiced law in Vienna in the office of his father until the Nazi occupation of Austria (1938). In 1936 he married Juliana Swarowsky (née Laszky), who already had a son, Anton Swarowsky, from her first marriage to Johann Swarowsky. Hugo and Juliana left Vienna in 1939 and went first to Oxford and London, and shortly thereafter to the United States, where they took up residence in New York City. After some initial difficulties, they both succeeded in establishing themselves professionally. Juliana Knoepfmacher became a psychoanalytic therapist; Hugo Knoepfmacher, after studying library science, held several positions as a librarian with the New York Public Library and the United Nations, finally obtaining a position as research analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, working there from 1952 until his retirement in 1964. In 1974, the year of the death of his wife, he went back to New York City.

During the 1950s and 1960s Hugo Knoepfmacher wrote a respectable amount of unpublished essays examining the political and historical developments after World War II. He continued his activity as a writer in his retirement, when he did some research, writing, and consulting work for the Historical Evaluation and Research Organization of McLean, Virginia, and worked with several scholarly projects, including encyclopedia entries for Encyclopaedia Judaica and the Oesterreichisches Biographisches Lexikon.

Hugo Knoepfmacher died in New York City on May 6, 1980.


1.75 Linear Feet


This collection holds the papers of the lawyer and librarian Hugo Knoepfmacher. The main subject of the collection is his personal and professional life, although material concerning other members of the family is also present. The collection consists of official documents, notes, correspondence, manuscripts, some clippings, and a very small amount of published material.

Processing Information

The arrangement of this collection reflects basically the original order created by Hugo Knoepfmacher. No material was moved to another area of the collection, but similar materials were grouped together in order to form series and subseries.

Guide to the Papers of Hugo Knoepfmacher (1890-1980) 1865-1979 AR 7172
Processed by Rebekka Rueegsegger
© 2008
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from HugoKnoepfmacher.xml

Revision Statements

  • 2010-04-15 : 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