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Sternheim and Isenberg Family Collection

Identifier: AR 25379 / MF 1024

Scope and Content Note

The Sternheim and Isenberg Family Collection contains papers of members of these families. This collection was originally three separate collections that were consolidated together as subgroups, the Max Osterberg Collection, the Hans Sternheim Collection and the Isenberg Family Collection. These collections cover numerous topics but largely focus on the lives and significant events of family members as well as their genealogy.

The first subgroup of this collection contains documentation of Max Osterberg and his family members. It includes his writing and personal papers of himself and his family. Related material includes the documentation on his company the Israelitische Verlagsanstalt, which can be found in the final series of Subgroup II.

Subgroup II contains the papers of the writer Hans Sternheim, Max Osterberg's son-in-law. The subgroup contains some of his personal papers and writing, but especially his correspondence. Most of the material in this subgroup centers around Hans Sternheim's introduction to the letters of his parents, Rudolf and Helene Sternheim, also a part of this subgroup. Hans Sternheim sent this introduction, entitled In Memoriam, to numerous individuals, government agencies, archives and libraries in Germany, the United States and Israel, and a significant amount of the correspondence of this subgroup describes this effort. Other correspondence holds information on the town of Bensheim and the genealogy of the Sternheim family. Subgroup II has its own arrangement following the organization developed by Hans Sternheim. Similar documentation will be found in Subgroup III.

The bulk of material about genealogy will be found in the collection's concluding subgroup. Subgroup III is divided into the papers of Edith Sternheim Isenberg and Norbert Isenberg. Numerous family trees and documentation used in their creation is present in this subgroup as well as personal papers. Although Sternheim genealogy is additionally present in the correspondence of Hans Sternheim in Subgroup II, Subgroup III is the only area of the collection with material on Isenberg family members.


  • Creation: 1802-2003
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1939-1986


Language of Materials

The collection is primarily 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.

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 - Max Osterberg

Max Osterberg-Verakoff was born in Fuerth (Bavaria), Germany, on June 1,1865. His father was a naturalized American citizen and therefore Max Osterberg was an American citizen too, but he lived his whole life in Germany. His American citizenship made him and his family enemy aliens during World War I.

Max Osterberg studied at the Humanistic Gymnasium in Munich. In 1890 the Osterberg family moved to Stuttgart. As a young man Max Osterberg worked in his father's banking business, but his main passion belonged to literature, which he later fulfilled by creating his own publishing house. On May 10, 1899 Max Osterberg married Lina Loewi from Bamberg (Bavaria). They had two daughters: Alice (born 1900) who later married Julius Letsche, and Else, who later married Hans Sternheim.

In 1924 Max Osterberg founded the Gemeindezeitung fuer die Israelitischen Gemeinden Wuerttembergs, which was published until November 1938, when all Jewish newspapers ceased to exist. Max Osterberg was also a writer, sometimes using the pennames Osterberg-Verakoff or Ernst Verakoff. He wrote essays, plays, short stories, feuilletons and novels. His most successful book was Das Reich Judaea im Jahre 6000, a Zionist utopia, which was published in 1893. In Stuttgart, Max Osterberg was well known as the publisher of the Sueddeutsche Literaturschau. He served on the board of the Juedisches Schwesternheim and was also a member of the board of the Chevra Kadisha and president of the Stuttgart Freie Buehne. Max Osterberg died in Stuttgart on March 20, 1938. His wife and daughters, together with their families, immigrated to the United States in 1938.

Biographical Note - Hans Sternheim

Hans Sternheim was born on November 22, 1900 in Heidelberg, the son of Rudolf Sternheim and Helene Sternheim née Thalheimer. He attended the Gymnasium in Bensheim (Hesse), and graduated in 1921. From 1921 until 1925 Hans Sternheim was employed at the Darmstaedter and National Bank and the Normal Zeit Inc. in Hamburg while also contributing to various German newspapers. In 1925 he studied at the University of Heidelberg for two semesters. At the same time he was managing editor of the Weinheimer Nachrichten.

In March 1927 Hans Sternheim married Else Osterberg, the younger daughter of Max Osterberg and his wife Lina. As a result he became a partner with Max Osterberg in the ownership of the Osterberg & Co. publishing house (later named the Israelitische Verlagsanstalt and its newspaper, of which Sternheim became associate publisher and managing editor until the business was shut down in 1938.

In November 1938 Hans Sternheim was taken to the concentration camp at Dachau. While there he vowed to retain the Nazi-ordained middle name of Israel if he and his family were ever able to escape Germany. Therefore he kept this middle name throughout the rest of his life, even after his acquisition of American citizenship. Hans Sternheim was unable to secure visas for his parents to leave Germany, and they died in Theresienstadt.

Due to the efforts of Else Sternheim's relatives, Hans Sternheim, his wife, and their daughter Edith were able to immigrate to the United States in March 1939. At first the family settled briefly in Flushing, New York where Hans Sternheim worked as a salesman before being sent by the National Refugee Service to New Haven, Connecticut, where he worked in an auto body shop. After improving his English he found a position at the John B. Pierce Foundation, a scientific institution. Eventually he was transferred by the foundation to laboratories in New Jersey, where he resided in Somerville. While working there he worked in the field of organic synthetics, and eventually acquired his own patent in this field. Later he worked for the National Starch and Chemical Corporation, also in New Jersey. While pursuing work in this area, he also continued to write, including contributions to the local newspaper and Jewish newspapers.

In 1966 Sternheim wrote In Memoriam, in response to the fate of his parents and intended as an introduction to the LBI's collection of their letters. Over the next several years, he disseminated copies of this work to numerous archives, libraries, and individuals in Germany, the United States, and Israel. Hans Sternheim died in 1983.


5 Linear Feet


This collection contains documentation on the lives of members of the Sternheim, Isenberg and Osterberg families. Prominent topics include family members' experiences in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s, genealogy and the writing of Max Osterberg and Hans Sternheim. The collection includes correspondence, clippings, manuscripts, family trees, notebooks, financial papers and some photographs.


Collection is available on 12 reels of microfilm (MF 1024).

  1. Reel 1: 1/1-1/5
  2. Reel 2: 1/6-1/33
  3. Reel 3: 1/34-2/5
  4. Reel 4: 2/6-2/13
  5. Reel 5: 2/14-2/29
  6. Reel 6: 2/30-3/11
  7. Reel 7: 3/12-3/29
  8. Reel 8: 3/30-4/8
  9. Reel 9: 4/9-4/35
  10. Reel 10: 4/36-4/58
  11. Reel 11: 4/59-5/28
  12. Reel 12: 5/29-5/52
Guide to the Papers of the Sternheim and Isenberg Family 1802-2003 AR 25379 / MF 1024
Processed by LBI Staff and Dianne Ritchey
© 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from EdithIsenberg.xml

Revision Statements

  • January 03, 2014 : Links to digital objects added in Container List.
  • August 23, 2016:: Paragraph added to subseries description (Subgroup III: Isenberg Family Collection, Series II: Norbert Isenberg, Subseries B: Family Trees).

Repository Details

Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States