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Papers of Philip Friedman (1901-1960)

Identifier: RG 1258

Scope and Content Note

The collection relates primarily to Friedman’s post-war research on the history of the Holocaust as well as to his administrative activities in various organizations. The bulk of the collection consists of second-hand sources collected by Friedman, as well as manuscripts by Friedman and others, bibliographical manuals and methodological guides prepared for use in the YIVO-Yad Vashem Joint Documentary Project, and correspondence with organizations and with individuals. Correspondents include Yiddish writers and prominent historians such as H.G. Adler, Ch. Agnoff, Hannah Arendt, E. Auerbach, Rachel Auerbach, Salo Baron, Shlomo Bickel, Ben Zion Dinur, Simon Dubnow, M. Dworzecki, Sz. Datner, Nathan Menachem Gelber, Rudolf Glanz, Jacob Glatstein, E. Glicenstein, Israel Halpern, Arthur Herzberg, Raul Hilberg, A.W. Jasny, Szmerke Kaczerginski, Joseph Kermish, Israel Klausner, M. Kosover, A. M. Klein, Leibush Lehrer, H. Leivick, Raphael Lemkin, Jacob Lestschinsky, Raphael Mahler, J. Mestel, Nahum Baruch Minkoff, L. Namier, Shmuel Niger, Joseph Opatoshu, Koppel Pinson, Leon Poliakov, Sarah Reisen, Gerald Reitlinger, A.A. Roback, L. Rochman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Philip Roth, Isaac Schwarzbart, Hillel Seidman, Genia Silkes, Anna Simaite, E. Sommerstein, Isaac Nachman Steinberg, J. Turkow, M. Turkow, Michael Weichert, and Mark Wischnitzer.

Materials on the Holocaust are primarily arranged geographically by ghetto or concentration camp. Included are over one hundred eyewitness accounts collected from Holocaust survivors by the Central Jewish Historical Commission in Poland, a list of survivors of Majdanek, copies and translations of orders of concentration camps commandants and clippings and pamphlets on Displaced Persons and reparations. There are also depositions relating to the trial of Michael Weichert and a Polish typescript of his book Jewish Self-Help 1939-1945, materials on Nazi war criminals distributed by the Polish government in September 1954, biographical clippings on Nazi war criminals, copies of proceedings from the Nuremberg Trials, and questionnaires for survivors. Papers relating to Friedman’s organizational activities include clippings, offprints, pamphlets, copies of reports, announcements, short biographies of Jewish historians and Yiddish writers written by Friedman, records of the Historian’s Circle of the YIVO Institute, records of the YIVO-Yad Vashem Joint Documentary Project, and records of the Central Jewish Historical Commission in Poland. In addition, there are some of Friedman’s personal papers, a bibliography of his writings, some correspondence, and diaries and writings of Ada Friedman.


  • Creation: 1914-1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930-1960

Language of Materials

The collection is in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, English, German, French, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Czech, Danish, Hungarian, Romanian, Swedish, and Serbo-Croatian.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public. Permission to publish part or parts of the collection must be obtained in writing from the YIVO Archives.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection.

For more information, contact: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

Polish Jewish historian Philip (Jeroham Fishel) Friedman was born in Lwow on April 27, 1901 to Eliezer and Sabina Friedman. He finished his studies at the Lwow gymnasium in 1919 and then studied history at the University of Vienna under the direction of Alfred Pribram, 1920-1925, and at the Jewish Teachers College (Pedagogium) in Vienna under Salo Baron, 1920-1922. He earned his teacher's diploma from the Jewish Teachers College in 1922 and his doctoral degree at the University of Vienna in 1925 with a dissertation entitled Die galizischen Juden im Kampfe um ihre Gleichberechtigung (1848–1868) (The Jews of Galicia in Their Struggle for Legal Equality [1848–1868]), which was published in Frankfurt in 1929.

Friedman returned to Poland after receiving his doctorate, where he was briefly the director of the Tarbut school in Volkovysk (currently in Belarus) and taught Hebrew and history at the Jewish gymnasium in Konin, Poland. He also taught at the Jewish gymnasium in Łódź (1925-1939), as well as at the People’s University of that city, was a lecturer for doctoral candidates at YIVO in Vilna (1935-1936), and lectured at the Tahkemoni Rabbinical Seminary of Warsaw (1938–1939), and at the Institute of Judaic Studies, also in Warsaw. He continued his historical research, producing, most notably, his 1935 monograph Dzieje Żydów w Łodzi (The History of the Jews in Łódź), and a number of specialized studies on the Jews of Galicia and Lodz. In addition, he attempted to foster academic cooperation among Jewish historians. He participated in the International Congress of Historians, which was held in Warsaw in 1933, following which he endeavored to create a worldwide association of scholars of Jewish history. When World War II began, he was engaged in writing a comprehensive history of the Jews of Poland from the earliest beginnings through the twentieth century.

Friedman survived the Holocaust by hiding in and around Lwow, but he lost his wife and a daughter. After the liberation in 1944, he went to Lublin, where he was appointed the first director of the Central Jewish Historical Commission, which he helped to found with the Central Committee of Jews in Poland, whose mission was to gather data on Nazi war crimes. In this capacity he not only collected testimonies and documentation but also supervised the publication of a number of pioneering studies, including his own on the concentration camp at Auschwitz. This work, To jest Oświęcim, was published in Warsaw in 1945 and appeared in an abridged English version as This Is Oswięcim in 1946. He also published several monographs on various destroyed Jewish communities, including Bialystok and Chelmno, and about Ukrainian-Jewish relations during the Nazi occupation. At the same time, he taught Jewish history at the Łódź University (1945-1946) and was a member of the Polish State Commission to Investigate German War Crimes in Auschwitz and Chelmno.

After testifying and acting as a consultant at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal in 1946, Friedman and his new wife, Dr. Ada Eber-Friedman, decided not to return to Poland. For two years he directed the educational and cultural department of the Joint Distribution Committee in the American Zone in Germany (1946-1948). He also helped the Centre du Documentation Juive Comtemporaire in Paris to set up its documentary collection. Friedman then moved to the United States in October 1948 at the invitation of his former professor Salo Baron, who was now teaching at Columbia University, where Friedman joined him. There he first held the post of research fellow and then, from 1951 until his death in 1960, that of lecturer in the graduate department of history. From 1949-1954, he was the dean of the Jewish Teacher’s Seminary and Folks University. He taught courses at the Herzliya Teachers Seminary in Israel and was a member of the Research Committee of the Board of Director’s of the YIVO Institute starting in 1952.

Friedman’s subsequent research focused on the Holocaust. He produced two popular books, the first account of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising titled Martyrs and Fighters: The Epic of the Warsaw Ghetto (1954), the second a volume describing Christian rescuers during the war, Their Brothers’ Keepers (1957). A volume of his essays devoted to Holocaust topics, Pathways to Extinction: Essays on the Holocaust (1980), was edited posthumously by his wife. He was the Research Director of the YIVO-Yad Vashem Joint Documentary Project, a bibliographical series on the Holocaust from 1954-1960. This project consisted of publishing a full bibliography of all published works having a connection to the Holocaust. The first volume, which consisted of Hebrew sources, had been published by the time of Friedman’s death, and the English volume was ready to be printed. He also remained committed to his earlier scholarly interests, and published articles in Yiddish, Polish, Hebrew, French, and English, such as “Polish Jewish Historiography between the Two Wars” and “The First Millennium of Jewish Settlement in the Ukraine and in the Adjacent Areas.” Philip Friedman died in New York on February 7, 1960 after a lengthy illness.


25 Linear Feet


This collection contains the personal and professional papers of historian and bibliographer Philip Friedman. These materials include correspondence with individuals and with organizations, newspaper clippings, subject files, manuscripts of works by Friedman and by others, and some of Friedman’s personal documents. These materials relate to Friedman’s work on the histories of various Jewish communities, particularly those in Poland, and his work gathering source documents about the Holocaust.


Philip Friedman arranged his materials either by format, subject, country, or language and then usually alphabetically. This system was maintained as much as was possible. Many of the materials, including the professional correspondence, are arranged alphabetically, while the personal correspondence is arranged chronologically, as are the materials about the memorial gatherings for the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Some of the correspondence is filed under the names of organizations, publications, institutions, and publishers, while other correspondence has been filed by the name of the person who signed the letters. Cross-references have been listed whenever possible. The languages of many of the articles follow the title and author in parentheses. Materials for which no language is given are mainly in English. Articles for which no author is given are often by Friedman.

The collection is organized in ten series, some of which have been further subdivided into subseries.

  1. Series I: Correspondence, 1931, 1944-1982
  2. Subseries 1: Individuals, 1931, 1946-1981
  3. Subseries 2: Universities, Libraries, Academic Institutions, 1946-1969
  4. Subseries 3: Newspapers, Periodicals and Publishing Houses, 1946-1963
  5. Subseries 4: Organizations, Federal and State Offices, 1945-1964
  6. Subseries 5: Landsmanshaftn, 1946-1959
  7. Subseries 6: Personal Correspondence of Dr. and Mrs. Friedman, 1944-1982
  8. Series II: Friedman’s Work, 1935-1982
  9. Subseries 1: Central Jewish Historical Committee of Poland, 1945-1956
  10. Subseries 2: Columbia University, 1948-1959
  11. Subseries 3: YIVO, 1953-1959
  12. Subseries 4: YIVO-Yad Vashem Joint Documentary Project, 1946-1980
  13. Subseries 5: Writings of Philip Friedman, 1935-1962
  14. Subseries 6: Reviews of Philip Friedman’s Books, 1957-1982
  15. Series III: Research Materials, 1914-1979
  16. Subseries 1: Pre-war Jewry, 1915-1920, 1931-1957
  17. Subseries 2: Fascism, 1919, 1933-1956
  18. Subseries 3: Anti-Semitism, 1939-1959
  19. Subseries 4: Nazi Personalities, 1933-1973
  20. Subseries 5: Situation of Jews in Different Countries, 1914-1916, 1928-1979
  21. Series IV: Ghettos and Concentration Camps, 1939-1968
  22. Subseries 1: Ghettos - General, 1939-1955
  23. Subseries 2: Jewish Ghettos by Location, 1939-1968
  24. Subseries 3: Concentration Camps - General, 1939-1955
  25. Subseries 4: Concentration Camps by Location, 1939-1958
  26. Series V: Resistance, 1940-1963, 1978-1985
  27. Subseries 1: General, 1942-1958, 1978-1985
  28. Subseries 2: Trials against Nazi Criminals, 1941-1955
  29. Subseries 3: Trial of Dr. Michael Weichert and His Work, 1945-1949, undated
  30. Subseries 4: Eyewitness Accounts, 1940-1963, undated
  31. Series VI: The Post-War Era, 1917, 1931-1962
  32. Subseries 1: General, 1917, 1931-1959
  33. Subseries 2: Landsmanshaftn, 1942-1962
  34. Subseries 3: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Memorial Gatherings, 1943-1958
  35. Series VII: Varia, 1931-1968
  36. Subseries 1: Questionnaires, 1946-1959, undated
  37. Subseries 2: Essays and book lists, 1931-1961
  38. Subseries 3: Invitations, 1934, 1947-1968
  39. Series VIII: Newspaper Clippings, 1942-1993
  40. Subseries 1: English, 1944-1988
  41. Subseries 2: Yiddish, 1942-1961, 1980-1981, 1993
  42. Subseries 3: Hebrew, 1946-1959
  43. Subseries 4: Polish, 1944-1962, 1973-1980
  44. Subseries 5: German, 1947-1963, 1979
  45. Subseries 6: French, 1946-1959
  46. Subseries 7: Russian and Ukrainian, 1957-1959, 1982
  47. Series IX: Friedman’s Biographical Materials, 1936-1975, undated
  48. Series X: Ada Friedman’s Writings, 1949-1978, undated

Acquisition Information

The materials were donated to the YIVO Archives by Philip Friedman’s widow, Ada Friedman, in June 1987. Additional materials were donated by Friedman’s niece, Sophia Balk, in February 1993.

Related Material

The YIVO Library has many books by and about Friedman and a wealth of materials about the Jews of Poland, World War II, the Holocaust, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, concentration camps, survivor testimonies, displaced persons, bibliographies of books about the Holocaust, and many other topics found in the Friedman Papers. In addition, many of Friedman’s personal books about Jewish history and Holocaust materials were donated to the YIVO Library.

Separated Material

Philip Friedman’s library was also donated to YIVO and forms the Philip Friedman Collection at the YIVO Library.

Processing information

Shloyme Krystal processed the original materials and created an English finding aid in 1989-1990. He then integrated the new materials and created a new finding aid in December 1998. Additional processing was completed in 2012.

Guide to the Papers of Philip Friedman (1901-1960) 1914-1993 (bulk 1930-1960) RG 1258
Processed by Shloyme Krystal. Additional processing by Rachel S. Harrison as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States