Guide to the Hans Epstein Collection (1905-1967)

AR 6362 / MF 951

Processed by Sam Spinner

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© July 2001. Leo Baeck Institute Archives. All Rights Reserved
Center for Jewish History, Publisher
Machine-readable finding aid created by Sam Spinner. July 2000. Finding aid converted to EAD version 1.0 by Inna Giter. July 2001. Description is in English.
September 2004. Converted to ead 2002. Revised as HansEpstein02.xml by Dianne Ritchey Oummia. Removed deprecated elements and attributes, updated repository codes, added language codes, changed doctype declaration, etc. January 2006. Entities removed from EAD finding aid. October 2007. Death date added to finding aid. January 2009. Microfilm inventory added. October 2010. Information on microfilmed photographs added. April 2012: Added 1/19 - 1/24 in Container List. February 05, 2013  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator:Hans Epstein
Title: Hans Epstein Collection
Abstract: Papers of Hans Epstein (1905-1960), educator and historian. The collection consists of documents relating to Epstein's teaching activities during Nazi rule in Germany, and in New York during and after the Second World War; correspondence from before the emigration with individuals and organizations (including with Martin Buber, and Adolf Leschnitzer of the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden); personal and business correspondence relating to immigration in 1938 and Epstein's work in New York; posters and postcards.
Languages:This collection is in English and German.
Quantity: 1 foot, 1 oversized folder
Accession number: AR 6362
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Hans Leo Epstein was born in Frankfurt am Main on March 11, 1905. He attended the University of Frankfurt, where he studied German literature, history, Hebrew, psychology, and sociology, among other things. He received his doctorate there in 1929, having written a thesis called "Die Metaphysizierung in der Literarwissenschaftlichen Begriffsbildung und ihre Folgen – Dargelegt an drei Theorien über das Literaturbarock". His career plans did not follow the course set by his academic focus, and he became a teacher. His first position was as Studienassessor at the Goethe-Gymnasium in Frankfurt, where he taught History, German, and Jewish History. However, the early thirties were hardly a good time for a Jew to start out on a career in Germany, and in 1933, after only a year at the Goethe Gymnasium, he was fired. Retreating into the relative safety of Jewish organizations, but with no diminished passion for pedagogy, Epstein became a teacher at the Philanthropin, the liberal Jewish high school in Frankfurt, and an educational consultant to the Department of Schools of the Reichsvertretung der Juden in Deutschland. In 1936, he left the Philanthropin, and was among the founders of a new school, the Anlernwerkstatt, designed to prepare Jewish children for emigration by teaching them crafts and mechanical skills. He became the principal there.

After continuing his work in the field of education, working on various plans and projects in different cities in Germany, he and his wife prepared for emigration. They went on a trip to Israel in 1937, and deciding that it did not quite fit their plans for the future, they settled on going to America. They moved to New York with the aid of various Jewish organizations in Germany. Epstein's first jobs were as teacher and house father at the Kohut School for Boys, and an unhappy stint at Hessian Hills school, both in upstate New York. He also held a number of other short-lived jobs, before becoming the director of the Washington Heights/Inwood YM&YWHA.

Using the foundation of his studies in Germany, and also the time he spent in the early forties studying at Columbia's Teachers College, he began to practice psychology, especially in the use of Rorschach testing and group work. These had long been Epstein's interests, and in his new careers in New York he pursued them actively. Finally finding continuity in his position at the Washington Heights Y, and with his work in psychology, Epstein was able to settle into a career. He was by that point in his middle ages, and for the rest of his life, his career maintained roughly the same shape, with a number of other jobs and projects at various times.

Hans Epstein died on September 20, 1967. His wife survived him, and lived for quite a while longer; she passed away on January 16, 1987.

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Scope and Content Note

The Hans Epstein collection stretches from roughly the early 1920s to the early 1960s, with some items extending through to the 1980s. Most of the collection deals with Epstein's efforts to secure teaching positions both during Nazi rule in Germany, and in New York during and after the Second World War. The correspondence from before his emigration includes exchanges with Martin Buber, and Adolf Leschnitzer of the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden. There is also interesting material from the Jewish Anlernwerkstatt in Frankfurt, including a number of postcards and posters.

Most of the remainder of the collection, especially after Epstein's immigration to America in 1938, combines personal correspondence, and correspondence relating to various jobs that Epstein held, including the directorship of the Washington Heights & Inwood YMHA. Of special interest in this latter part of the collection is the detailed correspondence regarding Epstein's effort to claim restitution from the German government. Letters to and from Epstein's lawyers are present; there is also correspondence with the German government. Of note is a letter from one German high official to another, asking for special priority and attention in regard to Epstein's claims, with some commentary on the subjects of restitution and German responsibility for crimes under National Socialism.

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This collection is arranged in 5 series:

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Access and Use

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

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Separated Material

Photographs removed to LBI Photograph Collection. The photographs are available on microfilm.

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The collection is on three reels of microfilm (MF 951):

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Hans Epstein Collection; AR 6362; box number; folder number; Archives of the Leo Baeck Institute.

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Personal Documents and Correspondence, undated, 1905-1985

1I.1Correspondence and Certificates, re: NY State Psychologist Certification1962-1969
1I.2Miscellaneous Correspondence and Documents of Epstein1936-1967
1I.3Universities: Frankfurt, Freiburg, Heidelberg - Registrations, Recommendations, etc.1905-1933
1I.4Doctoral Diploma; Certificate from "Vorstand der Israelitischen Gemeinde" [Oversize: OS59]
1I.5Correspondence, Certificates and Letters of Recommendation, re: Emigration1933-1973
1I.6Itinerary/Diary of trip to Israel1937
1I.7Correspondence and Documents of Rosy Epstein1960-1985
1I.8Rosy Epstein's Application for Social Work Licenseundated
1I.9Restitution Claims Documents1938-1967
1I.10Correspondence with Martin Buber1934-1935
1I.11Reichsvertretung Correspondence with Adolf Leschnitzer1935-1937
1I.12Correspondence with Dr. Arthur A. Schwarz1955
1I.13Otto Toeplitz1934-1938
1I.14Travel log of a trip to the Mediterranean (probably by S. Epstein)April 1928
1I.15Manfred Schuster1939-1974
1I.17Photo albums: a) Family album, b) Trip to Tirol, c) Trip to the Adirondacks, d) Pioneer Youth Camp
1I.183 Photos: Hans Epstein, Rosy Epstein, Photo of Hans Epstein at the Jüdische Anlernwerkstatt (taken by Fred Stein)1954-1955
1I.19Photocopies of photos
1I.20Vaccination proofs
1I.21Family record book
1I.22Driver's license
1I.23Correspondence, Rosy Epstein1921-1928
1I.24Photo album (removed to LBI Photograph Collection)
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Series II: Employment Related Documents and Correspondence, undated, 1930-1967, 1998-1999

1II.1Employment Related Correspondence, Documents, and Certificates - Germany1931-1935
1II.2Schools - Philanthropin, and Goethe-Gymnasium1930-1937, 1954
1II.3Correspondence re: Lectures, Consulting and Teaching - Munich, Frankfurt, and Cologne1935-1937
1II.4Financial Documents, etc."Jüdische Beratungsstelle für Wirtschaftshilfe"1936
1II.5Correspondence, re: Plans for New School - Dr. Julius Schwarzschild, and Government1932-1935
1II.6Kohut School for Boys - 2 Brochuresundated
1II.7Hessian Hills School1943, 1998-1999
1II.8Coney Island Neighbourhood Center1944
1II.9Congregation Habonim Summer Camp1943
1II.103 Essays re: Administration of Inwood YMHA1961-1962
1II.11Correspondence and Documents, re: Unitarian Service Committee, Bremen Project1954-1959
1II.12Board of Education1966-1967
1II.13Plans for an Orphanage/Boarding House for Parentless Jewish Refugee Children from Germanyundated
1II.14Plans for Boarding House in New Yorkundated
1II.15Presentation of Hans Epstein and Arthur Schwartz at the National Jewish Welfare Board1949
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Series III: The Anlernwerkstatt, undated, 1963-1976

2III.1Promotional Materials from the Anlernwerkstatt: Postcards and 2 Postersundated
2III.2Syllabus from the Anlernwerkstattundated
2III.3Play from the Anlernwerkstatt - "Jonah"1963
2III.4Play from the Anlernwerkstatt - "Saul"undated
2III.5Play from the Anlernwerkstatt - "Der Bel zu Babel"undated
2III.6Play from the Anlernwerkstatt - "Die Freude aller Freuden"undated
2III.7Heinz Warschauer (successor of Hans Epstein at the Anlernwerkstatt)1976
2III.8Photo album with pictures of the Jüdische Anlernwerkstatt (available in digital format only)
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Series IV: Published and Unpublished Writings, undated, 1924-1964

2IV.1"Kameraden - Deutsch-Jüdischer Wanderbund"1924 September
2IV.2Doctoral Thesisundated
2IV.33 Copies of "Mittelstelle für jüdische Erwachsenenbildung"1934 June, 1934 Nov., 1936 Jan., 1937 April
2IV.45 Copies of "Zur Pädagogischen Woche des Philanthropins in Frankfurt am Main"1934 November
2IV.5Abstracts, Papers, and Lecturesundated, 1946
2IV.6Essays and Notes on Pedagogyundated
2IV.7Essays on Groupworkundated, 1951
2IV.8Published Essays on Groupworkundated, 1950-1952
2IV.9Essays on the Use of the Rorschach in a Groupwork Agency1946
2IV.10Discussions of "Survival: Social Goal or Defense" by Charles S. Levyundated
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Series V: The Philanthropin, 1933-1934, 1964, 1964

2V.1Newspaper clippings and photos1933-1934
2V.2Book: "Das Philantropin zu Frankfurt am Main"1964
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