Guide to the Papers of Martin Buber (1878-1965)

AR 9

Processed by LBI Staff and Dianne Ritchey

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2013 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in March 2013. Description is in English.
May 2016 dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Leo Baeck Institute
Title: Martin Buber Collection
Dates:bulk 1921-1929
Abstract: This collection contains papers of the philosopher, author and scholar Martin Buber. Notable among the papers are his letters to his colleague and friend Franz Rosenzweig on a number of subjects, including their translation of the Bible. Other material consists of typescripts of lectures, a few letters to other individuals, photographs, invitations and some material on events about him.
Languages: The collection is in German, English and Hebrew.
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet.
Identification: AR 9
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Born in Vienna on February 2, 1878, Martin Buber studied philosophy and art history at various European universities, became active in the Zionist movement, and worked as an author, editor, and publisher. Moving to Berlin in 1906, and to Heppenheim near Frankfurt am Main in 1916, he published highly regarded philosophical and theological works. Buber emigrated to Palestine in 1938, where he taught at Hebrew University in Jerusalem until his death on June 13, 1965.

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Scope and Content Note

The Martin Buber Collection holds various papers of this philosopher, with a focus on his work. More than half the collection consists of his letters to Franz Rosenzweig, including a number of them devoted to their collaborative translation of the Bible. In addition the collection holds texts of some of Martin Buber's lectures, photographs, a few letters to others, invitations and an article.

Martin Buber's work is primarily documented in Series III, which holds his letters to Franz Rosenzweig and Series IV, which contains his lectures. Buber's letters to Rosenzweig cover a number of subjects, most notable among them topics of lectures he gave at the Freies Jüdisches Lehrhaus in Frankfurt am Main, discussion of his book Ich und Du (I and Thou), and especially their translation of the Bible. Many notes on the translation will be found in the undated correspondence of Series II. Series III consists of typescripts of Martin Buber's lectures, which encompass various themes. Among the most prominent of them are lectures that pertain to the role of the community or the state in relation to religion, and discussion of the concepts of revelation, salvation and the Messiah in Judaism.

The other three series of this collection have more general materials. Series I: Autographs contains a few letters by Martin Buber to individuals other than Rosenzweig. Series II holds some photographs of Martin Buber, including as a child and young man and also has one photograph of his descendants. Series V: Other Materials includes some invitations sent to him as well as for events after his death, a recollection of a meeting with him and two letters.

The following individuals are mentioned in this collection: Ahren, Yitzhak; Balthasar, H. von; Billigheimer, Samuel; Diamond, Malcolm; Fackenheim, Emil; Farber, Leslie; Fox, Marvin; Friedman, Maurice; Galliner, Arthur; Galliner, Helmut; Gandhi, Mohandas K.; Glatzer, Nahum; Goes, Albrecht; Guggenheim, Siegfried; Heinemann, F.; Hesse, Ninon; Hocking, William Ernst; Hohoff, Curt; Kaplan, Mordechai; Kaufmann, Fritz; Kerenyi, Karl; Klotz, Elena; Kohn, Hans; Kreutzberger, Max; Kuhn, Helmuth; Landauer, Gustav; Levin, Meyer; Levinas, Emmanuel; Loewenberg, Frank; Mailenburg, James; Marcel, Gabriel; Michael, Max; Newman, Louis; Niebuhr, Reinhold; Pfuetze, Paul; Porter, Jack Nusan; Ross, Irvin; Rotenstreich, Nathan; Schneider, Herbert; Scholem, Gershom; Schorsch, Ismar; Sholem, Gershom; Simon, Ernst; Simon, Isidor; Stahr, Adolf; Tagore, Rabindranath; Taubes, Jacob; Weltmann, Lutz; Weltsch, Robert; Wheelwright, Philip; Wilkers, Karl.

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The collection is arranged in five series:

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Open to researchers.

Access Information

Collection is digitized. To request access to this item, please contact the LBI Archivist. Follow the links in the Container List to access the digitized materials.

The book, "Between Man and Man" by Martin Buber with handwritten annotations, is not available in digital form due to copyright restriction. Please contact the LBI Archivist to request access.

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

Related Material

The LBI Archives has several collections that relate to Martin Buber, and to his work with Franz Rosenzweig. Most closely connected to this collection are the Franz Rosenzweig - Martin Buber Notebooks (AR 4219, available online), which holds notebooks dictated to Martin Buber by Rosenzweig regarding the translation of the Bible. The Franz Rosenzweig Collection (AR 3001, available online) contains some letters to Martin Buber. The memoir by Erich Ahrens includes his recollections of Martin Buber from this time: "Franz Rosenzweig and the men of the Frankfurt Lehrhaus 1921-1922: Reminiscenses, Observations and Notes" (DM 87, available online). An essay by Maurice Freedman on the relationship between Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig is part of the Manuscript Collection "Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber. Is the 'new thinking' still new?" (MS 530, available online).

The LBI Library includes copies of the translation of the Bible by Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig in addition to a number of books and publications on Martin Buber and his work.

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Separated Material

In the LBI Audiovisual Collection is a recording of a speech by Martin Buber "Der Mensch und sein Gebild" at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich (November 9, 1954; Bayerischer Rundfunk) (part I: 1:03:27 minutes, Part II: O:44:41) in various formats: the original magnetic tape (7 "), audiocassette and compact disc.

Some photographs were removed to the LBI Photograph Collection.

One folder of published articles on Martin Buber and an example of a stamp issued in his honor was removed to AR 9 C: Martin Buber Clippings Collection.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Martin Buber Collection; AR 9; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

In March 2013 the collection was reprocessed in preparation of the EAD finding aid; the already established arrangement was retained and description was added to the finding aid. One folder of published articles about Martin Buber was moved to AR 9 C and the original letters of Series I were placed back into the collection.

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Other Finding Aid

A detailed item-level list of Martin Buber's letters in Series III has been retained in the collection. There are also catalog cards that list each item in the collection.

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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: Autographs, 1938-1957

This series is in German.
1 folder.


Scope and Content:

Series I contains various autographs by Martin Buber, primarily correspondence to others as well as an autographed book. The letters cover various subjects. Included is one to Max Kreutzberger regarding a meeting, with an unidentified Frau Edinger on a planned publication of Berta Pappenheim's letters, and another regarding a dissertation on Gustav Landauer with questions on Landuaer's early life, although Martin Buber did not know him then.

11Autographsundated, 1938?-1957
R 5Between Man and Man – Book by Martin Buber with handwritten annotations [Not digitized due to copyright restriction. Please contact LBI Archivist to request on-site access.]1946
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Series II: Photographs, undated, 1897-1985

This series is in German.
1 folder.
Scope and Content:

This small series consists of photographs of Martin Buber at various times in his life as well as others that depict artwork portraying Martin Buber and of two letters by him. Photos of Martin Buber include him as a boy, as a student, with Theodor Heuss and with his great-granddaughter. One photograph shows the descendants of Martin Buber in 1985.

12Photographsundated, 1897-1985
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Series III: Correspondence with Franz Rosenzweig, undated, 1921-1929, 1971

This series is in German and Hebrew.
0.35 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series III consists entirely of letters sent from Martin Buber to Franz Rosenzweig. The series includes an item-level inventory that lists each letter here. In addition, all of the letters have encircled numbers, assigned to them by Nahum Glatzer and included in the inventory. The friendship that developed between the two men is plainly evident in the tone of the letters and in their salutations; a September 26, 1925 letter by Buber proposes the use of the familiar "du" between them. Most letters were sent from Buber's home in Heppenheim.

The extensive correspondence deals with an assortment of topics. Many letters are short or are postcards and relate to the arranging of meetings or visits. Others regard the progression of some of the many projects in which Martin Buber was involved, including his written work. Many early letters tell of proposed topics for his lectures at the Freies Jüdisches Lehrhaus; letters from 1923 include several that mention his book Ich und Du (I and Thou). Other scholars with whom he worked are also frequently referred to, including Weizsäcker, Leo Baeck, Paul Natorp, and Ahron Eliasberg, among many others. A letter of August 15, 1929 tells Rosenzweig of the offer Buber received to become Rector at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and asks for his counsel.

About half the letters in this series are not dated. Most of these undated letters contain lists and notes that refer to Buber and Rosenzweig's collaborative translation of the Bible, with discussion of phrasing and word choices, inclusion of Hebrew text and mention of Biblical personages and books.

13Inventory of Correspondence1971
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Series IV: Lectures, undated, 1923-1935, 1953

This series is primarily in German with a small amount in English.
0.1 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

This series contains lectures by Martin Buber on a number of subjects. Prominent subjects are the role of the community or the state and religion's relation to them and the in depth discussion of various religious concepts.

Several lectures pertain to the community and individual's roles within it. Among these lectures is "Flucht?" which was Martin Buber's response to Karl Wilker's criticism of a lecture by Buber on youth and the community. Related is "Staat und Gemeinschaft," which discusses the meaning of the concepts of state and community over the previous decade – not the text of one of Buber's lectures, but a report on it. "Where Does the World Stand?" is an excerpt from a 1953 lecture given by Martin Buber for the World Union for Progressive Judaism and mentions recent events as they apply to the identity of Jewish society and Israel.

The remainder of lectures in Series IV all focus on spiritual and philosophical themes. One of the most prevalent of these is the discussion of revelation. In "Die Formen der Offenbarung in der Thora und die allgemeine Religionsgeschichte" Buber describes the five Biblical revelatory periods, with each period corresponding to a different type of revelation and a different historical era. An untitled manuscript on various themes includes a definition and rumination on the meaning of revelation, as well as extensive definitions on other abstract themes such as names, personhood and holiness. His lectures on Judaism and Christianity, which compare the beliefs of the two religions in detail, include chapters on both revelations and Messianism. "Das messianische Mysterium," which centers on Isaiah 53, discusses the relation of humanness to godliness, while his "Wissenschaftliche und religiose Welterfassung" proposes a post-Kantian philosophy on religion and touches upon the importance of grasping religion as a real concept and not simply an intellectual exercise. This lecture further details various philosophical theories on religion. "Der Glaube an die Wiedergeburt" speaks of psychological and spiritual rebirth and "Über Religion" describes the meaning and importance of religion in defining personal identity.

Lectures from Martin Buber Evenings cover some of the above topics in a more condensed form. Many of these also provide answers to various questions, especially those pertaining to family life, such as the importance of the community's role on married life, education, marital roles, and the equality and differences of men and women and their responsibilities, among many others.

114Ten Lectures - Bound Volumeundated, 1923-1927
 Wissenschaftliche und religiöse Welterfassung (Scientific and Religious Worldview; Zurich)1923 November 28
 Das messianische Mysterium (Jesaja 53), anlaesslich der Eroeffnung der Universitaet Jerusalem (The Messianic Mysteries (Isaiah 53), on the Occasion of the Opening of the University of Jerusalem; Berlin)1925 April 6
 Untitled fragment on Tagore und Gandhi's teaching and German Jewryundated
  Die Formen der Offenbarung in der Thora und die allgemeine Religionsgeschichte (The Forms of Revelation in the Torah and General Religious History; Jerusalem)1927 May 1
 Der Glaube an die Wiedergeburt (The Belief in Rebirth; Amersfoort)1925 July 20-25
 Untitled manuscript on various themes and definitions (names, personhood, revelation, holiness)undated
 Ueber Religonundated
 Von der Verseelung der Welt Zurich1923
 Flucht? (Flight?) undated
 Staat und Gemeinschaft (State and Community)undated
 Martin Buber Evenings1923 November 24-December 6
115Lectures – Loose1935, 1953
 Vorlesungen über Judentum und Christentum: I. Jüdischer und christlicher Glaube (Lectures on Judaism and Christianity: I. Jewish and Christian Belief)1935
 Vorlesungen über Judentum und Christentum: II. Jüdische und christliche Erlösungslehre (Lectures on Judaism and Christianity: II. Jewish and Christian Salvation Teachings)1935
 Vorlesungen über Judentum und Christentum: III. Jüdischer und christlicher Messianismus (Lectures on Judaism and Christianity: III. Jewish and Christian Messianism)1935
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Series V: Other Material, 1941-1980

This series is in German and English.
0.05 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series V holds various other material on Martin Buber, including some letters, invitations and press releases and an essay on a meeting with Martin Buber. The first folder of the series contains two letters, including a 1941 letter from German authorities revoking his doctorate. "My Encounter with Martin Buber," relates Louis Newman's brief encounter with Martin Buber in Jerusalem, including a description of his attitude and personality as well as mention of his role in the Ihud, a small bi-nationalist Zionist political party founded by Martin Buber and others, and his death. One folder contains two unpublished articles on Martin Buber and his work. The final folder holds catalog cards that reflect the previous arrangement of the collection and include a list of the clippings that now comprise the related Martin Buber Clippings Collection (AR 9 C).

116Correspondence to/ about Martin Buber1941, 1958
117Invitations for Martin Buberundated, 1953-1958
118My Encounter with Martin Buberafter 1965
119Events about Martin Buber (Posthumous) – Invitations and Press1978-1980
120Unpublished Articles about Martin Buber1979-1980
121Catalog Cardsundated
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