Guide to the Papers of Felix I. Kauffmann (1878-1953)

AR 2633

Processed by Dianne Ritchey and Ilse Turnheim

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 June 2013. Description is in English.
October 2015 dao links and digitization information added by Leanora Lange.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kauffmann, Felix, 1878-1953
Title: Felix I. Kauffmann Collection
Dates:bulk 1939-1946
Abstract: This collection holds the papers of publisher and rare book dealer Felix I. Kauffmann, and contains documents relating to the family publishing house, his military service in World War I, and membership in Jewish organizations. The collection includes some correspondence with Leo Baeck as well as other correspondence, official documents such as military, vital and legal papers, curricula vitae, newspaper clippings and articles, and other papers.
Languages: The collection is in German and English.
Quantity: 0.25 linear feet
Identification: AR 2633
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
Return to the Top of Page

Biographical Note

Felix Kauffman was born on February 2, 1878 in Frankfurt am Main, son of the publisher Ignatz Kauffmann and his wife Johanna (née Mayer). He worked voluntarily for the antique firm of Jos. Bauer & Co. in Frankfurt until he began his university studies in fall 1898. From 1898-1901 he studied Oriental studies, philosophy and ancient history at the universities of Strassburg, Berlin, Würzburg and Heidelberg and in the fall of 1901 received a doctorate from the University of Heidelberg with a dissertation on the calculations of the new moon among Karaites. From 1901-1902 he participated in a year of military service in Darmstadt as part of a field artillery regiment and in July 1902 he was given the title of Unteroffizier (sergeant). In 1902 and 1903 he took part in two military exercises in Darmstadt, each lasting eight weeks.

Following his military year, Felix Kauffmann joined his father's publishing company, who specialized in publishing Jewish and Hebrew literature and also dealt in rare books. In 1909 he married Jeanette Kirchheim (called Nettie). The same year he was promoted to Vizewachtmeister (staff sergeant) of the eighteenth army corps.

Upon mobilization of the army in 1914 he joined the field artillery regiment 63 of Frankfurt am Main, where he was responsible for the training of 150 volunteers. In August 1914 he was promoted to the rank of Offizierstellvertreter, and the following month was sent to a regiment on the western front, near Champagne. In 1915 he was promoted to Lieutenant; in 1916 he was battery officer (Batterie-Offizier) in several field regiments. In the final year he was adjutant to Oberst (Colonel) Krahmer-Möllenberg, stationed in Bonn. Felix Kauffmann served in the military until 1918 and was awarded the Iron Cross I and II class, and the Hamburg-Hanseatic Cross; in 1939 he received the Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer (Cross of Honor for Front Combatants).

After the war he returned to his publishing business and was also active in the leadership of the Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten (Imperial Association of Jewish Front Soldiers), a veterans' organization. In 1936 his wife Jeannette died. In 1941 Felix Kauffmann immigrated to the United States via Portugal, where he settled in New York City. He lost his publishing house's stock of books during the war. During the 1940s he was vice-president of B'nai B'rith's Leo Baeck Lodge. Felix Kauffmann died in 1953 in New York.

Return to the Top of Page

Scope and Content Note

The Felix I. Kauffmann Collection documents the life and professional work of this publisher and rare book dealer. Included is information on the family publishing house, his military service during World War I, and membership in Jewish organizations. The collection contains his correspondence, official documents such as military, vital and legal papers, curricula vitae, newspaper clippings and articles, and other papers.

Material on Felix Kauffmann's life is prevalent and will be found in each series. Series I contains correspondence, much of which focuses on his role as publisher of Jewish books. Related is also a contract in this series between his father and himself about their firm Kauffmann & Co. It also holds documentation of his service in World War I, recognition for it, and subsequent leadership in the Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten. Various official documents such as birth and marriage certificates, some papers related to his immigration via Portugal and a copy of his Lebenslauf (curriculum vitae) are also present. Kauffmann's position as vice-president of the B'nai B'rith Leo Baeck Lodge in New York City will be found in Series II; this series also includes correspondence with Rabbi Leo Baeck among which is a letter detailing the fate of Kauffmann's publishing firm and its warehouse holdings in Germany. Finally, Series III includes a family tree that shows four generations of the Kauffmann family.

The collection additionally contains other subjects. In Series II are also newspaper clippings and articles on Leo Baeck. Series III holds a few letters from other individuals to Felix Kauffmann and others, including various requests for immigration affidavits. Some clippings related to books and book collections are also present here as is the collection's former item-level inventory.

Return to the Top of Page


The collection is arranged in three series:

Return to the Top of Page

Access and Use

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 "Reserve" 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

Return to the Top of Page

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 and Library contain several archival collections, books and other material that pertain to the Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten or to Rabbi Leo Baeck.

The LBI Library includes a microform on Ignatz Kauffmann, father of Felix I. Kauffmann: Ignatz Kauffmann, 5 Juni 1849 - 14 Dezember 1913. Blaetter der Erinnerung [Trauerreden und Nachrufe] von der Familie dem Druck uebergeben [x MfW Y121].

Return to the Top of Page

Separated Material

During processing three copies of the journal New Palestine were removed from folder 1/6, with photocopies made of the pertinent article and letters to the editor.

Return to the Top of Page

Digitization Note

The collection was digitized and made accessible in its entirety.

Return to the Top of Page

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Felix I. Kauffmann Collection; AR 2633; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

Return to the Top of Page

Processing Information

This collection's arrangement, and particularly its establishment of series, is based on the collection's former item-level inventory written by Ilse Turnheim in 1965. The former Series I and V are now series I and III; their contents have been further subdivided into multiple folders by prominent topic or format. The former Series II, III, and IV, each of which consisted of a single folder that pertained to Leo Baeck or the Leo Baeck Lodge, have been gathered together into Series II. All items are numbered; these number pertain to the former item-level inventory.

Return to the Top of Page

Other Finding Aid

An eight-page inventory that lists each item in the collection is available and has been retained in the last folder of the collection. Items in this inventory include numbers that refer to each item of the collection.

Return to the Top of Page

Container List


Series I: Personal Papers, 1877-1943

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


Scope and Content:

Series I holds Felix Kauffmann's personal papers, including his personal and professional correspondence, papers related to his military service in World War I and veteran activities, and official and legal documents, in addition to various other papers.

Felix Kauffmann's correspondence, in the first folder of the series, covers an assortment of topics. Several relate to the effect upon his publishing business by his immigration to the United States. Such letters include discussion from a lawyer regarding the transferral of publishing rights for the Jüdische Lexicon, the disposition of stored books, and statements from the Jüdischer Kulturbund regarding the work and history of the Kauffmann publishing firm in both German and English. A detailed letter by Kauffmann to the American German-language newspaper Aufbau outlines a proposal for the establishment of an Aufbau library that would hold texts most useful in orienting new immigrants to live in the United States – such books would teach self-independence of thought and include works on Judaism, art, technology and spiritual knowledge. A 1942 letter from a lawyer is accompanied by a lawsuit by Kauffmann against the Hebrew Publishing Company for copyright infringement of the English version of the Wolf Heidenheim/ Roedelheim Sidur.

The second folder relates to Kauffmann's service in World War I and his participation in the Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten. This includes photocopies of his certificates for his four medals, the Iron Cross I and II class, the Hamburg-Hanseatic Cross and the Cross of Honor for Front Combatants. Another document lists his military service, including the companies to which he belonged and his promotions in rank. Statements by the Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten list his positions in the organization, including chairman of the regional association for Southwest Germany, membership in the leadership advisory council, and deputy union chairman.

Official and legal papers consist of marriage certificates of his parents and his own birth certificate, a letter by his father Ignatz Kauffmann to the German consulate in Boston regarding the death of a family member and a contract between Ignatz and Felix Kaufmann regarding the transfer of the publishing and rare book portions of Kauffmann & Co. The final folder holds various other documents, such as lists by Thekla Hirsch née Kauffmann of items that should be given to Felix and other family in memory of her. Several documents relate to Felix Kauffmann's immigration, including a list of directions for travelers going to Lisbon from Germany and a list by the Jewish Community on new regulations for transporting possessions, including books. Notable is Felix Kauffmann's curriculum vitae (Lebenslauf).

12Military Service and Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten1917-1919, 1936-1939
13Official and Legal Documents1877-1939
14Other Papersundated, 1926-1943
Return to the Top of Page

Series II: Leo Baeck and the Leo Baeck Lodge, 1939-1948

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


Scope and Content:

Series II contains Felix Kauffmann's correspondence with Rabbi Leo Baeck, material Kauffmann collected on him and on the B'nai B'rith Leo Baeck Lodge of New York, of which Kauffmann was vice-president.

Most of the correspondence with Leo Baeck relates to the fate of Leo Baeck's book Essence of Judaism (the English version of his Wesen des Judentums), which had been stored in Kauffmann's warehouse in Frankfurt. The earliest letter, from Kauffmann, expresses his greetings and well wishes but also describes the loss of his warehouse contents in Portugal in 1942. Other letters pertain to his sending of books by Leo Baeck's father and exchange with Dora Wiener concerning payments. Related is the following folder of newspaper clippings and articles on Leo Baeck, including a series of letters to the edition on a controversial 1943 article in the journal New Palestine on assimilated Jews in Germany in which Leo Baeck is featured.

The final folder holds material on B'nai B'rith's Leo Baeck Lodge. In addition to the program for the initial installation of the Lodge are various circular letters announcing meetings and information on the organization's postwar European Aid Program. In addition there is a report of a mediation between two disagreeing members and some letters regarding payments.

15Baeck, Leo – Correspondence1945-1948
16Baeck, Leo – Newspaper Clippings and Articles1939-1946
17Leo Baeck Lodge, New York1944-1946
Return to the Top of Page

Series III: Other Papers, 1898, 1939-1941, 1965

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


Scope and Content:

Series III holds various other papers, including correspondence, some clippings and other material and the collection's previous inventory that also includes a Kauffmann family tree.

The first folder includes a few letters to Felix Kauffmann from a friend as well as a few letters and curricula vitae from other individuals requesting affidavits for immigration. A set of these from Otto and Erna Simon-Wolfskehl was addressed to Herbert Lehman, governor of New York. The second folder primarily holds clippings about Jewish libraries and collections of books, including clippings from National Socialist newspapers. It also contains a list of books for the Reichsinstitut für Geschichte on the Jewish question.

18Correspondence and Curricula Vitae1941
19Literature and Literary Collections – Newspaper Clippings, Articles, Listundated, 1898, 1939-1941
110Old Inventory and Kauffmann Family Tree1965 July
Return to the Top of Page