Guide to the Papers of Erich Kahler (1885-1970), 1886-1980
AR 2141 / MF 755

Processed by Valentina Schmidt

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2007 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Finding aid was encoded by Lea Osborne on January 05, 2007. Description is in English.
2010-03-11  encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl 2010-03-02  encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kahler, Erich, 1885-1970
Title: Erich Kahler Collection
Dates: 1886-1980
Abstract: This collection documents the personal and professional life of Erich Kahler (1885-1970), an author and lecturer in Europe and the United States. Throughout his entire professional life he researched and wrote on the history and culture of the Jews. After he left Nazi-Germany in 1933, he continued publishing his literature and social scientific works. Kahler also held several university teaching positions, one of which was at the New School for Social Research, in New York City. He kept company with further German Jewish intellectuals in his American exile, such as Thomas Mann and Albert Einstein. His works were well respected among his academic peers.
Languages: The collection is in German and English.
Quantity: 2 linear feet and one oversized box
Identification: AR 2141 / MF 755
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
Return to the Top of Page

Biographical Note

Erich Kahler (originally von Kahler) was born on October 14, 1885 in Prague and grew up in Vienna, Austria. Both cities were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire then, which was very rich with culture and cultural exchange, due to its multi-ethnic population. Vienna and Prague, in particular, were cultural centers and helped mold the literary landscape in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Kahler was a typical scholar of his age. His studies at the universities of Berlin, Munich, Heidelberg and Freiburg were highly well rounded. He attended lectures in Philosophy, Literature, Fine Arts, History, Sociology and Psychology, which illustrate the wide range of his academic education.

He earned his Ph.D. in 1911 at the University of Vienna and made his home in Wolfratshausen, near Munich. After which he traveled through Europe, working as an author and lecturer.

When Hitler gained power in 1933, Erich Kahler fled Nazi-Germany and returned to Prague. Soon the political development in Europe forced him into exile and he left the continent for the United States. In 1938 he arrived in New York and then moved to Princeton, at the request of his friend Thomas Mann. He became a U.S. citizen in 1944.

Erich Kahler continued his career in the United States successfully as a lecturer and visiting professor from 1940 to 1960. One of the university teaching positions he held was at the New School for Social Research, in New York City. Man the Measure, his first book published in America, is based on his lectures there.

Other German Jewish academics and scientists, who left Europe before Word War II, always surrounded him. This so-called Kahler-Kreis (Kahler-Circle) included such famous persons as Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann and Hermann Broch. Kahler cultivated a very close friendship with Thomas Mann and his entire family. The correspondence of these two individuals was published under the title, An Exceptional Friendship: The Correspondence of Thomas Mann and Erich Kahler.

It is possible to rank Erich Kahler among a part of the great German tradition of the uomo universale. This term can be loosely defined as describing an eclectic scholar with an unusual amount of skills and acquaintances from different academic fields. According to the documents, this is apparent in the wide range of subjects he studied as well as the broad spectrum of works that he produced. He continued exploring various topics throughout his time as a writer. Kahler analyzed the changing roles of science, technology and history and was especially interested in the relationship of man and his reaction to these changes. The role of the Jews in the world's history was always a major topic throughout all his works.

Besides his teaching, Erich Kahler was a literary critic, especially of Thomas Mann. He also published a remarkable number of books, essays and contributed regularly to magazines and papers. As a member of various anti-war and anti-bomb groups he protested World War II and the devastating effects of military action. He volunteered for the Committee to Frame a World Constitution and the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, just to name a few organizations. Throughout his life, Kahler was also a staunch supporter of the Zionist movement.

Erich Kahler died in Princeton in June 1970. His second wife Mrs. Alice (Lili) Kahler-Loewy, who he married during his time in Princeton, lived until 1992. She took care of his bequest and donated his papers to different research establishments, among others to the Leo Baeck Institute in New York.

Return to the Top of Page

Scope and Contents

The Erich Kahler Collection is divided into two series. The first series concerns the author's professional life, his many works and his numerous colleagues. The second series concerns the author’s personal life. The collection consists of a number of the author's manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, documents and clippings.

The bulk of the first series is manuscripts. Some of them are handwritten while others are typed with accompanying handwritten notes from Erich Kahler. They span a time period from 1913 to 1965. There are also handwritten notes and pieces of manuscripts by the author that are either sections of or notes for his most well known books. These are, for example, The Jews and the Arabs in Palestine, which he wrote together with Albert Einstein in 1944 and Was ist Musik? Das Leben V.Z.'s, an obituary to Viktor Zuckerkandl from 1965.

Since the author was friends with famous German authors like Thomas Mann and Hermann Broch, their letters are a highlight of the collection's correspondence.

Furthermore Kahler's entire family was very close friends with Albert Einstein. Erich Kahler himself, as well as his second wife Alice Kahler-Loewy and also his mother Antoinette von Kahler corresponded with Einstein. Those letters may be found in this collection. Photos from Albert Einstein also document the close relationship between the Kahler Family and him.

Also included in this collection is a large amount of letters from Friedrich Gundolf. Erich Kahler and his first wife Josephine (born Sobotka) were very close with Gundolf. These letters are well preserved.

The documents in the collection span a period of fourty-four years, from 1884 to 1938. Of particular interest are several documents from the time right before World War II. Financial certifications from the Czech Republic and from Austria, Antoinette von Kahler's health attestations and certifications from different authorities document the preparation of the family's immigration to their exile in the United States.

Return to the Top of Page


This collection is arranged in two series.

Return to the Top of Page

Access and Use

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 “Request” button`

Access Restrictions

Researchers must use microfilm (MF 755)

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

Separated Material

Rare Material: Belloc, Hilaire. Die Juden. München: Verlag Joseph Koesel 7amp; Friedrich Pustet, 1927.

Books were removed to the LBI Library (please see bibliography within the collection) and select photographs have been placed in the LBI Photograph Collection.

Return to the Top of Page


This collection is available on 6 reels of microfilm:

Return to the Top of Page

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Erich Kahler Collection; AR 2141 / MF 755; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

Return to the Top of Page

Container List


Series I: Professional Life, 1911-1980

This series is in German and English.
1.25 linear feet


Scope and Content:

Series I is composed of records that document Erich Kahler's professional life and work. This series is arranged into two subseries, Manuscripts, which are both handwritten and typed and annotated. The second subseries, Clippings, is comprised of articles written by Kahler and various clippings either about him or collected by him for research purposes.

Subseries 1: Manuscripts, 1913-1968

This subseries is in German and English.
Scope and Content:

A large amount of Kahler's manuscripts are held in this series. Several of them are handwritten and some of the typed manuscripts have handwritten notes by the author. The range of manuscripts shown here illustrates the academic breadth of his work, since there are manuscripts collected from throughout his life. The earliest is from 1913 (Über Pathos) and the latest from 1965 (Was ist Musik? Das Leben V.Z.'s). His publications, lectures and journal contributions focus on the religion and history of the Jews. Kahler's bilingualism throughout his literary work is also reflected in this collection of manuscripts. For example, the manuscript of Was sind die Juden? is there in its English translation.

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Bibliography 1905-1986
1 2 Address by Kahler Given at the Jewish Center 1966 April 10
1 3 Der Beruf der Wissenschaft undated
1 4 Culture undated
1 5 Der deutsche Charakter in der Geschichte Europas 1937
1 6 Die deutsche Verwirklichung, p. 1-248 undated
1 7 Die deutsche Verwirklichung, p. 371-597 undated
1 8 Form and Feature of Anti-Judaism undated
1 9 Israel unter den Völkern 1936
1 10 Israel unter den Völkern (French Translation) undated
1 11 Jewish Responsibility undated
1 12 Jews and Germans 1963
1 13 Die Juden in Abendland 1943-1945
1 14 Die Juden in Europa undated
1 15 Die Juden und die Araber in Palästina 1944
1 16 Judentum und Deutschtum 1935
1 17 Loose Pages of an Untitled Manuscript undated
1 18 Über Pathos 1913
1 19 Ursprung und Wandlung des Judenhasses 1939
1 20 Was ist Musik? Das Leben V.Z.'s 1965
1 21 Was sind die Juden? undated
1 22 What Are the Jews? 1950-1965

Subseries 2: Clippings, 1911-1971

This subseries is in German and English.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 consists of clippings that are divided in three topical sections. Section A contains Erich Kahler's journal and newspaper articles. He contributed to various publications throughout his career. Thus the range of the clippings spans a period from 1911-1971 (which is from the very beginning of his career to his life's end). The bulk of the articles are about his close friend, Albert Einstein. There is also a series of newspaper articles that he published together with Einstein.

Section B hold clippings about Erich Kahler. These comments and criticisms on his publications give insight into his work as a writer. Furthermore there are many newspaper articles from the year 1970, which were published after his death. These obituaries show his life and his career. His prominence as an author and as a private person is documented in this section.

Section C is comprised of newspaper clippings, which Erich Kahler collected for personal interest and for professional research. There is a collection of clippings about World War II and a collection of articles and different texts written by his colleagues and by his friends. These individuals include notables such as Hermann Broch, Margarethe Susman and Karl Wolfskehl, among others.

A) Journal Contributions by Kahler

Box Folder Title Date
1 23 Albert Einstein 1944-1972
1 24 Journal Contributions 1911-1955
1 25 Journal Contributions 1961-1971

B) Clippings About Kahler

Box Folder Title Date
1 26 Clippings 1919-1943
1 27 Clippings 1949-1980
1 28 Clippings undated
1 29 Untitled Paper by Eva J. Engel 1970

C) Clippings Collected by Kahler

Box Folder Title Date
1 30 Clippings on World War II 1932-1985
1 31 Colleagues of Kahler 1939-1975
Box   Title Date
OS 34   Paul Ehrlich 1915-1936

Subseries 3: Correspondence, 1912-1971

This subseries is in German and English.
Scope and Content:

The focus in the professional correspondence of Erich Kahler is the letters from Martin Buber. These two men kept correspondence throughout nearly all of their lives, beginning in 1912 to the early 1960s. Topics written about include literature and, of course, the political situation in Europe, which was a salient issue for the both of them. Beyond this they had a close private relationship, so there are also personal topics in the correspondence. Furthermore there is a great amount of correspondence with his colleagues collected here, for example a few letters from Gershom Sholem, the famous Jewish religion historian. There are also letters from Efraim Frisch, the editor of the literary journal Der neue Merkur, of which Erich Kahler was a constant contributor.

Box Folder Title Date
2 1 Buber, Martin 1912 November-1963 August
2 2 Kobler, Franz 1940 October-1953 April
2 3 Susman, Margarete 1935 July-1971 March
2 4 Wolfskehl, Karl 1920 September-1946 December
2 5 Correspondence with Colleagues 1912 November-1967 August
  • Anders, Guenther
  • Baeck, Leo
  • Bar Kochba, Prag
  • Cahnmann, Werner
  • Cohn, Fritz
  • Einstein, Albert
  • Frisch, Efraim
  • Loewi, Otto
  • Maller, Liese
  • Mann, Thomas
  • Melzer, Josef
  • Der Morgen
  • Picard, Max
  • Pick, Ernst P.
  • Rosenfeld, Hans
  • Rosenzweig, Franz
  • Ruben, Margot
  • Sholem, Gershom
  • Stillmann, Ernst
  • Strauss, Eduard
  • Wolff, Alfred
  • Zuckerkandl, Victor
Return to the Top of Page

Series II: Personal Life, 1884-1968

This series is in German and English.
0.75 linear feet


Scope and Content:

Series II documents Erich Kahler's personal life. This series has been arranged into five subseries: Correspondence, the bulk of which consists of letters from Kahler's close friend, Friedrich Gundolf, Documents, which include financial records and immigration-related records, Photographs, papers belonging to Antoinette von Kahler, Kahler's mother, and the correspondence of his second wife, Alice Loewy-Kahler.

Subseries 1: Correspondence, 1910-1968

This subseries is in German and English.
Scope and Content:

The bulks of letters within Erich Kahler's personal correspondence are from Friedrich Gundolf. He was a very close friend of Kahler and his first wife, Josephine. Friedrich Gundolf, born as Friedrich Leopold Gundelfinger in Darmstadt, was a poet and a professor of German Philology in Heidelberg. Their close friendship, in which Josephine was also involved, is visible throughout all those letters. Kahler's and Gundolf's discussions about literature can be reconstructed in the correspondence. The letters date from 1910 and last until Gundolf's death in 1931. Another close friendship, the one to the Beer-Hofmann Family is also visible in their letters. Erich Kahler and his mother, Antoinette von Kahler, were active correspondents with Richard Beer-Hofmann and his two daughters, Miriam and Naemah.

Richard Beer-Hofmann and Antoinette von Kahler were first cousins and they grew up together after Richard Beer-Hofmann parents died.

Box Folder Title Date
2 6 Beer-Hoffmann, Miriam 1923 April-1968 April
2 7 Beer-Hoffmann, Richard and Naemah 1930 December-1965 July
2 8 Gundolf, Elli (Kahler to Gundolf; xeroxes) 1927 November-1932 November
2 9 Gundolf, Friedrich (original letters from Gundolf) 1910 March-1912 December
2 10 Gundolf, Friedrich (original letters from Gundolf) 1913 January-1915 August
2 11 Gundolf, Friedrich (original letters from Gundolf) 1916 January-1918 November
2 12 Gundolf, Friedrich (original letters from Gundolf) 1919 January-1921 December
2 13 Gundolf, Friedrich (original letters from Gundolf) 1922 January-1926 October
2 14 Gundolf, Friedrich (original letters from Gundolf) 1927 April-1931 June
2 15 Gundolf, Friedrich (original letters from Gundolf) 1910 September-1919 November
2 16 Gundolf, Friedrich (original letters from Gundolf) 1920 January-1931 April
2 17 Gundolf, Friedrich (original letters from Gundolf) undated
2 18 Letters of Condolence (to Kahler after his mother's death) 1951
2 19 Miscellaneous 1923 June-1968 March

Subseries 2: Documents, 1884-1938

This subseries is in German and English.
Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 documents the time during which Erich Kahler and his mother prepared to leave Europe for the United States. Included are documents concerning the family's money transfers, Antoinette von Kahler's health attestations, and the certification of naturalization for Erich Kahler and his mother in the United States. Of particular interest are Kahler's military draft from 1916 and his Hebrew marriage contract with Josephine Sobotka dated 1921.

Box Folder Title Date
2 20 Documents 1884-1911
2 21 Documents 1916-1933
2 22 Documents 1935-1938
Box   Title Date
OS 34   Scrapbook Pages 1896-1898

Subseries 3: Photographs, 1919-1959

Scope and Content:

Photographs visually document the private life of Kahler. Among two older pictures (approximately 19th century) from Kahler's two great grandmothers on the mother's side there are photographs of his friends, Susi Glaubach, a famous pharmacologist, Karl Wolfskehl and Martin Buber, among others. His close friendship with Albert Einstein is documented through several intimate photos of Einstein during his time in Princeton. Those pictures were removed from the Erich Kahler Collection and are now within the Leo Baeck Photo Collection. One remaining photo from 1947 shows Alice Kahler-Loewy together with Albert Einstein in his garden in Princeton.

Box Folder Title Date
2 23 Erich Kahler undated
2 24 Family undated
2 25 Friends 1919-1959
2 26 House of Kahler's Grandparents undated

Subseries 4: Antoinette von Kahler, 1940-1950

This subseries is in German.
Scope and Content:

Antoinette von Kahler's personal documents and correspondence are held in this subseries. The majority of the correspondence is with the Beer-Hofmann family. The correspondence with Richard Beer-Hofmann's daughters Miriam and Naemah illustrates a very close and intimate relationship, as well as with Richard Beer-Hofmann himself. Antoinette von Kahler also wrote poetry and prose. Scripts from three of her theater plays are found in this collection, as well as a notebook with poems and drafts for poems.

Box Folder Title Date
2 27 Correspondence with Hermann Broch 1941 April-1951 January
2 28 Correspondence with Beer-Hofmann Family 1940 February-1945 March
2 29 Correspondence with Individuals (Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Mann 1947 January-1950 March
2 30 Poems undated
2 31 Scripts for Plays undated
2 32 Handmade Ribbon undated

Subseries 5: Alice Loewy-Kahler Correspondence, 1940-1950

This subseries is in German and English.
Scope and Content:

Alice Kahler-Loewy, Erich Kahler's second wife, was in charge of his estate. Much of her correspondence is with various institutions where Erich Kahler's bequest was donated to. Of particular interest is her correspondence with Margot Einstein, Albert Einstein's stepdaughter.

Box Folder Title Date
2 33 Einstein, Margot 1959 December-1985 September
2 34 Letters of Condolence 1970
2 35 Miscellaneous 1920 May-1989 April
Return to the Top of Page