Guide to the Papers of Meinhardt Lemke (1904-1962)

AR 4235 / MF 1027

Processed by Katharina Hoffmann

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2009 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in October 2009. Description is in English.
March 22, 2012  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Lemke, Meinhardt, 1904-1962
Title: Meinhardt Lemke Collection
Dates:bulk 1929-1960
Abstract: This collection contains personal and professional material of Meinhardt Lemke such as a large amount of manuscripts, correspondence and various documents like his immigration papers and religious school material from Silesia.
Languages: The collection is in German, English, Hebrew, Polish, and Spanish.
Quantity: 1 linear foot.
Identification: AR 4235 / MF 1027
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Mainhardt Lemke was born in 1904 in Fordon (today in Poland). He studied in Breslau (now Wrocŧaw, Poland) and Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia) and worked for a short time as a journalist writing poems and short stories. The well-known novelist Ernst Wiechert supported his lyrical talent. Until 1933 Lemke worked in the University of Breslau's library where he started studying Jewish history and Judaic studies. In 1939 Meinhardt Lemke was arrested and brought to Dachau concentration camp. He immigrated to Bolivia in 1939 where he worked as a religious teacher and as a preacher in the Jewish community. In 1946 he came to New York, where he died in 1962. He also wrote under the nom de plume Manfred Kulm.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains a large amount of Meinhardt Lemke's work as a writer, several volumes of poetry, some short stories and some novels. It also preserves notes and fragments of poems and novels. The collection contains Meinhardt Lemke's personal and professional correspondence concerning his literary work and his work as a teacher in La Paz. The collection also includes personal documents like his immigration documents, class material from his religious studies in Silesia and Prussia and religious song books that Meinhardt Lemke’s father compiled.

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This collection is divided into three series, a personal series, another series that contains a large amount of his manuscripts and a third series that contains professional and personal correspondence.

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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.

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

Collection is microfilmed, please use MF 1027.

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, including family portraits and other subjects have been removed to the photograph collection. These can be found under the numbers F 17726, F 11728, F 4122 E, F 4122 F, AR 10808.

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Custodial History

[information about the chain of ownership of the materials being described, before reaching the archive]

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Collection is available on 3 reels of microfilm (MF 1027).

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Meinhardt Lemke Collection; AR 4235; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Container List


Series I: Personal, 1905-1962

This series is in German, English, Spanish, Polish, and Hebrew.
0.25 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

This series contains personal documents of Meinhardt Lemke, such as his papers concerning his immigration to the U.S. and his diary about his journey from Bolivia to New York in 1945, with an additional entry from 1957. This series includes papers from his studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau before his immigration to Bolivia. In addition the series has songbooks from his father Leopold Lemke, who was a cantor in the Jewish community in Breslau and arranged collections of songs for the high Jewish holidays. The clippings contain announcements about lectures held by Meinhardt Lemke and other events.

His diary is a description of his emigration from Bolivia to the U.S. His week-long journey traveled from La Paz to the coast of Chile by train where he took a ship along the Chilean coast, crossed the Panama canal, the Gulf of Mexico and arrived in New Orleans. His diary ends there but he continued traveling to New York. In 1957, he added an epilogue from New York showing an extract of his new life in the U.S.

Folder five contains various personal documents, mainly concerning his immigration to the U.S., but also membership identity cards of the associations he joined and newspaper clippings concerning his death in 1962. It also contains reports from the Jewish community in Bolivia and résumés. This folder also includes papers from the University of Breslau, his timetables and other material. There are also two birth certificates issued in 1938.

13Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau1934-1937
OS 110Leopold Lemke - Oversized Songbook1905
14Leopold Lemke - Songbooks1905
15Personal documents1926-1962
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Series II: Correspondence, 1927-1961

This series is in German, English and Hebrew.
0.25 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

This series contains Meinhardt Lemke's correspondence, which is divided by subjects. Folder six contains correspondence with publishers in Germany, the U.S. and Bolivia. It also contains some receipts for published poems or short stories and a few poems that other writers sent to Meinhardt Lemke. This folder also contains a hand-written letter by Thomas Mann. Meinhardt Lemke was a member in several religious and civic associations. Folder seven contains his correspondence with these organizations and others.

Folder eight contains correspondence with his family and his closer friends. During World War II immigration is a major topic of these letters: Meinhardt Lemke tried to convince his very close friend who lived in London at this time to immigrate to the U.S. because Bolivia was blocked for Jewish immigrants from Europe. His mother and sisters immigrated to the U.S.A. as well while his grandparents remained in Berlin. He also describes his life in Bolivia and the Bolivian culture.

The professional correspondence concerns work as a teacher and preacher, mainly in Bolivia. It contains letters by his students’ parents and similar related material.

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Series III: Manuscripts, 1924-1959

This series is in German and English.
0.5 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

This series contains a large amount of typescripts of mostly unpublished writing. These typescripts are novels, short stories, poems and fragments and drafts of those. His stories often deal with the experiences of persecution, Meinhardt Lemke experienced as a Jew in Germany. The amount of poems is large and has various topics, like persecution, love and separation of the beloved and others.

Folder 14 contains a compilation of speeches and letters for the association Vereinigung freier Deutscher Juden in Bolivien of which Meinhardt Lemke had been a member. Folder 24 contains various unarranged poems as well as newspaper clippings of the published poems.

110Beiseite getane Gedichte - Poems1924-1952
111Der blaue Ball mit den goldenen Sternenundated
112Fragments and Abstracts1929-1944
113Fragments of Poems1930-1956
114Freie Deutsche und freie Juden1943-1944
115Golus–Gesang - Poemsundated
116Leid und Lob und Liebe - Poemsundated
117Die neuen Gedichte1954
118Poems I1924-1934
119Poems II1935-1948
120Poems III1949-1959
121Schweigsame beginnen zu reden1928-1929
122Short Storiesundated
123Various Poemsundated
124Widmungen - Poems1927-1957
125Die Zersprengtenundated
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