Guide to the Papers of Arnold Tänzer (1871-1937)

AR 485 / MF 705

Processed by Dianne Ritchey Oummia and LBI Staff

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© January 2006 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey Oummia in January 2006. Description is in English.
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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Tänzer, Arnold, 1871-1937
Title: Arnold Taenzer Collection
Dates:bulk 1912-1937
Abstract: The Arnold Tänzer Collection documents the work and life of this German rabbi. Prominent topics of this collection include Moritz Lazarus, Jews in the German military, and the Jewish communities of Göppingen and Württemberg. The papers consist of manuscripts, official documents, diaries, correspondence, clippings, and a few photographs.
Languages: The collection is in German, Hebrew, and English.
Quantity: 1.5 linear feet
Identification: AR 485
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Aron Tänzer was born in 1871 in Pressburg, Hungary (now Bratislava, Slovakia) to Heinrich and Marie Tänzer née Schlesinger. He began religious study at a very early age, and attended school in Pressburg. In 1885 he contined his education at the rabbinical college in Pressburg before completing his academic studies in universities in Berlin and Bern. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1895, he spent the next year traveling. In 1896 he married his first wife, Rosa.

From December 1896 until February 1905 Tänzer was rabbi for the towns of Hohenems (Vorarlberg) in Austria, then served until 1907 as rabbi in Merano, in the southern Tirol area of Italy. In September 1907 he became rabbi of Göppingen in Baden-Württemberg. In 1912 his wife died; the next year he was married for the second time, to a woman named Bertha. While in Göppingen, Tänzer became increasingly interested in advocating the establishment and support of a public library for the city. He assisted in the creation and development of this institution, which was established in 1911, and also assisted in its administration.

In 1914 Tänzer volunteered for military service and was assigned to the position of Army chaplain (Armeerabbiner) for the Bug-Armee (later called the Heeresgruppe Linsingen-Eichhorn-Kiew) and remained in this position for the duration of the war. In November 1918 he was sent home because of illness and was released from his position on January 20, 1919. It was in 1924 that he changed his first name to Arnold. Tänzer's military service earned him several awards, including the Iron Cross Second Class. In 1933 he was dismissed from the Göppingen War Veterans' Association (Veteranen- und Militär- Verein "Kampfgenossenschaft" Göppingen) for being a Non-Aryan.

Following his participation in World War I, Arnold Tänzer spent much of his time writing. Tänzer was perhaps most well-known for his scholarly and historical writing. Several of his manuscripts on Moritz Lazarus and his histories on local Jewish communities were written at this time. In addition to works of a religious or cultural nature, such as Die Mischehe in Religion, Geschichte, und Statistik der Juden, he also produced several works on local Jewish history in the areas where he worked as rabbi. These works include his Geschichte der Juden in Tirol und Vorarlberg (1905); Brest-Litowsk: Ein Wahrzeichen russischer Kultur im Weltkriege (1917); Die Geschichte der Juden in Jebenhausen und Göppingen (1927) and Die Geschichte der Juden in Württemberg (1937).

Arnold Tänzer died in 1937 in Göppingen at the age of 66.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection provides information on the work and life of Arnold Tänzer. Among the items in this collection are manuscripts and clippings, official documents, correspondence, and diaries. Noteworthy topics include the philosopher Moritz Lazarus, World War I and the role of rabbis therein, and the Jewish community of Göppingen.

Material on Moritz Lazarus will be found in Series III: Writings, among Tänzer's other writings, and is mainly comprised of notes and manuscripts. Many of the notes consist of typed copies of letters to and from Moritz Lazarus by Berthold Auerbach, Chayim Steinthal, Georg Brandes, and others. There is also a copy of a work written by David Baumgardt and an inventory of the Moritz Lazarus collection of the Jewish National and University Library. Several of Tänzer's published newspaper and journal articles in this series also have Moritz Lazarus as their main subject.

World War I is another area that often appears in this collection. Most of this material is located in Series IV. Among the documents related to this topic are diaries and correspondence written during Tänzer's service on the East Front, a list and clipping on Jewish soldiers during the War, and documents describing Taenzer's treatment as a veteran during the rising anti-Semitism of the 1930s. The folder "Official Documents Concerning Service as Army Chaplain" describes the official duties of Jewish rabbis serving in the field in World War I, while his own description of his service will be found in the aforementioned folder of documents relating to his status as a veteran. Other material on Jewish soldiers may also be found among the published items available in Series III. Arnold Tänzer's book on Brest-Litowsk, written during his military service, is mentioned in correspondence from military and government officials that will be found in Series II.

Finally, this collection also provides some information on the Jewish community of Göppingen. This is most prominently found in the manuscript of his work Die Geschichte der Juden in Württemberg, in Series III. In addition, a few of the published clippings also address the topic. Routine correspondence regarding his role as rabbi of the community will be found in Series II. A small amount of correspondence concerning memorials of Arnold Tänzer by the city of Göppingen will be found in Series I.

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This collection is comprised of four series:

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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 Catalogand click on the "Request" 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

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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's William Nussbaum Collection (AR 10750) contains correspondence between Arnold Tänzer and William Nussbaum. Some published works of Arnold Tänzer will also be found in the LBI Library.

Some archives and museums in areas where Arnold Tänzer once lived hold some of his papers, including the Jüdisches Museum Hohenems and the Jüdisches Museum Göppingen. In addition, the City of Göppingen maintains a website on Jews in the Göppingen region with a biography containing photographs of Arnold Tänzer.

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Separated Material

Photographs have been removed to the Photo Collection. A memoir has also been removed to the memoir collection: Taenzer, Arnold (Arno): Kriegserinnerungen (ME 640).

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Custodial History

The papers of the collection were donated by Erwin Taenzer, in several installments from 1958 through 1996.

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The collection is available on 3 reels of microfilm (MF 705):

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Arnold Tänzer Collection; AR 485; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Container List


Series I: Personal, 1904-1987

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


Scope and Content:

Series I is composed of documents providing biographical information on Arnold Tänzer as well as items collected by him. Included in this series are some of his autobiographical writings, articles about him, two letters sent to Paul Tänzer after his death, and material on events held in Vorarlberg and Göppingen to honor his memory. Other documents found here include a list of the books in his library, a drawing of his study at the time of Tänzer's death, an edition of Der Jude, and a family tree for Albert Einstein created by Arnold Tänzer.

All of the diaries in this series are handwritten, although the autobiographical "Ich als Objekt. Von mir selbst betrachtet," written in 1904, also has a typed transcript of the handwritten piece. This piece delineates the rabbi's goals in keeping a daily journal, including his desire to learn from his mistakes and to assist his children in their future lives. It also provides a great deal of information on Tänzer's childhood and early influences. The other diaries describe his life in the 1920s.

Researchers should note that diaries written during Arnold Tänzer's time at the front in World War I are included in Series IV: World War I. That series also holds official documents and certificates pertaining to his service as an Army chaplain (Armeerabbiner).

11Albert Einstein's Genealogy1930
12Biographical Information1916, 1932-1979
13Budapest Synagogue – Photo and Poem1933
14Death of Arnold Taenzer1937?
15Diaries and Autobiographical Notes1904-1929
16Honorary Events1984-1987
17Jews in Germany – Clippings1932-1934
18Der Jude II. Jahrgang 1917-19181917-1918
19Library – List of Arnold Taenzer's Books1937
110Arnold Taenzer's Study – Photo and Drawing1937
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Series II: Correspondence, 1912-1939

This series is in German.
0.125 linear foot


Scope and Content:

This series holds a small amount of correspondence of Arnold Tänzer's. All of the correspondence appears to be professional in nature. Letters pertaining to his book on Brest-Litowsk are mainly from individuals thanking Tänzer for sending them copies of this informative work. These letters are notable because many of them are from military officials or signed by members of the government or their representatives, including the cabinets of the Kaiser and the King of Württemberg, Duke Friedrich Christian of Saxony, Prince Leopold of Bavaria, and the Reichsbund of jüdischer Soldaten. Letters exchanged with William Nussbaum discuss Nussbaum's interest in a sociological study he planned to make of Göppingen Jews, and mentions the assistance Tänzer provided him. The letters of the Oberrat der Israelitischen Religionsgemeinschaft Württembergs describe a few routine matters in Tänzer's role as rabbi of the community. One letter from the Gestapo inquires of a local administrator the whereabouts of Tänzer's unnamed widow after she removed some files belonging to the Jewish Community during her relocation to Stuttgart from Göppingen.

Correspondence with family members while Tänzer was at the front as well as correspondence from military officers or that pertains to his military service are located in Series IV: World War I.

111Brest Litowsk Book1917-1924
  • Gruenwald, Josua
  • Maybaum, Sigmund
  • Schocken Verlag
  • Unidentified
113Gestapo to Arnold Taenzer's Widow1939
114Nussbaum, W. (Arbeitsgemeinschaft fuer Juedische Erbforschung und Erbpflege)1933-1934
115Oberrat der Israelitischen Religionsgemeinschaft Württembergs1935-1936
116Straeck, Hermann L.1912-1919
117Strassburger, Alice1928-1937
118Zionist Organizations1919-1929
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Series III: Writings,  1909-1997

This series is in German.
0.75 linear foot


Scope and Content:

Series III: Writings is the largest series of the collection and holds manuscripts and one folder of published articles of Arnold Tänzer. Although the majority of writings here are handwritten, some are typed. In addition to the actual manuscripts written by Arnold Tänzer, this series also holds associated documents he collected in the production of these works, including notes, correspondence, and photographs.

The most prominent items by far in this series are the documents pertaining to Tänzer's biography of philosopher Moritz Lazarus. Although this work appears to have never been published, Tänzer seems to have worked extensively on it. This series includes a handwritten draft of the biography, typed copies of letters Lazarus exchanged with Chayim Steinthal, Berthold Auerbach, Georg Brandes, and others. Other items found here consist of an undated related text written by David Baumgardt and a list of items in the Moritz Lazarus Collection at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem.

Material on other manuscripts written by Tänzer that appear to be unpublished include drafts of his work Hathora Batalmud, Die Tragödie der Juden, and Die Stellung der Juden in der Kulturentwicklung der Menschheit, a lecture he gave at the Evangel-Arbeiter-Verein in Göppingen.

Published works found in this series include the numerous articles Arnold Taenzer wrote for newspapers, newsletters, and journals as well as a draft of Die Geschichte der Juden in Württemberg. The published articles discuss various topics related to Jewish social and communal issues. Of special interest may be Tänzer's articles on the history of local Jewish communities including Merano and the Tirol area and South America, Jewish soldiers and experiences on Germany's East front during World War I, and several articles on Moritz Lazarus and his work.

119Die Geschichte der Juden in Württemberg seit Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts – Foreword, p. 1-1801930
120Die Geschichte der Juden in Württemberg seit Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts – p. 181-3641933
121Die Geschichte der Juden im Württemberg seit Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts – Correspondence with the Supreme Council of Jews in Württemberg1933-1938
122Handwritten Manuscripts: Die Tragödie der Juden; Die Stellung der Juden in der Kulturentwicklung der Menschheit; Dramaturgische Notizen nach Schule des Lustspiels von Walter Harlau1909-1934
123Hathora Batalmud1937?
124Hathora Batalmud – Register der Thora- und Talmudstellen zu Hathora Batalmud II1937?
125Moritz Lazarus Manuscripts – Biographical Informationundated, 1934-1938
126Moritz Lazarus Manuscripts – Briefe von Berthold Auerbach an Moritz Lazarus, 1857-1882undated
127Moritz Lazarus Manuscripts – Briefe von Chazim Steinthal an Moritz Lazarus, 1851-1878undated
128Moritz Lazarus Manuscripts – Briefe von Georg Brandes an Moritz Lazarus, 1874-1876undated
129Moritz Lazarus Manuscripts – Briefe von Moritz Lazarus1930
130Moritz Lazarus Manuscripts - Führer des deutschen Judentums an die Zeit der Reichsgründung, Unveröffentlichte Briefe Berthold Auerbachs, Moritz Lazarus' und H. Steinthalsundated, 1963
131Moritz Lazarus Manuscripts – Moritz Lazarus Collection at the Jewish National and University Library1987
132Moritz Lazarus Manuscripts – Moritz Lazarus: Das Lebensbild eines deutschen Judenundated
133Moritz Lazarus Manuscripts - Table of Contents and Notesundated, 1934
21Published Articles1909-1930
22Die Stellung des Judentums in der Kulturentwicklung der Menschheit, Vortrag in Evangel-Arbeiter-Verein in Göppingen1909
23Die Tragödie der Juden1928
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Series IV: World War I,  1913-1996

This series is in German and Hebrew.
0.375 linear foot


Scope and Content:

Series IV provides material on Arnold Tänzer's time as a military chaplain (Armeerabbiner) during World War I. Included in this series are correspondence, offiicial papers, war diaries, material on Jewish soldiers in the war and in the Bug-Armee, and copies of a plaque given to Tänzer from a synagogue in Brest-Litowsk (now Brest, Belarus). Memorabilia consists of two paper napkins given to officers of the Bug-Armee, one of which is imprinted with the German and Yiddish program for the operetta “Susi”, performed in March 1917 in Warsaw.

Information on Jewish soldiers in the German Army during World War I is provided by a newspaper clipping and Tänzer's list of Jewish soldiers who served in the Bug-Armee. In addition, the official documents dealing with Tänzer's role as army chaplain give details on religious activities offered to soldiers during the war, including holding religious services once a month (with additional services during holiday seasons), providing soldiers with counseling, and comforting wounded and dying soldiers. Among the official documents is also an article written by Tänzer for his unit's newsletter about life on the front, schedules for services from 1916-1918, documents declaring his position, and a list of equipment available to him.

Arnold Tänzer's own descriptions of the war will be found in the three war diaries in this series as well as the folder "Des Vaterlandes Dank." The diaries mention places his military unit traveled to, people he spoke with, decisions he made, and his duties. The diary dated for the Spring of 1918 is labeled "Reisen in die Ukraine." Most of the military identification papers found in this series are official travel passes through military zones. The folder entitled "Des Vaterlandes Dank" describes Tänzer's treatment after the war as a decorated veteran. In 1933 he was dismissed from the local Veterans' Association (Veteranen- und Militär- Verein "Kampfgenossenschaft" Göppingen) because he was not an Aryan. In 1934 he was informed that he could not be awarded the Ehrenkreuz medal, in spite of having been wounded during the war, because he had not been a full, conscripted member of the military. Documents in this folder contain Tänzer's assertion that the larger portion of his time during the War was spent not in the staging area but at the front, where he held services, visited military hospitals, and often took part in burials. Finally, this folder also holds a document mentioning that he changed his name to Arnold on March 13, 1924.

24Brest Litowsk (Brzeska Glowna) Synagogue Plaque – Copy1925?
25Brest Litowsk (Brzeska Glowna) Synagogue Plaque – Photocopy of Inscription1925?, 1988
26Correspondence with Family1915-1917
27Correspondence with Officers During War1916-1919
28Correspondence – Donation of World War I files to the Gesamtarchiv der Juden in Deutschland1937
29German Jewish Soldiers in World War I – Newspaper Clipping1996
210List of Jewish Army Personnel in the Bug-Armee1920
211Military Identification Papers1913-1918
212Official Documents Concerning Service as Army Chaplain1915-1919
213"Des Vaterlandes Dank" – Expulsion from Veterans' Association1917, 1933-1936
214War Memorabiliaundated, 1917
215World War I Diaries – Originals1914-1918
216World War I Diaries – Photocopies1914-1918
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