Guide to the Papers of Arthur Bluhm (1899-1962)
1809-1962

AR 1884 / MF 733

Processed by Ilse Turnheim and Andrea Strauss

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305

Email: http://www.lbi.org/ask

URL: http://www.lbi.org

© 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 May 2006. Description is in English.
February 06, 2012  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bluhm, Arthur, 1899-1962
Title: Arthur Bluhm Collection
Dates:1809-1962
Abstract: This collection is composed of the papers of Arthur Bluhm, chief rabbi of Krefeld, Germany between 1928 and 1938, and rabbi of Temple B'nai Israel in Amarillo, Texas. It documents his professional life and also holds records related to the Krefeld Jewish Community and the Jews in Westphalia. In addition, the collection contains the papers of Abraham Sutro, chief rabbi of Westphalia from 1815-1869.
Languages: The collection is in German, English, and Hebrew.
Quantity: 0.5 linear foot and 1 oversized folder
Identification: AR 1884 / MF 733
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Arthur Bluhm was born in Cekzin, West Prussia (now Poland). He attended the secondary school (Gymnasium) in the town of Konitz (now Chojnice, Poland), graduating in 1919. Bluhm continued his studies at the Universities of Berlin and Würzburg, studying philosophy and languages, and received his doctorate at Würzburg in 1924.

After completion of his university studies, Bluhm worked as a student rabbi in Berlin, teaching religion to secondary school students and officiating in synagogues. For seven months in 1927 he filled in for the head rabbi in Danzig, who was recovering from illness. It was there that Bluhm met his future wife, Hannah Heimann. That same year he returned to Berlin to study at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, where he received his ordination as a rabbi. He then went to Krefeld, taking the position of assistant rabbi. In January 1928 he went to Danzig to be married; the following month he became the head rabbi of Krefeld. Bluhm would continue to serve in this position for the next eleven years.

Arthur Bluhm was among the Jewish leaders arrested by the Nazis in the autumn of 1938. Although at first he was held in a local jail, he was sent to the Dauchau concentration camp in November 1938, and incarcerated there for twenty-two days before being ordered to leave Germany. Bluhm took a position as a lecturer in Holland for a short time before emigrating to the United States in 1939 with the help of professor Fritz Kaufmann.

His first position in America was as the assistant rabbi for the North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois. In 1941 Bluhm became the rabbi of Temple B'nai Israel in Amarillo, Texas. He served in this position for the rest of his life, and established close ties within the Amarillo commuity, especially with other religious leaders. In addition to his rabbinic duties at the Temple, he worked as part-time chaplain for the Amarillo Air Force Base and was also active in the United Service Organization (USO) and many other organizations.

Arthur Bluhm died on July 18, 1962. His funeral service was attended by both Christian and Jewish leaders as well as an honor guard from the local Air Force base.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the papers of Rabbi Arthur Bluhm, which largely focus on his professional life. In addition, the collection also holds material on Jews in Westphalia, especially in Krefeld, where he served as rabbi. The papers include correspondence, manuscripts, published articles, and official documents.

Items detailing Arthur Bluhm's professional life are located in several areas of the collection. The majority of these documents are contained in Series I: Personal. This series consists of papers such as educational certificates from universities, letters from congregations Arthur Bluhm worked for before becoming ordained, documents pertaining to his time as chief rabbi in Krefeld, a few immigration documents, and condolences and memorials after his death. Papers from Bluhm's time in Krefeld consist of congratulations and invitations from Jewish organizations after he became a rabbi for Krefeld as well as letters, notices, and official documents from government agencies in the 1930s. Letters sent by him to family members of others imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp as well as a published account of the camp is also held in this series. Some biographical information on Bluhm is contained in Series I, especially among the material written about him after his death. Most of Bluhm's correspondence will be found in Series II. The letters include greetings, requests for immigration aid, and some letters from members of his congregation. There are four letters from Leo Baeck among the correspondence. Some compositions of Bluhm are also among the material in this collection, and will be found in Series III. Noteworthy writings consist of his doctoral dissertation and a textual analysis of the seventieth chapter of Hosea. In addition, essays, both published and in manuscript form are also located in Series III and contain writings such as memorial and funeral speeches, an article on the Jewish youth movement, and essays on Passover and Hanukkah.

Another subject well-represented in this collection is Jews in Westphalia, with emphasis on Krefeld. Some material on this topic will be found in every series, but is especially prevalent in Series IV: Krefeld Jewish Community and Series V: Papers of Abraham Sutro. Among the documents of Series I is a speech on the persecution of members of the Krefeld B'nai Brith Lodge. The letters from former congregants in Series II include updates of the fates of various individuals from the Krefeld community. In addition, Series II also holds letters from Fritz Leven describing the state of the community in 1947. Series IV consists of organizational papers and correspondence from or concerning Jewish institutions in Westphalia, primarily in Krefeld. Three articles on the region include a report and an essay by Helmut Hertz on the Jewish cemetery and synagogue in Krefeld and a newspaper clipping on Jews in the Rheinland and Westphalia. In addition, this series contains photocopies of photographs of the synagogue and a war memorial in Krefeld. A historical view of Jews in Westphalia is provided in the papers of Abraham Sutro, a chief rabbi of Westphalia. These documents, which date from the early to mid-1800s, comprise Series V and include government circulars and decrees on Jewish life in the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia and the Prussian province of Westphalia.

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Arrangement

The collection is made up of the following five series:

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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.

Collection is microfilmed (MF 733).

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
email: lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org

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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

Original photographs have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection. Photocopies of photographs are included in the collection.

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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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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Arthur Bluhm Collection; AR 1884; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

The collection was reprocessed in May 2006 in preparation for the creation of the EAD finding aid. Part II: Reden, Aufsaetze and Part VI of the former paper inventory were combined to form Series III: Writings. Description was added and oversized materials were photocopied and placed in their respective folders in the collection.

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Other Finding Aid

A detailed item-level inventory is available for the collection.

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Container List

 

Series I: Personal, 1914-1962

This series is primarily in German, with some English.
1 folder.
Arrangement:

Chronological.

Scope and Content:

Series I is made up of Arthur Bluhm's personal papers. The major focus of the documents here is on Bluhm's rabbinical work in Germany, but there are also educational documents and some material on his life in Amarillo, Texas.

The earliest papers in this series are his educational documents, largely comprised of certificates from the Universities of Berlin and Würzburg as well as from the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. These include copies of diplomas from both universities and a copy of Bluhm's doctorate from the University of Würzburg. The two certificates from the Wissenschaft des Judentums mention his completion of exams for the title of rabbi. Several letters from communities in Danzig, Berlin, and Langfuhr mention Bluhm's work as a student rabbi, and one letter from the community in Frankfurt am Oder after his ordination concerns a potential trial as rabbi.

Approximately twenty-five documents pertain to Arthur Bluhm's time as rabbi in Krefeld, up until his emigration in 1938. Many of the earliest papers on this topic are greetings and congratulations for his election as chief rabbi. There is also the program from his induction service and a newspaper clipping announcing him as new rabbi. Later documents show Bluhm's work during the 1930s, including work with the Hilfsverein der Juden in Deutschland. Papers documenting the Nazis' treatment of Jews include two lengthy reports. The first details how Jews from the Burgenland were incarcerated by the Nazis and how Bluhm worked for their release. The second report of this kind is a speech given to the B'nai Brith Lodge in Amarillo about the Nazi persecution of the Krefeld Lodge. There is also a newspaper clipping from the Amarillo Sunday News Globe that discusses Bluhm's imprisonment in Dachau.

A letter to the immigration agency HIAS and an application for work allude to Bluhm's immigration experience. Eleven documents relate to his life in Amarillo, including a long biographical article on him by his wife Hannah in 1963. Most of the Amarillo papers are memorials written after his death, and include condolences for his wife from several evangelical ministers and representatives from the Air Force and the Amarillo Rotary Club. There is also a notice on his death from his congregation's bulletin.

BoxFolderTitleDate
11Personal1914-1962
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Series II: Correspondence, 1928-1950

This series is primarily in German, with some English.
1 folder.
Arrangement:

Alphabetical.

Scope and Content:

This series holds the correspondence of Arthur Bluhm. It includes letters by Leo Baeck, Ismar Elbogen, Ernst Jacob, members of the Krefeld congregation, and others. Letters by Leo Baeck consist of greetings and information on a meeting in 1948.

Correspondence from members of the Krefeld community date from 1939 through 1941 and often are requests for affidavits of support for their American visas. Three letters from Fritz Leven in Krefeld to Arthur Bluhm in 1947 request aid packages and report on the situation of the remains of the community, many of whom were scattered in camps in various parts of Germany. There is also a letter from Rabbi Rosenwasser, who was held in the Gurs concentration camp, asking for assistance.

Some correspondence is also located in other areas of this collection. Letters concerning Bluhm's professional activities and requesting help with emigration will be found in Series I: Personal. A few letters from or concerning Krefeld organizations are in Series IV: Krefeld Jewish Community.

BoxFolderTitleDate
12Correspondence1928-1950
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Series III: Writings, 1929-1938

This series is in German.
2 folders.
Arrangement:

Chronological.

Scope and Content:

The writings of Arthur Bluhm will be found in Series III. Among the manuscripts and published newspaper articles here are essays, texts of speeches and sermons, and manuscripts of two longer works. Most of the sermons and speeches are memorial speeches or sermons, and are in the folder "Lectures and Essays." Prominent themes among the other types of writings here include children and reflections on religious topics.

Several articles in this series focus on education. Among the shorter writings, these include an essay on the goals of the Jewish youth movement and a book review of a work on morality in secondary schools. Bluhm's doctoral dissertation, which concerned itself with a historical and religious view on children in Judaism, is also placed here. It explores how children appear in the Bible, with lessons on how Judaism regards children and their social role in the life of the ancient Hebrews.

Some works contained here center on religious themes. These include two published essays, one of which discusses the significance of the language used in the Kol Nidre. The other, published in 1938, discusses how Passover can be a festival of hope. Another essay among the shorter pieces here delineates how Hanukkah is represented in the Talmud and Midrash. Finally, there is a lengthy handwritten textual analysis among the folder of longer writings. This tract compares the Greek and Hebrew texts of the seventieth chapter of Hosea, showing that there are frequent and significant discrepancies between the texts in the two languages which materially affect its meaning.

BoxFolderTitleDate
13Lectures and Essaysundated, 1929-1938
14Longer Manuscriptsundated
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Series IV: Krefeld Jewish Community, 1914-1946

This series is primarily in German, with some English.
1 folder.
Arrangement:

Chronological.

Scope and Content:

This series holds documents specifically pertaining to the Jewish community of Krefeld. These consist of letters, organizational papers, and a few writings by others on the community.

The small amount of correspondence found here is comprised of letters sent by organizations to Arthur Bluhm. These usually pertain to community affairs, often from those organizations involved with youth or education. Included are letters from a school for girls wishing Bluhm good luck in his new position as rabbi for the community, from the Office for Youth at the Köln Synagogue on volunteer work. Finally, there is also a letter here to Kurt Alexander from the mayor of Krefeld concerning the demolition of Krefeld's synagogue. Several documents from the Jugendführer des Deutschen Reiches in 1933 are located here, including a letter registering Krefeld youth organizations and two documents on fees owed by the organizations.

Most of the papers in this series are documents concerning the work, activities, and events of various organizations, which are mainly located in Krefeld. These include announcements of meetings, invitations to lectures, and a few proceedings of meetings.

Two articles by Helmut Hertz will also be found here. One of these is a report on the condition of the Krefeld Jewish Cemetery, written in June 1945. The other is a short article on the importance of the synagogue to the Jewish Community of Krefeld.

This series also holds some photographs of the Krefeld Synagogue, both before and after its destruction in November 1938. There is also a photograph of the war memorial for the community's war efforts in 1918. All of these photographs have been physically removed to the LBI photo collection, but photocopies of them are included in the folder for this series.

BoxFolderTitleDate
15Krefeld Jewish Community1914-1946
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Series V: Papers of Abraham Sutro, 1809-1843

This series is primarily in German, with some Hebrew.
2 folders.
Arrangement:

Chronological.

Scope and Content:

Series V is the largest series of the collection and holds the papers of Rabbi Abraham Sutro. These papers include both a bound, hand-sewn volume and loose pages of letters and notices as well as a royal decree, a report, and a marriage certificate based on the Code Napoleon. Bound together are letters to Rabbi Abraham Sutro, first in Kassel, later in Teichensachsen and Beverungen from 1809 to 1811 and printed circulars from the years 1810 and 1811.

Almost all of the letters and notices in the bound volume are from the Consistory of Jews of the Kingdom of Westphalia (Konsistorium der Israeliten, Königreich Westfalen) to Sutro. They largely concern Sutro's time as a teacher and adjunct rabbi.

The loose documents pertain to various areas of Westphalia, especially the towns of Ossendorf, Schwerte, and Paderborn. Printed circulars illustrate the first years of emancipation: a school for Jewish schoolteachers, taxation, family names, services in the synagogue, and religious wedding ceremonies which should be held in German. Of special interest is a "Decret" of Hieronymus Napoleon (Jerome Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon and King of Westphalia) from 1811 given at Napoleonshöhe (later Wilhelmshöhe) in Kassel on the civil status and religious service of the Jews ("über den Civil-Stand und den Gottesdienst der Juden"). Loose letters to Rabbi Sutro date from 1812 to 1843, when Sutro was Landesrabbiner in Münster, Westphalia, and center on different matters and from several sources. They are almost entirely from government officials and agencies or from representatives of local Jewish communities.

BoxFolderTitleDate
16Bound Documents1809-1811
17Loose Documents1811-1843
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