Guide to the Papers of the Ludwig Philippson (1811-1889) Family

AR 2679

Processed by Ilse Turnheim

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

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Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey Oummia in February 2006. Description is in English.
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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Philippson family
Title: Ludwig Philippson Family Collection
Dates:bulk 1840-1953
Abstract: This collection holds the papers of rabbi Ludwig Philippson and other Philippson family members. Noteworthy items in this collection include handwritten manuscripts by Ludwig Philippson, correspondence between various family members, and diaries kept by Henriette and Moritz Philippson; the latter describes experiences as a medical student in Jena. In addition, the collection also holds manuscripts by the geographer Alfred Philippson that describe in depth family members as well as his experiences as a student, lecturer, and professor. Other items include detailed family trees, official papers, poems, notes, clippings, wills, and photographs.
Languages: The collection is in German, French, Dutch, Hebrew, and English.
Quantity: 1 linear foot
Identification: AR 2679
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

The Philippson family was a German Jewish family with roots in Saxony. The name Philippson was first used by Moses Philippson, the father of rabbi Ludwig Philippson, and was derived from Moses's father's name of Philipp Moses.

Rabbi Ludwig Philippson

Ludwig Philippson was born on December 28, 1811 in Dessau. He was the son of Moses Philippson, a teacher, and Marianne Levy-Wust. By the time he was fourteen, Ludwig Philippson was reciting poetry and writing literary pieces; by the next year he had left Dessau to study in Halle, where his older brother Phöbus was studying medicine. It was through Phöbus that he became interested in scientific studies. His first work was published at 16, under his brother's name: Die Propheten Hosea, Joel, Jona, Obadja und Nahum in metrisch-deutscher Übersetzung. In 1829 he began to attend the University of Berlin, with a major in classical philology. Since the family had exhausted much of its funds when sending his older brother to study medicine, and Jews could not receive scholarships, Ludwig Philippson supported himself by writing. Some of these early works appeared in publications such as Die Freimütige and the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung.

In 1833 Ludwig Philippson became the rabbi of the Magdeburg synagogue. He met members of the Wolffstein family soon after becoming rabbi, and in 1836 married Julianne Wolffstein. They would eventually have 3 daughters: Johanna, Bertha, and Rosalie. In 1843 he created a Jewish German-language newspaper: the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums, with the goal of bringing issues of religion, spirituality, and politics together in one publication. Several years later he wrote a German translation and interpretation of the Old Testament, which was published in several parts and several different editions beginning in 1841.

In September 1843 Ludwig Philippson lost his wife after many years of a wasting sickness. By the end of 1844 he had married Mathilde Hirsch, the sister of his brother's wife. Together they had six children: Martin, Meta, Joseph, Franz, Richard, and Alfred. During the 1840s Ludwig Philippson continued to write, producing in 1847 his work Die Entwicklung der religiösen Idee im Judenthume, Christenthume und Islam und die Religion der Gesellschaft; the next year another book on the relationship between religion and society was produced with Die Religion der Gesellschaft und die Entwickelung der Menschheit zu ihr, dargestellt in zehn Vorlesungen. He wrote several works on the rights of Jews in the Prussian state as well. The political events of 1848 also affected Philippson. In that year he was elected as a representative for his region of Saxony in the Frankfurt National Assembly. The next year he became a member of the Saxony trade council. In 1855 he helped found the Institut zur Förderung der isralitischen Literature in Leipzig. This institute published many works, including his novel Saron in 1858 as well as texts of his brother, Phöbus.

By 1862 Ludwig Philippson left his position as rabbi and moved from Magdeburg to Bonn, recommended by his doctors and family members for its mild climate. It was hoped that this would help alleviate his worsening health and growing blindness. Although the family first rented space on the first floor of a gardener's house, by 1863 he had bought a residence on Grünen Weg (now Königstrasse). There Ludwig Philippson lived with his family for the remaining twenty-five years of his life. Three generations of Philippsons would go on to live in this house, until its loss under the National Socialists. He shared in the life of the Jewish community in his new home, and supported the building of the synagogue there as well as the establishment of the new Jewish cemetery, where he, his wife, and numerous children and grandchildren would be buried.

While in Bonn Ludwig Philippson turned once more to his writing, and fought further for the equal rights of Jews. In 1866 he published Haben wirklich die Juden Jesus gekreuzigt? Many other works would come out of this time period, including religious essays, prayer books, poetry, and novels. Although most of his writings concerned religion, some continued to state his opinions in regards to the social status of Jews. In addition, in 1866 and 1867 two historical novels written by him were published.

Ludwig Philippson died on December 29, 1889 in Bonn.

Juliane Philippson née Wolffstein

Juliane Wolffstein, Ludwig's Philippson's first wife, grew up in the town of Osterburg. Her father was a businessman, who had died early, leaving behind five daughters, of which Julie was the youngest. Her mother took over the family business after the death of her husband. Julie Wolffstein grew up in a neighborhood where Jews and Christians often mixed. She died of lung tuberculosis in 1843. Julie Philippson had three children: Johanna, Bertha, and Rosalie, as well as a son who did not live to adulthood.

Mathilde Philippson née Hirsch

In 1844 Ludwig Philippson married Mathilde Hirsch, who was 21 years old. The fifth child of eight from a bourgeois family, she grew up in Halberstadt, although she often visited Magdeburg. She died in 1891.

Phöbus Philippson

Phöbus Philippson was the elder brother of Ludwig Philippson, son of Moses Philippson and Marianne Levy-Wust. He was born on July 25, 1807 in Dessau. In 1814 he began attending secondary school, and later left his home to study medicine in Halle. He graduated in 1828 and went to Magdeburg to work as a doctor. In 1835 he began practicing in the small town of Klötze. He published many medical articles as well as literary works. Two of these were written on cholera; one described the history of cholera from ancient times through the 1800s. In 1832 he married his cousin, Sara Gottschalk. After the death of his first wife he married her sister Pauline in 1849. Together they had four children who survived until adulthood and several who did not. Phöbus Philippson died in 1870.

Henriette Philippson née Ephraim

Henriette Philippson was the daughter of Ludwig Philippson's cousin Louis. She married Lesser Ephraim, Kommerzienrat, of the town of Görlitz. Their daughter, Ida, married Martin Philippson, the eldest son of Ludwig and Mathilde Philippson.

Moritz and Meta Philippson

Moritz Philippson was born in 1837 in Magdeburg, the son of Phöbus Philippson and Sara Gottschalk. He spent his earliest years in Klötze, where his father had his medical practice. Since there was no secondary school in Klötze, he stayed at the house of his uncle Ludwig Philippson in Magdeburg, along with his many cousins, while he continued his education. Like his father, Moritz Philippson also became a doctor, and studied medicine at universities in Jena, Berlin, and Vienna before opening a medical practice in Berlin. This practice was disturbed by wars several times, and Moritz worked as a field doctor during the Prussian-Danish war of 1864, the Prussian-Austrian war of 1866, and the German-French war of 1870-1871. In 1872 he married his cousin, Meta Philippson, the eldest daughter of Ludwig and Mathilde Philippson. Their only daughter Paula was born two years later. Moritz Philippson died in Bonn in 1877 of cancer; Meta died in 1928.

Paula Philippson

Paula Philippson was born in Berlin in 1874, the daughter of Moritz and Meta Philippson. She and her mother lived in the house on Grünen Weg in Bonn with her maternal grandparents, Ludwig and Mathilde Philippson, and cousins after the death of her father Moritz. Like her father and grandfather before her, Paula Philippson desired to become a doctor, an unusual profession for women at that time. Once Alfred Philippson returned to live at his parents' house, Paula and her mother moved to Berlin, where she eventually took the teachers' exams. Over the next few years Paula Philippson moved to several cities in an attempt to study medicine, including Wiesbaden, Straßburg, Freiburg and finally Breslau. There she completed her studies, and worked for four years in a clinic until she went to Frankfurt, where she worked as a pediatrician. Along with her professional interests, Paula also developed a great interest in Ancient Greece and classical artwork, and took many trips to Greece with her uncle Alfred Philippson and his wife. Paula Philippson never married and died in 1949 in Basel, Switzerland.

Alfred Philippson

Alfred Philippson was the youngest son of Ludwig and Mathilde Philippson, and was born in Bonn on January 1, 1864. He attended secondary school and spent two years studying geography and related fields at the University of Bonn under Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen. When Richthofen went to teach at the University of Leipzig in 1884, Alfred Philippson followed him, and received his doctorate in geography in 1886. The next year he traveled to Greece and would spend a significant of time over the next few years studying the geography and people of Greece. He wrote several books on the topic, and eventually returned to the University of Bonn as a lecturer. It was during these years that he also married his first wife, Lina Anna Simoni, in 1892; together they had four children: Mathilde, Ludwig, Dora, and Eva.

In 1899 Alfred Philippson was given the title of professor. After teaching for two years in Bern, he became a full professor (Ordinarius) at the University of Halle and then in Bonn in 1911. His wife had died in 1906, and in 1919 he married Margarete Kirchberger. He was made a Professor Emeritus in 1929. During the years of his teaching and especially after he was named Emeritus he published numerous articles and books in his field, most prominently in the geography of Greece and the Mediterranean as well as of the Rhineland. Some examples of these works include Das Türkische Reich (1915), Das Mittelmeergebiet: seine geographische und kulturelle Eigenart (1922), Das fernste Italien: geographische Reiseskizzen und Studien (1925) and Zur Geographie der Rheinlande (1927). He received many awards for his work, but following the National Socialists' rise to power it became increasingly more difficult for him to travel to accept them. Alfred Philippson was imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp from 1942-1945, along with his family. During his incarceration he wrote an autobiographical work, Wie ich zum Geographen wurde, which was posthumously published by his descendents in 1996. His multi-volume work Die griechischen Landschaften, begun before he was sent to Theresienstadt, was also published after his death. Alfred Philippson died in Bonn in 1953; his wife died less than two weeks later.

Eva Philippson

Eva Philippson was the youngest daughter of Alfred and Lina Philippson, and was born in 1899. She held a doctorate in law and was a social worker, and had two works published: Die rechtliche Ordnung des freiwilligen Arbeitsdientes in der Schweiz and Bijdrage over de bevolkungspolitiek van de Duitse bezetter in Nederland en de toepassing in zijn beleid (1951). Eva Philippson died in 1963 in Amsterdam.

Some information from the book Die Philippsons in Bonn: Deutsch-jüdische Schicksalslinien, 1862-1980. Dokumentation einer Ausstellung in der Universitätsbibliothek Bonn, 1989, by Karl Gutzmer (Bonn: Bouvier, 1991) was used in the compiling of this biographical note.

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Scope and Content Note

The family papers were collected by Eva Philippson, a granddaughter of rabbi Ludwig Philippson. Many of the folders on individual family members contain biographical sketches written by her composed of information taken from Alfred Philippson's memoirs.

Several written works will be found in this collection. Among Ludwig Philippson's items are his handwritten "Wörterbuch zu Jesais" as well as several poems, some of which were written for family members such as his brother Phöbus and a grandchild. "Mythologie, Literatur," a manuscript by Mathilde Philippson, appears to have been written while she was still a child. The most prominent manuscripts of this collection, however, are the lengthy memoirs of Alfred Philippson, written while he was in Theresienstadt. These documents consist of over 300 typed pages of his memories of family members and growing up as a child in the family's house in Bonn, his time as a student in Bonn and Leipzig, his travels as a geographer, and his teaching experiences. In addition to manuscripts, the collection also holds two diaries, one by Henriette Philippson from 1838 and another by Moritz Philippson, written in 1850 while he was studying medicine in Jena.

Notable among the items of this collection are also the letters of family members, which are usually handwritten. Letters are often between family members. Ludwig Philippson's letters include his last known letter, sent to his son Martin in 1899. Papers from Mathilde Philippson also contain letters sent to Martin and his wife in the late 1800s. Letters of Phöbus Philippson include one sent to his brother Ludwig. Among the many letters of Moritz Philippson are those he sent to his family while serving as an army doctor and one sent to his siblings after his engagement to Meta Philippson. There are many letters of Eva Philippson, often in French. Some of her correspondence focuses on retrieving her father's pension and family history, which she may have used to compile the family trees found in this collection.

Several official documents are also available for members of the family. Included among these are birth and marriage certificates for Ludwig and Meta Philippson, a birth certificate for Paula Philippson, a death notice for Alfred Philippson, and wills for Hermann Hirsch and Franz Philippson.

Other prominent items in this collection include the many family trees and notes on family history found in the folder "Family Trees." Genealogical information here concerns both the Philippson family and associated families including members of the Hirsch, Wolffstein, Ephraim, and Simoni families.

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The collection is comprised of a single series arranged by family member.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Researchers are requested to use the microfilm of this collection due to preservation concerns.

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 Archives also contain the Alfred Philippson Collection (AR 3245), which holds papers belonging to Alfred Philippson. In addition, the LBI Library has a copy of Die Philippsons in Bonn: Deutsch-juedische Schicksalslinien, 1862-1980. Dokumentation einer Ausstellung in der Universitaetsbibliothek Bonn by Karl Gutzmer, a detailed history of the Philippson family. The LBI library also holds copies of many of Ludwig Philippson's published works, as well as published works by Phöbus, Alfred, and Paula Philippson.

The Archiv des Geographischen Instituts der Universität Bonn has a collection of Alfred Philippson's papers.

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Separated Material

Several memoirs by Alfred Philippson have been removed from the collection. (ME 803) They are included in this description and were microfilmed with the rest of the collection.

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Custodial History

This collection was first donated in 1965. A second donation was made in 1983.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Ludwig Philippson Family Collection; AR 2679; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

While preparing the online finding aid in February 2006, some basic preservation work was undertaken, including introducing acid-free paper between some documents and removing some items to separate folders. Further preservation issues were also identified. The folder titled "Varia" in an earlier inventory was renamed "Other Family Members' Papers."

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Other Finding Aid

A six-page item-level inventory is also available for the collection.

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Container List


Papers of the Ludwig Philippson Family, 1810-1989

The papers are in German, French, Dutch, Hebrew, and English.
1 linear foot.
11Ludwig Philippsonundated, 1829-1937
12Ludwig Philippson – Clippings1911, 1937
13Ludwig Philippson – Wörterbuch zu Jesaias1833
14Juliane Philippson née Wolffsteinundated
15Mathilde Philippson née Hirschundated, 1869-1891
16Mathilde Philippson née Hirsch – Götterlehre (Mythologie)after 1832
17Henriette Ephraim née Philippson1838, 1950
18Phoebus and Sara Philippsonundated, 1840?-1870
19Moritz and Meta Philippson1850-1897, 1936
110Moritz Philippson – Diary1850
111Paula Philippson1889, 1938
112Alfred Philippsonundated, 1943-1989
113Alfred Philippson – Clipping1933
ME803/4Alfred Philippson – Manuscript – Als Privatdozent in Bonnundated
ME803/5Alfred Philippson – Manuscript – Familiengeschichteundated
ME803/1Alfred Phlippson – Manuscript – Meine Arbeiten und Leistungenundated
ME803/2Alfred Philippson – Manuscript – Schilderungen aus Reise-Tagebüchern von Alfred Philippson1945
114Alfred Philippson – Manuscript - Wie ich zum Geographen wurdeundated
ME803/3Alfred Philippson – Manuscript – Die Zeit meiner Universitäts-Studiums 1882-1887undated
115Eva Philippson1941-1961
116Family Treesundated, 1953-1955
117Other Family Members' Papers1878-1950
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