Guide to the Isaac Zieman Collection
Undated, 1945-2011

AR 25448

Processed by Kevin Schlottmann

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2011 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Kevin Schlottmann in June 2011. Folder-level titles for boxes 7-10 were added and related changes to Series IV description were made October 2011. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Zieman, Isaac Zelig, 1920-2007
Title: Isaac Zieman Collection
Dates:Undated, 1945-2011
Abstract: This collection documents the life of Isaac Zelig Zieman (1920-2007). Born into an Orthodox family in Riga, Zieman managed to escape Latvia in 1941 and spent much of the war in the Soviet Union. In Germany from 1945-1956, he worked with displaced persons and studied psychology, after which he emigrated to the United States. In New York City, he dedicated the remainder of his life to facilitating dialogue between groups with historical enmities. The bulk of the material relates to this work, from the 1970s-2000s, as a lecturer and group therapist focused on peace and understanding between groups such as Germans and Americans, blacks and whites, and Israelis and Palestinians. The collection also includes materials from Zieman's immediate post-war experience in Germany working with displaced persons and as a student in Munich.
Languages: This collection is in English and German, with some French, Hebrew, Latvian and Yiddish.
Quantity: 11 linear feet + 3 oversize folders
Identification: AR 25448
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
Return to the Top of Page

Biographical Note

Isaac Zelig Zieman(May 6, 1920-April 2, 2007) was born in Riga (Latvia). He grew up in an Orthodox household in the Latvian town Līvāni (Lievenhof). In his early teens, he joined Gordonia, a Zionist youth organization. When the German Army invaded Latvia in 1941, Zieman joined an antifascist militia and escaped to Kazakhstan in the Soviet Union, where he joined the Red Army. However, because of his Latvian origin, Zieman was later arrested and deported to Novosibirsk (Siberia), where he was interned in a forced labor camp. Upon his release he went to Kyrgyzstan and then to Poland, where he worked for the Polish Red Army. After the war, Zieman continued to do political work for Gordonia in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Later he helped Jewish Holocaust survivors with their emigration to Palestine in Austria, at the DP camp in Braunau am Inn, and with the socialist-Zionist group Nocham in Germany.

In 1945, Zieman learned that all the Jews of Līvāni, including his entire family (father, mother, two sisters, and brother), had been shot by Latvian fascists shortly after the German invasion.

Zieman remained in Germany and in 1949 began studies in psychology in Munich. In 1957 he immigrated to the United States and settled in New York City, where he became a practicing psychotherapist. In the late 1960s, Zieman became interested in the group therapy approach "theme-centered interaction" (TCI) and for the rest of his life led workshops focused on peace and understanding using this method. From 1973 to 1999, he conducted TCI workshops in Germany every summer. Zieman also lectured and wrote extensively about his experiences in the war, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and race relations.

Return to the Top of Page

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the life of Isaac Zelig Zieman. The bulk of the material relates to Zieman's professional activities. From the late 1960s until his death, he was deeply committed to peace and understanding as facilitated through group encounters, and he embraced the method developed by Ruth Cohn called "theme-centered interaction" (TCI). Zieman also lectured extensively about his life and experiences in the Holocaust, both in the United States and abroad. The materials include lecture notes, audio recordings of his presentations, dozens of pocket notebooks and letter-size notebooks, and four boxes of papers concerning his professional affiliations and his extensive TCI work.

The collection also includes materials from Zieman's post-war experience in Germany, as a Zionist training survivors in DP camps for emigration to Palestine, and as a student of psychology in Munich. The materials include handwritten Yiddish notes and correspondence, some clippings and printed material, as well as over 200 notebooks and various loose notes from the classes Zieman attended. In addition, the collection includes a draft of his unedited memoir, as well as other personal documents such as journals, address books and appointment books, some correspondence, and a few vital documents and photographs.

The collection does not contain materials from Zieman's youth in Latvia or his wartime experience in the Soviet Union and Poland.

Return to the Top of Page


This collection is arranged into four series.

Return to the Top of Page

Access and Use

Access Restrictions

Box 1, Folder 1 is restricted. The remainder of the collection is 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 Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

Return to the Top of Page

Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

An oral history was recorded with Zieman in 2007, as part of LBI's Austrian Heritage Collection. The digital audio file is available online (AHC 3977).

Return to the Top of Page

Separated Material

Books and periodicals were removed to the LBI library.

Return to the Top of Page

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Isaac Zieman Collection; AR 25448; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

Return to the Top of Page

Processing Information

Boxes 1-10 were rehoused in acid-free folders. Boxes 7-10 were originally described at the box level, but folder-level titles were added in October 2011. Most titles were transcribed from exisiting folders, and little arrangement was performed within the folders. Oversize material was separated and rehoused in acid-free folders. Throughout, duplicates were removed, as were envelopes, large metal fasteners, plastic sheets, and rubber bands. Folders with extensive written information were photocopied before being discarded. A wide range of printed material, including a large number of psychology off-prints, was removed to LBI library. Boxes 11 and 12 are found in the AV collection.

Return to the Top of Page

Container List


Series I: Personal, undated, 1946-2011

This series is in English and Latvian, with some German, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
2.5 linear feet.

By document type, and then alphabetical by folder title. Address books, appointment books, and journals are arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content:

This series documents the personal life of Isaac Zelig Zieman. It includes a draft of his unedited memoir, which is in English. The memoir was written in small chunks prepared for writing classes, which was the only way he found that he could write. His journals for the years 1949-1960, the vast majority written in Latvian, record his impressions on life and therapy, as well as thoughts on studying, his mental states (particularly depression), and relationships with women. The series also contains address books and appointment books, which provide a granular view of his life in New York City, as well as some correspondence and a few vital documents and photographs.

1 1 Memoir chapters 2000-2007


1 2 Memoir chapters – names redacted 2000-2007
1 3 Information about memoir 2001-2011
1 4 Memoir-writing class 2000
1 5 Memoir-writing class 2002
1 6 Correspondence Undated, 1946-1957, 1981
1 7 CVs and references Undated, 1950-1997
1 8 Immigration and naturalization 1955-1965
1 9 Marriage certificate 1947
1 10 Naturalization 1981
1 11 Obituaries, remembrances, and ethical well 2007
1 12 Photographs and ephemera Undated, 1949-1992
1 13 Poetry and short writings Undated, 2003
1 14 Address books 1956-1963
1 15 Address books 1964-1980s
1 16 Address books 1970s-1980s
1 17 Address books 1980s-2007
1 18 Appointment books 1963, 1975-1979
1 19 Appointment books 1980-1982, 1984-1986
1 20 Appointment books 1987-1992
1 21 Appointment books 1993-1994, 2002
2 1 Appointment books 2004-2007
2 2 Travel notebooks 1986-1993
2 3 Journal 1947 April – 1948 August
2 4 Journal 1948 August – 1949 March
2 5 Journals 1949 March-December
2 6 Journals 1949 December – 1950 April
2 7 Journals 1950 May-August
2 8 Journals 1950 August-September
2 9 Journals 1950 October-December
2 10 Journal 1950 December-1951 February
2 11 Journals 1951 March
2 12 Journals 1951 March-August
2 13 Journals 1951 August-December
3 1 Journals 1952 January-March
3 2 Journals 1952 April
3 3 Journals 1952 May-October
3 4 Journals 1952 November-December
3 5 Journals 1953 January-September
3 6 Journals 1953 October-December
3 7 Journals 1954 January-April
3 8 Journals 1954 May-December
3 9 Journal 1955
3 10 Journals 1956-1960
3 11 Journals Undated
Return to the Top of Page

Series II: Jewish Life in Germany, undated, 1945-1956

This series is in Yiddish, with some German, English, Latvian, and Hebrew.
0.5 linear feet.

The general folders were left in the order in which they were found, with the exception of material identified as relating to Rabbi Ohrenstein, which was removed to a separate folder.

Scope and Content:

Zieman traveled to Germany in the fall of 1945 and worked with displaced persons, training them for emigration to Palestine. He briefly led a kibbutz in Backnang, Baden-Wuertemberg, and until 1948 he worked for the Zionist pioneer organization Nocham in Munich. From 1948 until 1956, he studied psychology at the University of Munich and was active in the Jewish student organization. Materials related specifically to his education are found in Series III. During his time in Germany, Zieman was also active in the general Jewish community. The first two folders of this series relate to his activity in Germany at this time, and consist primarily of handwritten Yiddish notes and correspondence. The pioneer materials also include Hebrew. These folders also contain some clippings as well as printed material. See also the notepads in Series III, which contain some brief notes on his activities with Jewish organizations.

Zieman was also involved in calling for the resignation of Rabbi Aaron Ohrenstein of Munich, which was an important episode in German Judaism in the immediate post-war period. Materials include letters, clippings, circulars, many from the anti-Ohrenstein organization Block fuer Recht und Sauberkeit within the Jewish community of Munich.

The printed materials include a haggadah published by the National Jewish Welfare Board and distributed by the U.S. Armed forces; an illustrated Yiddish-Hebrew haggadah published by Nocham (United Pioneer Youth Movement) that appears to be an abbreviated version of Yosef Dov Sheinson’s "Survivor’s Haggadah;" a book of children’s tales in Hebrew; a Yiddish pamphlet entitled "Lament of the Jewish Daughters of Hasbaya;" and a book of Yiddish poems about Vilna.

3 12 General Undated, 1945-1956
3 13 General Undated, 1945-1956
3 14 Rabbi Ohrenstein Undated, 1952-1955
3 15 Printed material Undated, 1948-1952
Return to the Top of Page

Series III: Educational, 1949-1957

This series is almost entirely in German, with some English, French, Latvian, and Yiddish.
1.5 linear feet.
Scope and Content:

This series contains materials created during Zieman's psychology studies at the University of Munich and the Munich Institute for Psychological Research and Psychotherapy. The bulk of the series consists of over 200 notebooks and loose notes from the various classes Zieman attended, primarily related to psychology. Many of the notebooks carry the title of the course, for example Developmental Psychology, Problems in Psychology, and Philosophy of the Unconscious. Three of the folders contain notebooks from non-psychology courses, such as English, French, History, and collections of quotations, and are noted as such. Many of the notebooks are not full.

The series also contains a few smaller-format notepads, which contain personal notes, some school notes, thoughts on his therapy and mental state, addresses, and washing lists. These pads appear to be what Zieman carried with him. These notepads also contain some notes on his involvement with Jewish and Zionist groups (see Series II).

This series also contains some related educational materials, such as psychology bibliographies and book catalogs, a folder of administrative materials, and a folder of miscellaneous materials such as syllabi, clippings, notes, and papers.

Most of the items in this series are undated; the dates in this series are based on the period of time Zieman spent in university.

4 1 Administrative 1949-1957
4 2 Bibliographies 1950-1956
4 3 Book catalogs 1953
4 4 Book catalogs 1954-1957
4 5 Loose notes 1950-1956
4 6 Loose notes 1950-1956
4 7 Loose notes 1950-1956
4 8 Loose notes 1950-1956
4 9 Notebooks 1950-1956
4 10 Notebooks 1950-1956
4 11 Notebooks 1950-1956
4 12 Notebooks 1950-1956
4 13 Notebooks 1950-1956
4 14 Notebooks 1950-1956
4 15 Notebooks 1950-1956
4 16 Notebooks 1950-1956
5 1 Notebooks 1950-1956

Not related to psychology

5 2 Notebooks 1950-1956

Not related to psychology

5 3 Notebooks 1950-1956

Not related to psychology

5 4 Notepads 1950-1956
5 5 Notepads 1950-1956
5 6 Various 1950-1956
Return to the Top of Page

Series IV: Professional, undated, 1954-2010

This series is in English and German, with some Latvian, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
5.5 linear feet + oversize materials.

Loose notebooks, papers, index cards, audio tapes, and oversize materials were boxed and foldered, and arranged by format. Materials in boxes 7-10 are divided into two broad topic areas, general and TCI, and arranged alphabetically by folder title. Due to Zieman's intimate involvement with TCI, some TCI material may be found in the general folders.

Scope and Content:

This series contains a broad range of materials relating to Zieman's professional activities. From the late 1960s until his death, he was deeply committed to peace and understanding as facilitated through group encounters, and he embraced the method developed by Ruth Cohn called Theme-Centered Interaction. Zieman also lectured extensively about his life and experiences in the Holocaust, both in the United States and abroad. The series contains his lecture notes on index cards as well as two boxes of audio recordings of his presentations, radio appearances, panels, and group discussions.

Also included in this series are dozens of pocket notebooks and letter-size notebooks. They contain Zieman's notes on lectures, conferences, and readings in psychology; writings on Israel and Palestine; his work with the New York City schools in the south Bronx in the late 1960s; phone numbers, shopping lists, and notes to and about himself about a range of topics, such as vitamins and his health concerns. These notebooks are less personal that the journals and address books found in Series I.

This series also contains four boxes of general files. These materials were originally minimally handled, being merely broken up into two categories, general and TCI, and then arranged alphabetically by folder title. Folder-level titles were added, mainly by transcription from original folders, in October 2011. Boxes 7 and 8 contain general professional documents, such as talks and lectures on the Holocaust; correspondence and writings; documents relating to professional psychological and management organizations, peace groups, and New York congregations; and psychological training materials. Boxes 9 and 10 concern Zieman's extensive TCI work, primarily in Germany fostering Jewish-German understanding. He spent every summer from 1973 to 1999 in Germany leading workshops. Documents include workshop notes and arrangements, training materials, and other TCI materials.

Finally, this series also contains oversize materials, primarily drawings and boards from workshops, but also some posters for Zieman's workshops and talks.

5 7 Pocket notebooks 1961-1966
5 8 Pocket notebooks 1981-1982, 1993-2002
5 9 Pocket notebooks 2002-2006
5 10 Notebooks 1962-1969
5 11 Notebooks 1969-1976
5 12 Notebooks 1969
5 13 Notebooks 1971-1974
5 14 Notebooks 1977-1978
5 15 Notebooks 1979
6 1 Notebooks 1979-1981
6 2 Notebooks 1977-1980
6 3 Notebooks 1982-1993
6 4 Notebooks 2001
6 5 Notebooks 2003-2005
6 6 Lecture notes Undated, 1986-2006
6 7 Lecture notes Undated, 1986-1998
6 8 Lecture notes Undated, 1999-2003
6 9 Lecture notes Undated, 1999-2004
6 10 Lecture notes 2004
6 11 Lecture notes Undated, 2004-2007
6 12 Lecture notes (Europe) 1992-1999
6 13 Lecture notes (Europe) 2000
6 14 Lecture notes (Europe) 2000-2001
6 15 Lecture notes (Europe) 2001-2003
6 16 Lecture notes (Europe) 2003
6 17 Lecture notes (Europe) 2004
6 18 Lecture notes (Europe) Undated
6 19 Affirmation cards Undated
74Alfred Adler InstituteUndated, 1975-1981
75Alternative Lifestyle Groups1977-1978
76Ambiguous lossUndated, 2001
77Americans for Peace NowUndated, 1986-2006
79Arafat and Shamir1989
710Articles and correspondence1990
711Articles and correspondence1991
712Articles, early1964-1970
713Article, Lessons of Holocaust1988
714Asch, Reuven1987
715Association for Transpersonal Psychology1982
716B'nai B'rith1985-1988
717B'nai OrUndated
718Branden, Nathaniel1973
719Brit Tzedek2001-2006
722Center for Progress1970
724City Congregation of Humanistic Judaism1986-1991
725Civil service1970
727Correspondence, Israel1985-1987
728COSA Corp1984
731Dialogue Project2003-2006
732District 71968-1969
735Emanuel, camp2002-2005
736Escalation of ViolenceUndated
738Ethnic identity1983-1987
739Face to Face1993
743Freeing US Policy from Saddam Hussein's Control1991
744Friedman, Bernard1970
745Friends of Labor Israel1995
746Friends of Yiddish2006-2007
747"From Distrust to Knowing"1986-1992
748"From Distrust to Knowing"1990-1992
749"From Distrust to Knowing"1992
750"From Distrust to Knowing"1992-1993
751Gedanken zur Aufarbeitung der Geschichte des Dritten Reiches1997
752Generation After1988
753Generation After1991
754Generation After1992-2008
758Group Relations Conference1982
759Holocaust Survivors1988
760House Plan Association1965-1972
761How Can the Arab-Israeli Timebomb be Defused?1990
762How Dangerous is the PLO State for Israel?1988
763Humane workplace1974-1981
764Improving Communication in SchoolsUndated
765Intergroup work2002
766International Assoc of Group Psychotherapy1980
769Israeli publications1990s-2000s
770Israel reference letters1985
771Israel reference letters1987
772Israel's Survival1987
773Jewish miscellania2004-2005
774Jewish Survivors of Latvia1991-2008
OS 1431Jewish Survivors of LatviaUndated
775Joint Council Mental Health Services1980-1985
777Kahn, Hugo1987
779Labor Zionists1986-2006
781Lectures USA1970-2006
782Letters Israel1985-1986
783Letters of recommendation for others2001-2002
81Letters to the editor1992-2004
82Letter re situation in Israel1989
83Letter to Shamir1989
84List of publicationsUndated
86Meaning and Effects of Israel's Hardline Policies1990
87Membership applications1966-1981
88Memoir writing2002-2003
89Meretz USAUndated
811Miscellaneous writings2001-2004
812Moral Values1988
813Munich group1997-2005
815Nadler, Jerry1993
816New Outlook1990
817Neurolinguistic programming1983-1984
818New School1981
819New York Freudian Society1982
820NY Institute for Gestalt Therapy1981-1983
822NY AHP1980-1985
823NYC Commission on Human Rights1966-1968
824NY Org Dev Network1981
825NY State Assembly Higher Ed Commission1981
826NY Society for Clinical Psychologists1979-1982
827North American Society of Adlerian Psychology1981
828One by One2003-2007
829Open Letter - Shamir1988
831Overcoming the Psychological Obstacles to Midest PeaceUndated
832Papers IZ1966-1970
833ProposalsUndated, 1966
834Proposal for a statement1988
835Programs for Jewish schoolsUndated
836Psychohistory Forum2006-2007
837Psychologists and Executive Careers1968
838Psychological FoundationsUndated
841Rabbi Pinsker1988
842Radio / TV1968
846Reply to Podhoretz1989
847Reply to Reconstructionist1988
848Reply to Rosenthal1988
849Research Personality1961-1965
852Riverdale Y1989
853Riverside Community1981-1984
854S. Kanter2002
856School Program PSA1970
857Schalom Center1986
858South Africa1977-1979
859Statement - Generation After1990
860Struggle for Social Justice1964
861Talk at Geriatric Center1989
863Training materials1971
864Training materials1977
865Training materials (CEP)1970-1972
866Training materials (NTL)1969-1970
867Training materials (NTL)1969-1970
868Transactional Analysis1971-1975
869TV Stations1968
871Urban education materials1965-1970
872West End Synagogue1997-2005
873Writings re Israel2002
874Workmen's Circle1996-2004
875World Zionist Congress2005
877Yom Ha ShoaUndated
91Articles - Germany1987-1989
96Europe 19961995-1996
97Europe 19971997
98Europe 19981998
99Europe 19991999
910Europe 20002000
911Europe 20012001-2002
912Europe 20032003
913Europe Misc2002-2003
914From Distrust to Knowing II1992-2008
918Lectures 99-001998-2000
919Lectures 20012001
920Lectures 20012001
921Lectures Europe 20062006
922Lectures Germany1998-2005
923Letters of recommendation1970-1996
927ParticipantsUndated, 1991-1994
929Ruth Cohn's writings1960s-1997
936TCI Feedback1970s-1990s
937TCI First German Course1972-1976
101TCI General Information1969-2010
102TCI GroupworkUndated
103TCI Rules1970s-1990s
104TCI Workshops1979-1981
106Training materials1976
107Voelkerverstaendigung durch TZI2001-2002
108Vortragsreise 20032000-2003
109Vortragsreise 20041999-2004
1011WILL article - German1960s-1990
1012WILL courses1992-1993
1013WILL Europa1972-2004
1014WILL International1998-2000
1015WILL Kurse1993-1994
1016WILL Kurse1994-1995
1017WILL Papers - Ruth Cohn1965-1970
1018Workshops - Bornebusch1992-2001
1019Y's Letters re Talks2003
11 1 "Alltag und Geschichte" (CD) 2003

Box 11 removed to LBI AV collection

11 2 Presentation in Cologne (DVD) 2004, 2007
11 36 cassette tapes 1988-2001
12 30 cassette tapes Undated, 1982-1986

Box 12 removed to LBI AV collection

OS 1432 Workshop materials Undated, 1979-1986
OS 1433 Workshop materials Undated, 1983-1996
OS 1434 Workshop materials, posters Undated, 2000-2001
Return to the Top of Page