Guide to the Papers of Philipp Flesch

AR 25197

Processed by Dianne Ritchey

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2008 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in March 2008. Description is in English.
2010-03-23  encoding of linking to digital objects from finding aid was changed from <extref> to <dao> through dao_conv.xsl 2013-10-16: Series VI: Addenda added.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Flesch, Philipp
Title: Philipp Flesch Collection
Dates:bulk 1940-1948
Abstract: This collection is comprised of the papers of the librarian and author Philipp Flesch. It prominently features manuscripts of his writing, which consists of poetry, essays, short stories, and a novel. In addition, the collection holds a small amount of Philipp Flesch's personal and professional correspondence as well as some personal papers, including official documents.
Languages: The collection is in English and German.
Quantity: 2 linear feet
Identification: AR 25197
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Philipp Flesch was born on March 2, 1896 in Vienna. When he was eighteen, he volunteered for World War I, where he spent four years in the military. He studied German philology and received his Ph.D. in 1922 with a dissertation on Gerhart Hauptmann. From 1928 to 1938 he taught at several schools in Vienna. He immigrated to the United States via Rotterdam, and arrived in New York on December 30, 1939. Unable to find a teaching position, he studied library science at Columbia University and graduated in 1944, eventually securing a position as a cataloger at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also wrote extensively, including the creation of numerous poems, essays and articles, short stories, and a novel; a few of his poems and essays were published.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the life and literary pursuits of the librarian Philipp Flesch. Prominent subjects of the papers include Flesch's experiences as a recent immigrant and his personal views as expressed through his writing. The collection consists of numerous manuscripts, correspondence, clippings, and official papers.

Philipp Flesch's life as a recent immigrant during the 1940s can be glimpsed in the papers of every series of this collection. Most noteworthy are the manuscripts of his writing in Series III, of which the majority are unpublished. Among his writing are many poems as well as some essays describing his experiences after his immigration to the United States. These reflect on the cultural changes experienced by refugees from Europe as well as Flesch's own observations on life in New York City. The correspondence of Series II also mentions his life during these years, particularly the hardships he faced as an immigrant. Series I includes an extensive amount of letters of recommendation for Flesch from other individuals while he attempted to secure a teaching position.

Flesch's attempts to publish his writing are also well-documented, outside of the examples of his writing in Series III. Series II includes numerous query letters to publishers of books and periodicals regarding the publication of his works. The letters of reference in Series I include some letters for his application to the artists' retreat Yaddo, where Philipp Flesch hoped to work on a book entitled A Popular Philosophy for America; the book proposal for this work will be found in Series III. Series I additionally holds a copy of Flesch's doctoral dissertation on the writer Gerhart Hauptmann.

Series VI holds some papers added to the collection after its initial processing. Included is a letter, a few photographs and several unpublished manuscripts, including short stories and a retelling of Faust.

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The collection is arranged in three series as follows:

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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 Catalog and 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

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Philipp Flesch Collection; AR 25197; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Much of the arrangement of the collection follows the original order observed during initial processing, especially the manuscripts of Series III, Subseries 1, which were already in alphabetical order. Superfluous copies of unmarked manuscripts and clippings were removed from the collection.

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Container List


Series I: Personal and Professional, 1890-1973

This series is in English and German.
0.25 linear foot


Scope and Content:

This series is comprised of the official, personal, and professional papers of Philipp Flesch. The majority of the documentation will be found in the folder "Personal Documentation," which contains such papers as copies and translations of diplomas and educational certificates, a detailed list of Philipp Flesch's possessions at the time of emigration, and a copy of his Austrian Heimatschein. Letters of recommendation consist of letters from many acquaintances and colleagues, and include several letters in support of an application by Flesch for a Yaddo residency in the 1940s. Articles of interest are comprised of articles on World War II, concentration camps, and a lengthy article on the American character.

11Articles of Interestundated, 1945
12Dissertation ueber Gerhart Hauptmanns Entwicklung1921 July
14Personal Documentation1939-1946
15Personal Documentation - Letters of Recommendation1922-1942
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Series II: Correspondence, 1940-1976

This series is in English and German.
0.25 linear foot


Scope and Content:

Series II contains letters sent to and from Philipp Flesch; many of them are personal. Professional correspondence includes inquiries for vacant positions and query letters sent to publishing houses regarding the publishing of his writing. The folder on the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti includes a question by Flesch to him, as well as several letters with Krishnamurti's publishers concerning the publication of Flesch's manuscript on the teachings of Krishnamurti.

Several folders in this series hold personal correspondence with Philipp Flesch, where he often espouses his thoughts on the Nazis and the future of Europe, as well as lamenting his own living conditions. Philipp Flesch's letters to an individual only addressed as "Neumann," a fellow Jewish refugee from Vienna teaching in Maryland, frequently give Flesch's thoughts on his own writing and its development. Correspondence with other friends, found in the folder "Other Personal Correspondence" includes some detailed letters with unnamed individuals that contain similar ruminations.

16Adams, Marie1947-1948
17Care of Flesch Family Grave in Vienna1946-1948
18Employment Search1947-1948
19Hartl, Robert1945-1948
110Jewish Theological Seminary1947-1948
111Krishnamurti, J[iddu]1956-1965
112Leo Baeck Instituteundated, 1939, 1965-1976
113Letters to Editors1948, 1956
114Letters to Editors - Query Letters1946-1956
115Neumann, ?1944-1946
116Other Correspondence and Notesundated, 1940-1948
117Other Personal Correspondence1940-1944
118Other Personal Correspondence1945-1948
119Twice a Year1942
120United Service for New Americans1947-1948
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Series III: Writings, 1940-1965

This series is in English and German.
1.25 linear feet

Divided into two subseries:

Scope and Content:

Series III holds the writings of Philipp Flesch, including the manuscripts of Subseries 1 and copies of his published poems and articles in Subseries 2. His writings include both fictional and non-fictional poems and stories as well as essays and a novel, and frequently return to certain popular themes.

One theme expressed in several pieces is Flesch's experiences as a new immigrant in New York City, along with life in the upper West Side and Washington Heights during the 1940s. Writings that mention these topics include Amsterdam Avenue, a collection of short essays and commentaries that primarily focus on the neighborhood and its residents; Skyline, an assortment of poems in a similar vein; and Trail Marks, a collection of poems and essays, which additionally includes pieces that mention Flesch's reaction to World War II and his acculturation to the United States. Some of his poems on this theme will be found among the published works of Subseries 2. In addition, his published essays One Year in America and The Refugees in America mention this subject.

Another prominent motif in several writings is Flesch's response to World War II and the rise of National Socialism. One such work is Europe Burns, a collection of poems that focus on World War II and National Socialism. Muspilli or the Case of the German Classics is an essay that discusses how German literature from the medieval era through the early 1900s contained elements of paganism, especially the concept of Muspilli or the cataclysmic end of the world, and how such beliefs led to the rise of National Socialism. Additionally, Flesch's unpublished novel, Return to Vienna, is a drama featuring events in the life of a Viennese Jewish protaganist from his military service in World War I through his arrest by Nazis and escape from Austria, to his eventual return to Vienna. This work may include elements from Flesch's own life. Finally, Subseries 2 includes a published essay by Flesch analyzing a prayer used by Hitler in a 1941 speech as well as a long poem entitled History, which suggests that the crimes of the Nazis are the crimes of all of humanity.

Several of Philipp Flesch's writings cover philosophic or religious topics. These include his poems I Am; Illusion, Non-Existence, Nothingness; The Last Leaf; The Secret Bible; and Vanity. These works discuss such themes as the meaning of living, the question of what a mind or a personality is, and the limitations of a person. The bound volume of collected short stories and poems, Return, also references religious and biblical themes. In the book-length manuscript Listen! Sketches on Krishnamurti Philipp Flesch interprets the teachings of this philosopher.

Subseries 1: Manuscripts, 1941-1965

This subseries is in English and German.
1.125 linear feet

Divided as follows:

Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 consists of unpublished manuscripts of Philipp Flesch's writing, among them a novel and numerous poems, short stories, and essays. The majority of manuscripts are individual works, arranged alphabetically prior to archival processing. The remainder of works include a collection of shorter pieces; versions of some of these may be found among the individual works. Included with the collected works are tables of contents listing most of the works, arranged alphabetically and a few poems not listed in the contents.

A) Individual

21A Popular Philosophy for Americaundated
22Amsterdam Avenue - p. 1-74undated
23Amsterdam Avenue - p. 1-81undated
24Art and Timeundated
25Europe Burns1941-1942
26Europe Burns - Fragments1941
27The Fullness of Lifeundated
28Grill and the Ants/ The Vets in the Doll's House: Two Stories1946
29Herr Hofrat's Afternoonundated
211I Am1949
212Illusion, Non-Existence, Nothingness - p. 1-69 - Copy with Mrs. G's Correctionsundated
213Illusion, Non-Existence, Nothingness - p. 1-72undated
214Illusion, Non-Existence, Nothingness - p. 1-72 - Copy with all additions and correctionsundated
216The Last Leaf1943
217Life is Oursundated
218Listen! Sketches on Krishnamurti - p. 1-116 [version 1]undated
219Listen! Sketches on Krishnamurti - p. 2-115 [version 2]undated
220Listen! Sketches on Krishnamurti – False Godsundated
221The Magic Era1942
222Monte Valdeundated
223Muspilli or the Case of the German Classics1945-1946
224Not in Vainundated
225Of Golden Crownsundated
226Pompeii, Writing and Writings - Term Paperundated
227Portrait of a Little Boy, 1900undated
228Public Libraries to Europeundated
230Return to Viennaundated
231The Revolution of the Intellectualsundated, 1956-1965
232Romance Forgottenundated
233The Secret Bible1946
235The Soul of your Soulundated
237Trail Marks1946?
239The Weaverundated
240The White Cell1942?
241The World Sings1947
242You Jerk1945

B) Collected

34Tables of Contentsundated
35Unlisted Manuscriptsundated, 1948

Subseries 2: Published Writings, 1940-1948

This subseries is in English.
0.125 linear foot


Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 holds the poems and essays of Philipp Flesch which were published in newspapers and journals. Among these is his poem Good-bye to Wolfeboro, written at the conclusion of the American Seminar for Foreign Scholars in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Other published works include the essay One Year in America, which reflects back on the events of Flesch's first year as an immigrant, and his poem History, which gives his personal response to National Socialism.

36Published Writing - Clippings1941-1942
37Published Writing - Good-bye to Wolfeboro1940-1941
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Series IV: Addenda, undated, 1944, 1959

This series is in German and English.
0.25 linear feet.

Divided into two subseries:

Scope and Content:

This series contains papers added to the collection after its initial processing. It includes a personal letter, photographs, and several manuscripts.

Subseries 1: Personal and Correspondence, undated, 1959

This series is in German and English.
0.05 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

This subseries holds a letter and some photographs. The letter, sent by fellow refugee Herbert Selkowitsch in Casablanca to Philipp Flesch, contains greetings and discussion of his present relationship to Europe. The photographs all show Philipp Flesch by himself; one is marked as having been taken in New York.

41Personal Correspondenceundated, 1959

Subseries 2: Writings, undated, 1944

This series is in German and English.
0.2 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

This subseries holds a letter and some photographs. The letter, sent by fellow refugee Herbert Selkowitsch in Casablanca to Philipp Flesch, contains greetings and discussion of his present relationship to Europe. The photographs all show Philipp Flesch by himself; one is marked as having been taken in New York.

43Manuscripts – An American "Faust"undated
44Manuscripts – Grill und die Aneisen1944 September
45Manuscripts – Tables of Contents – Draftsundated
46Manuscripts – To-Morrow, There Will Be No To-Morrowundated
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