Guide to the Papers of Max Rieser (1893-1981)

AR 7207 / MF 1089

Processed by Claudia Keller

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 September 2008. Description is in English.
December 2008: Addendum 2 was added by Dianne Ritchey. March 2009: Addendum 1 revised by Dianne Ritchey. February 2011: Microfilm inventory added. September 2011: Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Rieser, Max, 1893-1981
Title: Max Rieser Collection
Abstract: The Max Rieser Collection predominantly documents the life and work of the lawyer, philosopher and writer Max Rieser. The main subjects of the collection are his life, his writing and his publishing work. The collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, clippings, official documents and photographs.
Languages: The collection is in German, English, French, Polish and Italian.
Quantity: 5 linear feet
Identification: AR 7207
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Samuel Maximilian (Max) Rieser was born in Krakow in 1893. Following his elementary and secondary education there, he began the study of law in Vienna. His studies were interrupted by the First World War, which he spent in Switzerland, associating with pacifistic groups and writing for newspapers. After the war he returned to Vienna, completed his law studies and obtained a position at the Phoenix Insurance Company. Besides his legal work, Rieser wrote literary supplements that appeared in Austrian and Swiss newspapers.

After the bankruptcy of the Phoenix Concern in 1938, Rieser opened a private law practice; one of his clients was the childhood friend of Adolf Hitler, Reinhold Hanisch. Foreseeing the oncoming Anschluss he immigrated to the United States in early 1939. He earned his living through various forms of freelance journalism, writing under different pseudonyms for the New York Staatszeitung.

After the Second World War Rieser worked for different European newsletters and between 1946 and 1957 for the Common Council for American Unity, an immigrant service organization, as a translator.

The money earned through journalism helped to finance Rieser's activities as a philosopher. Specializing in aesthetics, Rieser produced numerous essays, reviews and monographs appearing in different American philosophical journals.

Although never having studied philosophy, Rieser was very active in the philosophical world, attending numerous regional, national and international philosophical congresses. He continued these activities almost until the end of his life.

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Scope and Content Note

The Max Rieser Collection documents Rieser's personal and professional life. The bulk of the material concerns Rieser's philosophical writing. Among the papers in the collection are personal and official papers, correspondence, manuscripts, and a small amount of clippings and published material.

Documents providing biographical information on him will be found mainly in Series I, which holds Rieser's personal papers, such as educational, emigration, immigration, identification and other official or government-issued documents. Other biographical data can be extracted from his personal correspondence with family members and friends. Amongst others Emil Luethy (1/5), the Swiss expressionistic artist, and the writer and the poet Jacob Picard were close friends of Rieser. Their correspondence with Rieser can be found in Series II.

The professional correspondence consists of papers that focus on the professional life of Max Rieser. It mostly contains correspondence with the various magazines and newspapers Rieser wrote for and determines the topics and subjects for his articles. Focusing on aesthetics Rieser found a mentor in the editor-in-chief of the magazine Aesthetics and Communication, Thomas Munro, and the correspondence in Series II and the essays (5/14) Rieser wrote on Munro express his worship and admiration.

Series III holds a collection of manuscripts, divided into two topics: Rieser's literary creations of which parts are unpublished (Subseries 1) and his philosophical manuscripts (Subseries 2). The dominant topic is Rieser's nostalgic feelings towards Europe, mostly expressed in iterative overblown descriptions of different locations, especially Vienna and Geneva. The manuscripts related to philosophical questions documents Rieser "scholarly" focus, which was mainly aesthetics, though the knowledge of the European scene as well as the knowledge of Polish opened the philosophy of Poland and the Soviet Bloc to the American public.

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This collection is arranged in 5 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.

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

Related Material

Jacob Picard Collection, AR 6016

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Separated Material

Photographs of Fred Max Rieser, his family and friends were removed to the LBI's Photograph Collection (F AR 7207).

The books found in previous addenda were removed to the library.

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The microfilm is on thirteen reels of microfilm (MF 1089):

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Max Rieser Collection; AR 7207; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

The collection was arranged by format and topic. Photos and published books were removed and a finding aid was written.

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Container List

Follow the links in the title column to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Personal, 1906-1980

This series is in German, English, Polish, French and Russian.
0.25 linear foot.

Topical and chronological.

Scope and Content:

This series holds the personal documents of Max Rieser, including educational, official and professional papers.

Rieser's educational documents consist of papers from Austria and papers from the U.S.. The Austrian documents comprise reports from school and university, including his doctorial diploma in law from the University of Vienna as well as papers documenting Rieser's emigration and immigration ( 1/1, 1/3) and his efforts for restitution from Austria.

The official documents consist of birth, residence and military documents as well as two passports and various membership cards, amongst others a pass for the Vaterlaendische Front, the Austrian fascist political party.

The majority of the photos have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection (F AR 7207).

11Personal Documents1906-1975
13Shipping Household1938-1956
14Recommendations, Invitations1942-1980
15American Philosophical Association1939-1961
16Visual Material1939-1961
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Series II: Correspondence,  1914-1980

This series is in .
1.25 linear feet.

Separated into Personal and Professional.

Scope and Content:

This correspondence is divided into two different types, personal and professional.

Folders of personal correspondence contain communication with family members such as Rieser's wife Paula and letters of Rieser's cousin Enrico Rieser. Correspondence with friends such as the writer Jacob Picard and the expressionist artist Emil Leuthy can be found here, as well as correspondence with various friends and institutions, organized alphabetically.

The professional correspondence reflects mostly Rieser's professional and scholarly occupation. A majority of the correspondence is settled around Rieser publications (2/4-2/9), negotiations with publishing houses, and there is some focusing on philosophical themes (2/10-2/12).

Some correspondence, especially letters sent by Max Reiser to Paula Reiser, will be found in Series V

17Personal - Max and Paula Rieser1928-1961
18Personal - Max and Enrico Rieser, Cousin1945-1977
19Personal - Ida Teudler, Cousin1946-1975
110Personal - Jacob Picard1959-1964
111Personal - Emil Luethy1927-1965
112Personal - General - A-M1941-1978
113Personal - General - O-Z1940-1979
114Professional - Editors/ Publishing Houses1914-1939
115Professional - Newspapers/ Radio Stations1951-1979
116Professional - Die Hausfrau1942-1963
117Professional - Job Seeking and Grant Offers1938-1971
118Professional - Common Council for American Unity1946-1958
119Professional - Thomas Munro/ Editor The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism1956-1964
120Professional - Offprint of the Report on the International Congress for Philosophy and Science
21Professional - Thomas Munro1959-1965
22Professional - Polish Philosophers1958-1979
23Professional - Institute of International Education1960-1962
24Professional - Die Analyse des poetischen Denken1922-1964
25Professional - Translation of Book - Die Analyse des poetischen Denkens1962-1970
26Professional - Publication of Collected Philosophical Essays1966-1967
27Professional - Deutscher Zusammenbruch und die Weltanarchie1966-1978
28Professional - Oesterreichs Sterbeweg1939-1970
29Professional - The Origins of Christianity1975-1976
210Professional - Weltgesicht1958-1975
211Professional - Authors and PEN Members1977-1978
212Professional - General Scholar Correspondence1940-1980
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Series III: Manuscripts, 1936-1975

This series is in German, English, French, Polish, Italian.
3.5 linear feet.

Original order was kept and therefore this series is divided into two subseries.

Scope and Content:

The dominant part of this collection is the original manuscripts of both Rieser's literary and philosophical creations The series is divided into two subseries documenting Rieser's hobby, literary writing, of which most is unpublished and can be found in Subseries 1.

Subseries 2: Philosophical Manuscripts, holds Rieser's occupational and scholarly work in philosophy in the field of aesthetics and various European and American contemporary philosophical trends. The manuscripts are often accompanied by correspondence, mostly documenting Rieser's efforts in earlier years to publish these manuscripts.

Subseries 1: Literary Manuscripts, 1936-1975

This series is in German, English, French and Italian.
1 linear foot.

This subseries is divided in 4 sections.

Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 contains Rieser's literary works, of which the larger part is unpublished. The subdivision was adopted from a previous processing guide.

Rieser's difficulties in leaving Europe can be understood through reading his poems and essays which can be found in Section A and B.

The section Metahistorical Essays contains three metahistorical and biographical essays, which express Riesers process of handling his immigration to the U.S. regarding such topics as culture, education, churches and historicism in comparison to Europe. He displays a strong Eurocentric perspective on the rest of the world and attempts to explain Hitler.

Fictional manuscripts can be found in the section entitled Literature, Fiction and Other Manuscripts. Rieser uses fictional characters to illustrate his life story and memories. The stories feature comprehensive descriptions of urban and natural landscapes. These manuscripts are typed.

Literature, Journalism and Other Manuscripts sums up Rieser's various publishing activities for the media. He compiled radio scripts, literature, short stories, memories, and philosophical and historical questions, mostly about Vienna and material about Reinhold Hanisch, a youth friend of Hitler in his Viennese years, whom Rieser represented on a professional level.

A) Poetic Manuscripts

213Das Buch der Traeumeundated
214Das Dritte Reichundated
215Gebet eines Sterbendenundated
216In der Schweizundated
217Naenie, Die Tanneundated
218Die Stimmeundated
219Die Stimme eines Menschen in der Nachtundated
220Various (Cities, Places)undated
221Clodwig Wilfrieds Sterbenundated
222Clippings - New York Staatszeitung1946-1948
223Other Poetryundated
224Das Lachen eines Freien/ Der 1. Weltkrieg (satirical)undated

B) Metahistorical Essays

31Der Geist Amerikasundated
32The Downfall of Europeundated

C) Literature, Fiction and Other Manuscripts

33Revision of European Historyundated
34Ein freundlicher Todundated
35Das Land der Jugendundated
36Totenmasken, Death Masksundated
37Die Stadt des Voelkerbundesundated

D) Literature, Journalism and Other Manuscripts

38AFictional, Literature Manuscriptsundated
38BHistorical Manuscriptsundated
39Memoirs of Reinhold Hanisch and his Friendship to Hitler1936
310Correspondence with publisher of Hanisch's Memoirs, who he was a lawyer of1936-1940
311Essays on American Philosophy and German Culture in the United Statesundated
312The Jews of Yugoslavia1954-1955
313Die Unmoeglichkeit der Geisteswissenschaftundated
314Scripts by Rieser for German Radio about Aesthetics and Philosophy1962-1964
315Script for a Radio Program, in memory of Alfred Polgar, written by Harry Pross "Am Meridian der Skepsis"1975

Subseries 2: Philosophical Manuscripts, 1939-1975

This series is mainly in German and English with Italian and French.
2.5 linear feet.

Previous order was kept, mostly alphabetical.

This subseries is divided in 4 sections.

Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 consists of manuscripts of Rieser's philosophical writings and the correspondence concerning their publication.

Rieser was adherent to the main trends of Anglo-American philosophy and published on various topics such as ethics and metaphysics, ontology and epistemology. Manuscripts and the related correspondence concerning these fields can be found in Section A and B. Active in the philosophical world, Rieser attended numerous regional, national and international congresses. These activities are documented in Section C, which holds the published manuscripts of reports for different philosophical congresses (4/1-4/4).

Born in Krakow Rieser knew Polish and was one of the first to introduce Polish philosophers to the American public. His manuscripts and correspondence regarding Polish philosophy in general can be found in the folders 4/5-4/8. Material about Georg Lukacs in specific can be found in folder 4/15.

Rieser specialized in aesthetics; manuscripts and correspondence about their publishing can be found in section D. Although the amount of essays documents Rieser's intense studies of the subject, the correspondence often shows rejection of his ideas. Explanation can be found in 5/9 stating, that Rieser's understanding of nature would be too shaped by German concepts and terms.

A) On Ethics

316An Outline of Intellectualistic Ethicsundated
317The Terms of Ethical Transactions1951-1952
318Ethical Contracts and Ethics without Sanctionsundated

B) Metaphysics, Ontology and Epistemology

319Causation, Action and Creation1940
320On Will or the levels of Actionundated
321Die geistigen Modelle der Philosophie der Gegenwartundated
322A Methological Investigation into the General Law of Causalityundated
323On the structure of Event or on Causal Connection1956-1974
324A Methological Enquiry into the Mind-Body Relationundated
325The Noetic Models of Contemporary Philosophyundated
326Methological Inquiry into the General Principle of Causality1948
327On Willundated
328Can Thought Influence Actionundated
329A Methological Investigation into the Assumptions of Idealism1952-1953
330The Function of the Notionundated
331On quality, Space and Time1945
332A Pragmatic Proof of the Existence of the External Worldundated
333Struktur des Geschenisses bei Kausalverknuepfung und Voraussage1975
334The Linguistic Model of Historyundated
335Short Essays and Fragments on Logicundated
336Paper given at the Congress of the Philosophy of Science1961-1964

C) Tendencies in Modern Philosophy

41Report on the XI. International Congress of Philosophy in 19531953-1954
42Report on the XII. International Congress of Philosophy in 19581957-1958
43Report on the International Congress of Philosophy in Cordoba 19651964-1965
44Reports on other International Philosophical Congressesundated
45Essays on Polish Philosophyundated
46Essays on Polish Philosophyundated
47Essay on Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz for the Lexikon der Philosophie1966-1969
48Essays by Polish Philosophers, Translationundated
49Essays on Russian Philosophy1960-1965
410Essays on Russian Psychology1967
411Die mexikanische Philosophieundated
412Das Schisma der Philosophieundated
413Die Wiederkehr des Rationalismus in Deutschlandundated
414Essays and Reviews on Existentialismundated
415Georg Lukacs, Essays and Reviews1959-1987
416 A/ BBook Reviews1957-1961
417Essays on Jewish Philosophy for the Lexikon des Judentum1978

D) Essays on Aesthetics

418The Aesthetics of Guido Calogera1965-1969
419The Analysis of Poetic Thinkingundated
420Analysis of the Poetic Smile1940
421Language and Artundated
422Ethical and Esthetical Adjectivesundated
423Element of Moral Valuationundated
424Introduction to an Epistemology of Art1950
425Linguistic and Non-Linguistic Arts1964-1966
426The Linguistic Theory of Plastic Art1956-1960
427The Meaning of Architectureundated
428Metaphoric Expression in the Plastic Arts1968
429Music and Thoughts1946
430Noetic Models of Mythology and Metaphysics1958-1960
431On Interpretability1947-1952
432On Morphic Semanticsundated
51On Musical Semanticsundated
52On Rhythmsundated
53Painting as a Form of Thoughtundated
54The Semantic Theory of Art in America1955-1956
55Signs and Symbolic Facts1947-1951
56Substance and the Meaning of Arts1940
57The Symbol as the Basis of Aesthetic Emotions1940
58Three Principles of Natural Beauty1951
59Three Stages of Contemplation of Nature1952
510Values of Achievement versus Values of Enjoyment1952
511Contemporary Trends in Aestheticsundated
512Essays on Rhythm and Poetic Form1939-1940
513Essays on Lectures on Realism1969
514Essays and Reviews on Thomas Munro1960-1976
515Short Essays, Reviews and Fragments on Aesthetics1965
516Short Essays, Reviews and Fragments on Aesthetics1965
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Series IV: Clippings,  1919-1939

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


Scope and Content:

This series holds clippings of two different types.

A collection of Rieser's journalistic work before the Second World War can be found in 5/17. Rieser wrote under different pseudonyms, probably for opportunistic reasons, for a wide political spectrum such as Arbeiter-Zeitung (social democratic), Katholisches Wochenblatt (Catholic-conservative), Prager Tagblatt (liberal) and Wiener Tagblatt (German-liberal and anti-Marxist ).

Folder 17 contains clippings of announcements of lectures given by Rieser in German newspapers in the U.S. such as Aufbau and Staatszeitung. Correspondence between the editors and Rieser requesting the publication of these announcements can be found, too.

517Clippings - Max Rieser1919-1937
518Clippings about Rieser and Correspondence1939
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Series V: Addenda,  1978-1982

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

Divided into Addendum 1 and Addendum 2.

Scope and Content:

Series V is comprised of material added to the collection following its initial processing.

Addendum 1 holds correspondence about Rieser's literary estate begun by him and continued by his wife Paula and Oskar Kristeller, a close friend. It contains death and obituary notices, as well as information about the different locations of Rieser's estate, a selected bibliography by Oskar Kristeller, the previous arrangement list and a list of articles published by Rieser under his pseudonyms for the Staatszeitung. A list of foreign language publications in the United States published by the Common Council for American Unity can be found in 5/24. Since Rieser worked for the Council, it can be assumed that he may have been the creator of this list. Addendum I additionally holds several folders of Max Rieser's published articles, especially his reviews of others' works. In addition, there are a few reviews of his own writing by others.

Addendum 2 contains primarily correspondence and official papers, especially documents relating to the deaths and estates of Max and Paula Rieser. The majority of these papers were originally located in two large folders entitled "Personalia," organized by individual. These folders were further subdivided during processing for ease of use and preservation purposes. Perhaps most noteworthy among the documents of Addendum 2 are the two folders of handwritten correspondence from Max Rieser to his wife while he was in New York and she was in Vienna. Two folders contain the correspondence of Edith Kristeller, who became the executrix of Paula Rieser's estate. Official documents include passports, birth, death, and educational certificates, among other material.

Addendum 1

519Articles and Offprints by Max Rieser1941-1961
520Articles and Offprints by Max Rieser – Book Reviews1955-1978
521Articles and Offprints by Max Rieser – Book Reviews – Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism1954-1976
522Articles and Offprints by Others – Reviews of Max Rieser's Work1967-1972
523Correspondence about Estate1978-1982
524Foreign Language Publications in the United Statesundated

Addendum 2

525Correspondence - Max Rieser to Paula Rieser1937
526Correspondence - Max Rieser to Paula Rieser1938, 1950
527Personalia – Max Rieser – Correspondence – Kristeller, Edith1984
528Personalia – Max Rieser – Correspondence – Lüthy, Emil1941-1987
529Personalia – Max Rieser – Correspondence – Rieser, Paula1981-1983
530Personalia – Max Rieser – Correspondence and Documentation – Beurs voor den Diamanthandel1948
531Personalia – Max Rieser – Official Papers, Identification Cards, and Obituaries1893, 1942-1982
532Personalia – Paula Rieser – Correspondence1983
533– Paula Rieser – Correspondence –Kristeller, Edith1982-1984
534Personalia – Paula Rieser – Death and Estate1981-1984
535Personalia – Paula Rieser – Death and Funeral of Max Rieser1981
536Personalia – Paula Rieser – Gifts and Donations1981-1982
537Personalia – Paula Rieser – Naturalization and Citizenship1942-1944
538Personalia – Paula Rieser – Official Papers and Identification Cards1914-1977
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