Guide to the Peter Bloch Collection Addenda

AR 25623

Processed by Verena Blatt

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2015 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey on April 16, 2015. Description is in English.
June 2015: dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bloch, Peter
Title: Peter Bloch Collection Addenda
Abstract: Collection of photographs, correspondence and clippings documenting Peter Bloch’s engagement in Hispanic culture and civil rights from the 1940s-1960s. Also included are autographed photographs from actors and others; two U.S. passports; various other documents pertaining to Peter Bloch; as well as his death certificate.
Languages: The collection is in English, German, and Spanish.
Quantity: 0.25 linear feet.
Identification: AR 25623
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

Peter Rafael Bloch, an art historian, writer, journalist and expert of Puerto Rican culture, was born on October 19th, 1921 in Frankfurt am Main (Germany), to a family of medical doctors and Spanish-Jewish scholars. His grandfather James Israel (1848–1926) was a pioneer in modern urological and renal surgery in Berlin. Peter lived with his family in Lindenstrasse 39 in the Westend of Frankfurt am Main. His father Dr. med. Arthur Bloch - a former assistant of his grandfather's - was senior urological consultant in a Frankfurt hospital before he was dismissed in 1933 due to the National Socialist laws. In spring 1939, some weeks after graduating from the Philanthropin, a renowned Jewish high school in Frankfurt am Main, Peter Bloch escaped to England. Later that year he moved to Belgium to reunite with his family. In 1942 he escaped to Switzerland where he stayed until 1949, when he was allowed to come to America.

Peter Bloch studied Hispanic culture and history since his youth and became an authority and supporter of Puerto Rican culture. With great affection, devotion and without remuneration, Peter Bloch produced concerts, recitals, poetry readings, and radio programs (WNYC-AM); pioneered art exhibitions (in New York and Germany); wrote books and articles for countless magazines about Puerto Rican arts and culture; established a Puerto Rican Library and Museum at La Hermosa Christian Church; and founded the “Association for Puerto Rican-Hispanic Culture” (1965) and the “Rafael Hernández Festival” (1967). Peter Bloch helped to introduce Julio Iglesias to the American public and earned his living by writing for European magazines and newspapers.

He died in New York on July 31st, 2008.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of photographs, correspondence, clippings, original diary entries, autographed photographs from actors and other celebrities, two U.S. passports, and various other documents pertaining to Peter Bloch. Also included is his death certificate from 2008.

This collection is an addendum to the Peter Bloch Collection, AR 25353.

Folder 1 contains newspaper clippings from Spanish and English language newspapers as well as various photographs documenting Bloch's engagement in Hispanic culture and civil rights from the 1940s-1960s. The clippings show Peter Bloch's frequent honors for his selfless advocacy on behalf of the Puerto Rican-Hispanic Culture. In 1955 he was honored by the “League of Belgian and allied Patriots”. Furthermore, this folder contains a Universum Press passport belonging to Peter Bloch, undated, as well as a payment-receipt for a manuscript, dated Frankfurt am Main, May 29th, 1964.

Folder 2 contains correspondence from, but mostly to Peter Bloch. There are e.g. four letters from William Ryan, Member of the U.S. Congress, promoting Puerto Rico's culture and history; a letter from Deborah Walley, the Hollywood actress who played the fictional character Gidget in 1961; a letter from the Julio Iglesias Fan Club; and two letters from Dr. Alfonso Ramirez. He and Peter Bloch maintained an epistolary friendship for almost five decades, after they had been introduced to each other by Ernest Mandel, the secretary of the Fourth International. Alfonso Ramirez's first letter details the political situation in Venezuela in 2007, his second letter is written in Spanish, not to Peter Bloch, but to Carmen D. Lucca, in which Alfonso Ramirez relates the story of his friendship with Peter and mentions his visit to New York in 1956 and meeting Peter’s mother, Else Bloch (Israel). Furthermore, there is a letter from Peter Bloch to Reverend Colón, dated May 8th, 1979, in which he relates his friendship with the Reverend. Peter Bloch mentions how difficult the relationship became during the illness of Reverend Colón's daughter, Miriam Dorcas. In addition, there is a photograph of Miriam Dorcas with a personal note on the back, addressed to Peter and his mother.

Folder 3 contains autographed photographs from actors and other celebrities, like Maurice Chevalier, Eddie Cantor, Jayne Mansfield and Elizabeth Peña, almost always with personal dedications to Peter Bloch. In addition, there is a photograph of Peter Bloch with Elizabeth Peña.

Folder 4 contains original diary entries of Peter Bloch written in German. The first entry is dated May 9, 1955 at the Waldorf Astoria’s meeting with General Douglas MacArthur and is a transcript of Peter Bloch's conversation with him. At this meeting, Peter Bloch presented Douglas MacArthur in the name of a Brussels-based organization with a medal and Certificate of Honor for his merits for peace, especially for his reconstruction work in Japan and his peace speech in Los Angeles. In this conversation, MacArthur related, among others, the story of how he stood at the head of a United States Army division in Belgium in 1918, and how he met after World War I with Konrad Adenauer, then mayor of Cologne, who showed him around the cathedral. MacArthur also spoke about the deeper meaning of the war, and how, after World War II, it had become pointless because of the new era that had begun. The second entry is dated May 31, 2008 and June 24, 2008 and references Peter Bloch's illness (prostate cancer). Also included are two U.S. passports of Peter Bloch (one expired), and a certificate of the “Israel Family Name History”. Dr. James Israel was Peter Bloch's grandfather. Several documents in this folder pertain to Peter Bloch's death, such as his death certificate from 2008, and an Ode to Peter Bloch by Abraham Lind-Oquendo, who was an accomplished professional singer and a good friend of his.

Folder 5 consists of a 15-page essay on "Ex-Trotskista, Peter Bloch" by Alfonso Ramirez, dated 2010. The essay is in Spanish.

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The collection is arranged in one 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.

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 contains further material related to Peter Bloch. See also the Peter Bloch Collection, 1916-2008, in AR 25353 as well as the Letters from Peter Bloch to Alfonso Ramirez, 1967-2008, in MS 997.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Peter Bloch Collection Addenda; AR 25623; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

During processing, the collection was organized into series. All related content was organized chronologically.

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Container List

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Peter Bloch Addenda, 1946-2010

This collection is in English, German and Spanish.
0.25 linear feet.

This collection is arranged chronologically.

11Correspondence1944 February-2008 December
12Photographs and Newspaper Clippings1946-1964
13Autographed Photographs1950s-1970s
14Diary Notes, Passports and Death Certificate1955 May-2008 October
15Essay by A. Ramirez – Ex-Trotskista, Peter Bloch2010 July
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