Guide to the Papers of Fritz Bamberger (1902-1984)

AR 349

Processed by Dianne Ritchey and LBI Staff

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 Dianne Ritchey in February 2011. Description is in English.
March 2012 Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bamberger, Fritz, 1902-1984
Title: Fritz Bamberger Collection
Dates:bulk 1955-1980
Abstract: This collection documents the life and scholarly interests of Fritz Bamberger, scholar and former vice-president of the Leo Baeck Institute. Much of the collection focuses on his professional and scholarly activities. It includes many newspaper clippings and articles, official documents, correspondence, a scrapbook, family papers, a few photographs and notes.
Languages: The collection is in German, English, Spanish and Latin.
Quantity: 0.5 linear ft.
Identification: AR 349
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note
Portrait of Fritz Bamberger (1902-1984)

Portrait of Fritz Bamberger (1902-1984)

Siegfried Fritz Bamberger was born on January 7, 1902 in Frankfurt-am-Main, the son of the businessman Max and Amalie (née Wolf) Bamberger. He grew up in Gelsenkirchen, where the family resided, and attended the Städtische Oberrealschule (Public High School) there. At the University of Berlin he studied philosophy, literature and Oriental languages, and at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums Jewish studies. At the age of 21 he had already earned his doctorate in philosophy and soon thereafter continued as a research fellow and lecturer in philosophy at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. Later he became director of the Berlin Lehrerbildungsanstalt and head of the school administration of the Berlin Jewish Community. He also taught at and helped to found the Jüdisches Lehrhaus in Berlin. In 1933 he married violinist Käte (later Kate) Schwabe, originally of Aschersleben. They had two children, Michael and Gabrielle.

In 1939 Fritz Bamberger and his wife immigrated to the United States, where they first settled in Chicago. From 1939 until 1942 he taught philosophy and comparative literature at Chicago's College of Jewish Studies. Even after Fritz Bamberger's father, Max Bamberger, died in 1940, Fritz had been in the process of assisting his mother to immigrate to the United States when the American consulates in Germany were closed in July 1941. Amalie Bamberger died in Warsaw in May 1942.

From 1942 until 1961 Fritz Bamberger worked for Coronet magazine, a publication of Esquire, Inc. beginning as a part-time researcher and eventually working his way up through the organization until he became editor-in-chief in 1952. In 1956 he became executive director of Esquire, Inc. In 1952 Kate Bamberger died; Fritz Bamberger would later marry Maria Weinberg in 1963.

In 1962 Fritz Bamberger returned to the world of academia, finding a position at the Hebrew University College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. There he became a professor of intellectual history and a member of the college's Board of Governors in addition to being the assistant to the President. He retired from Hebrew University College in 1979.

In addition to his professional appointments, Fritz Bamberger engaged himself in the work of Jewish research organizations. He was vice-president of the Leo Baeck Institute, on the executive committee of the Frank L. Weil Institute for Studies in Religion and Humanities and vice-chairman of the World Union for Progressive Judaism's North American Board. In 1982 he received an honorary doctorate from Hebrew Union College. He died in 1984.

Fritz Bamberger was active in Jewish scholarship and published a number of academic works in addition to having been an avid bibliophile. In Berlin he was a member of a bibliophile society, the Bibliophilen Freunde, formed after the former Berliner Bibliophilen-Abend was dissolved by the Nazis. In 1961 Bamberger founded the Society for Jewish Bibliophiles in New York. He had an extensive and reputable collection of books on Spinoza, numbering three thousand volumes, which his family gave to the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion branch in Jerusalem in 1990.

Fritz Bamberger's published works include:

1924Entstehung des Wertproblems
1929Moses Mendelssohn
1928-1930Die Lehren des Judentums
1929-1932Moses Mendelssohns gesammelte Schriften
1935Das System des Maimonides
1936Jüdische Gestalten und ihre Zeit. Eine Geschichte des jüdischen Geistes von Moses bis Mendelssohn
1958Leo Baeck – The Man and the Idea
1960Julius Guttman: Philosopher of Judaism
1962Books are the Best Things
1967Mendelssohns Begriff vom Judentum
1970The Mind of Nelson Glück
1974Exploring a Typology of German Jewry (The Arden House Conference)

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Scope and Content Note

The Fritz Bamberger Collection comprises the papers of scholar Fritz Bamberger, and largely centers on his professional and scholarly activities and accomplishments. This collection includes many newspaper clippings about and by him, various official documents, correspondence, a scrapbook, some family papers and notes. The collection has been organized according to the order already present at processing, separated into three series representing the additions to the original collection.

Biographical details on Fritz Bamberger will be found in various areas of the collection, especially in the many clippings on him. The bulk of these are located in Series II.

Several areas of the collection mention Fritz Bamberger's bibliophilism. Several articles in Series I mention this subject, including an essay on bibliophilism as a form of resistance in Nazi Germany. In Series II the subject is further addressed in the folder of articles on the subject, which include a detailed recounting of Fritz Bamberger's own library as well as in some essays written by him in the 1930s. Some photographs of Series III show Bamberger in his library, and he occasionally mentions the Bibliophilen Freunde of Berlin or its former members in his correspondence with the Strauss family, also located in Series III.

Papers that pertain to Fritz Bamberger's years in Berlin, including his time at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, also will be found in various areas of the collection. In Series I, this consists of programs from the Jüdisches Lehrhaus from the 1930s and several invitations that refer to a celebration of the two-hundredth birthday of Moses Mendelssohn in 1929. Several folders of Series II focus on Bamberger's life in Berlin; these contain official documents that relate to his education and marriage as well as clippings of articles written by him. Series III holds an employment contract from this time as well as comments on his experiences found within his letters to members of the Strauss family.

Material on Fritz Bamberger's later life in Chicago and New York is primarily found in Series II and III. Much information of this kind will be found in the aforementioned Strauss correspondence of Series III, which report on the scholarly work of his later life as well as the changes in his professional life. Series II also holds clippings and a small amount of related correspondence on his experiences as a refugee and as editor of Coronet. Material on his work with the LBI include some articles by him on the institute.

Some papers in Series II contain papers pertaining to his family members. One folder holds items relating to his wife Kate. These encompass professional, health and other official documents. Another folder in this series holds some papers of Max and Amalie Bamberger, including some correspondence of Amalie Bamberger to her children. These papers relate to Fritz Bamberger's attempts to assist his parents in leaving Germany.

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This collection is arranged in three series:

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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 "Reserve" button.

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 American Jewish Archives include a collection of Fritz Bamberger's papers (Manuscript Collection No. 78). This collection is 0.8 linear feet and consists of his correspondence and research files.

The LBI Library includes a number of articles and books by Fritz Bamberger:

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Separated Material

Some photographs have been removed to the LBI Photo Collection.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Fritz Bamberger Collection; AR 349; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

When processing the collection in preparation of the EAD finding aid in 2011, the collection was observed to have been added to several times. These included three distinct kinds of addenda, especially one previously arranged chronologically by the phases of Fritz Bamberger's professional life. These addenda formed the basis of series for the EAD finding aid.

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Container List

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Original Archival Collection, 1929-1980

This series is in German and English.
2 folders.

Original order.

Scope and Content:

Series I is comprised of the papers that appear to have added to the collection at the earliest date. These materials include correspondence and personal papers of Fritz Bamberger as well as articles collected by him.

The first folder of Series I largely holds articles and a small amount of correspondence. Several articles relate to his love of books, including an essay on bibliophilism as a spiritual resistance during the Hitler years, and a remembrance of Gerhard Schulze and his bibliophile friends. The second folder includes several invitations to events in honor of the two hundredth birthday of Moses Mendelssohn and schedule of classes from the Jüdisches Lehrhaus in Berlin. Included are also a letter to Fritz Bamberger from Thomas Mann and Adlai Stevenson.

11Correspondence and Articles (AR 349)1937, 1958-1980
12Addenda (AR 349a) - Ten German Jewish Documents1929-1949
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Series II: Chronological Files, 1901-1990

This series is in German, English and Spanish.
0.3 linear feet.


Scope and Content:

Series II contains a number of folders organized chronologically, referring to various points in Fritz Bamberger's life. It documents the major events in his life, from his education in Germany to his time as editor of Coronet magazine and vice president of the LBI. In addition to personal and official papers, there are several folders that hold articles on him.

Fritz Bamberger's education and professional activities in Germany are primarily evident in the first three folders of this series. Educational papers include copies of university documentation and a certificate for his Abschlussprüfung from the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums. The first folder additionally holds certificates pertaining to his marriage to Kate Bamberger in 1933. The third folder includes a menu for a bibliophile event in 1933, although the majority of items in this folder pertain to related events in his later life, including a detailed description of his library and an article on the donation of his extensive Spinoza collection to the Hebrew Union College after his death. A copy of a 1932 letter from Albert Einstein in support of funding for the Hochschule is also included in this series, as are some letters related to research conducted on the letter.

The four folders that follow hold articles written by Fritz Bamberger as well as some later items written about him. Many of these are his articles on various Jewish rabbis and scholars including Leo Baeck, Moses Mendelssohn, Ismar Elbogen, Leopold Zunz, Bruno Strauss and Issak Heinemann. Folder 8 relates a tale of Franz Kafka at the library of the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, when Bamberger worked as a librarian's assistant; in addition to details on Kafka, it also describes Dora Dymant and the Hochschule librarian, Jenny Wilde. Some early articles display Bamberger's love of books and knowledge, such as his 1937 article Ehret das Buch (Honor the Book) or Lehren und Lernen (Teaching and Learning), both of which will be found in folder 6. Folder 14 holds later articles on Fritz Bamberger; some of these mention his becoming a professor at Hebrew Union College, his seventieth birthday and his death.

Later folders pertain to Bamberger's years in Chicago. Two of these contain correspondence regarding employment opportunities, Other documentation mentions a Council of Refugee Organizations rally in Chicago in support of American troops, in which Bamberger participated. Some newspaper and periodical clippings report his activities with various other Jewish organizations.

Family members are also represented in this series. One folder contains papers on Max and Amalie Bamberger, but especially focuses on Amalie Bamberger's immigration possibilities, which were ultimately unsuccessful. This folder also includes many handwritten letters on thin airmail stationery by Amalie Bamberger to her children. One folder holds the papers of Kate (Käte) Bamberger née Schwabe, Fritz Bamberger's first wife. Such papers include certificates pertaining to her education, employment as first violinist at Berlin's Theater im Admiralpalast, birth and immunization. In addition, there is an invitation to her wedding and a photocopy of a page from her Familienbuch listing her parents and grandparents and of a photograph of herself. The final folder of this series holds some notes on Bamberger genealogy, including sketches of family trees.

Bamberger's later life is evidenced in the remaining folders of this series. The folder of material on his occupation as a magazine editor holds several clippings that document his movement within the hierarchy of Coronet magazine staff. Several of these include some biographical details on him. The folder on Bamberger's work with the LBI includes articles on the institution, some written by him. Another folder of articles pertains to Fritz Bamberger's recognition for his birthdays and professional accomplishments. Most of these relate to his seventieth and eightieth birthdays, although there is also an unpublished address given upon his retirement from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Such articles provide summations of his professional activities.

13Certificates and documents from Germany1917-1943
14Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums1927-1934
15"Bibliophile"1929-1935, 1986-1990
16Articles by Fritz Bamberger1929-1937
17Articles by Fritz Bamberger1955-1964
18Articles by and about Fritz Bamberger1929-1953
OS 19Articles by and about Fritz Bamberger – Oversized Scrapbook1929-1941, 1950-1958
19Albert Einstein Letter and Related Research1932, 1979
110Immigration to Chicago1926, 1938-1944
111Refugee in Chicago1938-1944
112Max and Amalie Bamberger1941-1945
113Magazine Editorundated, 1949
114Articles about Fritz Bamberger1948-1984
115Kate Bamberger1901-1952
116Fritz Bamberger at the LBI1958-1979
117Birthday and Professional Recognition1967-1983
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Series III: Further Addenda, 1928-1983, 1998-2001

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

Original order and alphabetical.

Scope and Content:

Series III comprises addenda added to the main collection at a later date, whose folders were frequently numbered. Included in Series III are official documents, articles, notes and correspondence. During processing some folders were further subdivided by format and date.

Most prominent in Series III is the correspondence from Franz Rosenzweig to Bruno Strauss and his wife Bertha Badt-Strauss. Such letters describe Fritz Bamberger's family life and notable professional moments. A letter from June 12, 1940 mentions the changed situation in Europe and his foreseeing of it. Later letters mention subjects about which he wrote or researched, individuals he knew or trips he made. The development of his children is also frequently addressed. Occasionally Bamberger recounts details of his life in Germany, such as the bibliophile society or the fate of the Akademie des Wissenschaft des Judentums. His letters of the 1960s frequently remark upon his scholarly work.

A small amount of official documents will be found in several areas of this series. Folder 19 includes copies of Fritz and Kate Bamberger's passport pages, Fritz Bamberger's employment contract with the Berlin Jewish Community in 1936, and his birth certificate. The folder of "Other Papers" contains Fritz Bamberger's American passport, some photos of him in his library, and various handwritten documents in Latin.

A few articles are present in this series as part of Addenda 2, and include pieces by Bamberger on Bertha Badt-Strauss, Spinoza and Nelson Glück. The folder of notes cover a variety of topics related to Jewish history and Jewish individuals. These include Franz Kafka, Leopold Zunz and Franz Rosenzweig as well as Berlin, Chinese Jews and Jewish philosophy.

119Addenda – Official Documents1928-1938
120Addenda 2 – Articles1955-1971
121Addenda 2 – Notesundated
122Addenda 2 – Other Papers1939-1983
123Addenda 3 – Correspondence – Fritz Bamberger to Bruno Strauss and Bertha Badt-Strauss1939-1955, 1998-2001
124Addenda 3 – Correspondence – Fritz Bamberger to Bruno Strauss and Bertha Badt-Strauss1956-1964
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