Guide to the Papers of Marta Fraenkel (1896-1976)

AR 4348

Processed by Ilse Turnheim and 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



© 2011 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in April 2011. Description is in English.
February 23, 2015  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Fraenkel, Marta
Title: Marta Fraenkel Collection
Dates:bulk 1945-1950
Abstract: The Marta Fraenkel Collection holds papers and correspondence of Marta Fraenkel and her family members. Prominent topics include postwar Germany and Korea and the lives of family members who resided there. Some focus on the family genealogy is also existent. The collection comprises correspondence, personal and official papers, biographical articles, family trees, postcards and some notes.
Languages: The collection is in German and English.
Quantity: 0.5 linear ft.
Identification: AR 4348
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note
Portrait of Marta Fraenkel (1896-1976)

Portrait of Marta Fraenkel (1896-1976)

Marta Fraenkel was born in Cologne on September 19, 1896, the daughter of Georg and Therese (née Epstein) Fraenkel. Following the death of their parents, she and her younger brother Ernst went to live with their maternal uncle Josef Epstein in Frankfurt am Main, where they completed their educations. Her brother Ernst would later become a lawyer, author and political scientist.

Marta Fraenkel studied medicine in Bonn and Frankfurt, receiving her medical degree from the University of Frankfurt in 1923. Following her studies she entered public service, holding various positions in research, advisement and consulting capacities. From 1924-1927 she worked as scientific secretary at the GeSoLei (Große Ausstellung für Gesundheitspflege, soziale Fürsorge und Leibesübungen) in Düsseldorf in 1926. From 1928-1933 she was director of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden. While in Dresden she met the editor of the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten, Theodor Schulze. In 1931 they married; four years later they divorced.

In 1935 Marta Fraenkel left Germany for Brussels, where she worked at the National Belgian Cancer League (Ligue nationale Belge centre le Cancer) until her immigration to New York City in 1938. There she worked in various capacities, including for the Welfare Council from 1938-1944. She lived briefly in Washington, D.C. and was a medical advisor for the Social Security administration there from 1944-1947. Returning to New York, she was research director for the Survey on Cerebral Palsy from 1948-1949. From 1953 on she was a statistical consultant for the Metropolitan Sanatorium Conference in New York. She also contributed various articles for professional journals. She died in New York City on August 8, 1976.

In her honor an exhibition room was named after her at the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden.

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Scope and Content Note

The Marta Fraenkel Collection holds the papers of the German physician Marta Fraenkel. Particularly prominent in this collection is its family correspondence. Other papers include personal, official, and educational papers, short writings of family members, family trees and postcards.

Correspondence of family members, especially that which was sent to Marta Fraenkel, will be found in the first three series of this collection. Series I contains several folders of letters sent to her, including several from her aunt Else Epstein. A number of these letters are also from friends, acquaintances and former colleagues still in Germany, but they all date from the years just following World War II. These letters, especially those of her aunt, describe conditions in occupied Germany and relate their experiences and losses during the war. A number of such letters are from unidentified individuals. Series II also contains an assortment of letters sent by Marta Fraenkel's brother Ernst, including one folder of letters he sent to her. His letters also date from the late 1940s and were all sent while he worked at the U.S. mission in Seoul, Korea. They include many typed circular letters. Ernst Fraenkel's letters clearly convey the experiences of himself and his wife Hanna while in Korea. Particularly prominent is a detailed sixteen-page letter that describes the first days of the Korean War and the evacuation of American personnel from Korea.

Some biographical information may be gleaned from the personal papers present in the collection, especially that of Marta Fraenkel and Ernst Fraenkel. Series I includes Marta Fraenkel's personal papers; the bulk of these consist of educational certificates from her primary and secondary education, although a few certificates from the universities of Frankfurt and Bonn are also present. Series II holds Ernst Fraenkel's papers, and in this series will be found several biographical articles on him, written in honor of his seventy-fifth birthday along with various official documents related to his work, his curriculum vitae and a copy of his doctoral degree from the university of Frankfurt. A copy of the Bundesverdienstkreuz certificate awarded to Ernst Fraenkel is present here as well. Biographical information on Else Epstein, especially on her wartime experiences, will be found in her correspondence with Marta and Ernst Fraenkel, located in Series I and II respectively, as well as in Series III, which holds some letters of hers to Otto Lowenthal.

Genealogical material and papers relating to the history of the Fraenkel, Epstein and Lowenthal families is located in Series III. Such papers consist not only of a few family trees, but also transcripts of family members' correspondence of the nineteenth century along with essays written by family members. These include a narrative family history written by Ernst Lowenthal.

The final series of this collection includes postcards, possibly depicting vacation areas visited by family members, and information on photographs formerly located in the collection.

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The collection is arranged in four 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 includes an Ernst Fraenkel Collection, AR 1558. The LBI Library contains several books by him as well.

The LBI Library includes two items written by Marta Fraenkel:

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Separated Material

Numerous photographs have been removed from to the LBI Photograph Collection. A list of these is available in Series IV.

Several items of Marta Fraenkel's were removed to the LBI Arts and Objects Collection:

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Marta Fraenkel Collection; AR 4348; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

The collection was first processed by Ilse Turnheim in 1976 resulting in the creation of an item-level inventory. The collection was reprocessed in 2011 in preparation of the EAD finding aid. The current arrangement is largely based on the previous inventory, although a few larger folders were further subdivided by format, subject or correspondent.

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Other Finding Aid

A previous 8-page item-level inventory exists.

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Container List

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Follow the links to access the digitized materials.


Series I: Marta Fraenkel, 1890-1965

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

Topical and alphabetical.

Scope and Content:

Series I holds the papers of Marta Fraenkel, consisting of some personal papers and a larger amount of correspondence.

Marta Fraenkel's personal papers largely comprise educational certificates from various institutions. These include yearly report cards from the Kaiserin-Augusta-Schule and the Evangelische höhere Töchterschule in Cologne as well as a Studienbuch (record of study) from the Schiller-Schule in Frankfurt am Main and a certificate of admission from the University of Bonn. General personal papers, found in the first folder of this series, include a Familien Stammbuch (family record) and a brief biography for Marta Fraenkel from Who's Who as well as two certificates regarding her professional work from the National Cancer League in Brussels (Ligue nationale Belge centre le Cancer). A photograph of Marta Fraenkel is also present in this folder.

The remainder of this series consists of personal correspondence. All of the correspondence in this series dates from the years just after the conclusion of World War II. Among the alphabetically-arranged correspondence are some letters from Marta Fraenkel's former colleagues at the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, which was interested in rebuilding its collection, much of which was destroyed in the war. Other letters briefly mention the fates of friends, family members and acquaintances during the war.

Else Epstein, Marta Fraenkel's aunt, was a regular correspondent of hers who lived in Frankfurt am Main. Her letters provide a look into life in occupied Germany. Such correspondence mentions the political changes in Germany as well as many details on the hardships faced by German residents at the time. Her letters describe the daily rationing and food shortages, problems getting gas, and the difficult winter of 1947. She especially goes into detail on the housing and fuel shortage, and how these affected her own life. The letters make some reference of her own experiences during the war. Else Epstein's letters also frequently mention her gratitude for the packages sent to her by her niece. She occasionally gives her opinions on the problems facing Germany, and mentions the continued anti-Semitism among the youth of Frankfurt.

Other correspondence in this series includes that of Marta Fraenkel's friend Leonie Möllering in Lübeck, who calls Marta "Fraenkelchen." All of her letters are handwritten and provide news of friends and acquaintances. Her correspondence includes two essays: "Geliebte Stadt," which does not name the city to which it refers, and "Holde Aida," a memorial to a friend. The final folder of this series contains letters from unidentified individuals. These primarily relate news of individuals and personal greetings.

11Personal1890, 1936-1965
12Personal – Educational Documents1903-1918
OS 146Personal – Educational Documents - Oversized1916-1918
13Correspondence – A-Z1927, 1945-1947
14Correspondence – Epstein, Else1946-1948
15Correspondence – Möllering, Leonie1946-1947
16Correspondence – Without Surnames, Unsigned or Illegible Signaturesundated, 1945-1948
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Series II: Ernst Fraenkel, 1917-1950

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

Topical and alphabetical.

Scope and Content:

Series II contains the papers of Ernst Fraenkel, lawyer and political scientist. It consists of some personal papers and correspondence.

Ernst Fraenkel's personal papers comprise educational certificates, largely from universities he attended, and several biographical articles, including one brief autobiographical text. The biographies include copies of clippings written in honor of his seventy-fifth birthday as well as copies of telegrams sent to him for the occasion, including from leading politicians like Helmut Kohl and Willy Brandt, among others. A copy of his certificate upon the awarding of Germany's Grosse Verdienstkreuz to him, is also present. Some articles relating to the subject of the protection of professors from attacks in student publications are also found here as are several official documents pertaining to his position in Korea, his work at the Justizdienst and various other papers relating to his professional activities.

Ernst Fraenkel was a descriptive and detailed correspondent; his letters frequently provide great detail of both his activities and his opinions. This series contains many letters from his time in Korea, where he worked as legal advisor in the United States mission in Seoul. The bulk of correspondence in this series pertains to his years in Korea, including all of the letters to his sister Marta and most of his letters to others. Several circular letters are included in the folder of general correspondence. Ernst Fraenkel came to Korea in January 1946 by way of Japan. Several times he conveys his dismay at the utter devastation of the Tokyo suburbs and Yokohama, describing a trip from the airport where he saw not even a single habitable building for miles. Here he states that "destroyed" is not an adequate term for the current state of Tokyo; elsewhere he calls the city "nonexistent" and "a nightmare." The circular letters and correspondence to his sister describe his work in Korea, where he was placed in the General Affairs Section of the American military government. They also mention in passing some facets of the lives of the American military members stationed there. In addition, they clearly depict the state of postwar Korea, with descriptions of the effects of the Japanese occupation and the high levels of poverty and rampant crime. By September 1946 his wife Hanna (Johanna) had joined him in Korea and correspondence to Marta Fraenkel includes many letters from Hanna as well, who frequently mentions her daily struggle to maintain their household while dealing with shortages of necessities, like heating and water.

The situation of family members and friends in Germany may also be seen in Ernst Fraenkel's letters. Letters with Marta Fraenkel discuss the preparation of packages for Else Epstein and Hanna's relatives in Germany. The few letters with Hedwig Wachtenstein, found in the folder of general correspondence, describe how Ernst Fraenkel came to the decision to work in Korea instead of Germany; Wachtenstein's letters respond with descriptions of life in postwar Germany. A lengthy letter from Else Epstein, also among the general correspondence, details her experiences in Germany during and shortly after World War II, including mention of the effects of the 1946 famine and the political situation there.

Especially noteworthy in this series is a lengthy and detailed typewritten report of the evacuation of American personnel from Seoul, dated only days after the North Korean army crossed the 38th Parallel. This circular letter mentions the first movements of North Korean troops and details the subsequent evacuation, from the first rumors to Ernst Fraenkel's flight to Japan on a transport defended by warplanes. The letter is unique in that Fraenkel wrote it under the assumption that it documented a significant moment in global history; he presumed South Korea's defeat was unavoidable due to the reluctance of the U.S. military to provide the Rhee government with adequate equipment to repel an invasion. Therefore the letter also mentions his concerns that East Asia would inevitably become Communist once Korea fell, the invasion the probable first step towards the beginning of a third world war.

18Personal – Educational Documents1915-1921
OS 146Personal – Educational Documents - Oversized1924
110Correspondence – Fraenkel, Marta1946-1947
111Correspondence – Evacuation from Korea1950 June 30
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Series III: Fraenkel, Epstein, Lowenthal Families, 1930-1947

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


Scope and Content:

Series III holds papers of family members other than Marta and Ernst Fraenkel. It includes correspondence, essays and family trees.

The first folder of this series primarily consists of correspondence and essays by various family members. Noteworthy may be Else Epstein's letters to Otto Lowenthal. Here she provides some details of her life in postwar Germany as well as the deaths of Lowenthal's parents and friends. She also notes some of her own experiences in Nazi Germany, including her two arrests, the first resulting in three weeks detention in a Frankfurt prison, the second in eight months in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Following her release from Ravensbrück she was hesitant to return to Frankfurt and so stayed in the Black Forest region until July 1945. Other correspondence in this folder constitutes transcripts of early family correspondence, such as transcripts of Max Epstein to his wife Ernestine from Hungary in 1869 and an 1855 letter from Julius Fraenkel to his siblings about the celebration of his wedding.

This initial folder additionally holds some writings of family members. Included is an essay by Ernst Lowenthal on the family history and a memorial for Laura Levy née Epstein. Two other writings focus on Palestine, including a handwritten essay on the political situation in Palestine, written in 1939, and "Aus Palästina-Briefen," an essay by Ernst Lowenthal in 1933-1934, in which he reflects on the impression the country had on him and some of the more significant features of it.

The second folder of this series holds a few brief family trees, depicting the relation of members of the Fraenkel, Epstein and Lowenthal families, among a few others.

112Family Narratives and Correspondence1930-1947
113Genealogy and Family Treesundated
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Series IV: Photographs and Postcards, undated, 1932-1968

This series is in German.
0.05 linear ft.


Scope and Content:

Series IV comprises the visual material of this collection, holding many postcards and information on the numerous photographs previously present in the collection. The photographs of this series have been removed to the LBI Photograph Collection, but this series includes lists with their call numbers and brief descriptions. About half the postcards in this series are unused. Those that have been sent include handwritten letters to Theodor Schulze, Marta Fraenkel's former husband. The postcards may show vacation destinations, focusing on locations in Italy, the Alps and Belgrade.

114Photographsundated, 1961-1968
115Postcardsundated, 1932-1934
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