Guide to the Papers of Otto Kallir (1894-1978)

AR 4666 / MF 1119

Processed by Momme Schwarz

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2010 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey in December 2010. Description is in English.
September 2011. Microfilm inventory added. February 06, 2013  Links to digital objects added in Container List.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kallir, Otto, 1894-1978
Title: Otto Kallir Collection
Dates:bulk 1916-1918
Abstract: The collection documents portions of the life of the art dealer and publisher Otto Kallir (originally Otto Nirenstein). It contains papers on his military career from 1914 to 1918 as well as an extensive volume of his war diaries. Enclosed are also the memoirs of various family members documenting family history. Finally there is a small amount of correspondence from Otto Kallir and family members.
Languages: The collection is in German and English.
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet
Identification: AR 4666
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
Return to the Top of Page

Biographical Note

Otto Kallir was born in Vienna, Austria on April 1st 1894 as Otto Nirenstein. He changed his name to Kallir in 1933. He studied engineering at a technical college from 1918 to 1920 and went on to study art history from 1927 to 1931. He finished with a dissertation on Beiträge zur Vischerforschung in 1931. The anti-Semitic legislation passed after the Anschluss of Austria in 1938 as well as his open endorsement for the Schuschnigg Government forced him to emigrate to France in 1938. Only one year later he left for the United States.

Kallir developed an early interest in art and design. He founded the publishing house Neue Graphik in 1919. From 1921 to 1923 he was head of the art department at the Rikola publishing house in Vienna. In 1938 he founded Gallery St. Etienne which he reopened in New York in 1939. The gallery became well known for the works of Austrian and German expressionists like Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. Kallir also provided Grandma Moses her first one-woman exhibition which was a major push for her later career. Otto Kallir died on November 30, 1978.

Return to the Top of Page

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Otto Kallir provide a significant insight primarily into his personal experience during World War I. Kallir describes his whole military period beginning with his drafting in 1916 from Vienna, his fighting encounter with the Italians and the Russians, his shifting to and from the various fronts as well his return from the Italian Front in 1918.

The additional collection material covers a wide range of family history-related documents. The memoirs of Magdalene Breisach, Henriette von Motesicky and George de Worms detail on the one hand the background of the Kallir family in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and their wide relations to prominent Austrian figures. Also included are also some manuscripts and articles on the Gallery St. Etienne which Kallir opened in Vienna and Paris and later under the name of Neue Galerie in New York.

Return to the Top of Page


The collection is divided in three series.

Return to the Top of Page

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

Return to the Top of Page

Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

Related material will be found in the John Kallir Collection (AR 25081), located at the LBI Archives.

Return to the Top of Page


The collection is on two reels of microfilm (MF 1119):

Return to the Top of Page

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Otto Kallir Collection; AR 4666; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

Return to the Top of Page

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: Personal, 1907-1983

This series is in both German and English.
7 folders.


Scope and Content:

The personal documents comprise photographs and newspaper articles on Otto Kallir, as well as an interview with his wife Fanny conducted by Columbia University. Present also are a number of poems authored by Otto Kallir. Other material in this section includes memoirs of Magdalene Breisach, Henriette von Motesicky and George de Worms, which reflect upon their experience during the Holocaust or their family history. Breisach describes her years in the Hungarian plains at a friend's estate until the arrival of the Germans. From there her family went through different labor camps until their release in January 1945. Motesicky's memoirs describe her upbringing at the fin de siècle in Vienna's upper class. Among others Motesicky had several encounters with the renowned poet and writer Hugo von Hoffmannsthal whom she admired greatly during her adolescence. The family history written by George de Worms documents the beginning of their settling in England during the early 19th century, describing the authors upbringing and university career and continuing to his golden wedding anniversary in 1910. Enclosed are also the family tree and a clipping of the de Worms family.

11Military Order and Article1918-1968
12Memoirs of Magdalene Breisach1945 May
13Memoirs of Henriette von Motesicky1966
14Otto Kallir1919-1978
15Memoirs of Fanny Kallir and Poem of J. Kallir1907-1980
16Interview Fanny Kallir1983
17Family history of George de Worms1912
Return to the Top of Page

Series II: Writings, 1916-1999

This series is in German.
0.25 linear ft.


Scope and Content:

In addition to one document about Kallir's Gallerie St. Etienne there is one article in German and English about the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. The bulk of Series II consists of Otto Kallir's handwritten World War I diaries written between 1916 and 1918 in the Austrian-Hungarian Army. The bulk of personal writing is bolstered by official military papers and photographs. Kallir documents his daily soldier routines from lying in the trenches having gun battles with Russians and Italians and rescuing wounded friends and comrades to endless and exausting rides from one front to another. The diaries end with Kallir's battery's retreat from the Italian front to Vienna in November 1918.

18Gallery St. Etienneundated
19Max Reinhardt1999
110World War I Diary1916 February-March
111World War I Diary1916 March 11-1916 April 22
112World War I Diary1916 April 22-1916 June 5
113World War I Diary1916 June 5-1916 June 29
114World War I Diary1917 June 10-1917 September 29
115World War I Diary1918 February 19-1918 May 26
116World War I Diary1916 May 27-1916 October 1916
117World War I Diary
118World War I Diary1919 October 21-1919 November 2
Return to the Top of Page

Series III: Correspondence, 1936-1995

This series is in German and English.
1 folder.


Scope and Content:

The correspondence includes letters to Sigmund Freud in which Otto Kallir tries to reconstruct a family relation to the Freuds. Enclosed in the letter is a family tree relating both families. In addition there are also letters by Ms. Kallir to Columbia University and from Otto Kallir's son John to the Leo Baeck Institute. Another letter of John Kallir asks permission to photocopy the memoirs of his great-grandfather Henry de Worms and his brother George.

Return to the Top of Page