Guide to the Papers of Ernst Mueller (1880-1954)

AR 6736

Processed by 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 August 2011. Description is in English.
April 20, 2015  dao links added by Emily Andresini.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Mueller, Ernst, 1880-1954
Title: Ernst Mueller Collection
Dates:bulk 1919-1954
Abstract: This collection contains the papers of Ernst Mueller: mathematician, writer, philosopher and librarian. The most prominent material here are his unpublished writings, including autobiographical items such as diaries and memoirs along with essays, articles and drafts of longer works. Major themes of the collection reflect Mueller's interest in Kabbalah and anthroposophy, in addition to a number of works relating to various areas of Jewish studies. Other materials in this collection include correspondence of Ernst Mueller and his wife Frieda, notes, many poems of himself and his brother Edmund, and a few biographical articles and official papers.
Languages: The collection is primarily in German and English, with some Hebrew, Greek and French.
Quantity: 1.5 linear feet.
Identification: AR 6736
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
Return to the Top of Page

Biographical Note

Ernst Müller was born on November 21, 1880 in Misslitz (now Miroslav, Czech Republic), the son of the local doctor Isidor Müller and his wife Johanna née Brüll. Both of his parents were children of rabbis. His final year of schooling took place in the nearby town of Brünn, and he graduated in 1898. Soon thereafter his family moved to Vienna, where he became involved in the city's Jewish communal life at the same time as he began his university studies, attending many philosophical lectures.

A prolific writer, Müller published his first articles for the Zionist newspaper Die Welt, edited by Martin Buber. This led to other articles covering numerous subjects for other Jewish newspapers. In 1903 Ernst Müller passed the teaching exam for middle-school in mathematics, physics, and philosophy. After one year of military training he completed his dissertation "Bewußtseinsprobleme" and received his doctorate in philosophy. For a brief time he taught in Moravia.

In 1907 Müller decided to take a teaching position at a high school in Jaffa, Palestine. Although this position only lasted six months, he would remain in Palestine for the next two years. While there he spent Passover 1909 in Safad, where he discovered an interest in Kabbalah. After contracting malaria, Ernst Müller was forced to return to Vienna. In Vienna his brother Edmund, who belonged to the Anthroposophical Society of Vienna, introduced him to the philosophy. Eventually Ernst Müller would meet with Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, and provide lectures for the society.

In 1911 he found a position at the library of the Vienna Jewish community. From 1914-1918 he served in the military as a clerk. Following the war he returned to the library, where he continued his philosophical research, working on his translation of the Zohar as well as continuing his work in anthroposophy.

On November 10, 1938 the library of the Jewish community was closed by the Nazis and he was retired the following January. In June 1939 he immigrated to England and worked there from 1940-1941 on the cataloging of the library of the Chacham Moses Gaster. In 1941 Mueller married his wife Frieda. Much of this time he spent writing, although both he and his wife suffered from poor health exacerbated by their lack of funds. They had no children. Ernst Mueller lost many friends from Vienna as well as his brother, most of whom disappeared during the Holocaust.

Ernst Mueller died in London in 1954.

Return to the Top of Page

Scope and Content Note

The Ernst Mueller Collection documents the life and writing of this mathematician, philosopher, writer and librarian. Notable in this collection are his autobiographical writings, work on the Kabbalah and material on the anthroposophical movement in Vienna of which he was a member. Found in this collection are his diaries and memoirs, correspondence, unpublished articles and their drafts and notes, notebooks, poems and a few official papers and biographies on him.

Biographical details on Ernst Mueller's life exist in each series of this collection. The bulk of such information is present in the memoirs and diaries that comprise Series I. These are handwritten notebooks and loose papers recording the significant details of his life, with the memoirs primarily focusing on the years prior to World War I. Many of the diaries' entries are recorded in shorthand. Both the diaries and memoirs provide material on the daily events of Mueller's life. In addition, the second series of the collection includes a handwritten curriculum vitae as well as a few copies of published biographies of Ernst Mueller. Series II additionally holds some letters from family members to Mueller, noting some of his activities as well as his own. Series III contains some articles reflecting on Mueller's health and the effects of it upon his life. These include an essay that compares British and Austrian hospitals, while another "Gesundheit und Krankheit" (Health and Sickness) provides some biographical information. Related is the memorial he wrote after the death of his brother Edmund, also in Series III.

Mueller's interest in the Kabbalah and especially his translation of the Zohar is likewise located in various areas of the collection. The memoirs reflect on his interests in religion, as do some of the entries in his diaries in Series I. Series II includes correspondence with his wife Frieda that mentions his translation of the Zohar and its publication. But it is in Series III, the core of the collection, that his interest in Kabbalah, Jewish studies and related subjects, will be found. Three folders contain drafts of writings on the Zohar, including an extensive handwritten draft of a translation of it. In addition, there is a lengthy unpublished manuscript on the Kabbalist Isaac Luria. Related essays discuss relations between Jews and Gentiles, especially Germans, as well as the Holocaust and Mueller's reflections on diverse religious subjects.

Anthroposophy, the philosophical movement begun by Rudolf Steiner, is also frequently encountered in this collection. It is mentioned among the entries of the diaries and memoirs of Series I, including in one diary that consists of notes on the West-East Congress of Steiner's Anthroposophical Society. Much of the correspondence with Frieda Mueller in Series II are from fellow members of the British Anthroposophical Society, and Ernst Mueller's own letters in this series also mention meetings of this group. However the bulk of material on anthroposophy, including explanations of its themes and theories, is located in the writings of Series III. These include two published essays that discuss how anthroposophy functioned as a bridge between Judaism and Christianity as well as how the shift in Jewish consciousness in the nineteenth century led to the development of anthroposophy. Among Mueller's eulogies and memorials are a number of brief remembrances of friends who disappeared during the 1940s; many of these people were active in the anthroposophical movement in Vienna. A handful of other manuscripts explain the concepts of the philosophy in detail, including excerpts from a lecture by Steiner, and two articles on the worldview and major motifs and concepts of anthroposophy (Die Weltanschaung der Anthroposophie (The Worldview of Anthroposophy) and Vor dem Tor der Theosophie (Before the Gate of Theosophy)).

Finally, the collection is concluded with a collection of poems written by Ernst Mueller along with some by his brother Edmund.

Return to the Top of Page


The collection is arranged 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

Two memoirs of Ernst Mueller are included in the LBI Memoir Collection. These memoirs have already been digitized and are viewable online:

The LBI Library contains books by Ernst Mueller:

Return to the Top of Page

Custodial History

[information about the chain of ownership of the materials being described, before reaching the archive]

Return to the Top of Page

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Ernst Mueller Collection; AR 6736; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

Return to the Top of Page

Processing Information

The collection was first inventoried by Arthur Rath. When the collection was processed in August 2011 in preparation of the EAD finding aid, folders with similar materials were grouped together. Some folders were assigned more specific titles and description was added to the finding aid.

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: Memoirs and Diaries, 1893-1954

This series is in German, English and Greek.
0.3 linear ft.

Alphabetical and chronological.

Scope and Content:

Series I contains the autobiographical writings and notes of Ernst Mueller. These writings include his diaries as well as memoirs written at some later yet unspecified date recounting numerous experiences in his life. His life in Austria is especially well-documented, his years in England less so.

Ernst Mueller's diaries will be found in various notebooks with entries frequently written in shorthand. The earlier diaries include daily entries. The diary from 1919-1921 mentions strikes and a heating shortage, and describes Mueller's work in the library of the Vienna Jewish Community. Other subjects include his introduction to Rudolf Steiner and the ideas of anthroposophy as well as on his philosophy and spirituality. This diary also mentions his personal comments, opinions and remarks on his emotional state. The following diary describes a Congress of the Anthroposophical Society and lectures on its philosophy, Rudolf Steiner's work and conversations with him. Diaries of the 1940s and 1950s contain sporadic entries, mostly in shorthand. In addition to recording a few daily occurrences they include notes, mathematical equations and drafts of essays.

Memoirs include descriptions of Mueller's life, from his childhood through World War I and his time teaching in Palestine. They contain numerous details of his life.

13Diary – Anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner1921-1926
17Fragments of letters and diariesundated
18Memoirs – Childhoodundated
19Memoirs – Early recollectionsundated
110Memoirs – Early Yearsundated
111Memoirs – Last years in Misslitz (Moravia)undated
112Memoirs – Nikolsburg – Schooling and Teachersundated
113Memoirs – 1898-1907undated
114Memoirs – 1899-1908 – Typedundated
115Memoirs – Teacher at Jaffa Gymnasium, 1908-1909undated
116Memoirs – World War Iundated
117Memoirs – Fragments – 1919-1923undated
118Memoirs – Fragments – Typedundated
119Memoirs – Bibliographiesundated
120Notebooks with Chronological Entries1939-1942
Return to the Top of Page

Series II: Correspondence and Personal Papers, 1893-1984

This series is in German and English.
0.2 linear ft.
Scope and Content:

Series II comprises the correspondence of Ernst Mueller and his wife Frieda, along with a small amount of biographical material and one folder of official papers.

Most of the letters in this series are from friends, especially to Frieda Mueller after the death of her husband in 1954. These include letters from friends involved with Ernst Mueller's work and those who were members of the anthroposophical associations in Great Britain. Such letters relate news or provide information on the publication of Ernst Mueller's work, especially of his translation of the Zohar. Less extensive are the letters of Ernst Mueller himself. These include three folders of letters from his mother Johanna; sometimes the letters are additionally from his father. The folder of correspondence from 1908 contains a letter from his mother to Ernst Mueller in Jaffa, in which she questions him on his experiences. The following folder holds letters from the family in Vienna to Ernst in Hungary. One folder holds letters to Ernst Mueller from 1918-1954; these mention anthroposophy meetings or activities.

Some biographical material and official papers make up three folders in this series. The first folder here includes a handwritten curriculum vitae as well as a fragment of a bibliography by Ernst Mueller of his article and an obituary. The following folder contains a few biographies of Ernst Mueller written decades after his death. The concluding folder of this series includes Mueller's German passport.

121Biographical Materialundated, 1954
122Biographical Material - Later1994
124Correspondence – Martin Buber1946
125Correspondence – Frieda Müller
126Correspondence – Frieda Müller – Condolence Letters1954
127Correspondence – Frieda Müller – from George Adams1943-1962
128Correspondence – Frieda Müller – from Bruno Friedjung1954-1984
129Correspondence – Frieda Müller – from Franz Kobler1954-1962
130Correspondence – Frieda Müller – from Publishing Houses1958-1961
131Correspondence from Johanna Müllerundated
132Correspondence from Johanna Müller1908
133Correspondence from Johanna Müller1915-1919
134Correspondence – Postcards and Notesundated, 1893
135Drawing (Ernst Müller?)undated
136Official Papers – Identification and Financial1939-1982
Return to the Top of Page

Series III: Writings and Notes, 1891-1962

This series is in German, English and Hebrew.
1 linear ft.

Divided into two subseries: Essays and Narratives and Poems.

Scope and Content:

Series III contains the writings and related notes of Ernst Mueller, divided into subseries based on format. The bulk of this material is located in Subseries 1, which primarily holds essays and articles, but also includes other forms of narratives such as plays and a short story. The writings of Subseries 1 cover many subjects, prominent among them the Kabbalah and anthroposophy and the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. Subseries 2 contains many poems composed by Ernst Mueller and his brother Edmund.

Subseries 1: Essays and Narratives, 1891-1962

This subseries is in German, English and Hebrew.
0.75 linear ft.

Divided by topic as follows:

Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 contains the essays, narratives and notes that comprise the bulk of this collection. Many of the works are handwritten essays, frequently found in notebooks. Other items include lengthy drafts of longer works on loose paper as well as bound. Although a handful of articles were published, the majority are unpublished drafts of articles. During processing the writings were further subdivided by subject. Some notebooks in this subseries are written in shorthand.

The bulk of Ernst Mueller's writings relate to Judaism and Jewish themes. A number of these works relate to Mueller's interest in Kabbalah, including his translation of the Zohar. There are three folders that hold material on the Zohar. Of these, one is an extensive handwritten draft of a translation of the Zohar along with printed pages of a shorter article on the Zohar. The printed pages may be an introduction to Mueller's published translation of the Zohar. Another piece that relates to Kabbalah is Mueller's work Luria: ein kabbalistischer Meister (Luria: a Cabalistic Master), which tells the story of the eponymous Cabalist. The work was inspired by Ernst Mueller's visit to Palestine, where his interest in Kabbalah was awakened. The work was completed shortly after the death of Rudolf Steiner in 1925.

Other works in this subseries pertain to the interrelationship between Judaism and Christianity as well as their connection with anthroposophy. Such pieces include the two published articles "Mein Weg durch Judentum und Christentum" (My Way through Judaism and Christianity) and "Wandlungen des jüdischen Bewusstseins in den letzten Jahrhunderten" (Changes of the Jewish Consciousness in the Last Century). The former article discusses ways to bring Judaism and Christianity together and mentions anthroposophy and the related theosophy as well as Mueller's significant life experiences pertaining to his religious stance. The second article mentions the involvement of Jews in various fields, including in the development of anthroposophy as well as the differences in Judaism and Christianity. Related is also the article titled "Sexual Polarity," which looks at the roles of the genders within the two religions. There are also fragmentary notes for an article on Jesus and Jews. In a similar vein is the essay of the final folder in this section, which elucidates on the twelve Tribes of Israel and how they relate to the signs of the Greek Zodiac, drawing together arithmetic meanings, concepts from the Kabbalah, and consideration of Biblical persons and astrological characteristics.

Some articles discuss the relations betweens Jews and others in terms of ethnic identity rather than religion. These include an untitled essay on relations between Jews and Germans. It mentions the interconnected history of Germans and Jews from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century. The article "Jüdische Patienten" (Jewish Patients) references and examines stereotypical claims made against Jews. "In the Jewish Zero Hour" is one of the few essays written in English and reflects upon the Holocaust and the reasons why it occurred.

Several folders in this subseries include eulogies, obituaries and other biographical writings. Prominent among these is Ernst Mueller's memorial on his brother Edmund. Here he describes how their lives were interwoven, with his brother having been the one who introduced Ernst Mueller to the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. This piece also conveys Ernst Mueller's gratitude to his brother for his support in assisting him to leave Austria in the late 1930s, even though his brother himself never intended to leave Germany. Two folders hold remembrances of various friends, colleagues and a cousin. Of these one contains handwritten drafts while the other holds typed pages that appear to have been fragments of some larger, unidentified work. Many of the individuals described here were part of the anthroposophy circle in Vienna, and most mentioned here disappeared or were deported during World War II. A third folder includes a biography of Oskar Simony, a person whose interests paralleled those of Ernst Mueller. Simony had interests in many different fields and looked to draw connections between the rational, scientific areas and the mystical. Much of his research looked into mathematics, physics and kinesthetics. Related to this biography is the essay "Methodisches und Philosophisches" (Methodical and Philosophical), placed in the next section of the subseries, which details Simony's psychological and mathematical studies.

The final section of this subseries holds writings and notes that do not fit into the previous themes. Once again anthroposophy and the ideas of Rudolf Steiner are represented here. Notable are the excerpts from a lecture by Steiner in 1926, which centers on the concept of art and its relationship to humanity, questioning whether humans are simply a collection of bodily parts and tissues or whether they are spiritual, interconnected beings. A notebook holds an essay by Mueller, "Die Weltanschauung der Anthroposophie," (The Worldview of Anthroposophy) where Mueller attempts to succinctly describe the development of the movement's ideology. In this complex yet brief essay he mentions the influences of Kant and Goethe upon anthroposophy, the importance of the individual and elements of freedom, as well as touching upon the connections of the occult to the movement's philosophy. Related to these articles is the essay "Vor dem Tor der Theosophie" (Before the Gate of Theosophy).

Three folders in the concluding area of Subseries 1 relate to Mueller's interest in mathematics. Two notebooks include mathematical notes along with aphorisms or notes relating to the psalms; these are primarily written in shorthand. More noteworthy is the article "Zahlen" (Counting), in the final folder of this subseries, which examines the meaning and qualities of numbers one through nine both in mathematical terms as well as in historical, religious and mythological perspectives.

Other subjects found in this final area of the subseries include two handwritten articles related to health. The first article is an untitled essay comparing Mueller's experiences in British hospitals to those in Austrian ones, while the second ("Gesundheit und Krankheit," Health and Sickness) provides some details of his illnesses and those who assisted him. Several plays are additionally located in this part of the subseries.

A) Judaism and Jewish Themes

137Essays in Hebrewundated
139In the Jewish Zero Hourundated
141Jesus and Jews – Fragmentsundated
143Jüdische Patientenundated
144Legende und Überlieferung von den Ursprung des Buches Jesiraundated
145Luria, ein kabbalitischer Meister, eine biographische Legende1925?
146Mein Weg durch Judentum und Christentum1952
147Notebook – in Hebrewundated
148Notebook "Kali II" – Jewish Studiesundated
149Das Prophetentum und seine Epocheundated
150Psalms – Annotationsundated
151Sexual Polarityundated
152Sohar – Manuscriptundated
153Sohar – Printed Pages1919?
154Sohar I – Bereschitundated
21Translation – This Side Jordan (Paul Brockis)undated
22Untitled Essay – Relations betweens Jews and Germansundated
23Wandlungen des jüdischen Bewusstseins in den letzten Jahrhunderten1954
24Die zwölf Stämme in astrologisher Beleuchtungundated

B) Eulogies, Obituaries, Biographies

25Arthur Zacharias Schwarzundated
26Edmund Müllerundated
27Persönliche Erinnerung an Bernard Tag1953
28Remembrances of Friends and Colleagues – Handwritten Draftsundated
29Remembrances of Friends and Colleagues – Typed Pagesundated
210Überblick über die wissenschaftliche Bestätigung Oskar Simonysundated
211Zum Heimgange Oskar Goldbergsafter 1952

C) Other Subjects

212Descriptions of Experiences in English Hospitalsundated
213Essays by Others1891
214Excerpts from Rudolf Steiner lecture – Über den Tod und den Böse1926
215Gesundheit und Krankheitundated
216Methodisches und Philosophischesundated
217Notebook – Mathematics and Aphorismsundated
218Notebook – Untitled – Psalms and Mathematical Equationsundated
219Notebook – Die Weltanschauung der Anthroposophieundated, 1952
220Notes – Unidentifiedundated
221Play – Emigranten im Shelter1942?
222Play – Illegible Title [Volkstuck?]undated
223Play – Untitled Sceneundated
224Short Story – Die Göttin Kaliundated
225Vor dem Tor der Theosophieundated

Subseries 2: Poems, 1902-1953

This subseries is in German.
0.25 linear ft.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 consists of numerous poems by Ernst Mueller as well as some by his brother Edmund. Nearly all the poems are typed; dates cited are those provided by the typed versions of the poems. The poems of Ernst Mueller reference events, places, experiences and feelings of Ernst Mueller, with dreams a frequent theme. Two folders include the poems of his brother Edmund, which are of a more religious character than his brother's. The folder of Edmund Müller's poems titled "Eines Lebens Ernte" (A Life's Harvest) appear collected with a title page as if intended for publication. The final folder of this subseries includes a lengthy ballad, "Das Traumlied" (The Dreamsong), relating the tale of the fictional character Olaf Asteson.

227Alphabetical List of Poemsundated
229Poemsundated, 1905-1951
230Poems Iundated, 1902-1953
231Poems IIundated
232Poems IIIundated, 1905-1953
233Poems by Ernst and Edmund Müllerundated, 1909-1939
234Poems – Eines Lebens Ernte by Edmund Müllerundated, 1924
235Poems – Handwritten1899-1953
236Das Traumliedundated
Return to the Top of Page