Guide to the Papers of Fred Halbers (1894- ?)

AR 25325 / MF 896

Processed by Rebekka Rueegsegger

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305



© 2008 Leo Baeck Institute. All rights reserved.
Center for Jewish History, Publisher.
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Dianne Ritchey Oummia in May 2008. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Halbers, Fred, 1894-
Title: Fred Halbers Collection
Dates:bulk 1950 -1980
Abstract: The Fred Halbers Collection documents the life and work of the actor, artist, and writer Fred Halbers. The main subjects of the collection are his life, his writing and his artwork, although material concerning other members of the family is also present. The collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, clippings, official documents, notes, some photographs, negatives and slides.
Languages: The collection is primarily in German, English, and Spanish.
Quantity: 3 linear feet.
Identification: AR 25325
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Biographical Note

The actor, artist, and writer Fred Halbers was born as Fritz Josef Halberstaedter in Berlin, Germany, on July 6th, 1894, the son of Ernst Wolfgang and Gertrude (née Wienskowitz) Halberstaedter. He had an older sister, Hertha Johanna, as well as a younger brother, Werner. Beginning in 1912 Halbers studied two years at the Max Reinhardt drama school in Berlin. In 1914 he volunteered as a soldier for Germany, but was not accepted in the military until 1915. Due to an injury in Russia, Halbers spent several months in a military hospital in Belgium and worked afterwards as an interpreter in Belgium until he was dismissed from the German army in 1918. His brother Werner was killed in Russia in 1916.

After World War I Halbers was active as an actor, director, and a stage designer in several theaters in various German cities, including Munich, Coblenz, Duesseldorf, Bremerhaven, and Berlin. In 1933, when Jewish actors were subjected to a stage ban, Halbers was forced to find a new profession and established a house painting business. In 1935 he married Johanna Archenhold. The couple emigrated in 1939 via London to La Paz, Bolivia, where Fred Halbers worked first as a house painter and restorer, and later as an artist. Moreover he had his own radio broadcast once a week called La voz alemana, managed an amateur theater, and helped at the University San Andres de La Paz to translate the works of the German philosophers Martin Heidegger and Nicolai Hartmann into Spanish. In addition, Halbers traveled widely in Bolivia, giving lectures and producing films and slide shows about his travel experiences. In 1948 he was divorced from his wife. He did not remarry.

In 1954 Halbers left Bolivia and moved to New York, where his sister Herta had been living since her marriage to Walter Gimple, an American, in 1922. Living in Astoria, Queens, Halbers worked again as a painter and restorer. He became a U.S. citizen in 1960. After having spent about 16 years in the U.S. he moved to Cordoba, Argentina, where Elsbeth Ahlfeld, the widow of his cousin Ernst, was living. After the death of Ernst in 1969 Fred Halbers and Elsbeth Ahlfeld developed a close relationship.

Halbers discovered his talent for painting and drawing already as an adolescent, when he tried to create his first drawings and watercolors. In Bolivia Halbers began to focus on etchings, oil paintings, and drawings, finding his inspiration on various trips around the country. As an artist Halbers achieved considerable success. He was not only able to sell many paintings and etchings to private collectors in Europe, South America, and the U.S., but also participated on various exhibitions in La Paz (1948-1954), New York (1958-1960), and Berlin (1968), and received the Gold Medal for Etchings of the American Artists Professional League in 1958 as well as other awards. He sold several etchings for a permanent display to the New York Public Library, the Museo de Arte in Madrid, the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, and the Bezirksamt Neukoelln von Berlin.

Another passion, which Halbers had cultivated since his youth, was writing. Throughout his life he worked on various manuscripts for novels, poems, and plays. Apart from a few exceptions the main topic of his literary work was the New Testament character of Judas, who was the subject of his novel, Der geheiligte Judas, as well as the subject of many of his Judas poems. While some of his poems were published in newspapers, Halbers was never able to find a publisher for his main work.

The year of Halbers' death is unknown. The last documents of Halbers' life found in this collection originate from 1987, when Halbers lived in the Adolf Hirsch Heim, a home for the elderly, in Buenos Aires.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the personal and professional life of the actor, writer, and artist Fred Halbers. Among the papers in this collection are personal, professional, and some official papers, correspondence, manuscripts, a large amount of notes, drafts, and research material, exhibition programs, awards, travel material, and clippings. In addition, the collection also holds genealogical material, such as family trees and a family history.

The foundation of the arrangement of this collection was the existing original order created by Fred Halbers himself. Since this order was not equally elaborated for every part of the collection, several minor changes were made. Still, the preservation of Halbers' original arrangement led sometimes to subseries with rather mixed contents. Moreover, documents of similar natures are located in different areas in this collection.

Papers recounting Fred Halbers' personal experiences and containing biographical data will be found in Series I, which holds personal correspondence, a biographical article and biographical notes, as well as personal papers. The personal papers also include official papers, such as identification and government-issued documents. Additional information about Halbers' personal experiences will be found among the documents about his travels in Series IV, Subseries 3. More biographical information is provided by the correspondence about his donations in Series IV, Subseries 1 and Subseries 4.

Papers documenting Halbers' activity as a writer are located in Series II. Besides unpublished manuscripts of novels and poems these papers include Halbers' preliminary works, such as notes, drafts, and research material, as well as correspondence with publishers and friends. Other related correspondence will be found in Series IV, Subseries 4 that contains Halbers' correspondence with other writers.

Documents that focus on Halbers' professional life as an artist are chiefly represented in Series III of this collection. This series holds information about his exhibitions and awards as well as his own records on techniques, sales and exhibitions. Other documents relating to Halbers' profession will be found among the correspondence concerning his art donations in Series IV, Subseries 1: in folder 32 we find discussion about an exhibition of his works in Berlin. In addition, a small amount of material about Halbers' first profession as an actor is located in Series IV, Subseries 2.

Papers listing and stating Fred Halbers' various other artistic interests besides writing and painting are located in Series IV of this collection. These interests cover on the one hand the donation of artworks, books, and correspondence to different cultural institutions. On the other hand they include also theater material, from the period when Halbers was involved in the theatre as a young man, his various travels in North America, South America and Europe, the correspondence with other writers, as well as a collection of newspaper clippings about various subjects.

In addition to papers directly about Fred Halbers, this collection also includes documents about his parents, siblings, and ancestors of the Halberstaedter and Wienskowitz families. These papers will be found in Series V, which holds family correspondence, genealogical material, such as family trees and a chronic, and correspondence discussing genealogical matters.

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This collection is comprised of five 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 "Request" button.

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

Separated Material

Fred Halbers medal from World War I, six ribbons and his etchings were removed to the LBI's Art and Objects Collection.

Photographs of Fred Halbers, his artwork, his friends as well as his family and ancestors were removed to the LBI's Photograph Collection.

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The collection is on six reels of microfilm (MF 896):

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Fred Halbers Collection; AR 25325; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Container List


Series I: Personal, 1894-1987

This series is mainly in German, with English and Spanish.
0.5 linear foot.

Separated into two Subseries:

Scope and Content:

Series 1 consists of Fred Halbers' personal documents. Subseries 1 is comprised of correspondence with a personal focus, while Subseries 2 holds more personal documents.

Subseries 1: Correspondence, 1911-1985

This subseries is predominantly in German, with some English and Spanish.
0.25 linear foot

Separated into Personal, Personal Correspondence with Ernst and Elsbeth Ahlfeld, and Professional.

Scope and Content:

Content, grouping, and order of Subseries 1 is mainly based on Fred Halbers' original arrangement.

Section A comprises mostly letters from and to remote friends and relatives that contain exchanges of news and letters of congratulation, though Fred Halbers included also some correspondence with more distant acquaintances, authorities and institutions. Folder 3 holds correspondence with different individuals about Stephen Sanders, the founder of a religious sect called the Fellowship of the Crown. Unlike the content of folder 1 this correspondence was not part of the original order, but found originally among the travel materials of Series IV.

Section B is made up of an exchange of letters with Halbers' cousin Ernst Ahlfehld and his wife Elsbeth. After Ernst's death in 1968 Elsbeth continued the correspondence and became an intimate friend of Halbers. The correspondence between the two of them shows the development of a romantic relationship.

The section Professional consists of Letters of Appreciation received by Halbers for his different activities and positions first as a house painter in Germany (1911-1938), and later as a restorer and artist predominantly in La Paz, Bolivia and New York (1943-1969).

Other correspondence will also be found in Series II, Subseries 2; Series III, Subseries 2; Series IV, Subseries 1, 2, and 4, and Series V.

A) Personal

13Fellowship of the Crown1968-1969
14Unidentified1949, 1973-1980

B) Personal Correspondence with Ernst and Elsbeth Ahlfeld

15Ernst and Elsbeth Ahlfeld1955-1968
16Elsbeth Ahlfeld1969
17Elsbeth Ahlfeld1970
18Elsbeth Ahlfeld to Fred Halbers1971
19Fred Halbers to Elsbeth Ahlfeld1971
110Elsbeth Ahlfeld1972-1973
111Poems for Elsbeth Ahlfeld by Fred Halbers1974
112Elsbeth Ahlfeld1975-1978
113Elsbeth Ahlfeld1979

C) Professional

114Letters of Appreciation1911, 1937-1969

Subseries 2: Documents, 1894-1987

This subseries is predominantly in German, with some Spanish and English.
0.25 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

This subseries holds Fred Halbers' personal documents. Several documents in this subseries focus on biographical aspects, such as the biographical article published by Manfred George in Aufbau in 1964 and the material for an autobiography.

Folder 17 comprises three issues of Heimzeitung, the magazine of the Adolf Hirsch Heim, a home for the elderly in Buenos Aires, where Halbers lived during the last years of his life.

The three folders with notes were not part of the original arrangement and in most cases do not relate to the other more specific notes, which will be found in different other areas of the collection. Some notes are illegible.

The two remaining folders hold official documents and certificates, such as identification, immigration and naturalization papers, credentials, military papers, vaccination and divorce certificates. Among the documents and papers from Germany Halbers included the marriage certificate of his parents as well as two letters from his brother-in-law Walter Gimple concerning Halbers' emigration. Some of the documents are photocopies.

115Article in Aufbau about Fred Halbers by Manfred George1964
116Biography1916, 1959-1983
118Notes - Ideas, Quotes, and Jokes1973-1980
119Notes - Unidentifiedundated, 1959, 1985
120Notes - Unidentifiedundated, 1981
121Personal Papers and Documents - Germany1894-1915, 1935-1938
122Personal papers and Documents - Bolivia, U.S.A., Argentina 1938-1985
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Series II: Writings,  1912-1985

This series is in German, with some English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin.
1 linear foot.

Divided into the following subseries:

Scope and Content:

Series II holds documents about Fred Halbers' work as an author. In addition to the unpublished manuscripts this series also includes Halbers' preliminary work, research material and correspondence with publishers and friends.

Subseries 1: Manuscripts, 1912-1980

This subseries is in German.
0.5 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 consists of Fred Halbers' manuscripts of novels, poems, and plays. The major subject of Halbers' literary work was the New Testament character of Judas and his rehabilitation.

Folders 23 and 24 of this subseries contain Halbers' main work, a novel with the title Der geheiligte Judas. He had begun to write this novel already as a young man and was working constantly on it until the last decade of his life.

Halbers' Judas poems can be found in the two following folders. Judas aus Carioth is a cycle of 13 poems beginning with Judas' election as a disciple and ending with Judas' death, condemnation and redemption. The different manuscripts entitled with Judas in folder 26 contain four modified but partially identical versions of the Judas cycle. Folder 27 consists of miscellaneous poems about various not exclusively religious subjects written by Fred Halbers in different periods of his life.

Halbers' manuscripts of plays are located in folders 28 and 29 of this subseries. Narrenaufruhr is designed as a mystery play with symbolic characters whereas the play Nero deals with the life of the said Roman emperor and tyrant.

The last three folders comprise two exemplars of the novel Schuldwege eines Weltbesserers with slightly differing handwritten notes and an alternative conclusion for this work. Schuldwege eines Weltbesserers is the new title for Der geheiligte Judas, with which it is identical for the most part.

123Der geheiligte Judas - Part Iundated
124Der geheiligte Judas - Part IIundated
125Judas aus Cariothundated
126Judas Poemsundated
127Miscellaneous Poems1912-1914, 1945-1980
130Schuldwege eines Weltbesserers - Exemplar I undated
131Schuldwege eines Weltbesserers - Exemplar II undated
21Schuldwege eines Weltbesserers - New Conclusion undated

Subseries 2: Judas-Themed Material, 1949-1985

This subseries is mainly in German, with some English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin.
0.25 linear foot.

Original order.

Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 holds material Halbers collected for his various works about the character of Judas. Separated and arranged according to Fred Halbers' original disposition, this subseries consists of a heterogeneous composition of notes, ideas, correspondence, and newspaper clippings.

Noteworthy is the material documenting Halbers' interest in a dialogue and the opinions of others about his literary work. An active exchange of ideas took place with Renée Christian-Hildebrandt, a movie reviewer of the newspaper Berliner Morgenpost, whose suggestions for abbreviations and modifications of Der geheiligte Judas are located in folder 5 of this subseries. Folder 9 contains correspondence with various publishers, journalists, an agent and other individuals who were interested in Halbers' novels and poems. Despite his efforts he was never successful in finding a publisher for his life's work. The last folder of this subseries contains correspondence with Renée Christian-Hildebrandt about Der geheiligte Judas.

Although the chronology of the formation, progress and the various modifications of Halbers' main work Der geheiligte Judas is not well documented, the correspondence in this subseries provides some information concerning this matter. Some additional data will also be found in the correspondence of Series IV, Subseries 1 and 4.

23Fremde und eigene Gedanken und Ansichten1965-1979
24Synopsis Der geheiligte Judasundated
25Renée Christian-Hildebrandtundated
28Judas Poems1965-1981
29Correspondence A-U1963-1977
210Correspondence - Prandtl Family1968-1978
211Correspondence - Renée Christian-Hildebrandt1965-1977

Subseries 3: Drafts and Material for Other Projects, 1957-1986

This subseries is in German and English, with some Spanish.
0.25 linear foot.

Original order.

Scope and Content:

Subseries 3 contains material and documents related to the smaller projects Halbers pursued besides his major works about Judas.

The arrangement of Folders 12 to 14 were created by Fred Halbers. These folders contain drafts of short stories and poems, clippings of articles published in Aufbau by Art Buchwald, as well as excerpts from the books of Wolfgang Leppmann and Romain Rolland, among others, and a collection of quotes and jokes.

212Short Stories, Poems1966-1986
213Art Buchwald1966-1969
214Excerpts and Quotes1957-1986
215Noah's Verantwortung - Catalogue Cards Iundated
216Noah's Verantwortung - Catalogue Cards IIundated
217Material concerning Noah Theme1960-1984
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Series III: Art, 1927-1975

This series is in German, English, and Spanish.
0.25 linear foot.

Divided into two subseries:

Scope and Content:

Series III holds documents about Fred Halbers' work and achievement as an artist. Subseries 1 focuses on the artist's appearance in public while Subseries 2 documents his records about technique, sales, and correspondence.

Subseries 1: Exhibitions and Awards, 1945-1968

This subseries is in German, English and Spanish.
0.125 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 3 holds materials about Fred Halbers' activities and success as an exhibiting artist, such as awards won by Halbers, newspaper clippings about his exhibitions mainly in La Paz (Bolivia), Berlin and New York, and programs and brochures concerning these exhibitions.

219Exhibitions - Clippings1945-1968
220Exhibitions - Programs1945-1968
221Photographs - Slides and Negativesundated

Subseries 2: Prints, Sales, Exhibitions, 1955-1975

This subseries is in German and English.
0.125 linear foot.

Original order.

Scope and Content:

Subseries 2 holds materials originally arranged by Fred Halbers in a ring binder with the title Prints, Sales, Exhibitions. The first two folders contain Halbers' records about prints consisting of notes about technique and lists of sales and exhibitions. Folder 24 comprises lists of written Thank you cards and New Year greetings whereas folders 25 and 26 contain correspondence with two galleries. The last folder also contains lists of sales as well as some related correspondence.

222Prints - Notes about Techniqueundated
223Prints - Lists of Sales, Exhibitions1968, 1975
224Lists of Thank You Cards and New Year Greetings1961-1969
225Correspondence - Kunsthaus Fischinger1967-1971
226Correspondence - C. D. Raymond1967-1969
227Sales - Lists and Correspondence1955-1956
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Series IV: Cultural Interests, 1910-1986

This series is mainly in German, with some English and Spanish.
1 linear foot.

Separated into the following five subseries:

Scope and Content:

Series IV provides information about Halbers' cultural interests. Many documents of this series connected with his work as an artist and writer. Thus Subseries 1 consists of material about Halbers' artwork and other donations to various institutions in Germany and New York. Subseries 2 holds a small amount of documents about his first profession as an actor. Halbers' numerous travels to South and North America as well as to Europe are documented in Subseries 3. Subseries 4 holds the exchange of letters with other writers. The last subseries of this series is made up of Halbers' collection of newspaper clippings about various subjects.

Subseries 1: Donations, 1955-1985

This subseries is in German.
0.2 linear foot.

Original order.

Scope and Content:

Subseries 1 consists of correspondence about donations between Halbers and different cultural institutions including some related material such as clippings.

Folders 29 to 33 contain correspondence about artwork and other donations with representatives of cultural institutions and authorities in Berlin and Cologne. The contents of these folders are thematically connected and their order follows the original arrangement created by Halbers. Beside the main subject of all these letters, Halbers' donations, other common topics are an exhibition of Halbers' artwork in Berlin, his travel to Berlin upon a special invitation by the city of Berlin as well as his conflict with Rudolf Pfefferkorn about some lost donations. Due to these manifold connections Halbers did not always separate this material strictly by the name of the correspondent.

Folders 34 and 35, which also contain correspondence about donations, were not part of the original arrangement. They were found among the family papers of Series V.

228Clippings Akademie der Kuenste and Walter Huder1966-1985
229Correspondence - Akademie der Kuenste1975-1982
230Correspondence - Karl Sticht1981-1984
231Correspondence - Wallraf-Richartz-Museum und Museum Ludwig1979-1981
232Correspondence - Rudolf Pfefferkorn and Jubel Bartosch-Pfefferkorn1966-1981
233Correspondence - Senatskanzlei Berlin1976-1981
234Correspondence - Leo Baeck Institute1966-1976
235Correspondence B-F1955-1967

Subseries 2: Theater, 1912-1976

This subseries is in German with some English and Spanish.
0.07 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

This subseries holds correspondence about and material from Fred Halbers' short career as an actor in Germany. The first folder contains correspondence with the Max Reinhardt Archive in Binghamton, New York about Halbers' donation of material from his past as a student of the Max Reinhardt drama school and the following period as an actor. Folder 2 comprises a compilation of typed reviews from various newspapers about Halbers' performances. Souvenirs from the early 1920s such as photographs of Halbers in costumes and a poster are located in the last folder of Subseries 2.

31Correspondence - Max Reinhardt Archive1974-1976

Subseries 3: Travels, 1951-1979

This subseries is in German, Spanish and English.
0.33 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

Subseries 3 holds documents and material from Fred Halbers' numerous travels, mostly together with Elsbeth Ahlfeld, in South America, Europe and North America between the 1950s and 1980s.

Noteworthy are folders 9 to 11 that contain the documents of a tour through Germany and Switzerland in 1977 with a special invitation to Berlin. The city invited former citizens who had been displaced during the Nazi period to come back to their country for a vacation. The correspondence about this invitation can be found in Subseries 1 of this series, primarily in the folder "Correspondence - Senatskanzlei Berlin", but also in the preceding correspondence folders of Subseries 1.

The documents about Fred Halbers' slide shows and speeches in folder 12 cover manuscripts of travel experiences as well as programs of and newspaper clippings about these events.

Folder 13 contains a small amount of material labeled by Fred Halbers as Certificados de viaje even though this material covers principally notes except for one travel document from Argentina.

34Argentina - Materialundated, 1978
35Argentina - Notes and Photographsundated
36Argentina - Tickets and Receipts1954-1976
37Europe - Clippings about Visits in Berlin1964-1979
38Europe - Italy, Spain, Germany, France1961-1967
39Europe - With Special Invitation to Berlin - Materialundated, 1977
310Europe - With Special Invitation to Berlin - Notes1977?
311Europe - With Special Invitation to Berlin - Tickets and Receiptsundated, 1977
312Slide Shows and Speeches1951-1974
313Travel Documents1973-1977
314Travel Plans1980

Subseries 4: Csorrespondence with Writers, 1967-1985

This subseries is in German.
0.07 linear foot.

Original order.

Scope and Content:

Subseries 4 is comprised of correspondence with or about other writers, arranged according to the original order created by Fred Halbers. Folder 16 contains correspondence with the editorial office of the German-speaking newspaper Argentinisches Tageblatt about various articles including some clippings. The following folder is comprised of correspondence with the writer Hermann Levin Goldschmidt from Zurich about different approaches concerning the role of Judas, Goldschmidt's publications on this subject and Halbers' Judas poems. The remaining folder contains correspondence with Schalom Ben-Chorin, Rabbi Hugo Hahn and the writer Kurt Heynicke about Halbers' Judas-themed texts as well as correspondence about the author Frank Yerby.

316Argentinisches Tageblatt - Correspondence and Clippings1968-1982
317Goldschmidt, Hermann Levin1976-1977

Subseries 5: Clippings, 1910-1986

This subseries is primarily in German with some English and Spanish.
0.33 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

This subseries holds the major part of Fred Halbers' newspaper and magazine clippings. The first four folders contain material arranged thematically by Fred Halbers. The last two folders contain unsorted clippings that were not part of the original order, but have been found in different areas of this collection.

319Leo Baeck Institute1960-1986
320Literature and Art1957-1981
323Unsorted1910, 1934-1941, 1965-1985
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Series V: Family Halberstaedter-Wienskowitz, 1882-1981

This series is in German.
0.25 linear foot.


Scope and Content:

This series holds documents of the Halberstaedter and Wienskowitz families, such as family correspondence, photographs and genealogical material.

Folders 26 to 30 are labeled as Genealogy and cover Halbers' correspondence regarding his intention to research the history of his ancestors as well as family trees of the families Halberstaedter and Wienskowitz and a chronic of the Meyer-Sust family from 1882.

The last folder of this series contains letters from Ernst Wolfgang Halberstaedter to his future wife Gertrud Philippine Wienskowitz including three notebooks with poems. The letters were found folded in one of the notebooks. Although Fred Halbers' stored these notebooks in the section Miscellaneous Poems (Series II, Subseries 1, folder 27) there is strong evidence that Wolfgang Halberstaedter was the author of these poems.

325Correspondence - Family1910-1919, 1939
326Genealogy - Correspondence - Cemetery Weissensee1964-1969
327Genealogy - Correspondence - Loewenthal, Ernst G.1979-1981
328Genealogy - Correspondence - Verein zur Erforschung der Geschichte der Juden Oberschlesiens1980
329Genealogy - Family Treesundated, 1914, 1957
330Genealogy - Meyer-Sust1882
331Poetry and Correspondence by Ernst Wolfgang Halberstaedter1891-1925
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