Traces and Treasures of German-Jewish History in Israel


Personal archives and collections were rescued from Nazi Germany by emigrants, refugees, and Jewish institutions with considerable difficulty during the years 1933-1945 and in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust. Many of these collections were brought to Mandate Palestine and are now preserved in public archives or private collections in Israel. Despite the efforts of Israeli archives, a significant part of the rescued materials has not yet been made available to international research. Few Israeli archives can provide personnel with sufficient language skills to make these mostly German-language holdings accessible.

Traces and Treasures

The project Traces of German-Jewish History promotes the arrangement and description of archives of scholars, writers, and artists and encourages archive-based research in the fields of Cultural Transfer, the History of Science, the Migration of Knowledge, and the History of Ideas. In order to preserve significant collections and to open them up to international research, the project draws on the DLA’s development of flexible cataloging and conservation measures, while the Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center offers its scholarly expertise and a forum for discussions between established scholars, junior researchers, and archivists.

Personal archives, literary estates, and historical collections do not only represent a threatened "cultural heritage", but they also provide an essential foundation for new cultural and scholarly discussions. Traces of German-Jewish Historyoffers junior scholars and students the opportunity to participate in projects combining academic research and archival practice. In addition to this, the project aims at locating relevant German-Jewish collections, which are neither archived nor accessible to the public, in order to facilitate their transfer to a suitable public archive in Israel.

The project’s advisory committee includes Dr. Stefan Litt (The National Library of Israel), Dr. Yaacov Lozowick (Israel State Archives), Prof. Guy Miron (Schechter Institute Jerusalem), and Dr. Anja Siegemund (Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem). It is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

See the left menu for the description of the ongoing projects as well as the ones already concluded.


In Cooperation With

Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach



Project Coordinator: Dr. Lina Barouch

Coordinator, 2012-2015: Caroline Jessen


Call for Applications

A Call for Applications for further archival projects is now open, aimed at MA, PhD and Post-Doc students.



בארכיון ובשדה: מבט היסטורי על תכנון ירושלים וישראל, ערב עיון לכבוד חשיפת ארכיוני רייכמן-כהנא, יד יצחק בן-צבי, 5 במרץ 2017 (לחצו כאן לצפייה באירוע המוסרט).

Traces and Treasures: Preserving and Exploring German-Jewish Collections in Israeli Archives, international conference at the Hebrew University, 23-24 June 2013. 



Das Erbe der Einwanderer, a reportage by Lars-Broder Keil at Die Welt, 12 March 2016

German or in German? On the Preservation of Literary and Scholarly Collections in Israel, an article by Prof. Yfaat Weiss published at the Institute for Human Sciences, 2nd March 2015

Review of the project by Avner Shapira in Haaretz, 23th June 2013 [in Hebrew]



- Hanan Harif, "Between a Bridge and a Fortress: Shlomo Dov Goitein and the Role of 'Jewish Arabists' in American Academy", in: Expanding the Borders of Wissenschaft des Judentums, Philadelphia (forthcoming)

- Hanan Harif, "Islam in Zion? Yosef Yo'el Rivlin's Translation of the Qur'an and Its Place Within the New Hebrew Culture", Naharaim 10:1 (2016), 39-55

- Hanan Harif, "Between Arab revival and Zionism: Josef Horovitz, Shlomo D. Goitein and the politics of Jewish Oriental studies", in: Ottfried Fraisse and Christian Wiese (eds.), Beyond the Myth of Golden Spain, De Gruyter (2016)

- Caroline Jessen, "Der Kanon im Archiv. Chancen und Herausforderungen für die Bewahrung und Erforschung von Nachlässen deutsch-jüdischer Autoren und Gelehrter in Israel", in: Philine Erni und Caroline Jessen (Hrsg.), Alt-Neue Schriften. Typographische und buchgestalterische Arbeiten von Moshe Spitzer, Franzisca Baruch und Henri Friedlaender, Marbach (2015)

- Caroline Jessen, "Spuren deutsch-jüdischer Geschichte. Erschließung und Erforschung von Nachlässen und Sammlungen in Israel", Archivar. Zeitschrift für Archivwesen 66 (2013), 328-333

- Jan Kühne and Shelly Zer-Zion, "The German Archive of the Hebrew Habima: Bureaucracy and Identity", Naharaim 7:1-2 (2013), 239-260.

- Amit Levy, "A Man of Contention: Martin Plessner and his Encounters with the Orient", Naharaim 10:1 (2016), 79-100

- Yonatan Mendel, "German Orientalism, Arabic Grammar, and the Jewish Education System. The origin and effects of Martin Plessner's Theory of Arabic Grammar", Naharaim 10:1 (2016), 57-77

- Judith Poppe, "Ich dichte in die wüste Zeit. Die deutschsprachige Lyrik Israels als Kleine Zwischenliteratur"
(under review)

- Sebastian Schirrmeister, "Der erste Mamlock. Eine Spurensuche. Das hebräische Bühnenmanuskript von Professor Mamlock im Kontext der verschiedenen Fassungen des Dramas", in: Hermann Haarmann und Christoph Hesse (Hrsg.), Einspruch. Schriftenreihe der Friedrich-Wolf-Gesellschaft, Marburg (2014)

- Judith Siepmann, "Ein Mikrokosmos der deutschsprachigen Emigration. Heinrich Loewe und die Sammlung des Beit Ariela", Naharaim 7:1-2 (2013), 217-238

- Shelly Zer-Zion, Habima. Eine hebräische Bühne in der Weimarer Republik, Paderborn (2016).

- Shelly Zer-Zion und Jahn Künhe, "The German Archive of the Hebrew Habima: Bureaucracy and Identity", Naharaim 7:1-2 (2013), 239-260



Architects and Planners



Collections of architects and planners include holdings from various settings. The Historical Archives of the University of Jerusalem hold the collections of German-Jewish planners Ariel Kahane (Berlin 1907-Jerusalem 1986) and Shalom Reichman (Warms 1935- Jerusalem 1992). Ariel Kahane was a senior state planner during early statehood, who played a key role in shaping the Israeli New Towns programme. Professor Shalom Reichman, a Professor of Geography at the Hebrew University, was a pioneer of Israeli geography and planning.


The archive at the Architecture Department of the Technion holds collections of German-Jewish architects and planners Paul Engelmann (Olomouc 1891 - Tel Aviv 1965), Gedalyau Wilbushevitz (Grodno 1865 - Palestine 1943) and Max Lev (Loeb) (Kassel 1901 - Haifa 1962). Paul Engelmann, arguably Adolf Loos’ closest pupil, was educated in Vienna and close to modernist circles, including Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Kraus. His small, yet incredibly rich, archive at the Technion is evidence of his close apprenticeship with Adolf Loos and his attempts to promote Loos’ legacy in Palestine after emigration in 1934. Wilbushevitz received his education at the TU Berlin-Charlottenburg and after emigration planned major public landmarks in the city of Haifa. The drafts, sketches and personal documents of Max Lev (Loeb) document his careers in Darmstadt, Cologne and then in Haifa. Largely, these collection further illuminate the contribution of German-Jewish modernist architects and planners to early nation building efforts in the fields of architecture, town and country planning.



Ruth Enis

Location: Technion Haifa
Arranged & Described by: Neta Feniger
Further information: Ruth Enis Finding Aid

Ruth Enis


Ruth Enis is a pioneering Israeli landscape architect, teacher and historian. Professor Ruth Enis was born in Cernauti, Romania in 1928. In 1937, she emigrated to British Mandate Palestine with her family. During a family visit to Europe in 1939, World War II broke out and young Enis was unable to leave the continent again, and was deported to a labour camp in the Ukraine. Only in 1943 did she return to Palestine, where in 1954 she was one of the first women to receive a B.Arch from the faculty of Architecture at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. After an extended professional stay in The Hague between 1958-1965, where she acted as chief landscape architect of the city (1960-1964), she opened a private landscape architecture practice in Haifa with projects across Israel. In 1970, she began her academic career, teaching at the Technion, developing a curriculum for a landscape architecture program at this school, and heading this program for many years.

The materials in this collection reflect Enis’ work as a scholar, teacher, and as a practitioner of landscape architecture. It displays her work as a professor of landscape architecture in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion, her devotion to research and teaching the history of landscape architecture in general and in Israel in particular. Her most important historical studies are on landscape in Kibbutzim, and on a large number of Israeli graduates from the Ahlem Agriculture and Horticulture School in Germany and their vital impact on the Zionist creation of designed landscapes. The collection also holds Enis’ professional work as a landscape designer, revealing her involvement in the creation of the Israeli landscape, especially her planning of school yards and Kibbutzim landscapes.





Location: Geography Department, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Arranged & Described by: Yodan Fleitman, Michael Cidor
Further information: Finding Aid



This combined collection (23 boxes) includes the collection of professor of geography Shalom Reichman (Warms 1935- Jerusalem1992) and the crypto-collection of the architect-planner Ariel (Anselm) Kahane (Berlin 1907-Jeruslaem 1986). It reflects the lifelong work of Kahane (Berlin 1907-Jeruslaem 1986), a senior state planner in the post-Independence era, as well as parts of the professional work of Reichman (Warms 1935- Jerusalem1992), who pioneered historical research on Kahane and his generation of planners. The bulk of this collection is the crypto-collection of Kahane. Holdings include primary textual and visual materials concerning Kahane’s planning work as a public servant in both the British Mandate planning administration and the Israeli government, spanning from the mid-1930s until the late 1960s. These include rare materials from the early 1950s in connection with the Israeli New Towns campaign and Jerusalem prior to 1967, as well as records concerning Kahane’s work as a special UN consultant to Turkey on planning in the early 1960s. Reichman’s collection reflects his public work in various ministerial and governmental capacities related to the shaping of national planning policy in the 1970s and 1980s. Considered in tandem, this joint collection provides a rare insight into to the development Israeli spatial thought from the 1940s until the 1980s.

Reichman Kahane 1Reichman Kahane 2


Watch the conference (in Hebrew) on the exposition of the Kahane-Reichman collection:



Gideon Kaminka

Location: Technion Haifa
Arranged & Described by: Shira Wilkof
Further information: Finding Aid



Dr. Arch. Gideon Kaminka (1904 Vienna – 1985 Tel Aviv) was a prominent Haifa-based architect, local politician and activist within the Central-European émigré-community in Palestine/Israel.  The son of Aharon Kaminka, a well-known Orthodox Rabi, Kaminka the son was trained at the TU Vienna, and he emigrated to Palestine in 1933. He designed public, commercial and offices buildings, as well as private houses, with a special focus on the Haifa German-speaking community and their community facilities. For 28 years, from 1950, he served as a member of the city council, as a representative of an independent Liberal Party.

The collection includes substantial architectural material concerning his projects in Haifa as well as materials concerning his political activities, advocacy and social activities within the German-speaking émigré community. 





Max Loeb (Lev)

Location: Technion Haifa
Arranged & Described by: Shira Wilkof
Further information: Max Loeb (Lev) finding aid

Max Loeb


The materials in this collection (5 boxes) reflect the activities of Max Loeb (Lev) (Kassel 1901-Haifa 1962), a German-émigré Israeli modernist architect. Holdings include materials concerning Lev’s diverse architectural commissions in Palestine/Israel spanning from the late 1920s until his death in 1962. The collection contains textual and architectural materials, in addition to photograph albums and a large collection of photographs documenting his projects. The collection provides a unique insight into the rich architectural oeuvre of arguably one of the leading exponents of Modern architectural style in Mandate Palestine, who seems to have been left out of the scholarly canon of early statehood Jewish modernist architects in Israel.





Location: Technion Haifa
Arranged & Described by: Shira Wilkof
Further information: Unger-Engelman Finding Aid

Unger & Loos


The materials in this collection reflect the individual and collective work of two of the modernist pioneer Adolf Loos’ close disciples, Paul Engelmann and Yehuda K. Unger, in connection with promoting his heritage in Palestine and beyond. The collection provides a unique insight into their architectural collaborations with Loos after their emigration to Palestine in the 1930s as well as their attempts to instill Loos’ concepts within the emerging local architectural community in the 1940s. Furthermore, it reveals the active contribution of these two individuals in shaping the historical knowledge about Loos in later decades. In addition, holdings include a small quantity of materials related to Unger and Engelmann’s individual professional careers as architects.






Gedalyau Wilbushevitz


Location: Technion Haifa
Arranged & Described by: Shira Wilkof
Further information: Finding Aid



Wilbushevitz (1865-1943) was an early Zionist engineer, builder, and activist. He received his education in engineering at the TU Berlin-Charlottenburg and after his emigration to Palestine in 1892, he built major public landmarks in the city of Haifa, including the central train station, the power station and several hospitals. Wilbushevitz was a Zionist industrial pioneer and a well-known public figure within the Jewish community in Palestine. The collection includes various architectural materials concerning his projects.





The Papers of Samuel (Shmuel) Hugo Bergmann

Location: The Historical Archives of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Arranged & described by: Shaul Marmari
Further information: Finding Aid

The personnel files (5 folders) of the philosopher Shmuel Hugo Bergmann (Prague 1883 – Jerusalem 1975) contain letters and documents related to Bergmann’s professorship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From 1920-1935, Bergmann served as director of the Jewish National and University Library (now National Library of Israel). He was professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University and its first rector. Bergmann’s research was devoted to Kant, Maimonides, and 20th century philosophy. Furthermore, he was one of the yishuv's leading public intellectuals. The archival materials provide insight into Bergmann’s academic career and his involvement in policy matters of the university.

The Papers of Netti Boleslav

Location: National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
Arranged & described by: Dr. Judith Poppe
Further information: NLI online catalogue


The papers of the poet Netti Boleslav (Jungbunzlau/Mladá Boleslav 1923 – Tel Aviv 1981) consist of letters, diaries, manuscripts and personal documents, which shed light into Boleslav’s writing. The collection includes letters from Boleslav’s parents in Prague (1930s – 1941) and various materials on her lecture-tours in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s as well as several drafts/fragments of an autobiographical novel, which she never completed. The material is particularly significant insofar as it provides important insight into the work of a German-language writer in British Mandate Palestine/Israel.

The Chemjo Vinaver Collection

Location: National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
Detailed description by: Dr. Amalia Kedem
Further information: NLI Online Catalogue

The collection contains musical scores, documents, photos, letters, manuscripts, and news-paper clippings of Chemjo Vinaver (1895–1973), a choir conductor, researcher (esp. Hasidic music), and coordinator of music for choir. Vinaver was married to Mascha Kaléko; he studied and worked in Berlin until his emigration from Nazi-Germany in 1938. The collection documents Vinaver’s work in Germany, the USA, and Israel; in particular, it provides an insight into his composing and into research related to his elaborate Anthology of Jewish Music (1955).

The Papers of Shlomo Dov (Fritz) Goitein

Location: National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
Arranged & described by: Dr. Hanan HarifTom Fogel
Further information: NLI online catalogue (now partly available)

The NLI holds ca. 30 boxes of the papers of Shlomo Dov Goitein (Burgkunstadt 1900 – Princeton 1985), one of the leading Orientalists and Medievalists of the 20th century who received his academic training in Frankfurt. The papers include correspondence, manuscripts, notes, private diaries, travel literature and ethnographic reports. Goitein taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1971, he became a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. Goitein’s scope of scholarship ranged from early Islamic history and theology, Arab-Jewish literature and Medieval Jewish history to the history and culture of Yemenite Jewry. His pioneering research on the ‘Cairo Geniza’ is reflected in the six volumes of Mediterranean Society (1967 and 1983).

The Papers of Walter Grab

Location: National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
Arranged & described by: Yonatan Shiloh-Dayan
Further information: NLI online catalogue

The papers of the historian Walter Grab (Vienna 1919 – Tel Aviv 2000) include correspondence, articles, book reviews and newspaper clippings. The materials (ca. 4 archival boxes) range from the late 1960s to the 1990s. Walter Grab was a distinguished scholar of German History, noted for his research on the French Revolution, the German Jacobins and the democratic movements in Germany during the 19th century. In 1971, Grab founded the Institute for German History at Tel Aviv University, the first academic institution in Israel dedicated to research and teaching of German history.

The Habima Administrative Archive 1925-1933

Location: Israeli Documentation Center for the Performing Arts, Tel Aviv
Arranged and described by: Jan Kühne
Further information: Israeli Documentation Center for the Performing Arts

The archive contains the historical records of the Habima Secretariat in Berlin 1928–1933 – mainly letters, legal documents, contracts, and bills in German (bulk), Hebrew, Polish, Yiddish, Russian, English, and French. The Hebrew theatre Habima (est. in Moscow 1918) became the National Theatre of Israel in 1948. Most materials pertain to the legal philanthropic bodies, Habima Friends’ Circle and the Patrons’ Organization.

The Collection of C.Z. Kloetzel and his Family

Location: Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP), Jerusalem
Arranged & described by: Sonja Dickow
Further information: CAHJP Finding Aid

The collection – mainly letters, manuscripts, personal documents, published works, books and photographs – covers a time span from 1881 until 2013 and reveals new perspectives on the life and work of C. Z. (Hans) Kloetzel (1891–1951) in Berlin and Jerusalem as well as information about members of his family before and after the rise of National Socialism in Germany.

The Institutional Records and Historical Collections of the Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem

Location: The Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem (LBI)
Cataloguing: Judith Siepmann
Further Information: Online catalogue of the Center for Jewish History, New York

The LBI archives hold three types of collections: autobiographical material of German-Jewish immigrants and their families (main portion of archive); private collections of entrepreneurs and intellectuals; LBI institutional records that document the history of the Institute and the incipient and ongoing collaborative efforts with German institutions and scholars. The institutional records pertain among others to the Council of Jews from Germany and to founding members of the LBI like Shmuel Hugo Bergman, Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, Ernst Simon and Jacob Katz. Electronic descriptions of more than 100 core-collections are now available online.

The Papers of Heinrich Loewe

Location: Sha'ar Zion Library, Beit Ariela, Tel Aviv
Arranged & described by: Dr. Lina Barouch and Judith Siepmann
Assistance: Tanya Zhovner, Frank Schloeffel, Maja Krueger
Further information: Finding Aid 

Heinrich Loewe

50 boxes of letters, manuscripts, notes, rare printed matter, and books of Sha’ar Zion Library’s former director and Zionist writer Heinrich Loewe (1869–1951) document his work as a librarian in Berlin and Tel Aviv. They also reflect his role as journalist, newspaper editor as well as early Zionist networker and scholar of Jewish folklore. Many materials shed light on Loewe’s commitment to the development of libraries in Mandate Palestine.
An article by Judith Siepmann on Heinrich Loewe’s archive has been published in Naharaim.



The Papers of Heinrich Mendelssohn

Location: Archives for the History of Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv
Arranged & described by: Netta Cohen, Ray Schrire and Itamar Manoff
Further Information: Finding Aid

Heinrich Mendelssohn

The papers of Prof. Heinrich Mendelssohn (1910–2002), a renowned zoologist and a pioneer of environmental thought & action in Israel, comprise more than 70 archival boxes of manuscripts, observations on Israel’s changing nature, research materials and notes, correspondence with academic, governmental and non-governmental institutions in Israel and abroad as well as images, films, and objects.



Orientalist Collections

Location: The National Library of Israel
Arranged & Described by: Amit Levy
Further information: Online catalogue of the NLI (forthcoming)

The German-Jewish Orientalist archives at the National Library of Israel (NLI) allow us to unfold a unique case of knowledge transfer: the transplantation during the 1920s and 1930sof Orientalist ideas, methods and conceptions from Germany to British Mandate Palestine. These archives include the famous Zettel (research notes) of Josef Horovitz (1874 - 1931); correspondence held by his delegate in Jerusalem, Levi Billig (1897–1936); correspondence and research material of David Zvi (Hartwig) Baneth (1893–1973), one of the founding fathers of the School of Oriental Studies established in Jerusalem in 1926; documents from the archive of the Berlin-born Gabriel Baer (1919–1982), a member of the second generation of scholars at the School of Oriental Studies. The materials also shed light on questions of scientific utility and neutrality. One more segment of this archive are documents that belonged to Eugen Mittwoch (1876–1942), a prominent Jewish Orientalist who shaped 20th-century Orientalism in Germany, and who was the head of the NfO (Nachrichtenstelle für den Orient), an office that focused on publishing pro-German propaganda in Muslim countries during World War I.



The Perles Family Collection

Location: Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem
Arranged & described by: Dr. Enrico Lucca
Further information: LBI Jerusalem Finding Aid (soon available); LBI New York Online Catalogue


The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts of scholarly works and sermons, notes and newspaper clippings of Rabbi Joseph Perles (1835–1894) and his son, the Rabbi and scholar Felix Perles (1874–1933). The papers provide an insight into less known facets of the history and networks of the Wissenschaft des Judentums; the materials in Jerusalem complement a corresponding collection at the Leo Baeck Institute New York.

The Papers of Martin Plessner

Location: National Library of Israel (NLI), Jerusalem
Arranged & described by: Amit Levy
Further information: NLI online catalogue

The papers of the prominent Jewish-German orientalist Martin Plessner (Posen/Poznań 1900 – Jerusalem 1973) consist of manuscripts, research-related records and personal notes as well as correspondence with colleagues in Israel and abroad. Plessner, an important figure in the study of Islam and Arabic in Israel, worked as an assistant of the orientalist Helmut Ritter at the University of Hamburg and as lecturer at the University of Frankfurt until 1933. He joined the Department of Islamic Culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1955. The collection is a substantial source for the study of German-Jewish Orientalism in Israel and migration-related knowledge transfer.

The Papers of Nadia Stein

Location: Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem
Arranged & described by: Margarita Fortus
Further information: Central Zionist Archives

In 2012, the daugther of Nadia Stein (1891–1961), Zionist and activist in the social sphere, agreed to transfer manuscripts, diaries, family correspondence, and images to the CZA. They complement a collection of professional correspondence, articles, and propaganda material (especially on the Women’s International Zionist Organization), which had been donated to the CZA earlier. The papers of Nadia Stein offer rich material for gender-orientated research on Zionism and Zionist women's activities in the field of social work.

The Papers of Heinz Steinitz

Location: The National Library of Israel
Arranged & Described by: Merav Reuveni, Elena Müller
Further information: Online catalogue of the NLI (forthcoming)

The expansive collection of papers (24 boxes) of pioneer Israeli zoologist and marine biologist Heinz Steinitz (Breslau 1909 – Jerusalem 1971) provides a unique insight into the founding years of marine research in Israel, promoted by researchers such as Heinz Steinitz and colleague Heinrich Mendelssohn. The collection contains both evidence of Steinitz’s student years in Berlin and then in Jerusalem after his emigration in 1933, as well as vast correspondence with institutions and researchers in Israel and worldwide in the fields of zoology and marine biology, documentation of research trips to remote maritime locations, and ecological projects in Israel pertaining to the Gulf of Eilat and the unique Chula Valley in northern Israel.


The Papers of Curt Wormann

Location: The National Library of Israel

Arranged & Described by: Dr. Silja Behre, Lisa Sophie GebhardLiad Levy-Mousan, Elena Müller
Further information: Online catalogue of the NLI (forthcoming)


Wormann Grosse Kurfuerst of Prussia


Curt Wormann (Berlin 1900 – Jerusalem 1991) was the head of the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem between 1947 and 1968. His vast collection (37 boxes) of correspondence, administrative documents, personal papers and manuscripts sheds crucial light on the history of Israeli state formation and institution building, most notably the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the National Library. It illuminates critical moments from the declaration of statehood (1948), the following war and transplantation of the academic campus to Givat Ram, up to the return to the original campus site in the immediate years following the 1967 War. The collection also holds papers documenting Wormann’s school years in Germany prior to emigration to Mandate Palestine in 1934 and his release from office as a teacher and librarian under the Nazi Law for The Restauration of Professional Civil Service.



Hanna Arendt to Wormann