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Leonard and Edith Ehrlich research papers

Document | Accession Number: 2014.537.1

The Leonard and Edith Ehrlich research papers consist of correspondence, copied documents, interview transcripts, trial transcripts, notes, typescript texts, and other similar materials compiled during the research and writing of a book to be titled “Choices Under Duress of the Holocaust,” an examination of the leadership of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien (Jewish Congregation of Vienna, or IKG) and the Jewish Council of Theresienstadt, and in particular the roles of Benjamin Murmelstein and Josef Löwenherz, in response to Nazi persecution of the Jewish community following the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938, and the reconstitution of that community after the deportation of many of its members to Theresienstadt.

The Correspondence series of the collection is relatively small, and consists of correspondence that was filed separately as such by the Ehrlichs, in some cases with research institutions, in others with individuals with whom they were in contact during the course of their project. The largest segment of this series, however, is that of correspondence with Benjamin Murmelstein, between 1976 and 1984, following the period of time in which the Ehrlichs visited him and interviewed him in Rome, as well as with Murmelstein’s son, Wolf, in the years following.

The Research Topics series comprises the bulk of this collection, and consists of copied archival documents, notes, transcripts, clippings, and other material arranged by topic. Some of these were already filed in folders labeled as such when the collection was received, others were loose documents that were grouped together and arranged by the processing archivist at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Included in this series are a complete set of the typed transcripts of the interviews conducted by Leonard and Edith Ehrlich with Benjamin Murmelstein in 1977, as well as a complete copied set of the Aktenvermerke, or memoranda to the files, maintained by Josef Löwenherz in his role as general director of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien, during the years when his position required him to interact with Adolf Eichmann’s Zentralstelle für Jüdische Auswanderung (or Central Office for Jewish Emigration). The Ehrlichs obtained copies of the Löwenherz Aktenvermerke while they were still in the possession of his family, prior to their donation of the Löwenherz papers to the Leo Baeck Institute. Another significant group of copied documents include the transcripts of the trial of Karl Rahm, the commandant of Theresienstadt, obtained from the Štatni Archiv v Litoměřice, as well as selected documents from the later trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel in 1961.

The remaining files in this series are largely those created by the Ehrlichs, containing copied documents from other archival repositories and accompanying notes. Three ways that the Ehrlichs tended to organize material copied from other repositories were to group photocopied documents in folders grouped by the source repository, in folders labeled by topic, and in packets or bundles grouped by projected chapters in the book, in which such sources would be cited. In the current arrangement, elements of the first two groupings were retained (with items grouped by topic in the “Research Topics” series, and those by repository in the “Archival Repositories” series), but the third grouping was not, since the documents grouped by book chapter were usually duplicates of items found in the first two groups. Such copied documents usually have an abbreviation for the source archive and fond or record group written on them, either on the top of the page or the verso.

Although most items in the Research Topics series are photocopies, exceptions include a file related to the portrayal of Murmelstein in Herman Wouk’s novel War and Remembrance, which Leonard Ehrlich objected to as being historically inaccurate, as well as original documents from Theresienstadt collected by Rudolf Bunzel, and transferred to the Ehrlichs by Bunzel, which are kept in a file under Bunzel’s name.

The series Archival Repositories contains copies of documents that were arranged by the Ehrlichs according to the repository from which they originated, as well as correspondence with staff of those archives relating to the Ehrlichs’ research requests, and the last series, Writings, contains editorial correspondence and fragments of the unpublished text of Choices Under Duress of the Holocaust, as well as an academic journal article about the Nisko Plan to transport Jews from Austria and Czechoslovakia to German occupied areas of Poland near Nisko and Lublin in 1939-1940.

inclusive:  circa 1920-2005
17 boxes
3 oversize folders
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Carl S. Ehrlich
Record last modified: 2023-04-06 09:03:17
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