Biography and History

Erich von Kahler was born on 14 October 1885 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He studied Philosophy, Literature, Fine Arts, History, Sociology, and Psychology at the Universities of Vienna, Munich, Berlin, Heidelberg, and Freiburg before earning his Ph.D. at the University of Vienna in 1911. Thereafter he traveled in Europe, working as an author and lecturer until 1933 when he left Germany for good, following Hitler's rise to power. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1938 and became a U.S. citizen in 1944.

In the U.S. he worked primarily as a lecturer and visiting professor at a number of universities during the period 1940-1960. Among these are such universities as The New School for Social Research, Black Mountain College, Cornell, and Princeton University. His wide circle of friends, dubbed the "Kahler-Kreis" by Charles Bell, included Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, and Hermann Broch (who wrote his novel Tod des Vergils at Kahler's Princeton house). He remained close to the Mann family after Mann's death, and his correspondence with Thomas Mann was published following his death in An Exceptional Friendship: The Correspondence of Thomas Mann and Erich Kahler . He lived the majority of his years in America in Princeton and was, like Einstein, a member of the Institute for Advanced Study. While living in Princeton he met and married Mrs. Alice (Lili) Loewy.

Kahler was a prolific writer, and the themes of his writings and lectures often reflected his political involvement, although he was a widely respected literary critic, especially of Thomas Mann. He explored the study of history, the new roles of science and technology, and the changing relationship of man to his changing world. Politically, he was an ardent supporter of the Zionist movement, a member of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, and of the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, as well as numerous anti-war / anti-bomb groups.

He died at home in Princeton in 1970 and was survived by his wife, Alice, and a step-daughter. Alice Loewy Kahler died in 1992.

Source: From the finding aid for C0170

  • Erich Kahler Papers. 1900-1989 (inclusive), 1940-1970 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0170

    Consists of writings, correspondence, and printed matter of the Jewish scholar, author, and lecturer Erich Kahler, including some magazines and newspaper articles collected for his research purposes. There is also material and correspondence assembled after his death by his wife, Alice Loewy Kahler.

  • Borgese Family Collection. 1937-1970 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1016

    Consists of manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, postcards, and clippings of Elizabeth Mann Borgese, her husband, Giuseppe Antonio Borgese, and her mother, Katia Mann.