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Collection Overview

Kahler, Erich, 1885-1970
Erich Kahler Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1900-1989 (mostly 1940-1970)
15 boxes and 5.6 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-15
English German


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.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of works, correspondence, photographs, and printed matter of Kahler and some papers of other people. The collection contains typed manuscripts with the author's corrections of Der Deutsche Charakter in der Geschichte Europas , The Jews Among the Nations , Man theMeasure , The Meaning of History , Out of the Labyrinth , Die Philosophie von Hermann Broch , The Tower and the Abyss , and a new preface to Man the Measure , as well as addresses, articles, reports, essays, and lectures, many on Thomas Mann. There are letters to Kahler and his wife, Alice, by such correspondents as John Berryman, Jorge Guillen, Aldous Huxley, Lewis Mumford, and Sean O'Faolain, and copies of Kahler's letters to editors. Also included are original works of Lewis Mumford, Hermann Broch, and Thomas Mann, including a lecture (1936) by Mann on Freud. A recent accession is a group of approximately twenty letters relating to the festschrift for Kahler that was edited by Eleanor L. Wolff and published in 1951; among them is a fifteen-line carbon typescript of Albert Einstein's contribution entitled "Fleisszettel."

Collection Creator Biography:

Kahler, Erich, 1885-1970

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.

1903 Books of poetry published 1916 Weltgesicht und Politik 1919 Das Geschlecht Habsburg 1920 Der Beruf der Wissenschaft 1936 Israel Unter den Vlkern 1937 Der Deutsche Charakter in der Geschichte Europas 1943 Man the Measure: A New Approach to History 1944 The Arabs in Palestine (with Albert Einstein) 1952 Die Verantwortung des Geistes 1953 Editor: Hermann Broch, Gedichte 1957 The Tower and the Abyss 1960 Contributor: Symbolism in Religion and Literature 1962 Die Philosophie von Hermann Broch 1964 The Meaning of History 1964 Stefan George 1967 The Jews Among the Nations 1967 Out of the Labyrinth: Essays in Clarification 1968 The Disintegration of Form in the Arts 1969 Orbit of Thomas Mann 1970? Die Verinnerung des Erzählens (posthumously) 1975 An Exceptional Friendship: The Correspondence of Thomas Mann and Erich Kahler (posthumously)

Collection History


Alice Kahler donated the bulk of the papers to Princeton University during the years 1982, 1985, 1990, and 1991. Some originals of copies in this collection are housed in the Thomas Mann Archive, the Leo Baeck Institute, and with Albert Einstein's papers in Israel.

Two notebooks, some biographical information, and some correspondence with Marthe Agnes Frfr. v. Erffa were transferred from the Rare Books Division in 2012 (AM 2012-100).


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Krista Stroever in 1995 . Finding aid written by Krista Stroever in 1995 .

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Erich Kahler Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-15

Find More


The manuscripts found in draft form in the collection came to print in the following publications: Der Deutsche Charakter in der Geschichte Europas (Zurich: Europa, 1937); The Jews Among the Nations (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1967); Man the Measure (New York: G. Braziller, 1956); The Meaning of History (New York: G. Braziller, 1964); Out of the Labyrinth (New York: G. Braziller, 1967); Die Philosophie von Hermann Broch (Tubingen: JCB Mohr, 1962); The Tower and the Abyss (New York: G. Braziller, 1957).

Subject Terms:
Historians -- United States -- 20th century.
Humanists -- New Jersey -- Princeton -- 20th century.
Genre Terms:
Correspondence -- 20th century
Drafts (preliminary version).
Freud, Sigmund, 1856-1939.
Mann, Thomas, 1875-1955.