Altmann Archive

Scope and Content

These are the papers of the Altmann family, which had been accumulated by the brothers Alexander, Erwin, and Manfred. These papers cover: their father Adolf Altmann's work as a rabbi in Salzburg and then Trier; family life until they were separated on the eve of World War II; and the lives of each of the three brothers after they each emigrated from mainland Europe in 1938/39 due to the rise of Jewish persecution in Nazi Germany. The material includes memoirs, diaries, draft manuscripts, research papers, letters, photographs, audio-visual material, family research papers, financial and legal papers, and papers relating to conferences. There is also a substantial amount of material from the Institute of Jewish Studies, which was founded by Alexander Altmann in the UK, and of which Manfred later became chairman.

Administrative / Biographical History

Adolf Altmann was born in Hunsdorf, Hungary, in 1879. He served as a rabbi in Salzburg from 1907 to 1915, and as Chief Rabbi in Trier from 1920 to 1938. He married Malwine Weisz, and they had six children between 1906 and 1915, although Edith died in 1914 aged just eight months. Adolf and some of the family emigrated to Holland in 1938, in the lead up to World War II and the rise of Jewish persecution under the Nazis. He was killed in Auschwitz in 1944 along with his wife, their son Wilhelm Altmann, and their daughter Hilda van Mentz. Adolf Altmann was survived by three of his sons: Alexander, Erwin, and Manfred.

Alexander Altmann was born in Kaschau, Austria-Hungary, 1906; educated, University of Berlin, -1931; rabbi in Berlin and Professor of Jewish Philosophy at the Seminary, 1931-1938; emigrated to England, 1938; communal rabbi in Manchester, 1938-1959; Director of the Institute of Jewish Studies, 1953-1958; Philip W Lown Professor of Jewish Philosophy and History of Ideas, Brandeis University in Waltham, USA, 1959-1976; Visiting Professor at Harvard and at Hebrew University, 1976-1978; associate at the Harvard University Center for Jewish Studies, 1978-1987; died, 1987.

Erwin Altmann was born in Salzburg in 1908. He died in Los Angeles in 1986, aged 78.

Manfred Altmann was born in Salzburg, 1911; educated at Universities in Frankfurt, 1928, Berlin and Marburg; emigrated to Holland, 1934-1939; emigrated to England as a lawyer for a Dutch-Jewish company, 1939; worked for the Jewish National Fund, 1941; started his own import-export business, 1947; Honorary Secretary of the Institute of Jewish Studies at University College London (UCL); Chairman of the Institute of Jewish Studies, 1988; Honorary Fellow of UCL, 1992, died, 1999.

The Institute of Jewish Studies was founded by Rabbi Dr Alexander Altmann in Manchester in 1954, following the destruction of Jewish centres of learning in Europe in World War II. The Institute was therefore created due to the need to train a new generation of Jewish scholars and educators. The Institute was moved from Manchester to UCL in 1959. Manfred Altmann became Honorary Secretary of the Institute, and later took over as chairman from Lord Mishcon in 1988.


The collection has been catalogued onto Calm using a handlist. The same series have been used as in the handlist, and each box in the handlist has been catalogued as a subseries.

Access Information

Certain restrictions apply

This collection has not been fully catalogued or checked for personal data but will be checked in response to any request to view material. We may require four weeks' notice in advance of making an appointment to allow sufficient time for data protection checking, please allow extra time for this. Some files may be restricted or closed if they are found to contain personal data of living individuals.

Acquisition Information

Presented by the family, Aug 2000.

Other Finding Aids

The existing paper handlist, listing the collection to series level, is available on the online catalogue