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Paul Kiess papers

Identifier: 6032

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Scope and Content

The collection contains Paul Kiess' personal and business correspondence during the years of exile and the first years after his emigration to the United States, correspondence with various Christian rescue organizations, texts and manuscripts by himself and others, newspaper clippings from American newspapers about the war and politics in Germany, and a few photographs and ephemera. The bulk of the collection dates from 1939-1941 though a few earlier materials are present as well.


  • Creation: 1915 - 1941
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1939 - 1941


Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection contains published materials; researchers are reminded of the copyright restrictions imposed by publishers on reusing their articles and parts of books. It is the responsibility of researchers to acquire permission from publishers when reusing such materials. The copyright to unpublished materials belongs to the heirs of the writers. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Paul Kiess was born on January 10, 1894 in Berlin, Germany. He worked as a legal adviser, and as lector of the Thüringische Verlagsanstalt und Druckerei, and Urania Verlagsbuchhandlung in Jena, Thuringia. From 1920 to 1933, Paul Kiess was a member of the Thuringian parliament.

In autumn 1926, Paul Kiess married Edith Kiess, nee Kramer, a half Jew. Edith was born in Riga on January 19, 1900 to her parents Julius Israel Kramer, a merchant, and her mother Sara Kramer nee Jakobsohn. Through her marriage with Paul, Edith became a German citizen. Edith had taken courses with Albert Einstein at Berlin University (Ausländerkurse; an institution founded by Albert Einstein to enable Jewish students to study if refused by German universities). She received a diploma as Bacteriologist. She then finished her medical studies at Jena University, receiving a diploma as a German physician on September 12, 1930. Edith worked as a physician at the university hospital of Jena until the first anti-Jewish boycott of the Nazis, April 1, 1933. On April 6, 1933 she had to leave the hospital.

After the Nazis came to power, Paul Kiess, a Protestant, defended Dr. Kuno Fiedler in court. Fiedler, a philosopher and Protestant minister, had declined to publicly present a hate prayer on the order of the Nazis. In 1935, it became impossible for Paul Kiess to remain a lawyer in Jena due to his defense work for many Jews. In addition, his marriage to a half Jew put him in danger of being sent to a concentration camp.

Edith and Paul Kiess left Germany on December 24, 1935. They went to Prague, Czechoslovakia, where Edith took courses in medical massage while Paul explored various business opportunities.

Via France (Paul) and London (Edith), the couple emigrated to the United States. They arrived in New York in January 1939. The emigration was made possible through the written intervention of Thomas Mann, who was a close friend of Fiedler. While Edith Kiess stayed in New York, where she studied for her professional qualifying examinations, Paul went to Princeton where he lectured at various Christian organizations, and studied for his bar exam.


3.25 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials




This collection contains the personal papers of Dr. Paul Kiess. The collection contains personal correspondence and correspondence with Christian organizations in the US, photographs, newspaper clippings, outlines for Dr. Kiess' speeches, and ephemera. Dr. Paul Kiess, a Protestant, was a legal adviser, a lector of the Thüringische Verlagsanstalt und Druckerei, and Urania Verlagsbuchhandlung in Jena, Thuringia, and a member of the Thuringian parliament. Paul and his wife Edith, a half Jew, left Germany in 1935 and went into exile in Prague, Czechoslovakia, France, and London, before emigrating to the United States where Edith studied for her professional qualifying examinations in New York, and Paul went to Princeton where he lectured at various Christian organizations, and studied for his American bar exam.

Processing Information

The collection was rehoused and described by Michaela Ullmann and Lisa Ebiner Gavet in 2013.

Finding Aid for Paul Kiess papers
Michaela Ullmann, Lisa Ebiner Gavit
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 May: Finding aid updated by Bo Doub: added digital object record

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States