Finding aid for the Leon Wiesenfeld Papers

Leon Wiesenfeld Papers
Western Reserve Historical Society
Phone: 216-721-5722
Wiesenfeld, Leon
0.80 linear feet (2 containers)
Leon Wiesenfeld (1885-1971) was a Polish Jew and journalist who emigrated to the United States with his wife, Esther Amsterdam. They settled in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1925 and Leon became a publisher and editor of several Jewish publications, as well as the Anglo-Jewish magazine, the Jewish Voice Pictorial. His wife's niece, Sandra Amsterdam, came to live with them in 1938. She married Walter Lowy during World War II. Her father, Adolf Amsterdam, who had been a Soviet prisoner, and her brother, Josef, were the only members of her family to survive the Holocaust. Walter Lowy's cousin, Alice Fluss, corresponded first from Germany and later from Israel, where she immigrated after the war. The collection consists of correspondence, legal documents, three works of fiction by Wiesenfeld, memorabilia, newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook of clippings. Correspondents include Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, Adolf Amsterdam, Josef Amsterdam, other members of the Amsterdam family, and Alice Fluss.
MS 3924
closed stacks
The records are in English, German, Yiddish and Polish

Biography of Leon Wiesenfeld

Leon Wiesenfeld (1885-1971) was born Leib Wiesenfeld in Rzeszow, Galicia (now Poland), on February 7, 1885. In 1906, following five years in the United States where he gathered information about the difficulties facing Polish Jewish immigrants, he embarked on a career in journalism, writing for Yiddish, Polish, and German language newspapers in Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1912(?), he founded a Yiddish weekly newspaper, Justice, which he edited until the outbreak of World War I when he joined the Austrian army. Following the war, Wiesenfeld founded another Yiddish weekly, Yiddishe Folkzeitung (Jewish People's Newspaper), which was dedicated to combating anti-semitism in Poland.

Wiesenfeld married Esther Amsterdam, a school teacher from his home town of Rzeszow, in 1911. The couple immigrated to the United States in 1920, settling first in New York City where Wiesenfeld joined the staff of the Jewish Daily Forward. He left the Forward after only a few months because he disagreed with the newspaper's socialist and non-Zionist editorial policies. Wiesenfeld then worked for the Jewish World of Philadelphia and the Jewish Journal in Brooklyn, New York.

In 1925, Wiesenfeld arrived in Cleveland, Ohio where he became associate editor of the daily newspaper, Die Yiddishe Velt (The Jewish World), which was published and edited by Samuel Rocker. In 1935, Wiesenfeld became editor of the newspaper. He quit Die Yiddishe Velt in 1938 and with the encouragement of friends, including Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, founded a weekly newspaper, Die Yiddishe Stime (The Jewish Voice). This venture was ill-fated and Wiesenfeld was forced to cease publication after only six issues. Following the failure of Die Yiddishe Stime, Wiesenfeld was able to gather enough financial support to publish an Anglo-Jewish quarterly magazine, The Jewish Voice Pictorial. The new publication was loosely patterned after Life and Look magazines and was designed to appeal to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. The magazine was successful and Wiesenfeld continued to edit, publish and distribute it in a seven state region until his retirement in 1966.

Wiesenfeld played an active role in the Cleveland Jewish community outside the field of journalism. He helped establish several organizations including the Jewish Welfare Fund Appeal, the United Galician Jews of Cleveland, the Jewish Community Council, the Kinsman Jewish Center, the Kiever Hebrew Aid Society, and the Histadrut Campaign of Cleveland. With Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver and others, he helped organize the Cleveland Zionist Society, serving on its board of directors. Wiesenfeld was also a member of the American Jewish Congress and the League for Human Rights.

Sandra Amsterdam, a niece of Esther Wiesenfeld, immigrated to the United States in 1938 from Poland and lived with the Wiesenfelds until the end of World War II. During the war, she married Walter Lowy. Sandra Amsterdam Lowy's family remained in Poland during the war. Her father, Adolf, was a Soviet prisoner until 1945, spending five years in a forced labor camp. He returned to Poland after the war to discover that his wife, Helena, and his children (except Sandra and a son, Josef) had been killed in the Holocaust.

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Leon Wiesenfeld

Scope and Content

The Leon Wiesenfeld Papers, 1911-1971 and undated, consist of correspondence, legal documents, three works of fiction by Wiesenfeld, memorabilia, newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook of clippings.

This collection will be useful to researchers studying the history of the Jewish community in Cleveland, Ohio, and the history of journalism and Jewish literature in the twentieth century. The collection documents Wiesenfeld's editorial stances and the experiences of the Lowy family in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust. The collection also documents life in Israel following the declaration of statehood in 1948.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged in six series.
Series I: Wiesenfeld Correspondence is arranged chronologically. It includes congratulatory messages, editorial stances, and correspondence with Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver.
Series II: Lowy Correspondence is arranged chronologically.
The correspondence in Series II includes letters from Sandra Lowy's parents and siblings prior to World War II and her surviving father and brother after the war.
Series III: Legal Documents is arranged by document type and then chronologically.
Series IV: Written Works of Wiesenfeld is arranged chronologically.
Series V: Newspaper Clippings is arranged by document type and then chronologically.
Series VI: Miscellaneous Material is arranged by document type and then chronologically.

Restrictions on Access


Related Material: Related Material

The researcher should also consult MS 5111 Cleveland Jewish History Sources, Series II.

Separated Material: Separated Material

All photographs have been removed to the WRHS Photograph and Print Collection.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Holocaust surviviors -- Poland.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Poland.
Jewish journalists -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Jews -- Ohio -- Cleveland.
Wiesenfeld, Leon, 1885-1971.

Preferred Citation

[Container ___, Folder ___ ] MS 3924 Leon Wiesenfeld Papers, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio

Acquisition Information

Gift of Esther Wiesenfeld in 1977.

Processing Information

Processed by Scott Cline in 1982.

Detailed Description of The Collection

Series I: Wiesenfeld Correspondence, 1929-1971; undated

Box 1 / Folder 1--3
Correspondence, 1923-1971

Series II: Lowy Correspondence, 1938-1963; undated

Box 1 / Folder 4-10
Correspondence, 1938-1952

Box 2 / Folder 11-12
Correspondence, 1953-1963

Series III: Legal Documents, 1911; 1927

Box 2 / Folder 13
Marriage Certificate, 1911

Box 2 / Folder 13
Naturalization Certificate, 1927

Series IV: Written Works of Wiesenfeld, 1919-1930

Box 2 / Folder 14
Broken Souls (novel), 1919

Box 2 / Folder 15
Two Brothers (play), 1929

Box 2 / Folder 16
The Wonder Doctor (play), 1930

Series V: Newspaper Clippings, 1920-1961; undated

Box 2 / Folder 17-18
Newspaper clippings, 1926-1961

Box 2 / Folder 19
Scrapbook of newspaper clippings, 1920-1923

Series VI: Miscellaneous Material, 1937-1968; undated

Box 2 / Folder 20
Wiesenfeld's Jubilee Banquet program, 1937

Box 2 / Folder 20
War Ration Book, ca. 1944

Box 2 / Folder 20
Press cards, ca. 1940s

Box 2 / Folder 20
Review of Jewish Life in Cleveland in the 1920s and 1930s, 1968

Box 2 / Folder 20
Stock certificate for The Jewish Voice (blank), undated

Box 2 / Folder 20
Letterhead, undated