Biography / Administrative History
Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Edith Stein collection
Bulk Dates: 1942-2005
Collection number: GTU 2002-9-02
Stein, Edith, Saint, 1891-1942 (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
Batzdorff, Susanne M.
4 linear feet (3 record boxes)
The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
This collection contains both original and photocopy material. The donation is from Susanne M. Batzdorff, niece of Edith Stein.
She assumed the role of her mother and last surviving sibling, Dr. Erna Stein Biberstein (1890-1978), in responding to researchers,
collecting and contributing to these materials. Batzdorff became one of the foremost Edith Stein scholars and translators.
The collection documents Stein's life and the activities to memorialize and honor her through beatification, canonization,
conferences, buildings, guilds, publications, and art. Almost half of the collection is in German.
Physical location: Archivist Office
Languages represented in the collection:
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Graduate Theological Union. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts
must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Graduate Theological Union
as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.
Edith Stein collection, GTU 2002-9-02. Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.
Susanne M. Batzdorff, niece of Edith Stein, donated the collection on June 19, 2013. The materials were collected by her
and her mother, the last surviving sibling, Dr. Erna Stein Biberstein (1890-1978). GTU Dean Margaret Miles and her assistant
Eloise Rosenblatt were instrumental in bringing the collection to the GTU. The arrangements were made in 2001-2002.
Biography / Administrative History
Edith Stein (1891-1942), St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, born Jewish, became a teacher, philosopher, phenomenologist,
translator, and nun. She was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church in 1922. During the next decade, while continuing to
teach, she promoted women's education at conferences throughout Europe. In 1933, she joined the Discalced Carmelites in Cologne.
Arrested as a Jewish Catholic in the Netherlands, she was taken to Auschwitz and killed there in 1942. She was canonized in
1998. She is one of the six patron saints of Europe.
Stein was born into a Jewish family on Yom Kippur in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), the youngest of eleven children
(4 died in childhood). Her father, Siegfried Stein, died before she was two. Her mother, Auguste Stein (nee Courant), continued
to run the family's lumber business. A brilliant student, Edith followed an academic career, receiving a doctorate of philosophy
from the University of Göttingen in 1916. Her dissertation was On the Problem of Empathy. She continued teaching as an assistant
to Edmund Husserl (also Jewish but converted to the Lutheran Church at 27), who was the founder of the school of phenomenology.
Stein was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church on January 1, 1922. While it is unclear on the precise reasons for the event
at this time, many different experiences contributed to the event, including her reading the life of St. Teresa of Ávila at
a friend's house and that there were many Jews in her academic circle who had converted to Christianity. Her conversion greatly
upset her mother.
She left her assistantship and became a teacher at St. Magdalena in Speyer, a girl's high school and teacher's training
institute for Dominican nuns, where she taught until 1931. During this time she continued her intellectual work. She translated
the letters of John Henry Cardinal Newman from English to German, translated Thomas Aquinas'
De Veritate (Of Truth) into German, and in general applied her philosophical observations to her Catholic writings.
In 1932 she became a lecturer at the Institute for Scientific Pedagogy in Munster. She was required to resign in 1933 due
to anti-Semitic legislation. She was alarmed by the actions of the Nazi government. To voice her concerns she attempted to
arrange a meeting with Pope Pius XI. This was not possible, apparently due to the Jubilee year. Instead she wrote a letter
in late 1933 that was forwarded to the pope by her spiritual director, Archabbot Raphael Walzer of Beuron Abbey, urging that
the pope condemn the actions of a German government that claims to be Christian. This letter was only recently released from
the Vatican Archives in 2003. A response to Stein was sent but whether the pope read the letter or not is not clear.
On October 14, 1933, Stein entered the Carmelite monastery of Cologne. She completed her work
Potency and Act. She revised it as
Finite and Eternal Being: A Survey of the Philosophia Perennis in 1936. Concerned for the safety of her community, she requested that she go to the Carmelite monastery in Echt in 1938.
A friend smuggled her partially completed autobiographical account of her Jewish family to her in 1939. She began writing
her final work,
The Science of the Cross. Her sister Rosa, who converted to Catholicism after their mother died in 1936, arrived in 1940. In retaliation for a statement
read throughout the Catholic churches in the Netherlands, both Edith and Rosa were arrested as Catholics of Jewish origin,
sent to Auschwitz and executed upon arrival on or around August 9, 1942. There deaths were not known until after the war.
The first biography of Edith Stein was written in 1947 by Teresia Renata of the Holy Spirit (Posselt), once the novice mistress
of Stein. Efforts to canonize Stein began in 1961. Beatification took place in Cologne on May 1, 1987. Canonization took
place in 1998, following the acceptance of a miracle in Edith Stein's name. In 1999 she was declared one of the three women
Catholic patronesses of Europe (with St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Catherine of Sienna) to join the three male patron saints.
Considerable controversy has arisen over her sainthood, especially as a Jew who converted to Catholicism and then was killed
as a Jew at Auschwitz.At the beatification ceremonies, Pope John Paul II said, "We bow down before the testimony of the
life and death of Edith Stein, an outstanding daughter of Israel and at the same time a daughter of the Carmelite Order, Sister
Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a personality who united within her rich life a dramatic synthesis of our century. It was the
synthesis of a history full of deep wounds that are still hurting ... and also the synthesis of the full truth about man.
All this came together in a single heart that remained restless and unfulfilled until it finally found rest in God."
Susanne Batzdorff, a niece of Edith Stein who knew her aunt while she was growing up in Breslau, donated this collection.
Susanne's family escaped Germany in 1939 and moved to the United States. Her mother, Dr. Erna Biberstein, who had been very
close to Edith, assumed the task of responding to scholars and researchers regarding Edith Stein and her family. After Biberstein
passed away, Susanne took over her mother's role of clarifying and correcting misinformation.
She writes: "I inherited my involvement with Jewish-Catholic dialogue years ago, from my mother. As the only surviving sibling
of Edith Stein, she had maintained a vast international correspondence with many persons interested in Edith Stein…After
my mother died in January 1978, at the age of almost 88, her interfaith correspondence and her Edith Stein connections fell
into my lap, and I have been dealing with this heritage ever since."
A librarian, poet and author now living in Santa Rosa, she became one of the foremost authorities on Edith Stein. Batzdorff
assisted as editor/translator of a new edition of Teresa Renata Posselt's book,
Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite. Her article on her aunt's beatification in the
New York Times Magazine ("A Martyr in Auschwitz," April 12, 1987) touched many people. She has participated in many conferences and events and has
written numerous introductions to books on Edith Stein. Her other books include
Edith Stein: Selected Writings,
Aunt Edith: The Jewish Heritage of a Catholic Saint, and two collections of poetry
Many organizations and many events promote the memory and study of Edith Stein. Here are a few of the main organizations:
- The definitive archival collection of documents and artifacts is at Cologne Carmel Maria vom Frieden.
- Additional archival material is held at Edith-Stein-Carmel in Tubingen, Germany. Waltraud Herbstrith, a prolific Edith Stein
scholar, is the prioress there.
- The Edith Stein Society, which acquired the former house of the Steins in Wroclaw, promotes the life of Edith Stein and better
relations among Jews, Germans and the Polish people.
- The Edith Stein Society of Germany, founded in 1994, publishes the Edith Stein Jahrbuch, with scholarly articles on Edith
- In the United States, The Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C., publishes Edith Stein's collected works in English
and related books and journals.
- The Edith Stein Center at Spalding University, Louisville, KY, has an excellent library and annual lecture program.
- The Edith Stein Guild in New York (1955) promotes better relations between Catholics and Jews.
|1891 Oct 12
||Born in Breslau, Germany.
|1897 Oct 12
||Enters Viktoria School in Breslau.
||Attends the Oberlyceum of Viktoria School.
||Studies at University in Breslau: German studies, History, Psychology, Philosophy.
||Studies at University of Gottingen: Philosophy, German studies, History.
||Volunteers as nurse with German Red Cross at military hospital in Mahrisch-Weisskirchen.
||Assistant to Professor Edmund Husserl in Freiberg.
||PhD examination in Freiberg, graduates summa cum laude.
||On the Problem of Empathy, Doctoral Dissertation.
||Reads Life of St Teresa of Avila, for this and other reasons, decides to become a Roman Catholic.
|1922 Jan 1
||Baptized at St. Martin in Bergzabern.
||Teacher at girl's high school and teacher's training institute if Dominican nuns of St. Magdalena, Speyer. Lecturer at various
workshops and congresses on women and education.
||Lecturer at German Institute for Scientific Pedagogy, Munster.
||Dismissed as lecturer by decree under Nazi government.
||Sends letter to Pope Pius XI urging him to condemn the actions of a German government (not released until 2003).
|1933 Oct 14
||Enters Carmelite monastery of Cologne.
|1934 April 15
||Clothing ceremony as Teresia Benedicta a Cruce.
|1935 April 21
||Takes temporary vows. Profession for three years.
|1936 Sept 14
||Death of her mother.
|1938 April 21
|1938 May 1
||Ceremony of the veil.
|1938 Dec 31
||Transfers to Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands, to gain some safety from Nazi government.
Finite and Eternal Being,
The Science of the Cross,
Life in a Jewish Family and other works.
|1942 July 26
||Pastoral on Racism and Antisemitism read from all pulpits in Dutch Catholic churches condemning deportation of Jews.
|1942 Aug 2
||Arrest of Catholics of Jewish descent in Holland, including Edith and Rosa.
|1942 Aug 9
||Arrive in Auschwitz, Edith, Rosa and others gassed at Birkenau.
|1962 April 1
||Josef Cardinal Frings, Archbishop of Cologne, begins process for beatification of Edith Stein.
|1972 Aug 9
Diocesan process concludes on the 30th anniversary of Edith Stein's death. Documents sent to Rome.
|1987 May 1
Beatification of Edith Stein by Pope John Paul II in Cologne.
|1997 April 8
Miraculous cure of Teresia Benedicta McCarthy officialy recognized, final step in canonization.
|1998 Oct 11
Canonization of Edith Stein by Pope John Paul II in Rome.
|1999 Oct 1
Three female patronnesses of Europe declared by Pope John Paul II: St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Catherine of Sienna and St.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection documents the life and times of Edith Stein and her later canonization.
The original order created by Susanne M. Batzdorff was maintained. These are indicated by the numbers in parentheses at the
end of the folder's title. Two additional series were added: Series 21. Medals and Metal Objects; Series 22. Oversized Materials
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in
the library's online public access catalog.
Stein, Edith, Saint, 1891-1942.
Stein, Rosa, 1883-1942.
Pius XI, Pope, 1857-1939
John Paul II, Pope, 1920-2005
Discalced Carmelite Nuns--Germany--Biography.
Spiritual life--Catholic Church.
World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities.
Christian converts from Judaism--Germany--Biography.
National socialism and religion.
Universities and colleges -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
Higher education and state -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
National socialism and education.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Germany.
240 books and pamphlets. Organized as follows: A, Writings by Edith Stein; B, Translations by Edith Stein; C, Biographies
of Edith Stein; E, Fiction and drama; F, Miscellaneous writings pertaining to Edith Stein; G, Other Catholic writings. List
available from archivist.