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Inventory of the Edith Stein Collection
GTU 2002-9-02  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Chronology
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Edith Stein collection
    Dates: 1890-2005
    Bulk Dates: 1942-2005
    Collection number: GTU 2002-9-02
    Creator: Stein, Edith, Saint, 1891-1942 (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
    Collector: Batzdorff, Susanne M.
    Collection Size: 6 linear feet (5 record boxes, 1 5" box, 1 map folder), and 251 books, pamphlets and articles 13 videos
    Repository: The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
    Berkeley, CA 94709
    Abstract: This collection contains both original and photocopy material. The donation is from Susanne M. Batzdorff, niece of Edith Stein, who was canonized on October 13, 1998. Batzdorff assumed the role of her mother, Dr. Erna Stein Biberstein (1890-1978), the last surviving sibling, 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. A significant part of the collection is in German.
    Physical location: 7/I/1-2, Archivist Office
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English German Hebrew Polish
    Dedication Ceremony


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    Edith Stein collection, GTU 2002-9-02. Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.

    Acquisition Information

    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. . A few materials were donated by Ernest Biberstein, nephew of Edith Stein, in October 2013. Batzdorff donated additional materials on January 29, 2014, and in November 2014.

    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 and 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. Four of the children died in childhood. Her father, Siegfried Stein, died before her second birthday. Her mother, Auguste Stein (nee Courant), took over the family's lumber business. A brilliant student, Stein 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 (born Jewish but became a Lutheran at 27), who was the founder of the school of phenomenology.
    Stein was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church on January 1, 1922. While the precise reasons for the event at this time are not known, many different events contributed to the conversion. These include her reading the life of St. Teresa of Ávila at a friend's house, her experiences during World War I and that many Jews in her academic circle 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. Alarmed by the actions of the Nazi government, she attempted to arrange a meeting with Pope Pius XI to voice her concerns. This turned out to be impossible, especially as this was a Jubilee year. Her letter in late 1933 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. Stein received a letter in response with a blessing from the Pope for her and her family but no other acknowledgement. The letter from Stein was released from the Vatican Archives in 2003.
    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 confirmed 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 arose 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, In the beginning: poems inspired by the book of Genesis (1983) and In every generation: poems inspired by the Haggadah for the Passover holiday (1991).
    Other Resources
    There are thousands of articles on the saint, and a number of annual events to remember Edith Stein. Below are organizations that promote the study of Edith Stein's life and work:
    • 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 Stein.
    • 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.
    1908-1911 Attends the Oberlyceum of Viktoria School.
    1911-1913 Studies at University in Breslau: German studies, History, Psychology, Philosophy.
    1913-1915 Studies at University of Gottingen: Philosophy, German studies, History.
    1914 Volunteers as nurse with German Red Cross at military hospital in Mahrisch-Weisskirchen.
    1916-1918 Assistant to Professor Edmund Husserl in Freiberg.
    1917 PhD examination in Freiberg, graduates summa cum laude.
    1917 On the Problem of Empathy, Doctoral Dissertation.
    1921 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.
    1923-1931 Teacher at girl's high school and teacher's training institute of Dominican nuns, St. Magdalena, Speyer. Lecturer at various workshops and congresses on women and education.
    1932-1933 Lecturer at German Institute for Scientific Pedagogy, Munster.
    1933 Dismissed as lecturer by decree under Nazi government.
    1933 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 Final vows.
    1938 May 1 Ceremony of the veil.
    1938 Dec 31 Transfers to Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands, to gain some safety from Nazi government.
    1934-1942 Writes 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. Edith Stein.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection documents the life and times of Edith Stein, her later canonization and responses to her work and life.


    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. Three series were added: Series 21. Medals and Metal Objects; Series 22. Oversized Materials and DVDs; Series 23, Books and Pamphlets.

    Indexing Terms

    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.
    Catholic Church--Doctrines.
    Spiritual life--Catholic Church.
    Christian philosophers--Germany--Biography.
    Jewish philosophers--Germany--Biography.
    World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities.
    Christian saints--Germany--Biography.
    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.