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About this collection

Edith Stein (1891-1942), St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was born into a Jewish family in Breslau, Germany. She became a philosopher, phenomenologist, teacher, feminist, and translator.  In 1922, she was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church.  Unable to continue as a teacher as a Jew under Nazi rule, she joined the Discalced Carmelites in 1933.  In 1942, she and her sister Rosa  were arrested in Echt, Holland,  and transported to Auschwitz and killed. Edith Stein was canonized in 1998.  She is one of the six patron saints of Europe.

Susanne M. Batzdorff,  a niece of the saint and resident of Santa Rosa, donated her collection on Edith Stein  to the Graduate Theological Union in summer 2013.

The collection emerged as follows. During the years after the end of World War II,  members of her family were asked by researchers and the Church to provide insight into the saint and her sister Rosa. The two main contacts have been Dr. Erna Biberstein and her daughter, Susanne M. Batzdorff.

Dr. Erna Biberstein (1890-1978), like her sister Edith, attended higher education in Breslau, becoming an obstetrician and gynecologist.  Her husband, Hans Biberstein (1889-1965), a dermatologist, was able to move to New York in 1938.  In 1939, he obtained visas and brought Erna and their children, Susanne and Ernest, to the United States. The children and their families later moved to California.

When Biberstein died in 1978, her daughter Susanne, a librarian, writer and poet, explains:

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.


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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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