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Arnold Brecht lecture notes

Identifier: NS-02-13-01


Arnold Brecht (1884-1977) was a political scientist and public servant exiled from Germany due to his political affiliation and support for reform. He joined the University in Exile faculty at the New School for Social Research in 1933, where he taught political science, law, and public service until he retired in 1954. These notebooks contain Brecht's lecture notes with shorthand and newspaper clippings used for courses given by Brecht.

Many lectures derive from his General Seminar at The New School and talks at Harvard University, World Affairs Club, Brooklyn College and other organizations, including one radio broadcast, "Economic Federalism on Trial," in 1936. Topics range from constitutional law, the history of the United States, Europe, government and politics, economics (particularly price-fixing and taxation law), civil service, and contemporary German politics. It includes seminars for civil service training at Harvard and the New School in 1937.


  • circa 1935-1942



1.3 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of Brecht's lecture notes, mostly handwritten, and newspaper clippings, originally kept by Brecht in labeled binders and filed here in the order in which he maintained them. The titles of his notebooks begin with a code. Brecht's system for the coding has not been located, but the codes are nevertheless retained in the titling herein. Pagination is not continuous and some pages have binder holes on both sides, indicating that contents were likely altered by creator or others. Identified notes come from courses and talks given at the New School, Harvard University, and other academic and professional organizations. Text is primarily in English, with some German and shorthand. Of note are Brecht's personal reflections as a non-Jewish German on the question of Jewish identity and United States citizenship within his notes for "Jewish Lawyers in Germany," presented to the Joint Distribution Committee on April 15th, 1936; and his notes on violence in 1938, including an anecdote regarding violent police methods in the 1920s.

Language of Materials

In English and German.

Access Note

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Use Note

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Biographical / Historical

Arnold Brecht was born on January 26, 1884 in Lübeck, Germany and attended the University of Göttingen (1902-1905). He was a political scientist and public servant in the German government, but was dismissed from his post when the Nazi's seized power in 1933 due to his politics and participation in efforts toward constitutional reform. He immigrated to the United States and joined the University-in-Exile faculty at the New School for Social Research that same year, where he taught political science, constitutional law, and public service, until retiring in 1954.

During his tenure, Brecht was involved in the Research Division of the Graduate Faculty and the Institute of World Affairs, studying Germany's position in European postwar reconstruction (1942) with colleagues Adolph Lowe, Hans Simons and Hans Staudinger; and the topic of comparative administration. His publications stemming from this research include, Federalism and regionalism in Germany (1945) and an occasional paper, “The New German Constitution” (1949). Other books authored by Brecht include, The Political Philosophy of Arnold Brecht (1954) and Political Theory: the Foundations of Twentieth-century Political Thought (1959).

Brecht was invited to guest lecture at Harvard in the 1930s, following upon articles he published in the New School journal, Social Researchon civil service and other topics. He also lectured on Germany as a guest or visiting professor for other institutions and as a consultant to officers for the U.S. government at Harvard, Yale, City College in New York and other colleges. In 1940, he was a founding member of the American Society for Public Administration.

After the war, he returned to Germany and was involved in drafting constitutional law for the Federal Republic of Germany. Although a resident of the United States, he died during a visit to Eutin, West Germany on September 11, 1977.


Rutkoff, Peter M., and William B. Scott. 1986. New School: A History of the New School for Social Research. New York: Free Press.

Brecht, Arnold. The political Education of Arnold Brecht.

Organization and Arrangement

Notes are arranged in original order as received by the New School Archives and Special Collections.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Raymond Fogelman Library of the New School for Social Research to the New School Archives and Special Collections, 2012.

Related Materials

Similar material can be found in the following collection: Arnold Brecht papers, 1865-1974; originals held by the Bundesarchiv, Koblenz, Germany. Copies accessible from the German and Jewish Intellectual Émigré Collection, University of Albany.

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Guide to the Arnold Brecht lecture notes
Jennifer Ulrich
August 8, 2016
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