Erich Kahler

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Erich Kahler
Born(1885-10-14)October 14, 1885
Died(1970-06-28)June 28, 1970

Erich von Kahler (October 14, 1885 – June 28, 1970) was a mid-twentieth-century European-American literary scholar, essayist, and teacher known for works such as The Tower and the Abyss: An Inquiry into the Transformation of Man (1957).

Kahler was born to a Jewish family in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He studied philosophy, literature, history, art history, sociology, and psychology at the University of Munich, the University of Berlin, the University of Heidelberg, and the University of Freiburg before earning his doctorate at the University of Vienna in 1911.[1][2] In 1912, he married his first wife, Josephine (née Sobotka). In 1933, deprived of his German citizenship by the Nazi regime, he left Germany, emigrating to the United States in 1938 after a period of residence in England.[3] He became a U.S. citizen in 1944, where he was known as Erich Kahler.

In the U.S. he taught at The New School for Social Research, Black Mountain College, Cornell University, and Princeton University. He was a friend of Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, and Herman Broch, who wrote Tod des Vergils at Kahler's home, One Evelyn Place in Princeton. Kahler's friends became known as the Kahler-Kreis (Kahler Circle). Like Einstein, Kahler was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study. He met and married his second wife, Alice (Lili) Loewy, while in Princeton. Kahler's entire family was very close friends with Einstein. Kahler, his wife Alice, and his mother Antoinette von Kahler corresponded with Einstein.

Kahler's many books often take up political themes, in addition to the relation of society to technology and science. He was an ardent Zionist, advocated world government, and was also involved in antiwar and anti-nuclear activism. In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.[4]

Kahler died in 1970 at his home in Princeton, survived by his wife, Alice, and a stepdaughter, Hanna Loewy. Alice Loewy Kahler died in 1992.

Hanna Loewy Kahler (September 20, 1925 – March 31, 2007)[5] exchanged letters with theoretical physicist David Bohm, with whom she was for some time engaged to be married,[6] after he left the USA for Brazil and these, as well as other letters in her possession, have contributed to an understanding of historic events surrounding the Solvay Conference of 1927 and Bohm's exile in Brazil.[7] She became a psychiatric social worker, and is credited to have helped to preserve the papers of Albert Einstein.[8]


  • 1903: Books of poetry published
  • 1916: Weltgesicht und Politik
  • 1919: Das Geschlecht Habsburg
  • 1920: Der Beruf der Wissenschaft
  • 1936: Israel Unter den Völkern
  • 1937: Der Deutsche Charakter in der Geschichte Europas
  • 1943: Man the Measure: A New Approach to History
  • 1944: The Arabs in Palestine (with Albert Einstein)
  • 1952: Die Verantwortung des Geistes
  • 1953: Editor: Hermann Broch, Gedichte
  • 1957: The Tower and the Abyss
  • 1960: Contributor: Symbolism in Religion and Literature
  • 1962: Die Philosophie von Hermann Broch
  • 1964: The Meaning of History
  • 1964: Stefan George
  • 1967: The Jews Among the Nations
  • 1967: Out of the Labyrinth: Essays in Clarification (In the appendix of this book there is a reprint of "The Jews and the Arabs in Palestine: A Disputation with Philip K. Hitti" by Albert Einstein and Erich Kahler.)
  • 1968: The Disintegration of Form in the Arts
  • 1969: Orbit of Thomas Mann
  • 1973: Die Verinnerung des Erzählens (The Inward Turn of Narrative) (posthumously)
  • 1975: An Exceptional Friendship: The Correspondence of Thomas Mann and Erich Kahler


  1. ^ Epstein, Catherine (1993). A Past Renewed: German-Speaking Refugee Historians in the United States After 1933. NY: Cambridge U. Press. p. 137.
  2. ^ In 1911 von Kahler published his thesis "Über Recht und Moral" at his own expense. In response to a query to the U. of Vienna library, in April 2011, Mag. Eva Ossinger replied, "In the print-version 1911 you will find no advisor. In the dissertation from 1910 you can read: Dr. Jodl / Dr. Müllner / -als Referenten Wien, am 12. Jäünner 1910."
  3. ^ Stephan, Alexander, (ed.) (2005). Exile and otherness: new approaches to the experiences of the Nazi refugees. Peter Lang. p. 275.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” January 30, 1968 New York Post
  5. ^ Hanna M Loewy Kahler, memorial
  6. ^ F. David Peat (1997). Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison Wesley. p. 88. ISBN 0-201-32820-8.
  7. ^ Wolfgang Pauli, Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel mit Bohr, Heisenberg u.a. - Wolfgang Pauli: Scientific correspondence with Bohr, Heisenberg, a.o., Band 4, Teil 1 / Volume 4 Part 1, Sources in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences 14, Springer, ISBN 3-540-59442-6, p. 341
  8. ^ “Deaths: [...] Hanna Loewy, 81, on March 31. A psychiatric social worker, she helped to preserve the papers of Albert Einstein.” What's New in Princeton & Central New Jersey? Reprinted from the April 18, 2007, issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper