Leopold Muller Memorial Library


About the Hugo Gryn Archive

The Hugo Gryn Archive comprises over eight hundred folders of documents and correspondence concerning the career of Rabbi Hugo Gryn. The principal value of the archive is that it documents Hugo Gryn’s central role in shaping post-war Anglo-Jewry. It contains significant amounts of documentation and correspondence relating to his high level of involvement with the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (RSGB), especially its Assembly of Rabbis and Beth Din, Leo Baeck College and other institutions such as the Anglo-Jewish Association, the Joint Council of Reform and Liberal Rabbis and the Jewish Memorial Council.

Hugo Gryn’s contributions to the wider Jewish world comes to the fore in a complete set of files on the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) for the years 1958 to 1984, allowing unprecedented access to the minutes and internal correspondence of this important organisation.

The contribution of the archive to the history of inter-religious dialogue in the UK is extremely significant. Rabbi Gryn served as the Chairman of the World Council of Faith’s Standing Conference on Interfaith Dialogue in Education in 1972 and as co-chairman in 1975 of the Rainbow Group. He was also heavily involved in the Council of Christians and Jews and many other organisations. The archive’s holdings on the subject of interfaith alone amount to some fifty folders.

As a Holocaust survivor, Hugo Gryn was particularly active in the struggle for postwar reparations and raising awareness among Jews and the general public through Holocaust Education. This is well documented through his involvement with the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany. Rabbi Gryn’s writings and broadcasts on radio and television about his experiences, along with his concern for Holocaust Education, are well known and form a substantial part of the archive.

Almost one third of the archive is devoted to Hugo Gryn’s personal correspondence with dignitaries and congregants, colleagues and personal friends - more than fifteen thousand pieces of correspondence in total. Luminaries such as the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Robert Runcie and the Chief Rabbi Lord Jacobovits, scholars such as Rabbi Solomon Freehof and Sir Martin Gilbert, and celebrities such as Mel Brooks, Tom Stoppard, Felicity Kendal and Maureen Lipman feature in the collection. Throughout, the personality of Rabbi Hugo Gryn emerges, full of warmth and sensitivity, energy and enthusiasm.

A database of the entire archive is available online and is fully searchable. The online searches also present brief historical sketches of the organisation or body to which a folder pertains, which sets each document in its proper historical context. In order to make the folders of personal correspondence more accessible, the correspondents and organisations, relevant to every one of the fifteen thousand letters, have been recorded in the database. Searchable online the Hugo Gryn Archive is a unique and unparalleled historical resource and a fitting tribute to a formative figure in post-war Anglo-Jewry.

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