Processed in 2008 by Sandra Hunt Hawrylchak (September 2, 2008).
All items in this manuscript group were transferred to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives by Walter Leser, son Albert Lestoque, in 1982. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, in 2006.
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Preferred citation for this material is as follows:
Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Albert (Leser) Lestoque Papers, 1862-1963. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).
Albert Lestoque was born Albert Leser on April 20, 1892 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the eldest son of well-to-do Jewish parents, Wilhelm and Helene Leser. Albert expressed an early interest in writing, however, since writing was not considered a proper profession at that time by either his immediate family or friends, Albert chose to follow in his father's footsteps and pursue a legal career. (In a letter to Will Schaber, dated February 13, 1939 [Albert Lestoque Papers], Albert stated that he turned to the study of law partly because of the fact that no other course of study attracted him, but also because of the practical possibilities a career in law could provide.)
Albert Leser pursued his legal studies at the Universities of Freiburg, Heidelberg, Bonn and finally Marburg, where he passed his doctorate exams in 1917 -- interrupted by service in the German army during World War I -- and passed the Assessor's exam in Berlin in the summer of 1920. During the next years, Albert practiced law, first as an Assessor and later as a prosecuting attorney, in Frankfurt am Main, Limburg and Wiesbaden until in 1933, because of his Jewish ancestry, he was deprived of his right to practice law in Germany. In the fall of 1934, realizing that a return to Germany was no longer possible for them, the Lesers established a second residence in Denmark. Finally, in 1937, Albert Leser, together with his wife and two young children, immigrated to the United States. Shortly after arriving in the U.S., Albert officially changed his name from Albert Leser to Albert Lestoque, a name he had used earlier in his writing career.
Albert Lestoque did not attempt to continue his legal career after emigrating to the U.S., but decided to pursue his writing career full-time. His only published novel, Menschen in Aktendeckeln, was published in German in 1939. After relocating to Denver, Colorado in 1941, Lestoque continued to write novels (none of which were published), prose and poetry, but he spent most of his time lecturing groups on topics such as the evils of National Socialism, crime and juvenile delinquency, democracy and peace. His most famous lecture, "American by Choice", first delivered on May 21, 1944, was reprinted numerous times.
After the end of World War II and the defeat of Germany, Albert Lestoque focused his energies almost entirely on trying to recover the family properties, which had been seized by the National Socialists in 1938. As the oldest of the three Leser siblings (brother Paul Leser and sister Maria Lingemann), Albert was the primary custodian of the family estate in the Plittersdorf section of Bonn, Germany. Albert's fight against the German government to regain his family's property and receive restitution (Wiedergutmachung) for himself, his siblings and his heirs, became the major focus of Albert's later years. Albert Lestoque died on November 19, 1960, shortly after the major restitution case against the German government (Deutsches Reich) was decided in his family's favor.
Chronology of Events:
|1892||Born Albert Wilhelm Philipp Leser on April 20 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany to (Julius) Wilhelm and Helene Rikoff Leser, baptized as a member of the Reformed Evangelical Church.|
|1907 March 1907||confirmed as a member of the Deutsche evangelisch-reformierte Kirche in Frankfurt am Main.|
|1910||Completed his Abitur exams.|
|1911-1917||Studied law at the Universities of Freiburg, Heidelberg, Bonn and Marburg.|
|1917||Awarded his doctorate cum laude from the University of Marburg.|
|1915-1918||Served in the German army.|
|1920||Passed the Assessor exam.|
|1920-1926||Served as Assessor and later as prosecuting attorney in Frankfurt am Main, Neuwied and Königstein.|
|1924||Marriage to Gerda Maubach.|
|1926||Birth of daughter, Bettina.|
|1926-1931||Practiced law in Frankfurt am Main (Landgericht); also served as legal counsel to the printing firm of J. Maubach G.m.b.H. (company of his father-in-law).|
|1929||Birth of son, Walter.|
|1931-1932||Relocated to Switzerland; practiced law in Switzerland.|
|1932-1933||Practiced law in Cologne, Germany.|
|1933 May 5||deprived of the right to practice law in Germany by the Prussian Ministry of Justice.|
|1934 Fall||established dual residency in Denmark.|
|1937 May 12||arrival with wife and two children in U.S.|
|1937 October 22||name legally changed from Albert Leser to Albert Lestoque (former pseudonym).|
|1938 March 30||Application for First Papers (Citizenship papers).|
|1939||Publication of novel, Menschen in Aktendeckeln.|
|1941||Divorced from Gerda; moved with son, Walter, to Denver, Colorado.|
|1944 December 15||became an American citizen.|
|1960 November 19||died in Bonn, Germany, after being hospitalized for a heart attack on November 11.|
The collection reflects not only Lestoque's legal and literary careers, but also documents the story of a "German immigrant's family to establish roots in a new country, while fighting to protect their family heritage from the Third Reich and the tenacious battle through years of restitution claims". Approximately half of the materials in the collection deal with the legal battles and restitution claims of Albert (Leser) Lestoque and his two siblings, Paul Leser and Maria (Mira) Lingemann (née Leser), for family properties in the Plittersdorf section of Bonn, Germany. These materials include exhaustive correspondence files, family documents and property records dating from 1862, as well as numerous case files, photographs, and newspaper clippings.
In addition to the restitution files, the collection contains manuscripts and published versions of Lestoque's writings, including the manuscripts from Lestoque's lecture engagements, as well as materials collected by him pertaining to such organizations as Citizens for Victory, the International Committee for the Study of European Questions and the German American Writers' Association (GAWA).
Quote taken from a letter from Walter P. Leser to Marion Munzer, undated (after Dec. 15, 1982), Albert Lestoque Papers, M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections.
The series consists of two main sections: family documents and records, and biographical materials and documents of Albert (Leser) Lestoque. The family documents consist primarily of documents pertaining to the family estate known as Auf'm Rech located in the Plittersdorf section of Bonn, Germany. The records consist of land purchase records of various pieces of property primarily in Bonn, as well as records of furniture and art purchases for the property in Plittersdorf. Additional records pertaining to the property, as well as documents and materials pertaining to other family members are found in the Paul Leser Papers.
(Collection Bernardus Lans zu Haarlem).
(Sammlung von Romberg).
(Collection W. H. De Heus de Nijenrode).
(Sammlung von Schauroth).
(Sammlung de Francque).
(Joh. Paul Hamburg).
(Collection L. Minard).
This series consists primarily of correspondence between Lestoque and officials or other members of the Akademischer Ruder-Club, a sports club in Bonn, Germany. The correspondence (1933-1935) deals with the denial of Lestoque's club membership rights due to his Jewish heritage.
The Julius Lips materials consist of Albert Lestoque's files on the plagiarism case against Lips in which his brother, Paul Leser, was one of the primary accusers. These materials augment the larger collection of materials contained in the Paul Leser Papers.
With numerous underlinings and notes.
Separated by genre and arranged alphabetically within genres.
This series consists of both manuscripts and typescripts in German and in English. The largest portion of this section consists of texts of novels, including the handwritten manuscript of Lestoque's published novel, Menschen in Aktendeckeln, as well as versions of several unpublished novels. The poetry and short prose works are primarily written in German and date from 1909 to the 1930s, although a few examples in English date from his post-emigration time period.
Separated by genre and arranged alphabetically within genres.
Notes, primarily in German.
Clippings, background materials.
Materials for novel, correspondence.
English version of The Amazing Mr. Dickson. Typescript, plus additional handwritten pages.
Part I: "Die Verbrecher". 128pp. Part II: "Die Kriminal". 97pp.
Part I: "Die Verbrecher". 128pp. Part II: "Die Kriminal". 97pp.
Correspondence concerning translation from German into English.
Includes letters from Franzi Ascher and Karl Jakob Hirsch.
Also copy of published playscript.
Manuscript and typescript versions.
This series has been divided into two sections. The first section contains early published writings of Albert Lestoque, written in German and primarily on the subjects of prison conditions and penal reform, as well as clippings, case files and other research materials used by him to research these topics. The second section of this series contains texts of both lectures and essayistic publications, primarily written by Lestoque in English after immigrating to the United States.
The first section arranged chronologically and the remainder alphabetically.
Typescript of speech, programs, clippings.
(review of Leonard V. Harrison, Pryor McNeill Grant, Jugend in Fesseln, 1938).
Version in French, entitled "La Situation Franco-Allemande". Typescript with numerous h. corr., undated.
French version: "Où allons nous?" Typescript, undated.
This series is divided into three sections: 1) family correspondence; 2) general individual correspondence; and 3) correspondence with organizations, newspapers, publishers. Albert Lestoque's correspondence with his brother, Paul Leser, spans the years 1932-1959. Additional correspondence between the brothers can also be found in the Paul Leser Papers.
This series contains correspondence files which document Lestoque's dealings in regard to the Leser family properties in Germany. A large section of this series is comprised of the case files of attorney Robert Mand, Lestoque's legal representative in Germany, 1939-1943, who was responsible for dealing with the dissolution of the Leser family possessions after family members were forced to flee.
This series contains folders pertaining to Lestoque's activities in Denver, Colorado and include his association with the Alliance Française Denver, France Forever, the P. T. A. of the Denver Public School system, as well as with various social groups in Denver.
Correspondence, records, photo.
This series is the largest series in the collection. It is noteworthy because it represents a nearly complete record of the legal battles of Albert Lestoque and other members of his family in their attempts to file restitution claims for losses incurred as a result of the Nazi takeover of their properties in Germany after 1933. The files in Series 6 document Lestoque's early efforts to maintain his family's properties after he and other family members were forced to flee from Germany, whereas the files in Series 8 deal directly with Restitution (post-1945, Wiedergutmachung) claims.
The series is divided into three sections: the first section contains alphabetical correspondence files with individuals, legal representatives and agencies in Germany; the second section is arranged according to various legal case files, including those against the German Reich as well as ones against individual citizens and other agencies; the final section contains correspondence with occupation agencies and U.S. political figures, as well as clipping files on post-war Germany and restitution issues.
This series contains miscellaneous materials, as well as a number of periodicals dealing with restitution and emigration issues. Many of the periodicals contain articles pertinent to Lestoque's restitution claims and are marked and annotated by him. One item of interest is a copy of the December 1939 issue of Klaus Mann's Decision, which was devoted to Exiled German Authors. Twelve of the articles have been signed by their respective émigré authors.
Original issue dedicated to Exiled German Writers, with articles autographed by Wieland Herzfelde, Thomas Mann, Curt Riess, Oskar Maria Graf, Paul Tillich, Ferdinand Bruckner, Ernst Bloch, Raoul Auernheimer, Friedrich Alexan, Manfred Georg, Klaus Mann and Walter Schoenstedt.
London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1951.