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This collection documents the literary and legal careers of Roy C. Bates (Kurt Bauchwitz). The materials cover his early years in Germany (1890-1938), the years of flight from Hitler's Germany via Japan to the United States (1938-1941), and his U.S. years (1941-1974).

19 cubic ft.

1 Digital Files

English , German .
Preferred citation:

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Roy C. Bates (Kurt Bauchwitz) Papers 1890-2006. M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Roy C. Bates (Kurt Bauchwitz) Papers).


Scope and Content:

The Roy C. Bates Papers, 1890-1994, concentrate primarily on the literary career of Bates/Bauchwitz (1910-1974), with a secondary emphasis on the legal career of Bates. The materials document his early years in Germany (1890-1938), the years of flight from Hitler Germany via Japan to the United States (1938-1941), and his U.S. years (1941-1974).

The collection is divided into six series: 1) biographical materials, including documents, 1890-1974; 2) correspondence and related materials, 1914-1987; 3) manuscripts and typescripts, 1928-1974; 4) publications, 1910-1972; 5) miscellaneous materials, arranged by subject; and 6) oversize materials. The earlier materials (pre-1941) are in German, with materials after 1941 primarily in English.

The biographical materials contain many early documents, including school and university diplomas, birth and marriage certificates, German military record, and documents pertaining to Bauchwitz's dismissal from his legal position by the Hitler regime. Also included in this section are a series of curriculum vitae, as well as several biographical statements intended as introductions to volumes of poetry, and a small number of photographs.

The correspondence consists of nearly 5,000 letters, primarily 1941-1974, and has been divided into five sub-categories, arranged alphabetically within each sub-series: 1) personal, which represents the largest section and includes correspondences with family members (esp. his two sons) and life-long friends; 2) legal correspondences; 3) correspondences re: literary topics and publications; 4) correspondence re: psychedelic drugs and schizophrenia; and 5) miscellaneous correspondences.

The manuscripts and typescripts have been divided between poetry (including epigrammatic verse and aphorisms) and prose. The poetry section, dating from circa 1926, is primarily written in German, with the exception of his later epigrammatic verse collections "Ego and Echo" and "Monogrips", which are in English. The prose sub-series includes short prose pieces (the majority written in English) and his loosely autobiographical collections of daily observations, which span nearly three decades, 1950-1966, which he entitled "Pebbles" (later "Question Marks").

The publications section contains copies, either in the original or in photocopy, of nearly all of Bauchwitz'/Bates' published writings, including his first and only published volume of verse Der Lebendige (1920), as well as his many published "Letters to the Editor.".

The miscellaneous materials section has been sub-divided into the materials of Roy C. Bates and those of his wife, Barbara Bent Bates. The Roy C. Bates materials consist primarily of clippings and materials files, arranged alphabetically by subjects on legal topics, organizations and other subjects of interest to Bates. The Barbara Bates materials are divided between her own writings (and publications) and her attempts to publish her husband's writings posthumously. Oversize materials consist of diplomas (2), as well as two paintings, which were probably given to the Bates as gifts.

Biographical / Historical:

Kurt Bauchwitz was born in Halle (Saale), Germany, on July 12, 1890, to Edmund and Ida (Sachs) Bauchwitz. Kurt exhibited a talent for writing at an early age and published his first serious writing piece at the age of fourteen. During his childhood, he also studied piano and gave his first concert at sixteen, however decided against pursuing a career in music as too time-consuming. After graduating from gymnasium in 1908, Bauchwitz attended the universities of Grenoble, Munich, Berlin and Halle, where he studied law, completing his studies in 1912. During his university years, he continued to write poems and aphorisms and published pieces in Der Jugend and Nord und Süd.

At the conclusion of his studies in 1912, Bauchwitz was appointed Referendar and served as a junior judge and barrister until 1921. During this period, Bauchwitz also served in the German army, having volunteered for service in October of 1913. He was called to active duty in 1914, served on the Western Front until the end of the war, and received both the Iron Cross and Medal of Honor for bravery. Also, during this period, he continued to write poetry, composing many of the poems later published in his first and only published volume of poetry, Der Lebendige (1920), while serving in the German army. Bauchwitz married Else Schwabach on February 22, 1917, who gave birth to their first son, Kurt Helmut, on April 22, 1919, and a second son, Till, on May 9, 1922. Bauchwitz was widowed in 1931 by the death of his wife Else on March 15.

From 1921 to 1938, Bauchwitz practiced law in Berlin, receiving his degrees of Pol.Sc.D. and LL.D. from the University of Halle in 1924. He specialized in international commercial law, family, and social law. In 1926 he received the appointment of Notar (notary), by the Minister of Justice. This appointment was revoked by Nazi legislation, effective November 1935, which deprived all "non-Aryan" Notare of their profession. In November 1938, his right to practice law was terminated for the same reason. As a result, Bauchwitz was forced to close his Berlin law firm office.

His termination in 1938, marked the beginning of a series of radical changes for Bauchwitz. Later that year, on December 16, Bauchwitz married his secretary Hilde Michaelis. Just prior to his departure from Hitler's Germany in March 1939, Bauchwitz is baptized as a Catholic. On April 3, 1939, Bauchwitz leaves Nazi Germany. After several months, Bauchwitz, his new wife and two sons arrive in Japan, where they remain for nearly eighteen months before their eventual departure for the United States on November 20, 1940. The period, which began with Bauchwitz' departure from Germany and ended with his eventual arrival in the U.S. in December of 1940, was one of his most fertile creative periods. During this time, he collected many of his earlier poems and epigrammatic verse to form the collection he called the "Abzieh-Bilderbuch". In addition, he wrote over 200 poems, later entitled his "Tokyo poems", which would also be the last significant collection of poetry in German he would write.

Following his arrival in New York City, Kurt Bauchwitz, German writer and lawyer, would become Roy C. Bates, on his way to becoming a naturalized American citizen and writer. In 1941, Bates' divorced, and from 1942-1943, Bates pursued a course of study at the Columbia University School of Library Science, receiving a B.S. degree in October 1943. Bates' diligent efforts at perfecting his English language skills result in securing him an editorial position on the Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Encyclopedia staff from 1944 to 1947. Bauchwitz also becomes an American citizen on May 6, 1946, legally changing his name from Kurt Bauchwitz to Roy Curt Bates at this time, and less than two years later, marries Barbara Bent, on March 16, 1948.

Although Bates continued to write during the late 1940s and early 1950s, composing poems, epigrams, short prose, and even song texts in English, only one of his efforts in English saw publication despite his continued attempts to find publication outlets for his writings.

The 1950s saw the resumption of Bates' legal career with his return to the study of law, first at St. John's University (1953-1954) and later at New York University (1954-1956), where he received his LL.B. degree in February 1956. On June 19, less than one month before his 67th birthday, Roy C. Bates became the oldest person at that time to be admitted to the Bar and practice in New York State. Several years later, in 1962, after relocating to Milton, Massachusetts, Bates was also admitted to the Massachusetts State Bar. Bates continued to write during the 1950s and 1960s, however, his writing took the form of semi-autobiographical observations, which he recorded on a regular, often a daily, basis. Three series of these collections of observations, the first series entitled "Pebbles" and the later two entitled "Quotation Marks", make up the bulk of his writing activity during this time. Bates also became interested in the legal aspects of psychedelic drugs during the 1960s, which resulted in his participation in the M.I.T.-based Neurobiological and Psychedelic Study Group, as well as publication of an article on "Psychedelics and the Law" in 1964.

Although Roy Curt Bates (Kurt Bauchwitz) was a lawyer by profession both in Germany and later in the United States specializing in international law, his enthusiasm for writing, which began in early childhood, survived the change from a German-speaking to an American writer, and is evidenced by the large body of written work he left behind. Bates died in Milton, Massachusetts on July 18, 1974, at the age of 84.

Chronology of Events: Date Event 1890
July 12, born in Halle (Saale), Germany
Attends gymnasium in Halle (Saale)
March, graduates from Stadtgymnasium, Halle
University study at the Universities of Grenoble (France) and Berlin, Munich and Halle (Germany)
Appointed Referendar
Serves as junior judge and barrister
Oct., volunteers for the army
Serves in the German Army on the Western front, receives Iron Cross and medal for bravery.
Feb. 22, marries Else Schwabach.
Apr. 22, birth of son, Helmut Kurt.
Publication of Der Lebendige
Jan., appointed Assessor (judge lateral)
Practices law in Berlin
May 9, birth of son, Tyll Kurt.
June 20, receives degrees of Pol.Sc.D. and LL.D. from Halle.
Receives appointment of Notar by the Minister of Justice
Tourist visit to Soviet Russia.
Mar. 15, death of first wife, Else Schwabach.
Jan. 31, appointment as Notar is terminated by Hitler regime
Right to practice law terminated by Hitler regime; closes Berlin law office in Nov.; Dec. 16, marries Hilde Michaelis.
Mar. 19, is baptized as a Catholic in Berlin; Apr. 3, leaves Hamburg, Germany by ship; May 29, arrives in Kobe, Japan.
Spends a year and a half in Tokyo, en route to U.S.
Nov. 20, leaves Japan; travels to U.S. via Hawaii and Canada; Dec. 9, arrives in San Francisco, CA; Dec. 26, arrives in New York City.
Settles in New York City; takes out "first papers" for American citizenship; Apr. 18, divorces Carole Hildegard Bates (formerly Hilde Michaelis).
Attends Columbia University, School of Library Science
Oct. 27, receives B.S. degree in Library Science from Columbia Univ.
Serves as editor of the Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Encyclopedia
May 6, becomes U.S. citizen, legally changing his name to Roy Curt Bates
Mar. 16, marries Barbara Bent, an American
Studies law at St. John's University and New York University
Fe., receives LL.B. degree from New York University
June 19, admitted to the New York State Bar
Returns to Europe for the first time since 1939.
Moves to Milton, Massachusetts
Attends Buddhist Summer School in Cambridge, England.
May 9, admitted to the Massachusetts State Bar
July 18, dies in Milton, Massachusetts
Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Mrs. Barbara Bent Bates in 1987 and 1988. A small amount of additional materials were donated in 2005 by Mrs. Harry (Judy) Zorn.
Processing information:

Processed in 2003 by Sandra H. Hawrylchak.


The collection is organized into six series.

Physical location:
The materials are located onsite in the department.



Using These Materials

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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, Roy C. Bates (Kurt Bauchwitz) Papers 1890-2006. M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Roy C. Bates (Kurt Bauchwitz) Papers).

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