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Karl Otto Paetel was a political journalist, born in Berlin, forced to flee Germany in 1935 (Paetel was sentenced to death in absentia by the Nazis), and immigrated to the United States in 1940. Paetel's interests focused on the radical movements and social changes in the Twentieth Century from his youth until his death in 1975. The collection consists of correspondence, Paetel's writings, writings by others, pamphlets, biographical materials, and periodicals.
70 cubic ft.
English .
Preferred citation:

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Karl Otto Paetel Papers, 1907-1984. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Paetel Papers).


Scope and Content:

The collection contains autobiographical materials, diary, 1940, correspondence with Hannah Arendt, Manfred George, Ernst Junger, Henry Kissinger, Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, and others, 1940-1972, manuscripts of books, articles, essays, and reviews, 1940-1972, offprints and clippings, materials pertaining to five exile magazines published by Paetel, four audio recordings, 1957-1966, and photographs. The collection also includes a large collection of ephemera pertaining to the German Youth Movement, anti-Nazi resistance, refugee problems, exile writers, and postwar German politics. Paetel also retained manuscripts of and biographical materials pertaining to the German novelist Ernst Jünger and the manuscript and woodcuts for a children's book by Käte Döring.

The Karl O. Paetel Papers consist of 71.5 linear ft. of materials, which reflect its owner's many interests including Jugendbewegung (the German Youth Movement), Widerstand (resistance to Hitler), writer Ernst Junger, refugees and exile topics. Although his main collection of materials pertaining to the Jugendbewegung was bequeathed to the Archiv der deutschen Jugendbewegung in Burg Ludwigstein, Germany, duplicate materials pertaining to the youth movement, as well as the remainder of his collection, is located in Albany. Paetel was an avid collector of books, pamphlets, periodicals and other materials on the subjects of his interest, many of which have been retained in his collection.

The correspondence section, dating primarily from 1940-1975, contains many original letters as well as photocopies of many original letters which were transferred to Burg Ludwigstein.

The manuscript section contains manuscripts of both Paetel's published and unpublished writings. Included are manuscripts of several of his major published works, numerous essayistic pieces, as well as several volumes in planning stages. The publications section contains originals (many as clippings) and copies of Paetel's publications, including a nearly complete set of his essayistic writings and numerous reviews in newspapers, periodicals and books.

In his capacity as editor of several periodicals, including Deutsche Blätter, Deutsche Gegenwart and Gesprchsfetzen, Paetel received manuscripts from other writers. The section containing manuscripts by others includes shorter manuscripts by such authors as Paul Amann, Heinz Gollong, Alfred Gong, Paul Hagen, Werner Kindt, Th. Kögler and Robert Koehl and longer manuscripts by Michael Wurmbrand and Frederic McLean.

Of significant interest in the collection are Paetel's collections of materials on various topics, including sizable collections on Ernst Jünger, Heinz Gollong, Widerstand and Jugendbewegung. The various topics are supplemented by the additional materials, which are located in both the pamphlet and the periodicals collections.

Biographical / Historical:

Karl Otto Paetel was born on November 23, 1906 in Berlin, where he attended school from the elementary levels through university studies at the Friedrich-Wilhelm University of Berlin. It was during his time at the Siemens-Oberrealschule (1923-27) that Paetel first became a member of a youth group, the Kngener Bund; he later joined the group Deutsche Freischar. His early association with youth groups and the German Youth Movement (Jugendbewegung) remained one of the major interests throughout his lifetime. The German Youth Movement became popular shortly after World War I and had a major influence on that generation of German intellectuals who grew up in the first third of the Twentieth Century. Paetel became a leader of the movement and, at the age of twenty-four, co-edited with Ernst Jünger, Die Kommenden, a central periodical of the movement.

In 1930 Paetel was arrested as a participant in an anti-Versailles demonstration by Berlin students, an event which led to the loss of his stipendium for university study, the discontinuation of his studies and his turn to journalism full-time. In addition to his work on Die Kommenden, Paetel also became editor of the Handbuch der deutschen Jugendbewegung, as well as the periodicals, Die sozialistische Nation and Antifaschistische Briefe. In 1932, he also became leader of the radical group, Gruppe sozialrevolutionrer Nationalisten. His activities led to his arrest and internment on several occasions during the years 1933-1934.

In January of 1935, Paetel was forced to flee Germany to Czechoslovakia where he remained for six months, continuing to write for such periodicals as Die neue Weltbhne and Neues Tagebuch. During the period from July 1935 to March 1937, Paetel went to Sweden via Denmark, then back to Czechoslovakia, to Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and finally to France. Paetel spent nearly three years in France where he continued to write and eventually edited and published a series of underground pamphlets for German youth entitled Schriften der Jungen Nation.

After being officially deprived of his German citizenship and sentenced to death in absentia in 1939, Paetel was next interned in Roland Gaross-Damigny-Bassance, a French prisoner-of-war camp (February-June 1940). After his release from the camp, he fled through France to Lisbon, Portugal, and sailed in December 1940 to the United States.

Paetel arrived in New York City on January 13, 1941. Over the next several years, he held positions for the Office of European Economic Research and the Army Service Force, Morale Services Division of the War Department. He also performed research tasks for other writers, American institutes and agencies and continued to write on his own. His publications during these years included Nazi-Deutsch: A Glossary of Contemporary German Usage (with Heinz Paechter, Bertha Hellman, Hedwig Paechter, 1944), Ernst Jünger: Die Wandlung eines deutschen Dichters und Patrioten (1946), Deutsche innere Emigration: Anti-Nationalsozialistische Zeugnisse aus Deutschland (1946), Ernst Jünger: Weg und Wirkung: Eine Erfllung (1949), and Ernst Jünger: Eine Bibliographie (1953).

Paetel's interest in the radical movements of the day continued throughout his lifetime and is reflected in his writings. These movements included National Bolshevism (Nationalbolschewismus), a movement describing a group of individuals who were nationalists in the political sense, but socialists in economic terms; in 1965 Paetel published a history of National Bolshevism in German entitled Versuchung oder Chance? His interest in individuals, who did not fit into neat political or social categories, led to his interest in the American Beat movement and especially writer, Jack Kerouac, a leading beat poet; Paetels Beat Anthologie (1962) is one of the earliest publications on the American Beat Generation. Another prominent interest in his life, especially after 1933 and his escape from Nazi Germany, was German resistance to National Socialism (Widerstand) and exile. Das Dritte Reich und seine Gegner is only one example of his many writings on the topic of resistance.

Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Elizabeth (Mrs. Karl) Paetel in May 1980.
Processing information:

Processed in 2006 October 17 by Sandra H. Hawrylchak.


The collection is organized into nine topical series with further subseries.

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



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Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Karl Otto Paetel Papers, 1907-1984. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Paetel Papers).

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