Emil Kaim was born in 1872 in Wrocław. Since 1910 he controlled successively the company named Kaim & Schlesinger, which he had overtaken from his father and whose main activity included wood trade. Kaim’s fat profit enabled him and his wife Sophie affluent living. In their villa, erected in the Kleinburgstraße (today ul. Januszowicka), shortly before the World War I, the owners frequently hosted the Wrocław’s manufacturers, professors and artists. The married couple Kaim kept supporting young artists, among them the conductor and composer Edmund Nick, they supported also the Schlesisches Museums-Verein and were engaged in the erection-committee of the Jewish Museum in Wrocław.
In 1937 Kaim as a Jew was forced to have his company suppressed. Two years later he was forced to abandon his villa in the Kleinburgstraße and move to a small flat in the Kurfürstestraße (today ulica Racławicka). In October 1941 the family Kaim received an order to leave the same flat within a few hours. Having saved some belongings they moved to a single-room flat in the so called “Jewish House” in the Wallstraße 10 (today ulica Włodkowica). Since 1940 Emil Kaim joined the governing body of the Jewish Community. In June 1943 he and his wife were deported to Theresienstadt. Emil and Sophie Kaim passed through the persecutions of the Jews. Fortunately they joined the group of 1200 Jews who wee transferred in January 1945 to Switzerland. The mentioned transport was arranged by the USA, Switzerland and Canada, and funded by the “Orthodox Rabin Union of the United States and Canada”. Emil Kaim died in 1951 at Zurich.
In Wrocław the Kaims owned an interesting library including about 1500 references. Beside fiction the collection covered literature on art history and musicology as well. The exlibris which adorned the books was designed by Rose Eisner, an artist who had studied at the Wrocław’s Academy of Fine Arts.
The collection formed by Kaim wasn’t directed towards a particular artistic tendency or epoch. Its main role seemed to be the decoration of the newly erected villa. The collection consisted of works by German artists, like Lovis Corinth, Anselm Feuerbach, Carl Spitzweg and Wilhelm Trübner, as well as by Charles Tooby – an Englishman living in Munich. Within the collection there was also a 16th century painting of Netherlandish origin.
In 1940 the paintings, which were still within Emil Kaim’s ownership, were sequestrated by the Nazi government. Some of them were transferred to the Silesian Museum of Fine Arts in Breslau, the others were sold to private owners.
Julius Brann, Breslauer Kunstbesitz, „Schlesien” 5 (1911), p. 466-472
Vierte Ausstellung von Werken moderner Meister aus Breslauer Privatbesitz vom 17. April bis 14. Mai, Schlesisches Museum der bildenden Künste, Breslau 1911
Monika Tatzkow, Hans Joachim Hinz, Bürger, Opfer und die historische Gerechtigkeit. Das Schicksal jüdischer Kunstsammler in Breslau, „Osteuropa”, 56 (2006)
- Dr. Hans-Joachim Hinz