Herman Van Breda

Herman Leo Van Breda ( real name Leo Marie Karel, born February 28, 1911 in Lier, † March 4, 1974 in Leuven ) was Franciscans ( OFM), philosopher and founder of the Husserl - Archives in Leuven.


After entering the Franciscan Order Leo Marie Karel received the religious name of Hermanus. On 19 August 1934 he was ordained a priest. Since 1936, he studied philosophy at the Université catholique de Louvain. Because he wanted to do a doctorate with a dissertation on Edmund Husserl, he visited in the summer of 1938, Husserl's widow in Freiburg im Breisgau. During this visit Van Breda recognized the historical significance of the extensive estate and its exposure to the Nazi regime.

Van Breda obtained from the Belgian Embassy in Berlin a declaration as diplomatic baggage. Here, the then Prime Minister Paul -Henri Spaak helped him. By declaring the content was protected against access by the German authorities in the German - Belgian border. Overall, brought Van Breda following things from the estate to Leuven: 4700 books from the private library, 10 000 transcribed pages of manuscript, all letters and diary entries, 40 000 pages in shorthand lecture texts, not intended for publication records and book manuscripts.

In 1939, Van Breda founded in Leuven the Husserl Archives, where he worked until his death. In 1941 he received his doctorate with his work on Husserl's phenomenological reduction.

Van Breda, it is thanks to them that Husserl's estate were saved from the clutches of the Nazis.



  • Cultuurphilosophie. Warny, Leuven 1943
  • History of the Husserl - Archives Leuven. History of the Husserl - Archives Leuven. Together with Thomas Vongehr. Foreword by Rudolf Bernet. Springer, Berlin 2007