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Leo Yeni papers

Document | Accession Number: 2012.483.1

The Leo Yeni papers consist of artwork, biographical materials, correspondence, diaries, writings, photographs, and printed materials documenting Leo Yeni from Milan, his escape into Switzerland during the Holocaust, his detention in refugee labor camps, his artistic training in Switzerland at the end of the war, and the death of his parents at Auschwitz.

The artwork and notes series comprises original sketches, sketchbooks, and notebooks by Leo Yeni. Most of the works were created while Yeni was an art student in Le Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland right after the war, and the notebooks and sketchbooks combine original artwork with lessons and notes about art, history, and language in French and Italian. Additional sketches represent architectural and advertising studies. The original artwork dates from approximately 1943-1946, and undated reproductions were created after the period.

Biographical materials consist of Italian, Swiss, and Greek identification papers, certificates, and other records documenting Yeni’s status before, during, and after World War II, and particularly his refugee status in Switzerland during the war, his immigration to America aboard the Marine Flasher, his naturalization, and his work as an artist. This series also includes Claims Conference forms Yeni completed describing his Holocaust-era experiences, photocopies and certificates documenting the marriage and deaths of Isak and Pia Yeni, a photocopy of a birth certificate for Michele Della Torre, family trees documenting the Della Torre and other families, two pocket calendars that belonged to Yeni during and after the war, and ration coupons for textiles and shoes.

The correspondence series documents Yeni’s art education and aid he received in Switzerland, his immigration to the United States, his unsuccessful efforts to pursue restitution claims, and his reconnection in 2005 with the Robert family whom he had known while he was a refugee. This series also includes a few family letters.

Diaries and writings comprise diaries, personal narratives, poems, and stories documenting the war years. Leo Yeni’s diaries, written in Italian between 1943 and 1945, describe his escape into Switzerland and hi life as a refugee in detention camps and as an art student. Personal narratives include partial English translations of Yeni’s diaries, additional recollections by Yeni, and recollections by his relative Mario Migdalj (Della Torre). Poems include a notebook composed by Yeni in 1945 entitled “Poesie” and loose poems with little or no attribution. This series also includes two notebooks containing stories and two loose stories by Yeni.

The photographs series includes original photographs dating from approximately 1910 to 1940 and copy prints from approximately 1980-2000. The images depict Leo Yeni and his family and friend before World War II.

Printed materials include information about Fine Arts and English courses Yeni received in Switzerland, a welcome booklet for Jewish refugees in Switzerland, two 1944 issues of the Lajoux detention camp newsletter La Talpa including artwork and stories by Yeni, a 1945 publication by a sports organization in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and clippings about the Holocaust in Italy and refugees in Switzerland.

inclusive:  circa 1910-2010
1 box
7 book enclosures
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Estate of Leo Yeni
Record last modified: 2023-02-24 13:44:26
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