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Otto Herskovic memoir and papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2015.301.1

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    Otto Herskovic memoir and papers

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    Diary, handwritten, composed by Otto Herskovic, at the age of 15, immediately following the end of World War II. In it, he recounts his family's experiences during the German invasion of Belgium, his family's flight to southern France, and the experiences of him and his sister while at an O.S.E.-administered children's home, and later, as part of a convoy of children who were sent to the United States via North Africa in July 1942 with the help of the United States Committee for the Care of European Children (USCOM). Included are hand-drawn maps of places referenced in the diary, photographs, news clippings, and identification documents for Herskovic and his mother, Emma Herskovic. Also included are documents relating to Otto Herskovic's service in the U.S. Army (circa 1950-1955).

    The “Biographical” series of documents includes Herskovic’s birth certificate, a copy of a Red Cross letter he and his sister received from their parents after the liberation of France in late 1944, identification cards from the period that Herskovic served in the U.S. Army, including a driver’s license, his Selective Service registration card, and a letter of reference, as well as a much later document from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in which Herskovic began to write down information about his wartime experiences.

    The “Photograph” series consists of five photographic prints, including one showing a group of children in France, among which were Otto and Hilde, two prints of passengers on a ship, presumably including Otto, and two photos from camps in France, which may have been the ones where Emile and Emma Herskovic were held.

    The “Writings” series consists of the original memoir written by Herskovic in English, in 1946, as well as a photocopy of the same and a later typescript version of it. The original diary includes hand-colored maps and drawings of the locations in France that his family fled to, as well as a map depicting the stops on Otto’s journey to the United States, and various news clippings from the era as well.
    inclusive:  1931-1954
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Atiyeh Nafari
    Collection Creator
    Otto Herskovic
    Otto Herskovic (1931-2014) was a native of Antwerp, Belgium. Following the German invasion in May 1940, Herskovic, his parents, and his elder sister Hilde escaped southward through Belgium into France, reaching southern France by late June. Initially the family stayed in various locations in the department of Tarn et Garronne, including Serignac, Varennes, and Toulouse. By late 1940, Otto's parents decided it would be best to send their children to the Chateau des Morelles, a children's home run by the OSE in Brout-Vernet, near Vichy, where Otto and Hilde remained for the better part of a year. Eventually, it was arranged to have both Otto and Hilde emigrate to the United States, and after several unsuccessful attempts to reach Marseilles and board a ship there, they managed to do so, travelling by ship to the Algerian port of Oran, and from there by train to Morocco, where they boarded the Nyassa, a Portuguese ship that took them to Baltimore. Later Otto lived with a foster family in St. Louis, but was eventually reunited with his parents and with other siblings, including his older brother William. When the latter opened a camera store in Los Angeles in 1957, he invited Otto to join him, and he worked in the family-owned Bel-Air Camera in Westwood for much of the rest of his life. Otto Herskovic died in Los Angeles in January 2014.

    Physical Details

    English Flemish
    5 folders
    System of Arrangement
    The collection is arranged in three series: I. Biographical, II. Photographs, III. Writings, and in rough chronological order within each series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Atiyeh Nafari, donated her late husband's diary and documents, with the assistance of Patricia Herskovic, in 2015.
    Funding Note
    The accessibility of this collection was made possible by the generous donors to our crowdfunded Save Their Stories campaign.
    Special Collection
    Save Their Stories
    Record last modified:
    2024-04-11 13:19:08
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