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Kodak 16mm movie camera used by an American in prewar Vienna

Object | Accession Number: 2006.265.3 a-b

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    Kodak 16mm movie camera used by an American in prewar Vienna


    Brief Narrative
    Small, windup, 16mm Kodak motion picture camera used by Ross Baker and his wife, Helen, in Austria and Italy in 1937-1938. They used the camera to film family vacations and the historic scenes they witnessed, such as the Anschluss in Vienna, visits by Hitler, and the defacement and boycotting of Jewish businesses. Ross had a badge identifying him as a delegate to a convention and was allowed to film Hitler and others at close range. See the film material in this collection (2006.265.2) for the footage. Ross was a chemist and professor at the City University of New York. In 1937, he received a sabbatical leave to study at the University of Vienna. He lived there with his wife and five sons from early 1937 until May 1938. On March 13, 1938, Austria was incorporated into Nazi Germany. The Germans enacted anti-Jewish laws immediately. On April 10, there was a vote on the merger and 99% of the population voted Yes in support of Hitler as Fuhrer. Jews were among those who had been stripped of their rights as citizens, including the right to vote.
    use:  1937-1938
    use: Vienna (Austria)
    manufacture: Rochester (N.Y.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Stanley A. Baker
    a. badge on top, center, engraved : Cine / Model B / Kodak
    a. badge on top, around the edges, engraved : AT ROCHESTER, N.Y. BY EASTMAN KODAK CO MADE IN USA
    a. badge, front bottom, engraved : U.S. PATENTS / 1,685,600 1,688,370 1,689,268 / 1,690,607 1,705,385
    Subject: Ross A. Baker
    Manufacturer: Eastman Kodak Company
    Ross Allen Baker (1886-1978) was born in Greencastle, Indiana, to Philip and Luemma Baker (née Allen). Ross received a BA in chemistry in 1906 from DePauw University and a PhD in 1914 from the University of Wisconsin. He married Helen Fredericka Porter (1889-1964) on December 30, 1914. The couple had five sons: Philip Schaffner (1916-1986), Porter (1918-1987), Frederick Ross (1920-?), Stanley Allen (1921-?), and Raymond Davis (1921-1958). Ross held various teaching positions at universities throughout the United States and England. He was a national counselor in chemistry for the Boy Scouts of America, and helped write the merit badge booklet. During World War I (1914-1918), Ross served in the Chemical Warfare Service, specializing in the use of mustard gas. He later became active in efforts to have nations ban the use of biological and chemical weapons in the League of Nations, and later in the United Nations. In 1928, he was a US delegate for an International Union of Chemistry meeting at the League of Nations, and in 1938, he was a US delegate to the International Congress of Chemistry in Rome, Italy.

    In 1930, Ross began teaching at the College of the City of New York, and in 1937, he was given a sabbatical leave to take courses in microchemistry at the University of Vienna. Ross, his wife, and their sons lived in Vienna during the academic year 1937-1938. The boys attended school while in Europe and the family travelled during the summers. During that time, Austria was in the midst of an economic depression, which facilitated the growth of antisemitic and pro-Nazi sentiments. The Baker family was in the city on March 13, 1938, when Austria was annexed into Germany, in what became known as the "Anschluss." Helen kept a detailed diary describing what she saw as Austria was absorbed into Nazi Germany. The university closed temporarily, so Ross took his 16mm camera to film the events of the Anschluss and its aftermath in Vienna. As an American delegate to a convention, Ross had a badge that allowed him to film Hitler and others at close range.

    Following the Anschluss, many tourists left the country, but the Bakers remained, as Ross was slated to attend a chemistry convention in Rome in May. On April 10, there was a formal vote in support of Hitler as Fuhrer, and the newspapers were filled with Nazi propaganda. Following the elections, the German authorities immediately enacted anti-Jewish laws stripping Jews of their rights as citizens, including the right to vote. Ross filmed the widespread defacement and boycotting of Jewish businesses. There were financial problems as the banks closed to convert from shillings to German marks, and the Reichsbank froze foreign money exchanges to prevent withdrawals as people sought to leave. Although their American passports gave Ross and Helen a sense of security, their Jewish friends were anxious to escape Austria. In May 1938, the family accompanied Ross to Rome and witnessed public events for the summit meeting between Hitler and Mussolini. The family travelled the rest of the summer, and sailed from France back to the United States at the end of August.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    a. 16mm film camera with a handle at the top with a circular metal badge with English text attached to the top. The front has a lens with a list of settings around an adjustable bar. There is a metal badge at the bottom front with English text. There is a crank on one side and a sliding button marked "LOCK/OPEN" on the other side.
    b. Small leather attachment.
    a : metal, glass
    b : leather

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The 16mm camera was donated to the United States Holocaust Museum in 2006 by Stanley A. Baker, the son of Ross A. Baker.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:26:14
    This page:

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