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Renée Lang papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2006.355.1

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    Renée Lang papers

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    The Renée Lang papers contain biographical materials, correspondence, and photocopies of restitution paperwork documenting Renée Konstandt Lang’s family, their experiences in Austria and in various concentration camps after the Anschluss, the deaths of Lang’s parents and brother in Łódź, Dachau, Schwarzenberg, and possibly Auschwitz and Lang’s efforts to obtain restitution.
    Biographical materials document the lives of Hugo, Olga, and Raoul Konstandt and Renée Lang and include birth certificates, marriage certificates, citizenship records, passports, certificates of deportation, and a membership card for the Union of Concentration Camp Prisoners. Correspondence includes two 1942 postcards between Renée and her parents in the Łódź ghetto, a 1946 telegram from a friend of her parents, and two 1961 letters regarding the possibility of restitution. Restitution paperwork includes photocopies of documents regarding Jewish property taxes paid by her parents and her father’s imprisonment at Dachau in 1938 and 1939.
    inclusive:  1900-2006
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Renee Lang
    Collection Creator
    Renee Lang
    Renee Konstandt was born on August 20, 1927, in Vienna, Austria. Her father, Hugo, was born February 1, 1890, in Kostel, Czechoslovakia; her mother, Olga Braun, was born April 7, 1899, in Knittelfeld-Styer, near Graz, Austria. She had an older brother, Raoul, who was born on May 5, 1921, also in Vienna. Her father owned a chain of dry goods and linen stores around Austria. Renee enjoyed a pleasant, comfortable childhood, and was spoiled by her older brother.
    On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria and annexed the country. Anti-Jewish legislation was soon enacted to exclude Jews from participation in cultural, economic, and social life. The November 1938 Kristallnacht [Night of Broken Glass] pogrom was particularly brutal in Austria. Most of the synagogues in Vienna were destroyed and Jewish businesses were vandalized. Thousands of Jews were arrested and deported to concentration camps. Her father was arrested in May 1938 and deported to Dachau concentration camp, but was released in December 1939. In January 1941, he was arrested again by the Gestapo and held in jail in Vienna for a month before being released. That October, both of Renee’s parents were deported to the Jewish ghetto in Łódź, Poland. Due to a clerical error, Renee and her brother remained in Vienna. Raoul was taken briefly to a work camp outside of Vienna in October 1942, but soon returned. The siblings were deported in January 1943 to Theresienstadt (Terezin) in the former Czechoslovakia. Renee first worked with infants and then was transferred to a small farm detail that worked outside the ghetto. Because of the constant hunger, she and the other workers would often try to smuggle food in under their clothes, despite the body searches and frequent beatings. She occasionally saw her brother, who worked as a tailor, and he would sneak her bread, telling her that he got extra. They remained there until May 1944, when they were transferred to Auschwitz, where they lost contact with each other. Renee was tattooed and shaved. Auschwitz was hell, with searchlights, vicious dogs, frequent roll calls, constant fear of beatings, even less food, and the horrible smell from the crematoriums. After two months, Renee was taken to Neuengamme, where the death rates of prisoners reached devastating proportions, with hundreds dying weekly. She and a group of friends were part of a work detail sent to clear debris from areas of Hamburg destroyed by constant bombings. It was winter and they were clad only in muslin overalls and clogs. Some French and Russian prisoners-of-war gave them sweaters and other items that they could spare from the supplies they received from the Red Cross. She remembers being told by a German officer that although the Germans were losing the war, they (the prisoners) would not see freedom because “we’ll gather all of you and gas you first.” In March 1945, as British troops advanced towards the camp, Renee and other inmates were forced into cattle cars, standing room only, with no food or water, for days. Occasionally the trains would stop and people would try to escape and be chased down by dogs or shot. When they reached their destination, Bergen-Belsen, Renee felt it was the end. She was ill with typhus, but her friends took care of her.
    On April 15, 1945, the camp was liberated by the British. After Renee recovered, she and a friend ran away from the camp because, although she was now 18, they were considered minors and did not know where they might be sent. She managed to get to Vienna to search for her family. Finding no one, she briefly worked for UNRRA, the United Nations Refugee Relief Agency. Her supervisor, Dr. Hochner, helped her get passage to England and because her uncle in Philadelphia, Herbert Brown, filed papers to sponsor her and paid for her journey, she was able to immigrate to the United States in 1947. She settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where she married Manfred Lang in March 1949. She eventually learned the fate of her family members. Her father had been in Łódź from the time of his deportation in 1941 until 1943, when he was sent to Auschwitz. In February 1945, he perished in Dachau. Her mother had also spent two years in Łódź and was deported with her husband to Auschwitz, where she was murdered in the gas chambers. Her brother had been deported from Auschwitz to Schwarzenberg, where he died in May 1945, during the final days of the war. In August 2011, Renee attended a meeting of Holocaust survivors in New York. While there, she was reunited with her cousin, Felix Konstandt, whom she had not seen or heard from since 1938 in Vienna.

    Physical Details

    German English
    6 folders
    System of Arrangement
    The Renée Lang papers are arranged as three series: I. Biographical Materials, 1900-1953, II: Correspondence, 1942-1961, and III. Restitution Paperwork, circa 2006

    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

    Renée Konstandt Lang donated her collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives on Sept. 11, 2006.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 13:38:14
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