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Leather document holder with CIC credentials used by a Jewish American soldier

Object | Accession Number: 2011.395.4

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    Leather document holder with CIC credentials used by a Jewish American soldier

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Leather wallet containing credentials used by Martin Dannenberg Jr., a Jewish American soldier awarded a Bronze Star for his wartime service. Martin was a Master Sergeant and Special Agent in Charge, 203rd Counter Intelligence Corps, attached to the III Corps, Third Army. By February 1945, he was in Germany with his unit. One of Martin's duties was to discover evidence for the planned war crimes trials. On April 27, 1945, an informant took Martin and his two man team to a bank vault in Eichstatt, where they discovered an original copy of the Nuremberg Race Laws, signed by Adolf Hitler. This decree was the foundation for the legal persecution of Jews in Germany. It excluded them from citizenship and identified Jews based on racial, not religious grounds. Anyone with 3 or 4 Jewish grandparents was classified a Jew, and marriage or sexual relations with Germans was illegal. Martin photographed the document inside the vault with a Minox Riga camera. The next day, he turned the Nuremberg Laws over to a member of General Patton’s staff, assuming they would be used as evidence in the trials. However, Patton kept them as a personal souvenir and gave them to the Huntington Library in 1945. The existence and provenance of the document was not known until 1999 when the Library lent them for display. In August 2010, the Library donated the document to the National Archives and Records Administration.
    Date
    received:  1944 October
    use:  1944 October-1945 May
    Geography
    use: France
    use: Germany
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Margery Dannenberg
    Contributor
    Subject: Martin E. Dannenberg Jr.
    Biography
    Martin Ernest Dannenberg Jr. was born on November 15, 1915, in Baltimore, Maryland, to a Jewish couple, Martin Ernest (1891-1946) and Wilhelmina Wilfson (1889-1954) Dannenberg. He had a younger brother, Wilbur (1921-1935). His father Martin worked in the clothing business. His paternal grandparents were German immigrants. In 1842, his maternal great grandfather Charles Winternitz helped found the Har Sinai synagogue in Baltimore, the oldest Reform synagogue in the United States. Martin graduated from City College high school in 1931. He worked as a mail clerk at Sun Life Insurance Company and attended John Hopkins University and University of Baltimore’s Law School at night. On May 29, 1941, Martin married Esther Anne Salzman.

    On December 8, 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered World War II. On August 20, 1942, Martin enlisted in the Army. He expessed interest in and was accepted into the Counter Intelligence Corps. After training, Martin was assigned to intelligence cases in the US. In August 1944, Martin, a Master Sergeant, shipped out from Boston to Normandy, France, arriving in September. He was a Special Agent in Charge, 203rd Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment, attached to the III Corps, Third Army, under General Patton. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and reached Germany in early February 1945. One of Martin's duties was to discover evidence for the planned war crimes trials. In April, Martin apprehended a German official in Regensburg, who told Martin he knew the location of the Nuremberg Laws and would take him there if Martin returned him to Eichstatt. On April 27, the informant took Martin and his two man team to a farm near Eichstatt, where Hans Rauch, a Finance Ministry official, was hiding from the Gestapo. Rauch had been told to store the documents by the Waffen SS security chief and had placed them in a bank vault in Eichstatt. Rauch took Martin and his team to the bank vault, where Martin found the original texts of the Nuremberg Laws, as signed by Adolf Hitler, inside a manila envelope. They took photographs of the documents inside the vault. On April 28, Martin turned the document over to a member of General Patton’s staff, who gave it to General Patton. Martin thought the documents would be used as evidence in war crimes trials, but Patton kept them as a personal souvenir. In late April or early May, Martin was sent to investigate the recently liberated Dachau concentration camp. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7. Martin was awarded a Bronze Star for his service.

    In May 1945, Martin returned to Baltimore, where he gave speeches about his war experience to his synagogue. Martin and Esther had three children. He continued working for Sun Life Insurance Company and eventually became chairman of the Board. After Esther’s death in 1989, Martin married Margery Singer Dopkin on October 21, 1990. Martin, age 94, died on August 18, 2010, in Baltimore. General Patton had given the Nuremberg Laws to the Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA, in June 1945. The existence and provenance of the document was not known until 1999 when the Library lent them for display. In August 2010, the Library donated the document to the National Archives and Records Administration.

    Physical Details

    Classification
    Dress Accessories
    Object Type
    Wallets (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, well used, brown, leather bifold document holder with 2 interior lengthwise pockets sewn with light green thread. The pockets have a large rectangular center cutout with a clear plastic insert sewn inside. One pocket contains a double sided Military Intelligence Division ID card taped at the top, with typed information identifying Martin Dannenberg as an authorized CIC agent, repeated in French, Danish, Dutch, and German, with a stamped signature. Each side is stamped in red with an image of a US Army Military Intelligence badge. The other pocket contains a small color photograph of a silver US Army Military Intelligence badge.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 5.125 inches (13.018 cm) | Width: 3.500 inches (8.89 cm) | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm)
    Materials
    overall : leather, plastic, thread, paper, ink, adhesive tape

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The wallet was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2011 by Margery Dannenberg, wife of Martin Dannenberg and executor of his Estate.
    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:
    2023-08-25 16:41:50
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn46850

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