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Paula and Samuel Schäffer letters

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2014.436.1

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    Consists of five letters sent by the family of Paula and Samuel Schäffer in Poprad, Slovakia, between the years 1920 and 1939, to their daughter, Bertha Wicks, who emigrated to the United States prior to World War I. Paula and Samuel died prior to deportation, after a forced march, and the four Schäffer children--Gisella, Cidi, Ethel, and Jeno--who remained in Europe all perished in the Holocaust.
    inclusive:  1920-1939
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Nancy Weisz
    Collection Creator
    Paula Schäffer
    Bertha Wicks was born in 1893 to Paula and Samuel Schäffer in Poprad, Slovakia. She was the second of five children: Gisella (b. ca. 1890), Bertha, Szidi, Ethel [Etel, Etelka], and Jeno [Eugen], the youngest and only boy. Sometime around 1910, Bertha emigrated to the United States. Her sister, Szidi, who visited her around 1913, urged Bertha to return to Slovakia, but she refused. Bertha married Adolf Wicks in 1919 and lived in Rochester, New York. Most of the family remained in Slovakia until the war, with the exception of Ethel, who lived in Hungary.
    In the late 1930s-early 1940s, Paula and Samuel Schäffer were sent on a forced march, the details of which are uncertain. They eventually returned to Slovakia but in failing health. Both died prior to their family’s deportation. Bertha’s four siblings, along with their spouses and nearly all of their children, were killed in the Holocaust. The only family members to survive were the children of Bertha’s sister, Gisella.
    Gisella Schäffer married Moritz Burger and had four children. Soon after the birth of their youngest child, daughter Yaffa in 1920, Moritz died. Gisella raised her children as a single parent, with the help of her own parents, and then, approximately 15 years later, Gisella married a non-Jewish Hungarian man, Sandor [Alexander] Kocsis. Her two oldest children, Yitzchak and Malka, emigrated to Palestine in the mid-1930s and helped establish Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk and Kibbutz Maanit, respectively. The third child, Adolf Burger, was trained as a printer. During the war, he was deported to Auschwitz and from there, to Sachsenhausen, where he worked as a counterfeiter. His memoir, The Devil’s Workshop: A Memoir of the Nazi Counterfeiting Operation formed the basis of the 2007 film “The Counterfeiters,” which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2008. Yaffa Burger, whom Sandor Kocsis encouraged to leave Slovakia but wanted to stay with her mother, eventually made her way on foot to Budapest and then to Romania, finally arriving in Palestine in 1945. Gisella and Sandor were both deported; though Sandor himself was not Jewish, he suffered the same fate as Gisella and was killed during the Holocaust.

    Physical Details

    1 folder

    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.

    Administrative Notes

    Nancy Weisz, the granddaughter of Bertha Wicks, donated these letters to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2013.
    Record last modified:
    2023-07-05 13:50:37
    This page:

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