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Lina Kaufman and Marion Kaufman Cassirer papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2012.261.1

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    Contains identity documents, restitution paperwork, newspaper clippings, and other materials concerning Marion Kaufman (now Marion Cassirer) and her mother, Lina Kaufman, who hid in the Netherlands during the Holocaust with the help of a false identity papers provided by a non-Jewish friend, Emmy Erdmann. Marion was in several different hiding situations, including with the Edgar family, at a convent, with the Beelen family in Overasselt posing as one of the family's children, and with a family of Roma, Lina hid with the Wesselius family in Oude Wetering and lost contact with Marion for a few years, reuniting after the war. They emigrated to the United States by 1949.
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Marion Cassirer
    Collection Creator
    Marion I. Cassirer
    Marion Irene Kaufmann was born on November 28, 1936, in Berlin, Germany, to Walter and Lina Julius Kaufmann. Walter was born November 14, 1903, in Trier, Germany. Lina was born on February 15, 1907, in Schokken, Prussia (Skoki, Poland). The couple married on February 17, 1935, and lived in Berlin. Walter was an electrical engineer and they owned two stores that repaired and sold electrical appliances. They were observant Jews.

    In January 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. Anti-Jewish laws were enacted and Jewish businesses were boycotted. During Kristallnacht in November 1938, the Kaufmann family shops were destroyed. Their synagogue was also destroyed. Lina and Walter got jobs at the Jewish Kinderheim, an orphanage and daycare center. They worked there until early 1941, when most of the teachers and orphans were deported and the kinderheim was closed. The couple was assigned to forced labor. Lina worked in a factory making field telephones and Walter worked at a railway station where transports of Jews left for camps. After Lina’s sister and her family, Hertha, Kurt, and Gerhard Abraham, were deported in spring 1941, Walter began making plans to escape Germany. He arranged to pay a German officer to help them flee to Switzerland. The German officer was caught and Walter was arrested at the railway station on October 2, 1942. Lina was told about the arrest and she took jewelry and valuables and left their apartment. She used the identity card of her friend, Emmy Erdmann, and removed the Star of David badge from her clothing. She took Marion to the home of Betty Wolff, Walter’s sister, in Trier, Germany. In Trier, Lina paid a man for information on how to escape into the Netherlands. She and Marion went to Aachen to cross the border. Lina paid a farm boy to help them through the barbed wire. They went to Maastricht, where Lina met with the priest of the Catholic church. He let them stay overnight and advised them to go to Amsterdam and find the Jewish committee. He took them to the station the following morning and gave them Dutch money. When they arrived in Amsterdam in November, they met Dr. Max Knapp, who worked with the underground. He and his wife Ans hid Lina and Marion in their home overnight and contacted the underground to find them more permanent hiding places.

    Seven year old Marion was placed with Dr. George (Boy) Edgar and his wife Mia, who helped hide many Jews and non-Jews. Marion was called Renie, from her middle name Irene. She lived with them for three months. Mia arranged to have a friend bleach her dark hair, but in February or March 1943, she was arrested on suspicion of being a Jewish child. She was taken to a transit camp for children in Amsterdam, where she was constantly awakened at night and asked for her full name. She always answered in Dutch and said she could not remember her last name. She was only fed one bowl of watery soup a day. The Edgars arranged to sneak Marion out after six weeks. Boy took her to Nijmegen, where a school teacher picked her up and took her to a convent in Malden. She stayed at the convent for a few days, where they made her new clothes and taught her Catholic prayers. The underground moved her to the neighboring town of Overasselt, where she stayed with Hend and Mia de Kleyn.

    In April 1943, Marion was moved to the farm of Jan and Wilhelmina Beelen in Overasselt. The Beelen’s had three sons and two daughters. Marion was treated as another daughter and was happy with the family, but food was very scarce, there were constant bombings, and she lived in fear of discovery. Many farms in the area were hiding Allied soldiers whose planes had been shot down, including the Beelen’s. Nazi patrols searched for soldiers and Marion had to hide in the hay loft of the barn with an Allied soldier with a broken leg. In January 1944, a wooden shoe salesman informed on the family and Marion was hidden in a hole under the living room floorboards. The Beelen’s were later warned that Nazi patrols were looking for a hidden Jewish girl, so they shaved Marion’s hair, dressed her in boy’s clothes and called her Rene. In September 1944, the town was liberated by Canadian paratroopers in Operation Market Garden. After a few weeks, Germans retook the area and Marion had to be moved because too many people knew about her. A traveling group of Roma took her in for about a month until they were liberated again in October and she was returned to the Beelen family.

    Lina found Marion in September 1945. When Marion was sent to the Edgars in 1943, Lina was sent to live with six other Jews in one room. The house was raided and only she and Lotte Jacobs escaped. They went to the home of Lotte’s former maid and stayed with the Wesselius family in Oude Wetering for a year and half. The house had been requisitioned by Nazis so they hid in a haystack for months before they could they enter the house. The family brought food out to them. Lotte died, probably of starvation, shortly before liberation on May 5, 1945. Lina returned to Amsterdam, where Max and Boy helped her find Marion. Marion did not remember her mother and did not want to go with her. Lina stayed with the Beelen family for two months to get to know Marion before they left for Amsterdam in November. They lived in a displaced persons camp and Marion attended an Orthodox Jewish school, where she learned about Judaism. In February 1949, Marion and Lina immigrated to the United States, sponsored by Walter’s brother, Max Kaufmann. They settled in Seattle, Washington, and changed their last name to Kaufman and Lina’s first name to Lena. Marion met Ernest Cassirer and they married on November 25, 1955. They adopted two children, a son and a daughter. The couple divorced in March 1986 and Marion moved to Richmond, Canada in 1989. She remained in contact with the Beelen family throughout her life. Walter, age 39, died of pneumonia in Auschwitz on January 13, 1943. Lina, age 92, died on February 10, 2000, in Seattle, Washington. Marion, age 77, died on March 31, 2014.

    Physical Details

    German Dutch English
    1 box

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    Conditions on Access
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    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.

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    Administrative Notes

    The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012 by Marion Cassirer.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 13:39:45
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