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Herman Osnos correspondence

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 1995.A.0610

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    Herman Osnos correspondence

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    The Herman Osnos correspondence contains letters and telegrams written and received by Herman in his quest to assist Jewish refugees between 1936 and 1947. The majority of the collection documents his communication with the Stark family of Munich, Germany, specifically, the eldest son Walter (1919-), who was attending school in England, and Hermann, the father and a clothing business owner. Letters between Herman and the Stark family cover a period of nearly two years and is a fairly complete set, documenting their first introductions to their arrival in the United States and plans to meet each other at the docks in New York City. In increasingly urgent letters, Walter pleads for assistance leaving Germany while also telling Herman about his family, studies, and hobbies. Herman is successful in securing affidavits of sponsorship for the Stark brothers and later, the whole family. Included among the correspondence are letters written by Herman to various business associates, including a colleague at the Ford Motor Company seeking work for Walter and Werner (1921-1995). Also included are photographs of the boys so that Herman would know who to look for as he met their ship, the RMS Queen Mary, at the docks. The majority of the correspondence is written by Walter and Herman, but letters from other family members, Albert Schmidt, their initial point of contact, and Herman’s lawyer, Marcus Benjamin are also present, among others.

    The Herman Osnos correspondence also includes a series of letters from other German and Austrian Jews seeking assistance in traveling to the United States immediately before the outbreak of war and immediately after. Nearly all of the persons requesting help from Mr. Osnos had never met him, and had only heard through friends or colleagues that he was willing and able to supply affidavits of support. The fate of the majority of the requesters is unknown. In one such case, Herman issued an affidavit of support to a Mr. Otto Wolff, only to have the Consulate General deny his application for reasons of disability. Otto was later incarcerated in a concentration camp and his cousin wrote to Herman again seeking another affidavit. Included among this series of letters are affidavits from Herman’s bank and colleagues attesting to his good character and financial standing.
    inclusive:  1936-1947
    Collection Creator
    Herman S. Osnos
    Herman S. Osnos was born in September 1900 in New York City to Jewish Russian immigrants, Samuel and Bella Osnos. Herman grew up on his family’s farm in Middlesex, New Jersey before eventually making his way to Detroit, Michigan where he worked for the department store, Sam’s Cut Rate. Between the years of 1930 and 1950, Herman held many positions within the company, ranging from secretary, to manager, to executive. Overtime he became a very successful businessman and proprietor, owning properties in the Detroit area.

    While working for Sam’s Cut Rate and during the period of increasing hostility and persecution against Jews in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, Herman advocated for Jewish refugee’s entrance in to the United States. Herman employed many such refugees, among them, Albert Schmidt, a tailor who emigrated from Munich. Through Albert, Herman came to know the Stark family of Munich, who desperately sought sponsorship for United States visas. Over the course of two years, and after lengthy correspondence with the family’s eldest son, Walter, Herman secured visas for first the two Stark boys, Walter and Werner in 1938, and in 1939, the boys’ parents, Herman and Klara, and their sister. Several other German and Austrian Jews wrote to Herman seeking assistance and sponsorship of affidavits between 1935 and 1948. As an advocate for Jews, Herman served as a member of the Jewish Welfare Board and attempted to help as many refugees as he could seek asylum in the United States.

    In the late 1920s Herman married a woman named Helen and together had one son, Gilbert, born in 1930. Herman died in Stamford, Connecticut in 1989 at the age of 88.

    Physical Details

    English German
    18 folders
    System of Arrangement
    The Herman Osnos correspondence is arranged as two series:
    • Series 1: Stark family correspondence, 1937-1938
    • Series 2: Sponsorship requests, 1936-1947

    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

    Geographic Name
    Munich (Germany).

    Administrative Notes

    The Herman Osnos correspondence was donated this to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1995 by his son and daughter-in-law, Gilbert and Margaret Osnos.
    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 13:49:17
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