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Thekla Samuel papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 1995.A.1207

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    Thekla Samuel papers

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    The Thekla Samuel papers contain documents relating to Thekla Samuel, a Jewish nurse from Cologne, Germany who sought refuge from Nazi persecution in Belgian Congo in 1938. At the time of increasing hostility towards Jews, Thekla fled Germany by marrying her pen pal, German born watchmaker, Erich Samuel who lived in Elisabethville, Belgian Congo. Included among her papers is correspondence from friends and family in Germany, primarily from her father, Moritz Bamberger, and papers documenting her travel preparations including a fiancée visa request filed by Erich, her ship passage information, and currency exchange paperwork.

    The Thekla Samuel papers largely document Thekla’s immigration from Germany to Belgian Congo and consists of correspondence from friends and family members in Germany and paperwork documenting her travel preparations in 1938. The correspondence is in the form of postcards and letters and the majority was written to Thekla in the days leading up to her departure from Europe on October 21, 1938. Much of the correspondence is from Thekla’s father, Moritz and other family members. Several notes have greetings from more than one person. Only a few pieces of correspondence were sent to Thekla upon her arrival in Belgian Congo and subsequently, the United States. One such letter, was written by Thekla’s sister-in-law, Ellen Samuel in 1940 and discusses Erich’s detention as a prisoner of war. Another was written by a friend living in Chile in 1964 and is addressed to Thekla in Rochester, New York.

    Among Thekla’s travel preparation documents is a fiancée visa request submitted by Erich in Elisabethville in May of 1938 and a letter detailing her travel itinerary aboard the SS Léopoldville. Also included are bank statements certifying currency exchange.
    inclusive:  1938-1987
    bulk:  1938
    Collection Creator
    Thekla Samuel
    Thekla Samuel (1916-1991) was a Jewish nurse who lived with her parents, Moritz and Jeanette Bamberger in Cologne, Germany. In an effort to escape persecution from the Nazis, Thekla fled to Belgian Congo in 1938 and married her pen pal, Erich Samuel (1906-1981), a German-born master watchmaker who was living in Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo). In October, 1938 Thekla departed Antwerp, Belgium on board the SS Léopoldville. She and Erich married on November 12, 1938 just three days after meeting. Thelka’s mother, father, and two sisters were shot in a concentration camp in January, 1942.

    Thekla and Erich had their first daughter, Lydia in October, 1939 in Belgian Congo. Shortly after, Erich was taken prisoner of war and held for 2 years before eventually being released. Upon his release, Thekla and Erich had two more daughters, Ellen (1942-) and Rose Jeanette (1946-), before immigrating to the United States in 1947. The family stayed in Brooklyn, New York for two years and moved to Rochester, New York in 1949. Thekla went on to work as an obstetric nurse. She passed away in 1991 in Rochester.

    Physical Details

    German French English
    10 folders
    System of Arrangement
    The Thekla Samuel papers are arranged as a single series.

    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

    The Thekla Samuel papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1995 by Thekla’s granddaughter, Liza Beth Rochelson.
    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 13:52:15
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