Norbert Wollheim papers
3 oversize boxes
The Norbert Wollheim papers consist of correspondence, photographs, and printed materials documenting Wollheim’s prewar family life in Europe, his efforts to receive restitution for his slave labor at I.G. Farben, his immigration to the United States, and his continued work with other Holocaust survivor organizations such as the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors, the Auschwitz/Buna Memorial, the World Federation of Holocaust Survivors, the United Jewish Appeal, and the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.
- Document Creator
- Norbert Wollheim
Norbert Wollheim was born in Berlin, Germany, on April 26, 1913 to Jewish parents. His father was a veteran of World War I, 1914-1918. Norbert was active in the German Jewish Youth Alliance. Hitler came to power in Germany in January 1933. In April, Norbert was expelled from law school at the University of Berlin because of the Nazis’ anti-Jewish laws. From 1935 through 1938, he worked as a clerk and scientific worker at an ore firm, Rawack and Grünfeld AG in Berlin-Charlottenburg. He married Rosa Mandelbrod on May 21, 1938. In September 1938 , he was dismissed from his job because he was Jewish. Following the November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom, at the request of the German Jewish Community, Norbert helped arrange and escort twenty transports that took thousands of Jewish children to safety in Britain. The last Kindertransport left Berlin on August 29, 1939. Norbert continued to work for the leadership of the Jewish community, now renamed the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (Union of Jews in Germany).
In 1941, Norbert was drafted to perform forced labor. In February 1942, he and his family were arrested and taken to the Grosse Hamburger Strasse assembly center. On March 11, they were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp. His pregnant wife, Rosa, and their 3-year old son, Uriel perished there. Norbert’s arm was tattooed with the number 107984. He was one of 25,000 Jews used as slave labor to build a synthetic-rubber plant for I.G. Farben in Auschwitz III-Monowitz (Buna). On January 18, 1945, the prisoners made a forced march from Auschwitz to Gleiwitz. From there, the members of the evacuation transport traveled to Czechoslovakia, Austria, back to Czechoslovakia, and finally to Berlin on January 31. They were taken to Heinkel, a satellite camp of Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg near Berlin. On April 20, the camp was evacuated and the prisoners marched under SS guard towards an undisclosed location. On the night of May 2, Wollheim fled to nearby Schwerin (Mecklenburg), where he was liberated by American troops on May 3, 1945.
Not wanting to return to Soviet-controlled Berlin, Wollheim went to Lübeck, where he helped to organize a community of 800 Jewish displaced persons. He was informed that 30,000 survivors lived in the nearby Bergen-Belsen DP camp, formerly a concentration camp. He visited the British controlled DP camp, and with Joseph Rosensaft, organized the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the British Zone. He married Frieda (Friedel) Senta Löwenberg (1921-1977), a German Jewish woman he met in Bergen-Belsen. They had two children. In the late 1940s, Norbert appeared as a witness during the Nuremberg trials and at the trial against Nazi sympathizer film director and actor Veit Harlan.
Towards the end of 1950, Norbert and his family moved to the United States. They were twice arrested by the immigration authorities, detained on Ellis Island, and threatened with deportation. Finally, in 1952, they were legally admitted to the US. In 1951, Wollheim successfully sued I.G. Farben, arguing that the manufacturer should compensate him for two years’ work. The law suit opened the way for a settlement with I.G. Farben that established a fund of $ 6.43 million to compensate other Jewish laborers.
Wollheim studied accounting at New York University and was granted certification in 1962. After Friedel’s passing in 1977, he married the former Charlotte Sprung. They resided in Queens, NY. Norbert had a successful accounting career until his retirement in 1991. Norbert played a leading role in the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the British Zone [of Germany], in the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors, and in the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. He was also member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. Norbert, 85, died on November 1, 1998.
- System of Arrangement
- The Norbert Wollheim papers are arranged as two series and seventeen subseries:
Series 1: Life in Europe, approximately 1900-1996 (bulk 1945-1954)
Subseries 1: Lübeck correspondence, 1945-1954
Subseries 2: I.G. Farben, 1945-1958, 1996
Subseries 3: Subject files, 1945-1954
Subseries 4: Publications, 1928-1985
Subseries 5: News clippings, approximately 1940s-1970s
Subseries 6: Photographs, approximately 1900-1955
Subseries 7: Personal documents, approximately 1945-1989
Series 2: Life in America, 1945-1998 (bulk 1951-1998)
Subseries 1: Personal correspondence, 1956-1993
Subseries 2: I. G. Farben and other restitution claims, 1951-1998
Subseries 3: World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors, 1958-1991
Subseries 4: Auschwitz/Buna Memorial, 1958-1992
Subseries 5: World Federation of Holocaust Survivors, 1979-1995
Subseries 6: Subject files, 1939-1998
Subseries 7: Publications, 1959-1993
Subseries 8: News clippings, 1960-1997
Subseries 9: Photographs, 1960-1981
Subseries 10: Periodicals, 1945-1952
- Topical Term
Slave labor--Concentration camps.
Holocaust survivors--United States.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Reparations.
- Geographic Name
United States--Emigration and immigration--History--20th century.
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received these papers from Charlotte Wollheim, Norbert Wollheim's wife in Feb. 1999.
- Funding Note
- The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Record last modified: 2017-02-06 09:52:32
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn502128