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Norbert Wollheim papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 1999.A.0031

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    Norbert Wollheim papers

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    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.
    Series 1, Life in Europe, primarily documents Norbert Wollheim’s life and activities in Europe before his immigration to the United States, including personal and professional correspondence from his years in Lübeck; legal records documenting his efforts to receive restitution for his slave labor at I.G. Farben; subject files about survivor conferences, postwar antisemitism, and emigration to Palestine; publications and clippings documenting Jewish survivor organizations; photographic materials documenting Wollheim’s family before the war and political and commemorative events after the war; and personal documents such as identification papers, calendars, and speeches.
    Subseries 1, Lübeck correspondence, includes Norbert Wollheim’s correspondence from his years in Lübeck after the war. The correspondence documents his postwar activities on behalf of survivors, and related travel, as well as his own marriage and the birth of his children. It includes professional, private, and personal correspondence with officials, aid organizations, friends, and relatives. Correspondents include Hermann Simon, Max Plaut, Karl Marx, Kurt Hecht, Rolf May, Hans and Gretl Royce, his sister and brother-in-law (Bellauer), and Julius Dreifuss.
    Subseries 2, Correspondence and related records regarding I.G. Farben, consists of legal records, correspondence, and clippings related to the slave labor Norbert Wollheim performed for I.G. Farben at Auschwitz during the war and his efforts to receive compensation after the war.
    Subseries 3, Subject files, includes topics such as survivor conferences, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, restitution, Philip Auerbach, Erich Lüth, and the passengers on the ship Exodus who were not allowed to reach Palestine. Records include correspondence, clippings, notes, lists, reports, photographs, programs, and speeches.
    Subseries 4, Publications, includes publications by organizations such as the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the British Zone, Jewish Central Information Office, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, United Jewish Appeal, and the World Jewish Congress about survivor issues during the postwar period. Records include bulletins, newspapers, press releases, poems, and reports.
    Subseries 5, News clippings, includes topics such as the World Jewish Congress, the status of Jewish Displaced Persons, Palestine, war criminals, and restitution.
    Subseries 6, Photographs, includes photo albums and loose photographs depicting Wollheim, family members and friends, vacations, family celebrations, and political events in Germany, France, England, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, and Denmark before, during, and after World War II. This series includes postwar photographs of Bergen-Belsen, displaced persons camps, Leo Baeck, Stephen Wise, Nachum Goldmann, and Elie Wiesel.
    Subseries 7, Personal documents, consists of identification papers, calendars, speeches, personal publications, and notebooks.
    Series 2, Life in America, primarily documents Norbert Wollheim’s life and activities in America following his immigration, including personal correspondence; legal records documenting his efforts to receive restitution for his slave labor at I.G. Farben; correspondence documenting Wollheim’s work with survivor organizations World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors, Auschwitz/Buna Memorial, and World Federation of Holocaust Survivors; subject files about the Holocaust and its memorialization; publications, periodicals, and news clippings; and photographs documenting survivors of Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz-Buna, the United Jewish Appeal, and the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.
    Subseries 1 consists of personal correspondence.
    Subseries 2, I. G. Farben and other restitution claims, consists of correspondence, legal and financial records, and printed material documenting I. G. Farben and other restitution claims.
    Subseries 3, World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors, consists of correspondence and organizational records regarding the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors.
    Subseries 4, Auschwitz/Buna Memorial, consists of correspondence, organizational records, and news clippings documenting the Auschwitz/Buna Memorial.
    Subseries 5, World Federation of Holocaust Survivors, consist of correspondence and organization records documenting the World Federation of Holocaust Survivors.
    Subseries 6, Subject files, consists of subject files documenting facets of the Holocaust and Holocaust memorialization.
    Subseries 7, Publications, consists of publications documenting the work of Jewish organizations, Holocaust survivors, and the history of the Holocaust.
    Subseries 8, News clippings, consists of news clippings in English, German, and Hebrew dated 1960-1997.
    inclusive:  circa 1900-1998
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection, gift of Charlotte Wollheim
    Collection 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 1943, 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 lawsuit 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.

    Physical Details

    54 boxes
    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

    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 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.
    Record last modified:
    2023-07-06 09:30:57
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