Liebermensch family papers relating to emigration
The papers relate to the emigration attempts of the Liebermensch family of Mannheim, Germany. The majority of the letters are those exchanged between Gisela Liebermensch and her daughters, Ruth and Hannah, who emigrated to England shortly after Kristallnacht. A small portion of the collection consists of undated letters and letter fragments concerning similar subjects.
- Document Creator
- Ruth L. Knox
Ruth Liebermensch was born on February 6, 1925, in Mannheim, Germany, to a Jewish couple, Samuel and Gisela Schiff Liebermensch. She had a sister, Hanna Amalie, born on May 18, 1920. Samuel was born on February 24, 1887, in Pless (now Pszczyna, Poland), to Moritz and Rosa Liebermensch. Gisela was born on September 30, 1890, in Angenrod, to Max and Pauline Schiff. She had a brother, Fritz. Samuel was in the German Army during World War I (1914-1918). He and Gisela were engaged on August 15, 1916, and married on February 12, 1918, in Mannheim. Samuel was the cantor at the synagogue. He also taught bar mitzvah lessons, instructing students in Hebrew and Jewish history. Gisela was a professional singer, a soprano specializing in Wagner and Schubert lieder. Ruth was close with her maternal grandparents. Her grandfather Max was the shamas at the synagogue and assisted with synagogue services.
In January 1933, Hitler came to power in Germany and an antisemitic Nazi dictatorship was established. Ruth took dance lessons and had to avoid groups of Hitler Youth on her way home. Ruth’s father was summoned to the Gestapo because he purchased two cameras. Kosher meat was rationed. On November 9 and 10, 1938, during Kristallnacht, the synagogue was burned down, as was the home of Ruth’s maternal grandparents, Max and Pauline. They came to stay with Ruth and her family. Several hours later, the Gestapo came and arrested Samuel and Max. After pleas at the police station, Max was allowed to return home. Samuel was held in Buchenwald concentration camp for four weeks before being released. Samuel and Gisela wanted to flee Germany for the United States but had to wait for their quota numbers. They decided to send their daughters to England on the Kindertransport [Children's Transport]. About June 1939, Ruth, 13, and Hanna, 18, were sent to Leeds, England. The war began when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The Kindertransport children were moved to the countryside for their safety. Ruth and Hanna lived in Lincolnshire, where Ruth attended public school and Hanna was a nurse. Ruth still corresponded with her parents through a family friend, Gustav Wuerzwewiler, in Brussels, Belgium.
Ruth and Hanna eventually received their visas for the US. On February 13, 1940, the sisters sailed from Southampton on the SS DePless, Poland Grasse, arriving in New York on February 26. Their maternal uncle Fritz lived in New York and sponsored them. Ruth’s parents attempted to join them in the US but Samuel, who was on the very restrictive Polish visa quota, was unable to obtain a visa. On May 4, 1940, their mother Gisela sailed from Genoa, Italy, on the SS Manhattan, arriving in New York on May 13. Hanna met a corporal in the US Army, Richard Pfifferling. Richard was born on December 31, 1914, in Lauterbach, Germany, to Alexander and Auguste Reiss Pfifferling. He fled Germany for New York in September 1939. Ruth and Richard married in 1944. The war ended when Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945.
After Richard was discharged from the army, the couple opened an orthopedic shoe store and repair business, the Tip Top Store. They eventually learned that Ruth's father Samuel and Richard's parents had perished. On October 22, 1940, Samuel was deported from Baden, Germany, to Gurs internment camp in France. On February 28, 1941, he was sent to Noe internment camp, then transferred on June 16 to Milles internment camp. On September 13, 1942, he was sent from Rivesaltes transit camp to Drancy transit camp. On September 16, Samuel was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where he was killed. Richard’s parents, Alexander and Auguste, were deported to Riga, Latvia in December 1941, and to Auschwitz in August 1942, where they were killed. Ruth’s maternal grandfather Max survived and emigrated to New York in 1946. Hanna married Mr. Lewin and had children. Ruth’s husband Richard, 50, died on February 8, 1965. On November 3, 1975, Ruth married Emil Knox, who was born on January 12, 1904, in Krakow, Poland, to Jacob and Regina Schinagel Knopf. Emil emigrated from St. Nazaire, France, to New York in May 1940. Ruth’s mother Gisela, 97, died on February 21, 1988. Emil, 85, died on April 7, 1989. Ruth’s sister Hanna, 94, died on March 7, 2015.
- System of Arrangement
- Arrangement is chronological by year
- Geographic Name
Germany--Emigration and immigration--History--1933-1945.
New York (N.Y.)
- Personal Name
Knox, Ruth Liebermensch.
Lewin, Hannah Liebermensch.
Bloom, Sol, 1870-1949.
- Corporate Name
German Jewish Aid Committee.
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The materials were collected by Ruth Knox and Hannah Lewin during and after the Holocaust. The letters were originally included in a donation to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Oct. 1990. The textual portion of the donation was transferred to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives in Aug. 1991 by Michele Wehrwein of the Collections Department.
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
Record last modified: 2020-07-01 11:43:52
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn503668