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Goldfarb family papers

Document | Accession Number: 2002.103.1

The Goldfarb family papers document the experiences of Polish-born Leopold Goldfarb, his Belgian-born wife Jenny, and their daughter Nina; as they sought to escape Belgium following the German invasion in 1940, and immigrate to the United States, by way of Portugal, Jamaica, and Cuba, following Jenny’s death in France. The papers contain identification and immigration documents, correspondence, including over a dozen postcards sent to Leopold Goldfarb by members of his extended family in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940-1941, family photographs, and correspondence related to Goldfarb’s efforts to receive restitution for property he had entrusted to business associates when he fled Belgium in 1940, but who instead subsequently sold his property and kept the proceeds.

The Biographical series of documents consist chiefly of identification papers, documents pertaining to the Goldfarbs’ wedding, and birth documents pertaining to Nina Goldfarb. Other unidentified materials which may pertain to biographical details of the Goldfarbs’ lives, such as a tear sheet from a Jewish newspaper in New York and the handwritten text of a Polish song, were filed in this series as well.

The Correspondence series consists largely of postcards that Leopold Goldfarb received from relatives in the Warsaw ghetto from 1940-1941, but also of postwar correspondence with family members who survived, as well as his father-in-law, Abraham Buchwald. Also included in the correspondence files are letters and postcards exchanged between Nina and her parents in 1940, when she lived at a children’s home or boarding school called “Chez Nous.”
The Immigration series, arranged in files grouped by country, document the journey of Leopold and Nina from Europe to the United States between 1941 and 1948, and include letters of reference, travel documents, visas, affidavits, as well as immigration and naturalization documents in the United States.

The Photographs series includes wedding portraits of Leopold and Jenny, photographs of relatives, including Jenny’s parents, but also of unidentified relatives, childhood images of Nina—including her dolls that he father bought for her during a business trip to Berlin, photographs of Leopold and Nina in France following Jenny’s death, images of Nina in Madrid and other European cities in 1941, as well as images from Camp Gibraltar in Jamaica.

The last series, Restitution, contains the largest amount of correspondence, related to the Leopold Goldfarb’s attempts to gain compensation for assets and properties, including his apartment and its furnishings, which he had entrusted to his business associates when he fled Belgium in 1940, but which they appeared to sell and keep the proceeds of. Goldfarb first learned what had happened in a letter from a friend, Rudolph Kahan, in the summer of 1940, and tried to take action through Belgian consulates in France, which told him he had to return to Brussels to take legal action, something he clearly was unable to do. He then reopened the case in the immediate post-war years, hiring attorneys to pursue the case his former associates both in Belgium and in Italy, where one of his associates had moved to. Lastly, after having immigrated to the United States, he reopened the case in the late 1950s, seeking to apply for restitution through formal channels in the Belgian government which were set up to assist victims of the war with reparations. On later correspondence from this era, Goldfarb had changed the spelling of his last name to “Goffard.”

creation:  1933-1948
1 box
Record last modified: 2022-01-25 10:31:44
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