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Goldfarb family papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2002.103.1

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    Goldfarb family papers

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    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
    Collection Creator
    Goldfarb family
    Leopold (Leib) Goldfarb (1898-1961) and Jeanne "Jenny" Buchwald (1911-1940) were married in Antwerp, Belgium on 13 February 1933. They had one daughter, Nina, was born in Antwerp in 1935. Leopold was born in Warsaw on 31 October 1898, and was one of eight children of Mendel and Chana (née Shapiro) Goldfarb. He immigrated to Belgium in the early 1930s. Jenny was the daughter of Abraham and Jetta (née Brandt) Buchwald, whose family was from Antwerp. The Goldfarbs settled in Brussels after their wedding, where Leopold, an architectural engineer, had established a business. Following the German invasion of Belgium in 1940, the Goldfarbs fled to Paris, where Jenny's parents joined them. When Jenny became ill there, they relocated to southern France, where Jenny died in a sanatorium a few months later, on 2 September 1940. During this time, Nina had been sent to a boarding school, and in the following year, the Buchwalds managed to immigrate to Switzerland, where they survived the war, and Leopold and his daughter left France, travelling first to Madrid in August 1941, and then on to Lisbon, from which they sailed on the MS "Serpa Pinto" in December 1941, reaching Kingston, Jamaica in January 1942. The lived in a refugee camp there, Camp Gibraltar, until relocating to Cuba, with the hope of being able to immigrate to the United States from there, which they succeeded in doing in 1948, settling in New York. Nina finished high school and college, and married Chester Phillips in 1954. Leopold Goldfarb died on 4 June 1961.

    Physical Details

    French Italian
    1 box
    System of Arrangement
    The Goldfarb family papers are arranged in five series: I. Biographical, II. Correspondence, III. Immigration, IV. Photographs, V. Restitution. Files are arranged in alphabetical order by folder title within each 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

    John Chazik and Nina Edisse Phillips donated the Goldfarb family papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2002.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:03:41
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