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Elizabeth Koenig papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 1989.260.3

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    Elizabeth Koenig papers

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    The Elizabeth Koenig papers consist of a letter from HIAS-JCA Emigration Association to Fritz Kaufmann; an autograph book including photographs of children in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon; Elizabeth’s diary describing her life in France from February to July 1940; a 1939 map of the Hautes-Pyrénées; photographs of Elizabeth, her brother, and the La Guespy children’s house in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon; and a school report Elizabeth wrote and illustrated after arriving in America about France under the occupation.

    Correspondence consists of a single letter from HIAS-JCA Emigration Association in Marseilles to Fritz Kaufmann advising him on emigration matters.

    The diary, dated February 1940-June 1940, is handwritten in German and French and documents the historical and personal reflections of Elizabeth Koenig, who references school experiences, schedules and classmates, book interests, art passions, family struggles, and life as a refugee. Entries also include quotes from newspaper articles, escape possibilities, geographic locations, concentration camps, and political views and thoughts.

    The 1939 map depicts major roads and railways in the French department of the Hautes-Pyrénées and was presumably used by Elizabeth during her June 1940 flight south from Paris and her efforts to reunite with her mother.

    Photographs include portraits of Elizabeth and Peter Kaufmann as children in Vienna, pictures of Elizabeth in Chambon-sur-Lignon and New York in 1941 and 1942, and an autograph book and photograph album presented to Elizabeth before she left the La Guespy child refugee home in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon containing photographs of Le Chambon, La Guespy, and the children and staff of La Guespy as well as messages and autographs. This series includes a negative with two images in cold storage.

    The student paper consists of Elizabeth’s essay about political youth organization in France under Maréchal Petain with her hand-drawn cover.
    inclusive:  circa 1927-1995
    bulk:  1939-1942
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Elizabeth Koenig
    Collection Creator
    Elizabeth Koenig
    Elizabeth Koenig (1924-2003) was born Elizabeth Kaufmann in Vienna to journalist Fritz Kaufmann and nurse Helen (Berggruen) Kaufmann. Fritz was put on trial in Germany for his anti-Nazi work and fled to Paris via Prague before the Anschluss in 1938. After several failed attempts to join him, Elizabeth finally arrived in Paris in November with her mother and brother, Peter, and attended art school. Fritz and Peter were interned as enemy aliens following the outbreak of World War II. Helen and Elizabeth fled south with other refugees as the Germans advanced on Paris, but were separated en route. Elizabeth found her brother in Toulouse, was reunited with her mother in Pau, and then joined Fritz near Limoges. Elizabeth found work in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon caring for the children of Pastor André Trocmé and then helping Dr. Juliette Usach care for German Jewish refugee children at the Secours Suisse aux Enfants home, La Guespy. Varian Fry of the Emergency Rescue Committee offered Fritz a non-quota American visa as an endangered, anti-Nazi European refugee intellectual caught in Vichy France, and helped secure visas for his family. The family was reunited in Lyon, traveled to Portugal in December 1941 via Marseilles and Spain. They sailed from Lisbon to the United States, arriving in February 1942.

    Physical Details

    German French English
    9 folders
    1 oversize folder
    System of Arrangement
    The Elizabeth Koenig papers are arranged as five series:
    Series 1: Correspondence, 1941
    Series 2: Diary, 1940, approximately 1995
    Series 3: Map, 1939
    Series 4: Photographs, approximately 1927-1942
    Series 5: Student paper, approximately 1942

    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

    Elizabeth Koenig donated the Elizabeth Koenig papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1989, 1990, 1995, and 1998. Accessions previously cataloged as 1990.215, 1995.143.1 through 1995.143.5, and 1998.27.1 have been incorporated into this collection.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    The accessibility of this collection was made possible by the generous donors to our crowdfunded Save Their Stories campaign.
    Special Collection
    Save Their Stories
    Primary Number
    Record last modified:
    2024-04-11 13:19:05
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