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Maier family papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2004.515.1

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    Maier family papers

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    The Maier family papers contain identification documents, passports, correspondence, and photographs relating to the Maier family’s experience aboard the MS St. Louis. Two photographs show Bertha Ackerman, Freya Maier, and Ludwig Maier boarding the MS St. Louis, and Sonja Maier attending a child’s birthday party aboard the ship. Also included is a donation registry list detailing donations collected for the funeral expenses of Mortiz Weiler who died while aboard the MS St. Louis. The registry records the name, room number and amount donated to the donation fund by passengers on the MS St. Louis.

    The Maier family papers include German passports, stamped with a red letter “J” belonging to Freya Frieda Sara Maier and Ludwig Israel Maier. Freya’s passport also includes an entry for and photograph of their daughter Sonja Maier. The papers also include Cuban immigration cards written in Spanish for David Maier, Pauline Maier, and Sonja Maier, dated May 27, 1939.

    Correspondence telegrams, receipts for telegrams, note relating to a meeting being held aboard the MS St Louis regarding the storage of gold, note relating to the passengers’ need for provisions. Also included is a letter written in German on the MS St. Louis by Freya Maier and addressed to her parents, June 10, 1939.

    The two black and white photographs within the collection show Berta Ackerman, Ludwig Maier, and Freya Maier boarding the MS St. Louis and Sonja Maier attending a children’s birthday party aboard the MS St. Louis, 1939.

    A donation registry records donations collected for the funeral expenses of Mortiz Weiler (1876-1939) who died aboard the MS St. Louis on its way to Cuba. Any surplus donations were to be transferred to a fund for Jewish soldier war victims in Berlin, Germany. The list records the name, room number, and amount donated by passengers on the MS St. Louis. There are two other donation lists with the names of passengers, their room numbers, and amounts donated, which may or may not be related to the funeral expenses collected.
    inclusive:  1939
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection, gift of Lynn J. Maier and Sonja Maier Geismar
    Collection Creator
    Maier family
    Ludwig Maier was born in Malsch, Germany on August 19, 1901 to David (b. October 14, 1873) and Pauline Maier (Line Maier, b. December 7, 1880). In 1933, Ludwig Maier married Freya (Frida Valfer) who was born on May 29, 1910 in Kippenheim, Germany. They lived in Malsch, Germany where Ludwig owned a tobacco business and Freya assisted him. Their daughter Sonja Sofie Maier (later Sonja Geismar) was born in Karlsruhe, Germany on February 16, 1935.

    The day of Kristallnacht, Ludwig Maier was rounded up and sent to Dachau concentration camp. That evening, while Freya and Sonja were at home, the house was raided by Nazis and household items were destroyed. Eventually Ludwig Maier was released from Dachau. On May 13, 1939, the Maier family boarded the MS St. Louis bound for Cuba. Members of the Maier family aboard the ship included David and Pauline Maier, Bertha Ackerman (Sonja’s great-aunt, b. January 27, 1876), another unnamed great aunt, Ludwig and Freya Maier, and their daughter Sonja Maier. The Loeb family, also aboard the MS St. Louis, was related to the Maier family through Sonja’s grandfather’s sister.

    The Maier family were part of the 287 total passengers who disembarked the MS St. Louis in England. The family lived in a boarding house in Broadhurst Gardens in London. On February 11, 1940, the family immigrated to the United States and lived in the Bronx, New York. Another daughter, Lynn J. Maier was born in New York. Ludwig worked as a night watchman and later started a business as a personal shopper. After two strokes, he passed away at the age of 52. Freya continued the business after his death. Freya passed away in 2003.

    Physical Details

    3 folders
    System of Arrangement
    The Maier family papers are arranged in three series.

    Series 1: Identification documents, 1939
    Series 2: Correspondence, 1939
    Series 3: Photographs, 1939 and Donation Registry List, undated

    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

    Lynn J. Maier and Sonja Maier Geismar donated the Maier family papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004.
    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:
    2023-08-25 09:35:59
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