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Mentkewicz (Mentken) family papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2004.704.1

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    The papers consist of documents and correspondence relating to the immigration of the family of David and Regina Haar Mentkewicz (later Mentken) and their sons, Robert and Edgar, originally of Vienna, Austria. Includes documentation related to their lives in Vienna, immigration to the United States in September 1938 on the SS Pennland, and material related to the pre-war business of Salomon Mentkewicz, David's father. Includes pre-war photographs of the extended Mentkewicz and Haar families and restitution claims for property that was confiscated.
    inclusive:  1907-1978
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Robert Mentken
    Collection Creator
    Robert Mentken
    Robert Mentkewicz (later Mentken) was born on January 18, 1934, in Vienna, Austria, to a Jewish couple, David and Regina Haar Mentkewicz. He joined an older brother, Edgar, who was born on July 7, 1931. David was born on March 18, 1895, in Czestochowa, Russia (Poland), to Schloma Dawidow (Salomon) and Fradel (Frieda) Mentkewicz. Regina was born to Jonas and Friedel (Fani) Haar on January 27, 1904, in Krakow, Russia (Poland). Regina had an older brother, Maximilian, and three younger sisters, Adela, Ruska, and Sabina. Robert and his parents lived with his grandparents and the family had a capmaking workshop in the family home. In Russia, they had specialized in making straw lined, green wool winter military caps with earflaps, buttons, and a visor, but now did piecework. The family emigrated to Vienna in 1905 when David was ten. David had worked in the family business since he was a young child. After their marriage, Regina also worked with them, sewing buttons and ironing. The family was not well off. David was sentenced to prison for drawing government unemployment while earning money selling stoves. His sentence was postponed for two years because he had to provide for a family.

    Nazi Germany annexed Austria on March 13, 1938. Anti-Jewish policies were enacted that stripped Jews of their rights, prohibited their participation in certain professions, and barred Jewish children from public schools. The capmaking business declined and they could not buy enough food for the family. Regina got her family members in the United States to sign affidavits to support so her family could obtain US visas. They would be the last members of Regina’s family to leave Austria. David had to serve his postponed prison sentence before they could receive departure papers. He was jailed for three weeks, and Regina supported the family by making and selling ladies hats. Robert’s grandparents were too elderly to leave. David, Regina, Edgar, and Robert traveled to Antwerp, Belgium, in early September 1938. They boarded the S.S. Pennland and arrived in the United States on September 13.

    The family Americanized their name to Mentken. They moved around Massachusetts as David looked for steady work. Robert’s parents got divorced in April 1943, because Regina felt that his father was unable to adjust to life in the US. Edgar and Robert stayed with their mother. Regina remarried in 1945, to their building superintendent, Julius Stolz, who had emigrated from Germany in the 1920s. Robert graduated from Cooper Union College in 1954 and pursued a career in advertising. David, age 64, died in September 1959. Robert married Ellen in 1964 and they had two sons. Ellen left him in 1975, and Robert raised the children. Regina, age 86, died in June 1990. Edgar, age 70, died in November 2001. Robert traveled to Austria in 2007 to learn what had happened to his paternal grandparents. Salomon had been hospitalized shortly after Robert and his family left in September 1938, and died in the hospital in early 1939. Frieda was deported by the Germans to Łódź Ghetto in Poland in 1941/42 and, in 1942, and was transported to Chelmno killing center.

    Physical Details

    German Polish English
    6 folders

    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

    The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Robert Mentken, the grandson of Salomon Mentkewicz.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:14:29
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