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Leather wallet with flap closure carried by a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany to the US

Object | Accession Number: 2005.288.2

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    Leather wallet with flap closure carried by a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany to the US


    Brief Narrative
    Leather wallet used by 18 year old Stefi Siegel when she emigrated to the United States in September 1938 from Mosbach, Germany. After Hitler came to power in 1933, policies were put in place that persecuted and excluded Jews from German society. In 1938, Stefi's parents, Siegfried and Friedel, managed to send her to the United States; her 15 year old brother, Walter, was sent to the Netherlands to learn a trade and possibly emigrate to Palestine. Her parents emigrated to England in 1939 and would get to the US in 1943. In spring 1940, Germany occupied the Netherlands. Walter eventually was deported to Buchenwald concentration camp, then to Bergen Belsen, where he died of typhus in March 1945.
    emigration:  1938
    use: Mosbach (Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Stefi Geisel
    Subject: Stefi Geisel
    Stefi Siegel was born on December 25, 1919, in Mosbach-Baden, Germany. Her father, Siegfried, was born in Mosbach in 1884, and her mother, Friedericke (Friedel) Moritz was born on November 19, 1887, in Mainz. The family had lived in the area since the 1400s and strictly observed orthodox Jewish practices. Her father was a merchant specializing in leather goods and shoes. The family, as well as her grandmother, had apartments above the store, which had been established by Siegfried’s great-grandfather. Stefi had a brother, Walter, born on January 18, 1923.

    Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933 and many anti-Jewish policies were enacted. With the encouragement of the principal, Stefi stayed in the public school as long as possible, but by 1935, she could no longer attend. She briefly went to a Jewish home school in Frankfurt, then traveled to Amsterdam to live with an aunt for 6 months, then to Hamburg, then back to Frankfurt, seeking to learn a trade and find employment. Between 1936-1938, her father sold his business and the building and the family moved to an apartment on the third floor. Her parents were determined to get Stefi out of the country and contacted distant relatives in the United States. Stefi left the United States in September 1938 on the USS Statendam, having received an affidavit of financial sponsorship from a stranger, a farmer in Missouri. After she arrived, she went to stay with the relatives in Chicago. Walter was sent to Holland on a work permit to learn a trade, with the plan to emigrate to Palestine. Her father was arrested during the November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom and sent to Dachau, but released. He obtained an entry number from the US Consulate that made it possible to obtain a permit to leave Germany and Siegfried and Friedel left for England where Freidel had cousins. After war was declared between Great Britain and Germany in September 1939, Siegfried was imprisoned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man, but was released after review.

    Stefi met Gustav Geisel, also an émigré from Nazi Germany, in Chicago because of a chance meeting of their parents in London while all were waiting for passage to the US. They married in January 1942. Stefi remained with her cousins while he served in the US Army until 1946. Her parents arrived in 1943 from England. In 1946, they learned that Walter had been deported from Holland after the German occupation in spring 1940. He had been sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, and then Bergen Belsen, where he died of typhus in March 1945. The Siegels lost many other family members during the Holocaust. Stefi and Gustav had two sons. Her father passed away, age 69, in 1953 in New York. Her mother died August 27, 1982, age 93, in New Jersey. Her husband, Gustav, passed away June 1, 1997, age 86.

    Physical Details

    Dress Accessories
    Object Type
    Wallets (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Light brown, rectangular textured leather wallet with a flap closure and one cloth lined pocket.
    overall: Height: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Width: 6.250 inches (15.875 cm)
    overall : leather, cloth

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The wallet was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Stefi Geisel.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:28:52
    This page:

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