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Metal identification tag used by Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany to the US

Object | Accession Number: 2005.288.3

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    Metal identification tag used by Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany to the US


    Brief Narrative
    Identification tag that was owned by Stefi and Gustav Geisel. They had emigrated separately to the United States in 1938 to escape the harsh persecutions of Jews in Nazi Germany. They met in Chicago and married in 1942. Stefi had lived in Mosbach, Germany, with her parents and younger brother, Walter. In 1938, 18 year old Stefi Siegel was sent to live with relatives in Chicago. Her parents left for England that year and arrived in the US in 1943. Walter had been sent to the Netherlands; after Germany occupied the country in 1940, he was deported to Buchenwald concentration camp, then to Bergen Belsen, where he died of typhus in March 1945. Gustav was from Rheinbach, Germany, and had left Germany in 1938 to live with relatives in Chicago. His brother, Albert, arrived in 1940 and their parents, Hermann and Sophie, were able to come to the US after both brothers were drafted into the US Army in 1942.
    use:  approximately 1942
    emigration:  1938
    use: Chicago (Ill.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Stefi Geisel
    Subject: Gustav Geisel
    Subject: Stefi Geisel
    Gustav Geisel was born on April 6, 1911, in Rheinbach, Germany, the youngest child of Hermann and Sophie Geisel. He had a brother, Albert, and two sisters, Betty and Helene. His father had a butcher shop. The family was Jewish and moderately observant. Gustav was the first in his family to graduate Gymnasium and continue his education. In 1930, he went to study law, first at the University of Berlin, then in Bonn. After Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933, Gustav decided to take the law qualifying exam. Despite the anti-Jewish policies of the Nazi government, Gustav was able to take the exam on September 21, 1933, because his father was a World War I veteran. He passed the exam, but could not practice because as a Jew he was not permitted to be part of the civil service or to take the required oath of allegiance to Hitler. He worked with his father in his butcher shop for two years, and then moved to Offenbach where he worked in the Jacob Meyer and Son tannery, owned by Baron von Hirsch. In 1938, with the sponsorship of his Uncle Charlie in Chicago, Gustav obtained a visa for the United States. He sailed on the Queen Mary and arrived in New York on July 18; in January 1940, he left for Chicago. His brother, Albert, was arrested in Rheinbach during the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938 and imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp. He was released in February with the condition that he leave Germany. He went to England and managed to make arrangements for the rest of the family to join him there. Albert arrived in Chicago in April 1940. The remainder of the family arrived in 1942 after both brothers were drafted into the US Army.

    Gustav met Stefi Siegel, 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. He was drafted into the US Army that year and was in the Signal Corps. In August 1944, he was deployed to England where he was assigned to a radio interception group. He also was assigned to the 9th Air Force as an interpreter for General Vandenberg. After the end of the war in May 1945, he was assigned to US Army Headquarters in Frankfurt until December when he returned to the US and was discharged. Gustav and Stefi had two sons. He continued in the tannery business, and eventually founded the Western Hide Company, an import business. He served on the board of directors at Temple Sholom in Chicago. He passed away June 1, 1997, age 86.
    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

    Identifying Artifacts
    Object Type
    Name tags (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Circular metal name tag with a hole in one side and a half circle hole on the other side. The edge is rolled under and the front has stamped text.
    overall: Height: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm) | Width: 1.120 inches (2.845 cm)
    overall : metal
    front, stamped : GUSTAV GEISEL / 36708321 T43 -44 A / STEFI S.GEISEL / 5515 S.INGLESIDE A / CHICAGO,ILL. H

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The identification tag was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Stefi Geisel, the widow of Gustav Geisel.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-08 14:34:17
    This page:

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