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Study sketch of a street by a German Jewish refugee

Object | Accession Number: 2005.546.52

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    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Pencil sketch of a street lined with houses created by Nelly Rossmann. Nelly was a graphic designer for the Frankfurter Zeitung, a progressive newspaper in Frankfurt, Germany, when Hitler was appointed Chancellor on January 30, 1933. Antisemitic legislation soon took away the rights of Jews. Nelly was a Quaker, but she had been born Jewish, and in 1935, she was fired due to a decree that Jews could not work in publishing. Nelly taught children crafts to support her 5 year old son, Michael. After the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938, her parents left for England, but Nelly still had strong pro-German feelings and was not ready to leave her country. In 1939, she and Michael went to England to visit her family; while they were there, Germany invaded Poland and war broke out. They remained in England and, after the war ended in May 1945, they became British citizens.
    Artwork Title
    Residential Street Leading to an Archway
    Date
    creation:  1920-1939
    Geography
    creation: Frankfurt am Main (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Michael G. Rossmann
    Contributor
    Artist: Nelly S. Rossmann
    Subject: Nelly S. Rossmann
    Biography
    Nelly (Cornelia) Bertha Schwabacher was born on February 14, 1899, in Frankfurt, Germany to Anna Cahn and Heinrich Schwabacher. Her father, a merchant and dealer in rare coins, was from a large, wealthy, prominent Jewish family which had lived in Frankfurt for generations. She had an older brother, William (Willy) Heinrich, born in 1897. The family was assimilated and liberal, and considered themselves Germans. Her maternal grandfather, Adoph E. Cahn, was a prominent coin dealer and the family had been established in the area for generations. On January 30, 1930, Nelly married Alexandre Sasha Rossmann, a member of a wealthy, non-Jewish family from Wiesbaden. Their son, Michael, was born on July 30. Alexandre’s father was a professor and principal of the local Gymnasium. His mother was extremely antisemitic and refused to speak to Nelly. His brother, Bruno, was a dedicated Nazi Party member. Despite the family's anti-Semitism, Nelly and Alexandre's son, Michael, often had enjoyable family visits with his father's family. Nelly and Alexandre divorced in 1933 and Nelly and her son lived with her parents. Her mother looked after the child when Nelly started to work full time as a graphic artist for the Frankfurter Zeitung, a highly respected democratic and intellectual newspaper published since 1866. Around this time, Nelly, a pacifist, became a member of the Society of Quakers.
    On January 30, 1933, Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany. By summer, the Nazi dictatorship was firmly established: the civil rights of all Germans were eliminated and anti-Jewish laws had been enacted. Jews were no longer allowed to work in government positions and there were restrictions placed upon their participation in other areas of economic and cultural life in Germany. In 1935, Nelly was fired from Der Zeitung due to a government decree that Jews could not work in the publishing industry. To support her family, she opened a crafts studio where she gave lessons to Jewish children. Michael began school in 1935, attending a Jewish school his first year and then transferring to a public school. As a Mischling [mixed race] boy with a Jewish mother, Michael was frequently mistreated in school. Shortly after the Kristallnacht pogrom on November 9-10, 1938, Nelly sent Michael to the Netherlands to attend a Quaker school. He returned to Frankfurt in the summer of 1939 after the school term was finished. He learned that his mother’s parents had left for England to escape the increasing anti-Jewish persecutions. They stayed with Nelly's maternal aunt, who had emigrated there in the early 1930s. Nelly still had strong pro-German feelings and was not ready to leave.
    In July 1939, Nelly and Michael buried the family silverware in the garden and went to England to visit Nelly’s mother. Shortly before Michael was to go back to school in Holland, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. Michael and Nelly remained in England, living with her aunt’s family. Nelly was able to get work as a graphic desiger for Dei Zeitung, a London based German newspaper headed by a former board member of the Frankfurter Zeitung, but life was very difficult during the war. Nelly, Anna, and Michael were able to move into their own flat in North Finchley, but as the Blitz, with its frequent German bombing raids of London, continued, they had to evacuate to Hartfordshire for several months. Nelly also did social work in settlement houses in London’s East End. After the war ended in May 1945, Nellie and Michael stayed in London and became British citizens. Michael received his Ph.D in Chemical Crystallography from the University of Glasgow in 1956 and pursed a career in academia. He married Audrey Pearson, and they immigrated to the United States in by the early 1960s, settling in Lafayette, Indiana. Nelly died in 1957 at the age of 58.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German
    Classification
    Art
    Category
    Drawings
    Physical Description
    Pencil study sketch of a street lined with houses on paper adhered to light brown mat board. The street in the center curves toward a building in the background with an archway. Rows of buildings are on either side of the street.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 13.750 inches (34.925 cm) | Width: 9.875 inches (25.083 cm)
    pictorial area: Height: 8.250 inches (20.955 cm) | Width: 6.500 inches (16.51 cm)
    Materials
    overall : mat board, paper, graphite

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The drawing was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Michael G. Rossmann, the son of Nelly Rossmann.
    Record last modified:
    2023-07-10 10:36:21
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn517977

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