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Tailored white shirt with a starched bib worn by a German Jewish businessman in Shanghai

Object | Accession Number: 2006.19.49

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    Tailored white shirt with a starched bib worn by a German Jewish businessman in Shanghai


    Brief Narrative
    Formal dress shirt that belonged to Fritz Kauffmann, a German Jewish businessman, who lived in Shanghai, China, from 1931-1949. He was active in Jewish community aid efforts before and during World War II. In 1940, because of Nazi politics and the outbreak of war, he resigned from the German firm for which he worked and opened his own import/export business. He was deprived of his German citizenship in 1941 for being Jewish and living abroad. However, as a longtime resident and successful businessman in Shanghai, he was able to surmount wartime difficulties and assist the more recent Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai to escape persecution and the war in Europe.
    use:  approximately 1940
    use: Shanghai (China)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Estate of Adelaide Kauffmann
    Subject: Fritz Kauffmann
    Fritz Kauffman was born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1904. His parents were jewelers. He moved to Australia in 1927 to work as an independent sales representative for German manufacturers, selling aircraft, aircraft supplies, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, insulating materials and machinery. In 1931, he moved to Shanghai to work as a sales representative for Australian firms selling wheat, flour, beef tallow, hides, fresh fruit and wool products. Fritz then joined the German import-export firm Reuter, Broeckelmann & Co. managing the industrial raw materials, chemicals, and produce department. In 1940, due to German and Nazi politics, he left Reuter, Broeckelmann & Co. to start his own company, Merchants and Traders.

    Fritz married a non-Jewish British citizen, Adelaide Florence Kerslake, on January 23, 1941, in Shanghai. He was deprived of his German citizenship in the summer of 1941 because he was a German Jew living abroad. Fritz had lived in Shanghai for quite a few years before the refugees started arriving from Europe. Thus he was in a position to help organize a committee established to aid the refugees after their arrival. In July 1942, Fritz and other members of a joint committee of Jews learned that the Japanese, under the influence of the German Gestapo, planned to liquidate the Jews living in Shanghai. Fritz and his fellow committee members were arrested soon after they questioned this policy and tried to meet with highly placed military officials about the rumor. Fritz was held in custody for about a month. In early 1943, the Japanese declared that all Jewish refugees arriving after December 31, 1936 had to relocate to the newly established ghettos. Fritz was not subject to this proclamation, as he arrived in 1931, and he was able to continue to live in his home and run his business. Both of Fritz's parents were killed during the Holocaust.
    Throughout his time in Shanghai, Fritz participated in the sport of polo and was active in the Shanghai Polo and Hunt Clubs. He was retroactively granted membership in 1949. In February of that year, Fritz and Adelaide moved to the British West Indies, where he continued to run his business. They had wished to go to the United Kingdom, but were denied entry on the basis that Adelaide was now German. In 1950, they received United States immigration visas and went to New York. Fritz and Adelaide were granted United States citizenship in 1957. Fritz died in 1993, age 89 years. Adelaide passed away on April 20, 1999, age 90 years.

    Physical Details

    Clothing and Dress
    Men's clothing
    Object Type
    Dress shirts (aat)
    Physical Description
    White cloth shirt with a stand-up collar to be worn with formal attire. There are 3 button holes at the back; 1 at the front. There is a bib front of starched, textured, diamond pattern cloth., with 2 button holes in the center. The back opens and has 3 plastic buttons. The shirttail is long and curved with side slits. It has long sleeves with French cuffs of starched, textured, diamond pattern cloth with 3 pleats above the cuffs. There are tags and an inscription on the inside collar. A white cloth tag with blue embroidery on the back right collar is illegible.
    overall: Height: 32.125 inches (81.598 cm) | Width: 21.000 inches (53.34 cm)
    overall : cloth, plastic, thread
    inside of the back right collar, on tag; starched and attached to the illegible tag is white cloth with black handwriting : 11941
    inside of the back right collar, under the illegible tag; white cloth with blue embroidery : F.K.
    inside of the back left collar, stamped in black ink : [illegible] C

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The shirt was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006 by Ronnie Leibowitz, executor, on behalf of the Estate of Adelaide Kauffmann.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:29:03
    This page:

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