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Günther and Kohlmann families correspondence

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2015.551.1

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    Overview

    Description
    Correspondence, family tree, articles and copies of photographs, related to the family of Camilla Günther-Kohlmann, originally of Brodenbach a.d. Mosel, Germany, and her husband, Walter Kohlmann, of Kirchheim a.d. Eck, both of whom left Germany to escape Nazi persecution in the late 1930s, and who subsequently met and married in New York. Includes correspondence from her parents, in Brodenbach, 1937-1941; correspondence from friends and other family members from her hometown during the same time period, and some correspondence from the family of her husband, Walter Kohlmann, dated 1940-1942, including letters sent by Walter’s parents from Rivesaltes and other concentration camps in France. The collection also includes family trees compiled by the Kohlmann family in later years, and a copy of a booklet compiled by the family of Anton and Marie Etzkorn, family friends and business associates of the Günther family in Brodenbach, related to a visit by Camilla Kohlmann to her home town in 1995.

    The Biographical series of this collection contains family trees, an inventory of Günther family properties in and around Brodenbach (likely drawn up after the war as part of a restitution case), correspondence with the Red Cross seeking to determine the fate of Isidor Günther, photocopies of earlier Kohlmann family documents, and a copy of a booklet produced in Brodenbach, Germany in 1995, during the occasion of Camilla Kohlmann’s visit to her hometown in nearly sixty years after leaving.

    The Correspondence series is comprised largely of correspondence to Camilla Kohlmann from her parents, and after 1939, only her father, in the years following Camilla’s immigration to the United States. Many letters also contain greetings or small added text from other family members and friends in Brodenbach, and report on life in the town since Camilla’s departure, respond to news that Camilla had shared in her correspondence—including the news of her engagement and marriage to Walter Kohlmann—and discussions of possible plans to emigrate from Germany. In addition to the letters from Isidor and Klara Günther, however, there are also letters from members of the Bonem family—relatives from Camilla’s mother’s side of the family—as well as other friends and family members from Brodenbach. Many of the letters were sent to either Camilla or her sister, Henriette Aach, meant to be read and shared by both.

    The file for the Bonem family contains letters regarding efforts to assist with the emigration from France of various maternal aunts and uncles of Camilla and Henny. This file includes correspondence to Henny from their uncle and aunt Ferdinand and Berta Bonem, and their uncles Karl and Julius Bonem, all writing from France, from where they were seeking to escape; as well as correspondence from their uncle Ludwig Aach and his son Alfred, both in St. Louis, who were trying to help the Bonems come to the United States as well.

    In addition, there is a file of correspondence from Camilla Kohlmann in later years, containing a letter that she wrote to a local historian in Brodenbach in 1999, in order to tell the story of her family’s history.

    The file for the family of Ludwig Kohlmann contains letters written by Ludwig and Paula Kohlmann, as well as their daughter Trude, from camps where they had been interned in France, in 1941, including Rivesaltes. Also included is a file of letters from Ilse Kohlmann, Walter’s sister, written while she served as a nurse in Cologne and Frankfurt, in which she provided news not only about her and Walter’s parents and siblings, but also about Isidor Günther, with whom she maintained contact.
    Date
    inclusive:  1937-1999
    bulk:  1937-1941
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Phyllis Kohlmann
    Collection Creator
    Camilla Kohlmann
    Walter Kohlmann
    Biography
    Camilla Kohlmann (nee Günther, 1916-2015) was born on 21 June 1916 in Brodenbach a.d. Mosel, one of two daughters of Isidor (1881-1942?) and Klara (née Bonem, 1879-1939) Günther. Her sister was Henriette Aach (nee Gunther; 1990 – 2007). Isidor was a butcher by trade, and was also the cantor of the Jewish community in Brodenbach, which due to its relatively small size, held its services in their home which was contained in the same building as Isidor’s butcher shop. In 1937, Camilla left Germany for New York, where she subsequently met and married Walter Kohlmann. Camilla’s sister, Henny and husband Albert Aach from Trier, also immigrated to the United States and settled in New York.

    After her departure from Germany, Camilla and Henriette maintained contact with their parents through letters, hoping to be able to help them to emigrate as well. However, her mother died in Brodenbach in 1939, followed by her aunt, Bertha Gunther, in 1940. Her father, unable to leave Germany, was deported by the Nazis to the east in 1942, and is presumed to have been killed there.

    Following the war, as Camilla sought to determine what had happened to her father and other relatives, she re-established contact with Anton and Marie Etzkorn, childhood friends who married and assumed her father’s business when Isidor could no longer own property. They had sought to protect the Günther family business and properties, and purchased Isidor’s butcher shop and continued to operate it after the war. In the 1960’s, Camilla returned to Brodenbach for the first time since leaving home. In 1995 Camilla returned to Germany for the second time since emigration, meeting with the Etzkorns in Brodenbach in a visit that was documented in the local media. This trip was sponsored by an organization in Germany which promoted education about the Holocaust.
    Walter Kohlmann (1912-1982) was one of five children of Ludwig Kohlmann (1877-1942) and Paula (née Stein) Kohlmann (1889-1942), originally from Kirchheim a.d. Eck. His brother Oskar ( 1920 – 1979) and sister Margot (Salomon) 1913 – 1996) emigrated with Walter in 1938. His sisters Ilse (Antikol) 1921-2003) and Trude (Rosenfeld) 1928 – 1990) survived the war in Germany and emigrated shortly thereafter. Oskar settled in Natchez, Mississippi; the rest in the New York City area. Walter immigrated to New York, meeting and marrying Camilla Gunther there. His sister Ilse worked as a nurse in a convent in Cologne, and since it was relatively close to the Mosel River region where Camilla’s family lived, was able to make contact with Camilla’s father and convey news back and forth. A number of letters in this collection were sent from their parents to Walter’s brother Oskar, including during the period of time following Ludwig and Paula Kohlmann’s deportation to camps in France, including Rivesaltes. Walter served in the U.S. Army in Germany during World War II.

    Physical Details

    Language
    German English
    Genre/Form
    Correspondence.
    Extent
    18 folders
    System of Arrangement
    The collection is arranged in two series: I. Biographical, II. Correspondence. Arrangement within each series is alphabetic by folder title or correspondent.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Correspondence from Isidor, Clara, and Berta Gunther is in the public domain. Other material 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

    Geographic Name
    Brodenbach (Germany) Germany.

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    Phyllis Kohlmann and Carol Kohlmann Hervey donated the Günther and Kohlmann families correspondence to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2015. They are the daughters of Camilla and Walter Kohlmann.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 14:25:34
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn524787

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